By Gregory S. Aldrete P.h.D., university of Wisconsin, green Bay

Roman emperor Constantine’s victory at the Milvian bridge in 312 advertisement and the accompanying conversion to Christianity is taken into consideration to be one of the an important events in west history. Yet, the genuineness and also completeness that Constantine’s conversion has been under scrutiny for number of centuries now. Why?

The ceremonial ‘Arch that Constantine’ in Rome was constructed to commemorate Constantine’s victory after the Milvian leg battle. (Image: ArtRomanov/Shutterstock)

Constantine i was one of the famous emperors the Rome and the an initial to profess Christianity. That ruled during the 4th century, and also some of his important achievements include his support of Christianity, construction of the city the Constantinople, and the continue of the revolutionary of Diocletian.

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Constantine and Christianity

Constantine’s fostering of Christianity marked the revolution of Christianity indigenous an obscure sect to a leading religion. Through embracing Christianity, which was monotheistic in nature, Constantine presented a notion that the one and also only legitimate God had actually chosen him together the sole contender for the throne. Apart from having far-reaching political ramifications, the idea likewise signaled vital shift in the relationship in between emperors and also the divine. In a duration when there to be multiple contenders because that the royal throne, this convenient philosophy made the competitor claimants illegitimate and also ensured Constantine’s authority.

Constantine’s Sincerity in Conversion

Throughout his beforehand career, Constantine appeared to have been strongly drawn to the idea that aligning himself through a deity who take it a personal interest in his success. Initially, this assertions centered roughly the sunlight god in his manifestation together Sol Invictus, the ‘unconquerable sun’. It was also a deliberate effort to motivate his troops by making use of his association with Sol Invictus or ‘the unconquerable’.

Constantine declared that a Christian God promised him army victory before the battle of the Milvian bridge in 312 AD. (Image: Giulio Romano/Public domain)

Later, in 310 AD, he asserted to have had actually a vision the Apollo promising him victory, an event that the commemorated top top coins. A similar claim that manifestation through a Christian God prior to the battle of the Milvian Bridge has led come a debate amongst the scholars. While part argue that these visions were downhearted inventions the Constantine to inspire his soldiers before crucial military invasions, rather argue the Christianity was simply a minor cult at the moment of Milvian bridge battle and also if Constantine to be calculative, he would have chosen a an ext popular God because that his vision. The obscurity that Christianity in his times and the reality that Constantine continued to be Christian for the rest of his life to be the arguments supporting genuineness that his conversion.

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Contradictions of Constantine, the Christian

Constantine, however, ongoing to take some actions that appeared at odds come his idea of being a Christian. Because that instance, even a decade after his conversion to Christianity, Constantine retained minting coins that portrayed images of timeless Roman gods and also his favorite pagan god, solar Invictus.He ongoing to subsidize the pagan holy places from the imperial treasury and took manage of the office the the Pontifex Maximus—the chief priest of the Romans that presided end rituals performed to the classic pagan gods. He additionally consulted a pagan oracle as soon as his resources city to be struck through lightning.

Furthermore, Constantine espoused a cautious approach in his public promotion of Christianity.For instance, come commemorate the victory after the Milvian leg battle, he created a triumphal arch at Rome; yet, the inscription on ‘The Arch of Constantine’ does no specifically cite Christianity however instead characteristics the victory to an unnamed ‘divine power’ and also ‘the greatness the Constantine’s mind’.

Constantine waited till a small before his death to acquire baptized. While such delayed baptism to be a typical practice in ~ the time, his dedication to the religion has been under inquiry time and again.

The picture of a golden medallion the 315 ad shows Constantine holding increase the normal ruler’s scepter, i m sorry is in the form of a cross. When the emperor’s helmet is decorated through the Christian Chi-Rho symbol, his shield bears the wolf that nursed Romulus and also Remus. Constantine also presented himself as clean shaven, the very first emperor to do so in several centuries. This was a deliberate effort to portray that as various from others. Thus, v Constantine, the Roman empire incorporated religion right into the state and strengthened itself. For Constantine, Christian monotheism was simply a means to an end, a legitimization that his vision of sole emperorship.

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Constantine, the Interventionist

Constantine seemed to be drawn to the politics corollaries the a monotheistic religion due to the fact that it available a way to quash politics division; but he then seems to have extended this idea to faith itself, deciding that it to be a poor thing for there to be any spiritual factionalism amongst Christians. Therefore, he take it an active role in attempting to resolve several purely theological disputes that endangered to fracture the beforehand Christian community.