Edict of Milan

The Edict of Milan (Latin: Edictum Mediolanense) was the February 313 AD agreement to treat Christians benevolently within the Roman Empire.[1] Western Roman Emperor Constantine I and Emperor Licinius, who controlled the Balkans, met in Mediolanum (modern-day Milan) and, among other things, agreed to change policies towards Christians[1] following the Edict of Toleration issued by Emperor Galerius two years earlier in Serdica. The Edict of Milan gave Christianity a legal status, but did not make Christianity the State church of the Roman Empire; this took place under Emperor Theodosius I in 380 AD with the Edict of Thessalonica.

The document is found in Lactantius' De Mortibus Persecutorum and in Eusebius of Caesarea's History of the Church with marked divergences between the two.[2] Whether or not there was a formal 'Edict of Milan'  is debated by some.[1]

The version found in Lactantius is not in the form of an edict.[2] It is a letter from Licinius to the governors of the provinces in the Eastern Empire he had just conquered by defeating Maximinus[3] later in the same year and issued in Nicomedia.[1]

Constantine Chiaramonti Inv1749
Bust of Emperor Constantine I, Roman, 4th century.

History

ImperialpalaceMilan
Remains of the Imperial palace of Mediolanum (Milan). The imperial palace (built in large part by Maximian, colleague of Diocletian) was a large complex with several buildings, gardens, and courtyards, used for the Emperor's private and public activities, and for his court, family, and imperial bureaucracy.

Ever since the fall of the Severan dynasty in 235 AD, rivals for the imperial throne had bid for support by either favouring or persecuting Christians.[4] The previous Edict of Toleration by Galerius had been recently issued by the emperor Galerius from Serdica and was posted at Nicomedia on 30 April 311. By its provisions, the Christians, who had "followed such a caprice and had fallen into such a folly that they would not obey the institutes of antiquity", were granted an indulgence.[5]

Wherefore, for this our indulgence, they ought to pray to their God for our safety, for that of the republic, and for their own, that the commonwealth may continue uninjured on every side, and that they may be able to live securely in their homes.

Their confiscated property, however, was not restored until 313, when instructions were given for the Christians' meeting places and other properties to be returned and compensation paid by the state to the current owners:[6]

the same shall be restored to the Christians without payment or any claim of recompense and without any kind of fraud or deception.

It directed the provincial magistrates to execute this order at once with all energy so that public order may be restored and the continuance of divine favour may "preserve and prosper our successes together with the good of the state."

The actual letters have never been retrieved. However, they are quoted at length in Lactantius' On the Deaths of the Persecutors (De mortibus persecutorum), which gives the Latin text of both Galerius's Edict of Toleration as posted at Nicomedia on 30 April 311 and of Licinius's letter of toleration and restitution addressed to the governor of Bithynia and posted at Nicomedia on 13 June 313.[7]

Eusebius of Caesarea translated both documents into Greek in his History of the Church (Historia Ecclesiastica). His version of the letter of Licinius must derive from a copy posted in the province of Palaestina Prima (probably at its capital, Caesarea) in the late summer or early autumn of 313, but the origin of his copy of Galerius's Edict of 311 is unknown since that does not seem to have been promulgated in Caesarea. In his description of the events in Milan in his Life of Constantine, Eusebius eliminated the role of Licinius, whom he portrayed as the evil foil to his hero Constantine.

The Edict was in effect directed against Maximinus Daia, the Caesar in the East who was at that time styling himself as Augustus. Having received the emperor Galerius' instruction to repeal the persecution in 311, Maximinus had instructed his subordinates to desist, but had not released Christians from prisons or virtual death-sentences in the mines, as Constantine and Licinius had both done in the West.[8]

Following Galerius' death, Maximin was no longer constrained; he enthusiastically took up renewed persecutions in the eastern territories under his control, encouraging petitions against Christians. One of those petitions, addressed not only to Maximin but also to Constantine and Licinius, is preserved in a stone inscription at Arycanda in Lycia, and is a "request that the Christians, who have long been disloyal and still persist in the same mischievous intent, should at last be put down and not be suffered by any absurd novelty to offend against the honour due to the gods."[8]

