The pope known as the supreme pontiff, is the Bishop of Rome and ex officio leader of the worldwide Catholic Church. Since 1929, the pope has been head of state of Vatican City, a city-state enclaved within Rome, Italy; the current pope is Francis, elected on 13 March 2013, succeeding Benedict XVI. While his office is called the papacy, the episcopal see and ecclesiastical jurisdiction is called the Holy See, it is the Holy See, the sovereign entity of international law headquartered in the distinctively independent Vatican City State, established by the Lateran Treaty in 1929 between Italy and the Holy See to ensure its temporal and spiritual independence. The primacy of the Bishop of Rome is derived from his role as the apostolic successor to Saint Peter, to whom primacy was conferred by Jesus, giving him the Keys of Heaven and the powers of "binding and loosing", naming him as the "rock" upon which the church would be built; the apostolic see of Rome was founded by Saint Peter and Saint Paul in 1st century, according to Catholic tradition.
The papacy is one of the most enduring institutions in the world and has had a prominent part in world history. In ancient times the popes helped spread Christianity, intervened to find resolutions in various doctrinal disputes. In the Middle Ages, they played a role of secular importance in Western Europe acting as arbitrators between Christian monarchs. In addition to the expansion of the Christian faith and doctrine, the popes are involved in ecumenism and interfaith dialogue, charitable work, the defense of human rights. In some periods of history, the papacy, which had no temporal powers, accrued wide secular powers rivaling those of temporal rulers. However, in recent centuries the temporal authority of the papacy has declined and the office is now exclusively focused on religious matters. By contrast, papal claims of spiritual authority have been firmly expressed over time, culminating in 1870 with the proclamation of the dogma of papal infallibility for rare occasions when the pope speaks ex cathedra—literally "from the chair"—to issue a formal definition of faith or morals.
Still, the Pope is considered one of the world's most powerful people because of his extensive diplomatic and spiritual influence on 1.3 billion Catholics and beyond, as well as the official representative of the Catholic Church being the largest non-government provider of education and health care in the world, with a vast international network of charities. The word pope derives from Greek πάππας meaning "father". In the early centuries of Christianity, this title was applied in the east, to all bishops and other senior clergy, became reserved in the west to the Bishop of Rome, a reservation made official only in the 11th century; the earliest record of the use of this title was in regard to the by deceased Patriarch of Alexandria, Pope Heraclas of Alexandria. The earliest recorded use of the title "pope" in English dates to the mid-10th century, when it was used in reference to the 7th century Roman Pope Vitalian in an Old English translation of Bede's Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum.
The Catholic Church teaches that the pastoral office, the office of shepherding the Church, held by the apostles, as a group or "college" with Saint Peter as their head, is now held by their successors, the bishops, with the bishop of Rome as their head. Thus, is derived another title by which the pope is known, that of "Supreme Pontiff"; the Catholic Church teaches that Jesus appointed Peter as leader of the Church, the Catholic Church's dogmatic constitution Lumen gentium makes a clear distinction between apostles and bishops, presenting the latter as the successors of the former, with the pope as successor of Peter, in that he is head of the bishops as Peter was head of the apostles. Some historians argue against the notion that Peter was the first bishop of Rome, noting that the episcopal see in Rome can be traced back no earlier than the 3rd century; the writings of the Church Father Irenaeus who wrote around AD 180 reflect a belief that Peter "founded and organized" the Church at Rome.
Moreover, Irenaeus was not the first to write of Peter's presence in the early Roman Church. Clement of Rome wrote in a letter to the Corinthians, c. 96, about the persecution of Christians in Rome as the "struggles in our time" and presented to the Corinthians its heroes, "first, the greatest and most just columns", the "good apostles" Peter and Paul. St. Ignatius of Antioch wrote shortly after Clement and in his letter from the city of Smyrna to the Romans he said he would not command them as Peter and Paul did. Given this and other evidence, such as Emperor Constantine's erection of the "Old St. Peter's Basilica" on the location of St. Peter's tomb, as held and given to him by Rome's Christian community, many scholars agree that Peter was martyred in Rome under Nero, although some scholars argue that he may have been martyred in Palestine. First-century Christian communities would have had a group of presbyter-bishops functioning as leaders of their local churches. Episcopacies were established in metropolitan areas.
