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Constantine

Constantine (c.274–337), first Christian Roman emperor (306–37), known as ‘the Great’. Born at Naissus (now Nis), Constantine was the son of Constantius I by Helena. In 305 Constantius succeeded as Augustus (senior emperor) of the West. Constantine fled from the court of Galerius, eastern Augustus, in time to be at his father's death-bed at York in 306. He was illegally proclaimed Augustus by the army there. In 312 he invaded Italy and defeated Maxentius near Rome, apparently after a Christian vision. By 324 Constantine was sole Augustus. He was an energetic general and recast the Roman army. He also continued the administrative and fiscal reforms of Diocletian. Constantine promoted Christianity financially, legally, and theologically, being baptized on his death-bed in 337. He probably revisited Britain in 312 and 314, taking the title Britannicus in 315, and an edict of 319 is addressed to the Vicarius of the Britains, Pacatianus.

Alan Simon Esmonde Cleary

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Constantine (Russian grand duke)

Constantine (Konstantin Pavlovich) (kənstəntyēn´ päv´ləvĬch), 1779–1831, Russian grand duke, second son of Czar Paul I and brother of Alexander I and Nicholas I. On the death of Alexander I (1825), Constantine was next in line for succession to the throne. However, in 1822 he had secretly renounced his claim in favor of Nicholas in return for Alexander's permission to divorce his first wife and marry a Polish countess. The arrangement was not made public and some confusion resulted concerning the succession. A group known as the Decembrists took advantage of the situation and attempted to seize power under the slogan "Constantine and Constitution." Nicholas quelled the uprising. During the entire episode Constantine remained in Poland, where he had been commander in chief and virtual governor since 1815. The severity of his administration there led to the Polish uprising of 1830. Constantine died before the rebellion was suppressed.

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Constantine (Roman general)

Constantine, d. 411, Roman general. He was proclaimed emperor by the Roman troops in Britain in 407 and led a revolt in Gaul and Spain against the Western emperor Honorius. He conquered part of Gaul and, through his son Constans, took Spain. Constantine forced recognition from Honorius as joint emperor, but his triumph was short. The counterrevolt of Gerontius halted him, and he was defeated by Honorius' general Constantius (later Emperor Constantius III). Constantine was beheaded. His withdrawal of Roman troops from Britain had greatly weakened the Roman hold on that island.

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Constantine

Constantine (c.274–337), Roman emperor; known as Constantine the Great. He was the first Roman emperor to be converted to Christianity and in 324 made Christianity a state religion, though paganism was also tolerated. In 330 he moved his capital from Rome to Byzantium, renaming it Constantinopolis (Constantinople). In the Orthodox Church he is venerated as a saint.

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Constantine

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