The Edict is popularly thought to concern only Christianity, and even to make Christianity the official religion of the Empire (which recognition did not actually occur until the Edict of Thessalonica in 380). Indeed, the Edict expressly grants religious liberty not only to Christians, who had been the object of special persecution, but goes even further and grants liberty to all religions:

When you see that this has been granted to [Christians] by us, your Worship will know that we have also conceded to other religions the right of open and free observance of their worship for the sake of the peace of our times, that each one may have the free opportunity to worship as he pleases; this regulation is made that we may not seem to detract from any dignity of any religion.

— "Edict of Milan", Lactantius, On the Deaths of the Persecutors (De Mortibus Persecutorum), ch. 48. opera, ed. 0. F. Fritzsche, II, p 288 sq. (Bibl Patr. Ecc. Lat. XI).[9]

Since Licinius composed the Edict with the intent of publishing it in the east upon his hoped-for victory over Maximinus, it expresses the religious policy accepted by Licinius, a pagan, rather than that of Constantine, who was already a Christian. Constantine's own policy went beyond merely tolerating Christianity: he tolerated paganism and other religions, but he actively promoted Christianity.

Religious statement

Although the Edict of Milan is commonly presented as Constantine’s first great act as a Christian emperor, it is disputed whether the Edict of Milan was an act of genuine faith. The document could be seen as Constantine's first step in creating an alliance with the Christian God, who he considered the strongest deity.[10] At that time, he was concerned about social stability and the protection of the empire from the wrath of the Christian God: in this view, the Edict could be a pragmatic political decision rather than a religious shift. However, the majority of historians believe that Constantine's conversion to Christianity was genuine, and that the Edict of Milan was merely the first official act of Constantine as a dedicated Christian. This view is supported by Constantine's ongoing favors on behalf of Christianity during the rest of his reign. [11]

The Edict of Milan required that the wrong done to the Christians be righted as thoroughly as possible; it claims “it has pleased us to remove all conditions whatsoever.”[12] The edict further demanded that individual Romans right any wrongs towards Christians, claiming that “the same shall be restored to the Christians without payment or any claim of recompense and without any kind of fraud or deception.” These provisions indicate that more than just the establishment of justice was intended. After demanding the immediate return of what was lost by the Christians, the edict states that this should be done so that “public order may be secured”, not for the intrinsic value of justice or the glory of God.[12] The exhortation to urgently right wrongs reflects the leaders' desires to avoid unfavorable consequences, which in this case included social unrest and further conquests. Constantine was superstitious and believed enough in the existence of the non-Christian gods to not want to offset the balance of good and evil.[13] It was believed that, the sooner this balance was restored by the Romans establishing a state of justice with the Christians, the sooner the state would become stable.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d Frend, W. H. C. The Early Church SPCK 1965, p. 137
  2. ^ a b Cross and Livingstone. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church 1974 art. Milan, Edict of.
  3. ^ Stevenson, J. A New Eusebius SPCK 1965, p. 302
  4. ^ Frend, W.H.C. The Early Church SPCK 1965, p. 135
  5. ^ Stevenson, J. A New Eusebius SPCK 1965, p. 296
  6. ^ Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 5.15–17
  7. ^ Lactantius, De mortibus persecutorum 34.1–35.1, 48.1–12
  8. ^ a b Inscription printed in Stevenson, J. A New Eusebius SPCK 1965, p. 297
  9. ^ And similarly in Eusebius.
  10. ^ Sordi, Marta. The Christians and the Roman Empire. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1994. p134.
  11. ^ Maier, Paul L. Eusebius: The Church History. Grand Rapids: Kegel Publications, 1999. p. 374.
  12. ^ a b "Paul Halsall, “Galerius and Constantine: Edicts of Toleration 311/313,” Fordham University; Fordham.edu; Internet, accessed 13 October 2014.
  13. ^ Yuri Koszarycz. "Constantinian Christianity". The-orb.net. The Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies. Archived from the original on 2015-02-15. Retrieved 14 October 2014.

