THE FIRST CHRISTIAN EMPEROR
THE vow which Constantine had made was duly kept, to
the great satisfaction of his mother Helena, who was
a very devout Christian. Constantine ordered that the
Christians should have full liberty to worship as they
pleased; and after a time he himself was baptized. He
also forbade that criminals should be put to death on a
cross, as it had been sanctified by Christ; and he put
an end to all gladiatorial shows.
Constantine at first shared the power with Licinius, but he and his colleague quarreled on matters of
religion. They soon came to arms, and we are told that
when they stood opposed to each other they loudly
called upon their gods.
As Constantine won the victory, he declared that his
God was the most worthy of honor; and he established
the Christian Church so securely that nothing has ever
been able to overthrow it since then. By his order,
 learned Christians came together at Nicæa to talk
about their religion, and to find out exactly what
people should believe and teach. Here they said that
Arius, a religious teacher, had been preaching
heresy; and they banished him and his followers to a
remote part of the empire.
Constantine soon changed the seat of the government to
Byzantium, which was rebuilt by his order, and received
the name of Constantinople, or city of Constantine.
Because he accomplished so much during his reign, this
emperor has been surnamed the Great, although he was
not a very good man.
During the latter part of his reign, there were sundry
invasions of the barbarians; and Constantine, who was a
brave warrior, is said to have driven them back and
treated them with much cruelty. He died of ague at
Nicomedia, leaving his empire to his three sons; and
his remains were carried to Constantinople, so that he
might rest in the city which bore his name.
Soon after the death of Constantine, who is known in
Roman history as the first Christian emperor, his three
sons began to quarrel among themselves. The result was
a long series of civil wars, in which two of the
brothers were killed, leaving the whole empire to the
The new emperor, needing help, gave his cousin
Julian the title of Cæsar, and placed him in charge of Gaul.
As Julian belonged to the family of Constantine, he was
of course a Christian. He was a very clever youth, and
had been sent to Athens to study philosophy.
While there, he learned to admire the Greek
philosophers so much that he gave up Christianity, and
 pagan. On account of this change in religion, he is
generally known by the surname of the Apostate. We
are told, also, that he spent much time in studying
magic and alchemy, a science which was supposed to
teach people how to change all metals into gold.
Julian the Apostate gave up his studies with regret, to
share the cares of government. While in Gaul, he
learned to be an excellent general, and drove back the
barbarians several times. He lived for a while in
Lutetia, the present city of Paris, and here he built
Roman baths whose ruins can still be seen.