Constantine in legendary literature

Samuel N C Lieu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


“Constantine sitting amongst the Christian bishops at the oecumenical council of Nicaea is in his own person the beginning of Europe’s Middle Age.” This oft-quoted sentence with which Norman Baynes concludes his chapter on Constantine in the first edition of the Cambridge Ancient History looks forward to the legacy of Constantine as founder of a Christian Byzantium and the Christian Roman empire of Pippin and Charlemagne in the medieval west.1However, itwas not Constantine the founder of “Caesaropapism” whom the historians and hagiographers of the Middle Ages-both east and west-chose to commemorate.2His legacy in the Middle Ages, and in the west in particular, was partially obscured by those of two other figures of his reign who were the more popular as saints for veneration, pope Sylvester, who occupied the see of St. Peter for much of his reign, and Constantine’s mother, Helena Augusta. The Sylvester Legend and the Baptism of Constantine According to the Liberian Catalogue, Sylvester (feast, December 31) succeeded Miltiades as bishop of Rome on January 31, 314. At the time of Sylvester’s death, which occurred, according to the Depositio episcoporum, on December 31, 335, Constantine had transformed the relationship between the Roman state and Christian Church. He had personally heard the appeals from both sides of the Donatist dispute and had summoned the first ecumenical council to Nicaea in May 325 without the authority of Sylvester.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge Companion to the Age of Constantine
EditorsNoel Lenski
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press (CUP)
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)9781139000840
ISBN (Print)0521818389, 9780521818384
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2005

Publication series

NameCambridge Companions to the Ancient World


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