Constantine created emperour in Britaine, he is sollicited to take vpon him the regiment of those countries that his father gouerned, he is requested to subdue Maxentius the usurping tyrant, Maximianus his father seeketh to depose him, Con stantines death is purposed by the said Maximianus the father & his sonne Maxentius, Fausta the daughter of Maximianus & wife to Constantine detecteth hir fathers trecherie to his husband, Muximianus is strangled at Constantines commandement, lèague and alliance betweene him and Licinius, he is slaine, the empresse Helen commended, the crosse of Christ found with the inscription of the same, what miracles were wrought thereby, of the nailes wherewith Christ was crucified, Constantine commended, the state of Britaine in his time.
The Xxviij. Chapter.
CONSTANTINE being the son of the forenamed Constantius, begot of his first wife Helen, the daughter (as some affirme) of Coell late king of the Britains, began to reigne in
the yéere of our Lord 306. This worthie prince begotten of a British woman, & borne of hir in Britaine (as our writers doo affirme) and created certeinlie emperour in Britaine, did doubtlesse make his natiue countrie e partaker of his high glorie and renowme, which by his great prowes, politike wisedome, woorthie gouernment, and other his princelie quaities most abundantlie planted in his noble person, he purchased and got thorough the circuit of the whole earth, insomuch that for the high enterprises and noble acts by him happilie brought to passe and atchiued, he was surnamed (as before is said) the great Constantine. Whiles this Constantine remained at Rome in manner as he had béene a pledge with Galerius in his fathers life time, he being then but yoong, fled from thence, and with all post hast returned to his father into Britaine, killing or howghing by the waie all such horsses as were appointed
Eutropius. Sextus Aurelius Victor.
to stand at innes readie for such as should ride in post, least being pursued, he should haue béene ouertaken, and brought backe againe by such as might be sent to pursue him.
At his comming into Britaine, he found his father sore vexed with sicknesse, whereof shortlie after he died, the then was he by helpe of such as were about him, incouraged to
Erocus king of the Almains.
take vpon him as emperour: and namelie one Erocus king of the Almains which had accompanied his father thither, assisted him thereto, so that being proclaimed emperour, he tooke vpon him the rule of those countries which his father had in gouernment, that is to saie, France, Spaine, the Alpes, and Britaine, with other prouinces héere in the west: and ruling the same with great equitie and wisdome, he greatly wan the fauour of the people, insomuch that the fame of his politike gouernment and courteous dealing being spred abroad,
Maxentius the tyrant.
when Maxentius the tyrant that occupied the rule of the empire at Rome, and in Italie by wrongfull vsurping & abusing the same, was grown into the hatred of the Romans and other Italians, Constantine was earnest by the by them requested to come into Italie, and to helpe to subdue Maxenius, that he might reforme the state of things there.
This Maxentius was sonne to Herculeus Maximianus, and Constantine had married Fausta the daughter of the said Maximianus. Now so it was, that Maximianus, immediatlie after that his sonne Maxentius had taken the rule vpon him, sought meanes to haue deposed him, and to haue resumed and taken eftsoones, into his owne hands the gouernment of the empire. But soliciting Dioclesian to doo the like, he was much reprooued of him for his vnreasonable and ambitious purpose: so that when he perceiued that neither Dioclesian would be thereto agreeable, nor induce the souldiers to admit him, they hauing alreadie established his sonne, began to deuise waies how to assure the state more stronglie to his said sonne. And hearing that his sonne in law Constantine was minded, to come into Italie against him, he purposed to practise Constantines destruction, insomuch that it was iudged by this which followed, that
Herculeus Maximianus did but for a colour séenme to mislike that which his said son Maxentius had doone, to the end he might the sooner accomplish his intent for the dispatching of Constantine out of the waie.
Heerevpon (as it were) fléeing out of Italie, he came to Constantine, who as then hauing
appointed lieutenants vnder him in Britaine, remained in France, and with all ioy and honour that might be, receiued his father in law: the which being earnestlie bent to compasse his purpose, made his daughter Fausta priuie thereto: which ladie (either for feare least the concealing
Fausta the daughter of Maximianus and wife to Constantine. Marsiles.
thereof might turne hir to displeasure, either else for the entire loue which she bare to hir husband) reuealed hir fathers wicked purpose. Wherevpon whilest Constantine went about to be reuenged of such a traitorous practise, Herculeus fled to Marsiles, purposing there to take the sea, and so to retire to his sonne Maxentius into Italie. But yer he could get awaie from thence, he was strangled by commandement of his sonne in law Constantine, and
Maximianus slaine. Ann. Chri. 322.
so ended his life, which he had spotted with manie cruell acts, as well in persecuting the professours of the christian name, as others.
In this meane time had Maximianus adopted one Licinius to assist him in gouernance of the
Licinius chosen fellow with Maximianus in the empire.
empire, proclaiming him Caesar. So that now at one selfe time Constantine gouerned France and the west parts of the empire, Maxentius held Italie, AfFrike, and Aegypt: and Maximianus which likewise had beene elected Caesar, ruled the east parts, and Licinius Illyriunm and Grecia. But shortlie after, the emperour Constantine ioined in league with Licinius, and gaue to him his sister in marriage, named Constantia, for more suertie of faithfull friendship to indure betwixt them. He sent him also against Maximianus who gouerning in the east part of the empire, purposed the destruction of Constantine and all his partakers: but being vanquished by Licinius at Tarsus, he shortlie after died, being eaten with lice. Constantine after this was called into Italic, to deliuer the Romans and Italians from the tyrannie of Maxentius, which occasion so offered, Constantine gladlie accepting, passed into Italie, and after.certeine victories got against Maxentius, at length slue him.
