Capitulum vicesimum sextum. Orosius.
CONSTANTINE doynge grete actes of chevallery, the knyȝhtes*. [Constanti|nus.] pretorian of Rome namede Maxentius the son of Maximian Page 117, vol.5 emperour. Ageynes whom Galerius themperoure sende Severus to Rome with alle his hoste, whom he hade made Cesar. This Severus puttenge sege to the cite of Rome, be|trayede thro his knyȝhtes, fleenge to Ravenna, was sleyne þer. Herculeus fader to Maxentius perceyvenge that, intendede to have reioycede thempire ageyne; whiche devicte in batelle fledde to his sonne in lawe Constantyne in to Fraunce, to take aweye his possessiones from hym by treason; whiche was detecte [folio 229b] to Constantyne by his wife Fausta, doȝhter of the seide Herculeus, whiche fleenge unto Marsilia was sleyne. This Galerius ȝiffen to grete persecucion by x. yere, hade the partes interialle of his breste and exterialle putrefiede and Page 119, vol.5 corrupte so soore, in so moche that the corrupte and pestilente savour and aier of hit destroyede mony of his lecches. Wherefore oon leche seide to hym that hit was the punyschenge of God; wherefore Galerius revokede and ȝafe licence to Cristen peple put in to exile; neverthelesse he diede miserably in that peyne. Silvester the secunde was successor to Mel|chiades the pope xxiiijti yere; whiche made clene Constantyne themperour of a grete lepre in baptisenge hym, and delyverede the cite of Rome from the pestilence of a dragon, areysenge a dedde bulle to lyfe thro his preyer, and confusede the Iewes in disputacions. Whiche kepede the firste grete cownsayle of Nicene, of ccc. and xviij. bischoppes; havenge the names of Page 121, vol.5 pover childer, of pover men, and of wedoes, wryten in a litelle rolle, to whom he providede þinges necessary to theire lyvynge. Whiche ordeynede that peple scholde faste in the iiijthe fery, the vjthe fery, and on Seturday, willenge Thirsday to be haloed as the Sonneday, for that cause that Criste ordeynede and institute the blessed sacramente of his body, ascendenge to hevyn also on a Thursday, and in that holy creme was made and blessede on a Thursday. Giraldus, distinctio prima. Constantyne makenge haste to ȝiffe batelle ageyne Maxencius, the vijthe yere of his reigne, se in his slepe in the firmamente a signe of the crosse schynynge with briȝhtenesse excellente, and angelles assistenge, and seyenge, "Constantyne, thoy|canata;" that is to say, "Thow schalle have victory by this signe;" whiche awakenge and arysenge causede the signe of the crosse to be peyntede in þe baners of his knyȝhtes. Page 123, vol.5 This Maxencius extincte at Pownte Mylyne, Constantyne entrede in to Rome, causenge the ymage or signe of the crosse to be peyntede in the ryȝhte hondes of the ymages whom the senate made in his honoure for that grete victory, and to be wryten under, "This is the*. [Sic in MS.] of God invincible." Gaufridus et [folio 230a] Alfridus. Constantyne returnenge from Briteyne to thempyre, a duke of the Gewiseyes, Octavius by name, entrede in to the realme of Briteyne; wherefore Constantyne sende to Ynglonde or Briteyne Traerhn,*. [Here is a note: "Helena was a Brittaine or Welshe woman, and the righte name of her uncle is Trahaern, the same countryman: Trahaern is a Welshe name."] uncle to Helene his moder, with iij. legiones of knyȝhtes, to ȝiffe batelle to Octavius; whiche ȝiffenge diverse batelles togedre, Traerhn was sleyne by treason; and so Octavius reignede in Briteyne un to the tymes off Gracian and Valentinian emperoures. Giraldus, distinctio prima. Constantyne was smyten and infecte with a grete lepre after that he hade victory of Maxencius. ℞. Somme men wille Page 125, vol.5 that he was smyten with a lepre for his merite, in that he did persecucion to the churche, as hit is redde in Legenda Sanc|torum, in the life of Silvester; in whiche persecucion Seynte Silvester fledde from the cite. But withowte dowte hit is pleyne that he was made clene of that lepre by Seynte Silvester, for what so ever cause hit come to hym. Giraldus, ubi supra. Thre ml yonge childer were brouȝhte to Constan|tyne that he myȝhte be bathede in the bloode of theyme, after the cownesayle of the senators and of the gentile bischoppes. Then Constantyne beholdenge the moders of the childer*. [Of pyte.] makenge grete sorowe seide, "The dignite of thempire of Rome is spronge of the welle of pite and of compassion, for a man were worthy to be punyschede sore that did slee an infante in batelle." De Legenda Silvestri. "Then how cruelle is hit to us to do to oure awne childer þat we be prohibite to do to other. What profitethe hit to have victory of men Page 127, vol.5 of barbre, if we be overcommen amonge oure selfe? to have victory of straunge peple is a vertu of myȝhte, and to overcome vices is a vertu of goode disposicion. In those batelles we be stronger then oure enemyes, in these batelles we be stronger then oure selfe; wherefore pite and com|passion schalle have victory in this progresse, that we may have rather victory of oure enemyes. For hit is better to us to dye, the life of these innocentes salvede, then to recure oure cruelle lyfe by the dethe of theyme; and ȝitte to be healede by theyme y have noo certenty, but hit is certeyne that life so recurede is cruelle." Seynte Petyr and Paule*. [Seynte Petyr and Paule ap|pered to Constan|tyne.] apperede to hym in the nyȝhte, seyenge, "In that thow abhorreste to schede the blode of innocentes, take cowne|sayle of sawlehealethe, and calle to the Silvester, lyenge prively in the mownte callede Seraptis." Whiche brouȝhte [folio 230b] to Constantyne, brouȝhte with hym the ymages of Petyr and Paule whiche apperede to hym, whiche beholdenge theym was Page 129, vol.5 restorede to heale. After that, Silvester movenge hym to take the feithe of Criste, commaundede hym to faste by a weke, whiche baptiȝede at the laste confessede that he see oure Lorde Ihesu Criste. ℞. Neverthelesse Ambrose and Ierom in his cronicle reherse that Constantyne differrede to be baptiȝede un to the laste dayes of his age, that he myȝhte be baptiȝede in Iordan. Constantyne baptiȝede by Seynte Silvester, causede prisones to be openede, and the temples of ydoles to be de|stroyede, churches to be openede, olde churches to be repairede and newe to be made, to whom he grawntede grete immuni|tees and privileges, makenge the pope of Rome the hieste bischop of the worlde, assignenge the xthe parte of alle his possessions to churches. Whiche toke also a mattoke in his honde firste to repaire the churche of Seynte Petyr, and bare Page 131, vol.5 x. leepes fulle of erthe to hit on his schulders. Giraldus, ubi supra. The churche of Rome made ryche by Constantyne, began to be of lesse devocion, and the peple usede more to pride then they were afore. For hit is seide that this graunte and ȝifte made to þe churche by Constantyne, the enemy to mankynde seide in the aiere, "Poyson is infusede this day in to the churche of God." Wherefore Seynte Ierom writethe in vitis patrum that the churche decreasede in vertues sethe hit encreasede in possessiones. Also themperour made a churche in to the honoure of Seynte Iohn Evangeliste in the palice Lateranense, in whom he made a fonte or baptistery of a ston prophiritike onournede withyn with silvyr, in the myddes of whom was a piller berenge a cruette of golde with bawme Page 133, vol.5 brennenge faste in hit. In Legenda Silvestri. Silvester dedicate that churche in the ixthe day of November; in whiche day an ymage of oure Savioure apperede in the walle of hit [folio 231a] to alle peple, not made by the honde of man, but by allemyȝhty God, remaynenge þer un to this tyme presente. This Silvester commaundede the awters to be made of ston, settenge oon awter made of woode in that churche, in whom mony peple seyde Seynte Petyr to have songe