the battle, Constantine issued the Edict of Milan, which legalized nearly
all religions in the empire. Despite the fact that it did not outlaw paganism,
the edict focused on Christians, and it also returned confiscated property
to Christians.36 Burkhardt brings up the point that the edict
could not have been used as a political instrument for gaining power because
of the political weakness of the Christians during the early fourth century.
But Burkhardt then refutes this statement by arguing that the edict was
used to gather support from the pagans who looked unfavorably upon the
persecution.37 However, this argument fails to take into account
the amount of emphasis that the edict specifically places on Christianity.38
While this argument falls short of settling the issue, it does raise doubts
about the motives behind the edict, and so other documents must be considered.
36. Stevenson, 284 ("Edict of Milan").
37. Burkhardt, 272-273.
38. Burkhardt, 272-273. The author states: "The Christians were still only a small minority, which did not require to be spared; how could toleration of them now seem a means of power to an ambitious man, or at least a profitable thing? The puzzle is resolved if we assume that the majority of pagans whose opinion was to be considered disapproved of further persecution." Burkhardt argues that pagans disapproved of further persecution, but this does not fully explain the restitution of property by Constantine, and thus he only succeeds in bringing up a strong point that opposes his argument. Still, however, as I have mentioned, this does pose a challenge to the supposed motives behind the Edict of Milan.
39. In the section on Sources, I emphasized the fact (also argued by Grant) that correspondence from Constantine may have passed through the hands of his court to be edited. I am in no position to analyze the sources for such specific content, so they are only used for their more general ideas (this use is also defended in the section on sources). The sources here are not analyzed down to word choice --I purposefully omitted specific references to such words as "Divinity," which may have been added or edited from any number of other words or meanings.
40. Baynes, 4.