Posted by: ken98 | November 16, 2009

Last Man Standing and Offers that can’t be Refused

Day 67 – Ken here
(DEF v.1, ch.14 & 15, pp.440-450)

It’s late again – after midnight – just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to get everything done.

The age of Diocletian is getting dimmer and dimmer, as we begin today’s 10 pages, Constantine has been out-waiting his last imperial opponent (Licinius, emperor in Asia and Egypt) for 8 years after their 1st Civil war (Const. vs Lic. around 315). Now Constantine sees his chance, betting his strength in seasoned legions will counterbalance Licinius much greater wealth and larger armies. Constantine gathers a great force and marches through Thrace towards the Hellespont, Licinius waits with greater forces at a city that will be famous for another Roman slaughter in 50 years – Adrianople (Hadrianopolis).

And as we end chapter 14, we leave imperial history behind for 2 chapters and about 140 pages (actually the rest of volume 1), and venture into Gibbon’s long interlude about Christianity. He’s for it (Christianity that is), in a general, English, ecumenical, Enlightenment sort of way – as everyone knows, a Christian protestant religion serves to stabilize society. He also displays over and over again a typically English rabid anti-catholic bent – “Pope” is a dirty four letter word to Gibbon.

He’s mercilessly negative when it comes to hypocrisy, double-standards, and fuzzy reasoning in the early church (and the later church, actually). The inevitable, and vicious backlash that occurred after the first volume was printed in 1776 led to his 78 page Vindication (Feb 1779) (attached to the end of my volume 3) – an open letter to all his detractors (whom he names by name in the actual letter) with minute and exact treatments of their specific objections, all in inimitable Gibbon style. We’ll circle back to that after we finish the 1st volume.

The Story

Constantine wins empire (Chapter 14)

  • 2nd Civil War: Constantine(Europe) vs. Licinius (Asia,Egypt) (Const. little navy, less soldiers)(C=120,000 soldiers, 200 small craft, L=165,000 soldiers, 350 galleys)
  • Battle of Hadrianopolis (Adrianople), soldiers only, Const. wins, Licinius camp taken, L. retreats to Byzantium (7-3-323)
  • Siege Of Byzantium, Crispus (Const. eldest son) defeats L. navy(lucky wind blew him onto L. ships), forces L. to retreat to Asia (Chalcedon) (7-323)
  • Battle of Chrysopolis (Scutari), L. gathers new army from Bythinia, sets up Martinianus as Caesar, chief officer of his empire, L. loses battle, retreats to Nicomedia and his wife, Martinianus executed
  • Constantia (Constantine’s sister, wife of Licinius) intervenes, Licinius allowed to retire to Thessalonica unharmed, Constantine gives his word to not harm Licinius or their son (Licinius jr), very shortly Constantine executes both for treason (Gibbon doubts the treasonous activities)
  • Reunion of empire under one emperor (Constantine) (324)


  • Famous Chapters (15 & 16) – Begin Gibbon On the Christian Religion (Chapter 15)

  • Intro: Why study Christianity: its huge influence on western history, and in the last 3 centuries (1500’s, 1600’s, 1700’s) on the world
  • Five Causes for growth of Christianity:
    1. Zeal of Jews carried over to Christianity
    2. Doctrine of Afterlife appealing
    3. Miraculous powers of early church attractive
    4. Pure and Austere Morals of early christians compelling
    5. Efficient superstructure of the early church hierarchy entrenches the early church in society
  • Cause for Growth #1: Zeal of Jews – absolute loyalty and devotion to their religion
  • Constantia wife of Licinius, sister of Constantine - coin - her brother ended up killing her husband, although she got a city named after her 300 years later on the Black Sea

    Constantia wife of Licinius, sister of Constantine - coin - her brother ended up killing her husband, although she got a city named after her 300 years later on the Black Sea


    On Constantia (Flavia Julia Constantia), sister of Constantine
    A brief history here, and this from Wiki: “In 313, Emperor Constantine I, who was half-brother of Constantia, gave her in marriage to his co-emperor Licinius, on occasion of their meeting in Mediolanum. She bore a son, Valerius Licinianus Licinius, in 315, and when the struggle between Constantine and Licinius began in 316, she stayed on her husband’s side. A second war started between the two emperors in 324; after Licinius’ defeat, Constantia interceded with Constantine for her husband’s life. Constantine spared Licinius life, and obliged him to live in Thessalonica as a private citizen, but the following year (325), he ordered that Licinius be killed. A second blow for Constantia was the death, also by order of Constantine, of her son Licinius the Younger.
    In the following years, Constantia lived at her brother’s court, receiving honors (her title was nobilissima femina). She converted to Christianity, supporting the Arian party at the First Council of Nicaea (325).
    The city of Constanţa, Romania is named after her.”

    Martinianus - co-emperor with Licinius for a few months - a follis from 324 - had Licinius NOT elevated him, he would have lived much longer

    Martinianus - co-emperor with Licinius for a few months - a follis from 324 - had Licinius NOT elevated him, he would have lived much longer


    On Martinianus – one of the one-day emperors of the 300’s – Offers that Can’t be refused
    There was a habit, in the aftermath of Diocletians Tetrarchy (4 man rule) for emperors in dire straits during a civil war to appoint caesars who ended up ruling for only a few days or weeks, only to be killed by the winning emperor in the end (see Valens (Valerius Valens), for another man Licinius set up, only to be killed). Licinius made the unfortunate Martinianus an emperor as he retreated to Asia after a series of defeats at the hand of Constantine. Martinianus survived his promotion (as had Valens) by only a few months. Martinianus must have known about the fate of Valens and others, one can only imagine what was going through his mind when he got word from Licinius that he was (in effect) a dead man. Indeed, it was an offer that couldn’t be refused (and couldn’t be taken).

    This from Wiki:”In 324 the second civil war between Licinius and Constantine I was at its height, and Licinius was losing. Because of this war he decided to replace Constantine (in name only) as western Augustus. As his replacement he named Martinian co-emperor, as he had previously appointed Valens during his earlier war with Constantine. Prior to his elevation, which took place some time after the Battle of Adrianople (July 3, 324), Martinian was serving as magister officiorum at Licinius’ court. …Due to the intervention of Flavia Julia Constantia, Constantine’s sister and also Licinius’ wife, both Licinius and Martinian were initially spared, Licinius being imprisoned in Thessalonica, Martinian in Cappadocia. However, Constantine seems to have soon regretted his leniency as both men were subsequently executed, probably in the spring of 325.”

    Constanţa - Casino on the pier of this city in the southwest Black Sea coast in Romania - named for Constantine's sister Constantia

    Constanţa - Casino on the pier of this city in the southwest Black Sea coast in Romania - named for Constantine's sister Constantia

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