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Constantine the Great (c.280–337)

  1. John K. Tarwater

Published Online: 25 NOV 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9780470670606.wbecc0343

The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization

How to Cite

Tarwater, J. K. 2011. Constantine the Great (c.280–337). The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 25 NOV 2011


Many church historians consider Constantine (born as Flavius Valerius Constantine, the son of Constantius “Chlorus” and Helena) as the first Christian emperor of Rome. When Diocletian decided to organize his empire under two Augusti, each with an accompanying Caesar (tetrarchy), he promoted Constantine's father to Caesar. Later, Constantine was reared in the court of Diocletian, although some scholars consider he was held hostage. By the time of his death in 337, Constantine had risen to the position of sole ruler of the empire and initiated a number of reforms, making life as a Christian no longer a constant threat.


  • constantine the great (c.280–337);
  • first christian emperor, of Rome;
  • christian symbol, on the shields of soldiers;
  • letters chi and rho, a monogram for christ;
  • sincerity of constantine's “conversion”;
  • the Edict of Milan;
  • active role, in politics and religion;
  • christians, and the end of persecution