Constantine the Great

father to flee to Rome, who took refuge with Constantine, but, afterward he fled from Rome on account of a conspiracy and was captured and executed.

Maxentius, greatly angered at the death of his father, collected a vast army and threatened Gaul. Constantine hastened to meet him, crossed the Alps by Mont Cenis, and defeated him three times. In the last engagement Maxentius was drowned in an attempt to escape across the Tiber.

Soon after Constantine entered Rome in triumph, adopted a vigorous military policy, and quieted public excitement. He was now sole emperor of the West, and Licinius became emperor of the East about the same time. In 314 the two emperors became engaged in war, which terminated to the advantage of Constantine. Peace was soon concluded, the conditions being the cession of Greece and other territory to Constantine. He next devoted himself to the correction of abuses and public extravagance, strengthened his frontier, effected internal improvements, and established himself as a powerful military influence.

In 323 a war broke out between the West and East, and terminated in Constantine becoming sole ruler of the Roman world. The capital was now moved from Rome to Byzantium, which was solemnly inaugurated as the seat of government in 330 under the name of Constantinople.

A dark shadow was thrown over his memory in 324 by the execution of his gallant and accomplished son, Crispus, along with some others on a charge of treason. The council of Nice met in 325 and was supported by Constantine. Subsequently he granted toleration to the Christians and had Christianity adopted as the state religion, at the same time closing pagan temples and forbidding sacrifices. Shortly before his death he professed Christianity and allowed himself to be baptized. He ranks high as an emperor, being beloved by his people and moderate toward other nations. Constantine's reign was marked by an efficient organization of a stable government and the adoption of Christianity in his vast dominion.

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