Short Biography about the life of Constantine the Great
Short Biography profile and facts about one of the most famous Romans of all, in the life of Constantine the Great, Emperor of Rome and provinces of the Roman Empire.
Name commonly known as: Constantine the Great
Latin Roman Name: Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus
Reigned as Roman Emperor / Caesar:
*** Reigned 25 July 306 – 29 October 312 as Augustus in the West, officially made Caesar by Galerius with Severus as Augustus, by agreement with Maximian, refused relegation to Caesar in 309
*** 29 October 312 – 19 September 324 as undisputed Augustus in the West, senior Augustus in the empire
*** 19 September 324 – 22 May 337 emperor of united empire
Dynasty / Historical Period: The Constantinian dynasty (285 - 364) also called Neo-Flavian because every Constantinian emperor bore the name Flavius
Place and Date of Birth: 27 February ca. 272 in Naissus (Serbia)
Name of previous Emperor: His predecessor or the Emperor before Constantine was Constantius Chlorus
Family connections / Genealogy
*** Name of Father of Constantine the Great: Constantius Chlorus
*** Name of Mother of Constantine the Great: Helena
*** Constantine the Great Married:
*** *** Minervina, died or divorced before 307
*** *** Fausta
*** Children of Constantine the Great:
*** *** Crispus (by Minervina)
*** *** Constantina
*** *** Helena
*** *** Constantine II
*** *** Constantius II
*** *** Constans
Place and Date of Death: Constantine the Great died 22 May 337 at his palace at Nicomedia
Constantine the Great possessed many excellent qualities, was brave, active, and untiring, ruled with firmness and gave a large portion of his time to the cares of state.
For the names of the next Roman emperors in the East and the West of the Empire refer to the Timeline of Roman Emperors
Background information about Constantine the Great
Obtain a fast overview of the times of the Roman Emperor Constantine from the following facts and information about his life. After the abdication of the joint emperors Diocletian and Maximianus, Galerius ruled the East together with the Caesar he had appointed, Maximinus Daza. Licinius was made an Augustus of the West on 11 November 308. On the death of Galerius in 311AD there were four men calling themselves Emperors - Licinius in Asia, Daza Maximin in Egypt, Maxentius at Rome and Constantine in Gaul.
Interesting facts about the life of Constantine the Great
Why was Constantine famous? Accomplishments, achievements and important events. Constantine was the son of Constantius Chlorus and Helena. Helena was said to have been the daughter of an inn-keeper. When Constantius Chlorus became Caesar he divorced Helena, and her son Constantine was, to some extant, neglected. Constantine, however, soon distinguished himself as a soldier, and won the affection of the army. In appearance he was tall, dignified, and pleasing; he excelled in all military exercises, was modest, prudent, and well informed. He soon attracted the jealousy of Galerius, who would have put him to death had he not escaped to his father in Britain. Constantius Chlorus died at York, 305, and Galerius passed over Constantine, and appointed a favorite of his own named Licinius. Constantine was so much beloved by the army and people of Gaul that they proclaimed him Emperor, and he held the province of Britain and Gaul securely against all enemies.
Constantine the Great - Period of the Six Sovereigns
Maxentius, the son of the abdicated emperor Maximian, was also proclaimed Augustus by his soldiers. Severus, who marched against them, was defeated and put to death; and Constantine now married Fausta, the daughter of Maximian. Galerius led a large army from the East, but was repulsed from Rome and retreated, leaving Maximian and his son masters of the capital. Galerius next associated Licinius with him in his power, and there were now six sovereigns upon the throne. In A.D. 310 Maximian, having conspired against the life of Constantine, was put to death; Galerius died the next year; in A.D. 312 Maxentius fell before the arms of Constantine, and was drowned in the Tiber while attempting to make his escape. By 317, there were two remaining Augusti in control of the Roman Empire. Constantine reigned as an Western Roman Emperor and his brother-in-law Licinius as an Eastern Roman Emperor. On 1 March 317, the two co-reigning emperors jointly proclaimed three new Caesars. Crispus alongside his younger half-brother Constantine II and his first cousin Licinius iunior. Constantine II was the older son of Fausta but was only about a month old at the time of his proclamation.
