03. Constantine and the Early Church

we’re going to talk about what is arguably the most
important event of the first part of our course, the
conversion of Constantine, the Roman emperor, to
Christianity. Important not because
of Constantine’s own particular opinions. The fact that he embraced
Christianity is, as we’ll see, a little hard to explain on
purely strategic grounds. But its importance is that it
represents a permanent change. It represents the beginning of
the Christianization of the Roman Empire, a very
unexpected result. Because not only had
Christianity been illegal in the prior history of the empire,
that is to say, for over 250 years, but of course,
the god-man Jesus had been put to death by the forces
of the Roman Empire. And as we’ve discussed, Roman
religion, with its emphasis on what we’ve called “civic
polytheism” or the performance of ceremonies in public,
ceremonies that have to do with local patriotism, emperor
worship, the tradition of the Olympian gods, and, above all,
polytheism, was very foreign to Christianity. The Christian religion thus
seemed to be a kind of annoying epiphenomenon of Roman
society when, in fact, with this event, Constantine’s
conversion, it becomes first a tolerated religion, then a
favored religion, and very quickly, within the course of
the fourth century AD, the official and almost the only
religion of the Roman Empire. How can this be? We’ll discuss both the specific
events today, and their meaning, and how
they play out. We recall then that what
is called “paganism,” a traditional religion of
the Roman Empire, was polytheistic, was many gods,
ceremonial, had a lot of local variation, and it
was eclectic– eclectic meaning that you could
worship different gods in different places, different
gods for different purposes, different gods for different
times of your life. There was a certain emotional
vacuum, or at least a perceived vacuum, in this
religion because it seemed to deny individual longing and
longing in general, that longing, that sense internally
that there is more to life than there appears to be. So that many adherents of other
religions, including, but not limited to, Christianity
believed that some part of their body was
immortal, or the soul was immortal, or that the immortal
soul had to be healed by religion, and not that religion
should simply be a pathway to good fortune or to
easing the anxieties of the material world. So Christianity, we’ve said, is
not so much otherworldly, focused on heaven. It is that. But even more important perhaps
is its innerness, its inner worldliness, the sense
that people have a interior soul that yearns for something
eternal and more significant. And then Christianity was
accompanied by other so-called “mystery religions,” religions
that also spoke to an immaterial, heroic, non-civic,
non-urban type of piety, Mithraism, for example,
the worship of the mother goddess Cybele. Christianity had certain
advantages in terms of reaching a population, the
promise of an afterlife, the commitment that it demanded
of people, a religion that appealed both to the elite and
to the common people, and a very strong local
organization. But Christianity was alien
to the Roman Empire. The Romans did not always
persecute Christianity, as they did under Diocletian. But they found Christianity
alien. They didn’t like the fact that
Christianity was intolerant. Every other religion of the
Roman Empire, with one exception, accepted
other gods. If you worshipped Isis, you
had nothing against other people worshipping Jupiter. If you worshipped Cybele, you
had nothing against other people worshipping Mithra. But Christianity, of course,
ridiculed all of these gods. The only other religion that
was like this was Judaism. But Judaism made some
accommodations with the Roman Empire, recognized the authority
of the Roman emperor, and did not defy the
state in the way that Christianity at least
appeared to. And Christianity was not a Roman
religion in many of the ways that it rejected
worldliness, rejected engagement in or enjoyment of
the material world: the pleasures of the theater, the
circus, the celebrations of civic paganism, emperor
worship, law courts. Well, law courts may
not be pleasurable. But this sort of civic
involvement of the emperor and the Empire are rejected
by Christianity. Christianity, when you see what
Roman pagans write about it, is a kind of killjoy
religion. It’s a religion of people who
seem to have their eyes focused on anything but the
actual process of getting ahead in Roman society. All of this notwithstanding, it
should be emphasized that Christianity was not persecuted
constantly nor was the persecution very intense. We have Nero in the late 60s AD,
the Decian persecution of the mid-third century, and of
course, the great persecution under Diocletian. Christianity received just
enough persecution, one might say, to fortify its spirit, to
give it some backbone, but not enough to break it. Constantine emerged from the
chaos following Diocletian’s abdication. Diocletian, and as you’ll
recall, had created this four man rule, the Tetrarchy, in
order to divide what was perceived as an excessively
large empire with an excessively large administrative
structure. The Tetrarchy was, at least we
can say with hindsight, doomed to failure. These four emperors would
not cooperate. They would tend to be rivals. Constantine was the son of one
of the caesars, one of the subordinates. Remember there were two
augusti, two caesars. His father was Constantius
Chlorus who was appointed when the Tetrarchy began in
the West in 293. So there was an Augustus of the
West and a Caesar of the West. The Caesar of the West
was Constantius Chlorus. The young Constantine was sent
east to serve the eastern Augustus, who succeeded
Diocletian, Galerius. Constantine was left out
of the succession when Diocletian abdicated. Galerius appointed
somebody else, and Constantine rebelled. Constantine, in 306, raised an
army in faraway Britain, marched on Gaul, and eventually
was grudgingly recognized by Galerius
as caesar. At the same time, another
disinherited son of an augustus, a man named Maxentius,
rebelled in Rome. And I will not burden you with
the whole working out of these intrigues, of the fightings of
armies, of the quarrels of augusti and caesars. But basically, in 311, Galerius,
who had been ill with cancer, died. And Galerius was succeeded
by an emperor in the East named Licinius. And Licinius allowed Constantine
to deal with the usurper Maxentius in the West.