Antioch may have developed such a structure before Rome. In Rome, there were many who claimed to be the rightful bishop, though again Irenaeus stressed the validity of one line of bishops from the time of St. Peter up to his contemporary Pope Victor I and listed them; some writers claim that the emergence of a single bishop in Rome did not occur until the middle of the 2nd century. In their view, Linus and Clement were prominent presbyter-bishops
Gaiseric known as Geiseric or Genseric, was King of the Vandals and Alans who established the Vandal Kingdom and was one of the key players in the troubles of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century. During his nearly 50 years of rule, he raised a insignificant Germanic tribe to the status of a major Mediterranean power. After he died, they entered eventual collapse. Succeeding his brother Gunderic at a time when the Vandals were settled in Baetica, Roman Hispania, Gaiseric defended himself against a Suebian attack and transported all his people, around 80,000, to Northern Africa in 428, he might have been invited by the Roman governor Bonifacius, who wished to use the military strength of the Vandals in his struggle against the imperial government. Gaiseric caused great devastation, he turned on Bonifacius, defeated his army in 430, crushed the joint forces of the Eastern and Western empires, sent against him. In 435 Gaiseric concluded a treaty with the Romans under which the Vandals retained Mauretania and part of Numidia as foederati of Rome.
In a surprise move on 19 October 439, Gaiseric captured Carthage, striking a devastating blow at imperial power. In a 442 treaty with Rome, the Vandals were recognized as the independent rulers of Byzacena and part of Numidia, he besieged Panormus (Palermo Sicily in 440 AD but was repulsed. He did in 455 seize the Balearic Islands, Sardinia and Malta, Gaiseric’s fleet soon came to control much of the western Mediterranean, he occupied Sicily in 468 for 8 years until the island was ceded in 476 to Odavacer except for a toehold on the far west coast, Lilybaeum was ceded in 491 to Theodoric.p. 410. His most famous exploit, was the capture and plundering of Rome in June 455. Subsequently, the King defeated two major efforts by the Romans to overthrow him, that of the emperor Majorian in 460 or 461 and that led by Basiliscus at the Battle of Cape Bon in 468. After dying in Carthage at the age of 77, Gaiseric was succeeded by his son Huneric. Gaiseric was an illegitimate son of King Godigisel. After his father's death in battle against the Franks during the Crossing of the Rhine 406 AD, Gaiseric became the second most powerful man among the Vandals, after the new king, his half-brother Gunderic.
After Gunderic's death in 428, Gaiseric was elected king. He began to seek ways of increasing the power and wealth of his people, who resided in the Roman province of Hispania Baetica in southern Hispania; the Vandals had suffered from attacks from the more numerous Visigothic federates, not long after taking power, Gaiseric decided to leave Hispania to this rival Germanic tribe. In fact, he seems to have started building a Vandal fleet before he became king. In 428 Gaiseric was attacked from the rear by a large force of Suebi under the command of Heremigarius who had managed to take Lusitania; this Suebic army was defeated near Mérida and its leader Hermigario drowned in the Guadiana River while trying to flee. Taking advantage of a dispute between Boniface, Roman governor of North Africa, Aetius, Gaiseric ferried all of his people across to Africa in 429. Once there, he won many battles over the weak and divided Roman defenders and overran the territory now comprising modern Morocco and northern Algeria.
His Vandal army laid siege to the city of Hippo Regius, taking it after 14 months of bitter fighting. A peace between Gaiseric and the Roman Emperor Valentinian III was concluded on 11 February 435, in return for recognizing Gaiseric as king of the lands he and his men had conquered the Vandals would desist from attacks on Carthage, pay a tribute to the Empire, send his son Huneric as a hostage to Rome. On 19 October 439, noting that the forces of the Western Empire were involved in Gaul, Gaiseric took possession of Carthage through some treachery. Stewart Oost observes, "Thus he undoubtedly achieved what had been his purpose since he first crossed to Africa." The Romans were caught unaware, Gaiseric captured a large part of the western Roman navy docked in the port of Carthage. The Catholic bishop of the city, was exiled to Naples, since Gaiseric demanded that all his close advisors follow the Arian form of Christianity. Gaiseric gave freedom of religion to the Catholics, while insisting that the regime's elite follow Arianism.
