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Sunday, April 20, 2014

The History of the Paschal Lamb

Agnus Dei
As I discussed in my article on the Generalissimo, the jewel of this officer is the "square, surmounted by a paschal Lamb." As we learn in Freemasonry, the lamb is an emblem of innocence, and for Christians the lamb represents Jesus Christ, the Blessed Savior.

The word 'paschal' comes from Latin 'paschalis' via the Hebrew word "pesah" which relates to the Passover, and the first known use of 'paschal' was in the 15th century, an can sometimes be referred to as the Holy Lamb or Agnus Dei. Traditionally during the Jewish Passover a lamb was sacrificed. This reminds of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God (Agnus Dei) who was sacrificed to save mankind. Christ willingly chose to obey the will of God, the Father. Christ was referred to as the Lamb of God in the Gospel of John when the Baptist exclaimed, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." (John 1:29) For which reasons the Paschal Lamb is emblematic of Christ who sacrificed so much for the salvation of mankind.


The Paschal Lamb should not be confused with the "scapegoat" which was punished for the sins of others; it was not an agent of salvation. The sacrifice of a lamb during the Jewish Passover comes from the Torah which mandates that on the eve of Passover a lamb be slain and then eaten of the first night of the holiday with herbs and matzo (unleavened bread or bread without yeast). This tradition stems from when it was offered the night the Jews left Egypt, which was thought not to occur again until they settled into Israel. The feast was important to remember end of Jewish slavery. Often the sacrifice was a male lamb about one year of age. There were rules on who could participate and other rituals surrounding the sacrifice.


The lamb is a symbol seen in Craft Masonry as well as other degrees such as the Order of the Temple who uses Christian iconography. The Lamb of God is often depicted like the image above where the lamb is a symbol of Christ; the cross, of His passion; and the banner of His victory over death and hell. Let us remember the lessons of Masonry and the sacrifices of our Beloved Savior. Happy Easter everyone!

References

1. Kneckt, F. (n.d.). The Paschal Lamb and Jesus. Retrieved from Traditional Catholic Teaching: http://traditionalcatholicteaching.com/appendix-the-paschal-lamb-and-jesus.html

2. Lamb of God. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lamb_of_God

3. Masonic Lamb. (n.d.). Retrieved from Masonic Lodge of Education: http://www.masonic-lodge-of-education.com/masonic-lamb.html

4. Newell, B. E. (2011, November 11). My Station and Places: Generalissimo. Retrieved from Traveling Templar: http://www.travelingtemplar.com/2011/11/my-station-and-places-generalissimo.html

5. Paschal. (2013). Retrieved from Online Etymology Dictionary: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=paschal

6. Paschal mystery. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paschal_mystery

7. Passover Sacrifice. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korban_Pesach 

8. Thompson, I. J. (2002, February). Spiritual Meaning of Lamb. Retrieved from Bible Meanings: http://www.biblemeanings.info/Words/Animal/Lamb.htm

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Initiated into the KYCH

Today was the first day of the 2014 Grand York Rite of Idaho which consists of conferring the honorary bodies of Order of High Priesthood, Order of Silver Trowel, Order of Knights Preceptor, and Knights of the York Cross of Honor.

I had the pleasure of being initiated into Idaho Priory #13 of the Knights of the York Cross of Honor (or commonly referred to as the KYCH). The KYCH is an invitational body for those who have served as Worshipful Master of a Blue Lodge, High Priest of a Royal Arch Chapter, Illustrious Master of a Council of Cryptic Masons, and a Commandery of Knights Templar. The ritual is not long, but impressive and informative. The KYCH is considered by many to be the highest honor that can be awarded within the York Rite of Freemasonry.

Now I have to get ready as the Grand Council is presiding over the public opening and joint session of the Grand York Rite tomorrow.


Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Palm Sunday Poem

I hope everyone enjoys this Palm Sunday and remembers the triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem. This day is also referred to as Passion Sunday, and it is the sixth and last Sunday of Lent which marks the first day of Holy Week; the week leading to the crucifixion of Christ.

