Constantine the Great

Constantine the Great

Born: c. Feb 27, 272 in Naissus, Moesia Superior
Died: May 22, 337 (at age 65) in Nicomedia
Nationality: Roman
Famous For: 57th Emperor of the Roman Empire

Constantine The Great was born in 280 in Naissus, Moesia Superior. He was the eldest son of Helena and Flavius Valerius Constantius. His father was an army officer. Constantine received his formal education at the Diocletian’s court where he learned Greek and Latin and was able to mingle with a number of pagan and Christian scholars. Nonetheless, that time was also a period of prevalent persecution of the Christians.

Constantine’s Military Career

Constantius initially distinguished himself through his military talent under Diocletian, in the monarch’s popular Egyptian expedition in 296 before he served under Galerius in Persian fight. In 305, Diocletian and Maximian abdicated, and they were succeeded by Galerius and Constantius Chlorus.

Galerius could not endure the brilliant Constantine, who exposed him to all sorts of danger. It’s believed that this was the time when he acquired much of his reserve and wisdom, which he used in later years.

At last, Constantine left Galerius’ court to join his father who ruled in the West. Constantius died in 306, having proclaimed Constantine his successor. After the death of his father, he was declared Augustus, the decision reluctantly approved by Galerius.

Then followed years of civil war in which Constantine found himself fighting the opponents to Roman rule, but from within various Roman factions. Constantine was a great commander winning battles over the Franks in 306 and the Alamanni in 308.

Constantine’s Divine Revelation

On October 28, 312, Maxentius’ army met the army of Constantine on the Tyber River. The forces of Maxentius outnumbered Constantine’s forces by more than half. But Constantine stated that he had a dream in which he saw Jesus Christ and was told to use a Christian cross.

Constantine made his forces go into fight with the cross and he vowed that if he succeeds in the battle, he would adopt Christianity. The following morning in the battle, Constantine was successful. He entered Rome the following day. On entering Rome, he embarked on a long campaign to legitimize his rule.

Influence on Early Christianity

Constantine consolidated his role, proving his military dominance over his opponents. He signed with Licinius the statute of Milan in 313. This treaty legalized Christianity. While the treaty was often overlooked, it was still a significant moment as it protected Christians from persecution within the Roman Empire. In 325, Constantine summoned the Council of Nicaea, which led to the Nicene Creed. This was the most significant tract in formalizing what the Christian faith was.

Constantine chose Byzantium for his city. He built a new city in Byzantium. The city was renowned for its stunning adornments. His Christianity was the matter of conjecture. He did not convert to Christianity until he was 40. Despite making a tribute to Christianity, he kept on paying tribute to the pagan traditions and making sacrifices.

His mother, Helena, was stronger in her profession of Christianity. Helena was able to persuade her son to promote and protect Christianity. In 337, Constantine fell ill and as he was dying he requested the bishops baptize him in the River Jordan.