The common folk had low taxes under his reign, as most of the tax pressure was on the rich Roman families and the Catholic clergy. Added to his own burgeoning fleet, the Kingdom of the Vandals now threatened the Empire for mastery of the western Mediterranean Sea. Carthage, became the new Vandal capital and an enemy of Rome for the first time since the Punic Wars. With the help of their fleet, the Vandals soon subdued Sicily, Sardinia and the Balearic Islands. Gaiseric strengthened the Vandal defenses and fleet and regulated the positions of Arians and Catholics. In 442, the Romans acknowledged the Carthaginian conquests, recognized the Vandal kingdom as an independent
A vision is something seen in a dream, trance, or religious ecstasy a supernatural appearance that conveys a revelation. Visions have more clarity than dreams, but traditionally fewer psychological connotations. Visions are known to emerge from spiritual traditions and could provide a lens into human nature and reality. Prophecy is associated with visions. Evelyn Underhill distinguishes and categorizes three types of visions: Intellectual Visons - The Catholic dictionary defines these as supernatural knowledge in which the mind receives an extraordinary grasp of some revealed truth without the aid of sensible impressions and mystics describe them as intuitions that leave a deep impression. Imaginary - In Teresa of Avila's, The Interior Castle an imaginary vision is defined as one where nothing is seen or heard by the senses of seeing or hearing, but where the same impression is received that would be produced upon the imagination by the senses if some real object were perceived by them. Niels Christian Hvidt refers to them as visions recognized through mechanisms of the human psyche that are made up of things a soul has acquired through contact with reality.
Corporeal - A supernatural manifestation of an object to the eyes of the body. It may take place in two ways: either a figure present strikes the retina and there determines the physical phenomenon of the vision, or an agent superior to man directly modifies the visual organ and produces in the composite a sensation equivalent to that which an external object would produce. Underhill refers to this vision type as "little else than an uncontrolled externalization of inward memories, thoughts, or intuitions" Visions are listed in chronological order whenever possible, although some dates may be in dispute. Vision of God in the Book of Ezekiel chapter number 1. Vision of a heavenly figure "like a son of man" in Daniel 7:13 St Paul's vision of Jesus on the road to Damascus Marian apparitions Visions of the afterlife in the martyr accounts of Perpetua and Felicity Constantine's vision of Christ's sign Jakob Böhme's vision of 1600, revealed when he observed the beauty of a beam of sunlight in a pewter dish René Descartes' series of dreams on the night of 11 November 1619, which set the course of his life in science Blaise Pascal's vision of 23 November 1654, which reinvigorated his spiritual commitment Emanuel Swedenborg's visions, which formed the basis of a newly revealed doctrine Joseph Smith's First Vision, including Throne-Theophany of Lehi in the First Book of Nephi in 1 Nephi 1:8–11 Ramakrishna had several visions of religious figures including Kali, Krishna and Muhammed.
Nat Turner's vision of 12 February 1831, in which he saw an actual eclipse of the sun that day as a black man's hand covering the solar orb, interpreting it as a sign to launch his slave rebellion
Western Roman Empire
In historiography, the Western Roman Empire refers to the western provinces of the Roman Empire at any time during which they were administered by a separate independent Imperial court. The terms Western Roman Empire and Eastern Roman Empire are modern descriptions that describe political entities that were de facto independent; the Western Roman Empire collapsed in 476, the Western imperial court was formally dissolved in 480. The Eastern imperial court survived until 1453. Though the Empire had seen periods with more than one Emperor ruling jointly before, the view that it was impossible for a single emperor to govern the entire Empire was institutionalised to reforms to Roman law by emperor Diocletian following the disastrous civil wars and disintegrations of the Crisis of the Third Century, he introduced the system of the tetrarchy in 286, with two separate senior emperors titled Augustus, one in the East and one in the West, each with an appointed Caesar. Though the tetrarchic system would collapse in a matter of years, the East–West administrative division would endure in one form or another over the coming centuries.