It is referred to Palm Sunday as the crowds greeted Christ by waving palm branches and covering his path with palm branches as well as garments. As he passed by the people sang "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. We bless you from the house of the Lord" which is a portion of Psalm 118:25-26.
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.-- Zechariah 9:9
The donkey was, in Eastern traditions, an animal of peace. In comparison, riding upon a horse was a symbol of war. For Jesus to enter Jerusalem on a donkey symbolized his entry as the Prince of Peace. In ancient days, it was customary the path of someone who was worthy of high honor and the Gospel of John specifies that it was palm branches that were cast on the path before Christ. During the times of the Roman Empire, the palm branch symbolized triumph and victory. For the Egyptians, the palm was carried during funeral processions and represented eternal life. With Christianity, the palm branch became a symbol of martyrs and their spiritual victory over death. In Revelation 7:9, the white-clad multitude stands before the throne and Lamb holding palm branches.


The Donkey
by G.K. Chesterton

When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born;
With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil’s walking parody
On all four-footed things.
The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.Fools!
For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

John Theophilus Desaguliers: Father of Modern Speculative Freemasonry

Less known to most American Freemasons, Desaguliers was the son of a Huguenot clergyman and was born in La Rochelle, France, on March 12th, 1683. Desaguliers was a French-born English philosopher who would grow to be known as an icon in the early revival of Freemasonry of the 18th century and, according to Albert Mackey, "to whom, perhaps, more than any other person, is the present Grand Lodge of England indebted for its existence."

In 1598, Henry IV of France issued the Edict of Nantes which reinstated civil rights and legal status to Calvinist Protestants (or known as Huguenots) of France who were seen by the Catholic community as heretics. This edict ended the religious wars that had torn up France, but, in 1685, this edict was revoked by Louis XIV, grandson of Henry IV, which caused an exodus of Protestants due to the persecution and strained relations with Protestant nations. It was during this exodus that Desaguliers and his family moved to England.

He was educated at Christ Church, Oxford, becoming known as a philosopher and lecturer, and earned a Bachelors and Doctorate of Law. He was also a member of the Royal Society of London where he received the Society's highest honor, the Copley Medal, several times. He was a reputed scientist and inventor, one of the Copley Medals being for his discovering of the properties of electricity. He is also said to have invented the planetarium.

In 1712, he married Joanna Pudsey and together they had 4-sons and 3-daughters, though only 2-sons survived beyond infancy. The next year he moved to Westminster where he continued to lecture on experimental philosophy and drew the attention of Isaac Newton under whom Desaguliers. He was also a man of the cloth and served the Duke of Chandos as his Chaplain.

In Freemasonry, little is known before he served as the first Grand Lodge as Grand Master in 1719, Deputy Grand Master in 1723 and 1725; it is most likely that he was initiated in one of the four founding Lodges of London, but no proof exists to prove or disprove the theories of his initiation. Brother George Maine, under the Grand Lodge of Washington, stated in 1939 that Desaguliers provided strong leadership in a time of political strife and dissension, and brought the life needed for the prosperity of Freemasonry. Desaguliers wrote most of the ritual, according to Brother Maine, and here we see the use of the "Great Architect of the Universe" (and other variations).

He was known to collect early Masonic manuscripts and though Dr. Anderson is credited for the first Constitution, it was compiled under the supervision of Desaguliers; being a collector it is likely that he furnished Dr. Anderson with the documentation needed to publish the Constitution which immortalized his name. It was also under his governance as Grand Master that older members began to attend Lodge again and many noblemen were initiated into the order. Freemasonry became a trend and noblemen began to flock to Freemasonry; the Grand Masters started being chosen among these nobles and the trends started by Desaguliers could have possibly inspired Ramsay to give his famous oration which I believe was a way to sell Freemasonry to the French aristocracy. Desaguliers was a notable scientist, educator, minister, writer, lecturer, experimenter, civil engineer, doctor of laws, and physicist who had become well known for his lectures, and so had credibility and legitimacy which he took with him to Freemasonry. This strong leadership given by Desaguliers in this early Grand Lodge and the initiation of men of importance catapulted around the globe.

He is also attributed with starting the line of charity that would eventually develop into the Fund of Benevolence. He was important in the spread of Freemasonry around Europe. One notable case was he served as Master of a Lodge in Holland where he initiated Francis I, Duke of Lorraine, later to become Emperor of Austria. The last record of his Masonic career was on February 5th, 1742; two years prior to his death.

