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mountains, surrendered themselves the next day to the discretion of the conqueror; and his rival, who could no longer keep the field, confined himself within the walls of Byzantium.p
Siege of The siege of Byzantium, which was immeByzan- diately undertaken by Constantine, was attended
liuiu, and » *
naval with great labour and uncertainty. In the late oTcris- civil wars, the fortifications of that place, so justly pus> considered as the key of Europe and Asia, had been repaired and strengthened; and as long as Licinius remained master of the sea, the garrison was much less exposed to the danger of famine than the army of the besiegers. The naval commanders of Constantine were summoned to his camp, and received his positive orders to force the passage of the Hellespont, as the fleet of Licinius, instead of seeking and destroying their feeble enemy, continued inactive in those narrow straits where its superiority of numbers was of little use or advantage. Crispus, the emperor's eldest son, was intrusted with the execution of this daring enterprise, which he performed with so much courage and success, that he deserved the esteem, and most probably excited the jealousy, of his father. The engagement lasted two days; and in the evening of the first, the contending fleets, after a considerable and mutual loss, retired into their respective harbours of Europe and Asia. The second day about noon a strong south windq sprang up, which carried the vessels of Crispus against the enemy; and as the casual advantage was improved by his skilful intrepidity, he soon obtained a complete victory. A hundred and thirty vessels were destroyed, five thousand men were slain, and Amandus, the admiral of the Asiatic fleet, escaped with the utmost difficulty to the shores of Chalcedon. As soon as the Hellespont was open, a plentiful convoy of provisions flowed into the camp of Constantine, who had already advanced the operations of the siege. He constructed artificial mounds of earth of an equal height with the ramparts of Byzantium. The lofty towers which were erected on that foundation galled the besieged with large stones and darts from the military engines, and the battering rams had shaken the walls in several places. If Licinius persisted much longer in the defence, he exposed himself to be involved in the ruin, of the place. Before he was surrounded he prudently removed his person and treasures to Chalcedon in Asia; and as he was always desirous of associating companions to the hopes and dangers of his fortune, he now bestowed the title of Caesar on Martinianus, who exercised one of the most important offices of the empire/ Battle of Such -were still the resources, and such the Chryso- abilities of Licinius, that, after so many succes! sive defeats, he collected in Bithynia a new army
P Zosimus, lib. 2. p. 25, 96. This great battle is described in the Valesian fragment (p. 714.) in a clear though concise manner. "Lirinus vero circum Hadrianopolinmaximo exercitu latera ardui mentis impleverat; illuc totoagmine Constantinus inflexit. Cum bellum terr4 marique traheretur, quamvis per arduum s'uis nitentibus, attamen discipline militari et felicitate, Constantinus Licinii confusum it sine ordine agentem vicit exercitum; leviter femore sauciatus." .
1 Zosimus, lib. 2. p. 97, 98. The current always gets out of the Hellespont; and when it is assisted by a north wind, no vessel can attempt the passage. A south wind renders the force of the current almost imperceptible. See Toumefort's Voyage au Levant, let. 11.
of fifty or sixty thousand men, while the activity of Constantine was employed in the siege of Byzantium. The vigilant emperor did not however neglect the last struggles of his antagonist. A considerable part of his victorious army was transported over the Bosphorus in small vessels, and the decisive engagement was fought soon after the landing, on the heights of Chrysopolis, or, as it is now called, of Scutari. The troops of Licinius, though they were lately raised, ill armed, and worse disciplined, made head against their conquerors with fruitless but desperate valour, till a total defeat, and the slaughter of five-and-twenty thousand men, irretrieveably determined the fate of their leader.' He retired to Ni
'Aurelius Victor. Zosimus, lib. 2. p. 98. According to the latter, Martinianus vasmagisterofficioTum. (He uses the Latin appellation in Greek.) Some medals seem to intimate, that during his short reign he received the title of Augustus.
1 Eusebius (in Vita Consumtm. lib. 8. c. 16, 17.) ascribes this decisive victory to the I lions prayers of the emperor. The Valesian fragment (p. 714.) mentions a body of Gothic auxiliaries, under their chief Aliquaca, who adhered to the party of Licinius.