As such, the Western Roman Empire would exist intermittently in several periods between the 3rd and 5th centuries. Some emperors, such as Constantine I and Theodosius I, governed as the sole Augustus across the Roman Empire. On the death of Theodosius I in 395, he divided the empire between his two sons, with Honorius as his successor in the West, governing from Mediolanum, Arcadius as his successor in the East, governing from Constantinople. In 476, after the Battle of Ravenna, the Roman Army in the West suffered defeat at the hands of Odoacer and his Germanic foederati. Odoacer became the first King of Italy. In 480, following the assassination of the previous Western emperor Julius Nepos, the Eastern emperor Zeno dissolved the Western court and proclaimed himself the sole emperor of the Roman Empire; the date of 476 was popularized by the 18th century British historian Edward Gibbon as a demarcating event for the end of the Western Empire and is sometimes used to mark the transition from Antiquity to the Middle Ages.
Odoacer's Italy, other barbarian kingdoms, would maintain a pretence of Roman continuity through the continued use of the old Roman administrative systems and nominal subservience to the Eastern Roman court. In the 6th century, emperor Justinian I re-imposed direct Imperial rule on large parts of the former Western Roman Empire, including the prosperous regions of North Africa, the ancient Roman heartland of Italy and parts of Hispania. Political instability in the Eastern heartlands, combined with foreign invasions and religious differences, made efforts to retain control of these territories difficult and they were lost for good. Though the Eastern Empire retained territories in the south of Italy until the eleventh century, the influence that the Empire had over Western Europe had diminished significantly; the papal coronation of the Frankish King Charlemagne as Roman Emperor in 800 marked a new imperial line that would evolve into the Holy Roman Empire, which presented a revival of the Imperial title in Western Europe but was in no meaningful sense an extension of Roman traditions or institutions.
The Great Schism of 1054 between the churches of Rome and Constantinople further diminished any authority the Emperor in Constantinople could hope to exert in the west. As the Roman Republic expanded, it reached a point where the central government in Rome could not rule the distant provinces. Communications and transportation were problematic given the vast extent of the Empire. News of invasion, natural disasters, or epidemic outbreak was carried by ship or mounted postal service requiring much time to reach Rome and for Rome's orders to be returned and acted upon. Therefore, provincial governors had de facto autonomy in the name of the Roman Republic. Governors had several duties, including the command of armies, handling the taxes of the province and serving as the province's chief judges. Prior to the establishment of the Empire, the territories of the Roman Republic had been divided in 43 BC among the members of the Second Triumvirate: Mark Antony and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus. Antony received the provinces in the East: Achaea and Epirus, Bithynia and Asia, Syria and Cyrenaica.
These lands had been conquered by Alexander the Great. The whole region the major cities, had been assimilated into Greek culture, Greek serving as the lingua franca. Octavian obtained the Roman provinces of the West: Italia, Gallia Belgica, Hispania; these lands included Greek and Carthaginian colonies in the coastal areas, though Celtic tribes such as Gauls and Celtiberians were culturally dominant. Lepidus received the minor province of Africa. Octavian soon took Africa while adding Sicilia to his holdings. Upon the defeat of Mark Antony, a victorious Octavian controlled a united Roman Em
The public domain consists of all the creative works to which no exclusive intellectual property rights apply. Those rights may have been forfeited, expressly waived, or may be inapplicable; the works of William Shakespeare and Beethoven, most early silent films, are in the public domain either by virtue of their having been created before copyright existed, or by their copyright term having expired. Some works are not covered by copyright, are therefore in the public domain—among them the formulae of Newtonian physics, cooking recipes, all computer software created prior to 1974. Other works are dedicated by their authors to the public domain; the term public domain is not applied to situations where the creator of a work retains residual rights, in which case use of the work is referred to as "under license" or "with permission". As rights vary by country and jurisdiction, a work may be subject to rights in one country and be in the public domain in another; some rights depend on registrations on a country-by-country basis, the absence of registration in a particular country, if required, gives rise to public-domain status for a work in that country.
