Constantine and the Bishop: The Roman church in the early fourth century
Blackwell Publishers Ltd
Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences
School of Education
When Constantine first entered Rome after his defeat of Maxentius in October 312, he encountered a rich and complex Christian community and a bishop whose position was precarious. Centuries of growth and a long religious peace had resulted in the development of a large number of locally based communities in Rome with their own centres of worship - the tituli. Constantine needed to convince these communities of his bona fides as a Christian emperor. The bishop of Rome, Miltiades, was the ruler of a relatively newly unified see, recently fractured by persecution and controversy. Miltiades’ relative weakness was to Constantine’s political advantage, especially since it made him eager to receive the vast ocean of generosity which Constantine began to pour into the Roman Church. The particular and immediate beneficiary of this generosity was the bishop, who gained a vast and lavishly appointed cathedral, and a palace to go with it.