During this time, the church experienced major challenges politically, culturally and intellectually, yet grew and defined itself in remarkable ways.
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The Rise of Western Christendom. Author of thirteen New Testament epistles. Click here for instructions on enabling it. Accessed December 16, The ambitious spirit of Galerius was only just over this disappointment when he beheld the unexpected loss of Italy to Maxentius , who was married to his daughter Valeria Maximilla. It looks like cookies are disabled in your browser. Publisher: lion.
The Confessions. Galerius was born near Serdica ,  in Dacia Ripensis , later named Dacia Mediterranea, though some modern scholars consider the strategic site where he later built his palace named after his mother — Felix Romuliana Gamzigrad — his birth and funeral place.
He served with distinction as a soldier under Emperors Aurelian and Probus , and in at the establishment of the Tetrarchy , was designated Caesar along with Constantius Chlorus , receiving in marriage Diocletian 's daughter Valeria later known as Galeria Valeria , and at the same time being entrusted with the care of the Illyrian provinces. After a few years campaigning against Sarmatians and Goths on the Danube , he received command of the legions on the eastern imperial limits. Soon after his appointment, Galerius was dispatched to Egypt to fight the rebellious cities Busiris and Coptos.
In , Narseh , a son of Shapur I , who had been passed over for the Sassanid succession, came into power in Persia. He sought to identify himself with the warlike reigns of Ardashir r. In or , Narseh declared war on Rome. He appears to have first invaded western Armenia, retaking the lands delivered to Tiridates in the peace of He occupied the lands there until the following year.
Narseh then moved south into Roman Mesopotamia, where he inflicted a severe defeat on Galerius, then commander of the eastern forces, in the region between Carrhae Harran , Turkey and Callinicum Raqqa , Syria.
In Antioch, Diocletian forced Galerius to walk a mile in advance of his imperial cart while still clad in the purple robes of an emperor. Galerius's army was reinforced probably in the spring of by new contingents collected from the empire's Danubian holdings. Local aid gave Galerius the advantage of surprise over the Persian forces, and, in two successive battles, Galerius secured victories over Narseh. During the second encounter, the Battle of Satala in , Roman forces seized Narseh's camp, his treasury, his harem, and his wife.
He moved down the Tigris , taking Ctesiphon , and gazing onwards to the ruins of Babylon before returning to Roman territory via the Euphrates. Narseh had previously sent an ambassador to Galerius to plead for the return of his wife and children, but Galerius had dismissed this ambassador, reminding him of how Shapur had treated Valerian. Their magister memoriae secretary Sicorius Probus was sent to Narseh to present terms.
The conditions of the Peace of Nisibis were heavy:  Persia would give up territory to Rome, making the Tigris the boundary between the two empires. These regions included the passage of the Tigris through the Anti-Taurus range; the Bitlis pass, the quickest southerly route into Persian Armenia; and access to the Tur Abdin plateau. With these territories, Rome would have an advance station north of Ctesiphon, and would be able to slow any future advance of Persian forces through the region.
After the elevation of Constantius I and Galerius to the rank of Augustus , two new Caesars were required to take their place. The two persons whom Galerius promoted to the rank of Caesar were very much his creatures, and he hoped to enhance his authority throughout the empire with their elevation. First was Maximinus Daia , whose mother was Galerius' sister. An inexperienced youth with little formal education, he was invested with the purple, exalted to the dignity of Caesar, and assigned the command of Egypt and Syria.
Second was Severus , Galerius' comrade in arms; he was sent to Milan to receive the possession of Italy and Africa. According to the forms of the constitution, Severus acknowledged the supremacy of the western emperor, but he was absolutely devoted to the commands of his benefactor Galerius, who, reserving to himself the intermediate countries from the confines of Italy to those of Syria, firmly established his power over three-quarters of the empire.
His hopes were dashed when his colleague Constantius died at York in and the legions elevated his son Constantine to the position of Augustus. Galerius only discovered this when he received a letter from Constantine, who informed him of his father's death, modestly asserted his natural claim to the succession, and respectfully lamented that the enthusiastic violence of his troops had not allowed him to obtain the imperial purple in the regular and constitutional manner.
