Constantine the Great

Constantine fought in the Roman army, where he witnessed Emperor Diocletian's persecution of the Christians. This had a lasting impact on him. When Diocletian became sick, he named a man called Galerius as his heir. Constantine had to flee to his father in Gaul.

Constantine became Emperor of the western portion of the Roman Empire, ruling over Britain, Gaul, and Spain. He strengthened much of the area with roadways, cities, defenses, and public buildings. He conquered neighboring lands with his large army. The people considered him a good leader. He also stopped the persecution of the Christians in his territory.

When Galerius died in 311 AD, Constantine and his army marched to Rome. He dreamed that he would win the battle if he fought under the sign of the Christian cross. The next day he had his soldiers paint crosses on their shields. They dominated the battle and took control of Rome.

Constantine forged an alliance with Licinius and became Emperor of the West. Constantine now considered himself a follower of the Christian faith. When Licinius renewed the persecutions, Constantine defeated him and became ruler of a united Rome in 324.

Constantine built many new structures such as a basilica in the Roman forum. He established a new capital of the Roman Empire on the location of the ancient city of Byzantium. The new city was named Constantinople in his honor. Constantinople later became capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, also called the Byzantine Empire. Constantinople was the largest and richest city of the Byzantine Empire during the Middle Ages. Today it is called Istanbul.

Source: Constantine the Great
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