Desaguliers had long suffered from gout every winter, and died after several months of severe illness at his home in the Bedford Coffee House, Covent Garden, London, on February 29th, 1744. From his service as Grand Master, ritual reformation, and his collections of Masonic documents, Freemasonry emerged as a reputable institution and is truly indebted to him.

References

1. Desaguliers. (n.d.). Retrieved from The Masonic Trowel: http://www.themasonictrowel.com/masonic_talk/stb/stbs/36-05.htm

2. Edict of Nantes. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edict_of_Nantes 

3. John Theophilus Desaguliers. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Theophilus_Desaguliers

4. John Theophilus Desaguliers. (n.d.). Retrieved from Grand Lodge of BC&Y: http://freemasonry.bcy.ca/biography/desaguliers_j/desaguliers_j.html

5. Mackey, A. G. (n.d.). John Theophilus Desaguliers. Retrieved from Masonic Dictionary: http://www.masonicdictionary.com/desaguliers.html

6. Maine, G. E. (1939, June). Desaguliers and The March of Militant Masonry. Retrieved from Freemasonry 101: http://www.freemasonry101.com/history-freemasonry/historical-essays/john-desaguliers/

7. Berman, R. A. (2010). The Architects of Eighteenth Century English Freemasonry, 1720 – 1740. Exeter, UK. Retrieved from https://ore.exeter.ac.uk/repository/bitstream/handle/10036/2999/BermanR.pdf

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Chough

Today marks 1-year since I was initiated into the Commemorative Order of St. Thomas of Acon. The meet was quick with an exemplification of the ritual and I was asked to be Secretary for my Chapel. I look forward to this experience as this is my first Secretary position within a Masonic organization.

The history of this order is named after Thomas a Becket who was assassinated at the order of King Henry II and was a knighthood started in the crusades. Today order is headquartered out of England with provincial bodies around the world, the largest being the US. Knights wear a mantle and tunic, both of whom are white, with a red cross superimposed by a white cross, and ornamented with an escallop shell. For those knights who have performed the pilgrimage to the Canterbury Cathedral, a knight is entitled to wear the Badge of a Pilgrim on the right shoulder of the mantle. The Badge of a Pilgrim is three coughs upon a shield, two and one; the Choughs are black with red feet and beaks.

The Red-billed Chough is far strung bird as it breeds in the United Kingdom, Southern Europe, the Mediterranean, the Alps, and in some areas throughout Central Asia. It prefers to live in high mountains, but has also been spotted along coastal cliffs during breeding season. Etymologically the word chough is a combination of "ċēo" (an Old English word used to describe a jay, crow, and jackdaw) and "ceahhe" (an Old English word for daw)

The Chough makes an appearance in Greek mythology as well as Arthurian mythology. In the Grecian mythology, the Chough is known as the "sea-crow" and was considered sacred by the Titan Cronus and was said to be an inhabitant of Calypso's Blessed Island. In Cornish legend, King Arthur did not die after his last battle, but transformed into a Red-billed Chough. The legs and beak were red in memory of the last battle and, for which reason, killing a Chough was considered extremely unlucky.

I hope one day to make my pilgrimage to Canterbury Cathedral and earn this badge. I look forward to what experiences I will have in this chivalric order. Now to go through the transition period. [dramatic music]

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Ye Antiente Order of Corks

At the Masonic Week held each year around the DC area there are many degrees and honors conferred and bestowed. One of those that I attended was Ye Antient Order of Corks, often referred to as "The Corks". This degree is considered to be a fun and social degree. This group is open to Master Masons who have also advanced through the Royal Arch or have served as Warden or Master of a Blue Lodge.

The name and principle logo of the order is a cork stopper seen primarily with wine bottles, and is often seen with a corkscrew inserted at an angle. Members are required to carry a cork in their pockets and if requested by another member need to be able to produce it on demand. If one is incapable to produce the cork, then he must pay a fine, which can be paid to the Treasurer of his Lodge to be used for charitable purposes.

It is unsure where the ceremony of this degree originated, but what records do exist are in the hands of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons of England. This however does not prove that the degree originated with this body, only that the records are currently in their possession. The ritual today is a satirical in nature and based around the era of Noah and the great flood. The intent is for members to have some fun while raising money for children's charities.

