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port of the praetorian guards. Driven into exile, he returned
to Gaul, and took refuge with his son and daughter, who
received him kindly ; but in the absence of Constantine, he
seized the treasure to bribe his troops, and was holding com-
munication with Maxentius when Constantine returned from
the Rhine. The old intriguer had only time to throw him-
self into Marseilles, where he strangled himself, when the city
was hard pressed by Constantine, a. d. 310.

In a year after, Galerius died, like Herod Agrippa, a prey
to loathsome vermin — morbus pediculosus, and his «■• ti f
dominions were divided between Maximin and Galerius.
Licinius, each of whom formed secret alliances with Maxen-
tius and Constantine, between whom was war.

The tyranny of Maxentius led his subjects to look to Con-
stantine as a deliverer, who marched to the relief _,. .. ,

' Elevation of

of the Senate and Roman people. He crossed the Constantino.
Alps with forty thousand men. Maxentius collected a force
of one hundred and seventy thousand, to maintain which he
had the wealth of Italy, Africa, and Sicily. Constantine
first encountered the lieutenants of Maxentius in the plains
of Turin, and gained a complete victory, the prize of
which was Milan, the new capital of Italy. He was
advancing to Rome on the Flaminian way, before Maxentius
was aroused to his danger, being absorbed in pleasures. A

622 Decline of the Empire. [Chap. xly.

few miles from Rome was fought the battle of Saxa Rubra,
a. d. 312, between the rival emperors, at which Maxentius
perished, and Constantine was greeted by the Senate as the
first of the three surviving Augusti. The victory of Con-
stantine was commemorated by a triumphal arch, which still
remains, and which was only a copy of the arch of Trajan.
Successes of r ^ ne ensuui o winter was spent in Rome, during
Constantine. w hich Constantino abolished forever the praetorian
guards, which had given so many emperors to the world.
In the spring Constantine gave his daughter Constantia in
marriage to Licinius, but was soon called away to the
Rhine by an irruption of Franks, while Licinius marched
against Maximin, and defeated him under the walls of
Heraclea. Maximin retreated to Nicomedia, and was about
to renew the war, when he died at Tarsus, and Licinius
became master of the Eastern provinces.

There were now but two emperors, one in the East, and
Conversion the other in the West. Constantine celebrated the

ofConstan- .

tine. restoration of tranquillity by promulgating at Milan

an edict in favor of universal religious toleration, and the
persecution of the Christians by the pagans was ended for-
ever, in Europe. About this time Constantine himself was
converted to the new religion. In his march against Maxen-
tius, it is declared by Eusebius, that he saw at noonday a
cross in the heavens, inscribed with the words, " By this
conquer." It is also asserted that the vision of the cross was
■seen by the whole army, and the cross henceforth became
the standard of the Christian emperors. It was called the
Z,abarum, and is still seen on the coins of Constantine, and
was intrusted to a chosen guard of fifty men. It undoubt-
edly excited enthusiasm in the army, now inclined to accept
the new faith, and Constantine himself joined the progressive
party, .and made Christianity the established religion of the
Establish- empire. Henceforth the protection of the Christian
Christianity, religion became one of the cherished objects of his
soul, and although his life was stained by superstitions and
many acts of cruelty and wickedness, Constantine stands out

Chap, XL v.] Grand Victory of Constantine. 623

in history as the first Christian emperor. For this chiefly he
is famous, and a favorite with ecclesiastical writers. The
edict of Milan is an era in the world's progress. But he was
also a great sovereign, and a great general.

The harmony between so ambitious a man and Licinius
was not of loii£ duration. Rival interests and „

° Renewed

different sympathies soon led to the breaking out wars -
of hostilities, and Licinius was defeated in two great battles,
and resigned to Constantine all his European possessions,
except Thrace. The nine successive years were spent by
Licinius in slothful and vicious pleasures, while Constantine
devoted his energies to the suppression of barbarians, and the
enactment of important laws. He repulsed the Gothic and
Sarmatian hordes, who had again crossed the Danube, and
pursued them into Dacia ; nor did the Goths secure peace
until they had furnished forty thousand recruits to the
Roman armies. This recruiting of the imperial armies from
the barbarians was one of the most melancholy signs of
decaying strength, and indicated approaching ruin.

