Page 0977

977 ROMECONSTANTINE AND HIS SUCCESSORS.

new faith, and again undertook a reconciliation of the conflicting parties. In A. D. 325,

he convened a great council at Nicaea, the

modern Nice, in Bithynia; and here was undertaken the work of unifying the dogmas of

the faith. Constantine himself, supported by

a body of soldiers, presided over the deliberations. He heard the testimony of the various

priests and bishops as to the traditional beliefs

which they had received and taught. Judgment was rendered on the questions at issue

between the conflicting parties, and a standard

of orthodoxy established for the future government of the Christian world!

To the reign of Constantine must be referred the origin of those movements which

resulted in the establishment of an Eastern

and a Western Empire. The Emperor had

never been favorably disposed towards the city

of Rome. He had fixed his capital in Gaul,

first at Treves, and afterwards at Lyons; and

though out of courtesy to the past, he chose

to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of his

accession in the Imperial City, yet he never

consented to a permanent residence in the

home of the earlier Caesars. After securing

for himself the undivided sovereignty, he began to look for a suitable capital for the Empire, and Byzantium soon suggested itself as

the one place recommended by geography and

the position of the provinces east and west as

the chosen seat of government. The court

was accordingly transferred to this city from

Nicomedia. The engineers of the Emperor

were ordered to lay out the capital anew and

to establish a line of ramparts for the defense

of the Imperial residence. The space included

within the walls was as great as the area of

Rome. A new Senate was established and

many of the nobles of the Empire were required to take up their residence in the new

capital. Within less than a decade after its

foundation, CONSTANTINOPLE had become the

principal city of the Empire. Romethough

her senate and nominal rank as a capital city

remained as beforeimmediately declined in

importance and took her position as a provincial metropolis along with Alexandria, Antioch,

and Treves.

Constantine continued on the throne till

the year 337. During his reign there was a

revival of the industrial and financial interests

of the Empire. Literature began again to be

cultivated, and a quiet was diffused throughout the dominions of Rome. The ambiguous

and somber character of Constantine remained

dominant to the last. Not until he was laid

upon his bed of death did he finally consent

to be baptized into the Christian society. So

feeble was his identification with the believers

in the new doctrine that his successors hesitated not to enroll him among the divinities

of paganism.

With the establishment of the capital of

the empire at Constantinople, a great tide of

population set in thitherward from the West.

The Imperial court drew to itself the wealth,

the rank, the luxury which had previously

centered at Rome. Great was the gain from

an administrative point of view of the transfer

of the seat of government. Rome was far displaced from the geographical center of the

Imperial dominions. Constantinople was a

natural focus. Around her lay the provinces

of the Empire. Within her walls was gathered

the remaining culture of the Greeks. Three

continents lay at her feet.

The reign of Constantine covered a period

of thirty-one years. He died at Nicomedia,

in A. D. 337, leaving the Empire to his three

sons, Constantine, Constans, and Constantius.

The army promptly ratified the will of the

Emperor, and made it sure by destroying all

competitors except only Gallus and Julianus,

the sons of the late sovereign's younger brother.

In the division of the provinces CONSTANTINE II. chose the West, and established his

capital at Treves. CONSTANTIUS, the second

son, succeeded his father at Constantinople;

while CONSTANS, the youngest, received for his

portion Italy, Illyricum, and Africa. In a

short time Constantine from his capital in Gaul

demanded of Constans the cession of Italy, and

when this was refused went to war to obtain

it by force. A bloody battle was fought, A.

D. 340, between the two brothers at Aquileia,

in which the elder was slain, and Constans

became the undisputed master of the West.

He fixed his capital in Gaul, where for ten

years he gave way to an indolent and half

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