Rome Empire, Rise and Fall, Constantine

Uploaded by amilkerr on 10.09.2011

At the beginning of the fourth century AD,
the Roman empire faced one of the biggest crises in its history.
It was now so huge
that it had been carved up between four emperors,
two in the west and two in the east.
Like rats in a sack, they scrabbled for power.
Tomorrow we march on Rome.
I am Rome.
Constantine is my enemy.
Kill him and we're free.
One man would try to unite the empire.
One empire, one god,
one emperor!
The world will know the name of Constantine.
Constantine would change the face of the empire
and leave the greatest legacy of any of Rome's emperors.
A new world religion.
The army of Rome marches in the name of the one true god.
In the autumn of 312 AD,
Constantine's army was camped 40 miles north of Rome.
One of the two emperors in the west,
Constantine was preparing for the decisive battle against his rival, Maxentius.
Maxentius has withdrawn his troops.
The road ahead is clear. Gentlemen, this is the final push.
Tomorrow we march on Rome.
Majesty, with respect, shouldn't we wait for reinforcements?
- They can be here in three weeks. - In three weeks?
Rome can't wait three weeks!
I know that you're tired, that the men are exhausted,
I know that Maxentius outnumbers us,
but this isn't about numbers. It isn't even about the men.
This is about Rome!
It's the city of our fathers.
Are you with me? Huh? Are you with me?
Travelling with Constantine were members of a growing new religion.
Brothers in Christ, he's marching tomorrow.
We'll be at the walls of Rome within days.
- Does he put his faith in God? - Not yet.
But the Lord will open his eyes,
or I will.
Constantine's enemy, the emperor Maxentius, held the city of Rome.
For six years, the capital of the empire had been suffering under his tyrannical rule.
Now, as Constantine approached,
Maxentius consulted Rome's traditional gods.
Jupiter, Apollo and Mars.
Have the gods revealed the secrets of the fates and the destiny of Rome? Quickly.
What does it say?
Doesn't matter what the entrails say, Constantine will be at the gates in three days.
You see where the liver is discoloured here
- and distended towards the... - Just tell me what it means!
It is telling us that the enemy of Rome will be defeated.
Well, this is good news, surely, Majesty.
Constantine is marching against Rome, isn't he? Well, then, it's clear. He'll be defeated.
I am Rome.
Constantine is my enemy, isn't he?
"The enemy of Rome will be defeated. "
I've missed you.
Of course you have.
I must speak to the emperor. I am to admit no one.
It's important. My instructions are clear.
- Majesty, I must speak with you! - Apologies, Majesty, I...
What is it, Lactantius?
You cannot march on Rome,
unless you first put your faith in the one true god.
I put my faith in no one. That's why I'm still alive.
Now listen to me, old man,
you're a good scribe, you're useful, but so is he.
Do you understand?
The world is full of slaves and scribes.
Now I'm tired.
Maxentius will use sorcery.
Get out.
We speak the truth!
I don't like that man.
What is it about him you don't like? He's harmless.
He's a Christian.
They're dirty. They're poor and weak.
It's a slave's religion. Everything they do is secret.
Hmm, anything else?
They disapprove of this,
and this.
- But you like this, don't you? - Yes.
- Don't you? - Yes.
Majesty, Maxentius has brought up troops from Sicily and Carthage,
they arrived yesterday.
- How many? - Tens of thousands.
The country's teeming with them.
Majesty, should we suspend the attack?
The horses!
It's a sign.
You see? From God!
Nobody knows for certain what Constantine's army witnessed that day.
One theory is that it was a meteorite.
But what it was is less important than how it was interpreted.
God was speaking to you. You feel it, don't you?
He's chosen you. You saw!
It was a sign.
Make this sign your standard.
Paint it on every soldier's shield.
By this sign, you will conquer.
Leave it.
Meanwhile, Maxentius was putting the finishing touches to his battle plan.
The Milvian bridge...
Our army...
Constantine's army.
Now he's got to cross the Tiber somewhere and this is where we will trap him.
I've made a... How can I put it?