External links

Bishops of Rome under Constantine I

Constantine I's (272–337) relationship with the four Bishops of Rome during his reign is an important component of the history of the Papacy, and more generally the history of the Catholic Church.

The legend surrounding Constantine I's victory in the Battle of the Milvian Bridge (312) relates his vision of the Chi Rho (☧) and the text in hoc signo vinces in the sky and his reproducing this symbol on the shields of his troops. The following year Constantine and Licinius proclaimed the toleration of Christianity with the Edict of Milan, and in 325 Constantine convened and presided over the First Council of Nicaea, the first ecumenical council. None of this, however, has particularly much to do with the popes, who did not even attend the Council; in fact, the first bishop of Rome to be contemporaneously referred to as "Pope" (πάππας, or pappas) is Damasus I (366-384). Moreover, between 324 and 330, he built Constantinople as a new capital for the empire, and—with no apologies to the Roman community of Christians—relocated key Roman families and translated many Christian relics to the new churches.

The Donation of Constantine, an 8th-century forgery used to enhance the prestige and authority of popes, places the pope more centrally in the narrative of Constantinian Christianity. The legend of the Donation claims that Constantine offered his crown to Sylvester I (314-335), and even that Sylvester baptized Constantine. In reality, Constantine was baptized (nearing his death in May 337) by Eusebius of Nicomedia, who, unlike the pope, was an Arian bishop. Sylvester was succeeded by Mark (336) and Julius I (337-352) during the life of Constantine.

Although the "Donation" never occurred, Constantine did hand over the Lateran Palace to the bishop of Rome, and begin the construction of Old Saint Peter's Basilica (the "Constantinian Basilica"). The gift of the Lateran probably occurred during the reign of Miltiades (311-314), Sylvester I's predecessor, who began using it as his residence. Old St. Peter's was begun between 326 and 330 and would have taken three decades to complete, long after the death of Constantine. Constantine's legalization of Christianity, combined with the donation of these properties, gave the bishop of Rome an unprecedented level of temporal power, for the first time creating an incentive for secular leaders to interfere with papal succession.

Celebration of 1700 years of Edict of Milan in Niš

Niš in celebration of the 1,700 years of the Edict of Milan was designed as a central place of the centuries-long anniversary celebration of Christianity, by the Foundation " Art Carnuntum " in 2003. Constantine the Great, who wrote the Edict of Milan turned "the world history in a new direction, seeking to certain laws favoring Christianity," linking the three cities from different parts of Europe and Asia, Austrian Carnuntum, Serbian Niš (in which he was born), and Turkish Izmit. Starting from this fact the Foundation "Art Carnuntum" among several nominees, elected Serbia and Niš (Nais) hometown of Constantine the Great, as a central place a large global history, and awarded him as a central place in this celebration.

Constantine the Great and Christianity

During the reign of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great (AD 306–337), Christianity began to transition to the dominant religion of the Roman Empire. Historians remain uncertain about Constantine's reasons for favoring Christianity, and theologians and historians have often argued about which form of early Christianity he subscribed to. There is no consensus among scholars as to whether he adopted his mother Helena's Christianity in his youth, or, as claimed by Eusebius of Caesarea, encouraged her to convert to the faith he had adopted himself.

Constantine ruled the Roman Empire as sole emperor for the remainder of his reign. Some scholars allege that his main objective was to gain unanimous approval and submission to his authority from all classes, and therefore chose Christianity to conduct his political propaganda, believing that it was the most appropriate religion that could fit with the Imperial cult (see also Sol Invictus). Regardless, under Constantine's rule Christianity expanded throughout the Empire, launching the era of Christian Church's dominance under the Constantinian dynasty. Whether Constantine sincerely converted to Christianity or remained loyal to Paganism is still a matter of debate among historians (see also Constantine's Religious policy). His formal conversion in 312 is almost universally acknowledged among historians, despite that he was baptized only on his deathbed by the Arian bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia in 337; the real reasons behind it remain unknown and are debated too. According to Hans Pohlsander, Professor Emeritus of History at the University at Albany, SUNY, Constantine's conversion was just another instrument of realpolitik in his hands meant to serve his political interest in keeping the Empire united under his control:

The prevailing spirit of Constantine's government was one of conservatorism. His conversion to and support of Christianity produced fewer innovations than one might have expected; indeed they served an entirely conservative end, the preservation and continuation of the Empire.

