From Constantine to Justinian: The Religious Background

THE BATTLE OF the Milvian Bridge had established Constantine as the protector of the Christians, and the following year, at Milan, Licinius became associated with him in his new policy. Whether to the Christians recent events would have seemed to herald the dawn of a new era is unlikely. They certainly had good reason to be sceptical, for the older men at least would have been able to remember Valerian's persecution, and how the long peace that followed it had been only the prelude to worse conditions under Diocletian and Galerius. As it happened, they were not this time to be deceived, for although Maximinus continued for some years to harass the Christians of the East, and although Licinius later turned persecutor on his own account, their champion Constantine never swerved in pursuit of his ambition to eliminate all rivals and to become the sole ruler of the Roman world. In 323, Licinius, his last adversary, had been strangled, and Constantine, who until then had granted the Christians parity with their pagan fellows, now came out openly in their favour. Since the death of his father, Constantius, seventeen years before, Constantine had manipulated events to serve his own ends. He had, literally and in his own person, made history; now, as undisputed master of the Empire, it was in his power to inaugurate a new era. This he did, both symbolically and in fact, when on 11th May 330 he dedicated his new capital on the shores of the Bosphorus.

The motives for his decision were political and religious. The Tetrarchy was dead, and of the provincial cities of Trèves,


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The Early Christians


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