Wednesday, May 15, 2024

This Week in 330 AD: Constantinople Dedicated


May 11, 330 AD … nearly 1700 Years Ago

A “second Rome” essentially — a replacement for it, in reality. 

Keep this date in mind next time you call something “old”.

Constantinople is named after Constantine I who should be more widely recognized as the first Emperor to convert to Christianity and use his power to spread the relatively new religion throughout the Roman Empire

And hoo boy is that history complicated — feel free to read about it in detail above — but here is a summary from that page:

Constantine reigned during the 4th century CE and is known for attempting to Christianize the Roman Empire. He made the persecution of Christians illegal by signing the Edict of Milan in 313 and helped spread the religion by bankrolling church-building projects, commissioning new copies of the Bible, and summoning councils of theologians to hammer out the religion’s doctrinal kinks.

The Edict of Milan mandated religious tolerance via legal rights — seems that this too should be more well-known than it is:

... granted all persons freedom to worship whatever deity they pleased, assured Christians of legal rights (including the right to organize churches), and directed the prompt return to Christians of confiscated property.

“Granted all persons freedom to worship watever deity they pleased”. This is full-on frredom of religion, 1446 years prior to 1776, when it seemed like a revolutionary idea mainly because for several hundred years the entire world had been unable to avoid killing each other over religion, not because nobody ever thought of it before. 

It goes on to say this ponderous bit: “Previous edicts of toleration had been as short-lived as the regimes that sanctioned them, but this time the edict effectively established religious toleration.” 

“This time”? Why did it work better this time? We are left to surmise that it was because of Constantine’s own conversion and strong leadership, although he died in 337, just 7 years later. Of course the Roman Empire fell in 476, so all of this “freedom” silliness died off with it, ushering in the Dark Ages and Vikings and Crusades and nearly endless war and plunder for over a thousand years.

A good video about Constantine I: