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The Edict of Milan ( la, Edictum Mediolanense, el, Διάταγμα τῶν Μεδιολάνων, ''Diatagma tōn Mediolanōn'') was the February 313 CE agreement to treat Christians benevolently within the Roman Empire.Frend, W. H. C. ''The Early Church'' SPCK 1965, p. 137 Western Roman Emperor
Constantine I Constantine I ( la, Flavius Valerius Constantinus; ; 27 February 22 May 337), also known as Constantine the Great, was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). Th ...

Constantine I
and Emperor
Licinius Licinius (; la, Valerius Licinianus Licinius ; (Ancient Greek Λίκινιος) (c. 265 – 325) was Roman emperor from 308 to 324. For most of his reign he was the colleague and rival of Constantine I, with whom he co-authored the Edict of M ...
, who controlled the
Balkans The Balkans ( ), also known as the Balkan Peninsula, are a geographic area in southeastern Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rathe ...

Balkans
, met in
Mediolanum Mediolanum, the ancient city where Milan Milan (, , Milanese: ; it, Milano ) is a city in northern Italy, capital of Lombardy, and the second-most populous city in Italy after Rome. Milan served as the capital of the Western Roman Empire, ...
(modern-day
Milan Milan (, , Milanese: ; it, Milano ) is a city in northern Italy, capital of Lombardy, and the List of cities in Italy, second-most populous city proper in Italy after Rome. The city proper has a population of about 1.4 million, while its ...

Milan
) and, among other things, agreed to change policies towards Christians following the edict of toleration issued by Emperor
Galerius Gaius Galerius Valerius Maximianus (; c. 258 – May 311) was from 305 to 311. During his reign he campaigned, aided by , against the , sacking their capital in 299. He also campaigned across the against the , defeating them in 297 and 300. ...

Galerius
two years earlier in
Serdica Serdika or Serdica is the historical Roman Roman or Romans usually refers to: *Rome, the capital city of Italy *Ancient Rome, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *Roman people, the people of ancient Rome *''Epistle to the Rom ...
. The Edict of Milan gave Christianity legal status and a reprieve from persecution but did not make it the
state church of the Roman Empire The state church of the Roman Empire refers to the church approved by the Roman emperors after Theodosius I issued the Edict of Thessalonica in 380, which recognized the catholic orthodoxy of Nicene Christians in the Great Church as the Roman Empi ...
. That occurred in AD 380 with the
Edict of Thessalonica The Edict of Thessalonica (also known as ''Cunctos populos''), issued on 27 February AD 380 by three reigning Roman emperors The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βα ...
. The document is found in
Lactantius Lucius Caecilius Firmianus Lactantius (c. 250 – c. 325) was an early Christian author who became an advisor to Roman emperor, Constantine I, guiding his Christian religious policy in its initial stages of emergence, and a tutor to his son Crisp ...

Lactantius
's '' De mortibus persecutorum'' and in
Eusebius of Caesarea Eusebius of Caesarea (; grc-gre, Εὐσέβιος τῆς Καισαρείας, ''Eusébios tés Kaisareías''; AD 260/265 – 339/340), also known as Eusebius Pamphili (from the grc-gre, Εὐσέβιος τοῦ Παμϕίλου) ...

Eusebius of Caesarea
's ''History of the Church'' with marked divergences between the two.Cross and Livingstone. ''The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church'' 1974 art. "Milan, Edict of." Whether or not there was a formal 'Edict of Milan'  is no longer really debated among scholars who generally reject the story as it has come down in church history. The version found in Lactantius is not in the form of an edict. It is a letter from Licinius to the governors of the provinces in the Eastern Empire he had just conquered by defeating MaximinusStevenson, J. ''A New Eusebius'' SPCK 1965, p. 302 later in the same year and issued in
Nicomedia Nicomedia (; el, Νικομήδεια, ''Nikomedeia''; modern İzmit İzmit () is a district and the central district of Kocaeli Province, Kocaeli province, Turkey. It is located at the Gulf of İzmit in the Sea of Marmara, about east of Is ...
.


Background

The Romans thought of themselves as highly religious, and attributed their success as a world power to their collective piety ''(
pietas ''Pietas'' (), translated variously as "duty", "religiosity" or "religious behavior", "loyalty", "devotion", or "filial piety In Confucian ethics, Confucian, Chinese Buddhist ethics, Buddhist and Taoism, Taoist ethics, filial piety (, ''xi ...

pietas
)'' in maintaining good relations with the gods. The Romans were known for the great number of deities that they honored. The presence of introduced some religious practices such as the cult of
Apollo Apollo, grc, Ἀπόλλωνος, ''Apóllōnos'', label=genitive , ; , grc-dor, Ἀπέλλων, ''Apéllōn'', ; grc, Ἀπείλων, ''Apeílōn'', label=Arcadocypriot Greek, ; grc-aeo, Ἄπλουν, ''Áploun'', la, Apollō, ...