Constantine's decision to cease the persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire was a turning point for early Christianity, sometimes referred to as the Triumph of the Church, the Peace of the Church or the Constantinian shift. In 313, Constantine and Licinius issued the Edict of Milan decriminalizing Christian worship. The emperor became a great patron of the Church and set a precedent for the position of the Christian emperor within the Church and the notion of orthodoxy, Christendom, ecumenical councils, and the state church of the Roman Empire declared by edict in 380. He is revered as a saint and isapostolos in the Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodox Church, and various Eastern Catholic Churches for his example as a "Christian monarch."

Constantinianism

Constantinianism refers to those policies said to be enacted, encouraged, or personally favored by Constantine the Great, a 4th-century Roman Emperor. In particular, it may refer to any of the following:

Constantine's patronage of Christianity.

The practice of state control of or influence over the Church, sometimes called Erastianism.

The notion that Roman Emperors have authority over the Church, sometimes called Caesaropapism.

Identification of the Church with the Roman EmpireThe Church's willingness to use the state's coercive power structures to assist in the Church's mission

A tendency to exuberance due of the subsequent rise of Christianity, sometimes called Christian triumphalism.

The notion that Constantine received his mandate from God, as in the Divine Right of Kings.

The practice of Religious tolerance as mandated in the Edict of Milan.

The doctrines of the Council of Nicea, which Constantine organized and promoted.

The corruption of Christian doctrine that is alleged to have taken place during or because of the reign of Constantine, sometimes called the Great Apostasy or more particularly the Constantinian shift.

Certain Roman Catholic criticisms of Separation of Church and State found, for instance, in the Syllabus of Errors.

Certain Protestant doctrines such as Reconstructionism and Dominionism.

Coptic history

Coptic history is part of history of Egypt that begins with the introduction of Christianity in Egypt in the 1st century AD during the Roman period, and covers the history of the Copts to the present day. Many of the historic items related to Coptic Christianity are on display in many museums around the world and a large number is in the Coptic Museum in Coptic Cairo.

Decline of Greco-Roman polytheism

Religion in the Greco-Roman world at the time of the Constantinian shift mostly comprised three main currents:

the traditional religions of ancient Greece and Rome;

the official Roman imperial cult;

various mystery religions, such as the Dionysian and Eleusinian Mysteries and the mystery cults of Cybele, Mithras, and the syncretized Isis.Early Christianity grew gradually in Rome and the Roman Empire from the 1st to 4th centuries. In 313 it was legally tolerated and in 380 it became the state church of the Roman Empire with the Edict of Thessalonica. Nevertheless, Hellenistic polytheistic traditions survived in pockets of Greece throughout Late Antiquity until they gradually diminished after the triumph of Christianity.

Diocletianic Persecution

The Diocletianic or Great Persecution was the last and most severe persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire. In 303, the Emperors Diocletian, Maximian, Galerius, and Constantius issued a series of edicts rescinding Christians' legal rights and demanding that they comply with traditional religious practices. Later edicts targeted the clergy and demanded universal sacrifice, ordering all inhabitants to sacrifice to the gods. The persecution varied in intensity across the empire—weakest in Gaul and Britain, where only the first edict was applied, and strongest in the Eastern provinces. Persecutory laws were nullified by different emperors (Galerius with the Edict of Serdica in 311) at different times, but Constantine and Licinius's Edict of Milan (313) has traditionally marked the end of the persecution.

