Emperor Constantine dies 337

walwyn Sat, 05/02/2020 - 23:07
Saturday, May 22, 0337

On the 22nd of May 337CE the Emperor Constantine the Great died at Nicomedia, Bithynia. He was succeeded by Constantine II. Constantine is considered to have been the first Christian Emperor, though he lived his life as a pagan, was only baptised shortly before he died,1 and is thought to have had only a tenuous and ambiguous concept of Christianity as a religion.2 3

In 330CE Constantine moved the seat of Imperial government from Rome to a medium sized Greek town on the Bosphorus called Byzantium which was renamed Constantinople and redesigned. Christians later claimed that the new city was Christian from the start, however Pagan statues were imported from across the empire, including a column and statue of Apollo from Delphi.4

In 313CE the co-emperors Constantine and Licinius issued the Edict of Milan which halted the persecution of Christianity that had occured Diocletian. Christianity was given the same rights as other cults. The existing copies of the Edict are those issued by Licinius in June 313CE.5

With salutory and most upright reasoning, we resolve on adopting this policy, namely that we should consider that no one whatsoever should be denied freedom to devote himself either to a cult of the Christians or to such religion as he deems best suited for himself, so that the highest divinity, to whose worship we pay allegience with free minds, may grant us in all things his wonted favour and benevolence.

Constantine also exempted Christian clergy from holding civic office and from taxation. This caused problems within the Christian communities which were riven with various squabbles. In Africa some bishops argued that the bishop of Carthage was not elligible for exemption as he had been consecrated by a bishop who'd compromised with paganism during Diocletian's persecutions.This group became known as Donatists, after a rival bishop of Cathage was elected. In 314CE the dispute was passed to two councils of bishops in Rome and Arles neither of which supported the Donatist position.6 7 However the dispute raged on and in 315CE Constantine withdrew patronage from them.8 The result was that most of the African Christian groups were isolated from other western Christian groups that would later form the Roman Catholic Church.9