In the year 323 a new civil war broke out between Con-
stantine and Licinius. The aged and slothful vk-toryof
Eastern emperor roused himself to a grand effort over
and marshalled an army of one hundred and fifty Icinms -
thousand foot and fifteen thousand horse on the plains of
Hadrianople, while his fleet of three hundred and fifty
triremes commanded the Hellespont. Constantine collected
an army of one hundred and twenty thousand men at Thes-
salonica, and advanced to attack his foe, intrenched in a
strong position. The battle was decided in favor of Con-
stantine, who slew thirty-four thousand of his enemies, and
took the fortified camp of Licinius, who fled to Byzantium,
July, a. d. 323.

The fleet of Licinius still remained, and with his superior
naval force he might have baffled his rival. But fortune, or
valor, again decided in favor of the Western emperor, and
after a fight of two days the admiral of Licinius retired to
Byzantium. The siege of this city was now pressed with

024 Decline of the Empire. [Chap, xly-

valor by Constantine, and Licinius fled with his treasures to
Chalcedon, and succeeded in raising another army of fifty
thousand men. These raw levies were, however, powerless
against the veterans of Constantine, whom he led in person.
The decisive battle was fought at Chrysopolis, and Licinius
retired to Nicomedia, but soon after abdicated, and was ban-
D«ath of ished to Thessalonica. There he was not long
Licinms. permitted to remain, being executed by order
of Constantine, one of the foul blots on his memory and

The empire was now reunited under a single man, at the
Constantine cost ' °f vas ^ treasures and lives. The policy of
reigns alone. Diocletian had only inaugurated civil war. There
is no empire so vast which can not be more easily governed
by one man than by two or four. It may be well for em-
pires to be subdivided, like that of Charlemagne, but it is
impossible to prevent civil wars when the power is shared
equally by jealous rivals. It was better for the Roman
world to be united under Octavius, than divided between
him and Antony.

On the fall of Byzantium, Constantine was so struck with
Foundation its natural advantages, that he resolved to make it

of'Constan- . .

tinopie. the capital of the empire. Placed on the inner of
two straits which connect the Euxine and the JEgean with
the Mediterranean, on the frontiers of both Europe and Asia,
it seemed to be the true centre of political power, while its
position could be itself rendered impregnable against any
external enemy that threatened the Roman world. The
wisdom of the choice of Constantine, and his unrivaled saga-
city, were proved by the fact, that while Rome was success-
ively taken and sacked by Goths and Vandals, Constanti-
nople remained the capital of the eastern Roman empire for
eleven continuous centuries.

The reign of Constantine as sole emperor was marked by
... another event, a. d. 325, which had a cjreat in-

Council of ' ' o

Nice. fluence on the subsequent condition of the world in

a moral and religious point of view, and this was the famous

Chap. XLY.] Council of Nicoea. 625

Council of Nicsea, which assembled to settle points of faith
and discipline in the new religion which was now established
throughout the empire. It is called the first Ecumenical,
or General Council, and was attended by three hundred and
eighteen bishops, with double the number of presbyters,
assembled from all parts of the Christian world. Here the
church and the empire met face to face. In this council the
emperor left the cares of State, and the command of armies,
to preside over discussions on the doctrine of the Trinity, as
expounded by two great rival parties, — one headed by
Athanasius, then archdeacon, afterward archbishop

c »i -!• i ii-iiT Athanasius.

ot Alexandria — the greatest theologian that had as
yet appeared in the church, — and the other by Arius, a
simple presbyter of Alexandria, but a man of subtle and
commanding intellect. Arius maintained that the Son, the
second person of the Trinity, derived his being from the
Father within the limits of time, and was secondary to him
in power and glory. Athanasius maintained that the Son
was co-eternal with the Father, and the same in substance
with the Father. This theological question had long been
discussed, and the church was divided between the „.,■.■,


two parties, each of which exhibited extreme acri- discussion

1 ' on tlie

mony. Constantine leaned to the orthodox side, Tnnity-
although his most influential adviser, Eusebius, bishop of
Csesarea, the historian, inclined to the Arian view. But the
emperor was more desirous to secure peace and unity, than
the ascendency of any dogma, and the doctrine of Athana-
sius became the standard of faith, and has since remained the
creed of the church.

