975 ROMECONSTANTINE AND HIS SUCCESSORS.
Maximus; and when the triumphal arch was reared
commemorative of his victory, he was careful
to place thereon the statues of the old gods as
well as the emblems of the new faith.
After the alliance of Constantine and Licinius had been strengthened by a second
marriage, which made each of the two Augusti both the father-in-law and son-in-law of
the other, they attempted in vain to gain the
countenance of the aged Diocletian, still living
at Salona. Soon afterwards, in A. D. 313,
Licinius conducted a campaign against Maximian, whom he defeated in three battles, and
drove to suicide. The edict in favor of Christianity was posted on the walls of Nicomedia,
and the anti-pagan party throughout all Asia
Minor went over to the support of the Emperors of the West.
The wary and watchful Constantine was
touched with jealousy at the successes of Licinius. Affecting to believe that the latter
was fomenting a treasonable conspiracy against
himself, he came down out of Gaul with a select division of troops, and attempted to capture Licinius by a coup de main. When this
failed the two friends again pledged their
faith, which, strange to say, remained unbroken for the space of nine years.
To this epoch belong the great activities
of Constantine. He was indefatigable in promoting what he deemed to be the reforms demanded by the times. The bottom questions
which he had to confront were essentially religious. His great principle of action looked
to the union in one body of the Christian and
the pagan populations of the Empire.. In this
work he was soon confronted by what seemed
to be insuperable obstacles. Not only did the
Christians refuse to tolerate the doctrines of
paganism, but they themselves divided, into
sects and refused to be reconciled. The bishops who headed the various parties in the new
religion appealed to Constantine to settle their
disputes. The latter, in A. D. 314, convened
a council at Rome, and afterwards at Arles,
to which bodies were referred the conflicting
doctrines and disputed discipline of the church.
A decision was rendered against the sect of
the Donatists, and they, having refused to accept the judgment which had been rendered,
were visited with the arm of secular power.
A persecution broke out, in which one body
of the Christians became the persecutors of
the other. The bloody bitterness of paganism
was paralleled by the intolerance born of fanaticism among the believers.
In matters of legislation, the reign of Constantine appears to a better advantage. So
many constitutional reforms were enacted as to
constitute an epoch in the history of Roman jurisprudence. At the same time the reformatory
movement was carried out in the army. This
dangerous and hitherto all-powerful body was
once more brought into subordination to civil
authority. The military forces of the Empire
were broken up into small divisions. The
legion was reduced to fifteen hundred men.
Slaves were accepted as recruits; and the
policy was adopted of officering the regiments
as far as practicable with barbarian commandersthis for the double purpose of securing
valor and discouraging political ambition in
As yet there was little appearance of any
definite religious convictions on the part of
Constantine. The legislation of the Emperor
shows in some of its parts the impress of the
Christian doctrine. In the year 321 a statute
was enacted forbidding ail secular employment
and civil procedures on Sunday, and to this
law was appended the notable exception that
the manumission of .a slave should be held
valid though performed on the first day of the
week. 'On that day, moreover, soldiers were
:permitted to leave the ranks to join the body
of worshipers. All these concessions, however,
to the principles and practices of Christianity
were granted by the Emperor rather with a
view to securing the religious solidarity of the
Empire than from any positive preference on
his part for the doctrines of the new faith.
Meanwhile Licinius in the East looked with
alarm and jealousy on the proceedings of his
colleague. Himself more of a pagan than a
Christian, and disliking the whole tendency
of consolidation which Constantine had so diligently fostered, he sought to undo the political and religious fabric which his colleague
was rearing around himself in the West. War
broke out between the rival Emperors in A. D.