The Conversion of Constantine to Christianity
Great victories were gained by Constantine the Great at Turin, Verona, and on the banks of the Tiber, where, at the battle of the Milvian Bridge in 312, Maxentius was defeated, and was drowned in crossing the river. It was during the campaign against Maxentius that Constantine is said to have seen the miraculous cross in the heavens. This wonder was seen in the heavens before his whole army, namely, a bright cross of light in the noon-tide sky with the words plainly to be traced round it, 'In hoc signo vinces' meaning "In this sign thou shalt conquer." Constantine proclaimed himself a Christian, and from Milan Constantine the Great issued an edict promising the Christians his favor and protection.
The Arch of Constantine
Constantine entered Rome and was proclaimed by the Senate as Emperor of the West. The Roman Senate paid unusual honors to Constantine; games and festivals were instituted in memory of his victory over Maxentius, and a triumphal arch was erected called the Arch of Constantine. The Arch of Trajan was stripped of its ornaments to adorn the Arch of Constantine.
Constantine the Great
Constantine the Great introduced good order into the administration of the West, revived the authority of the Senate, and disbanded the Praetorian Guards; he revoked the edicts against the Christians, and paid unusual deference to the bishops and saints of the Church. The Emperor Licinius, who had married his sister, in A.D. 313 defeated and put to death Maximin, so that the empire was now shared between Constantine and Licinius.
Constantine and Licinius
Constantine summoned a council of bishops at Arles to suppress the heresy of the Donatists (a Christian religious sect in Africa), but, before it met, Constantine was forced to march against Licinius, who had conspired against him. Licinius was defeated in two battles, and forced to give up a large part of his dominions to his conqueror. Constantine next defeated theGoths and Sarmathans. Licinius had assumed the defense of Paganism, whilst Constantine raised the standard of the Cross. The last struggle between them took place near Adrianople; the Pagan army was defeated by Constantine the Great and in A.D. 324 Licinius was put to death. Constantine reigned alone over the empire of Augustus.
Constantine and the Council of Nice
Constantine the Great instigated the famous Council of Nice, which met in A.D. 325, the doctrine of the Trinity was established, Arianism condemned, and at the same time the emperor was, in effect, acknowledged to be the spiritual head of the Church.
Constantine and Rome
Rome, which had so long been the capital of the world, was now to descend from that proud position and become a provincial city. When Constantine returned to Rome after the Council of Nice, he found himself assailed with insults. The Senate and the people of the capital saw with horror the destroyer of their national faith, the Roman gods and goddesses and they looked upon Constantine as cursed by the gods. The execution of his son and his wife Fausta increased the ill feeling against the emperor and Constantine resolved to abandon Rome as his capital. Constantine was also aware that Rome, seated in the heart of Italy, was no longer a convenient capital for his empire. Constantine therefore decided to build a new city on the site of ancient Byzantium. The Bosphorus, a narrow strait, connects the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmora; and here, on a triangular piece of ground, inclosing on one side an excellent harbor, Constantine the Great laid the foundations of his capital. It would be called Constantinople
Constantine and Constantinople
Constantinople was adorned with all the architectural elegance of the age, but the arts of sculpture and of decoration had so declined that Constantine was forced to rob the cities of Greece of their finest works in order to supply the deficiencies of his own artists. Constantine the Great provided the city of Constantinople with a forum, a hippodrome, or circus of great size, and the baths and pleasure-grounds, recalled the memory of those of Rome. Schools and theatres, aqueducts, fourteen churches, fourteen palaces, and a great number of magnificent private houses, added to the splendor of Constantinople and its emperor, Constantine the Great.