Modification to the bridge.
When it is full of Constantine's troops,
you pull out the pin here
Constantine will die,
his army will never reach the city,
and "the enemy of Rome will be defeated. "
Stay with me, please, I'm frightened.
- I need to see that the men are following orders. - Orders. What orders?
Lactantius wants the men to paint the Christian sign on their shields.
He says that if we use it as our standard...
You've caught something from that sorcerer!
What will the men think when they can't fight under their gods?
They will lose their nerve, Maxentius will win!
- No, he won't! - How do you know that? You don't.
Maxentius is my brother, you forget that. I know him, he's ruthless.
- He'll kill us. He'll kill you, he'll kill both of us. - No, no, no, he won't.
Trust me, Fausta, will you?
Where's the sign?
Why haven't you done as I ordered?
Majesty, the men were scared that Jupiter might strike them down.
Am I dead?
Have I been struck down?
Do it! All of you.
Constantine's decision to fight under a Christian symbol
was genuinely shocking.
Faster, faster.
For hundreds of years, Roman soldiers had gone into battle
under the banner of their traditional gods.
Shortly after dawn, Constantine's vastly outnumbered army
took up position Just north of Rome.
Stand by! Infantry!
Raise your shields!
This had better work.
To reach the city, they first had to cross the river Tiber
at the Milvian bridge.
Maxentius's 75,000 strong army had massed on the Roman side of the river.
Send in a bait.
Infantry advance!
Raise your bows.
Now to reel in our fish.
Sound the retreat.
They're drawing back, Majesty. Should we strike?
What's he playing at?
Hold the line! Hold the line!
Hold the line! Hold the line!
Hold the line!
Come on, you bastard, come on!
Constantine! Come down and face me, you bastard!
The pin, hold it fast. It's too soon!
Save me! I am your Emperor!
Thank you, friend.
The battle of Milvian Bridge was both bloody and decisive.
Maxentius's tyranny was at an end.
Now Constantine had control not Just of Rome, but of the whole western empire.
What is that? Where's the eagle?
That's a Christian symbol.
I don't under...
Emperor, I'm Senator Bassianus.
I have a certain amount of influence with the Senate, if you need my help.
Citizens of Rome!
I come to liberate, not to conquer.
Maxentius is dead.
Your suffering is at an end.
I return to you all that Maxentius stole from you.
Your lands, your privileges,
your honour.
To the Senate, I hand back your ancient authority.
I return to you your glory!
I've come to thank you.
It's not me you must thank.
It's God who gave you victory.
Your service to the Lord is just beginning.
If you have to pray, pray for the future.
You are the future.
With the western empire now secure,
Constantine's challenge was to bring peace to the eastern empire.
This was being fought over by Emperor Daia and his rival, Emperor Licinius.
Constantine chose to ally himself with Licinius.
In January 313 AD,
Constantine married off his sister, Constantia, to Licinius in Milan.
Unlike her brother, she was by now a Christian.
So Constantia, are you ready to be a wife?
Do I have a choice?
Well, it's the duty that goes with your rank. Remember you are my sister.
Our lives are not our own...
But you will always be my sister.
Nothing can part us, nothing.
Trust me.
Go on.
Don't worry, please.
After the wedding, the politics.
Negotiations on how the two emperors could work together.
Now is your chance to repay your debt to God. You must seize this opportunity.
But with Emperor Daia still a threat in the east,
the Senate feels these clauses must remain provisional until...
Let's get on with it, shall we?
Very well. By the terms of this treaty, the empire will be divided,
not into four as in the past, but into two halves.
You, Licinius, have control of the east, once Daia is defeated,
and I, the west.
Does this meet with your approval?
In principle,
yes, it does.
Then, as a symbol of this new political settlement,
let us issue a decree
to state that we extend a policy of toleration
for all religious parties, Christian and non-Christian alike.
What is this?
- The Senate of Rome cannot ratify a treaty made... - God granted us victory... the name of a god we don't recognise... ... let us speak in His name!
- Silence! Silence! - No!
Leave us.
Leave the chamber. Out. Move!