Titles of the officers vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In England the titles have a naval twist, but in America the Corks fall under the Allied Masonic Degrees and have two head officers: Grand Bung of the Americas and Grand Bung of the USA. These two are assisted by other appointed officers. While this body is open to those who meet the above mentioned requirements, it falls under the authority of the Allied Masonic Degrees in the USA.

References

1. Hochberg, J. (2014, February 19). Appendant Bodies. Retrieved from The Masonic Trowel: http://www.themasonictrowel.com/Articles/apendent_bodies/general/appendant_bodies.htm

2. Ye Ancient Order of Corks. (n.d.). Retrieved from Allied Masonic Degrees: http://www.alliedmasonicdegrees.org/cork.htm

3. Ye Antient Order of Noble Corks. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ye_Antient_Order_of_Noble_Corks

4. Ye Antiente Order of Corks. (n.d.). Retrieved from Grand Council of the Allied Masonic Degrees of the USA: http://www.allied-masonicdegrees.org/corks/

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Jacques De Molay - 700 Years Later


Today marks the 700th anniversary since the day the last Grand Master, Jacques De Molay of the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon was burned alive by order of the tyrant, King Phillip of France.


The Templars were famously arrested in France on iday, October 13th, 1307. Many were tortured and killed, to include the Grand Master, but after 7-years the commission of Cardinals decided for lifelong imprisonment. The Grand Master, and some of his senior officers, were paraded around in public by the French King, but in one last act of defiance the Grand Master and officers declared they were only guilty of betraying their Order by giving into torture and confessing to these false charges. The King was so enraged by it all that he did not wait for Papal approval, but isntead pronounced that De Molay and De Charney were relapsed heretics to be burnt at the stake. A pyre was set up on a small island on the Seine near Notre Dame. From my article 2012 article on Jacques De Molay I briefly discusses the manner in which he was murdered:
Contrary to the belief of the conventional "burning stake/pyre", it could not have been a stake with wood and accelerant at the base as the victim would die within minutes from asphyxiation. The fire and heat would rise and the flames would be swallowed, burning the lungs, and soon filling with fluid thereby causing asphyxiation. For De Molay to have lasted for a while and slowly burn, it would have required a pyre built by a stake in the center with a ring of fire, most likely hot coals, around it (think of the point within a circle as a diagram), which would cause an oven effect cooking him slowly and burning him from the feet up.
Before yielding his life to the flame, cursed the Pope and King, saying his and his fellow's deaths would be avenged, and that both, the Pope and the King, would join him in the Afterlife. The end of of De Molay and the end of the Templars has been the beginning of many conspiracy theories and stories that survive to this day.

Let us remember this man and all who lost their lives by the hands of tyrants and remember the warnings against fanaticism and fascism that this event teaches us.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Get out your green and grab a beer! It's St. Patrick's Day! Although favored as a day of drinking and celebration, this day is rooted in a Feast Day for Saint Patrick of Ireland to remember this historical figure and the introduction of Christianity into Ireland.

Saint Patrick was a Romano-British Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland, who also is referred to as the "Apostle of Ireland", and is one of Ireland's Patron Saints. He was born around 387 AD, depending on the source, in either England or Scotland, and lived until around 460 AD; it is mostly commonly believed that he died on March 17th for which reason this day is celebrated as a holiday.

Much of his early life is unknown, but from two authenticated letters, referred to as Confessio and Epistola, from Patrick that state some details about his life. He was born to Calpurnius and Conchessa who were Romans living in Britain. When he was 16-years old, he was captured from his home in England by pagan raiders and taken to Ireland where he would serve for 6-years as a slave before escaping and returning to his family. He would eventually become a cleric with the Roman Catholic Church and return to Ireland as an ordained Bishop around 432 AD.

By the time of the 7th century he would be revered as the Patron Saint of Ireland. The rest of his life is available through sources that are highly debated as they sometimes speak about two Patricks. Some theories suggest that Patrick was known as Palladius who was sent to Ireland to ensure the exiled Pelagians (a Christian sect that denied Original Sin) did not reestablish themselves among the Irish Christians and minister to the existing Christian communities.

