END OF ROME285
- Roman Empire partitioned in two when Emperor Diocletian appoints Maximian as a sub-Emperor (Caesar
) to rule the western half of the empire, while he continues in the east. Maximian is elevated to full co-emperor (Augustus
) the next year. 293
- Emperors Diocletian of the East and Maximian of the West each appoint two sub-emperors, Galerius and Constantius Chlorus, for their still-large domains. Empire now divided into four "prefectures":
(1) Prefecture of the East
(capital: Nicomedia) ruled by Diocletian (augustus).
(2) Prefecture of Italy
(capital: Milan) ruled by Maximian (augustus). Covered Italy and west Africa.
(3) Prefecture of Illyricum
(capital: Sirmium) ruled by Galerius (caesar), subordinate to Diocletian.
(4) Prefecture of Gaul
(capital: Trier) ruled by Constantius Chlorus (caesar), subordinate to Maximian.
Note the West Roman Empire is henceforth ruled from Milan
(Mediolanum). The city of Rome remains the official (but unused) joint capital of the tetrarchy. - the Tetrarchs
(statue in Venice).Map of TetrarchyMap of Italian roads312
West Roman Emperor Constantine I ("the Great") converts to Christianity. According to legend, he was converted while marching with his troops to battle, when he noticed a vision of a cross in the sky, with the inscription "In hoc signo vinces" ("In this sign, conquer"). Conversion of Constantine
(Rafael's fresco at Vatican, 16th C. (better version here
- Edict of Milan
jointly issued by West Roman Emperor Constantine I and his brother-in-law East Roman Emperor Licinius, ending the persecution of Christians. Property is restored and profession of Christian faith made legal.
Around this time, Constantine donates the Lateran Palace
as a residence for the Bishop of Rome (Pope) and builds the Cathedral of St. John Lateran (the
'mother church') beside it.Lateran Palace then (well, 18th C.)Lateran Palace now
(palace on left, side entrance of St. John on right).314
- Death of Pope Miltiades. Ascension of Pope Sylvester IEmperor Constantine and Pope Sylvester I
314 Council of Arles
- condemns the doctrine of Donatism
, a puritan disciplinary doctrine popular in Africa that asserted that sacrements and consecrations administered by sinful priests were invalid. This is particularly troubling to the orthodox Christian clergy who, during the prosecutions of Diocletian, had to hide or renounce their adherence to the faith ('apostasy').
314 First Council of Ankara
- sets the terms for reconciliation of ex-apostates with the church. The sacrament of penance is outlined here.
. Patriarch Alexander of Alexandria excommunicates Arius
, presbyter of Baucalis, for preaching a christological doctrine that asserted that God the Father and Christ the Son were "made of different substances", thus implying that Christ was less-than-fully divine (and thus could be worshipped as a demigod).324
- Constantine I defeats Licinius. End of the tetrarchy experiment and reunification of the empire under one ruler. Milan remains the effective capital.325
- First Council of Nicea
(First Ecumenical Council) - assembled by Constantine. Arianism is condemned as heretical and the first "Nicene Creed
" (assertion of conventional Christian doctrine) is drafted.
- Church fathers with the Nicene creed.330
- Emperor Constantine relocates to a new capital in the east, Constantinople
. This sets in motion the partition of the Roman Empire into western and eastern halves.Constantine with Constantinople in hand
(mosaic at Hagia Sophia, c.1000)331
Arian clergy seizes control of Antioch and deposes the Nicene bishop, Eustathius of Antioch.335-6
- Councils of Tyre and Jerusalem
. Eusebius of Nicomedia, Arian sympathizer and confidante of the Emperor, convenes two church councils to formally readmit Arius to communion with the Christian church. But the new Patriarch Athansius of Alexandria, a radical anti-Arian, refuses to allow it and is banished to Trier on trumped up charges. Marcellus of Ancyra and others are also banished and deposed.