Out! Out!
What do you want?
What are you playing at?
The same as you.
Call it what you like.
Peace, stability, elbow room.
According to this,
each man will be free to worship the god he chooses.
Have you become a Christian?
I believe in whichever god looks kindly upon our enterprise.
So do I have your word, that the Christian God will not be favoured above our gods?
This isn't about God or gods, this is about us.
This cements our alliance. It says to the world that we speak with one voice,
a new voice, hmm?
The voice of a stronger, a more united empire.
There are many Christians in the east, Licinius.
If you persecute them, they get stronger.
If we tolerate them, we win their support.
I'll make a politician of you yet, Licinius.
In his writings, the Christian scribe, Lactantius,
recorded the Edict of Milan as a landmark in Christian history.
After years of persecution,
for the first time, the new religion was tolerated across the empire.
Licinius now fulfilled his side of the bargain.
After four months of fighting, he defeated Daia
and seized control of the eastern empire
Finally, the entire empire had a chance of peace.
And then there were two.
This is the fulfilment of our dreams, Majesty. This is peace.
It's not a fulfilment, it's an opportunity.
You've only just begun, we can start afresh.
Sweep away the old. A new empire. A new kind of empire.
You want to destroy everything and put nothing in its place.
- I've put God in his place. - Not while I stand here, you don't.
Daia is dead.
And Licinius, is he?
He's safe.
Oh, thank God.
Oh, thank God.
Constantia, leave us.
What are you going to do now?
I thought you spoke with one voice, with Licinius, as equals.
There are no equals, only rivals.
I need time to think.
No one can be sure
what was going on in Constantine's mind at this time.
But it appears that he had growing doubts about his alliance with Licinius.
He was also turning more and more to Christianity.
Just give me a sign.
Tell me what it is that you want.
I order you to tell me what it is!
Christ said, "I am the door, whoever enters by me shall be saved. "
They're all servants of Christ and our numbers are growing all the time.
- How far have you reached? - Armenia, Britain, Spain...
Our people are spread throughout the west and the east.
They're saying you're Christ's 13th apostle.
- What does that mean? - God's chosen you.
To you, He's given all glory and authority.
One god, one emperor.
Worship God, and this world will be yours.
Yours alone.
Think of the power.
What Constantine did next
put him on a collision course with the forces of Roman tradition.
It began when the people dedicated a triumphal arch in his honour.
I found an empire at war
and I have brought peace.
You, the Senate,
and citizens of Rome,
have dedicated this arch to me.
I, in turn,
dedicate myself
to this glorious city
and the eternal empire.
One empire, one god,
one emperor!
As part of the ceremony,
Constantine was expected to make a sacrifice to Rome's traditional gods.
Your rituals are meaningless, your gods are dead.
Constantine's assault on Roman tradition went further.
He diverted money intended for pagan temples to new Christian buildings,
including St Peter's in Rome.
He builds churches and publicly insults the gods.
The Christian God is no god.
This is just the first. There will be churches throughout the empire.
Christianity is no religion.
It is a contamination.
The world will know the name of Constantine.
There'll be anarchy, it must stop!
And you must stop him.
Majesty, I bring news.
What is it, Bassianus?
Of the Senate's mood.
Tell me. As if I didn't know.
They're not pleased, Majesty.
What you're doing is offensive to them and to the gods.
It is a flagrant violation they cannot accept.
And you, Bassianus, do you accept?
No, Majesty.
This strikes at the very heart of Rome.
I... We cannot allow...
Majesty, please!
I hear you, Bassianus.
I hear your Senate.
I understand.
Thank you for your honesty.
- But, Majesty... - Goodbye, Bassianus. Nothing more to say.
How is my brother?
I want to hear all about the celebrations. And Fausta, is she well?
- You must tell me everything. - You're worse than the Senate.
And I have news of my own.
I'm so pleased for you, Majesty.
Now, I must speak to your husband.
What is it?
Be on your guard, Bassianus.
Why would I want to do that?
You are his spy.
I come from the Senate of Rome, not from Constantine.
