Biography

Constantine I

 

Constantine I was born in Naissus in 272 A.D. His father, Constantius I was appointed Caesar in 293 A.D. He fought against the Sarmatians and in Nicomedia early in his career, and fought alongside his father in Britain after Diocletian’s abdication and Constantius’ rise to becoming Augustus in the west. He was proclaimed Caesar by the army there upon his father’s death in 306 A.D. Galerius then gave him the Severus Augustus title and he became Caesar, ruling over the territories of Spain, Gaul, and Britain. In 312 A.D. Constantine defeated Maxentius in the battle of the Milvian Bridge to become emporer of the western empire, with Licinius ruling in the east. In this battle there were reports of Constantine having a dream where he saw a cross above the son and then sent his troops into battle with crosses on their shields, and their subsequent victory is said to have led him to Christianity. Constantine gave religious freedom to his subjects, such as the Edict of Milan in 313 A.D., which gave Christians religious freedom and the restoration of their property. War broke out with Licinius in 323 A.D., and Constantine defeated him in 324 A.D. at the battle of Adrianople, and became the sole ruler of the empire. He established the old city of Byzantium as the new capital of the empire, and renamed it Constantinople in that same year. In 325 A.D. he summoned the famous Council of Nicea, where bishops agreed on a profession of their faith, now know as the Nicene Creed. The last 12 years of his reign were relatively peaceful, though he did conduct some successful campaigns against the Gauls and Sarmatians. He died in 337 A.D. near Nicomedia, and planned for his sons to rule the empire together. Constantine was baptized shortly before his death.