Emperor Constantine

In 312, the emperor Constantine was said to have had a vision that changed the course of Christian history. Supposedly, just before the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, he visualized the Christian cross in the sky accompanied by the words, “By this sign you shall conquer.” Kousoulas (1997) provides evidence that Constantine actually had no vision but invented it to inspire his troops. In any case, he instructed his soldiers to mark their shields with an abbreviation, in Greek, of the word “Christ,” and the next day, although his troops were greatly outnumbered, they won the battle decisively. Con- stantine attributed his victory to the god of the Christians and, thereafter, concerned himself with Christian affairs. In 313, Constantine signed the Edict of Milan, making Christianity an accepted religion in the Roman Empire. It should be empha- sized that the Edict of Milan did not make Chris- tianity the official religion of the Roman Empire, as is often claimed. Although Constantine clearly the influence such works could hold over Chris- tians. Similar ideas are found in the writings of St. Augustine of Hippo (in North Africa). The authoritative, theological works of Augustine are often taken as marking the begin- ning of the Middle Ages, also called the medieval period of history (from the Latin medius, meaning “middle,” and aevium, meaning “age”).

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