Constantine the Great is arguably the most pivotal figure in the history of Christendom. Constantine was the first Roman emperor to publicly state his Christianity, as a result he granted religious freedom to all, he granted bishops a status equal to senators, in effect making them officers of the state. 1 Constantine also financed new copies of the Bible, used Christian symbols on his currency, introduced Christian ideals into the Roman statutes to protect children, slaves, and prisoners; and declared Sunday a day of rest replacing the weekly celebration of the mythological god Mithras 2. However despite public confession of his faith, and the benefits he extended to Christians in ancient Rome, was Constantine actually a Christian, or was it a pragmatic move meant to gain Christian support for his new empire. Despite my initial belief that he was a Christian, I intend to prove through the facts presented in this paper that Constantine was not a Christian in the true sense of the word. Constantine was born Flavius Valerius Constantinus on February 27, 288A.D. in Naissus, Moesia (Servia) 3. He was the illegitimate son of Constantius Chlorus, a distinguished Roman military officer who rose through the ranks to the title of Caesar. Constantine’s mother Flavia Helena was an innkeeper. 1. Michael Collins, The Story of Christianity (New York, NY: DK Publishing, Inc, 1999)
2. Flavius Valerius Constantinus, Constantine the Great, His Life and Letters (New York, NY: le Clue 22, Amazon Digital Services, 2008)
2 While Constantine was still a young boy, he was assigned to military service in the Eastern court under the tutelage of Diocletian. As Constantine rose in rank, he also served under Galerius in the Persian war(3). In 305, the Emperors Diocletian and Maximinius abdicated, and were succeeded by Constantine’s father, Constantius Chlorus and Galerius. Constantine fled from the command of Galerius evading pursuit by freeing the platoons horses(4). Constantine then traveled across Europe, and reunited with Constantinus crossing over to Britain to repel an invasion of the Scots(5). After gaining the victory in that campaign, Constantinus died on July 25, 306, Constantine fought so valiantly, the Roman army recommended his promotion to the rank of Augustus which meant that Constantine was now in charge of the army(6). Aside from being a shrewd military officer, Constantine was also ambitious; he requested recognition as Caesar, a request that was granted; Constantine even had currency made in his image with the Latin phrase “princeps iuventutis”, the “Prince of Youth”(7). As Caesar, Constantine won victories against the Franks and reorganized the defense of the Rhine by building a bridge at Cologne. However Constantine had opposition on the horizon in Rome, as Maxentius, supported by his father Maximianus led to the defeat and capture of the western Augustus, Severus(8). Maximianus however appeared to be hedging his bets, seeing Constantine’s potential, Maximianus recognized his status as Augustus, The alliance was confirmed by Constantine’s marriage to Maximianus’ daughter Fausta(9). Maximianius’ reign as ruler of the west was about to come to an end as a result of his own deceit. Jealous of Constantine’s popularity with the military and uncertain about his own status, Maximianius asked his daughter Fausta to betray her husband on the promise that he would find . 3
Eventually, Constantine would become the sole ruler of all the western provinces north of the Alps; he ruled from from Trier, which is the oldest city in Germany(9). Eventually, Constantine left Trier and moved his...
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