So we have Licinius in the east in 311, and then in the
West, Constantine and Maxentius fighting it out. Galerius has died. Constantine defeated Maxentius
at a battle not far from Rome, the Battle of the
Milvian Bridge. The Battle of the Milvian
Bridge in 312. And Constantine was now
Augustus in the West, Licinius, Augustus in the
East. The Battle of the Milvian Bridge is the context
for whatever had happened that changed Constantine’s mind
about his religious orientation. Just before the Battle
of the Milvian Bridge, something happened. There are two stories that
purport to explain the event. One is that Constantine
had a dream. And in this dream, an angel
spoke to him and ordered him to paint a symbol combining the
Greek letter chi and the Greek letter rho on his
soldiers’ shields. The rho, the R in Greek, and the
chi written as an X. The two letters symbolize, or at
least were taken later to symbolize, Christ, the first
letter being a chi, the second a rho. The second version, which is
later, that is, later in circulation as a story, but
seems perhaps to have been attested by the emperor
himself to his biographer, Eusebius. According to Eusebius,
Constantine was marching with his army before the battle. And he, along with the army,
saw a cross in the sky. And superimposed on the sun,
against which background the cross appeared, were the words,
“In this sign, you will conquer.” Hard to say which
version, if either, is what Constantine thought
happened to him. The argument for the second
one is partly Eusebius’s description, partly the fact
that angels in a dream are a standard kind of story. On the other hand, the Chi Rho
symbol is not previously a sign of Christianity. So the very fact that there
isn’t a background to that, that this is something that we
hear of now for the first time, might indicate that
that’s the true story. But more important than what
actually happened is that there’s no reason to doubt
Constantine’s sincerity. There is no reason to believe
that this was a calculating, cynical, or politically
astute move. This is not because Constantine
wasn’t devious. He was. But because it’s hard to imagine
any emperor thinking that Christianity
was a good idea. Because Christianity was
subversive of Roman values. And it was particularly
subversive of the values of the Roman army, whose crucial
aid Constantine depended on and of which Constantine had to
be the leader not only in order to defeat Maxentius, but
simply to survive in power. Christianity was pacifist. At
this time, it took more literally than it would later
the admonitions of Christ in the Gospels not to fight, not
to hit back, not to engage oneself in the pursuit
of worldly gain by means of violence. So it’s hard to imagine anything
more unlikely than an emperor becoming Christian
and gaining the support of his followers. Now that doesn’t mean that
Constantine became some sort of monk, interpreted the Gospels
literally, told his soldiers to put down
their weapons. It’s clear that Constantine
regarded the Christian god much as other emperors had
regarded, say, the Invincible Sun, or the genius of the divine
emperor, or any other pagan deity that brought
victory in war. Constantine, like all emperors,
saw himself as a child a fortune, as someone who
was favored by fortune, depended on fortune, and who
needed to placate, to mollify, to please whatever god it was
that controlled fortune. What’s unusual is that he would
deem the Christian god to be this sort of god, a leader
of war, a giver of victory in battle, a companion
to the emperor. None of this would seem, at
first glance, to be likely in Christianity. The fact that not only does it
work, but that it would work for centuries later is just part
of the cataclysmic nature of this event, or if not
cataclysmic, at least unexpected. Constantine was not ignorant. He’s someone who had studied
philosophy, who was quite literate, knew Greek pretty
well, familiar with Latin literature. But nevertheless, he was
obviously a man of affairs. He’s not an intellectual,
contemplative person, poring over philosophy books. He’s a man of power,
decisiveness, strategy, and not a little cruelty
and brutality. And we can see that after his
conversion experience– and indeed, I should point out
he did beat Maxentius–he accepted the Christian god,
he went to battle with the usurper, and he defeated him. But even after his victory, he
doesn’t become, in every respect, a totally committed
Christian at least in terms of the symbols of power
of his office. His coins, for example, which
are a very good mark of propaganda and self-regard, his
coins kept the imagery of the earlier pagan deity
associated with the emperor, the Invincible Sun. After a little while, you start
to see the Invincible Sun on one side of the coin and
the cross on the other. And only later in his reign
do we have just the cross. Constantine’s first substantive
