Constantine was born to a Roman solder who would work his way up through the ranks to become governor of a province, then Caesar, which was the deputy director of the western empire, then Augustus, the senior western emperor. The scheme of appointing four emperors was to try and prevent civil war and to make the position more based on merit than lineage; however Constantine was understood to be in line for his father’s position once he died or retired.
Constantine went to the court at Rome, but would almost be considered a hostage there. Constantine did undertake several military campaigns successfully. Both of the Augustus’ retired at the same time, and both Constantine and the other son who was expected to take the other position of Caesar were snubbed in favor of other candidates.
Constantine’s father requested that Constantine come to aid him conquer Brittan. His father died and he became Caesar. A series of civil wars followed that Constantine managed to stay out of. The four pronged approach to rule was failing, and it was becoming obvious that there would only be one ruler of Maxentitus was the last opposing ruler, he held on to Italy and Rome itself and attacked Constantine’s forces. Constantine conquered city by city until he was at Rome’s door. Maxenitus was expecting a long siege, but Constantine avoided Rome and conquered the lands around it. Maxenitus drew his army out to face Constantine on an open plain. Constantine claimed to have a vision of the cross, and had the sign painted on his army’s shields. On the 29th of October 312 Maxenitus’ army was routed, and Constantine became the ruler of all of Rome.
Constantine declared Christianity to be legal and forbade all actions against it. He donated a lot of money to the church and organized the Council of Nicaea. His patronage of Christianity has had mixed effects since there was a paganizing of Christian ideas and holidays as a result of his patronage.
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