Constantine: History, Historiography and Legend by Samuel N. C. Lieu, Dominic Montserrat

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By Samuel N. C. Lieu, Dominic Montserrat

Constantine examines the reign of Constantine, the 1st Christian emperor and the founding father of Constantinople. From a number of angles: historic, historiographical and legendary. the amount examines the conditions of Constantine's reign and the ancient difficulties surrounding them, the various debts of Constantine's existence and the plethora of well known medieval legends surrounding the reign, to bare different visions and representations of the emperor from saint and customer of the Western church to imperial prototype. Constantine: historical past, Historiography and Legend provides a entire and arresting examine of this significant and debatable emperor.

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45 The real place of the Chi-Rho in late Roman military art is on the new battle flag, the labarum as it came to be called, which Constantine developed from the old vexillum. 46 Legends accumulated around the labarum. 49 Constantine, Eusebius tells us, indoctrinated the army: ‘instructing it in the mild and sober precepts of godliness, he carried his arms as far as the Britons, and all the nations that dwell in the very bosom of the western ocean’. 51 Sunday was made a day of rest. Christian soldiers were free to attend church: His trusty bodyguard, strong in affection and fidelity to his person, found in their emperor an instructor in the practice of piety, and like him held the Lord’s salutary day in honour, and performed on that day the devotions which he loved.

The authorities then took action without further ado: since there was no need for any sort of judicial hearing in their court, they simply enforced the ecclesiastical condemnation by bundling the condemned men into exile. Constantine gave bishops important privileges in the new Christian empire. 34 In significant ways the Christian bishop was now outside the normal legal system. 35 It should not be assumed that this ruling represented an innovation. For the bishop’s privilege of trial by his peers, though not explicitly attested until 355, surely goes back to Constantine.

35. , Apol. c. Ar. 2. Chadwick 1972 argues that the term was used in 325 itself and ‘had some association in the first instance with the 19 TIMOTHY BARNES 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 church’s plea for exemption from tax’ —and he draws the inference that the decisions of the council were so widely accepted because it succeeded in ‘obtaining important fiscal relief’. 178). Optati Milevitani Libri VII, ed. 10 (325)—from Gelasius of Caesarea. Millar 1977, especially 363–590. Girardet 1975:60–2.

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