A great British Roman emperor

20th January 2006 at 00:00
We hear a lot about pupils being taught about Tudors and Nazi Germany to the exclusion of other history. This year marks the anniversary of an event as important as any in British history, and perhaps the most significant in Christendom since Jesus Christ. It happened 1,700 years ago in York (then called Eboracum), when on July 25, 306 Constantine was proclaimed emperor of Rome.

Constantine the Great was the first Roman ruler to convert to Christianity.

He built St Peter's church in Vatican City and founded Constantinople (now Istanbul) as capital of the eastern Roman empire.

In 325 he presided over the first ecumenical council at Nicaea (now Iznik) in Turkey, at which the words of the Nicene Creed, which are still repeated with little change, were agreed.

This man, who ended the persecution of Christians, who unified the divided groups within Christianity, who restored the civil powers of government and the senate, and who reunited East and West in Europe's greatest empire, deserves better recognition. He was perhaps the most influential individual in the development of European civilisation.

Is Britain's own great Roman emperor not worthy of celebration?

James Darley Gledehill, Green End Road Radnage, High Wycombe, Bucks

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