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Mark Gerasimov
Mark Gerasimov

The Roman Empire From Severus To Constantine !EXCLUSIVE!

The successes and failures of the rulers of the Roman world of the third century, and the role of the armies and the civilians, are re-assessed in this revised and expanded edition of The Roman Empire from Severus to Constantine, which incorporates the latest thinking of modern scholars and has been extended to cover the reign of Constantine and the foundations he laid on which the Christian empire was built. This is a crucial volume for students of this fascinating period in Roman history, and provides invaluable background for anyone interested in the "fall of Rome", the adoption of Christianity, and the establishment of the Byzantine Empire.

The Roman Empire from Severus to Constantine

When Maxentius, the son of the retired emperor Maximian, revolted at Rome, Galerius sent Severus to suppress the rebellion. Severus moved towards Rome from his capital, Mediolanum, at the head of an army previously commanded by Maximian.[2] Fearing the arrival of Severus, Maxentius offered Maximian the co-rule of the empire. Maximian accepted, and when Severus arrived under the walls of Rome and besieged it, his men deserted to Maximian, their old commander. Severus fled to Ravenna, an impregnable position.[2] Maximian offered to spare his life and treat him humanely if he surrendered peaceably, which he did in March or April 307. Despite Maximian's assurance, Severus was nonetheless displayed as a captive and later imprisoned at Tres Tabernae.[2] One belief is that when Galerius himself invaded Italy to suppress Maxentius and Maximian, the former ordered Severus's death, and that he was executed on September 307 at Tres Tabernae, near the current Cisterna di Latina.[3] Lactantius reports that he was permitted to kill himself by opening his veins.[4] Another belief is that Severus II was killed in Ravenna.[5][7]

The age of Constantine marked a distinct epoch in the history of the Roman Empire and a pivotal moment in the transition from classical antiquity to the Middle Ages.[14] He built a new imperial residence at the city of Byzantium and renamed it New Rome, later adopting the name Constantinople after himself, where it was located in modern Istanbul. It subsequently became the capital of the empire for more than a thousand years, the later Eastern Roman Empire often being referred to in English as the Byzantine Empire, a term never used by the Empire, invented by German historian Hieronymus Wolf. His more immediate political legacy was that he replaced Diocletian's Tetrarchy with the de facto principle of dynastic succession by leaving the empire to his sons and other members of the Constantinian dynasty. His reputation flourished during the lifetime of his children and for centuries after his reign. The medieval church held him up as a paragon of virtue, while secular rulers invoked him as a prototype, a point of reference and the symbol of imperial legitimacy and identity.[15] Beginning with the Renaissance, there were more critical appraisals of his reign with the rediscovery of anti-Constantinian sources. Trends in modern and recent scholarship have attempted to balance the extremes of previous scholarship.

In July 285, Diocletian declared Maximian, another colleague from Illyricum, his co-emperor. Each emperor would have his own court, his own military and administrative faculties, and each would rule with a separate praetorian prefect as chief lieutenant.[53] Maximian ruled in the West, from his capitals at Mediolanum (Milan, Italy) or Augusta Treverorum (Trier, Germany), while Diocletian ruled in the East, from Nicomedia (İzmit, Turkey). The division was merely pragmatic: the empire was called "indivisible" in official panegyric,[54] and both emperors could move freely throughout the empire.[55] In 288, Maximian appointed Constantius to serve as his praetorian prefect in Gaul. Constantius left Helena to marry Maximian's stepdaughter Theodora in 288 or 289.[56]

The death of Maximian required a shift in Constantine's public image. He could no longer rely on his connection to the elder Emperor Maximian and needed a new source of legitimacy.[124] In a speech delivered in Gaul on 25 July 310, the anonymous orator reveals a previously unknown dynastic connection to Claudius II, a 3rd-century emperor famed for defeating the Goths and restoring order to the empire. Breaking away from tetrarchic models, the speech emphasizes Constantine's ancestral prerogative to rule, rather than principles of imperial equality. The new ideology expressed in the speech made Galerius and Maximian irrelevant to Constantine's right to rule.[125] Indeed, the orator emphasizes ancestry to the exclusion of all other factors: "No chance agreement of men, nor some unexpected consequence of favor, made you emperor," the orator declares to Constantine.[126]

