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Yale University: The Early Middle Ages, 284-1000 with Paul Freedman | 03/22 | Constantine and the Early Church

Stained glass at St John the Baptist’s Anglican Church, Ashfield, New South Wales. Photo: Toby Hudson

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Professor Freedman examines how Christianity came to be the official religion of the Roman Empire. This process began seriously in 312, when the emperor Constantine converted after a divinely inspired victory at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge. Constantine’s conversion would have seemed foolish as a political strategy since Christianity represented a completely different system of values from that of the Roman state, but not only did it prove to be a brilliant storke in aid of Constantine’s quest for power, it fundamentally changed the character of the Empire and that of the early Church. Constantine also moved his capitol to a new city he founded in the East, named Constantinople, opening the possibility of a Roman Empire without Rome. Professor Freedman ends the lecture with a comparison of Diocletian and Constantine.

00:00 – Chapter 1. Introduction
07:03 – Chapter 2. Constantine’s Rise to Power
10:12 – Chapter 3. The Battle of the Milvian Bridge and Constantine’s Conversion
17:01 – Chapter 4. Constantine as a Christian Emperor
23:50 – Chapter 5. The City of Constantinople
31:32 – Chapter 6. Constantine intervenes in Church Doctrine
39:38 – Chapter 7. Constantine and Diocletian