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Yuan Dynasty

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CONSTANTINE

Constantine in his rise to power in the Western Empire and his rise to power is not distinct when compared to any other great military officer. At the death of his father, Constantius, he took command of the troops in Britain and Gaul and demanded recognition as his father's successor. About the same time in the East, Maxentius, the son of Masimian, undertook to succeed his retired father, killed Serverus(who), ensconced himself in Rome, and demanded recognition.

Outside contenders challenged these two leaders for the control of the empires in the West and in the East. The first challengers, considered pagans, were opposed by Constantine who converted to Christianity. Constantine claimed to have seen a vision from Christ. Christ, in his vision, gave him assurance of victory over Maxentius, and this starts Contantine's new change. With this vision in mind and contrary to the advice of his military strategies, Constantine invaded Italy from Gaul and descended upon Rome. This could have been a rash move, for had Maxentius stayed inside the walls of Rome, he might have withstood a lengthy siege. However, Maxentius sailed forth instead, was attacked while crossing the Tiber over the Milvian Bridge, and was drowned. Maximian was also apprehended and disposed of. Thus, in 312, this military hero, Constantine, became the master of the West.

During the beginning of his rule, we see Constantine at once exercising supervision over the affairs of state as well as the church. Constantine seems to have assumes some of the ideas Diocletian implemented the development of the state. In many ways, Constantine carried on these ideas to a higher level as his administration moved in the direction initiated by Diocletian. Constantine saw to it that within districts, the administration was more closely unified. A further reform of the army, begun by Diocletian, further strengthened the empire. Constantine demonstrated other administrative abilities. Constantine also tried Diocletian's idea of economic reform, but without enduring results, though Constantine tried to bring some economic relief by creating a gold standard. *footnote

Constantine was conscious of being an innovator. He had an encouraging effect on the people and awakened their confidence. It was necessary for Constantine, as it had been for Diocletian, to wrestle with the currency problem. Diocletian failed to establish a sound silver coinage. Constantine's efforts were more realistic. Constantine also managed to institute a workable system for both gold and bronze coinages.

Byzantium became very significant to Rome when Constantine decided to transfer the capital to the East. He decided to consecrate the city to Christ, and it became Constantinople. Reasons for the move were evident; the new capital stood close to the main focus of the empire's trade and it was also a strategic move militarily because it established a bulwark to withstand enemies from the East. In was also a check to the incursions of migratory tribes. Constantine's political and economic abilities strengthened the empire.

Constantine claimed to have divine rule. But was it so divine? Constantine was not baptized Christian until he lay on his deathbed. He and many others undoubtedly considered him, in some manner, a member of the church and he certainly played a major role in the affairs of the church as well as affording its members something more than simple toleration.

Constantine attributed his success to the divine message that he had read in the sky just before the battle at the Milvian Bridge in 312. He could not totally abandon

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