Pope Stephen II
Pope Stephen II (Latin: Stephanus II. He succeeded Pope Zachary following the death of Pope-elect Stephen. Stephen II marks the historical delineation between the Frankish Papacy. Rome was facing invasion by the Kingdom of the Lombards. Pope Stephen II traveled all the way to Paris to seek assistance against the Lombard threat from Pepin the Short. Pepin had been anointed a first time in 751 in Soissons by Boniface, archbishop of Mainz, but named his price. With the Frankish nobles agreeing to campaign in Lombardy, the Pope consecrated Pepin a second time in a lavish ceremony at the Basilica of St Denis in 754, bestowing upon him the additional title of Patricius Romanorum in the first recorded crowning of a civil ruler by a Pope. Pepin defeated the Lombards – taking control of northern Italy – and made a gift of the properties constituting the Exarchate of Ravenna to the pope leading to the establishment of the Papal States. In 751, the Lombard king Aistulf captured the Exarchate of Ravenna, turned his attention to the Duchy of Rome.
Relations were strained in the mid-8th century between the papacy and the Eastern Roman emperors over the support of the Isaurian Dynasty for iconoclasm. Maintaining political control over Rome became untenable as the Eastern Roman Empire itself was beset by the Abbasid Caliphate to the south and Bulgars to the northwest. Constantinople could send no troops, Emperor Constantine V Copronymus, in answer to the repeated requests for help of the new pope, Stephen II, could only offer him the advice to act in accordance with the ancient policy of Rome, to pit some other Germanic tribe against the Lombards. Stephen turned to Pepin the Younger, the crowned King of the Franks, traveled to Paris to plead for help in person against the surrounding Lombard and Muslim threats. On 6 January 754, Stephen re-consecrated Pepin as king. In return, Pepin assumed the role of ordained protector of the Church and set his sights on the Lombards, as well as addressing the threat of Islamic Al-Andalus. Pepin invaded Italy twice to settle the Lombard problem and delivered the territory between Rome and Ravenna to the papacy, but left the Lombard kings in possession of their kingdom.
Prior to Stephen's alliance with Pepin, Rome had constituted the central city of the Duchy of Rome, which composed one of two districts within the Exarchate of Ravenna, along with Ravenna itself. At Quiercy the Frankish nobles gave their consent to a campaign in Lombardy. Catholic tradition asserts that and there Pepin executed in writing a promise to give to the Church certain territories that were to be wrested from the Lombards, which would be referred to as the Papal States. Known as the Donation of Pepin, no actual document has been preserved, but 8th century sources quote from it. Stephen anointed Pepin as King of the Franks at Saint-Denis in a memorable ceremony, evoked in the coronation rites of French kings until the end of the ancien regime in 1789. In return, in 756, Pepin and his Frankish army forced the Lombard king to surrender his conquests, Pepin conferred upon the pope the territories belonging to Ravenna cities such as Forlì with their hinterlands, laying the Donation of Pepin upon the tomb of Saint Peter, according to traditional accounts.
The gift included Lombard conquests in the Romagna and in the duchies of Spoleto and Benevento, the Pentapolis in the Marche. For the first time, the Donation made the pope a temporal ruler over a strip of territory that extended diagonally across Italy from the Tyrrhenian to the Adriatic. Over these extensive and mountainous territories the medieval popes were unable to exercise effective sovereignty, given the pressures of the times, the new Papal States preserved the old Lombard heritage of many small counties and marquisates, each centered upon a fortified rocca. Pepin confirmed his Donation in Rome in 756, in 774 Charlemagne confirmed the donation of his father. Annales laureshamenses List of Catholic saints List of popes Paolo Delogu: Stefano II. In: Massimo Bray: Enciclopedia dei Papi, Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana, Vol. 1, Rome, 2000, OCLC 313504669, pp. 660–665. Ekkart Sauser. "Stephan II.". In Bautz, Traugott. Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon. 10. Herzberg: Bautz. Cols.
