How the Roman Empire Changed with Constantine

January 12, 2021 by Essay Writer

In 324 CE the roman empire took a drastic change religiously, with the ascension of Constantine as ruler. Constantine, a military genius created a religious identity within the empire with the use of his political power. This identity established preferential status within the empire that leaned away from the ancient sun gods, toward Christianity. The founding of this status is his assertion of ritual purity to the Christian God, and Constantine s edict of toleration had revolutionary implications for Christians, by freeing exiled, and suffering Christians. This creation of a central basis for religion within the Roman empire, united the empire behind a common integrational focus. This common focus first allowed the empire to be focused on a common accepted religion, and allowed Constantine to focus on his true goals of creating a revolutionized Christian Roman empire with Constantine as the leader, and Constantinople, his city as it s capital. Both the roman empire and Christianity were forever changed by Constantine s rule. The religious implications that span to the Christianity of today. Constantine s own conversion to Christianity helped him with his early military battles, but also helped him establish the political genius of the Roman empire during his reign. Constantine s background before his vision of conversion is very disputed between different biographical authors of history. Many authors believe that both the official Roman policy that exalts Sol Invictus as dominus imperii Romani to be the heavenly lord, and the church of the persecuted Christians to be the religious backgrounds that Constantine drew from. These were the two religions that were in major existence within the Roman empire at this time. The generally excepted roman god of the sun, created pagan branch cults. Apart from his father s house which did not favor the Christian God, Constantine seems to have found something to draw him closer to the oppressed Christians in the hatred that he felt for Diocletian and Galerius, the authors of the persecutions. They had excluded him from the succession to the imperial College of Four and had thus offended his boundless passion for recognition. Constantine s passion for power was spurned on by a hatred for those who opposed his ascension in to power. Early in his military campaigns Constantine took priests on his expeditions, but it was not until he and his men had a direct vision from the Christian God, that Constantine s attitude towards religion burned deep within his soul.

The Roman Empire at this time was divided into four parts with one leader in charge of each part called a Caesar, and one emperor over the entire empire. Diocletian was the emperor, and Caesar of Asia and Egypt, his co-emperor Maximian was Caesar of Italy and Africa, Galerius was Caesar of the Danube frontier, and Constantius was Caesar of Britain and Gaul. Diocletian and the other Caesar s persecuted Christians, and tried to bring an end to the religion. In 305, Deocletian stepped down as emperor, and then a great struggle for power began. Constantine son of Constantius one of the four Caesar s suddenly saw and opportunity for power. It was with this, that Constantine attacked Maximian and the war for power arose. Constantine was convinced that he needed a powerful aid more than his forces could acquire to defeat the wicked and magical enchantments of Maximian. Constantine remembered that the past emperors had lost many battles based on false oracles made by sun god predictions, and so Constantine sought divine assistance from the Christian God of his father. The direct answer is that Constantine and his soldiers claim to have seen a direct revelation from God: above the setting sun the Emperor and his army with him saw the sign of the cross outlined in rays of light, and, with it, the words: in this sign thou shalt conquer. This was directly followed by Jesus Christ visiting Constantine in a dream, with the same sign which he had seen in the heavens and commanded him to make a likeness of that which he had seen in the heavens and to use it as a safeguard in all engagements with his enemies. It was with these signs from God himself that Constantine made his conversion to Christianity. Constantine s first act after the conversion was to have his soldiers put the emblem that God had given to him on their shields. It is with this vision that Constantine s basis for his changing of the religious aspect of the Roman Empire began. In 324, Constantine defeated his last opponent, and made himself sole emperor of the roman empire. Constantine s rule followed that of Diocletian, except for his supporting of Christianity. One of the largest steps that Constantine took in creating a new roman empire was to create new laws, dealing with jurisdiction of bishops, justice and a moralization of the justice system. This Justice system took a new turn with Constantine granting the Christian church public lands, while condemning black magic. He also took Jewish lands and gave them to Christians, while also forbidding those who had changed religions to Christianity to do so without fear of punishment. Another decree restricted divorce, so that a woman had only certain foundations on which she could divorce her husband. Constantine did not set up a Christian legislation, he thought that, Christianity was concerned with the life of the world to come, and that in this world the prayers of Christians to the true God would bring His blessings upon the empire. The overwhelming impact of his religion upon the legislation, did not arise from drastic laws, causing an entire revolt in religion, but rather were to make the empire safe for Christianity by increasing the number of Christians. Constantine s genius in this helped mesh the roman empire, by not imposing a religion upon a group of people who would not accept it, but rather, allowed for a religion to in time take precedence by allowing it to flourish. Until this point in the roman empire, Christianity was punished and persecuted and forced to be an underground religion. Constantine s decree s allowed for a new religion that was once looked down upon to come into the public, with the fervor that it had before persecution, and thereby storm an empire that encouraged it.

