Title

From Constantine to Ambrose: The Church-State Relationship of the Fourth Century

Presenter

Gordon Kochman

Abstract

The fourth century saw the development of Christianity from persecution to the endorsed religion of the Roman Empire. Beginning with Constantine’s conversion after his victory at the Battle of Milvian Bridge in 312, Christianity began to play an ever larger part in Roman religious and political life. Constantine summoned the Council of Nicaea in 325 to address the question of the Trinity; in 390 Saint Ambrose, the Bishop of Milan, forced Emperor Theodosius I to humiliate himself in public for the purpose of penitence. What changed during the fourth century that gave Christianity the influence over the Roman state that traditional Roman paganism lacked? I analyze the reasons behind Christianity’s usurpation of religious and political authority from the emperor during this time in an effort to understand the relationship between church and state.

Faculty Sponsor

John Cotts

Sponsor Department/Programs

History

Tracks

Politics of Church and State

Location

Science 100

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

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Apr 19th, 3:45 PM Apr 19th, 4:00 PM

From Constantine to Ambrose: The Church-State Relationship of the Fourth Century

Science 100

The fourth century saw the development of Christianity from persecution to the endorsed religion of the Roman Empire. Beginning with Constantine’s conversion after his victory at the Battle of Milvian Bridge in 312, Christianity began to play an ever larger part in Roman religious and political life. Constantine summoned the Council of Nicaea in 325 to address the question of the Trinity; in 390 Saint Ambrose, the Bishop of Milan, forced Emperor Theodosius I to humiliate himself in public for the purpose of penitence. What changed during the fourth century that gave Christianity the influence over the Roman state that traditional Roman paganism lacked? I analyze the reasons behind Christianity’s usurpation of religious and political authority from the emperor during this time in an effort to understand the relationship between church and state.