Apollo
. The Romans looked for common ground between their major gods and those of the Greeks (''
interpretatio graeca ''Interpretatio graeca'' (Latin, "Greek translation") or "interpretation by means of Greek odels is a discourse used to interpret or attempt to understand the mythology and religion of other cultures; a Comparative religion, comparative meth ...
''), adapting
Greek myths Greek mythology is the body of myth Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A belief is an Attitude (psyc ...
and iconography for Latin literature and
Roman art The art of Ancient Rome In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest historians whose work survives. A his ...
. According to
legend A legend is a Folklore genre, genre of folklore that consists of a narrative featuring human actions, believed or perceived, both by teller and listeners, to have taken place in human history. Narratives in this genre may demonstrate human valu ...

legend
s, most of Rome's religious institutions could be traced to its founders; this archaic religion was the foundation of the ''
mos maiorum The ''mos maiorum'' (; "ancestral custom" or "way of the ancestors," plural ''mores'', cf. English "mores"; ''maiorum'' is the Genitive case, genitive plural of "greater" or "elder") is the unwritten code from which the Ancient Rome, ancient Roma ...
'', "the way of the ancestors" or simply "tradition", viewed as central to Roman identity. Through ''interpretatio graeca'' and ''romana'', the religions of other peoples incorporated into the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of governme ...

Roman Empire
coexisted within the Roman theological hierarchy. The
Judeo-Christian The term Judeo-Christian is used to group Christianity and Judaism Christianity is rooted in Second Temple Judaism Second Temple Judaism is Judaism Judaism ( he, יהדות, ''Yahadut''; originally from Hebrew , ''Yehudah'', "Kingdom of ...
insistence on
Yahweh Yahweh was the national god of ancient Kingdom of Israel (Samaria), Israel and Kingdom of Judah, Judah. His origins reach at least to the early Iron Age, and likely to the Late Bronze Age. In the oldest biblical literature, he is a Weather ...
being the ''only'' God, believing all other gods were false gods, could not be fitted into the system. Their scruples prevented them swearing loyalty oaths directed at the emperor's divinity. More particularly, the refusal of Christians to pay the Jewish tax was perceived as a threat not just to the state cult, but to the state itself, leading to various forms of persecution. The emperor
Decius Gaius Messius Quintus Traianus Decius (c. 201 ADJune 251 AD), sometimes translated as Trajan Decius or Decius, was the emperor An emperor (from la, imperator, via fro, empereor) is a monarch, and usually the sovereignty, sovereign ruler ...

Decius
(r. 249–251) issued edicts that imposed hard restrictions on Christians, a policy continued by his successor Valerian. With the accession of
Gallienus Publius Licinius Egnatius Gallienus (; c. 218 – September 268) was Roman emperor with his father Valerian (emperor), Valerian from 253 to 260 and alone from 260 to 268. He ruled during the Crisis of the Third Century that nearly caused the coll ...

Gallienus
(r. 253–268), the Church enjoyed a period of nearly 40 years with no official sanctions against Christians, which
Eusebius Eusebius of Caesarea (; grc-gre, Εὐσέβιος τῆς Καισαρείας, ''Eusébios tés Kaisareías''; AD 260/265 – 339/340), also known as Eusebius Pamphili (from the grc-gre, Εὐσέβιος τοῦ Παμϕίλου) ...

Eusebius
described as the "little" peace of the Church. In 311,
Galerius Gaius Galerius Valerius Maximianus (; c. 258 – May 311) was from 305 to 311. During his reign he campaigned, aided by , against the , sacking their capital in 299. He also campaigned across the against the , defeating them in 297 and 300. ...

Galerius
published an edict from
Nicomedia Nicomedia (; el, Νικομήδεια, ''Nikomedeia''; modern İzmit İzmit () is a district and the central district of Kocaeli Province, Kocaeli province, Turkey. It is located at the Gulf of İzmit in the Sea of Marmara, about east of Is ...
officially ending the persecutions.


Edict of Toleration by Galerius

Since the fall of the
Severan dynasty The Severan dynasty was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened to ''Romans'', a letter in the New Tes ...
in AD 235, rivals for the imperial throne had bid for support by either favouring or persecuting Christians. The
Edict of Toleration by Galerius The Edict of Serdica, also called Edict of Toleration by Galerius, was issued in 311 in Serdica (now Sofia, Bulgaria) by Roman Emperor Galerius. It officially ended the Diocletianic persecution of Christianity in the East, but the persecution was ...
had been issued by the emperor
Galerius Gaius Galerius Valerius Maximianus (; c. 258 – May 311) was from 305 to 311. During his reign he campaigned, aided by , against the , sacking their capital in 299. He also campaigned across the against the , defeating them in 297 and 300. ...