comedia, rather with the view of gaining some deathof t*me ^or negotiation, than with the hope of any Licinius. effectual defence. Constantia, his wife and the sister of Constantine, interceded with her brother in favour of her husband, and obtained from his policy rather than from his compassion, a solemn promise, confirmed by an oath, that after the sacrifice of Martinianus, and the resignation of the purple, Licinius himself should be permitted to pass the remainder of his life in peace and affluence. The behaviour of Constantia, and her relation to the contending parties, naturally recals the remembrance of that virtuous matron who was the sister of Augustus, and the wife of Antony. But the temper of mankind was altered; and it was no longer esteemed infamous for a Roman to survive his honour and independence. Licinius solicited and accepted the pardon of his offences, laid himself and his purple at the feet of his lord and master, was raised from the ground with insulting pity, was admitted the same day to the imperial banquet, and soon afterward was sent away to Thessalonica, which had been chosen for the place of his confinement. His confinement was soon terminated by death; and it is doubtful whether a tumult of the soldiers, or a decree of the senate, was suggested as a motive for his execution. According to the rules of tyranny, he was accused of forming a conspiracy, and of holding a treasonable correspondence with the barbarians; but as he was never convicted either by his own conduct or by any legal evidence, we may perhaps be allowed, from his weakness, to presume his innocence." The memory of Licinius was branded with infamy, his statues were thrown down, and by a hasty edict, of such mischievous tendency that it was almost immediately corrected, all his laws and all the judicial proceedings of his reign, were at once abolished." Reunion ^7 ^s Victoi7 of Constantine, the Roman world of the was again united under the authority of one emA.d. peror, thirty-seven years after Diocletian had divided his power and provinces with his associate Maximian.
* Zosimus, lib. 2. p. 102. Victor Junior, in Epitome. Anonyrn. Valesian. p. 714.
"Contra religionem sacramenti Thessalonicae ptivatus occisns est. Eutropins, 10. 6. and his evidence is confirmed by Jerome (in Chronic.) as well as by Zosimus, lib. it. p. 102. The Valesian writer is the only one who mentions the soldiers, and it is Zonaras alone who calls in the assistance of the senate. Eusebius prudently glides over this delicate transaction. But Sozomen, a century afterwards, ventures to assert the treasonable practices of Licinius.
The successive steps of the elevation of Constantine, from his first assuming the purple at York, to the resignation of Licinius at Nicomedia, have been related with some minuteness and precision, not only as the events are in themselves both interesting and important, but still more as they contributed to the decline of the empire by the expense of blood and treasure, and by the perpetual increase, as well of the taxes, as of the military establishment. The foundation of Constantinople, and the establishment of the Christian religion, were the immediate and memorable consequences of this revolution.
The progress of the Christian religion, and the sentiments, manners, numbers, and condition, of the primitive Christians.
import- A Candid but rational inquiry into the progress and establishment of Christianity, may be considered as a very essential part of the history of the Roman empire. While that great body was invaded by open violence, or undermined by slow decay, a pure and humble religion gently insinuated itself into the minds of men, grew up in silence and obscurity, derived new vigour from opposition, and finally erected the triumphant banner of the cross on the ruins of the Capitol. Nor was the influence of Christianity confined to the period or to the limits of the Roman empire. After a revolution of thirteen or fourteen centuries, that religion is still professed by the nations of Europe, the most distinguished portion of human kind in arts and learning, as well as in arms. By the industry and zeal of the Europeans, it has been widely diffused to the most distant shores of Asia and Africa; and, by the means of their colonies, has been firmly established from Canada to Chili, in a world unknown to the ancients. its diffi- But this inquiry, however useful or entertaincuiti«s. m^ -s attended with two peculiar difficulties. The
* See the Theodosian code, lib. 15. tit. 15. tom. 5. p. 404, 4O5. These edicts of Constantine betray a degree of passion and precipitancy very unbecoming the character of a lawgiver.
scanty and suspicious materials of ecclesiastical history seldom enable us to dispel the dark cloud that hangs over the first age of the church. The great law of impartiality too often obliges us to reveal the imperfections of the uninspired teachers and believers of the gospel; and, to a careless observer, their faults may seem to cast a shade on the faith which they professed. But the scandal of the pious Christian, and the fallacious triumph of the infidel, should cease as soon as they recollect not only by whom, but likewise to whom, the divine revelation was given. The theologian may indulge the pleasing task of describing religion as she descended from heaven, arrayed in her native purity. A more melancholy duty is imposed on the historian. He must discover the inevitable mixture of error and corruption, which she contracted in a long residence upon earth, among a weak and degenerate race of beings.
Five cau- ^ur curiosity is naturally prompted to inquire sea of the by what means the Christian faith obtained so
Chris- remarkable a victory over the established relifcanity. gions Of the earth. To this inquiry, an obvious but satisfactory answer may be returned; that it was owing to the convincing evidence of the doctrine itself, and to the ruling providence of its great Author. But