This is the assignment page for the topic "The Tradition of Christian Empire" for J. B. Owens's sections of the lower-division undergraduate course, History 101, Foundation of Western Civilization. The sole purpose of this page and all of the pages linked to it is to provide an orientation for those students enrolled in History 101.

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The Tradition of Christian Empire

ID: Octavian/Augustus (r. 27 B.C.E.-14 C.E.), Roman Law, Soldier Emperors (235-285), Diocletian (r. 284-305), Constantine (r. 307-337), so-called "Edict of Milan" (313), Council ofNicaea [Isnik] (325), Arian Heresy, Nicaean Creed, Council of Chalcedon (451), Theodosius I, the Great (r. 378-395), edict against heresy/heretics (381), edict closing pagan temples (391), Theodosius II (r. 408-450), Codex Theodosianus (438), Justinian (r. 527-565), Codex Justinianus (534)

  1. Why did Octavian (r. 27 B.C.E. - 14 C.E.) leave in place basic republican institutions when he took control of Rome's government?
  2. Why did the Roman imperial government from the reign of Augustus (Octavian) to that of Marcus Aurelius (r. 161-180 C.E.) leave so much administrative authority in the hands of prominent landowners in each local area of the Empire?
  3. Why did a concern for judicial administration and the rule of law become such an important attribute of Roman cultural environment during both the Republican and Imperial periods?
  4. Why did the Roman Empire become so unstable in the third century C.E.?
  5. On what bases did Diocletian (r. 284-305) seek to restore effect administration to the Roman Empire?
  6. What advantages did Constantine derive from his patronage of Christianity?
  7. Why did the Emperor Theodosius (r. 378-395) prohibit all non-Christian cults when Constantine and other 4th-century emperors had allowed them to exist?
  8. Why were Christians able to make theirs the dominant religious movement in the Mediterranean Basin by the death of Augustine of Hippo (died 430)?
  9. Why did the Emperor Justinian (r. 527-565) make the codification of Roman Law one of the primary projects of the early years of his reign?
  10. Why did the Christian Church in the areas under the direct authority of the Emperor in Constantinople develop and function under close secular supervision?


Kishlansky, 75, 95-100, 110-121, 130-132; Owens, chapter 6 ("Church Reform and the Struggle for European Cultural Leadership" from the section "The Christian Empire" until the section "Investiture Controversy Overview").

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Revised: 11 May 2006