Constantine I was a powerful Roman emperor who ruled from 306 AD to 337 AD. He was born on 27 February 273 AD in Naissus, which is now in Serbia.
His father became the deputy emperor of the western Roman Empire, under Emperor Diocletian, and so Constantine was very well educated.
He mixed with many different people, from the upper class to Pagans.Constantine joined the Roman army and campaigned with them in the eastern Roman Empire.
When Diocletian died, a man called Galerius inherited his position. Galerius was threatened by Constantine’s position and support from the people, so plotted his murder.
Galerius made him fight a lion and lead armies into wars, but he always returned victorious. Eventually, Constantine fled to his father in the west to pursue his career.
Constantine’s father died in 306 AD and named his son Emperor in the west, where he was hailed by the troops at York.
However, Constantine’s claim was considered illegitimate and this started a civil war.
When Galerius died, Constantine moved to claim all of the Roman Empire and fought many battles.
In the most important battle, Constantine dreamed that the Christian god told him to fight with the cross drawn on his shield and he would win.
His army beat the much larger enemy army and he took control of Rome. Constantine was the first Christian Emperor in Rome.
Constantine met with Licinius, the eastern empire Emperor, after the battle to sign the Edict of Milan.
This agreement said that Christians would no longer be persecuted as they had been for many years.
It gave Christians their freedom back and any property taken from them by the state.
However, Licinius decided after seven years to start persecuting Christians again.
Constantine fought back and defeated Licinius, becoming the Emperor of the whole Roman Empire in 324 AD.
Constantine supported freedom of religion and built the Arch of Constantinople, painted with pictures of Roman gods, to celebrate his victory.
He encouraged everyone to join in on the same festivals and removed religious symbols from coins. He also expanded the Circus Maximus to seat even more people!
In 330 AD, Constantine moved the capital of the Roman Empire to Byzantium, an old city in the east of the empire.
This move was to unit both halves of the empire after several long civil wars. The city was renamed Constantinople and formed the start of the Byzantine Empire.
Constantinople is now known as Istanbul, Turkey.