act as a Christian or as someone who favored the
Christian church was the Edict of Tolerance. The Edict of Tolerance or Edict
of Toleration issued at Milan in 313 was jointly the
product of Constantine and Libanius, now the two
last guys standing. The Augustus of the East,
Libanius, and Constantine, the Augustus of the West. Libanius was a pagan. He did not share Constantine’s
bizarre enthusiasm, but all right. If he wanted to tolerate
Christianity, this was fine. This was part of their– I’m sorry. It’s not Libanius. Libanius is a philosopher. Licinius. Licinius. Constantine and Licinius. Licinius was a pagan, but he was
willing to go along with toleration. At this point, Christianity
was legalized. But in the west, Constantine
came to favor the Church and do more than merely accept
it as legal. For example, he returned
property confiscated in the Diocletianic persecutions. He exempted the Church from
state taxation, an incredible gift, and allowed church
officials, bishops and others, to use the imperial
communications system, the so-called post system whereby
they could get fresh horses to go from one place to another,
greatly speeding up their journeys and making the
journeys, in effect, chargeable to the state. Constantine left the pagan and
ceremonial center of Rome alone, for the time being at
least, and built two great basilicas on its outskirts. One, Saint Peter’s. The St. Peter’s that stands
today is, of course, a product of the Renaissance
and the Baroque. But the old church that was
destroyed in the sixteenth century was that
of Constantine. And he also built the
Lateran Basilica. Both of these outside
the walls of Rome. As we’ll discuss, he also
attempted to mediate in disputes involving the church. He never, however, completely marginalized the old religions. He emphasized the diversity
of religious practice. He didn’t require a single
form of worship. But by the time he died in 337,
the pace of conversions was such that perhaps as much
as half of the Empire had embraced Christianity. And this brings us to a crucial
question, of course, that we’ll be discussing
really throughout the semester, and that is what was
the effect of Constantine’s conversion on the Church? Or beyond the mere event of 312,
what did it mean for the Church to go from persecuted
minority to established majority? What explains Constantine’s
ability not only to change the course of the Roman religious
practice and tendencies, but to do so permanently? For the Church, was this
turnaround a providential sign or a kind of Trojan horse gift
in which the Church would now be so tied to the official
culture that it would never be able to shake off Rome,
administration, and bureaucracy to get back to its
original, charismatic, individual, powerful
foundations? The era of Constantine
establishes the problem of the Church in the world for
the Middle Ages and, indeed, beyond. This problem is is the church a
collection of special people who have their eyes fixed on
heaven or, is it a kind of universal society that is hard
to distinguish from just worldliness and engagement with
the world of business, life, death, and other
banalities? It is Saint Augustine who is
going to deal with this most forcibly in terms of theory, but
that’s a century later or so, well, 75 years later. Externally, the Church adapted
very quickly to success. We can see this in terms
of the pace of conversion, as I said. Not only were 50% of the people,
perhaps, Christian by 337 when Constantine died, but
by 390, the time of the Emperor Theodosius and his
death, 395, probably 90% of the population was at least
nominally Christian. The reasons for this success. In other words, how could
Constantine’s particular gesture have such a
decisive impact? Some of this has to do with
Christianity’s willingness to adopt to the customs
of the Empire. Some of it may have to do with
the weakness of the official religion of Rome and of the
urban elites who were its chief support. Those who held out against
Christianity were, on the one hand, people in the rural areas,
so peasants, whose fundamental beliefs tended to
be directed to agriculture, local deities, deities that
controlled the weather, and water, and things like that. The army, for reasons I’ve
just said, that is, Christianity is not, at first
glance, congenial to people who fight for a living. And then the third group
that held out were the intelligentsia, particularly
of Roman and Athens, the people who had a substantial
cultural investment in Greek and Roman philosophy,
the intellectual side of the old elite. Well, Constantine fell
out with Licinius. And after some small skirmishes,
Constantine managed to defeat him
at a place called Chrysopolis in 324. Licinius fled from the
battlefield, Constantine’s forces caught up with him, and
Licinius was executed. This event, this Battle
of Chrysopolis, important in itself– P-O-L-I-S– important in itself was even
