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Constantine

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Constantine the Great (c.280–337) was the first Christian Roman emperor. His Edict of Milan (313) proclaimed toleration of Christianity within the Roman empire, brought to an end the official periods of Christian persecution, and provided for the development of Christian art. He founded a new Roman capital in the east (Constantinople, formerly Byzantium), called the first council of the Christian church to resolve doctrinal disputes (at Nicaea, 325), and was responsible for founding a number of important early churches in Rome, Constantinople, and elsewhere.


The biography of Constantine (written by his contemporary Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea) was greatly elaborated in later legends. Many of the events in the life of Constantine illustrated in medieval art thus have little factual basis. The most popular scenes include the Dream of Constantine (during which an *angel appeared and announced his victory in battle under the sign of the *cross;


), his successful battle against Maxentius at the Milvian Bridge, and his *baptism by Pope *Sylvester. Constantine often appears in art with his mother, Saint *Helena, or with *Charlemagne. He is normally dressed as a soldier or an emperor and appears as an equestrian figure in relief sculptures in a number of Romanesque churches in western France.

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