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Constantine: Dynasty, Religion and Power in the Later Roman Empire

ISBN: 978-1-4051-1727-2
288 pages
May 2011, Wiley-Blackwell
Constantine: Dynasty, Religion and Power in the Later Roman Empire (1405117273) cover image


Drawing on recent scholarly advances and new evidence, Timothy Barnes offers a fresh and exciting study of Constantine and his life.
  • First study of Constantine to make use of Kevin Wilkinson's re-dating of the poet Palladas to the reign of Constantine, disproving the predominant scholarly belief that Constantine remained tolerant in matters of religion to the end of his reign
  • Clearly sets out the problems associated with depictions of Constantine and answers them with great clarity
  • Includes Barnes' own research into the marriage of Constantine's parents, Constantine's status as a crown prince and his father's legitimate heir, and his dynastic plans
  • Honorable Mention for 2011 Classics & Ancient History PROSE award granted by the Association of American Publishers
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix

Preface x

Abbreviations xii

1 Introduction 1

Official Lies and the ‘Constantinian Question’ 2

The Progress of Historical Research 6

Contemporary Perspectives on Constantine 8

Coins, Inscriptions and Monuments 16

2 The Soldier and the Stable-Girl 27

The Social Status of Helena 30

The Marriage of Constantine’s Parents 33

Constantius’ Second Wife 38

The Later Life of Helena 42

3 Constantine, the Ruins of Babylon and the Court of Pharaoh 46

The Diocletianic Tetrarchy (293–305) 46

The Appointment of New Emperors 49

Constantine in the East (293–305) 51

The Dynastic Coup of 305 56

4 The Road to Rome 61

Constantine’s Proclamation and Recognition as Emperor 62

Politics and Warfare 306–310 66

The Vision of Constantine 74

The Invasion of Italy 80

Constantine in Rome and Christmas 312 83

Constantinian Churches in Rome 85

Appendix: The Status of Constantine 306–311 89

5 Brothers-in-Law 90

Constantine and Licinius in Milan 90

Was there an ‘Edict of Milan’? 93

Towards War 97

From Cibalae (316) to Chrysopolis (324) 103

6 The Transformation of the East 107

The Foundation of Constantinople 111

An Imperial Sermon 113

The Council of Nicaea 120

A Christian Capital for a Christian Roman Empire 126

Pro-Christian Legislation 131

Constantine and Ecclesiastical Politics 140

East and West in the Fourth Century 142

7 Dynastic Politics after the Council of Nicaea 144

The Deaths of Crispus and Fausta 144

A Third Wife for Constantine? 150

The Organization of the Empire 153

Constantine’s Dynastic Plans 163

An Astrologer’s Praise of Constantine 168

Tables: Dynastic Alliances and Children of Emperors 285–337 170

Appendix: The Dynastic Marriages of 335 and 336 171

8 Epilogue 173

Appendix A: The Career of Lactantius 176

Appendix B: Galerius’ Sarmatian Victories 179

Appendix C: The Panegyrici Latini and Constantine 181

Appendix D: Eusebius, On Easter (De Sollemnitate Paschali) 185

Appendix E: Nicagoras in Egypt 192

Appendix F: Praxagoras of Athens 195

Appendix G: An Anonymous Panegyric of Constantine 198

Notes 201

Bibliography 226

Index 254

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Author Information

Timothy Barnes is Emeritus Professor of Classics at the University of Toronto. He is the author of Constantine and Eusebius (1981), The New Empire of Diocletian and Constantine (1982), Athanasius and Constantius, Theology and Politics in the Constantinian Empire (1993), Ammianus Marcellinus and the Representation and Historical Reality (1998), and Early Christian Hagiography and Roman History (2010). He is also the author of many fundamental scholarly articles on the history of the Roman Empire.
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“This fine book is a significant achievement in a fertile era of Constantinian studies.”  (Ecclesiastical History, 1 July 2013)

“I would recommend a careful reading of this book to anyone who wants to discover what we really know about Constantine.”  (Open House, 1 April 2012)

"Summing Up: Essential. Upper-division undergraduates and above." (Choice, 1 January 2012)

“Barnes' hypothesis, that Constantine pursued aggressively Christian policies, is sustained through a point-by-point summation of four decades of scholarship, and vindicated by the latest innovative research. This is a powerful, polemical, and persuasive book.”
Paul Stephenson, University of Durham

"Thirty years after Constantine and Eusebius, Tim Barnes has rejoined the fray of Constantinian studies. Armed with fresh evidence and characteristic vigor, blending biography, politics, and religion, Barnes has once again set the agenda for debate on topics central to the history of the later Roman world."
Dennis Trout, University of Missouri

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