Who is Constantine exactly? Constantine, or Flavius Valerius Constantinus, is most commonly known as the first Christian emperor of the Roman world and the founder of the ancient city Constantinople. Born February 27, roughly 285 AD to Helena, a common innkeeper’s daughter, and Constantius Chlorus, there is a high possibility that the infamous Constantine was an illegitimate child.
In 293 AD Constantius Chlorus was elevated to the rank of Caesar and his son replaced him as a member, of the then current emperor Diocletian’s, court. This was the beginning of a long and illustrious career that often bordered on cruelty and betrayal. While Diocletian was the main emperor, he served along with Galerius and Maxmian, also known as co-emperor’s or co-augusti. Eventually Constantius Chlorus died as an augusti and Constantine took his place alongside Galerius in 306 AD. Constantine married former Augustus Maxmian’s daughter, Fausta, who then finally acknowledged Constantine as an emperor.
During the conference of Carnuntum in 308 AD, where all the Caesars and augusti met, it was demanded that Constantine return to being a Caesar but he refused, causing much political unrest. In retaliation, Maxmian turned against Constantine and began to attempt to dethrone the young emperor. Constantine drove Maxmian to Massilla where Maxmian either committed suicide or was executed in 310 AD. When Galerius died in 311 AD, Constantine was joined by Valerius Licinius Licinianus, or Licinius and Gaius Julius Verus Maximinus, or Maximinus to complete the tetrarchy that Diocletian had originally established.
While Licinius and Maximinus battled for supremacy, Constantine began a war against Maxentius. Constantine, on his march to Rome, supposedly had a vision of “Chi-Ro”, the symbol of Christ, shining above the sun. He had his soldiers paint the symbol on their shields and they were victorious. From the on Constantine viewed himself as “an emperor of the Christian people”. After his victory over Maxentius, Constantine became the dominant figure in the empire and because the Roman Senate welcomed him, the remaining emperors had next to no choice in declaring Constantine the senior Augustus. It was then that Constantine ordered Maximinus to cease his repression of the Christians; however, despite his revelation towards Christianity, Constantine still remained, for some years, very tolerant of the pagan religions.
In 313 AD Licinius defeated Maximinus leaving only himself and Constantine as emperors. To show submission, Licinius married Constantine’s sister and restated Constantine as the dominant leader. However, from 314 to around 324 AD Licinius and Constantine clashed multiple times, battles resulting from challenged positions, giving power to one’s relatives, and prosecution of Christians. Finally, Licinius fled to modern day Turkey but was imprisoned and later executed. Constantine was now the sole Roman emperor.
To begin his singular rule, Constantine created a...