Christians had always been subject to local discrimination in the empire, but early emperors were reluctant to issue general laws against the sect. It was not until the 250s, under the reigns of Decius and Valerian, that such laws were passed. Under this legislation, Christians were compelled to sacrifice to Roman gods or face imprisonment and execution. After Gallienus's accession in 260, these laws went into abeyance. Diocletian's assumption of power in 284 did not mark an immediate reversal of imperial inattention to Christianity, but it did herald a gradual shift in official attitudes toward religious minorities. In the first fifteen years of his rule, Diocletian purged the army of Christians, condemned Manicheans to death, and surrounded himself with public opponents of Christianity. Diocletian's preference for activist government, combined with his self-image as a restorer of past Roman glory, foreboded the most pervasive persecution in Roman history. In the winter of 302, Galerius urged Diocletian to begin a general persecution of the Christians. Diocletian was wary, and asked the oracle of Apollo for guidance. The oracle's reply was read as an endorsement of Galerius's position, and a general persecution was called on February 24, 303.

Persecutory policies varied in intensity across the empire. Where Galerius and Diocletian were avid persecutors, Constantius was unenthusiastic. Later persecutory edicts, including the calls for universal sacrifice, were not applied in his domain. His son, Constantine, on taking the imperial office in 306, restored Christians to full legal equality and returned property that had been confiscated during the persecution. In Italy in 306, the usurper Maxentius ousted Maximian's successor Severus, promising full religious toleration. Galerius ended the persecution in the East in 311, but it was resumed in Egypt, Palestine, and Asia Minor by his successor, Maximinus. Constantine and Licinius, Severus's successor, signed the Edict of Milan in 313, which offered a more comprehensive acceptance of Christianity than Galerius's edict had provided. Licinius ousted Maximinus in 313, bringing an end to persecution in the East.

The persecution failed to check the rise of the Church. By 324, Constantine was sole ruler of the empire, and Christianity had become his favored religion. Although the persecution resulted in death, torture, imprisonment, or dislocation for many Christians, the majority of the empire's Christians avoided punishment. The persecution did, however, cause many churches to split between those who had complied with imperial authority (the traditores), and those who had remained "pure". Certain schisms, like those of the Donatists in North Africa and the Meletians in Egypt, persisted long after the persecutions. The Donatists would not be reconciled to the Church until after 411. Some historians consider that, in the centuries that followed the persecutory era, Christians created a "cult of the martyrs", and exaggerated its barbarity. Such Christian accounts were criticized during the Enlightenment and afterwards, most notably by Edward Gibbon. Modern historians, such as G. E. M. de Ste. Croix, have attempted to determine whether Christian sources exaggerated the scope of the Diocletianic persecution.

Early Christian churches in Milan

Early Christian churches in Milan are the first churches built immediately after the Edict of Milan (Edictum Mediolanense) in February 313, issued by Constantine the Great and Licinius, which expressly grants tolerance and religious liberty to all religions within the Roman Empire.

Edict of Serdica

The Edict of Serdica, also called Edict of Toleration by Galerius, was issued in 311 in Serdica (today Sofia, Bulgaria) by the Roman emperor Galerius, officially ending the Diocletianic persecution of Christianity in the East.The Edict implicitly granted Christianity the status of "religio licita", a worship recognized and accepted by the Roman Empire. It was the first edict legalizing Christianity, preceding the Edict of Milan by two years.

Great martyr

Great Martyr or Great-Martyr (Greek: μεγαλομάρτυς or μεγαλομάρτυρ, megalomartys or megalomartyr, from megas, "great" + "martyr") is a classification of saints who are venerated in the Eastern Orthodox Church and those Eastern Catholic Churches which follow the Rite of Constantinople.

Generally speaking, a Great Martyr is a martyr who has undergone excruciating tortures—often performing miracles and converting unbelievers to Christianity in the process—and who has attained widespread veneration throughout the Church. These saints are often from the first centuries of the Church, before the Edict of Milan. This term is normally not applied to saints who could be better described as hieromartyrs (martyred clergy) or protomartyrs (the first martyr in a given region).

History of Sofia

The history of Sofia, Bulgaria's capital and largest city, spans thousands of years from Antiquity to modern times, during which the city has been a commercial, industrial, cultural and economic centre in its region and the Balkans.

Ilija Fonlamov Francisković

Ilija Fonlamov Francisković (Niš, February 16, 1996) is a Serbian painter, known for his official painting of Celebration of 1700 years of the Edict of Milan - The Emperor's edict.