The term public domain may be interchangeably used with other imprecise or undefined terms such as the "public sphere" or "commons", including concepts such as the "commons of the mind", the "intellectual commons", the "information commons". Although the term "domain" did not come into use until the mid-18th century, the concept "can be traced back to the ancient Roman Law, as a preset system included in the property right system." The Romans had a large proprietary rights system where they defined "many things that cannot be owned" as res nullius, res communes, res publicae and res universitatis. The term res nullius was defined as things not yet appropriated; the term res communes was defined as "things that could be enjoyed by mankind, such as air and ocean." The term res publicae referred to things that were shared by all citizens, the term res universitatis meant things that were owned by the municipalities of Rome. When looking at it from a historical perspective, one could say the construction of the idea of "public domain" sprouted from the concepts of res communes, res publicae, res universitatis in early Roman law.
When the first early copyright law was first established in Britain with the Statute of Anne in 1710, public domain did not appear. However, similar concepts were developed by French jurists in the 18th century. Instead of "public domain", they used terms such as publici juris or propriété publique to describe works that were not covered by copyright law; the phrase "fall in the public domain" can be traced to mid-19th century France to describe the end of copyright term. The French poet Alfred de Vigny equated the expiration of copyright with a work falling "into the sink hole of public domain" and if the public domain receives any attention from intellectual property lawyers it is still treated as little more than that, left when intellectual property rights, such as copyright and trademarks, expire or are abandoned. In this historical context Paul Torremans describes copyright as a, "little coral reef of private right jutting up from the ocean of the public domain." Copyright law differs by country, the American legal scholar Pamela Samuelson has described the public domain as being "different sizes at different times in different countries".
Definitions of the boundaries of the public domain in relation to copyright, or intellectual property more regard the public domain as a negative space. According to James Boyle this definition underlines common usage of the term public domain and equates the public domain to public property and works in copyright to private property. However, the usage of the term public domain can be more granular, including for example uses of works in copyright permitted by copyright exceptions; such a definition regards work in copyright as private property subject to fair-use rights and limitation on ownership. A conceptual definition comes from Lange, who focused on what the public domain should be: "it should be a place of sanctuary for individual creative expression, a sanctuary conferring affirmative protection against the forces of private appropriation that threatened such expression". Patterson and Lindberg described the public domain not as a "territory", but rather as a concept: "here are certain materials – the air we breathe, rain, life, thoughts, ideas, numbers – not subject to private ownership.
The materials that compose our cultural heritage must be free for all living to use no less than matter necessary for biological survival." The term public domain may be interchangeably used with other imprecise or undefined terms such as the "public sphere" or "commons", including concepts such as the "commons of the mind", the "intellectual commons", the "information commons". A public-domain book is a book with no copyright, a book, created without a license, or a book where its copyrights expired or have been forfeited. In most countries the term of protection of copyright lasts until January first, 70 years after the death of the latest living author; the longest copyright term is in Mexico, which has life plus 100 years for all deaths since July 1928. A notable exception is the United States, where every book and tale published prior to 1924 is in the public domain.
Zeno the Isaurian named Tarasis Kodisa Rousombladadiotes, was Eastern Roman Emperor from 474 to 475 and again from 476 to 491. Domestic revolts and religious dissension plagued his reign, which succeeded to some extent in foreign issues, his reign saw the end of the Western Roman Empire following the deposition of Romulus Augustus and the death of Julius Nepos, but he contributed much to stabilising the Eastern Empire. In ecclesiastical history, Zeno is associated with the Henotikon or "instrument of union", promulgated by him and signed by all the Eastern bishops, with the design of solving the monophysite controversy. Zeno's original name was Tarasis, more Tarasikodissa in his native Isaurian language. Tarasis was born in Isauria, at Rusumblada renamed Zenonopolis in Zeno's honour, his father was called his mother Lallis, his brother Longinus. Tarasis had a wife, whose name indicates a relationship with the Constantinopolitan aristocracy, whose statue was erected near the Baths of Arcadius, along the steps that led to Topoi.
