12 Δεκ Who Legalized Christianity
Constantine became Western Roman Emperor. He soon used his power to address the status of Christians and issued the Edict of Milan in 313. This proclamation legalized Christianity and allowed freedom of worship throughout the empire. The most important turning point for Christianity in the Roman Empire came in the form of a vision for the future to unify Constantine, nearly three hundred years after Jesus` death. According to Constantine`s chosen biographer, who was a bishop, Jesus Christ gave him the image of a sacred sign that protected him from his enemies, including his adversaries, whom he would soon defeat, and allowed him to reunify the Roman Empire. According to this view, Constantine legalized Christianity and promoted religious tolerance in 313 AD through the Edict of Milan. The Edict of Milan now granted tolerance and permission to Christians throughout the empire to meet in their assemblies, thus legalizing the movement. Christianity was only one of thousands of indigenous cults throughout the empire. The reign of Constantine set a precedent for the position of the Christian emperor in the Church. Emperors saw themselves as gods for the spiritual health of their subjects, and according to Constantine, they had a duty to help the Church define orthodoxy and maintain orthodoxy.  The Church generally regarded the definition of doctrine as the task of bishops; The role of the emperor was to apply doctrine, eradicate heresy and maintain ecclesiastical unity.
 The emperor ensured that God was properly worshipped in his kingdom; What was correct worship (orthodoxy), doctrines and dogmas were to be determined by the Church. During a civil war, Constantine defended his position against various Roman factions, including Maximian`s son Maxentius. In 312, Constantine fought in Italy and met Maxentius and his troops at the Milvian Bridge over the Tiber. Reports of Constantine`s life say that after a vision, he ordered that a Christian symbol be painted on the shields of his soldiers. Under this emblem, Constantine won the battle and entered Rome. On 1 May 305, Diocletian announced his resignation due to a debilitating illness in the winter of 304/305. At a parallel ceremony in Milan, Maximian did the same.  Lactantius notes that Galerius manipulated a weakened Diocletian into resigning himself and forced him to accept Galerius` allies into the imperial succession. According to Lactantius, the crowd that heard Diocletian`s resignation speech believed until the last moment that Diocletian would elect Constantine and Maxentius (Maximian`s son) as his successors.  This was not the case: Constantius and Galerius were promoted to Augustus, while Severus and Maximinus, Galerius` nephew, were appointed Caesars. Constantine and Maxentius were ignored.  While Constantius and his son were fighting the Picts in England, Constantius was killed near York in 306 AD, and the legions proclaimed Constantine Augustus in the field.
With Diocletian`s resignation, civil wars broke out in the East and West over who would become the sole ruler of the empire. Constantine`s opposition to the west was Maxentius, and their armies met near the Milvian Bridge in Rome, a bridge over the northern suburbs of the city on the Via Flaminia. Maxentius fell (with his armor) into the river and drowned. Constantine became the sole ruler of the West. Constantine I (Latin: Flavius Valerius Constantinus; Greek: Κωνσταντῖνος Konstantinos; Constantine the Great (27 February 272 † 22 May 337) was Roman Emperor from 306 to 337 and the first to convert to Christianity. He was the son of Flavius Constantius, a Roman officer of Illyrian origin who had been one of the four rulers of the tetrarchy. His mother, Helen, was Greek and Christian and of low birth.     Constantine served with distinction under the Roman emperors Diocletian and Galerius.
He began his career campaigning in the eastern provinces (against the barbarians and Persians) before surrendering in 305 AD. He was recalled to the West to fight alongside his father in Britain. After his father`s death in 306, Constantine became emperor. He was celebrated by his army at Eboracum (York, England) and eventually emerged victorious from the civil wars against the emperors Maxentius and Licinius to become the sole ruler of the Roman Empire in 324. But the exact text of this decree, collected in the Codex Theodosianus XVI.1.2, not only described the special status of Christianity, but also allowed the persecution of infidels: from these sources, it is not known what Constantine saw and what was marked on the shields of his army.  Eusebius` description of the day`s vision suggests a cross-shaped symbol (Τ or †), while Lactantius` description suggests a staurogram (⳨), although the crux ansata () or the Egyptian hieroglyph ankh (☥𓋹) have also been suggested as interpretations.  All these symbols were used by Christians in the 3rd and 4th centuries. Eusebius agrees with Lactantius that a new device was added to the shields of Constantine`s soldiers, but does not link it to the Battle of Milvian Bridge, saying only that the “sign of the saving trophy” was marked, but does not specify when. Some time after 317, Eusebius himself was allowed by Constantine, probably in 325 or 335, to see a standard made according to the emperor`s dream instructions during the civil war.  He described it as follows: Constantine`s position on the religions traditionally practiced in Rome developed during his reign. In fact, until 325, his coins and other official motifs had associated him with the pagan cult of Sol Invictus.
Constantine first encouraged the construction of new temples and tolerated traditional sacrifices; By the end of his reign, he had begun to order the looting and demolition of Roman temples.    Constantine`s personal “theology” emerges with particular clarity from a remarkable series of letters from 313 to the early 320s concerning the Donatist schism in North Africa. The Donatists asserted that priests and bishops who had once deviated from the Christian faith could not be readmitted to the Church. Constantine`s main concern was that a divided church would offend the Christian God, thus bringing divine vengeance on the Roman Empire and Constantine himself. The schism, according to Constantine, was inspired by Satan. Their disciples acted in defiance of Christ`s clemency, for which they could expect eternal damnation at the Last Judgment. In the meantime, it was up to the righteous members of the Christian community to show patience and long-suffering. In doing so, they would imitate Christ, and their patience would be rewarded instead of martyrdom – because real martyrdom was no longer open to Christians in time of peace for the Church. Constantine had no doubt that the elimination of errors and the propagation of true religion were both his personal duty and an appropriate use of the imperial position.
His claim to be “bishop of those outside the Church” can be interpreted in this light. Other statements of this kind, expressed in letters to imperial officials and Christian clergy, show that Constantine`s Christian profession was firmer and less ambiguous than some have suggested. Eusebius confirmed what Constantine himself believed: that he had a special and personal relationship with the Christian God. Constantine ruled the Roman Empire as sole emperor for much of his reign. Some scholars claim that its main purpose was to obtain unanimous consent and submission to its authority from all classes, and therefore chose Christianity to carry out its political propaganda, believing that it was the most appropriate religion that could suit imperial worship (see also Sol Invictus). Regardless, Christianity spread throughout the empire under the Constantinian dynasty, ushering in the era of the state church of the Roman Empire.  Whether Constantine sincerely converted to Christianity or remained faithful to paganism is controversial among historians (see also Constantine`s religious policy).  His formal conversion in 312 is almost universally recognized among historians, although it has been claimed that he was baptized only on his deathbed by the Arian bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia in 337;    The real reasons for this remain unknown and are also discussed.   According to Hans Pohlsander, professor emeritus of history at the University of Albany, SUNY, Constantine`s conversion was just another instrument of realpolitik in his hands, intended to serve his political interest in keeping the empire under his control: this dubious arrangement eventually became a challenge to Constantine in the West, culminating in the Great Civil War of 324.