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Lecture 31

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University of Toronto St. George
Glenn Wilkinson

Lecture 31 (December 2) Constantine and the Future of the Roman Empire 1. The great persecution, 303-313 A.D. (from last lecture) 2. Constantine’s final years, 324-337 A.D. a. Promotion of Christianity; foundation of Constantinople b. Civil and military continuity with the Tetrarchs c. Constantine as a second Augustus d. Dynastic succession 3. The Roman Empire after Constantine Christianity - achieved status – right to own property - great persecution – under tetrarchy - from 284-299 A.D. – foreign wars on every frontier by Diocletian - once military order was restored – Diocletian turned inwards – economic and religious reforms - purged Roman army of Christians – including important figures - issued an edict – Christian buildings were to be destroyed, churches and properties were to be confiscated, Christian meetings not allowed - second edict – all Christian clergy were to be locked up – prisons were overflowing with priests, bishops, deacons – set free if they sacrificed to pagan gods, others forced against their will, others tortured and executed - final edict – 304 A.D. – all to sacrifice to pagan gods or to be executed - edicts did not have much impact in Western Europe – vast majority in the East, and also Constantius (western Caesar) was not eager to enforce the laws – son Constantine reversed laws and by 306 A.D. there is no persecution in West half of the empire - in the East – Diocletian, then under Galerius and Maximinus Daza – widespread persecution - alliance - Edict of Milan – and defeat of Daza – that carnage came to an end - some thrown to wild animals, crucified and burnt to death - group identity of Christians – forged in the crucible of suffering – leaves major imprint on them, obsession of the macabre (celebration of martyrs and relic collections) Constantine’s Final Years - one sole emperor – his Christianity was evident - went to Rome to celebrate 20 years as emperor – offended the pagans by not sacrificing on the Capitoline Hill on religious grounds - never went back to the city – new imperial capital, Constantinople – over the older city of Byzantium - free grain distribution – replacement capital - after this point- Rome never regained importance as center of the world - pagan sacrifice prohibited in Constantinople - many dedications to martyrs – dedication of the city to the “god of the martyrs” - funding of religious buildings
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