Constantine s next accomplishment for Christianity was his erection of a new roman capital of Constantinople. Not only was Constantinople a military strategic site of brilliance, because it was bordered on three sides by water, it was also a perfect launching site for Christianity into the east and north. Another positive point created by Constantinople, was that it gave the empire a new center with which to base the empire and it s new ideals. Rome is an old city filled with pagan traditions and worship. Constantinople was free from these past traditions ideals, and common place established practices. This meant that once Constantine had set the Church deep in his structure of the empire, there was no longer a place for Christianity in Rome which was allowed to deal with it s pagan worship to the fullest. To finance his new city, Constantine had agents, sweep in from all sides the gold and silver treasures of the old gods and theft of famous statues to finance the rebuilding of the new capital In 325, Constantine went as far as to give Rome a Christian governor. This caused a great fall out between Constantine and the pagans. Part of Constantine s decision though to withdrawal of this Christian governor only as year later, was due to the sentiments of his soldiers who were pagan. So Constantinople became almost a rival city to religiously and stately to Rome. Another accomplishment for Constantine for Christianity and the roman empire is the convening at the council of Nicaea, which had a declared purpose to decide on theological disputes which had arisen during the past 300 years concerning the essence and nature of Christ and the Holy Spirit. It was at this point of Constantine s reign that he took a side of Christianity to say that other religions were blasphemy against Jesus Christ as the redeemer. Constantine even went as far as to banish bishops from the council and deemed them as heretics sent here because the flames of discord have been stirred up by their efforts. But these fine bishops, whom once the truth of the synod had preserved for repentance, not only received them and kept them safe in their houses but also shared in their wickedness. Constantine exiled those people in which he deemed as heretics or corrupters of the council and Constantine s Christian cause. Constantine s concept of a bishop and how their beliefs should match his, which created a high decree by Constantine for the exile of those which he saw as directly opposing or not believing in his belief or ideals of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit of God. Those exiled fought for their beliefs and created a political power play in which Constantine was forced to hear out those who he believed to be believers of heresy, and sought to have these bishops convert to the ideal Christianity of Constantine. The ending decision of the council was that a creed of belief in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of all things, both visible and invisible and in on Lord, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Only begotten of the Father, that is to say, of the substance of the Father, God of God and Light of Light, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things are made, both in heaven and on earth, who for us men and for our salvation, came down and was made flesh, was made man, suffered and rose again on the third day, went up to the heavens and is to come again to judge both the quick and the dead in the Holy Ghost The emperor s personal beliefs of Christ can be seen a letter he wrote to the bishop Arius, Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all ages, God the Word, through whom all things in heaven and on earth were made, who came down and took on flesh and suffered and rose again and ascended into heaven and is coming again to judge the living and the dead, and in the Holy Spirit, and the resurrection of the body and the life of the world to come and in the kingdom of heaven. It is with these ideas of Christ, that Constantine sought to change the politics that were involved with a newly resurrected Christian church. Those bishops who were opposed the council s now acceptable beliefs, were now considered heretics, and brought before Constantine and his bishops and were exiled. The use of a common mission statement within the church, allowed Constantine and the empire to enforce these beliefs within all the churches, and to unify the churches behind common beliefs of God and Jesus Christ. This unifying of the church helped to bring about a unifying group of Christians. The downfall however is in Constantine s own involvement within this council, and the worshipers of the sun god in Rome and other cities saw that their emperor directly opposed their religious beliefs, and tried to impose his beliefs upon the churches. There came a point in which the Christian church grew and spread within the empire and in the place of toleration of the other religions, Christians began to suppress paganism. Constantine actually proclaimed Christianity in the new cities, pressed on the population of the cities for the abandonment of the their old cults and actually rewarded them for it. The imperial cult, which was the worship of the emperor and the empire, was suppressed, but allowed within the empire in it s Christian disinfected form. The pagan cults fall can be shown to start in the reign of Constantine, and follow down in the years there after.

