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A.D. 305.] CONSTANTIUS AND GALERIUS AUGUSTI. 669
REUNION OF THE EMPIRE, AND ESTABLISHMENT OP
CHRISTIANITY. FROM CONSTANTINE TO JOVIAN.
A.D. 306 TO A.D. 364.
"God forbid that I should glory, save in the oaoss of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Si. Paul, Gal. vi. 14. "HOC SIGNO VINCES." Motto of Constantine.
CONSTANTIUS AND QALBRIUS BECOME AUGUSTI—GALERIUS MAKES MAXIMIN AND SEVERUS OESARS IN THE EAST AND ITALY—CONSTANTINE THE OREAT—BIS BIRTH AND EARLY CAREER—HIS FLIGHT FROM NICOHEDIA TO BOULOGNE—DEATH OF OONBTANTICS AT YORK—CONSTANTINE PROCLAIMED IN BRITAIN—HIS GERMAN VICTORIES AND CRUELTIES—MAXBNTIVS FBOOLAIHED AT ROME—MAXTMINIAN REASSUMES THE PURPLE—DEFEAT AND DEATH OF SEVERUS—QALRRIUS ENTERS ITALY AND RETREATS —HE MAKES LICINIUS AUGUSTUS—SIX SOMAN EMPERORS AT ONCE—MAXIMIAN EXFELLED FROM ITALY: REBELS IN GAUL : IS DEFEATED AND PUT TO DEATH BT CONSTANTINE—DEATH OF OALERICS—WAR OF CONSTANTINE AGAINST MAXENTIUS— VICTORIES OF TURIN AND SAXA RUBRA, NEAR ROME, AND DEATH OF MAXENTIUS— CONSTANTINE AT ROME—THE PRAETORIANS ABOLISHED, AND ROME LEFT DEFENCELESS—CLOSE ALLIANCB OF CONSTANTINE AND LICINIUS—DEFEAT AND DEATH OF MAXIMIN—TTRANNT OF LICINIUS IN THE EAST—EDICT OF MILAN—REVIEW OF THE DIOCLETIAN PERSECUTION—IN THE WEST: MARTTRS OF SPAIN AND BRITAIN: ST. ALBAN—IN ITALY AND AFRICA: THE PERSECUTION STOPPED BT MAXIMIAN— IN THE EAST: SEVERE PERSECUTION: OALERIUS, DYING, ISSUES AN EDICT OF TOLERATION—CONDUCT OF MAXIMIN—CONVERSION OF CONSTANTINE—STORY OF HIS VISION OF THE CROSS—QUESTION OF HIS CHRISTIANITY —HE PROCLAIMS UNIVERSAL TOLERATION—FIRST WAR WITH LICINIUS—CRISPCS, CONSTANTINE II., AND LICINIUS II. MADE CJCSARS—VICTORIES OF CRISPUS AND CONSTANTINE ON THE RHINE AND DANUBE—FINAL WAR WITH LICINIUS—BATTLE OF HADRIANOPLE—NAVAL VICTORY OF CRISPUS—BATTLE OF CHRYSOPOLIS—SUBMISSION AND DEATH OF LICINIU8—0H0I0E OF BYZANTIUM FOR A NEW CAPITAL—THE COUNCIL OF KICK A: ARIAN CONTROVERSY — —FAMILY OF CONSTANTINE—DEATHS OF ORISPUS, THE YOUNGER LI0INIU8, AND FAUSTA—DEDICATION OF CONSTANTINOPLE—ORGANIZATION OF THE EMPIRE—GOTHIC AND 8ARMATIAN WAR — DEATH OF CONSTANTINE — CONSTANTINUS II., CONSTANTIUS II., AND CONSTANS—PERSIAN WAR—DEATH OF 0ONSTANTINB II.—WARS OF
CONSTANS IN THE WEST—HIS DEATn—USURPATION AND DEFEAT OF MAGNENTIUS
ATHANASIUS AND THE ARIANS—RISE OF JULIAN: HIS WARS WITH THE GERMANS: AND PROCLAMATION AT PARIS—PERSIAN WAR—DEATH OF OONSTANTIUS—JULIAN THE APOSTATE—BIS ACTS IN FAVOUR OF THE PAOAH8—HIS PERSIAN EXPEDITION AND DEATH—REIGN AND DEATH OF JOVIAN—ELECTION OF VALKNTINIAN.