Constantine and the New Constitution of the Empire
Having thus provided a capital, Constantine next began to form a new constitution for his empire; he established, therefore, a complete despotism, all the power being lodged in the emperor, and all honors and titles being conferred by him alone. The name of Consul was still preserved, these officers being yearly appointed by the emperor. All the civil magistrates were taken from the legal profession. The law was now the most honorable of the professions, and the law school at Berytus, in Phoenicia, had flourished since the reign of Alexander Severus. The Roman Empire was divided into four great praefectures, which were themselves subdivided into dioceses and provinces. The praefectures were named that of the East, of Illyricum, of Italy, and of Gaul. A Praetorian Praefect had charge of each praefecture, and regulated its civil government; took care of the roads, ports, granaries, manufactures, coinage. The Praetorian Praefect was the supreme legal magistrate, from whose decision there was no appeal. Rome and Constantinople had their own Praefects, whose courts took the place of those of the ancient Praetors, while a considerable police force preserved the peace of each city. The magistrates of the empire were divided into three classes, the Illustrissimi, or illustrious; the Spectabiles, or respectable; and the Clarissimi, or the honorable.
Constantine - Christianity, the established religion of the state
Constantine made Christianity the established religion of the state, and appropriated a large portion of the revenues of the cities to the support of the Christian churches and the clergy. The standing army of Constantine was massive, but the ranks were now filled chiefly by barbarians, the Roman youth having lost all taste for arms. It is said the young men of Italy were in the habit of cutting off the fingers of the right hand in order to ensure that they were deemed unfit for military service.
The Taxes imposed by Constantine the Great
In order to support this extensive system, Constantine was forced to impose heavy taxes upon his people. Every year the emperor subscribed with his own hand, in purple ink, the indiction, or tax levy of each diocese, which was set up in its principal city, and when this proved insufficient, an additional tax, or superindiction, was imposed. Lands, cattle, and slaves were all heavily taxed, and the declining agriculture of the empire was finally ruined by the exorbitant demands of the state. In Campania alone, once the most fertile part of Italy, one eighth of the whole province lay uncultivated, and the condition of Gaul seems to have been no better. Besides this, merchants, manufacturers, mechanics, and citizens were taxed beyond their power of endurance, while those who failed to pay were shut up in prison. Every fourth year these taxes on industry were levied, a period to which the people looked forward with terror and lamentation. Gifts were also demanded from the cities or provinces on various occasions, such as the accession of an emperor or the birth of an emperor's heir. The tax systems imposed by Constantine the Great would later contribute to the decline of the Roman Empire.
The Family of Constantine the GreatThe Death of Constantine the Great
Crispus was the son of Constantine and his first wife Minervina. His second wife, Fausta, began a conspiracy against Crispus who was extremely popular and an obstacle to her ambition for her own children by Constantine. Constantine was persuaded to believe the false accusations of treason against Crispus by Fausta. Crispus was executed by his father's orders, together with Caesar Licinius, the son of Constantine's favorite sister. Helena, the aged mother of Constantine, undertook to avenge her grandson Crispus. Fausta was finally proved to be unfaithful to her husband, and put to death, with many of her friends and followers. The terrible scenes within the palace recalled to the Roman people the memory of Nero and Caligula. The three sons of Fausta, Constantine, Constantius and Constans, were now the heirs of the throne, and, with their two cousins, Dalmatius and Hannibalianus, were carefully instructed by Christian professors, Greek philosophers and Roman jurisconsults. Constantine himself taught them the science of government. They also studied the art of war in defending the frontiers of the empire
Constantine in his old age adopted the luxury and pomp which Diocletian introduced from the East. Constantine the Great wore false hair of various colors carefully arranged, a diadem of costly gems, and a robe of silk embroidered with flowers of gold. There had been no important wars during the last fourteen years of the reign. Constantine the Great reigned thirty years, the longest period of any since Augustus. Constantine, although professing the Christian faith, was not baptized until a short time before his death. Constantine died on May 22, A.D. 337, at his palace at Nicomedia, aged sixty-four years.
Constantine - Constantinian dynasty (285 - 364)
The Constantinian dynasty (285 - 364) is named after its most famous Emperor, Constantine I. The dynasty is also called Neo-Flavian because every Constantinian emperor bore the name Flavius, similarly to the rulers of the first Flavian dynasty in the 1st century. The Constantinian dynasty ruled from the rise of Diocletian in 285 to the death of Julian the Apostate in 364.
Constantine the Great
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