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The Impact Of Constantine On The Development Of Christianity During The Middle Ages

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From being the most despised, oppressed, illicit religion to becoming one of the worlds most noticeable and practised religion in the world. After enduring 300 years of hostility, Christianity conquered and overcame social suffering and persecution as one emperor named Constantine the Great came to power. This dates back to the year of 272 CE when ‘Flavius Valerius Constantinus’ was conceived by Saint Helena empress of the Roman Empire. Constantine the great was one of Rome’s most powerful and successful emperors to have ever lived and to identify himself as a Christian. He is most recognised for his major changes and political, economic and military achievements as well as his religious reforms. According to a legend, Constantine had a vision and also a dream which leads to the acknowledgement and acceptance of Christianity within the Roman Empire, as well as its recognition in the Middle Ages to present. Christian historian, Eusebius who was also a personal friend of Constantine writes that in later life the emperor had talked to him about a vision which he had seen as he went into battle against Maxentius. Constantine said that, as his army advanced, he could see with his own eyes, a vision of the Christogram (XP) in the heavens above the sun beaming with light. Underneath it written these words: ‘By this sign shall you conquer’. He believes that this vision assisted in helping him win the historical battle at the Milvian Bridge. Persecutions against Christians would have been ongoing, The edict of Milan would have never been written and Christianity as a religion wouldn’t have played a major aspect of the lives of people during the without Constantine.

The despite towards Christianity was started by Emperor Nero who ruled from 54-68 CE when he falsely blamed the Christians for causing the Great Fire of Rome. A man named Tacitus, who is thought to be one of Rome’s greatest philosophers said, “Nero watched Rome burn while merrily playing his fiddle” ( Emperor Nero utilised his despite towards Christians and controlled and manipulated society, persuading them into thinking the Christians were responsible for the destruction created; eventually making the religion officially illegal. This is what began the suffering and oppression of Christians and what made the general public have such a negative perspective of Christians.

Besides Nero, government officials at the time were often somewhat ‘against’ the practising of Christianity and even the religion itself. Religion to the Romans advertised solidarity and reliability through public activities known as ‘pietas’ or ‘piety’. According to Roman politician and lawyer, Marcus Tullius Cicero, “If the piety in the Roman sense were to disappear, social justice and unity will too.” (Robert L. Wilkin, “The piety of the Persecutors.” Christian History, Issue 27 (Vol. XI, No.3), p.18). Several Romans of significance, for example, Tacitus and Pliny looked at Christianity as a superstition and not pietas. (Robert L. Wilkin, “The piety of the Persecutors.” Christian History, Issue 27 (Vol. XI, No.3), p.18). ‘Superstition’ was derived from a Latin word for something foreign in a negative way. Constantine was the person who changed society’s perspective of the Christian faiths and practices. After his vision of the Chi Rho (XP) and the words “by this sign shall you conquer”, he at that point considered himself to be the “Emperor of the Christian People”.

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If Constantine was to never have lived, Maxentius would stay as the Emperor of the Western Empire, since he too was an authorised heir, and would run alongside Licinius. Maxentius wasn’t a ‘brutal tyrant’ as some historical writings depict him to be. ( Licinius agreed with assigning Christians with lawful rights in the Edict of Milan. In this way, even without Constantine, their reign wouldn’t have been similar to previous Roman Emperors, however, society may, in any case, see the Christians in the same, negative way. On a similar note, while both Maxentius and Licinius weren’t against Christianity, they wouldn’t have advanced it the way Constantine had. If Christianity had not become as prominent/popular as Constantine created it, it (Christianity) wouldn’t have gained such interest to the general population in the Middle Ages, and pagan religions would’ve risen.

After his triumph and title as the ‘Emperor of the Western Empire’, Constantine and Licinius agreed upon a political agreement. In which the year 313 CE, the Edict of Milan was established. ( It was “a proclamation that permanently established religious toleration for Christianity within the Roman Empire.” ( implied Christians, at last, were gained lawful rights and were allowed to create places of worshipping. An outcome of this was the development of the previous known, Basilica Constantiniana (now known as San Giovanniin Laterano). The establishment of places of worship around this time implied that Christianity increasingly gained more followers and turned out to be more recognised among the general population. After the fall of the Roman Empire, there was no bureaucratic solidarity between the nations in Western Europe. The main aspect of life that unified the general population was Christianity, which was Constantine’s doing. Without his establishment of the Edict of Milan and seeking after the development of churches, Western Europe after the fall of Rome wouldn’t have anything to unite the general population as one entire community.

Another outcome of the Edict of Milan was the sudden outburst of monastics. (Timothy Ware, The Orthodox Church (New York: Penguin books, 1964) pg,45) Since Christianity was socially acknowledged, monasticism developed. Monasticism is derived from the Greek word monachos which mean ‘to live alone’. However, this definition is somewhat deceptive because numerous monastics live in cenobitic groups. The term ‘to live alone’ relates to living without a spouse or romantic partner. Monasticism is essential for passing down religious information to more youthful ages to preserve religious traditions. If Constantine never lived, Christianity’s lessons and customs wouldn’t have been passed down to future generations, having its effect on the Middle ages not as important.

Constantine formed the Nicene Creed to express the Christian. Constantine wanted to unite the church as one and share their purpose. The Nicene Creed was important because it made it very clear what Christians believed in. Constantine got the Church to agree upon and articulate their beliefs about Jesus, Salvation and God in a statement called the Nicene Creed. The greatest effect Constantine made was making Christianity the state religion of Rome. While he didn’t actually make Christianity the main religion, he influenced the following Emperors to convert. In the year 380 CE, Emperor Theodosius “proclaimed himself a Christian of the Nicene Creed” ( He was the emperor who resulted in making Nicene Christianity the official religion of Rome. Without Constantine’s impact, Theodosius wouldn’t have been baptised at all since Nero made Christianity unlawful. In the event that Constantine never existed, Christianity would stay unlawful and could never have turned into Rome’s state religion. In the event that Christianity was never legitimized, it wouldn’t have been in the Middle Ages either.In the Middle Ages, some portion of Christianity because so mainstream was that of the lessons that the book of scriptures depicted. In the Bible, God treasures everybody even poor people, which is the thing that the vast majority were at the time. In any case, they would’ve never thought about these lessons if monastics didn’t save these antiquated lessons. Additionally, priests and nuns wouldn’t have made due up to the Middle ages at any rate since Christianity was made unlawful and Christians didn’t have any legitimate rights. This is the thing that would’ve happened if Constantine never existed. His reality is of such significance to the Catholic church since he is the reason Christianity is as noticeable as it is today. The political assertion amongst him and Licinius which conceded Christians lawful rights and benefits partook in some kind of butterfly impact. The decree of Milan brought about the establishment of spots of love, at that point devotion thrived, which prompt the going down of Christian learning, years not far off, and Theodosius made Nicene Christianity the state religion, after a century, Rome fell, Christianity was the main thing that united individuals, the ones in control controlled this opportunity and the Catholic Church turned into the most critical thing in individuals’ lives amid the Middle Ages.

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