After the settlement of the faith of the church, now becom-
ing the great power of the world, the reign of Constantine
was disgraced by a domestic tragedy seldom par- Assassina-
alleled in history. His son, Crispus, by a low- Cdspus.
born woman, conspicuous for talents and virtues, either
inflamed the jealousy of his father, or provoked him by a
secret conspiracy. It has never been satisfactorily settled
Avhether he was a rival or a conspirator, but he was accused,

02 G Decline of the Empire. [Chap. xly.

tried, and put to death, in the twentieth year of the reign,
while Constantine was celebrating at Rome the festival of
his vicennalia. After this bloody tragedy, for which he is
generally reproached, he took his final departure from Rome,
and four years after, the old capital was degraded to the rank
of a secondary city, and Constantinople was dedicated as the
The new new ca pital of the empire. From the eastern
capital. promontory to the Golden Horn, the extreme length
of Constantinople was three Roman miles, and the circumfer-
ence measured ten, inclosing an area of two thousand acres,
besides the suburbs. The new city was divided into fourteen
wards, and was ornamented with palaces, fora, and churches.
The church of St. Sophia was built on the site of an old tem-
ple, and was in the form of a Greek cross, surmounted by a
beautiful and lofty dome. In a century afterward, Constan-
tinople rivaled Rome in magnificence. It had a capitol, a
circus, two theatres, eight public baths, fifty-two porticoes,
eight aqueducts, four halls, and fourteen churches, and four
thousand three hundred and eighty-three large palatial

After the building of this new and beautiful city, Constan-
tine devoted himself to the internal regulation of the empire,
New divis- which he divided into four prefectures, subdivided

ions of the . , . , . , 1 1 ■

empire. into thirteen dioceses, each governed by vicars or
vice-prefects, who were styled counts and dukes. The prov-
inces were subdivided to the number of one hundred and
sixteen. Three of these were governed by proconsuls, thirty-
seven by consuls, five by correctors, and seventy-one by
presidents, chosen from the legal profession, and called
clarissimi. The prefecture of the East embraced the Asiatic
provinces, together with Egypt, Thrace, and the lower
Moesia; that of Illyricum contained the countries between
the Danube, the JEgean, and the Adriatic ; that of Italy ex-
tended over the Alps to the Danube; and that of the Gauls
embraced the western provinces beyond the Rhine and the

The military power was separated from the civil. There

Chap. XLV.] Civil Divisions of the Empire. 627

were two master-generals, one of infantry, and the other of
cavalry, afterward increased to eiadit, under whom _,

J ' • => ' Changes in

were thirty-five commanders, ten of whom were the army.
counts, and twenty dukes. The legions were reduced from
six thousand to fifteen hundred men. Their number was
one hundred and thirty-two, and the complete force of the
empire was six hundred and forty-five thousand, holding five
hundred and eighty-three permanent stations.

The ministers of the palace, who exercised different func-
tions about the presence of the emperor, were seven in num-
ber : the prefect of the bed-chamber ; a eunuch, who The mini8 .
waited on the emperor; the master of offices — ters -
the supreme magistrate of the palace ; the quaestor — at the
head of the judicial administration, and who composed the
orations and edicts of the emperor ; the treasurer, and two
counts of domestics, who commanded the body-guard.

The bishopric nearly corresponded with the civil divisions
of the empire, and the bishops had different ranks. The bishop-
We now observe archbishops and metropolitans. riCb '

The new divisions complicated the machinery of govern-
. ment, and led to the institution of many new offices, which
greatly added to the expense of government, for which
taxation became more rigorous and oppressive. The old
constitution was completely subverted, and the emperor
became an Oriental monarch.

Constantine was called away from his labors of organiza-
tion to resist the ambition of Sapor II., when he Death of
died, at the age of sixty-four, at his palace near Constantine -
Nicomedia, a. d. 337, after a memorable but tumultuous
reign — memorable for the recognition of Christianity as a
State religion ; tumultuous, from civil wars and contests
with barbarians. Constantinople, not Rome, became the
future capital of the empire.