The Holy Roman Empire reckoned Constantine among the venerable figures of its tradition. In the later Byzantine state, it became a great honor for an emperor to be hailed as a "new Constantine"; ten emperors carried the name, including the last emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire.[305] Charlemagne used monumental Constantinian forms in his court to suggest that he was Constantine's successor and equal. Charlemagne, Henry VIII, Philip II of Spain, Godfrey of Bouillon, House of Capet, House of Habsburg, House of Stuart, Macedonian dynasty and Phokas family claimed descent from Constantine.[306][307][308][309][310][311][312][313][314] Geoffrey of Monmouth embroidered a tale that the legendary king of Britain, King Arthur, was also a descendant of Constantine.[315] Constantine acquired a mythic role as a warrior against heathens. His reception as a saint seems to have spread within the Byzantine empire during wars against the Sasanian Persians and the Muslims in the late 6th and 7th century.[316] The motif of the Romanesque equestrian, the mounted figure in the posture of a triumphant Roman emperor, became a visual metaphor in statuary in praise of local benefactors. The name "Constantine" enjoyed renewed popularity in western France in the 11th and 12th centuries.[317]

These later accounts were more willing to present Constantine as a genuine convert to Christianity. Norman H. Baynes began a historiographic tradition with Constantine the Great and the Christian Church (1929) which presents Constantine as a committed Christian, reinforced by Andreas Alföldi's The Conversion of Constantine and Pagan Rome (1948), and Timothy Barnes's Constantine and Eusebius (1981) is the culmination of this trend. Barnes' Constantine experienced a radical conversion which drove him on a personal crusade to convert his empire.[333] Charles Matson Odahl's Constantine and the Christian Empire (2004) takes much the same tack.[334] In spite of Barnes' work, arguments continue over the strength and depth of Constantine's religious conversion.[335] Certain themes in this school reached new extremes in T.G. Elliott's The Christianity of Constantine the Great (1996), which presented Constantine as a committed Christian from early childhood.[336] Paul Veyne's 2007 work Quand notre monde est devenu chrétien holds a similar view which does not speculate on the origin of Constantine's Christian motivation, but presents him as a religious revolutionary who fervently believed that he was meant "to play a providential role in the millenary economy of the salvation of humanity".[337]

Caracalla was Roman emperor from 211 to 217 CE. Born Lucius Septimius Bassianus, son of Septimius Severus and Julia Domna, he became co-ruler with his father in 198 CE and sole ruler after the death of his father in 211 CE and of his brother Geta later that same year. In his Edict of 212 CE, the Antonine Constitution, he granted Roman citizenship to all free inhabitants of the empire. This worked well as propaganda but at the same time also increased tax revenue for the state. Following his father's advice, he sought the support of the Roman army above all, sharing hardship with his soldiers on campaign. His campaigns in the western part of the Roman Empire secured the frontiers and made him popular with the army, but his campaign against Parthia in the east was less successful. He was assassinated by his praetorian prefect, Macrinus (r. 217-218 CE).

In 211 CE Caracalla became emperor along with his younger brother Geta. The relationship between the two did not resemble the loving one of Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus 50 years earlier, and it seems that both brothers were constantly conspiring against each other so that one of them could become sole emperor. When the two did try to make decisions together, they constantly bickered, disagreeing on everything from political appointments to legal decisions. Indeed, according to Herodian, things got so bad between the two brothers that not only did they divide the imperial palace between themselves but also tried to convince each other's cooks to drop poison into the other's food, it was also proposed that the empire be divided up between the two into eastern and western parts. According to Herodian, it was only the intervention of the boys' mother, Julia Domna, that this plan was not realized.

More practically, however, this edict meant that Caracalla could widen the base from which he could collect an increased inheritance tax. Indeed, Dio states that, as a result of the money he lavished on the army, a financial shortfall was created and the emperor needed money, thus necessitating this edict and the consequent cheapening of the citizenship. In discussing this edict, Dio described how Caracalla was able to create a larger tax base while at the same time raising taxes to 5 percent on the manumission of slaves and 10 percent on inheritances. Moreover, the propaganda of equality was illusory, as instead of a hierarchy of citizens and non-citizens in the empire, the edict created a new class division of upper and lower classes (honestiores and humiliores) in which honestiores had greater legal rights and privileges, while humiliores had less legal protection and were subject to harsher punishments. 041b061a72


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