Galerius
from
Serdica Serdika or Serdica is the historical Roman Roman or Romans usually refers to: *Rome, the capital city of Italy *Ancient Rome, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *Roman people, the people of ancient Rome *''Epistle to the Rom ...
and was posted at
Nicomedia Nicomedia (; el, Νικομήδεια, ''Nikomedeia''; modern İzmit İzmit () is a district and the central district of Kocaeli Province, Kocaeli province, Turkey. It is located at the Gulf of İzmit in the Sea of Marmara, about east of Is ...
on 30 April 311. By its provisions, Christians who had "followed such a caprice and had fallen into such a folly that they would not obey the institutes of antiquity", were granted an indulgence.


Text of the Edict of Milan

The actual letters have never been retrieved. However, they are quoted at length in
Lactantius Lucius Caecilius Firmianus Lactantius (c. 250 – c. 325) was an early Christian author who became an advisor to Roman emperor, Constantine I, guiding his Christian religious policy in its initial stages of emergence, and a tutor to his son Crisp ...

Lactantius
's ''On the Deaths of the Persecutors'' (''De mortibus persecutorum''), which gives the Latin text of both Galerius's edict of toleration as posted at Nicomedia on 30 April 311 and of Licinius's letter of toleration and restitution addressed to the governor of Bithynia and posted at Nicomedia on 13 June 313. The latter states:
Eusebius Eusebius of Caesarea (; grc-gre, Εὐσέβιος τῆς Καισαρείας, ''Eusébios tés Kaisareías''; AD 260/265 – 339/340), also known as Eusebius Pamphili (from the grc-gre, Εὐσέβιος τοῦ Παμϕίλου) ...

Eusebius
of Caesarea translated both documents into Greek in his ''History of the Church'' ('' Historia Ecclesiastica''). His version of the letter of Licinius must derive from a copy posted in the province of
Palaestina Prima Palæstina Prima or Palaestina I was a Byzantine The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, ...
(probably at its capital,
Caesarea Caesarea () (, he, קֵיסָרְיָה), ''Keysariya'' or ''Qesarya'', often simplified to Keisarya, and Qaysaria, is a town in north-central Israel, which inherits its name and much of its territory from the ancient city of Caesarea Maritima ...

Caesarea
) in the late summer or early autumn of 313, but the origin of his copy of Galerius's edict of 311 is unknown since that does not seem to have been promulgated in Caesarea. In his description of the events in Milan in his ''
Life of Constantine ''Life of Constantine the Great'' ( grc-gre, Βίος Μεγάλου Κωνσταντίνου; la, Vita Constantini) is a panegyric A panegyric ( or ) is a formal public speech, or (in later use) written verse, delivered in high praise of a person ...

Life of Constantine
'', Eusebius eliminated the role of Licinius, whom he portrayed as the evil foil to his hero Constantine. The Edict of Milan was in effect directed against
Maximinus Daia Galerius Valerius Maximinus, also known as Daza ( 270 – July 313), was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different titles thr ...
, the Caesar in the East who was at that time styling himself as Augustus. Having received the emperor Galerius' instruction to repeal the persecution in 311, Maximinus had instructed his subordinates to desist, but had not released Christians from prisons or virtual death-sentences in the mines, as Constantine and Licinius had both done in the West.Inscription printed in Stevenson, J. ''A New Eusebius'' SPCK 1965, p. 297 Following Galerius' death, Maximinus was no longer constrained; he enthusiastically took up renewed persecutions in the eastern territories under his control, encouraging petitions against Christians. One of those petitions, addressed not only to Maximinus but also to Constantine and Licinius, is preserved in a stone inscription at Arycanda in Lycia, and is a "request that the Christians, who have long been disloyal and still persist in the same mischievous intent, should at last be put down and not be suffered by any absurd novelty to offend against the honour due to the gods." The edict is popularly thought to concern only Christianity, and even to make Christianity the official religion of the Empire (which did not occur until the
Edict of Thessalonica The Edict of Thessalonica (also known as ''Cunctos populos''), issued on 27 February AD 380 by three reigning Roman emperors The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βα ...
in 380). Indeed, the Edict expressly grants religious liberty not only to Christians, who had been the object of special persecution, but goes even further and grants liberty to all religions: Since Licinius composed the edict with the intent of publishing it in the east upon his hoped-for victory over Maximinus, it expresses the religious policy accepted by Licinius, a pagan, rather than that of Constantine, who was already a Christian. Constantine's own policy went beyond merely tolerating Christianity: he tolerated paganism and other religions, but he actively promoted Christianity.