After the death of Constantine, the decline was rapid,
and new dangers mnltiplied. Warlike emperors had staved
off the barbarians, and done all that man could do to
avert ruin. But the seeds of ruin were planted, and must
bear their wretched fruit. The seat of empire was removed
to a new city, more able, from its position, to withstand the
shock which was to come. In the strife between new and
hardy races, and the old corrupt population, the issue could
not be doubtful. The empire had fulfilled its mission.
Christianity was born, protected, and rendered triumphant.
Nothing more was wanted than the conversion of the bar-
barians to the new faith before desolation should overspread
the world — and a State prepared for new ideas, passions, and

Constantine left three sons and two daughters, by Fausta,
the daughter of Maximian, — Constantinus, Constantius,
The bdrs of Constans, Constantina, and Helena. The impe-
oonstantine. r j a j < jjg n ^y was enjoyed by the sons, and the
youngest daughter, Helena, married the emperor Julian,
■ grandson of Constantius Chlorus. The three sons of Con-
stantine divided the empire between them. The oldest, at the
age of twenty-one, retained the prefecture of Gaul ; Constan-
tius, aged twenty, kept Thrace and the East ; while Constans,
the youngest, at the age of seventeen, added the Italian pre-
fecture with Greece.

The ablest of these princes was Constantius, on whom fell
the burden of the Persian war, and which ulti-
mately ended on the defeat of Julian, in Sapor

Chap, xlvl] Death of Athanasius. 629

wresting from the emperor all the countries beyond the

Constantine II. was dissatisfied with his share of the em-
pire, and compelled Constans to yield up Africa, but was slain
in an expedition beyond the Julian Alps, a. d. 340.

Constans held the empire of the West for ten years, during
which he carried on war with the Franks, upon the

. ■Tin t->- xt- • Constans.

Rhine, and with the Scots and Picts. His vices
were so disgraceful that a rebellion took place, under Mag-
nentius, who slew Constans, a. d. 350, and reigned in his
stead, the seat of his government being Treves.

Constantius II. made war on the usurper, Magnentius, a
rough barbarian, and finally defeated him on the war with
banks of the Danube, where fifty-four thousand men Ma s nentius -
perished in battle, soon after which the usurper killed himself.

Constantius, by the death of his brother, and overthrow
of Magnentius, was now sole master of the empire, and
through his permission Athanasius was restored to the arch-
bishopric of Alexandria, but was again removed, the emperor
being an Arian. This second removal raised a tumult in
Alexandria, and he was allowed to return to his see, D ea th f
where he lived in peace until he died, a. d. 372— the Athanasius -
great defender of the orthodox creed, which finally was
established by councils and the emperors.

The emperor Constantius was engaged in successive wars
with the barbarians, — with the Persians on the East, Wars of
the Sarmatians on the Danube, and the Franks and Constantius -
Alemanni, on the Rhine. During these wars, his brother-in-
law, Julian, was sent to the West with the title of Caesar,
where he restored order, and showed signal ability. On the
death of Constantius, he was recognized as emperor without
opposition, a. d. 361.

Julian is generally called the Apostate, since he proclaimed
a change in the established religion, but tolerated

/"t-i ■ • • . . Julian.

Christianity. He was a Platonic philosopher — a

man of great virtue and ability, whose life was unstained by

vices. But his attempt to restore paganism was senseless

630 Fall of the Empire. [Chap. xlyi.

and ineffectual. As a popular belief, paganism had expired.
His character is warmly praised by Gibbon, and commended
by other historians. He struggled against the spirit of his
age, and was unsuccessful. He was worthy of the best ages
of the empire in the exercise of all pagan virtues — the true
successor of Hadrian and the Antonines.

He was also a great general, and sought to crush the
Death of power of the Persian kings and make Babylonia a
Julian. Roman province. Here, too, he failed, although

he gained signal successes. He was mortally wounded while
effecting a retreat from the Tigris, after a short reign of
twenty months. With him ended the house of Constantine.
The empire was conferred by the troops on Flavins Claudius
Jovianus, chief of the imperial household, a. d. 363
— a man of moderate talents and good intentions,
but unfit for such stormy times. He restored Christianity,
which henceforth was the national religion. He died the
following year, and was succeeded by Flavius Valentinianus,
the son of Count Gratian, a general who had arisen from
obscurity in Pannonia, to the command of Africa and

Valentinian was forty-four years of age when he began to
reign, a. d. 364, a man of noble character and
person, and in a month associated his brother
Flavius Valens with him in the govei'nment of the empire.
Valentinian kept the West, and conferred the East on Valens.
Thus was the empire again formally divided, and was not
reunited until the reign of Theodosius. Valentinian chose
the post of danger, rather than of pleasm-e and luxury, for
the West was now invaded by various tribes of the Germanic
race. The Alemanni were powerful on the Rhine ; the
Barbaric Saxons were invading Britain ; the Burgundians
invasions. were commencing their ravages in Gaul ; and the
Goths were preparing for another inroad. The emperor,
whose seat of po wer was Milan, was engaged in perpetual,
but indecisive conflicts. He reigned with vigor, and repressed
the barbarians. He bestowed the title of Augustus on his

Chap. XLYL] Battle of Hadrianople. 631

son Gratian, and died in a storm of wrath by the bursting
of a blood-vessel, while reviling the embassadors of the
Quadi, a. d. 375.

