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Edict of Milan

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Constantine I the Great
Bust of Constantine the Great from the 4th century CE

Edict of Milan (Edictum Mediolanense) it was an edict jointly issued by the Emperor of the Western Roman Empire Constantine the Great and emperor of the eastern part of Licinius in 313 CE in Milan. It introduced the freedom of confession of faith in the Roman Empire. From now on, Christians were able to profess their religion without hindrance. Under the edict, the church buildings and land were returned to Christian communities. Constantine I himself had a great influence on the creation of the edict, who seems to have felt a closer bond with the Christian deity at that time. The Edict in Milan was a continuation of Galerius’s Edict of Tolerance issued on April 30, 311 CE. It was the first legal act in history to establish religious freedom for Christians in the Roman Empire. It does not change the form of things, however, that in some parts of the Empire local rulers did not agree to its decisions. The Edict of Milan of 313 CE is considered to be the triumph of Christianity. In practice, the document from Milan only guaranteed freedom of religion, not making it a state denomination. Edict excerpt:

When I, Constantine Augustus, as well as I Licinius Augustus d fortunately met near Mediolanurn (Milan), and were considering everything that pertained to the public welfare and security, we thought -, among other things which we saw would be for the good of many, those regulations pertaining to the reverence of the Divinity ought certainly to be made first, so that we might grant to the Christians and others full authority to observe that religion which each preferred; whence any Divinity whatsoever in the seat of the heavens may be propitious and kindly disposed to us and all who are placed under our rule And thus by this wholesome counsel and most upright provision we thought to arrange that no one whatsoever should be denied the opportunity to give his heart to the observance of the Christian religion, of that religion which he should think best for himself, so that the Supreme Deity, to whose worship we freely yield our hearts) may show in all things His usual favor and benevolence.

When analyzing the purposefulness of issuing the edict, it should be noted that the document was politically directed against Caesar Maksymin Daji, who in the eastern provinces represented Augustus. At the insistence of his superior, Galerius, he renounced the persecution of Christians but delayed the release of the accused and prisoners. After the death of Galerius in March 311 CE Maximine resumed persecution in the eastern part of the Empire, urging citizens to surrender Christ’s followers. The situation in the east changed after the defeat in the civil war.

  • Krawczuk Aleksander, Poczet cesarzy rzymskich, Warszawa 2004

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