more important because it showed Constantine the
importance of the small fortress city of Byzantium,
not far away. Byzantium who is the ancestor
of the city that Constantine would found there,
Constantinople. And of course, modern
Istanbul in its twenty-first century
incarnation. Byzantium commanded a strategic
point of access east-west and north-south. It was the point of access
between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. The Bosphorus is a narrow
strait that separates Europe from Asia. Byzantium, Constantinople,
Istanbul stands on the west bank, the European side, but it
commands and controls the channel by which anyone would
go from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea. And since the Black Sea is the
gateway to central Asia, it, in effect, controls
communications between two commercial, strategic,
and military zones. It also controls the route from
the Balkans, southeastern Europe, into Asia, into,
specifically in this case, Asia Minor or the Asian part
of what’s now Turkey. Byzantium is, therefore,
strategically located in terms of communication and, at the
same time, located so that an army can get to two of the most
dangerous frontiers of the Roman empire in a reasonable
amount of time without having to commit
itself to one or the other totally. It is not far from the Danube
frontier, which was, as we said, one of the points at
which the empire met the Barbarian tribes and which the
empire had sort of decided on as its natural frontier. And Constantinople was also not
that far from the eastern frontier of the Roman Empire,
the frontier with Persia, which ran along what’s now
eastern Turkey, Armenia, western Iran, and Iraq. It was the city, also,
within the richest part of the empire. As we said, one of the problems
of the Empire in its later years, its later centuries
was that the east was becoming richer, more
urban, more commercial. The west was lagging behind,
more rural, less successful in its commerce. Constantine wanted an eastern
capital for both strategic and for economic reasons. For strategic reasons having to
do with the movement of the armies and the protection
of the frontier. For economic reasons having
to do with taxation and administration. The city of Rome itself was
somewhat isolated, strangely enough since, of course, the
whole empire had grown up around Rome. But Rome was the historical
origin of the Empire, but not, in the fourth century AD, its
actual living capital. It would be too much to compare
it, say, to the relationship between Portugal
and Brazil. It’s not quite that lopsided. But Brazil is a former
colony of Portugal. They speak the language
of Portugal. Yet on the world stage, Brazil
is larger than Portugal, more important than Portugal, richer
now than Portugal. So whatever preeminence Portugal
or its capital, Lisbon, has within the world of
culture, no Brazilian would take Lisbon to be the be all and
end all of the Portuguese cultural world. So similarly, by this time, Rome
has become less important even within the western
empire. And this relocation of the
capital to Constantinople, the relocation of the capital to
the east is significant because it shows us
the permanent result of the Tetrarchy. As we’ve said, Diocletian’s
experiment was a failure in the sense that the emperors and caesars would not cooperate. And such a scheme was
never tried again. But the division of the Empire
between east and west would be something that would eventually
become permanent. Its first traces are with
Diocletian, and that’s one reason why we begin the
course with him. It is also something that
continues under Constantine without the addition
of the caesars. Constantine ruled over
the whole empire. He did not divide it himself,
but he facilitated its conceptual, and eventually real,
political division by creating a new Rome, a new
capital in the former fortress of Byzantium, a town that he
modestly named after himself. Constantinople, as this town was
called, was planned to be a new Rome. Like Rome, it would have a
forum; it would have civic spaces; it would have races
and sporting events. It would have imperial palaces
and gardens; it would have victory columns, triumphal
arches, aqueducts, the whole panoply of classical
civilization. It wouldn’t have a whole
lot of temples. Churches would be more important
than temples, not that Constantine totally
banned temples from Constantinople. But these were not the
highlights of the city. It is an ideological statement
like other planned, great, imperial sites. So we could compare it to, in
the modern world, Saint Petersburg, created by the czars
as a certain kind of statement, with a certain kind
of plan, and a certain kind of look evoking western Europe
in particular. Or Versailles, not a town at
all, but rather a kind of palace city fit for the
king of France. At this point, Constantine
