Although his reign began before its full independence Constantine is considered the first ruler of the Byzantine Empire. His capital was Byzantium (renamed Constantinople after he died). His influence on Christianity is significant. His Edict of Milan in 313 A.D. ended 230+ years of legalized persecution of Christians. He made Christianity the official state religion in 380 A.D. Foxe's Book of Martyrs states regarding his believed conversion and affect on the Christian world:
" . . . Constantine, in his journey drawing toward the city, and casting up his eyes many times to heaven, in the south part, about the going down of the sun, saw a great brightness in heaven, appearing in the similitude of a cross, giving this inscription, IN HOC VINCE, that is, 'In this overcome.'
Constantine so established the peace of the Church that for the space of a thousand years we read of no set persecution against the Christians unto the time of John Wickliffe.
Lived from c. 245 to c. 312 A.D.
Emperor from November 20, 284 to May 1, 305 A.D.
Lived from February 27, 272 to May 22, 337 A.D.
Emperor from 306 to 337 A.D.