1351–1354. ISBN 3-88309-062-X. Rudolf Schieffer: Stephan II in: Lexikon des Mittelalters. Vol. 8, LexMA-Verlag, Munich 1997, ISBN 3-89659-908-9, Col. 116–117. Catholic Encyclopedia: Papal States, section 3: Collapse of the Byzantine Power in Central Italy Medieval Sourcebook
Rome is the capital city and a special comune of Italy. Rome serves as the capital of the Lazio region. With 2,872,800 residents in 1,285 km2, it is the country's most populated comune, it is the fourth most populous city in the European Union by population within city limits. It is the centre of the Metropolitan City of Rome, which has a population of 4,355,725 residents, thus making it the most populous metropolitan city in Italy. Rome is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, within Lazio, along the shores of the Tiber; the Vatican City is an independent country inside the city boundaries of Rome, the only existing example of a country within a city: for this reason Rome has been defined as capital of two states. Rome's history spans 28 centuries. While Roman mythology dates the founding of Rome at around 753 BC, the site has been inhabited for much longer, making it one of the oldest continuously occupied sites in Europe; the city's early population originated from a mix of Latins and Sabines.
The city successively became the capital of the Roman Kingdom, the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire, is regarded by some as the first metropolis. It was first called The Eternal City by the Roman poet Tibullus in the 1st century BC, the expression was taken up by Ovid and Livy. Rome is called the "Caput Mundi". After the fall of the Western Empire, which marked the beginning of the Middle Ages, Rome fell under the political control of the Papacy, in the 8th century it became the capital of the Papal States, which lasted until 1870. Beginning with the Renaissance all the popes since Nicholas V pursued over four hundred years a coherent architectural and urban programme aimed at making the city the artistic and cultural centre of the world. In this way, Rome became first one of the major centres of the Italian Renaissance, the birthplace of both the Baroque style and Neoclassicism. Famous artists, painters and architects made Rome the centre of their activity, creating masterpieces throughout the city.
In 1871, Rome became the capital of the Kingdom of Italy, which, in 1946, became the Italian Republic. Rome has the status of a global city. In 2016, Rome ranked as the 14th-most-visited city in the world, 3rd most visited in the European Union, the most popular tourist attraction in Italy, its historic centre is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The famous Vatican Museums are among the world's most visited museums while the Colosseum was the most popular tourist attraction in world with 7.4 million visitors in 2018. Host city for the 1960 Summer Olympics, Rome is the seat of several specialized agencies of the United Nations, such as the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Food Programme and the International Fund for Agricultural Development; the city hosts the Secretariat of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean as well as the headquarters of many international business companies such as Eni, Enel, TIM, Leonardo S.p. A. and national and international banks such as Unicredit and BNL.
Its business district, called EUR, is the base of many companies involved in the oil industry, the pharmaceutical industry, financial services. Rome is an important fashion and design centre thanks to renowned international brands centered in the city. Rome's Cinecittà Studios have been the set of many Academy Award–winning movies. According to the founding myth of the city by the Ancient Romans themselves, the long-held tradition of the origin of the name Roma is believed to have come from the city's founder and first king, Romulus. However, it is a possibility that the name Romulus was derived from Rome itself; as early as the 4th century, there have been alternative theories proposed on the origin of the name Roma. Several hypotheses have been advanced focusing on its linguistic roots which however remain uncertain: from Rumon or Rumen, archaic name of the Tiber, which in turn has the same root as the Greek verb ῥέω and the Latin verb ruo, which both mean "flow". There is archaeological evidence of human occupation of the Rome area from 14,000 years ago, but the dense layer of much younger debris obscures Palaeolithic and Neolithic sites.
