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Class Notes
Chapter 9 Section 3 Outline
Name: ___________________________ Period: _______ Date: ________
***Constantine: Emperor of Rome from A.D. 312 to 337; strongly encouraged the spread
of Christianity
From Good Rule to Bad
A. The Christian Church provided comfort and authority at a time when the
mighty Roman Empire was close to collapse
B. By the time Constantine took power, he could do little to stop the empire’s
C. The trouble had started 125 years ago when Marcus Aurelius died and left
his son Commodus in power
D. Commodus stood by as others worked to destroy the power and prestige of
the senate
E. Commodus did not seek approval from the senate before he acted; instead
he kept power by bribing the army to support him
Q&A Time!
What happened to the Roman senate under the emperor Commodus?
The Empire Crumbles
A. The decline of the Roman Empire began under Commodus
B. Several problems led to the fall of Rome
C. Weak, Corrupt Rulers
1. After Commodus, emperors were former successful generals who:
a. Stole money from the treasury
b. Used money to enrich themselves
c. Paid for the loyalty of their soldiers
2. Government and economy became weak, and the senate lost power
D. A Mercenary Army
1. In earlier times, the Roman army had been made up of citizen
soldiers ready to defend their land
Class Notes
2. Now, however, the army was filled with mercenaries
a. Mercenary: A soldier who serves for pay in a foreign army
3. Mercenaries were motivated by money, not by loyalty to any cause
a. They often switched sides if it was to their personal advantage
E. The Size of the Empire
1. The Roman Empire had grown too large
2. Enemies launched attacks all over the empire
3. The Roman army spent its time defending the empire instead of
extending its authority
4. As a result, the empire shrank
F. Serious Economic Problems
1. When Rome stopped conquering new lands, new sources of wealth
were not longer available
2. The empire struggled to pay for its army
3. To raise money, the government raised taxes
4. The people of the empire suffered severe unemployment
5. Food was scarce, so prices went up
6. To pay for food, the government produced more coins
a. The value of those coins was dependent upon the amount of
silver in them
b. But because the government did not have much silver, less of
this metal was put in each coin
c. This resulted in inflation
a. Inflation: An economic situation in which the government
issues more money with lower value
d. When inflation is not controlled, money buys less and less
e. Roman coins soon became worthless
G. Efforts to Stop the Decline
1. Some emperors tried to stop the empire’s decline by working to
strengthen Rome
a. Enlarged the army
b. Built new forts at the borders
c. Improved the tax system
d. Divided the empire into two parts to make it easier to rule
Q&A Time!
What problems did having a mercenary army cause for the empire?
Class Notes
Constantine and Christianity
A. For seven years after A.D. 305, there was a struggle for power between
B. Constantine became the sole ruler of the Roman Empire in the West
1. Licinius and Maximinus became rulers of the Roman Empire in the
C. Freedom of Religion
1. Under emperors in the past, Christians had been tortured and
punished for their beliefs
2. Under the rule of Constantine and Licinius, they proclaimed freedom
of worship for people across the empire
3. Now Rome no longer persecuted the Christians, so they were free to:
a. Practice their religion openly
b. Organize churches
c. Get property back that was taken from them
4. Christianity soon became the official religion of the Roman Empire
D. Another Christian Victory
1. Constantine became emperor of both the East and West parts of the
Roman Empire after winning several battles against Licinius
2. Constantine ended the last of the persecutions of Christians in the
East; he saw his victory over Licinius as proof that the Christian God
was working through him
E. Building a Faith
1. During his 25 years as emperor, Constantine worked to strengthen
the Christian church
a. Stopped the church from almost splitting apart when eastern
and western church leaders disagreed on certain issues
b. Constructed many important Christian places of worship
F. A New Capital
1. Constantine moved the capital of the Roman Empire east from Rome
to the city of Byzantium (present-day Turkey)
2. Spent A LOT of money enlarging Byzantium and filling it with riches
3. At first, Constantine called Byzantium “New Rome”; eventually
changed the name to Constantinople, “the city of Constantine”
Class Notes
4. With the emperor and the empire’s capital in Constantinople, the
power of the Roman Empire was firmly in the East
Q&A Time!
What city became the new capital of the Roman Empire?
Invasions and Collapse
A. After Constantine died, invaders from the north swept across Rome’s
borders and overwhelmed the empire
B. In the past, the Roman army had been able to defeat the Germanic tribes,
but now they could not stop the intruders
C. In the 400s, the Germanic tribes overran the empire
D. The Visigoths and the Vandals captured and looted Rome
E. The last Roman emperor was 14-year-old Romulus Augustulus
F. No emperor ruled over Rome and the western part of the empire again
G. But the eastern part of the empire remained strong
1. The capital, Constantinople, remained the center of a new empire,
the Byzantine Empire for 1,000 years