The frail tenure of the security provided by Diocletian's elaborate plan was at once proved by the confusion that followed his abdication. The nine remaining years of his seclusion witnessed a succession of civil wars for the power he had resigned; nor was it till ten years after his death that peace was restored, with the restoration of a single government (a.d. 323). The first step was taken in due order: Galerius in the East, and Constantius in the West, succeeded to the dignity of the two Augusti, and the latter, though the successor of Maximian, seems to have been invested with the precedence due to his superior age and merit. But he had no inclination to change the distant sphere of government, in which he wielded a compact and almost independent authority over attached subjects, for Italy and Rome. This decision at once deranged the balance adjusted by Diocletian, by leaving the ancient heart of the empire without the presence of an Augustus; and the result was virtually a new partition, in which Italy and Africa became dependencies of the East. Galerius seems to have taken this view, when he assumed the power of nominating both the Caesars. The one was his own sister's son, who now exchanged the name of Daza, which he had borne in his original condition of an Ulyrian peasant, for that of Galerius Valerius Maxtmtntjs, but without changing a nature as savage and untutored as that of the first Maximin. The assignment to him of Syria and Egypt proved the resolution of Galerius to keep in his own hands the provinces which might soon be threatened either by the tribes of the North or the emperor of the West. Galerius placed Italy and Africa under Severus, a faithful servant of his own; though the power was formally conferred by Maximian, and held in nominal subordination to Constantius. "According to the forms of the constitution, Severus acknowledged the supremacy of the western emperor: but he was absolutely devoted to the commands of his benefactor Galerius, who, reserving to himself the intermediate countries from the confines of Italy to those of Syria, firmly established his power over three-fourths of the monarchy. In the full confidence that the approaching death of Constantius would leave him sole master of the Roman world, we are assured that he had arranged in his mind a long succession of future princes, and that he meditated his own retreat from public life after he should have accomplished a glorious reign of about twenty years." These appointments were the more significant, as both the late and present Augusti of the West had sons, who might have expected the dignity of Cresars. We shall presently see how the affront was resented by Maximian and his son Maxentius, who, in spite of personal faults like thoso which were even more conspicuous in Maximin, had been deemed worthy of becoming the son-in-law of Diocletian. It was probably the failing health of Constantius, and perhaps his reluctance to be the first to break the imperial harmony established by Diocletian, that made him leave the assertion of his own cause to the son whom he knew to be worthy to maintain it, and who arrived from the East just in time to assume the mantle as it fell from his dying father.
A.D. 306.] CONSTANTINE THE GREAT. 671
Flavius Constanthtos, afterwards called Constantine The Gbeat, the son of Constantius and Helena, was probably born at Naissus, on February 27, about A.d. 274 ;* and was above thirty at this time. Being already of military age at the time of his mother's divorce (a.d. 292), he remained with the army of Pannonia, served with distinction in the Persian campaign of Galerius, and was made by Diocletian military tribune of the first rank. He was present both at the fire of the palace of Nicomedia, and at the abdication of the emperor, when Lactantius says that all eyes were turned upon him. The jealousy of Galerius, after already exposing Constantine to special dangers on the battle field, endeavoured now to detain him. Unable at last to refuse the urgent invitations of Constantius, Galerius one evening gave Constantine his signetring, and bade him come in the morning to take leave, intending probably to delay his journey till orders could be sent to Severus to intercept him. But Constantine started the moment the emperor had retired to rest, and by pressing all the relays of posthorses into his service, distanced his pursuers, evaded Severus, who was on his march to Italy, and thus traversing the length of Europe, from the Bosporus to the Straits of Dover, reached his father at Boulogne. Constantius was just setting out on his last visit to Britain, to repel the Caledonians; and ho reached York only to die, on July 24, A.d. 306. With his last breath, according to Lactantius, he transmitted the empire to his son, and commended him to the soldiers. At all events the army of Britain, composed of the flower of the western legions, proclaimed Constantine immediately after his father's death, and he had no choice but to accept their nomination. "The throne was the object of his desires; and, had he been less actuated by ambition, it was the only means of safety. He was well acquainted with the character and sentiments of Galerius, and sufficiently apprised that, if he wished to live, he must determine to reign." After affecting a vehement resistance, he announced his father's death and excused the mode of his election to the purple which he claimed as his birthright, in a letter to Galerius, whose first transports of rage were checked by the sense of a nearer danger.
• Eusebius places his birth in A.D. 272. Naissus (now Nissa), the birthplace of Constantine, and the scene of the great victory of Claudius over the Goths (see p. 631), was a town of Upper Moasia, situated on an eastern tributary of the Marpis (Morava). It is sometimes spoken of as in Dacia ; that is, tho new D.icia of Aurelian. It was enlarged and beautified by Constantino; destroyed by Attila; and rebuilt and fortified by Justinian.
