The Effects Of The Reforms Of Constantin — страница 2

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the first of these campaigns that Constantine openly asserted his Christian beliefs, crediting Jesus Christ for his victory over Maxentius, at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge. The motives behind the conversion of Constantine remain a topic of debate. Legend states that Constantine claimed that he had seen the sign of Christ in the sky outside of Rome, and believed that it was as a result of this experience that he was able to defeat his rival. It is also as a possibility that Constantine chose to embrace Christianity as a simple demonstration of his opposition to Maxentius, who held very deep pagan convictions. ?If it was merely experimenting with the cross of Jesus, the experiment brought convincing belief, for the sacred emblem was employed in all later military campaigns, ?

stated historian Alexander Flick about Constantine?s conversion. In either scenario, after the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, Constantine was recognized as a Christian by all. The motives of Constantine would govern his policies towards the church throughout his reign. While purely political incentives would result in Constantine exploiting the church to his own end, purely religious convictions would see the church using the emperor as a puppet to its own advantage. History shows that Constantine?s motives were of a mixed nature. As he had received some Christian background in his upbringing, he held a sympathetic theological perspective towards the religion. At the same time, he continued his father?s policies of religious toleration. Thus it was not a complete change in

character for Constantine to embrace Christianity. However, the most probable factor in Constantine?s conversion to Christianity would be that in his early military campaigns against his adversaries, the Christian God seemed to serve him well. As a result, his faith increased each time God delivered him another victory over his enemies. In 313 AD., Constantine met with Licinius, and the two rulers drew up the Edict of Milan, which effectively put an end to the era of Christian persecution by granting the Christians the freedom to practice their religion without fear of government reprisal. Christians who had lost their status and legal power in the past now had it reinstated. The Edict also recognized the church as as a legitimate establishment, for it permitted the church to buy

and hold land. It is not surprising that for these reasons that the church welcomed the Edict of Milan. Its results were described by Alexander Flick: It did not make Christianity the state religion, as is generally asserted, but only legalized it, and popularized it. Now the people could and did openly desert the old and join the new faith… (The Edict) gave opportunity for public organization, thus paving the way for the Catholic hierarchy already begun; and marks as a new era in the history of the Christian church, because at last as a great Roman Emperor and his conquering army had taken up the sword of persecuted Christianity. By passing the Edict, Constantine had started the process of making Christianity the official religion of the Roman state rather than paganism This

transition from paganism to Christianity was accomplished by the passing of laws and other government legislation which favoured this new-coming Roman religion over that of the old. Constantine began showing favour towards Christianity as early as 312, however, he himself did not officially convert to the religion until his baptism in 337 AD. Other decrees that showed favour to the Christians followed the Edict. Gradually, the clergy became exempt from military and municipal duties ( a privilege previously reserved for pagan priests and Jewish rabbis). Christian slaves were also emancipated. In 316 AD., a multitude of customs and traditions the Christians found offensive were abolished, and by 323, the former gods of the Roman Empire; Jupiter, Apollo, Mars, etc., were no longer

visible on state coinage. It is an interesting sidenote that most of the blatantly obvious pro- Christian decrees executed by Constantine were not implemented until after the final defeat of Licinius, in 324 AD., which placed Constantine in the position of sole ruler of the Roman Empire. The changes brought about by Constantine resulted in drastic and permanent effects to the Roman state, as well as the Christian church. These shifts in the nature of these two establishments had profound consequences on those citizens involved under each. With the Christians, it meant public acceptance and an end to unrelenting persecution. With regards to the Romans, it meant a new way of life, so far as their spiritual community was concerned. In both cases, the reforms to the Roman state