Constantine the Great was undoubtedly one of the greatest Emperors. He is the one who led the Empire through a major transition: before him, the Roman Empire was pagan, after his reign, Christian.

Early Rule

He was born in Naissus around 283 A. D. raised by his mother Helena and his father Constantius Chlorus, the future Emperor and a high-ranked officer at the time. Constantine was raised to become a soldier like his father. He was introduced to Christianity by his mother.

After the death of his father Constantius Chlorus on July 26, 306 in York, the Army declared Constantine Augustus. Having in mind that this choice was against the opinion of Galerius, Constantine, holding the major part of the western army with him under the excuse of the invasion of the Francs, accepted Galerius suggestion to take on the inferior title of Caeser.

Constantine enters an alliance with Maximianus Herculius, who regained the throne by violence. He marries his daughter Fausta and takes the name of Hercules stepping in the cult of Herculius. After the conflict between him and Maximianus which ended up probably in his murder in 310 A.D. Constantine rejected the connection with the dynasty of the Hercules by turning to the cryptic origin of the Claudius Gothicus and the cult of the invincible Sola.

Fight For Power

During the 311 A.D., Constantine achieved an agreement with Licinius and entered in a war with Maxentius. In the early spring of 312, he moved from Gaul to Italy against Maxentius. Maxentius trusting in the superiority of his army and misguided interpretation of the Sybilian prophecy according to which the Roman enemy was going to be defeated on 28 October, the anniversary of the foundation of Rome, abandoned safety of the impregnable walls and left the city, crossing the Tibris near the Milvian Bridge moving toward the passage of Saxa Rubra. Constantine saw an opportunity here, the Maxentius army clambered between the hills and the river, was exposed to the attack from the left wing. The victory was swift and decisive, and Maxentius was killed in the river. Constantine triumphantly enters Rome. 313 A.D. Constantine issues the Edict of Milan.

At the beginning of 313, he marries his sister for Licinius, giving him the administration of the Eastern part of the Empire. The period of their 10 years of joint rule follows. Constantine, under his control, holds the western part of the Empire, and the former Maxentius areas, Italy, Africa, and much of the Ilirika. While Licinius gained control of the eastern part of the empire, and the diocese of Pannonia. Relations between these two were full of intrigue. In 314 A.D. there is a conflict between Constantine and Licinius. The battle was at Cibala, in which Licinius had to flight to Sirmium. The second battle between them was in the Mardini Field in Thrace with an undecidable outcome.

The mutual disharmony brought an agreement. Licinius resigned Illyria except diocese of Thrace. It was then decided that the Emperor would not enter the province of another Emperor except when barbarians invade. With this agreement at the end of the year 314, the Empire was divided into two parts. Expression of the harmony and good relations between the two rulers was the proclamation of new Ceasers on 1 March 317: Constantine’s sons Crispus and Constantine II as well as Licinius son Licinius II. The civil war stopped for a short time, then continued with more intensity and greater violence. This conflict also had some features of the religious conflict; Licinius broke the trust and started persecution of the Christians recognizing in them supporters of Constantine. In 324, there is a final conflict between these two rulers. Which ended with the battle of Chrysopolis where Licinius was injured and later killed.

Fragments from a colossal statue of Constantine

The next military venture relates to the war of the Goths and Sarmatians 331-334, Constantine stepped to the side of the Sarmatians and provided them with help. Sarmats quickly forget the help they received and begun incursions into the territory of the Empire. Then Constantine using his cunning strategy resumed the conflicts between the Goths and Sarmatians, forcing the Sarmatians to become subjects of his Empire.

Constantine ruled thirty years. After a short illness in 337 A.D., he died in the suburbs of Nicomedia. He is buried in the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople.

By building a new capital, Byzantium on the Bosfor 330 A. D. (Constantinople) the center of the Empire moved east.