In strict accordance with the order arranged by Diocletian, he raised the Caesar Severus to the dignity of Augustus, and named Constantino as Caesar over the western provinces. Though Constantine was not made Augustus till two years later, the years of his reign are dated from his proclamation by his troops on July 25th, A.d. 306. Content with the position that his father had held under Diocletian, till the conflicts of the other princes should invite his interference, Constantine engaged in successful war with the Franks, Alemanni, and other Germans; and proved that his father's mild training had not extirpated the cruelty of his Blyrian nature. After an immense slaughter of the barbarians, their captive chiefs and young men were thrown to the wild beasts in such numbers that, his very panegyrist declares, the brutes were weary with killing.
The elevation of Severus to the supreme rank in Italy filled up the measure of indignation in the breasts of Maximian and his son; and the humiliated Roman people, oppressed by the taxes which they now first shared with the provinces, made a last effort to shake off the dictation of the eastern prince. The Praetorians, as the Herculian guards of Maximian were now again called, rose against the party of Severus, and slew the magistrates and the prefect of the city; and the Senate once more assumed the prerogative of conferring the purple upon Maxentius, who was residing in a villa near Rome (Oct. 26, A.d. 306). Whether through his son's invitation or his own restlessness, Maximian emerged from his retirement; and preparations were made to resist Severus, who was advancing by the orders of Galerius upon Rome. Encamping before the walls, he soon found himself deserted by a body of Moors formerly levied by Maximian, and by other troops who acknowledged the authority of their old leader and the Senate. Severus retired to Ravenna, where he was secure behind marshes and fortifications, and could receive aid by sea. But the arts of Maximian alarmed him into a capitulation; and, after resigning the purple on the promise of his life, Severus found that the sacrifice had only purchased the choice of a mode of death, which he accomplished by opening his own veins (Feb. A.D. 307).* After this victory, Maximian crossed the Alps in person, to win over Constantine to his party by the hand of his daughter Fausta, and the offer of the rank of Augustus. Both gifts were accepted by Con
* So inconsistent, however, aro the accounts of these events that, as Jianso observes, two totally different narratives mip1' 'famed, almost upon equal authority.
A.D. 308. J SIX ROMAN EMPERORS. 673
stantine; but he kept aloof from any active part in the contest with Galerius, who marched into Italy, and advanced to Narnia in Umbria. But he found that he had to deal with the spirit of a united people, and his soldiers could scarcely be kept from deserting to Maximian. He was compelled to retreat, marking by the ravages of his troops the track in which he was closely pursued by Maxentius, who, however, avoided an engagement.
On his advance into Italy, Galerius had entrusted the command upon the Danube to Licinius, his old comrade in arms, and originally a Dacian peasant, on whom he now conferred the title of Augustus, vacant by the death of Severus, with the government of the Illyrian provinces * (Nov. 11, A.d. 307). The importunity of Maximin, who was in fact saluted Augustus by his army in Syria, extorted the same dignity for himself, and policy demanded its extension to Constantine, whom Galerius still hoped to win over. "For the first, and indeed for the last time," says Gibbon, "the Roman world was administered by six emperors. In the West, Constantine and Maxentius affected to reverence their father Maximian. In the East, Licinius and Maximin honoured with more real consideration their benefactor Galerius. The opposition of interest, and the memory of a recent war, divided the empire into two hostile powers; but their mutual fears produced an apparent tranquillity and even a feigned reconciliation, till the death of the elder princes, Maximian, and more particularly of Galerius, gave a new direction to the views and passions of their surviving associates."
Strange to say, the seeming concord was first broken by a contest for power between Maximian and Maxentius. The father's claim, that the direction of the government should be left to his experience, was spurned by the coarse and brutal son, who required Maximian again to resign his power. The case was heard by the praetorian guards, who had felt the weight of Maximian's discipline, and had been raised to new consequence by Maxentius. Driven into exile by their decision, and repulsed from Illyricum by the distrust of Galerius, the aged emperor retired to his last refuge in Gaul with Fausta and Constantine, who received him with real or affected kindness. He consented once more to resign the purple; but the absence of Constantine on an expedition against the Franks offered too tempting a bait to the old intriguer. He seized the treasure deposited at Aries; squandered it in bribing
* The full name of the new Augustus was now Publius Flavius Galerius Valerius Licinianus Licinius.
Vol. in. x x