Evidence of stone tools and stone weapons attest to about 10,000 years of human presence. Several excavations support the view that Rome grew from pastoral settlements on the Palatine Hill built above the area of the future Roman Forum. Between the end of the bronze age and the beginning of the Iron age, each hill between the sea and the Capitol was topped by a village. However, none of them had yet an urban quality. Nowadays, there is a wide consensus that the city developed through the aggregation of several villages around the largest one, placed above the Palatine; this aggregation was facilitated by the increase of agricultural productivity above the subsistence level, which allowed the establishment of secondary and tertiary activities. These in turn boosted the development of trade with the Greek colonies of southern Italy; these developments, which according to archaeological ev
Spoleto is an ancient city in the Italian province of Perugia in east-central Umbria on a foothill of the Apennines. It is 29 km N. of Terni, 63 km SE of Perugia. Spoleto was situated on the eastern branch of the Via Flaminia, which forked into two roads at Narni and rejoined at Forum Flaminii, near Foligno. An ancient road ran hence to Nursia; the Ponte Sanguinario of the 1st century BC still exists. The Forum lies under today's marketplace. Located at the head of a large, broad valley, surrounded by mountains, Spoleto has long occupied a strategic geographical position, it appears to have been an important town to the original Umbri tribes, who built walls around their settlement in the 5th century BC, some of which are visible today. The first historical mention of Spoletium is the notice of the foundation of a colony there in 241 BC. After the Battle of Lake Trasimene Spoletium was attacked by Hannibal, repulsed by the inhabitants During the Second Punic War the city was a useful ally to Rome.
It suffered during the civil wars of Gaius Marius and Sulla. The latter, after his victory over Marius, confiscated the territory of Spoletium. From this time forth it was a municipium. Under the empire it seems to have flourished once again, but is not mentioned in history. Martial speaks of its wine. Aemilianus, proclaimed emperor by his soldiers in Moesia, was slain by them here on his way from Rome, after a reign of three or four months. Rescripts of Constantine and Julian are dated from Spoleto; the foundation of the episcopal see dates from the 4th century: early martyrs of Spoleto are legends, but a letter to the bishop Caecilianus, from Pope Liberius in 354 constitutes its first historical mention. Owing to its elevated position Spoleto was an important stronghold during the Vandal and Gothic wars. Under the Lombards, Spoleto became the capital of an independent duchy, the Duchy of Spoleto, its dukes ruled a considerable part of central Italy. In 774 it became part of Holy Roman Empire. Several of its dukes during the late 9th Century, rose to wear the crown of that Empire.
Together with other fiefs, it was bequeathed to Pope Gregory VII by the powerful countess Matilda of Tuscany, but for some time struggled to maintain its independence. In 1155 it was destroyed by Frederick Barbarossa. In 1213 it was definitively occupied by Pope Gregory IX. During the absence of the papal court in Avignon, it was prey to the struggles between Guelphs and Ghibellines, until in 1354 Cardinal Albornoz brought it once more under the authority of the Papal States. After Napoleon's conquest of Italy, in 1809 Spoleto became capital of the short-lived French department of Trasimène, returning to the Papal States after Napoleon's defeat, within five years. In 1860, after a gallant defence, Spoleto was taken by the troops fighting for the unification of Italy. Giovanni Pontano, founder of the Accademia Pontaniana of Naples, was born here. Another child of Spoleto was Francis Possenti, educated in the Jesuit school and whose father was the Papal assessor, Francis entered the Passionists and became Saint Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows.
The Roman theater rebuilt. The stage is occupied by the former church of St. Agatha housing the National Archaeological Museum. Ponte Sanguinario, a Roman bridge 1st century BCE; the name is traditionally attributed to the persecutions of Christians in the nearby amphiteatre. A restored Roman house with mosaic floors, indicating it was built in the 1st century, overlooked the Forum Square. An inscription by Polla to Emperor Caligula suggests the house was that of Vespasia Polla, the mother of Emperor Vespasian. Roman amphitheater, it was turned into a fortress by Totila in 545 and in Middle Ages times was used for stores and shops, while in the cavea the church of San Gregorio Minore was built. The stones were used to build the Rocca; the Palazzo Comunale. Ponte delle Torri, a striking 13th-century aqueduct on Roman foundations: whether it was first built by the Romans is a point on which scholarly opinion is divided; the majestic Rocca Albornoziana fortress, built in 1359–1370 by the architect Matteo Gattapone of Gubbio for Cardinal Albornoz.