Going back to the two letters of Patrick, the Confessio or Declaration is the more important of the two. It gives an account of some of his early life. He was born in Roman controlled Britain (although Rome would fall in a few decades) in an area called Banna Venta Berniae; the actual location is not known today, but is thought to be in Cumbria. This letter states that his father was named Calpornius who was a Deacon and his grandfather, Potitus, was a priest; at this time the Church did not prohibit priests from marrying or having kids. The letter continues with his captivity in Ireland where he served as a herdsman and his faith grew. He attributes his escape to divine assistance through a vision he had:
I saw a man coming, as it were from Ireland. His name was Victoricus, and he carried many letters, and he gave me one of them. I read the heading: "The Voice of the Irish". As I began the letter, I imagined in that moment that I heard the voice of those very people who were near the wood of Foclut, which is beside the western sea—and they cried out, as with one voice: "We appeal to you, holy servant boy, to come and walk among us."
Much of the rest of this document surrounds charges levied against him accusing him of financial impropriety (taking gifts and being paid for his ecclesiastical duties) and of course he denied these charges. He also speaks of his missionary work where he converted many, even some of the wealthy classes who still held on to their pagan roots.

Christian priests were not protected and often were beaten, robbed, arrested, and executed for exercising their duties. A clan chieftain attempted to kill him, but through his piety he won the pagan over which is said to be near Erin. This place is said to have been location to the first sanctuary dedicated by St. Patrick. This sanctuary would be a common retreat for St. Patrick and a church and monastery that was later built there. Today this place is known as Sabhall or Saul.

The second letter known as the Epistola, or Letter to the Soldiers of Coroticus, opens with a declaration of Saint Patrick stating that he has excommunicated Coroticus because he had put into slavery many of Patrick's converts. Coroticus is believed to be King Ceretic of Alt Clut (modern Dumbarton in the West-Central lowlands of Scotland); although this is contested. Some believe that this letter is what provoked the charges spoken in the other letter.

Although the theory of two Patrick's causes confusion, modern historians believed that the man that would be known as Saint Patrick died on March 17th, 460 AD in Saul. It is believed, but never proven, that he is buried at Down Cathedral in Downpatrick, County Down (NE Ireland, UK).

Neither of the two letters that give details of his life gives dates, but the information therein contained can be dated. Other annals were written, but some of them were either based off of older writings or lost writings so their information cannot be verified or authenticated. Some give the name Cothirtacus which translates eventually into Patricius. Some writings portray him as a martial figure battling against pagans and false idols, but some of these writings contradict his own letters.

As I stated above, Saint Patrick was considered the "Apostle of Ireland" as he is credited with teaching the Irish about the Holy Trinity by showing the people the shamrock which he used to illustrate the Christian teachings of 3 persons in one God. This is why the shamrock is a primary symbol on St. Patrick's Day. The shamrock was used in Ireland prior to St. Patrick's adaption by many of the older polytheistic religions.

Ireland is well-known for there being no snakes present. Legend has risen to credit St. Patrick with this phenomenon. According to legend, he chased the snakes into the sea after he was attacked during a 40-day fasting. However, it is seen that Ireland never had snakes due to its climate and location in the world. Some believe theorize that the legend is allegorical in that snakes were seen as symbols for druids and that by bringing and spreading the message of Christ, he "banished the snakes from the island".

This Feast Day was officially recognized by the Catholic Church in the early 17th century, though it was celebrated much earlier by the Irish. It used to be common practice for people to wear a cross (often made of paper) on St. Patrick's Day; the most common cross associated with St. Patrick was the cross pattée. Originally the color most associated with St. Patrick was blue, but over the years the color green became associated with this Saint, most likely due to the shamrock and St. Patricks use of it to spread religious teachings among the natives. It has grown today to wearing green clothing.

St. Patrick has resonated greatly within the Irish culture ranging from traditional folklore and legends to a patriotic and national symbol, particularly in Catholic Ireland. A variety of parades and celebrations are performed on this day, and I hope everyone enjoys this day.

