Constantine's Impact On Christianity Essay

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Emperor Constantine (Flavius Valerius Constantinus) (272/3-337) ruled Rome during the acceptance of Christianity (307-337 AD), and was the first Roman Christian emperor. His impacts on the age in which he lived are manifold, but three of his most important contributions are his influence on the role of Christianity in the world, the development of the city of Constantinople, and the resulting impacts on architecture that are still seen today.
Constantine’s Impact on Christianity
Constantine ruled Rome from 307-337 AD, at a time when the Roman Empire was in a state of radical change. At a time when Christians were persecuted by followers of pagan beliefs, Constantine issued the Edict of Milan (313), granting legal status to Christianity.
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Constantine also convened the Council of Nicea in 325 AD, which developed the Nicene Creed, the backbone of Catholic Mass and still taught by rote to Catholic children today. “We believe in God, the Father, the Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth, of all that is, seen and unseen . . .” The words of the Nicene Creed are repeated every Sunday by hundreds of millions.
Before a decisive battle against the emperor Maxentius at the Milvan Bridge in 324 AD, Constantine had a vision of a cross in the sky, surrounded by stars that formed the words “With this, conquer,” in Latin. A church historian, Philostorgius, writing in the 4th or 5th Century,
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Constantine converted to Christianity before the battle, and had his soldiers inscribe crosses on their shields and banners as their standard. This was the first official adaptation of Christianity in government, and after soundly defeating Maxentius at the Milvan Bridge, the world regarded Constantine as divinely appointed. Constantine, more than any other single figure, is responsible for the political adaptation of Christianity.
Constantinople Gets the Works
Constantine made Byzantium, the Byzantine capitol, into a second capitol for Rome, and renamed it Constantinople. (Now, of course, it’s Istanbul, not Constantinople. Been a long time gone, old Constantinople. Still, it’s Turkish delight on a moonlit night.) But the location of Constantinople gave Rome leverage and a power projection point over the eastern part of the empire, and Constantinople lasted another thousand years after the fall of Rome. Constantinople was also called New Rome. Constantinople survived in part because after the fall of Rome, Constantinople became the de facto end of the Silk Road.
Constantinople was consecrated as a Christian city, although Constantine’s legislative emphasis on religious freedoms allowed pagans to coexist with Christians inside New Rome. Christian art and ceremony dominated Constantinople going forward, until the city was sacked by crusaders
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