It has six sturdy towers which formed two distinct inner spaces: the Cortile delle Armi, for the troops, the Cortile d'onore for the use of the city's governor. The latter courtyard is surrounded by a two-floor porch; the rooms include the Camera Pinta with noteworthy 15th‑century frescoes. After having resisted many sieges, the Rocca was turned into a jail in 1800 and used as such until the late 20th century. After extensive renovation it was reopened as a museum in 2007; the Palazzo Racani-Arroni has a worn graffito decoration attributed to Giulio Romano. The inner courtyard has a notable fountain. Palazzo della Signoria, housing the city's museum; the majestic Palazzo Vigili includes the Torre dell'Olio, the sole mediaeval city tower remaining in Spoleto. Temple of Clitumnus lies between Spoleto and Trevi Duomo of S. Maria Assunta: Construction of the Duomo begun around 1175 and completed in 1227; the Romanesque edifice contains the tomb of Filippo Lippi, who died in Spoleto in 1469, designed by his son Filippino Lippi.
The church houses a manuscript letter by Saint Francis of Assisi. San Pietro extra Moenia: This church was founded in 4
The Papal States the State of the Church, were a series of territories in the Italian Peninsula under the direct sovereign rule of the Pope, from the 8th century until 1870. They were among the major states of Italy from the 8th century until the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia unified the Italian Peninsula by conquest in a campaign concluded in 1861 and definitively in 1870. At their zenith, the Papal States covered most of the modern Italian regions of Lazio, Marche and Romagna, portions of Emilia; these holdings were considered to be a manifestation of the temporal power of the pope, as opposed to his ecclesiastical primacy. By 1861, much of the Papal States' territory had been conquered by the Kingdom of Italy. Only Lazio, including Rome, remained under the Pope's temporal control. In 1870, the Pope lost Lazio and Rome and had no physical territory at all, except the Basilica of St Peter and the papal residence and related buildings around the Vatican quarter of Rome, which the new Italian state did not occupy militarily.
In 1929 the head of the Italian government, at the time the Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini, ended the crisis between unified Italy and the Holy See by negotiating the Lateran Treaty, signed by the two parties. This recognized the sovereignty of the Holy See over a newly created international territorial entity, the Vatican City State, limited to a token territory; the Papal States were known as the Papal State. The territories were referred to variously as the State of the Church, the Pontifical States, the Ecclesiastical States, or the Roman States. To some extent the name used varied with the preferences and habits of the European languages in which it was expressed. For its first 300 years the Catholic Church was persecuted and unrecognized, unable to hold or transfer property. Early congregations met in rooms set aside for that purpose in the homes of well-to-do individuals, a number of early churches, known as titular churches and located on the outskirts of Ancient Rome, were held as property by individuals, rather than by the Church itself.
Nonetheless, the properties held nominally or by individual members of the Roman churches would be considered as a common patrimony handed over successively to the legitimate "heir" of that property its senior deacons, who were, in turn, assistants to the local bishop. This common patrimony attached to the churches at Rome, thus under its ruling bishop, became quite considerable, including as it did not only houses etc. in Rome or nearby but landed estates, such as latifundias, whole or in part, across Italy and beyond. This system began to change during the reign of the emperor Constantine I, who made Christianity legal within the Roman Empire, restoring to it any properties, confiscated; the Lateran Palace was the first significant new donation to the Church, most a gift from Constantine himself. Other donations followed in mainland Italy but in the provinces of the Roman Empire, but the Church held all of these lands as a private landowner, not as a sovereign entity. When in the 5th century the Italian peninsula passed under the control of Odoacer and the Ostrogoths, the Church organization in Italy, with the pope at its head, submitted of necessity to their sovereign authority while asserting its spiritual primacy over the whole Church.
The seeds of the Papal States as a sovereign political entity were planted in the 6th century. Beginning in 535, the Byzantine Empire, under emperor Justinian I, launched a reconquest of Italy that took decades and devastated Italy's political and economic structures. Just as these wars wound down, the Lombards entered the peninsula from the north and conquered much of the countryside. By the 7th century, Byzantine authority was limited to a diagonal band running from Ravenna, where the Emperor's representative, or Exarch, was located, to Rome and south to Naples, plus coastal enclaves. With effective Byzantine power weighted at the northeast end of this territory, the pope, as the largest landowner and most prestigious figure in Italy, began by default to take on much of the ruling authority that Byzantines were unable to project to the area around the city of Rome. While the popes remained Byzantine subjects, in practice the Duchy of Rome, an area equivalent to modern-day Latium, became an independent state ruled by the pope.