References

1. Moran, P.F. (1911). St. Patrick. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved March 15, 2014 from New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11554a.htm

2. Saint Patrick. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Patrick

3. St. Patrick. (n.d.). Retrieved from Catholic Online: http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=89

4. Saint Patrick's Day. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Patrick's_Day

5. St. Patrick. (n.d.). Retrieved from Biography: http://www.biography.com/people/st-patrick-9434729

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Initiate

By Bernard Sexton

A youth who tracked unspoken mysteries
Worshipping beauty in a lost retreat,
Saw the vast inarticulate wonder of the world
And watching from a high, star-drenched, ultimate crag
He cried aloud to the vast unhearing hills, he spoke to Masters unseen--
"Power I would have of the swinging glory of words and the rushing wonder of song!" 

Thereat a wild wandering music drifted as wind thru his soul,
And he felt the dim virginal rhythms within, unperceived and unmated with words.

Yearning he leaned to that swift-flowing life, asking a share in its birth,
Praying the Makers of Wonder, the Weavers of Dream that he share with the wandering earth,
Her making of beauty and love--her envisioning palpitant life
As she moves thru the marvelling stars with her burden of sorrow and song.

Then a voice spoke aloud in his dreams where he fell in his fasting. It moved
The deeps of his soul as the moon moves the tides till it stirred the lost music of dreams. 

He awoke, and his face was alight with a reddening dawn in the east; 
In his heart was a song of the wonder of life, and the words at his calling 
Came flocking like birds from the marshes of sleep--then he knew 
That the Earth-Mother spoke with his voice. He went down to the valley still singing.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Constantine the Great


As a Knight Companion of the Red Cross of Constantine, we learn about the background of the Emperor Constantine and the story behind his famous conversion to Christianity. He was the first Emperor to convert to Christianity and was a major turning point in the history of Christianity. Please be aware that some points of his life may vary depending on the source.

The Emperor Constantine was also known as Constantine the Great, Constantine I, and Saint Constantine, but his full name in Latin was Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus. Constantine and would serve as a Roman Emperor from 306 AD until his death in 337 AD. He was born into an unstable and divided empire. He was born on the 27th of February in 272 AD in what is now Niš, Serbia. His father, Constantius, was a Roman officer as part of Emperor Aurelian's imperial bodyguard and would eventually be elevated to Governor of Dalmatia from Emperor Diocletian. Diocletian in 285 declared that Maximian, a friend, would serve as "co-emperor" (or Augustus) and each Emperor would have his own court, military, and administration. Maximian ruled from what is now Milan (Italy) or Trier (Germany) while Diocletian served from Nicomedia (or what is now Izmit, Turkey). This Empire was still considered as one, but needed two Emperors to control the vast expanse.

In 293, Diocletian further complicated the matter by appointing two Caesars, or lesser Emperor's, to rule under the Augusti (plural form of Augustus). This system would become to be known as the "Tetrarchy" or "Leadership of Four". Diocletian's reasoning behind this was that the Roman Empire had grown so large that it needed to be divided up to better control and manage the lands as they had of late started falling into ruin from lack of control and maintenance. The two Caesars chosen were Galerius and Constantius. Even though the Caesar title was an appointed position not hereditary, Constantine was already being eyed to take his father's place upon his death.

Constantine was sent to the Court of Diocletian where he received a formal education in Latin literature, Greek, and philosophy. While this life was beneficial to Constantine he was probably hostage of Diocletian to ensure the loyalty of his father to the Augustus. Constantine would prove himself by fighting in Asia, the Danube region, Syria, and Mesopotamia. By 305 AD he was established a prominent member of the court and had become a Tribune of the First Order. Diocletian resigned in the spring of 305 AD because of lingering sickness and around the same time, Maximian resigned as well. There is debate as to the real motivation of their resignations, but we cannot know for sure by any current records. Constantius and Galerius were promoted to Augusti and everyone believed that Constantine and Maxentius (some of Maximian) would be promoted to Caesar, but they were not and Severus and Maximin took the positions; some believe that Galerius feared Constantine and made attempts on his life and forced Diocletian not to promote him. Eventually his father would ask for Constantine to lead a campaign in Britain and remove him from the grip of Galerius. During this campaign in Britain, Constantine's father became sick and died in the summer of 306 AD at Ebucarum (known today as York). Prior to his death he had given his support to his son being elevated to Augustus and those troops loyal to his father consented.