The first emotions of Galerius were those of surprise, disappointment, and rage, and as he could seldom restrain his passions, he threatened to burn both the letter and the messenger.
Later, however, when he had time to reconsider his position, he inevitably saw that his chances of winning a war against Constantine were doubtful at best. The ambitious spirit of Galerius was only just over this disappointment when he beheld the unexpected loss of Italy to Maxentius , who was married to his daughter Valeria Maximilla. A very minute survey was taken of their real estates and, wherever there was the slightest suspicion of concealment, torture was used to obtain a sincere declaration of their personal wealth.
Italy had traditionally been exempt from any form of taxation, but Galerius ignored this precedent, and the officers of the revenue already began to number the Roman people, and to settle the proportion of the new taxes. Italy began to murmur against this indignity and Maxentius used this sentiment to declare himself emperor in Italy, to the fury of Galerius.
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Therefore, Galerius ordered his colleague Severus to immediately march to Rome, in the full confidence that, by his unexpected arrival, he would easily suppress the rebellion. Severus was later executed. The importance of the occasion needed the presence and abilities of Galerius. At the head of a powerful army collected from Illyricum and the East, he entered Italy, determined to avenge Severus and to punish the rebellious Romans.
Seeing that he was facing ever-greater difficulties, Galerius made the first advances towards reconciliation, and dispatched two officers to tempt the Romans by the offer of a conference, and the declaration of his paternal regard for Maxentius, reminding them that they would obtain much more from his willing generosity than anything that might have been obtained through a military campaign.
The offers of Galerius were rejected with firmness, his friendship refused, and it was not long before he discovered that, unless he retreated, he would share Severus' fate. It was not a moment too soon; large monetary gifts from Maxentius to his soldiers had corrupted the fidelity of the Illyrian legions. When Galerius finally began his withdrawal from Italy, it was only with great difficulty that he managed to stop his veterans deserting him. In frustration, Galerius allowed his legions to ravage the countryside as they passed northwards.
Maxentius declined to make a general engagement. With so many emperors now in existence, in Galerius, together with the retired emperor Diocletian and the now active Maximian, called an imperial 'conference' at Carnuntum on the River Danube to rectify the situation and bring some order back into the imperial government. Maximian was to retire, and Maxentius was declared a usurper.
Though the opposition of interest, and the memory of a recent war, divided the empire into two great hostile powers, their mutual fears and the fading authority of Galerius produced an apparent tranquility in the imperial government.
The last years of Galerius saw him relinquishing his aspirations towards being the supreme ruler of the empire, though he managed to retain the position of first among equals. He spent the remainder of his years enjoying himself and ordering some important public works, such as discharging into the Danube the superfluous waters of Lake Pelso , and cutting down the immense forests that encompassed it.
Christians had lived in peace during most of the rule of Diocletian. The persecutions that began with an edict of February 24, , were credited by Christians to Galerius' work, as he was a fierce advocate of the old ways and old gods. Christian houses of assembly were destroyed, for fear of sedition in secret gatherings. Diocletian was not anti-Christian during the first part of his reign, and historians have claimed that Galerius decided to prod him into persecuting them by secretly burning the Imperial Palace and blaming it on Christian saboteurs.
Regardless of who was at fault for the fire, Diocletian's rage was aroused and he began one of the last and greatest Christian persecutions in the history of the Roman Empire. It was at the insistence of Galerius that the last edicts of persecution against the Christians were published, beginning on February 24, , and this policy of repression was maintained by him until the appearance of the general edict of toleration, issued from Nicomedia in April , apparently during his last bout of illness see Edict of Toleration by Galerius.
Galerius's last request, that Christians should pray for him as he suffered with a painful and fatal illness, was in vain for he died six days later. Initially one of the leading figures in the persecutions, Galerius later admitted that the policy of trying to eradicate Christianity had failed, saying: "wherefore, for this our indulgence, they ought to pray to their God for our safety, for that of the republic, and for their own, that the republic may continue uninjured on every side, and that they may be able to live securely in their homes.
Christianity was officially legalized in the Roman Empire two years later in by Constantine and Licinius in the Edict of Milan.