becomes considerably more devout and somewhat
more intolerant. We start to see him interact
with the Christian Church in its most intimate way, that
is to say, doctrine. Constantine is appealed to by
the Donatists, schismatics– well, we’re calling
them schismatics– or heretics, as they
were decided to be, from North Africa. The Donatists taught that the
priests who had given over the scriptures under persecution at
the time of Diocletian were not legitimate priests. And we’ll talk later about
the implications of this. The implications, briefly, are
that the Church cannot cover for priests, that the office is
not greater than the man. If the man has committed a sin,
such as what was called treason, the handing over
of the scriptures to the persecutors, he no longer can
baptize validly, he no longer can perform the sacraments
with validity. Donatism, then, implies that
the Church itself is really just as good as the character
of its officials. The Donatists were strong in
North Africa, and they appeal to Constantine against decisions
that had been made against them within
the Church. The fact that Christians are
appealing to the emperor already, as early as 317, shows
the acceptance of the emperor as a Christian
arbiter. But it also shows a kind of,
in retrospect, dangerous intermingling of what
we would consider to be church and state. Similarly, Constantine would get
involved in controversies over the relationship between
God, the Father, and Christ, the Son. This, too, we’ll go into in more
detail, but this is the Arian heresy– Arian with an “i,”
not with a “y”– named after a priest named Arius
who taught that while Christ is God, he is,
in some sense, subordinate to God the Father. This is a controversy over the
nature of the Trinity in which Christ is seen as coming from
God, as emanating from God. And as I think I warned at the
beginning of the course, if you don’t like doctrinal and
theological controversy, I’ll try to spare you all its ins and
outs, but you can’t teach this course without it. Again, what we’re talking about
now is not the content of Arianism, who embraced it,
why, but the fact that the Emperor gets involved in
these controversies. On the one hand, this shows the
quick adaptation of the Church to imperial rule. On the other hand, because
Constantine was able to solve neither the Donatist nor the
Arian division, at least not definitively, and at least not
yet, it shows how difficult it was for an emperor who could
conquer all of his secular rivals, who could control this
vast realm from Gibraltar to the Tigris and Euphrates, but
couldn’t get a bunch of North African peasants to obey his
orders about how to worship or Egyptian priests either. Constantine, we can see,
is frustrated by this. You can see in the reading from
Jones, his difficulties in dealing with this
in the usual way. The usual way being the emperor
is petitioned by people, he appoints some
arbiters or judges, the judges make a decision, and then the
emperor announces to these people that that’s what
it’s going to be. The problem is that, of course,
people like the Donatists were already
used to martyrdom. Threatening them with
imprisonment, threatening them with torture, denouncing them,
trying to use the awesome, awe-inspiring power of the
emperor against them was not going to be sufficient. Nevertheless, Constantine, far
from abandoning Christianity in frustration, becomes more and
more engaged in trying to, if not officially Christianize
the Empire, at least legislate as a Christian emperor. By 330, he has come to see
himself not merely as an emperor who has a kind of
peculiar favor or a peculiar god that is following him, but
as the implementer of the mission of the Church. So for example, he starts
promulgating laws against married men having
concubines– ineffective– or the seduction of wards by
their guardians, or punishing rape by burning, all orientation
towards sexual crimes that shows a more
Christian horror of them than the more easygoing
Roman attitude. Constantine favors the church,
enacts legislation recommended by the church, favors the
bishops, and even in the 320s, presides over the first
ecumenical council of bishops of the Church called at Nicaea
across the Bosporus from Constantinople, the Ecumenical
Council of Nicaea called to deal with the Arian
controversy. And here, we see Constantine as
something different from an emperor merely the companion of
Christ or the companion of God, but the emperor
as, in some sense, head of the Church. Constantine appears at the
council, he is deferred to by the bishops. Nevertheless, he is not
himself a bishop. He is not himself, however
imperial the Church may look, able to legislate by himself
for the church. Because unlike many
other religions– and certainly when
we come to Islam, you’ll see the contrast– the political leader of the
Roman Empire is not the designated leader of the
