Constantine I was a Roman Emperor who ruled from 306 to 337 CE. He was born in Naissus (now Serbia), to a well-to-do family. His mother Helena was a devout Christian, and his father Constantius was a member of the Roman military. His father rose through the ranks and became Caesar in 293, and Constantine was his eldest son. Constantine I was the first Christian emperor, and his reign marked the beginning of a new era for Christianity in Rome.
Constantine’s Rise to Power
His father Constantius died in 306, and Constantine became the emperor, but he faced a lot of challenges. Constantine quickly became known for his great military prowess and ability to lead men into battle. He also made it clear that he intended to restore order to the Roman Empire by ending civil wars and enforcing laws fairly across all classes of people.
He had to fight against Maxentius (his brother in law) for the control over Rome and Italy. In 312, Constantine defeated Maxentius at Milvian Bridge, which helped him establish his power. Constantine’s army which consisted of mostly Christians, prayed for victory before battle began; this is why Christian scholars consider this battle to be one of the most important events in history. Because it marked a turning point for Christianity.
After this victory, Constantine continued to consolidate power over Rome and in 324, he succeeded his rival Licinius as sole emperor of the entire Roman Empire. During his reign, he promoted Christianity throughout his empire by establishing new laws that provided protection for Christians and effectively made them the official religion of Rome.
During His Reign
During his reign he took great care to strengthen Christianity by building churches, encouraging Christians to practice their religion openly (rather than hiding it). He also made himself head of the church by declaring himself “vessel of God” which gave him total control over church matters including appointments and finances.
This led to conflicts with pagan priests who were against these changes because they wanted sacrifices offered at temples instead of church services held there instead. However, Constantine’s policies prevailed despite their protests due to lack of support from other political leaders who were more concerned about maintaining stability than maintaining religious freedom.
He is also founded Constantinople in 324 which is named after him. Today it is modern day Istanbul, Turkey. He died from an illness at age 55 after ruling for 22 years as emperor of Rome (306 – 337).
This Constantine the Great coin box contains one coin struck during his reign. It shows a bust of him looking devoutly to the skies. It’s known as an “Eyes to Heaven” coin, one of the earliest and most famous Christian coins. The coin weighs around 3.2 g and has a diameter that measures around 19 mm.