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Roman Rulers – Byzantine Kings

The Romans invaded England in 43 AD and continued ruling for the next four hundred years.

Who were the Byzantine Kings in Roman Britain?

Emperor Constantine the Great

Statue of Constantine the Great outside York Minster

Constantine the Great is also known a Constantine I. He was the Roman Emperor from 306 AD to 337 AD. The city of Constantinople is named after him. His birth name was Gaius Flavius Valerius Constantinus and he was born in Serbia between 272 AD to 285 AD. The exact time of his birth is unknown. Due to his father, he spent nearly half of his life in the imperial court. He himself grew up to be a high ranking officer. He was known for being extremely proactive and energetic.

Constantine campaigned in Britain with his father. On account of his valor, he earned the title of Britannicus Maximus all over the Roman Empire. He built a reputation before his father’s death. He is known for the incident where he threw Frankish Kings in the amphitheater to lions to feed on. He gained the respect of the army and the Roman Senate. The war in Britain was a success. He also invaded Italy and won the conquest.

It is believed that during the Battle of Milvian Bridge Constantine had a dream and Christ appeared to him. The next day there were banners with a cross that indicated the support toward Christianity. After the victory in this battle, the Roman empire was declared Christian. His mother was also a devout Christian. Originally, he was the worshipper of the sun god. All paganism was eliminated from the Roman Empire. Pagan sacrifices were not allowed anymore. All the temple treasure was seized and brought to the palace. There were no crucifixions done anymore as the Romans practiced.

Constantine was accompanied by his son Constantius II and together they defeated the Goths in 332 AD. In the year 337, he fell extremely ill and died a natural death. His rule lasted for 31 years which is one of the largest in the history of the Roman Empire. He is buried at the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople – a city named after him. His legacy remains in his various constructions and the fact that he helped widespread Christianity.

His son Constantius II inherited the throne of the Roman Empire after the death of Constantine.

Emperor Constantius II

A preserved statue of Roman Emperor Constantius II

Constantius II ruled for 24 years after the death of his father in 337 AD. He inherited the throne in 337 AD. He is known for the massive slaughter of his cousins and uncles. He was after securing the province of Constantinople which was one of the most significant and wealthy estates in the Roman Empire.

He is known for building the internal stability of the Roman Empire. He is also known for his strategic thinking ability. He was a young boy during the reign of Diocletian and his father Constantine which is why his administrative skills have been proved to be excellent. He was adamant on the idea of expansion of the empire rather than administration and politics within the empire. He also stuck to the policy of safeguarding Rome at all times.

He has handled many internal threats against Vertanio, Magnentius, and Caesar Gallus and Julian who openly rebelled against him before his death. He was also the first Roman Emperor to gain victory in a civil war. This could be possible due to his strategic thinking and executing abilities.

In religious matters, he is believed to have been a follower of Arianism Christianity where he did not promote the concept of the trinity in Christianity and rather believed that Jesus Christ was a powerful Son of God. However, he did not make any reforms to Christianity as such. The rules were the same as they were set by his father and hence, not much change came in the administrative part of the Roman empire as the effects of the changes in administration and religion went hand in hand.

He remodeled the Church of the Holy Apostles and also made improvements in the water supply system in Rome. Paganism was looked down on and the people practicing any paganism were persecuted. Constantius died of illness in the year 361 AD. He was on a battle with Caesar and Julian at the time but could not complete the battle.

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