Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus (c. 27 February 272 - 22 May 337), commonly known as Constantine I, Constantine the Great, or Saint Constantine, was Roman Emperor from 306 to 337. Best known for being the first Christian Roman emperor, Constantine reversed the persecutions of his predecessor, Diocletian, and issued the Edict of Milan in 313, which proclaimed religious tolerance of Christians throughout the empire. The foremost general of his time, Constantine defeated the emperors Maxentius and Licinius during civil wars. He also fought successfully against the Franks, Alamanni, Visigoths, and Sarmatians during his reign - even resettling parts of Dacia which had been abandoned during the previous century. Constantine also transformed the ancient Greek colony of Byzantium into a new imperial residence, Constantinople, which would be the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire for over one thousand years. Licinius' defeat represented the passing of old Rome, and the beginning of the role of the Eastern Roman Empire as a center of learning, prosperity, and cultural preservation. Constantine rebuilt the city of Byzantium, which was renamed Constantinopolis ("Constantine's City" or Constantinople in English), and issued special commemorative coins in 330 to honor the event. The new city was protected by the relics of the True Cross, the Rod of Moses and other holy relics, though a cameo now at the Hermitage Museum also represented Constantine crowned by the tyche of the new city. The figures of old gods were either replaced or assimilated into a framework of Christian symbolism. Constantine built the new Church of the Holy Apostles on the site of a temple to Aphrodite. Generations later there was the story that a Divine vision led Constantine to this spot, and an angel no one else could see, led him on a circuit of the new walls. The capital would often be compared to the 'old' Rome as Nova Roma Constantinopolitana, the "New Rome of Constantinople". Although he earned his honorific of "The Great" ("?????") from Christian historians long after he had died, he could have claimed the title on his military achievements and victories alone. Besides reuniting the Empire under one emperor, Constantine won major victories over the Franks and Alamanni in 306-8, the Franks again in 313-14, the Visigoths in 332 and the Sarmatians in 334. By 336, Constantine had reoccupied most of the long-lost province of Dacia, which Aurelian had been forced to abandon in 271. At the time of his death, he was planning a great expedition to end raids on the eastern provinces from the Persian Empire. The Byzantine Empire considered Constantine its founder and the Holy Roman Empire reckoned him among the venerable figures of its tradition. In the later Byzantine state, it had become a great honor for an emperor to be hailed as a "new Constantine". Ten emperors, including the last emperor of Byzantium, carried the name. Monumental Constantinian forms were used at the court of Charlemagne to suggest that he was Constantine's successor and equal. Constantine acquired a mythic role as a warrior against "heathens". The motif of the Romanesque equestrian, the mounted figure in the posture of a triumphant Roman emperor, became a visual metaphor in statuary in praise of local benefactors. The name "Constantine" itself enjoyed renewed popularity in western France in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Most Eastern Christian churches consider Constantine a saint (????? ????????????, Saint Constantine). In the Byzantine Church he was called isapostolos (??????????? ????????????)-an equal of the Apostles. Nis airport is named Constantine the Great in honor of his birth in Naissus.
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