Upon notice though Galerius stated that he would only elevate Constantine to Caesar and Constantine accepted, probably realizing that his legitimacy may be questioned if he rocked the boat and thus started his career as a Roman Emperor. His original share consisted of Britain, Gual, and Spain, and commanded one of the largest armies in the Roman Empire. After completing some military projects he headed for Trier and help drive the Franks back who recently had invaded the lands. He fortified Trier and built a palace for himself there. He would also start many construction projects around Gaul. He also implemented more tolerant policies to the Christian within his lands, though he was not yet Christian.

During this time, Maxentius grew jealous of Constantine and in the fall of 306 AD took upon himself the title of Emperor. Galerius did not recognize Maxentius' authority and sent Severus against him, but most of the troops defected to Maxentius as they had previously served under his father. Maximian came out of retirement to meet with Constantine in 307 and offered him his daughter, Fausta, as well as the promise to promote him to Augusta. In return Constantine would give his support to Maxentius. To all of this he accepted. His support was purely political as he was not directly involved in the conflict for power and remained on his lands, which increased his popularity with the people. Galerius tried to use coercion to demote Constantine from his newly granted Augustus to Caesar, but Constantine held onto the title.

As a sign of the turbulent times, in 310 AD, Maximian would turn on Constantine and tried to convince people he was dead so he could retake up the mantle as Emperor, but most didn't believe him and he was forced to flee. Constantine learning of the conspiracy marched on what is now Marseille to capture Maximian. He accomplished this goal as the citizens were loyal to Constantine and opened the gates when the army approached. Maximian would, with some supposed encouragement, hang himself in the summer of 310 AD. The death of Maximian would fuel the propaganda fires for Maxentius and also posed a problem of legitimacy for Constantine as it was by Maximian that he derived his tile of Augustus from. Whether true or not, stories started to spread that Constantine could tie his family line back to Emperor Claudius II. Orators started saying that Constantine was divinely inspired by Apollo, versus previous uses of either Jupiter or Hercules. The orations worked and his popularity with the people increased, particularly in Gaul.

In 311 AD, Galerius died and soon successors were mobilizing against each other, but Licinius is the victor. Maxentius was preparing for war, but even though he had been tolerant of the Christians of Italy his rule was not very stable. In the Summer Maxentius and Constantine moved against each other. Maxentius didn't move as quickly as Constantine did as the omens spoke against it, but soon Constantine crossed the Alps, at the pass of Mt. Cenis, with a fourth of his army and would soon face a large cavalry force of Maxentius near Turin, but would defeat them and taking the city. Other cities gave no fight and let Constantine pass by and soon he moved upon Milan where he rested for a time. They defeated Maxentius' troops at Verona, Aquileia, Modena, and Ravenna. It was time for Constantine to march on Rome.

Maxentius prepared for a siege which left the rest of the country relatively undefended and easy to take for Constantine. The siege took its toll on Rome and soon Maxentius decided to face Constantine at what would be known as the Battle of Saxa Rubra or the Battle of Milvian Bridge.

It was the nights prior to this battle that Constantine is said to have had his vision which caused him to adopt the cross and gain the protection of the Christian God. In the vision he said to look into the sky and seen a cross of light with it the words "In Hoc Signo Vinces" which translates into "in this sign you shall conquer." The next night Christ is said to have appeared before him saying to use this sign against the enemies of Constantine and that he would be victorious. Constantine then ordered that the labarum (the military standards or banners) to be decorated with the Chi-Rho

On October 28th, 312 AD, Maxentius led his forces believing he had the blessings of his gods. He stood his army in front of Milvian Bridge which today is known as Ponte Milvio near a village along the Flamian road called Saxa Rubra, and in Constantine's time was used to carry Via Flaminia across the Tiber River. The two armies battled and it was Constantine who came out the victor as it is said that Maxentius had placed his troops too close to the river and thus prevented them from regrouping. In comparison, Constantine's army was experienced and disciplined from its time fighting in the outer provinces while Maxentius' troops were not. The army of Maxentius retreated with heavy losses with Maxentius among those who had died, having drowned trying to escape across the river. The head of Maxentius was sent to the lands loyal to him and they gave no resistance. He entered Rome with the pomp and pageantry that one would assume to see with a major victory landed, and made the necessary reforms to solidify his rule and denounce Maxentius as a tyrant. In the East, the allies of Maxentius were defeated by Licinius.

