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Lecture 29

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Glenn Wilkinson

Lecture 29 (November 27) Disintegration of the Tetrarchic System and the Rise of Constantine 1. Abdication of Diocletian and Maximian (May 1, 305 A.D.) 2. Constantine: background 3. From Constantine’s accession (306 A.D.) to the death of Galerius (311) a. Constantine accepts posiyion of western Caesar (306) b. Maxentius usurps control of Italy and Africa (306) c. Conference of Carnuntum and installation of Licinius (308) d. Death of Galerius (311) 4. Battle of the Milvian Bridge (312)(term: labarum) End of the First Tetrarchy - east – 305 A.D. – Diocletian suffering from illnessan rumours of his death – Galerius became driving force - fringes of the empire – large imposing man of Galerius – began bullying Diocletian - unprecedented – retirement of Diocletian - forced western Augustus (Maximian) to step down as well - both Caesars stepped up – and two new Caesars were appointed - everyone in the empire knew who the new Caesars would be – son of Maximian and son of Constantius (Constantine) - public unveiling of Caesars – two names were Valerius Severus in West and Maximinus Daza in the East - two complete unknowns – both military men and associates of Galerius - clearly Galerius who made the decision – perhaps felt threatened by the two young sons of emperors - installed two nobodies who he thought he could control - beginning of the end of the tetrarchic system - claim that Galerius attempted to have Constantine killed – story of Constantine’s daring escape - reached the English Channel in record time – apparently went from checkpoint to checkpoint cutting tendons of all other horses - father-son (Constantius and Constantine) – campaign until father died – on deathbed he passed his mantle to his son - some called Constantine a usurper – but father was top-ranking Augustus therefore Constantine was actually legitimate Augustus of the West Constantine - oldest son of Constantius - mother Helena – perhaps the daughter of a tavern keeper - sources are difficult to believe – hostile or positive - lived in the imperial court of Diocletian – first-class education and military training - likely in late-20s when he took the throne - apparently large and handsome - intelligent and skillful general – hero and leading general - religiously speaking – worshiper of Sol Invictus – quasi-official religion of the Roman army - also sympathetic to Christianity – likely female Christians within his family - first official act as Augustus was to nullify the edicts of persecution in area under his control – freedom to practice of his religion and confiscated property was returned – against imperial policy under Galerius Political Situation - in 306 A.D. – tetrarchy already falling apart - when Constantius died – western
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