Professor Freedman examines how Christianity came to be the official religion of the Roman Empire. This process began seriously in 312, when the emperor Constantine converted after a divinely inspired victory at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge. Constantine’s conversion would have seemed foolish as a political strategy since Christianity represented a completely different system of values from that of the Roman state, but not only did it prove to be a brilliant storke in aid of Constantine’s quest for power, it fundamentally changed the character of the Empire and that of the early Church. Constantine also moved his capitol to a new city he founded in the East, named Constantinople, opening the possibility of a Roman Empire without Rome. Professor Freedman ends the lecture with a comparison of Diocletian and Constantine.
Complete course materials are available at the Open Yale Courses website: http://oyc.yale.edu
This course was recorded in Fall 2011.