chapter  8
Decline and Fall
Pages 44

The “culmination of human history” was the reign of Constantine to contemporaneous historian Eusebius.1 The Later Roman Empire recovered from anarchy and civil wars. A civilian bureaucracy came of age and effectively collected elevated taxes from the lower classes. The enlarged military organized the best troops into mobile field armies, the cream of which attached to the emperor. The currency was stabilized with a new gold coin partly financed by the systematic despoliation of pagan temples. Christianity triumphed as the state religion and its church soared in power and wealth. Constantinople sprang up with dizzying speed, crowded with magnificent palaces and churches and endowed with a Senate of its own. Barbarians were defeated and captured kings fed to wild beasts.2 A panegyric sang of Constantine, “you defy the remnants of the defeated tribe and compel them never to abandon their fears but to be in constant terror, and to keep outstretched their hands in submission.”3 Persia came to bid for peace, but was rebuffed. Constantine “proposed to wage the war as a Christian crusade,” a modern historian writes.4 He died while embarking on the campaign. That was 337 CE. Rome would be sacked by the Visigoths seventy-three years later and, in sixty-six more years, the Western Roman Empire would disintegrate into barbarian kingdoms.