Near Eastern and other Christian traditions maintain that Zeno had two daughters and Theopiste, who followed a religious life, but historical sources attest the existence of only one son by Arcadia, called Zenon. According to ancient sources, Zeno's prestigious career—he had fought against Attila in 447 to defend Constantinople and been consul the following year—was the reason why another Isaurian officer, chose the Greek name Zeno when he married into the Imperial family, thus being known as Zeno when he rose to the throne; some modern historians suggest that the Isaurian general Zeno was the father of the emperor, but there is no consensus about this, other sources suggest that Tarasis was a member of Zeno's entourage. The Isaurians were a people who lived inland from the Mediterranean coast of Anatolia, in the core of the Taurus Mountains. Like most borderland tribes, they were looked upon as barbarians by the Romans though they had been Roman subjects for more than five centuries. However, being Orthodox Christians rather than Arians, as the Goths and other Germanic tribes were, they were not formally barred from the throne.
According to some scholars, in the mid-460s, the Eastern Roman Emperor, Leo I, wanted to balance the weight of the Germanic component of the army, whose leader was the Alan magister militum Aspar. He thought that Tarasis and his Isaurians could be that counterweight, called him, with many Isaurians, to Constantinople; this interpretation, has been contested. By the mid-460s, Arcadia and Zeno had been living at Constantinople for some time, where Lallis and Longinus lived, the latter married to a Valeria a woman of aristocrat rank. According to ancient sources, the earliest reference to Tarasis dates back to 464, when he put his hands on some letters written by Aspar's son, which proved that the son of the magister militum had incited the Sassanid King to invade Roman territory, promising to support the invasion. Through these letters, which Tarasis gave to Leo, the Emperor could dismiss Ardabur, who at the time was magister militum per Orientem and patricius, thus reducing Aspar's influence and ambition.
As reward for his loyalty, which Leo praised to Daniel the Stylite, Tarasis was appointed comes domesticorum, an office of great influence and prestige. This appointment could mean that Tarasis had been a protector domesticus, either at Leo's court in Constantinople, or attached at Ardabur's staff in Antioch. In 465, Leo and Aspar quarrelled about the appointment of consuls for the following year. To make himself more acceptable to the Roman hierarchy and the population of Constantinople, Tarasis adopted the Greek name of Zeno and used it for the rest of his life. In mid-late 466, Zeno married elder daughter of Leo I and Verina; the next year their son was born, Zeno became father of the heir apparent to the throne, as the only son of Leo I had died in his infancy. Zeno, was not present at the birth of his son, as in 467, he participated in a military campaign against the Goths. Zeno, as a member of the protectores domestici, did not take part in the disastrous expedition against the Vandals, led in 468 by Leo's brother-in-law Basiliscus.
The following year, during which he held the honour of the consulate, he was appointed magister militum per Thracias and led an expedition in Thrace. The sources do not state what enemy he fought there, historians had proposed either Goths or Huns, or the rebels of Anagastes. Either way, before leaving and Zeno asked for Daniel the Stylite's opinion about the campaign, Daniel answered that Zeno would be the target of a conspiracy but would escape unharmed. Indeed, Leo sent some of his personal soldiers with Zeno to protect him, but they were bribed by Aspar to capture him instead. Zeno was informed of their intention and fled to Serdica, because of this episode, Leo grew more suspicious of Aspar. After the attack, Zeno did not return to Constantinople, where Aspar and Ardabur were, still with considerable power. Instead, he moved to the "Long Wall" to Pylai and from there to Chalcedon. While waiting here for an opportunity to return to the capital, he was appointed magister militum per Orientem.