Religious statement

Although the Edict of Milan is commonly presented as Constantine's first great act as a Christian emperor, it is disputed whether the Edict of Milan was an act of genuine faith. The document could be seen as Constantine's first step in creating an alliance with the Christian God, who he considered the strongest deity. At that time, he was concerned about social stability and the protection of the empire from the wrath of the Christian God: in this view, the edict could be a pragmatic political decision rather than a religious shift. However, the majority of historians believe that Constantine's conversion to Christianity was genuine, and that the Edict of Milan was merely the first official act of Constantine as a dedicated Christian. This view is supported by Constantine's ongoing favors on behalf of Christianity during the rest of his reign.


Peace of the Church

Galerius' earlier edict did nothing to restore the confiscated property of Christians. It was left to the Edict of Milan to do this. Instructions were given for Christians' meeting places and other properties to be returned and compensation paid by the state to the current owners: It directed the provincial magistrates to execute this order at once with all energy so that public order may be restored and the continuance of divine favour may "preserve and prosper our successes together with the good of the state." Constantine ordered that the restitution should be at the expense of the State. For Christians, the immunities and guaranties contained in this act had most important results. For the first time, it became possible to observe publicly the liturgy in its fullness, and seriously and earnestly to attempt to mould the life of the empire according to Christian ideals and standards. The joy of the Christians at this change in their public status is expressed by Eusebius in his "Church History" (X, ii). This period of Church history is also known as the "Peace of the Church". Eusebius says that it stated: "it has pleased us to remove all conditions whatsoever.""Paul Halsall, “Galerius and Constantine: Edicts of Toleration 311/313,” Fordham University
Fordham.edu
Internet, accessed 13 October 2014.
The edict further demanded that individual Romans right any wrongs towards Christians: "...the same shall be restored to the Christians without payment or any claim of recompense and without any kind of fraud or deception." While this provided restorative justice for Christians, the motivation for the provision was stated to be that the "…public order may be secured". The exhortation to right historic wrongs may also reflect the leaders' desires to avoid unfavorable consequences such as social unrest and further conquests. Koszarycz says that Constantine was superstitious and believed enough in the existence of the non-Christian gods to not want to offset the balance of good and evil. It was believed that, the sooner this balance was restored by the Romans establishing a state of justice with the Christians, the sooner the state would become stable. The term "Peace of the Church" is also applied in
England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest of England and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. E ...

England
and
Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel (Great Britain and Ireland), North Channel, the Irish Sea ...

Ireland
to the ending of persecution that followed the Acts of Catholic Emancipation (1778–1926). In Germany, it is also applied to life after the
Kulturkampf ''Kulturkampf'' (, 'culture struggle') was the conflict that took place from 1872 to 1878 between the government of the Kingdom of Prussia The Kingdom of Prussia (german: Königreich Preußen) was a German Monarchy, kingdom that constituted th ...
.


See also

*
Constantine the Great and Christianity During the reign of the Roman Emperor The Roman Emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the History of the Roman Empire, imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different titles throughout history. Often wh ...
*
Constantinian shift ''Battle of the Milvian Bridge'', Raphael, Vatican Rooms. The artist depicted the troops of Constantine bearing the ''labarum''. Constantinian shift is used by some Christian theology, theologians and Ancient history, historians of antiquity to des ...
*
Edict of tolerationAn edict of toleration is a declaration, made by a government or ruler, and states that members of a given religion will not be persecuted for engaging in their religious practices and traditions. The edict implies tacit acceptance of the religion ra ...
*
Edict of Thessalonica The Edict of Thessalonica (also known as ''Cunctos populos''), issued on 27 February AD 380 by three reigning Roman emperors The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βα ...
*
Peace of God The Peace and Truce of God ( lat, Pax et treuga Dei) was a movement in the Middle Ages led by the Catholic Church and the first mass peace movement in history. The goal of both the ''Pax Dei'' and the ''Treuga Dei'' was to limit the violence of fe ...


References


External links


Galerius and Constantine's Edicts of Toleration 311 and 313
from the ''Medieval Sourcebook'' (Lactantius's version of the Edict)

* ttp://wadsworth.com/history_d/special_features/ilrn_legacy/wawc1c01c/content/wciv1/readings/eusebius.html Imperial Decrees of Constantinefrom Eusebius's ''Ecclesiastical History''. {{Authority control Constantine the Great and Christianity
Milan Milan (, , Milanese: ; it, Milano ) is a city in northern Italy, capital of Lombardy, and the List of cities in Italy, second-most populous city proper in Italy after Rome. The city proper has a population of about 1.4 million, while its ...
Diocletianic Persecution
Christian terminology Words or phrases used to refer to concepts associated with Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings o ...
History of Milan
Roman law {{CatAutoTOC, numerals=no Law in ancient history Ancient Rome, Law Indo-European law, Roman Law by former country ...
Religion law Human rights Freedom of religion 313 310s in the Roman Empire 4th-century Christianity 4th century in law