Who was Emperor Constantine and why was he important in the fourth century?
Emperor Constantine (280AD – 337 AD) was a monotheist, who initially was a Sun worshipper. Even before the Roman Empire converted to Christianity, he was always very sympathetic and tolerant toward Christians. In 312, Constantine converted to Christianity, after having a vision of a cross superimposed against the sun. With his conversion, a great change in the Roman Empire occurred. Christianity witnessed a great expansion within the Empire, as many citizens followed ...view middle of the document...
Constantine’s first great contribution was in the year 313AD; Constantine, alongside his co-emperor in the East, Licinius, granted universal religious freedom through the Edict of Milan. This gave legal equality to all cults and restored confiscated property to the Christians. With the great acceptance of Christianity and its intermingling within the political aspects of the Empire, great changes within the church also took place. Bishops gained judicial responsibilities and worked alongside bureaucrats, both allowing the church t3o have an influence on secular activities and events within the Empire. Also, since Christianity had such a high degree of power in the Empire, Christian symbols appeared on the coinage, churches were able to further increase the heritage by inheriting property and Christian places of worship multiplied.
Due to the fact that Constantine felt very important because of the fact that he increased the status of Christianity, he wanted to be seen as the patron of the church. He therefore saw himself as the representative on earth of the Christian God, and also as “bishop extraordinary” – a title which described him as the bishop of what did not pertain directly to the church.