The work of devastation of the pagan cults began slowly with it s oppression by Christianity, and it s falling from predominance. The preeminent factor in the fall of the pagan cults arises from Constantine s tearing down of the these temples for the material use in his own temples for Christianity. With a loss of a place to worship, these pagan cults began to fall away like the Jews during the great dispersion. The roman empire also began to encourage Christianity as a whole by greatly supporting it, and making it the focus of the entire empire during the time of Constantine. It is because of Constantine s favor toward Christianity that the Christian church of today is alive. Diocletian and his persecutions nearly brought the end of the Christian existence within the empire with his torture, and persecutions. Constantine s beginning use of tolerance towards the religions that directly opposed his, created a meshing of the two, and allowed pagan worshipers to be converted to an alternate religion of Christianity rather than an opposing religion. This was one of Constantine s strong political moves of originally accepting all religions, rather than create a direct opposition to all that his subjects had known and therefore creating unfaithful subjects, and prevented a possible overthrowing of the emperor. Constantine s overall political efforts toward Christianity allowed Christianity to start as something that the empire did not tolerate, and actually tried to condemn; to an entity that was the focus of the empire, and flourishing with the empire s approval and help. This capitalization allowed a struggling religion to be ingrained into a people who followed and worshipped the emperor. Constantine definitely used his power to promote Christianity by the using of materials from pagan worship centers for his own Christian churches. This standpoint showed the people where Constantine stood religiously, and took away from their cornerstone which was a place of worship. Many people may have been angry towards Constantine, but his transporting of the capital to Constantinople allowed him the freedom to not have a direct uprising by angry religious leaders and followers. This political genius helped Constantine in his political power use in the council of Nicaea to create a central unified Christian standpoint and ideal. By making a common bylaws of thought Constantine united the Christians within the empire under a common identity and belief system, and did not lose his followers to rivals amongst each other.

Constantine s visions in the battlefield have been debated by historians and scholars, but it is obvious that by his actions and use of power that directly opposed some individuals within the empire, that Constantine was forever changed into a belief in Christ by a vision that he saw in the sky. Constantine s use of his political power to take control of such a vast empire is a great

accomplishment which is further enlightened by his use of religious influence. For Christians, Constantine is seen as a person who helped their religion in it s darkest hour, while the pagan cultures at the time saw Constantine as an oppressor of their culture forever. Constantine s conversion created an impact on the roman empire that has implications into today s religions. Bibliography Constantine s Versus Christ Alistair Kee SCM Press Ltd. 58 Bloomsbury Street London 19822. Constantine, a military genius created a religious identity within the empire with the use of his political power. This identity established preferential status within the empire that leaned away from the ancient sun gods, toward Christianity. The founding of this status is his assertion of ritual purity to the Christian God, and Constantine s edict of toleration had revolutionary implications for Christians, by freeing exiled, and suffering Christians. This creation of a central basis for religion within the Roman empire, united the empire behind a common integrational focus. This common focus first allowed the empire to be focused on a common accepted religion, and allowed Constantine to focus on his true goals of creating a revolutionized Christian Roman empire with Constantine as the leader, and Constantinople, his city as it s capital. Both the roman empire and Christianity were forever changed by Constantine s rule. The religious implications that span to the Christianity of today. Constantine s own conversion to Christianity helped him with his early military battles, but also helped him establish the political genius of the Roman empire during his reign. Constantine s background before his vision of conversion is very disputed between different biographical authors of history.

Many authors believe that both the official Roman policy that exalts Sol Invictus as dominus imperii Romani to be the heavenly lord, and the church of the persecuted Christians to be the religious backgrounds that Constantine drew from. These were the two religions that were in major existence within the Roman empire at this time. The generally excepted roman god of the sun, created pagan branch cults. Apart from his father s house which did not favor the Christian God, Constantine seems to have found something to draw him closer to the oppressed Christians in the hatred that he felt for Diocletian and Galerius, the authors of the persecutions. They had excluded him from the succession to the imperial College of Four and had thus offended his boundless passion for recognition. Constantine s passion for power was spurned on by a hatred for those who opposed his ascension in to power. Early in his military campaigns Constantine took priests on his expeditions, but it was not until he and his men had a direct vision from the Christian God, that Constantine s attitude towards religion burned deep within his soul. The Roman Empire at this time was divided into four parts with one leader in charge of each part called a Caesar, and one emperor over the entire empire. Diocletian was the emperor, and Caesar of Asia and Egypt, his co-emperor Maximian was Caesar of Italy and Africa, Galerius was Caesar of the Danube frontier, and Constantius was Caesar of Britain and Gaul. Diocletian and the other Caesar s persecuted Christians, and tried to bring an end to the religion. In 305, Deocletian stepped down as emperor, and then a great struggle for power began. Constantine son of Constantius one of the four Caesar s suddenly saw and opportunity for power. It was with this, that Constantine attacked Maximian and the war for power arose. Constantine was convinced that he needed a powerful aid more than his forces could acquire to defeat the wicked and magical enchantments of Maximian. Constantine remembered that the past emperors had lost many battles based on false oracles made by sun god predictions, and so Constantine sought divine assistance from the Christian God of his father.

