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Constantine the Great

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Head of Constantine from a colossal statue

Head of Constantine from a colossal statue

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This profile of Constantine the Great is part of
Who's Who in Medieval History

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Constantine the Great was also known as:

Flavius Valerius Constantinus

Constantine the Great was noted for:

Being the first Roman Emperor to profess Christianity. Constantine's support of the religion would help transform it into the institution it would remain through the Middle Ages.

Occupations & Role in Society:

Places of Residence and Influence:

Important Dates:

    Born: Feb. 27, c. 280
    Died: May 22, 337

About Constantine the Great:

Although Constantine lived more than a hundred years before the traditional beginning of the Middle Ages, he is included in this reference because of the significant and far-reaching impact he and his reign had on Christianity and society in Medieval Europe.

Constantine the Great was the first Roman Emperor to profess Christianity. He established the new capital of Rome at the old Greek town of Byzantium, which he renamed New Rome, and which the people came to call Constantinople after him (probably with some encouragement from his supporters). This would become the capital of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire.

Constantine raised Christianity (which had not long been legal in the empire) to the status of a "permitted religion." He took a direct interest in matters of doctrine, setting a precedent for future emperors, and called the first Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church (at Nicaea). He had churches built after the pattern of Roman temples and public buildings. He restored to Christians the property they had lost during the persecutions of his predecessors, and he promoted and favored Christians in government jobs. His sponsorship of the religion made it suddenly advantageous to be a Christian.

Though the sincerity of Constantine's conversion has been debated, the impact of his actions on the subsequent history of the Church is undeniable.

Constantine Resources:

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