The Emperor Constantine

The Emperor Constantine

The Emperor Constantine

The Emperor Constantine

Synopsis

Updated throughout to take into account the latest research on the subject, Emperor Constantine provides a convenient and concise introduction to one of the most important figures in ancient history.Taking into account the historiographical debates of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, Hans A. Pohlsander: describes the Roman world into which Constantine was born assesses Constantine's ability as a soldier and statesman emphasizes the significance of Constantine as Rome's first Christian emperor discusses the importance of the establishment of the new capital of Byzantium gives an even-handed assessment of Constantine's achievements. Also included is a revised introduction and an enlarged bibliography, and with such revisions, this second edition will follow in the successful footsteps the the first as a must-read introduction to this Roman emperor.

Excerpt

The emperor Constantine has been called the most important emperor of Late Antiquity. His powerful personality laid the foundations not only of St Peter's Basilica in Rome and of Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre, but of post-classical European civilization; his reign was eventful and highly dramatic. His victory at the Milvian Bridge counts among the most decisive moments in world history.

But Constantine was also controversial, and the controversy begins in antiquity itself. The Christian writers Lactantius and Eusebius saw in Constantine a divinely appointed benefactor of mankind. Julian the Apostate, on the other hand, accused him of greed and waste, and the pagan historian Zosimus held him responsible for the collapse of the (Western) empire.

It is the positive view which generally, but not universally, prevailed throughout the Middle Ages, prompted numerous rulers to cast themselves in Constantine's image, and inspired countless works of art. Otto Bishop of Freising (c. 1114-58), in his Chronica or History of the Two Cities, is full of enthusiasm, writing: "When his associates had reached the end of their reign, and in consequence Constantine was now ruling alone and held the sole power over the empire, the longed-for peace was restored in full to the long afflicted Church…. Since wicked men and persecutors had been removed from the earth and the righteous . . .

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