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"A Different Sort of Christian, a Different Sort of Christ: The Conversion of Constantine The Great"
by Stephen Murphy

In A.D. 284, the Emperor Numerian died while returning from an expedition in Persia.1 His soldiers declared Diocletian, who had been the commander of the emperor's bodyguard, emperor. Over time, Diocletian would establish a tetrarchy of emperors to control the empire, with one Augustus ruling in the West and another in the East. Each Augustus would have a Caesar as a junior emperor; Constantius, the father of Constantine, was Caesar under Diocletian's co-Augustus, Maximian. Through the tetrarchy, Diocletian was able to keep control over the Roman Empire until 305, when he and the other Augustus, Maximian, abdicated in favor of their two Caesars. The tetrarchy did not last long after that date, for civil war soon broke out.

In 303, Diocletian began persecuting the Christians of the empire. In that year, an edict was posted in Nicomedia that ordered all copies of Christian Scriptures to be burned, closed all Christian churches, and forbade Christian gatherings. More edicts followed, ordering all Christians to sacrifice to the pagan gods upon penalty of imprisonment or, in some cases, death. These edicts were sent throughout the empire, but the Caesar Constantius did not fully enforce them in Britain and Gaul. Persecution of Christians was continued by rulers in various parts of the empire until Constantine assumed full power in 324.

In 306, Constantius died in Britain, and Constantine was declared Augustus by his soldiers. Galerius, the senior Augustus, recognized Constantine as Caesar, and he accepted the lesser honor of Caesar. By defeating some competitors and allowing some

1. See. A.H.M. Jones, Constantine and the Conversion of Europe. (Toronto, 1962).
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