Bishops of Rome under Constantine I
Constantine I's relationship with the four Bishops of Rome during his reign is an important component of the history of the Papacy, more the history of the Catholic Church. The legend surrounding Constantine I's victory in the Battle of the Milvian Bridge relates his vision of the Chi Rho and the text in hoc signo vinces in the sky and his reproducing this symbol on the shields of his troops; the following year Constantine and Licinius proclaimed the toleration of Christianity with the Edict of Milan, in 325 Constantine convened and presided over the First Council of Nicaea, the first ecumenical council. None of this, has much to do with the popes, who did not attend the Council. Moreover, between 324 and 330, he built Constantinople as a new capital for the empire, and—with no apologies to the Roman community of Christians—relocated key Roman families and translated many Christian relics to the new churches; the Donation of Constantine, an 8th-century forgery used to enhance the prestige and authority of popes, places the pope more centrally in the narrative of Constantinian Christianity.
The legend of the Donation claims that Constantine offered his crown to Sylvester I, that Sylvester baptized Constantine. In reality, Constantine was baptized by Eusebius of Nicomedia, unlike the pope, was an Arian bishop. Sylvester was succeeded by Julius I during the life of Constantine. Although the "Donation" never occurred, Constantine did hand over the Lateran Palace to the bishop of Rome, begin the construction of Old Saint Peter's Basilica; the gift of the Lateran occurred during the reign of Miltiades, Sylvester I's predecessor, who began using it as his residence. Old St. Peter's was begun between 326 and 330 and would have taken three decades to complete, long after the death of Constantine. Constantine's legalization of Christianity, combined with the donation of these properties, gave the bishop of Rome an unprecedented level of temporal power, for the first time creating an incentive for secular leaders to interfere with papal succession. In spite of the Diocletian Persecution, Christians constituted one-tenth of the population of the Roman Empire at the time of Constantine's rise to power.
Christianity was legalized by Galerius, the first emperor to issue an edict of toleration for all religious creeds including Christianity in April 311. Eamon Duffy characterizes the church in Rome before Constantine as "not one congregation, but a loose constellation of churches based in private houses or, as time went on and the community grew, meeting in rented halls in markets and public baths, it was without any single dominant ruling officer, its elders or leaders sharing responsibility, but distributing tasks, like that of foreign correspondent. By the eve of the conversion of Constantine, there were more than two dozen of these religious community-centers or tituli"; the Roman church was a small community, its bishop exercised little influence outside its members in the time of Constantine. Constantine was the first Roman Emperor to embrace Christianity, although he continued in his pre-Christian beliefs, he and co-Emperor Licinius bestowed imperial favor on Christianity through the Edict of Milan promulgated in 313.
After the Edict of Milan, the church adopted the same governmental structure as the Empire: geographical provinces ruled by bishops. These bishops of important cities therefore rose in power over the bishops of lesser cities. Whatever his personal beliefs, Constantine's political interest in Christianity was as a unifying force and his policy of "the imposition of unity on the churches at all costs" soon set him on a "collision course with the popes." Miltiades was pope at the time of Constantine's victory, Constantine gifted to Miltiades the Lateran Palace, where he relocated, holding a synod in 313. Constantine designated Miltiades as one of four bishops to adjudicate the case of the Donatists, but he had no authority to decide the case or publish the result without the approval of the emperor himself. Customarily, the African bishops may have gone to the bishop of Rome as a respected, neutral figure, but it was well known that Miltiades would not agree with the Donatist position that ordination by a "traitor" bishop would invalidate the sacrament.
Turning to Constantine was a strange move because he had not yet been baptized, word of his budding conversion may not yet have reached Alexandria. Constantine therefore referred the matter to Miltiades, requiring him to collaborate with three bishops from Gaul. Eamon Duffy calls this the "first direct intervention by an emperor in the affairs of the church." When Miltiades invited fifteen additional Italian bishops to participate in the synod and ruled against the Donatists, they appealed to Constantine again, who called for a new synod in Arles, this time headed by the bishops of Arles and Syracuse. Miltiades died, his successor, Sylvester I, did not travel to Arles; the Arles synod gave Silvester I somewhat of a nod by asking him to circulate their decisions to the other bishops, although he had no part in the process. During Silvester I's reign, construction began on the Lateran Basilica, Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, St. Peter's. Silvester did not attend the first ecumenical council, the First Council of Nicaea, but sent two priests as his representatives.
Silvester would have viewed Arianism as a heresy.