In 313, Licinius and Constantine met in Milan where the "Edict of Milan" was established which granted full tolerance for the Christian faith as well as all religions in the Empire. Licinius left the meeting early to deal with a rival and after defeating him, gained full control over the entire eastern half of the Roman Empire. The friendship or alliance of Constantine and Licinius would fall apart and would lead to the Battle of Cibalae. The alliance would degrade after Constantine finds out that his Caesar, Bassianus, has conspired against him. Bassianus is the brother of Senecio, a close friend of Licinius. After Licinius refused to hand over Senecio, Constantine marched against Licinius.

The two met near the town of Cibalae (now Vinkovci, Croatia) and the battle lasted the entire day. Constantine led a charge of cavalry that broke the ranks of Licinius' troops. Licinius and those who survived fled during the night to Sirmium before heading to Thrace. After a failed peace talk, the two met against at the Battle of Mardia in 317 AD which ended with large losses on both sides. An agreement was made and more land was given to Constantine. From this new deal he gained control of Macedonia and the Balkans which gave him the ability to wage wars against the Goths and Sarmatians.

In 320, Licinius violated the Edict of Milan and started oppressing Christians again which led to instability and a civil war in 324 AD between Licinius and Constantine. At the Battle of Adrianople (near what is now the border of Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey), Constantine was outnumbered, but came out victorious. He won the Battles of Hellespont and Chrysopolis which included a naval battle where Crispus commanded, and by the end of September of 324 AD Licinius and his followers surrendered to Constantine with the promise that their lives would be spared if they lived out the rest of their lives as peaceful citizens. The next year Licinius was accused of plotting against Constantine and was hanged. It was from this defeat and death of Licinius that Constantine reunited the Empire under one Augustus.


Licinius' defeat was symbolic of Christianity's victory over the pagan religions. Plans started to be designed to create a new capitol in the East that should represent the reunited Empire and be a center of enlightenment, trade, and culture. Many places were suggested, but Constantine finally decided to build this capitol on the Greek city of Byzantium (known today as Istanbul). Byzantium already had the infrastructure and structure brought there by previous Roman Emperors. The city was renamed Constantinopolis or Constantinople in English.

Today Constantine stands as a preeminent figure in history with his conversion to Christianity, his defeat over Maxentius, and reuniting the Empire under one ruler being his most famous calling cards. What is also remembered is his role in the Council of Nicaea.

In early Christianity there was no central authority and many disputes arose among priests and bishops. In 325, Constantine seeing the problems called an ecumenical council, known as the first Council of Nicaea, which is most famous for its opposition to Arianism, settling the issue of the nature of the Son of God and his relationship to God the Father, promulgation of early Canon law, the observance of Easter, and for implementing the Nicene Creed.

After the Nicaean Council, he would enact other laws protecting Christians throughout the realm. One such law forbade Jews from owning Christian slaves or circumcising their slaves. He also economic and trade reforms, military reform, and infrastructure projects.

In 326, Constantine put his wife Fausta and his eldest son from another woman, Crispus, to death because it was believed they were having an affair with each other and thus guilty of adultery.

He continued to battle barbarian forces in the outer provinces, but towards the end of his reign he planned on attacking the Persians who were persecuting the Christians in the Middle East. His goal was to liberate the Christian people of the land as well as be baptized in the River Jordan. Though Constantine had helped the Christians there was nothing to suggest he fully embraced the faith himself, but towards the end of his life he desired to be baptized. In the spring of 337 the campaign would be called off as Constantine grew sick and knew his time was short. While in Nicomedia he summoned Eusebius to perform the sacred ceremony. He died soon after the baptism was performed on May 22nd, 337. His body was taken to Constantinople where it was laid to rest at the Church of the Holy Apostles. With the death of Constantine, his sons Constantine II, Constantius II and Constans split the empire. Even though he had converted to Christianity at his deathbed, the Roman Republic still deified him as pagan Emperors had been in the past.

Constantine was a great warrior and by many of his projects is remembered as a great leader, but he was also very controversial as we can see with his life. He left a lasting mark with Constantinople and with reuniting the Empire for a short time. He would be venerated by the Byzantine Empire as well as the Holy Roman Empire as he helped pave the way for Christian dominance and culture in Europe and the Byzantine Empire.

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