Does the Edict of Milan belong to Theodosius I?
|Saint Ambrose barring Theodosius I from Milan Cathedral. Anthony van Dyck.|
Theodosius I (Latin: Flavius Theodosius Augustus; 11 January 347 – 17 January 395), also known as Theodosius the Great, was Roman Emperor from 379 to 395. Theodosius was the last emperor to rule over both the eastern and the western halves of the Roman Empire. His social transformation was a pivotal, if under-recognized, milestone in European history; it parted with Roman religious tolerance and political strength and may be seen in retrospect as the inauguration of a feudal society. On accepting his elevation, he campaigned against Goths and other barbarians who had invaded the Empire; he failed to kill, expel, or entirely subjugate them, and after the Gothic War they established a homeland south of the Danube, in Illyricum, within the empire's borders. He fought two destructive civil wars, in which he defeated the usurpers Magnus Maximus and Eugenius at great cost to the power of the Empire.
He also issued decrees that effectively made orthodox Nicene Christianity the official state church of the Roman Empire. and he neither prevented nor punished the destruction of prominent Hellenistic temples of classical antiquity, including the Temple of Apollo in Delphi, the Serapeum in Alexandria. He dissolved the order of the Vestal Virgins in Rome. In 393, he banned the pagan rituals of the Olympics in Ancient Greece. It was not until the end of the 19th century, in 1896, that Olympics were held again. After his death, Theodosius' incapable sons Arcadius and Honorius inherited the East and West halves respectively, and the Roman Empire was never again re-united.
There's too much material in that summary for me to work with here, so I will just point to: issued decrees that effectively made orthodox Nicene Christianity the official state church of the Roman Empire.
I don't know how much of this history is reliable - maybe it is as baseless as that given later to Constantine - it needs careful examination and perhaps one day I will get around to it (if nobody else meantime has the wit). I will say for now just this: the historicity of these should be examined and if right, accounted for properly:
- On 27 February 380, together with Gratian and Valentinian II, Theodosius issued the decree "Cunctos populos", the so-called "Edict of Thessalonica", recorded in the Codex Theodosianus xvi.1.2. This declared the Nicene Trinitarian Christianity to be the only legitimate Imperial religion and the only one entitled to call itself Catholic. Other Christians he described as "foolish madmen". He also ended official state support for the traditional Polytheism religions and customs.
- In May 381, Theodosius summoned a new ecumenical council at Constantinople (see First Council of Constantinople) to repair the schism between East and West on the basis of Nicean orthodoxy.
They look to me to be, possibly, the historical actions ascribed (later) to Constantine earlier that century. Do the original texts spell out Christ and Christian? If so, then this is probably when Christianity began; if not, then this is when Chrestianity became overtly and imperially sanctioned, the official religion of the empire.
Origins of Christianity
Origins of Christianity