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Christian Empire under Constantine

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  1. Introduction
  2. The beginning of Nationalists drift
    1. The progressive integration of Jews
    2. The legacy of traditional Judaism
    3. Persistent prejudices
  3. The rise of antisemitism in the 1880s
    1. The Jew, 'scapegoat of modernity '
    2. Strengthening the construction of identity in race
    3. Discomfort spread by the press and the literature
  4. The violent antisemitism led to a division of corporations
    1. Of termination to the exclusion
    2. The instrumentalization of anti-Semitism by political forces
    3. Zionism, a response to the barbaric antisemitism

On the death of his father Constantius in 306, Constantine was appointed the King by Caesar's legions of Britain. He reigned over a portion of the Western Roman Empire. The tetrarchy was then practiced. There were several different emperors ruling over Roman territories. Constantine became the sole Roman Emperor of the East and West in 324 after his victory over Maxentius in 312 at the Battle of the Bridge Milvian and Licinius in 324. Marking the end of the era of persecution faced by Christians, Constantine is known for being the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity. He helped the Christian church to take off.

It is therefore necessary to analyze the transformation of the Church into a political force during the reign of Constantine, from 306 to 337. Relations between the State and Church were indeed a turning point in the early fourth century. According to Paul Veyne, "Christianity did not teach us to separate God and Caesar, as they were originally separate, and it was Caesar who put out a hand to the Church for help and guidance".

Many historians have linked policy decisions taken by Constantine to his inner development and his personal beliefs. But can we truly speak of a confusion of religious and temporal affairs, as the term "Christian Empire" seems to suggest? Was there really a political and spiritual union under Emperor Constantine? We will first see that the Christian faith of the emperor remained a personal, private agenda, and was always a minority within the pagan majority. We will then analyze the attempt to apply the theology of Constantine to the whole of his empire, and his central role in this new concept of relations between the Church and State.

At the beginning of the fourth century, the Roman Empire still held pagan beliefs, worshipping Apollo, the Sun God, and of course the Emperor. Christians were unpopular, or at least their religion remained unclear. Constantine's decision to convert to Christianity was a truly remarkable event. We need to analyze the birth and development of Christian feeling in Constantine, but also the limited public expression his stance afforded him, because of his religious minority position in an overwhelmingly pagan society.

Constantine's conversion to Christianity was not a simple political calculation; he cannot be accused of opportunism, because the Christian minority was then mostly hated and had no significant influence. On the eve of the Battle of the Milvian Bridge in 312, Constantine had a dream in which God appeared, a revelation that decided his conversion, he claimed. In this dream, he saw God present a symbol, later identified as the Christian chrism, and He stated: "Conquer by this sign."

Constantine, convinced of the divine essence of this vision, this symbol was included as a sign and promise of victory, on the shields of his soldiers and on his helmet for battle the next day, and he emerged victorious. This symbol could just as easily have represented the sun, then deified at the time, but we preferred the interpretation of the chrism, or the Greek X (chi) and P (rho) intertwined, the first two letters of the Greek name of the Lord : Christ. Thus the victory of Constantine over Maxentius was the victory of the true God, Christianity over paganism.

Tags: Constantine, Christianity, Roman Empire, paganism

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