The Senate is a play thing of Constantine.
That's not true. Not anymore.
The Senate is powerless.
Some have turned Christian. Now that's the only way, yeah.
To heaven?
High office.
Constantine doesn't approve of our gods.
The Christian bishops don't pay taxes and they dine at his table.
Christianity is spreading like a disease.
By Constantine supporting them in the west, he destabilises the east.
He undermines my authority.
Of course, it's deliberate.
Together we can cut out the infection.
By favouring Christians, he's breaking the terms of the Treaty of Milan.
What more justification do you need?
Go back to the Senate, Bassianus.
Tell them you've my blessing,
and the western empire's yours in exchange for Constantine's head.
While Constantine lives, we're his creatures.
Kill him and we're free.
State your name and business.
My name is Bassianus, Senator of Rome, and my business...
My business is with the Emperor.
Good evening, Bassianus.
I've been expecting you.
How did you know?
You underestimate the power of God.
And your god is a lie. Licinius will sweep you all away.
I trusted you!
From now on, I will trust no one.
No one!
Except God.
We are at war...
A holy war.
The conflict between Constantine and Licinius was long and drawn out.
This is the reckoning.
By the sword, we bring peace to the world.
At stake was nothing less than the soul of the empire.
On whose honour does Constantine trample?
He tramples on the gods of Rome!
It was a war which pitted the traditional Roman gods
against the dynamic new Christian faith.
On this day, we make history!
The army of Rome marches in the name of the one true god.
I will give back to Rome the gods that made her great!
A first war in 316 A D proved indecisive.
Neither side could deliver the killer blow.
An uneasy peace lasted for seven years.
But then Licinius attacked Christian communities and slaughtered their bishops.
A second war became inevitable.
The decisive battle took place at Chrysopolis, in modern day Turkey.
Move out!
With the battle in the balance, Constantine unleashed his secret weapon.
Raise the standard.
Ignore it.
You can't look at the banner!
Historians of the time described how Constantine's Christian banner
struck terror into Licinius's army, who feared it had magical powers.
In the name of Jupiter, hold the line!
Open the gate!
Open the gate!
It's over.
It's over.
I love you.
Do you remember?
Once you promised me nothing would part us.
That I'd always be your beloved sister.
Spare him, please.
I beg you.
For my sake, because I love him.
You dare to challenge your emperor?
I dare challenge my brother.
Look at me.
Look at me.
I'm still your sister.
Our God teaches us to forgive.
You think you're God,
to decide who lives and who dies?
But you're not God!
You're not God!
God forgives those who truly repent.
With your surrender, the entire empire falls under my authority.
Do you accept me as sole emperor?
I do.
My law... is God's law
and it is... merciful.
Live out your days in peace.
Licinius was allowed to retire to a villa in Greece with Constantia and their son, Licinianus.
Eight months after Chrysopolis,
Constantine forged ahead with his vision of a Christian empire
by bringing together hundreds of bishops to work out a statement of belief
which is still at the heart of Christianity today.
We have agreed a form of words.
We believe in one God,
the Father,
the Almighty.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only son of God, eternally begotten of the Father.
God from God.
Light from light.
True God from true God.
The boy! The boy! Save the boy!
The boy!
Save the boy!
We believe in one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead
and the life of the world to come.
God forgive you.
God forgive you.
A few months after Licinius's murder,
Fausta was found mysteriously suffocated in a steam bath.
Some believe, on Constantine's orders.
Lactantius died before he could see Constantine fulfil his vision of a Christian empire.
His writings are one of the main sources on Constantine's rule.
Constantia lived out her days in Constantine's court.
We don't know if she ever forgave her brother for the murder of her husband and her son.
Rome's first Christian emperor, lived another 12 years.
Of all Rome's emperors,
his legacy is the most far-reaching and long-lasting.
It's because of him that Christianity is the dominant religion
of the western world today.
Next on Ancient Rome...
The end of empire.
A story of savage hordes.
A devious emperor
and his beautiful sister.
How barbarians destroyed the greatest city the world has ever known.
And all because of a terrible mistake.