Pages from History: Death of Constantine, the first Christian emperor of Rome (AD 337)

22 March, 337: Constantine, the first Christian emperor of Rome, dies at the age of 47. As emperor, he issued an edict officially tolerating Christianity, though he did little to stave off paganism. He also summoned the Council of Nicea (Nicaea) to settle the Arian dispute over the nature of Christ.

Constantine played an influential role in the proclamation of the Edict of Milan, which decreed religious tolerance throughout the empire (an edict officially tolerating Christianity). He called the First Council of Nicaea in 325, at which the Nicene Creed was professed by Christians.

Constantine is also known as the founder of the Byzantine Empire. He built a new capital at Byzantium and named it ‘New Rome’. However, in Constantine’s honour, the Romans called it Constantinople, which would later be the capital of what is now known as the Byzantine Empire for over one thousand years.

Emperor Constantine (Metropolitan Museum of Art # 26.229)

Emperor Constantine (Metropolitan Museum of Art # 26.229)

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