Licinius

Licinius I (; Latin: Gaius Valerius Licinianus Licinius Augustus; c. 263 – 325) was a Roman emperor from 308 to 324. For most of his reign he was the colleague and rival of Constantine I, with whom he co-authored the Edict of Milan that granted official toleration to Christians in the Roman Empire. He was finally defeated at the Battle of Chrysopolis, and was later executed on the orders of Constantine I.

Peace of the Church

The "Peace of the Church" is a designation usually applied to the condition of the Church after the publication of the Edict of Milan in 313 by the two Augusti, Western Roman Emperor Constantine I and his eastern colleague Licinius, an edict of toleration by which the Christians were accorded liberty to practise their religion without state interference.

Pope Miltiades

Pope Miltiades (Greek: Μιλτιάδης, Miltiádēs; d. 10 January 314), also known as Melchiades the African (Μελχιάδης ὁ Ἀφρικανός Melkhiádēs ho Aphrikanós), was Pope of the Catholic Church from 311 to his death in 314. It was during his pontificate that Emperor Constantine I issued the Edict of Milan (313), giving Christianity legal status within the Roman Empire. The Pope also received the palace of Empress Fausta where the Lateran Palace, the papal seat and residence of the papal administration, would be built. At the Lateran Council, during the schism with the Church of Carthage, Miltiades condemned the rebaptism of apostatised bishops and priests, a teaching of Donatus Magnus.

Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Toledo

This is a list of Bishops and Archbishops of Toledo (Latin: Archidioecesis Toletana). They are also the Primates of Spain. It was, according to tradition established in the 1st century by St. James the Great and was elevated to an archdiocese in 313 after the Edict of Milan. The incumbent Archbishop also bears the title Primate of Spain and since 1937 the title General Vicar of the Armies.

Santa Croce in Via Flaminia

Santa Croce in Via Flaminia is a basilica church dedicated to the Holy Cross on the Via Flaminia in Rome, Italy.

It was first built in 1913 by the architect Aristide Leonori for Pope Pius X, in celebration of the 1600th anniversary of the Edict of Milan. In the style of a Roman basilica, it has a mosaic-decorated facade, a portico with six Doric columns and a mosaic by Biagio Biagetti, a five-storey bell tower and a three-aisled nave divided by six columns of Bavarian granite on each side.

It was opened for worship on 12 July 1914, and granted to the Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata (Stigmatines), but was not consecrated until 1918 (by Giuseppe Pallica, Titular Archbishop of Philippi).

In 1954, Pope Pius XII made it an alternative station church for Friday of the Fifth Week of Lent. Pope Paul VI elevated it to the status of Minor Basilica in 1964.

St. Neophytos of Nicaea

The Holy Martyr Neophytos was born in Nicaea of Bythinia to Christian parents who were named Theodore and Florentia. During the persecution of Diocletian he went to Nicaea and boldly denounced the pagan faith. He was killed by Roman soldiers in A.D. 303, 10 years before the Edict of Milan permanently established religious toleration for Christianity within the Roman Empire.

His feast day is commemorated on January 21.In 2014 the underwater Byzantine Basilica of Saint Neophytos dedicated in his honour was discovered in Lake Iznik, modern-day Turkey. The basilica had been built in the place where he was killed on the shore of the lake and subsequently became submerged after an earthquake.

Vocius of Lyon

Vocius of Lyon was the ninth bishop of Lyon and succeeded Ptolemy probably around 300.We do not know much about his life however, in 314, he participated as bishop of Lyon in the Council of Arles, just after Constantine recognized Christianity with the Edict of Milan. This council brought together twenty bishops of Western Europe including fifteen from Gaul and declared condemnation of Donatism, already affirmed by a council in Rome in 313. He signed the Acts of the councils and the synodal letter of the Council to Pope Sylvester I to confirm the canons of the council. It is accompanied by another cleric of Lyon, Gétulin (or Petulinus), exorcist of Lyons, who also signs the acts of conciles.

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