The emperor Valens, at Constantinople, was exposed to
no less dangers, without the force to meet them.
The great nation of the Goths, who had been at
peace with the empire for a generation, resumed their hostili-
ties upon the Danube. Hermanneric, the first historic name
among these fierce people, had won a series of brilliant vic-
tories over other barbarians, after he was eighty years of
age. His dominions extended from the Danube to the
Baltic, and embraced the greater part of Germany and

But the Goths were invaded by a fierce race of barbari-
ans, more savage than themselves, from the banks Gothic in _
of the Don, called Scythians, or Huns, of Sclavonic vasion -
origin. Pressed by this new enemy, they sought shelter in
the Roman territory. Instead of receiving them as allies, the
emperor treated them as enemies. Hostages from the flower
of their youth were scattered through the cities of Asia
Minor, while the corrupt governors of Thrace annoyed them
by insults and grievances. The aged Hermanneric, exas-
perated by misfortune, made preparations for a general war,
while Sarmatians, Alans, and Huns united with them. After
three indecisive campaigns, the emperor Valens advanced to
attack their camp near Hadrianople, defended by Fritagern.
Under the walls of this city was fought the most bloody
and disastrous battle which Rome ever lost, a. d. 378. Two-
thirds of the imperial army was destroyed, the Denth of
emperor was slain, and the remainder fled in con- Yalens -
sternation. Sixty thousand infantry and six thousand
cavalry lay dead upon the fatal field. The victors, intoxi-
cated with their success, invested Hadrianople, but were
unequal to the task, being inexperienced in sieges. Laden
with spoil, they retired to the western boundaries of Thrace.
From the shores of the Bosphorus to the Julian Alps, noth-
ing was seen but conflagration, murder, and devastation. So

632 Fall of the Empire. [Chap. XLVI.

great were the misfortunes of the Illyrian provinces, that they
t, . never afterward recovered. Churches were turned

Kavagos of

the Goths. ' ln ^ stables, palaces were burned, works of art
were destroyed, the relics of martyrs were desecrated, the
population decimated, and the provinces were overrun.

In this day of calamity a hero and deliverer was needed.
The feeble Gratian, who ruled in the West, cast his eyes
upon an exile, whose father, an eminent general, had been
unjustly murdered by the emperor Valentinian,
This man was Theodosius, then living in modest
retirement on his farm near Valladolid, in Spain, as unambi-
tious as David among his sheep, as contented as Cincinnatus
at the plow. Even Gibbon does not sneer at this great
Christian emperor, who Revived for a while the falling
empire. He accepted the sceptre of Valens, a. d. 379, and
the conduct of the Gothic war, being but thirty- three years
of age. One of the greatest of all the emperors, and the last
great man who swayed the sceptre of Trajan, his ancestor,
he has not too warmly been praised by the Church, whose
defender he was — the last flickering light of an expiring
monarchy, — although his character has been assailed by
modern critics of great respectability.

As soon as he was invested with the purple, he took up his
Successes residence in Thessalonica, and devoted his energies

over the . . . • „

Goths. to the task assigned him by the necessities of the

empire. He succeeded in putting a stop to the progress of
the Goths, disarmed them by treaties, and allowed them to
settle on the right bank of the Danube, within the limits of
the empire. He invited the aged Athanaric to his capital
and table, who was astonished by his riches and glory.
Peace was favored by the death of Fritagern, and forty thou-
sand Goths were received as soldiers of the empire, — an
impolitic act.

At this period the Goths settled in Moesia were visited by
Uphilas, a Christian missionary and Arian bishop,

U P llilaS - 1 , -, , -T.-1 , -11! •

Avho translated the bible, and had great success in
the conversion of the barbarians to a nominal faith. This is

Chap, xlvi.] Ambrose. 633

the earliest instance of the reception of the new faith by the
Germanic races.

While Theodosius was restoring the eastern empire, Gra-
tian relapsed into indolent pleasures at Milan,
which provoked a revolution. Maxirnus was pro- Gratian -

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