The Church's independence, combined with popular support for the papacy in Italy, enabled various popes to defy the will of the Byzantine emperor. The pope and the exarch still worked together to control the rising power of the Lombards in Italy; as Byzantine power weakened, the papacy took an ever-larger role in defending Rome from the Lombards through diplomacy. In practice, the papal efforts served to focus Lombard aggrandizement on Ravenna. A climactic moment in the founding of the Papal States was the agreement over boundaries embodied in the Lombard king Liutprand's Donation of Sutri to Pope Gregory II; when the Exarchate of
Benevento is a city and comune of Campania, capital of the province of Benevento, 50 kilometres northeast of Naples. It is situated on a hill 130 metres above sea level at the confluence of the Calore Irpino and the Sabato, it is the seat of a Roman Catholic archbishop. Around Benevento there is an urban area with 110,000 inhabitants. Benevento occupies the site of the ancient Beneventum Maleventum or earlier Maloenton; the meaning of the name of the town is evidenced by its former Latin name, translating as good or fair wind. In the imperial period it was supposed to have been founded by Diomedes after the Trojan War. Due to its artistic and cultural significance, the Santa Sofia Church in Benevento was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011, as part of a group of seven historic buildings inscribed as Longobards in Italy, Places of Power. A patron saint of Benevento is Saint Bartholomew, the Apostle, whose relics are kept there at the Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta. Benevento, as Maleventum, was one of the chief cities of Samnium, situated on the Appian Way at a distance of 51 kilometres east from Capua on the banks of the river Calor.
There is some discrepancy as to the people to which it belonged at contact: Pliny the Elder expressly assigns it to the Hirpini. All ancient writers concur in representing it as a ancient city. Sextus Pompeius Festus, on the contrary, related that it was founded by Auson, a son of Ulysses and Circe, but it first appears in history as a Samnite city. It appears, however, to have fallen into their hands during the Third Samnite War, though the exact occasion is unknown. Benevento was in the power of the Romans in 274 BC, when Pyrrhus of Epirus was defeated in a great battle, fought in its immediate neighborhood, by the consul Manius Curius Dentatus. Six years they further sought to secure its possession by establishing there a Roman colony with Latin rights, it was at this time that it first assumed the name of Beneventum, having been called Maleventum, a name which the Romans regarded as of evil augury, changed into one of a more fortunate signification. It is probable that the Oscan or Samnite name was Maloeis, or Malieis, whence the form Maleventum would derive, like Agrigentum from Acragas, Selinuntium from Selinus, etc.
As a Roman colony Beneventum seems to have become a flourishing place. In its immediate neighborhood were fought two of the most decisive actions of the war: the Battle of Beneventum, in which the Carthaginian general Hanno the Elder was defeated by Tiberius Gracchus, and though its territory was more than once laid waste by the Carthaginians, it was still one of the eighteen Latin colonies which in 209 BCE were at once able and willing to furnish the required quota of men and money for continuing the war. No mention of it occurs during the Social War, although it seems to have escaped from the calamities which at that time befell so many cities of Samnium. Under the Second Triumvirate its territory was portioned out by the Triumvirs to their veterans, subsequently a fresh colony was established there by Augustus, who enlarged its domain by the addition of the territory of Caudium. A third colony was settled there by Nero, its importance and flourishing condition under the Roman Empire is sufficiently attested by existing remains and inscriptions.