After this, when Maximianus was dead, who prepared to make warre against Licinius, that had married Constantia the sister of Constantine, he finallie made warre against his brother in law the said Licinius, by reason of such quarrels as fell out betwixt them. In the which warre Licinius was put to the woorse, and at length comming into the hands of Constantine, was put to death, so that Constantine by this meanes got the whole empire vnder his rule and subiection. He was a great fauourer of the Christian religion, insomuch that to aduance the same, he tooke order for the conuerting of the temples dedicated to the honour of idols, vnto the seruice of the true and almightie God. He commanded also, that none should be admitted to serue as a souldier in the warres, except he were a christian, nor yet
Christians honoured and cherished.
to haue rule of anie countrie or armie. He also ordeined, the wéeke before Easter, and that which followed to be kept as holie, and no person to doo anie bodilie woorks during the same.
He was much counselled by that noble and most vertuous ladie his mother, the empresse
Polydor. The praise of the empresse Helen.
Helen, who being a godlie and deuout woman, did what in hir laie, to mooue him to the setting foorth of Gods honour and increase of the Christian faith, wherein as yet he was not fullie instructed. ¶ Some writers alledge, that she being at Ierusalem, made diligent search
to find out the place of the sepulchre of our Lord, and at length found it, though with much adoo: for the infidels had stopped it vp, and couered it with a heape of filthie earth, and builded aloft vpon the place, a chappell dedicated to Venus, where yoong women vsed to sing songs in honour of that vnchast goddesse. Helen caused the same to be ouerthrowne, the earth to be remooued, and the place cleansed, so that at length the sepulchre appéered, and fast by were found there buried in the earth thrée crosses and the nailes. But the crosse wherevpon our Sauiour was crucified, was knowne by the title written vpon it, though almost worne out, in letters of Hebrew, Gréeke, and Latine: the inscription was this, Iesus Nazarenus rex Indæorum.
It was also perceiued which was that crosse by a miracle (as it is reported, but how trulie I can not tell) that should be wrought thereby: for being laid to a sicke woman, onlie with the touching thereof she was healed. It was also said, that a dead man was raised from death to life, his bodie onlie being touched therewith. Wherevpon Constantine mooued with these things, forbad that from thencefoorth anie should be put to death on the crosse, to the end that the thing which afore time was accounted infamous and reprochfull, might now be had in honour and reuerence.
The empresse Helen hauing thus found the crosse, builded a temple there, & taking with hir the nailes, returned with the same to hir sonne Constantine, who set one of them in the crest of
his helmet, an other in the bridle of his horsse, and the third he cast into the sea, to asswage and pacifie the furious tempests and rage thereof. She also brought with hir a parcell of that
holie crosse, and gaue it to hir sonne the said Constantine, the which he caused to be closed within an image that represented his person, standing vpon a piller in the market place of Constantine, or (as some late writers haue) he caused it to be inclosed in a coffer of gold, adorned with rich stones and pearls, placing it in a church called Sessoriana, the which church he indued with manie great gifts and precious ornaments. Manie works of great zeale and vertue are remembered by writers to haue béene doone by this Constantine and his mother Helen, to the setting foorth of Gods glorie, and the aduancing of the faith of Christ.
The commendation of Constantine.
But to be briefe, he was a man in whome manie excellent vertues and good qualities both of mind and bodie manifestlie appéered, chiefle he was a prince of great knowledge and experience in warre, and therewith verie fortunate, an earnest louer of iustice, and to, conclude, borne to all honour.
But now to speake somewhat of the state of Britaine in his time, ye shall vnderstand, that as before is recorded, at his going ouer into France, after that he was proclaimed emperour, he left behind him in Britaine certeine gouernours to rule the land, and amongst other one Maximinus a right valiant capteine. He tooke with him a great part of the youth of Britaine, and diuerse of the chiefe men amongst the nobilitie, in whose approoued manhood, loialtie, and constancie, he conceiued a great hope to go thorough with all his enterprises, as with the which being accompanied and compassed about, he passed ouer into Gallia, entred into Italie, and in euerie place ouercame his enimies.
Culielmus Malmes. Britains seruing in the warres vnder Constantine.
Some write that Constantine thus conueieng ouer sea with him a great armie of Brntains, and by their industrie obteining victorie as he wished, he placed a great number of such as were discharged out of wages, and licenced to giue ouer the warre, in a part of Gallia towards the west sea coast, where their postenrtie remaine vnto, this daie, maruellouslie increased afterwards, and somewhat differing from our Britains, the Welshmen, in manners and language. Amongst those noble men which he tooke with him when he departed out
Galfridus. Matt. West.
of this land (as our writers doo testifie) were thrée vncles of his mother Helen, that is to say, Hoelmus, Trahernus, and Marius, whome he made senators of Rome.