December, 335 Death of Pope Sylvester I. Succeeded by Pope Mark
, who dies shortly after. Succeded by Pope Julius I
- Pope Julius I337
- Death of Constantine I, finally baptized to the Christian faith on his deathbed. Succeeded by his three sons who partition the empire between them - Constantine II in the west, Constans in the center (incl. Italy) and Constantius
in the east. Under the influence of Eusebius of Nicomedia, an old comrade of Arius, Constantius will adopt and promote the Arian doctrine in his domains and persecute 'Catholic' (i.e. pro-Nicene) Christian bishops and priests. 338
Eusebius of Nicomedia becomes Patriarch of Constantinople.340
- Council of Rome
assembled by Pope Julius I to consider the matter of the exiled pro-Nicene bishops, like Athanasius of Alexandria and Marcellus of Ancyra. Arian Eastern bishops refuse to attend. Finding in the exiles favor, Julius I orders their reinstatement. 341
- Council of Antioch
("Dedication Council") assembled by the pro-Arian Constantius and Patriarch Eusebius. The homoousion clause of the Nicene creed (asserting Christ was "of one substance" with the Father) is dropped (Arians asserted they were different substances) and a semi-Arian "Creed of the Dedication" is drafted.342/3
- Great Council of Sardica
(Sofia) assembled by both Emperors to settle the Arian problem. Dominated by Western bishops, eastern bishops abandoned the council at held a rival pro-Arian one at Philippopolis
(Plovdiv). The Sardica Council exonerates Athanasius and other pro-Nicene bishops, and excommunicates some of the ringleaders at Philippopolis.347
- First Council of Sirmium
(Mitrovica) assembled by Constantius condemns the ultra-Arian doctrine of two completely different substances.351
- Second Council of Sirmium
affirms the semi-Arian formula that Christ was "of similar substance" with the father.351
- With the death of his two brothers, Constantius becomes sole ruler of the Empire. Immediately begins pushing the Arianism on the western half.353 Second Council of Arles
under Constantius's influence condemns the anti-Arian activist Bishop Athanasius of Alexandria. 355 Council of Milan
re-condemns Catholic Athanasius. Athanasius is formally deposed as Bishop of Alexandria.357
- Third Council of Sirmium
with Arianism on the ascendant. Condemns both the Catholic ("one substance") and semi-Arian ("similar substance") doctrines and goes for out-and-out ultra-Arian ("different substances"), even going so far as to assert that the Father 'is greater' than the son, thereby reintroducing the concept of the demigod ("Blasphemy of Sirmium").358 Council of Ankara
under Catholic Bishop Basil of Ancyra issues statement with the "one substance" doctrine suggeted, thus temporarily arresting the slide to full-blown Arianism.358 Fourth Council of Sirmium
overturns Ankara, but steps back from ultra-Arianism, and only allows that God is "similar" to Christ (in "will", not substance). 359
359 Council of Rimini
(in west) and simultaneous Council of Seleucia
(in east) are assembled by Emperor Constatius to confirm the decisions of the Sirmium IV. in effect reverses the Nicene council and establishes Arian Christianity as the 'correct' version of Christianity. It is around this time that Arian Christianity will be adopted by practically all the Germanic tribes on the Roman frontiers - Visigoths, Ostrogoths, Vandals, Alemanni, etc.360
360 Council of Constantinople
convened under the leadership of tdhe Eusebius's succcessors, Eudoxius of Constantinople and Acacius of Caesarea, confirms the semi-Arian findings of Rimini-Seleucia. The Nicene council is declared void, over the opposition of the orthodox clergy.361
- Death of Constantius. His successor, Emperor Julian the Apostate
, an adherent of Graeco-Roman paganism,
stops promoting Arianism. Catholic clerics persecuted under the previous regime are allowed to return to their posts.364
Death of Emperor Jovian (Julian's short-lived successor from 363). Empire re-divided
between two brothers - Emperor Valentian (West) and Valens (East).
374 - Ascension of Archbishop Ambrose of Milan
. A highly influential theologian and activist, St. Ambrose will be instrumental in bringing the Roman Empire back to Catholic Christanity and driving Arianism out of the empire.375
- The Huns
, a Central Asian tribe, reach the shores of the Black Sea, defeating and subjugating the German tribes there (Ostrogoths, Gepids). With Emperor Valens's permission, tens of thousands of Visigoths, fleeing the Hunnish horde, cross over the Danube and settle within the Roman Balkans.378
- Relations between Romans and Gothic immigrants sour and a war between them ensues. Romans are decidedly defeated at the Battle of Adrianople
. Valens is killed and the Goths proceed to ravage the eastern Roman empire.
Succeeding Valens, a Catholic Christian general ascends as Emperor Theodosius I 'the Great
of Eastern Rome. Western Rome remains under the control of Valentian's successors, co-emperors Valentian II and Gratius.381
- First Council of Constantinople
(Second Ecumenical Council) convened by Theodosius I, under the leadership of St. Ambrose of Milan, establishing Catholic Christianity as the only Christian doctrine. The Council condemns Arianism and assorted other doctrines as heresy, reinstates the Nicene Creed and finalizes the doctrine of the Holy Trinity (divinity of the Holy Spirit confirmed).
- Emperor Theodosius I and St. Ambrose of Milan (by Van Dyke)Formative gatherings of Christian church
(map)382 Synod of Rome
convened by Pope Damasius I to promote the resurgence of Catholic Christianity. The Latin translation of the Bible (the 'vulgate
') by St. Jerome of Antioch is commissioned here.Latin vulgate Bible382
- Gothic war ends. Visigoths established as Roman federate
tribe and allowed to settle on Roman territory south of the Danube.391
- Theodosian decrees
closing temples and prohibiting pagan worship in the Roman Empire. Catholic Christianity is now official Roman state religion.392
Death of Valentian II of Western Rome, the last Arian emperor. Theodosius I of Eastern Rome annexes the Western Roman Empire. 395
- Partition of the Roman Empire
. Death of Emperor Theodosius I. Empire partitioned between his two young sons: Honorius (Western Empire) and Arcadius (Eastern Roman Empire). This partition will remain permanent. The reign of the young sons will be dominated by military strongmen, Stilicho in the west and Rufinus in the east. The rivalry between the latter two will bring the empires into war with each other.
Partition of Rome (395).