Constantine and Christianity.
Constantine is called "the Great" mainly due to his deeds rather than due to his intellectual and moral qualities. His claim to greatness is mainly based on the fact that he foresaw the future spread of Christianity and decided to profit from it for his empire, as well as completing the work of Aurelian and Diocletian transforming quasi-constitutional monarchy into a naked absolutism. There is no reason to doubt the sincerity of Constantine's transition to Christianity, although he never displayed a passionate devotion. The moral principles of the new religion substantially influenced his life, and he gave his sons a Christian education. However, for reasons of political expediency Constantine put off the full recognition of Christianity as the state religion, until he became the sole ruler of the empire. After his victory over Maxentius, in a series of acts he freed the Catholic Church and clergy from taxes and gave them various privileges, generally proclaiming religious tolerance. Constantine gradually revealed his attitude to paganism, which could be called a contemptuous tolerance. From the height of recognition as a state religion, it has been reduced to mere superstitions. At the same time, Constantine continued to allow pagan rites to be exercised, except in the circumstances where they were viewed as undermining the moral fabric. And even in the last years of Constantine, we find the laws in favor of local pagan priests. Only after the final victory of Constantine over Licinius pagan symbols disappeared from coins, which acquired a distinct Christian monogram. Since that time, not only did the Emperor openly talked about his previous involvement in Christianity, but also showed the determination to establish his rule over the church. Even though, Constantine was not baptized until he was on his deathbed, he is considered the firs Christian Roman Emperor. He was responsible for rapid spread of Christianity in Europe...
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