The direct answer is that Constantine and his soldiers claim to have seen a direct revelation from God: above the setting sun the Emperor and his army with him saw the sign of the cross outlined in rays of light, and, with it, the words: in this sign thou shalt conquer. This was directly followed by Jesus Christ visiting Constantine in a dream, with the same sign which he had seen in the heavens and commanded him to make a likeness of that which he had seen in the heavens and to use it as a safeguard in all engagements with his enemies. It was with these signs from God himself that Constantine made his conversion to Christianity. Constantine s first act after the conversion was to have his soldiers put the emblem that God had given to him on their shields. It is with this vision that Constantine s basis for his changing of the religious aspect of the Roman Empire began. In 324, Constantine defeated his last opponent, and made himself sole emperor of the roman empire. Constantine s rule followed that of Diocletian, except for his supporting of Christianity. One of the largest steps that Constantine took in creating a new roman empire was to create new laws, dealing with jurisdiction of bishops, justice and a moralization of the justice system. This Justice system took a new turn with Constantine granting the Christian church public lands, while condemning black magic. He also took Jewish lands and gave them to Christians, while also forbidding those who had changed religions to Christianity to do so without fear of punishment. Another decree restricted divorce, so that a woman had only certain foundations on which she could divorce her husband. Constantine did not set up a Christian legislation, he thought that, Christianity was concerned with the life of the world to come, and that in this world the prayers of Christians to the true God would bring His blessings upon the empire.

The overwhelming impact of his religion upon the legislation, did not arise from drastic laws, causing an entire revolt in religion, but rather were to make the empire safe for Christianity by increasing the number of Christians. Constantine s genius in this helped mesh the roman empire, by not imposing a religion upon a group of people who would not accept it, but rather, allowed for a religion to in time take precedence by allowing it to flourish. Until this point in the roman empire, Christianity was punished and persecuted and forced to be an underground religion. Constantine s decree s allowed for a new religion that was once looked down upon to come into the public, with the fervor that it had before persecution, and thereby storm an empire that encouraged it. Constantine s next accomplishment for Christianity was his erection of a new roman capital of Constantinople. Not only was Constantinople a military strategic site of brilliance, because it was bordered on three sides by water, it was also a perfect launching site for Christianity into the east and north. Another positive point created by Constantinople, was that it gave the empire a new center with which to base the empire and it s new ideals. Rome is an old city filled with pagan traditions and worship. Constantinople was free from these past traditions ideals, and common place established practices. This meant that once Constantine had set the Church deep in his structure of the empire, there was no longer a place for Christianity in Rome which was allowed to deal with it s pagan worship to the fullest. To finance his new city, Constantine had agents, sweep in from all sides the gold and silver treasures of the old gods and theft of famous statues to finance the rebuilding of the new capital In 325, Constantine went as far as to give Rome a Christian governor. This caused a great fall out between Constantine and the pagans. Part of Constantine s decision though to withdrawal of this Christian governor only as year later, was due to the sentiments of his soldiers who were pagan. So Constantinople became almost a rival city to religiously and stately to Rome. Another accomplishment for Constantine for Christianity and the roman empire is the convening at the council of Nicaea, which had a declared purpose to decide on theological disputes which had arisen during the past 300 years concerning the essence and nature of Christ and the Holy Spirit. It was at this point of Constantine s reign that he took a side of Christianity to say that other religions were blasphemy against Jesus Christ as the redeemer. Constantine even went as far as to banish bishops from the council and deemed them as heretics sent here because the flames of discord have been stirred up by their efforts. But these fine bishops, whom once the truth of the synod had preserved for repentance, not only received them and kept them safe in their houses but also shared in their wickedness. Constantine exiled those people in which he deemed as heretics or corrupters of the council and Constantine s Christian cause. Constantine s concept of a bishop and how their beliefs should match his, which created a high decree by Constantine for the exile of those which he saw as directly opposing or not believing in his belief or ideals of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit of God. Those exiled fought for their beliefs and created a political power play in which Constantine was forced to hear out those who he believed to be believers of heresy, and sought to have these bishops convert to the ideal Christianity of Constantine. The ending decision of the council was that a creed of belief in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of all things, both visible and invisible and in on Lord, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Only begotten of the Father, that is to say, of the substance of the Father, God of God and Light of Light, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things are made, both in heaven and on earth, who for us men and for our salvation, came down and was made flesh, was made man, suffered and rose again on the third day, went up to the heavens and is to come again to judge both the quick and the dead in the Holy Ghost The emperor s personal beliefs of Christ can be seen a letter he wrote to the bishop Arius, Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all ages, God the Word, through whom all things in heaven and on earth were made, who came down and took on flesh and suffered and rose again and ascended into heaven and is coming again to judge the living and the dead, and in the Holy Spirit, and the resurrection of the body and the life of the world to come and in the kingdom of heaven. It is with these ideas of Christ, that Constantine sought to change the politics that were involved with a newly resurrected Christian church. Those bishops who were opposed the council s now acceptable beliefs, were now considered heretics, and brought before Constantine and his bishops and were exiled. The use of a common mission statement within the church, allowed Constantine and the empire to enforce these beliefs within all the churches, and to unify the churches behind common beliefs of God and Jesus Christ. This unifying of the church helped to bring about a unifying group of Christians. The downfall however is in Constantine s own involvement within this council, and the worshipers of the sun god in Rome and other cities saw that their emperor directly opposed their religious beliefs, and tried to impose his beliefs upon the churches. There came a point in which the Christian church grew and spread within the empire and in the place of toleration of the other religions, Christians began to suppress paganism. Constantine actually proclaimed Christianity in the new cities, pressed on the population of the cities for the abandonment of the their old cults and actually rewarded them for it. The imperial cult, which was the worship of the emperor and the empire, was suppressed, but allowed within the empire in it s Christian disinfected form. The pagan cults fall can be shown to start in the reign of Constantine, and follow down in the years there after.

The work of devastation of the pagan cults began slowly with it s oppression by Christianity, and it s falling from predominance. The preeminent factor in the fall of the pagan cults arises from Constantine s tearing down of the these temples for the material use in his own temples for Christianity. With a loss of a place to worship, these pagan cults began to fall away like the Jews during the great dispersion. The roman empire also began to encourage Christianity as a whole by greatly supporting it, and making it the focus of the entire empire during the time of Constantine. It is because of Constantine s favor toward Christianity that the Christian church of today is alive. Diocletian and his persecutions nearly brought the end of the Christian existence within the empire with his torture, and persecutions. Constantine s beginning use of tolerance towards the religions that directly opposed his, created a meshing of the two, and allowed pagan worshipers to be converted to an alternate religion of Christianity rather than an opposing religion. This was one of Constantine s strong political moves of originally accepting all religions, rather than create a direct opposition to all that his subjects had known and therefore creating unfaithful subjects, and prevented a possible overthrowing of the emperor. Constantine s overall political efforts toward Christianity allowed Christianity to start as something that the empire did not tolerate, and actually tried to condemn; to an entity that was the focus of the empire, and flourishing with the empire s approval and help. This capitalization allowed a struggling religion to be ingrained into a people who followed and worshipped the emperor. Constantine definitely used his power to promote Christianity by the using of materials from pagan worship centers for his own Christian churches. This standpoint showed the people where Constantine stood religiously, and took away from their cornerstone which was a place of worship. Many people may have been angry towards Constantine, but his transporting of the capital to Constantinople allowed him the freedom to not have a direct uprising by angry religious leaders and followers. This political genius helped Constantine in his political power use in the council of Nicaea to create a central unified Christian standpoint and ideal. By making a common bylaws of thought Constantine united the Christians within the empire under a common identity and belief system, and did not lose his followers to rivals amongst each other. Constantine s visions in the battlefield have been debated by historians and scholars, but it is obvious that by his actions and use of power that directly opposed some individuals within the empire, that Constantine was forever changed into a belief in Christ by a vision that he saw in the sky. Constantine s use of his political power to take control of such a vast empire is a great accomplishment which is further enlightened by his use of religious influence. For Christians, Constantine is seen as a person who helped their religion in it s darkest hour, while the pagan cultures at the time saw Constantine as an oppressor of their culture forever. Constantine s conversion created an impact on the roman empire that has implications into today s religions. Bibliography

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