religious practice of the Church because he is not a
priest. Now who is the designated leader of the church
is not clear yet. Certainly, it’s not yet
the pope in the 320s. It is the collectivity of
bishops, but in that case, then some bishops have more
power than others. Nevertheless, this is the
beginning of an era in which we have a blending, but not a
total equivalency of secular rule, imperial rule, on the
one hand, and spiritual or church rule on the other. And that’s one of the things
that, of course, characterizes our image of the Middle Ages,
a period in which the church and the state were overlapping
if not actually fused. Constantine in relation to
Diocletian, to conclude. Differences and similarities. Obviously, their similarities
are great. Both Diocletian and Constantine
remade the Roman Empire as a much more tightly
administered state, a more bureaucratically complicated
state, and a more militarized state. Constantine continued
Diocletian’s military and administrative structure. Like Diocletian, in order to
do this, he had to rely on very heavy taxation. If anything, his taxation had
to be greater because he had exempted the Church and its
clergy, and someone was going to have to make up
the difference. But Diocletian had persecuted
the Catholic church, whereas Constantine would favor it. And that is, of course,
a crucial difference. On the other hand, even here
there are some connections. Under Diocletian, the
emperor was a god. The emperor was a distantly
glimpsed figure. He was no longer, even in
pretense, first citizen, guy just like you and me,
hand-shaker, baby-kisser, anything like that. But this was also true
with Constantine. Constantine, too, had a
ceremonial, distant, and– because of his association
with the Church– semi-sacred status. He couldn’t be worshipped as a
god, to be sure, but he was something a bit more than
merely a follower of Christianity. Constantine ended the Tetrarchy,
but he really set the seal on the division of the
Empire east and west, as we’ve just said, by the
establishment of Constantinople. And finally, Constantine was
a little more successful economically. Diocletian did not have the
means available to Constantine who had a certain amount from
the old pagan temple treasures that he was able
to confiscate. And also, by virtue of his
victory over Licinius, he was able to rule pretty tightly
over the Empire. The fourth century often is seen
as a period of decline because we’re focused– we– historians are focused on
the collapse of the Roman Empire in the late
fifth century. But obviously, people in 337,
the year that Constantine died, did not know that
in 476 the Western Empire would collapse. They did not know that in 410
Visigoths would invade and plunder the city of Rome, no
more than we have the faintest idea of what’s going to happen
75 or 100 years from now. From their point of view, the
Empire had been restored. The Empire, which had been
endangered in the third century by invasions, inflation,
armed forces out of control, chaotic imperial
succession, was now stable. It was clear who the
emperor was. The barbarians had been pushed
back behind the frontiers. Trade, culture, civilization
seemingly flourished. And if we trust the impressions
we have of contemporaries, both formal,
written work and informal, things like the slogans that
people put in their dining room mosaics, for example, good
times had been restored. This seems to be the
constant theme. And I emphasize this because,
again, it’s a lesson in how history cannot be seen from
the front backwards. You can’t use hindsight
to tell what people should have felt. People in the fourth century
at the time of Constantine were optimistic. No more so those people who had
embraced Christianity as the coming thing, as the
religion of not only truth, but of success. What is odd is, of course, that
thus far, Christianity would have seemed
to be unlikely. Christianity would have seemed
to be alien from the Empire. And even if some emperor
embraced it for weird reasons of its own, his own, it wouldn’t
have seemed to have been the most favorable context
for the preservation of the Empire. And indeed, of course, the
Empire would fail in the west within a century and a half
or so of the embrace of Christianity. And it’s no surprise, then, that
the English historian of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon,
whose Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire sort of sets
the agenda for any course like this one. It’s no accident that Gibbon
blamed Christianity for the fall of the Empire. But indeed, in the fourth
century, it seemed that Christianity was one
of the forces that had saved the Empire. And not only that, as we will
see as this course unfolds, much of what was preserved from
the debacle of 476 and successive problems of the
preservation of civilization would be preserved through
the action of the Church. Thanks very much.