The Emperor Constantine

By Hans A. Pohlsander | Go to book overview

4

CONSTANTINE'S CONVERSION

When Diocletian and Maximian announced their retirement on 1 May 305 the persecution of the Christians was still in progress. The problem posed by the Christians, or rather by the emperors' insistence on religious conformity, had not been solved, and the members of the imperial college did not formulate or implement a uniform policy.

Soon after having been acclaimed emperor, Maxentius proclaimed toleration for the Christians in his territories; he did not, however, order the restitution of confiscated Christian property. A little later dissension among the Christians of Rome and concern for public order prompted him to intervene twice in the affairs of the church, banishing first Pope Marcellus and then Pope Eusebius. Constantinian propaganda, of course, would later denounce Maxentius as a "tyrant."

In April 311, on his deathbed, Galerius issued an edict in which Eusebius saw a "manifest visitation of divine providence" and which is sometimes called the "palinode of Galerius." In this remarkable recantation Galerius, while quite contemptuous of the Christians, acknowledged that the persecution had failed and grudgingly allowed the Christians once more to exist and to assemble in an orderly fashion; he did not provide for restitution. He bade the Christians pray for his well-being and for that of the state. Maximinus Daia, in his territories, ignored Galerius' edict

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The Emperor Constantine
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Illustrations vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Chronology xi
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - The Soldier Emperors and Diocletian 4
  • 3 - Constantine's Rise to Power 13
  • 4 - Constantine's Conversion 22
  • 5 - Constantine as the Sole Ruler of the West 31
  • 6 - The Conflict with Licinius 40
  • 7 - The Arian Controversy, the Council of Nicaea and Its Aftermath 48
  • 8 - The Crisis in the Imperial Family 56
  • 9 - The New Rome 63
  • 10 - Constantine's Government 73
  • 11 - Constantine's Final Years, Death and Burial 80
  • 12 - Constantine's Image in Roman Art 85
  • 13 - An Assessment 90
  • Appendix I 95
  • Appendix II 98
  • Appendix III 102
  • Appendix IV 109
  • Select Bibliography 111
  • Index 117
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