For this prosperity it was doubtless indebted in part to its position on the Via Appia, just at the junction of the two principal arms or branches of that great road, the one called afterwards the Via Traiana, leading thence by Aequum Tuticum into Apulia. Its wealth is evidenced by the quantity of coins minted by Beneventum. Horace famously notes Beneventum on his journey from Rome to Brundusium, it was indebted to the same circumstance for the honor of repeated visits from the emperors of Rome, among which those of Nero and Septimus Severus, are recorded. It was for the same reason that the triumphal arch, the Arch o
Constantinople was the capital city of the Roman Empire, of the Byzantine Empire, of the brief Crusader state known as the Latin Empire, until falling to the Ottoman Empire. It was reinaugurated in 324 from ancient Byzantium as the new capital of the Roman Empire by Emperor Constantine the Great, after whom it was named, dedicated on 11 May 330; the city was located in what is now the core of modern Istanbul. From the mid-5th century to the early 13th century, Constantinople was the largest and wealthiest city in Europe; the city was famed for its architectural masterpieces, such as the Greek Orthodox cathedral of Hagia Sophia, which served as the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the sacred Imperial Palace where the Emperors lived, the Galata Tower, the Hippodrome, the Golden Gate of the Land Walls, the opulent aristocratic palaces lining the arcaded avenues and squares. The University of Constantinople was founded in the fifth century and contained numerous artistic and literary treasures before it was sacked in 1204 and 1453, including its vast Imperial Library which contained the remnants of the Library of Alexandria and had over 100,000 volumes of ancient texts.
It was instrumental in the advancement of Christianity during Roman and Byzantine times as the home of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople and as the guardian of Christendom's holiest relics such as the Crown of Thorns and the True Cross. Constantinople was famed for its complex defences; the first wall of the city was erected by Constantine I, surrounded the city on both land and sea fronts. In the 5th century, the Praetorian Prefect Anthemius under the child emperor Theodosius II undertook the construction of the Theodosian Walls, which consisted of a double wall lying about 2 kilometres to the west of the first wall and a moat with palisades in front; this formidable complex of defences was one of the most sophisticated of Antiquity. The city was built intentionally to rival Rome, it was claimed that several elevations within its walls matched the'seven hills' of Rome; because it was located between the Golden Horn and the Sea of Marmara the land area that needed defensive walls was reduced, this helped it to present an impregnable fortress enclosing magnificent palaces and towers, the result of the prosperity it achieved from being the gateway between two continents and two seas.
Although besieged on numerous occasions by various armies, the defences of Constantinople proved impregnable for nearly nine hundred years. In 1204, the armies of the Fourth Crusade took and devastated the city, its inhabitants lived several decades under Latin misrule. In 1261 the Byzantine Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos liberated the city, after the restoration under the Palaiologos dynasty, enjoyed a partial recovery. With the advent of the Ottoman Empire in 1299, the Byzantine Empire began to lose territories and the city began to lose population. By the early 15th century, the Byzantine Empire was reduced to just Constantinople and its environs, along with Morea in Greece, making it an enclave inside the Ottoman Empire. According to Pliny the Elder in his Natural History, the first known name of a settlement on the site of Constantinople was Lygos, a settlement of Thracian origin founded between the 13th and 11th centuries BC; the site, according to the founding myth of the city, was abandoned by the time Greek settlers from the city-state of Megara founded Byzantium in around 657 BC, across from the town of Chalcedon on the Asiatic side of the Bosphorus.
The origins of the name of Byzantion, more known by the Latin Byzantium, are not clear, though some suggest it is of Thraco-Illyrian origin. The founding myth of the city has it told that the settlement was named after the leader of the Megarian colonists, Byzas; the Byzantines of Constantinople themselves would maintain that the city was named in honour of two men and Antes, though this was more just a play on the word Byzantion. The city was renamed Augusta Antonina in the early 3rd century AD by the Emperor Septimius Severus, who razed the city to the ground in 196 for supporting a rival contender in the civil war and had it rebuilt in honour of his son Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, popularly known as Caracalla; the name appears to have been forgotten and abandoned, the city reverted to Byzantium/Byzantion after either the assassination of Caracalla in 217 or, at the latest, the fall of the Severan dynasty in 235. Byzantium took on the name of Kōnstantinoupolis after its refoundation under Roman emperor Constantine I, who transferred the capital of the Roman Empire to Byzantium in 330 and designated his new capital as Nova Roma'New Rome'.
During this time, the city was called'Second Rome','Eastern Rome', Roma Constantinopolitana. As the city became the sole remaining capital of the Roman Empire after the fall of the West, its wealth and influence grew, the city came to have a multitude of nicknames; as the largest and wealthiest city in Europe during the 4th–13th centuries and a centre of culture and education of the Mediterranean basin, Constantinople came to be known by prestigious titles such as Basileuousa and Megalopol
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.