masse. For un tille that tyme þer was noo certeyne stacion of*. [Sic in MS.] bischoppes, for grete persecucion syngenge masse in secrete places on awters por|tative. Helene beynge at Briteyne, herenge that sodeyn disposicion of Constantyne here son, sende letters to hym commendenge hym that he hade refusede the honoure of ydoles, commendynge not hym in that he belevide in a man crucifiede. Page 135, vol.5 Constantyne did write un to his moder a letter remissive, movenge her to brynge maisters of the Iewes, and a disputacion hade the trawthe scholde appere. Wherefore Helena, moder to Constantyne, brouȝhte with her a c. and xlti grete clerkes of the Iewes, whom Seynte Silvester with other trewe clerkes of Criste mette. At the laste a certeyne of the Iewes and of the gentiles electe to dispute were convicte by Silvester. After longe disputacion hade, oon of the Iewes rehersede certeyne wordes in the eer of a wilde bulle, where thro he diede anoon; wherefore a grete multitude of peple cryede and holdede ageyne the feythe of Silvester. To whom Silvester seide that he rehersede not the name of God, that may brynge to dethe and restore hit ageyne to lyfe, as David rehersethe in the person of Criste, "I schalle sle, and y schalle make whicke and to lyve the thynge that is dedde." But he expressede oonly the name of a develle, whose powere is oonly to peresche and to sle, and that by the permission of God; for to slee and not to restore to lyfe is lyke to the powere of lyones and of wulfes and of oþer bestes. "Wherefore if he Page 137, vol.5 wille that y schalle beleve after his ryte, lete him brynge to lyfe the bulle that he hathe sleyne; and if he can not, lette the Iewes make promisse that thei wille receyve the feithe of Criste if that Silvester reyse hym to lyve." That bulle re|storede to lyfe at the preyers of Seynte Silvester, Helena the moder of Constantyne, and the Iewes, were baptiȝede, and receyvede þe feithe of Criste. After that Constantyne [folio 231b] sente his moder to Ierusalem to brynge from thens the holy crosse on whom Criste suffrede passion. This Helene, moder to Constantyne, commenge to Ierusalem putte parte of the*. [Seynte Helene, moder to] holy crosse y-founde in a holy place, bryngenge an other parte Page 139, vol.5 with iiij. nayles to her sonne, tweyne of whom sche putte in the brydelle of her sonne; the thrydde in the ymage of the crucifixe, castenge þe iiijthe in to the see Adriatyke, whiche was un tylle that tyme the devourer and sqwalowe of schippes sayl|enge in hit; from that tyme the feste of the invention of the*. [Constan|tyne, founde the holy crosse of Criste.] holy crosse was halowede. After that themperour Constan|tyne departede from Rome to Biȝantium, whom he namede afterwarde Constantinopole, after his name; whom he honourede with edifyenges, churches, and with dignite of a patriarke, bryngenge mony noble men from Rome to inhabite hit. Giraldus, ubi supra. There were thre patriarkes oonly in the*. [The patriarkes.] primitive churche, after the thre patriarkes Abraham, Ysaac, and Iacob; oon in Asia at the cite of Anthiochia, the secunde in Affrike at Alexandria, the thridde in Europe at Rome. Seynte Petre consecrate those thre seetes, in tweyne of whom he was presidente, and Marcus his disciple occupiede the Page 141, vol.5 thrydde seete at the cite off Alexandria. But after that the cownesayle Nicene ȝafe to the bischop of Rome that privilege, that he scholde be fader and principalle of alle bischoppes, lyke as themperour of Rome is above alle other kynges. And then the place of the patriarke was chaungede to Constanti|nopole,*. [Of the super emi|nence of the churche off Rome.] as un to the secunde Rome. That other seetes of the patriarkes bene chaungede, as the patriarke of Antiochia to Ierusalem, and the patriarke of Alexandria to Aquileia, is supposede to be doen for this cause, that wickede peple of Criste scholde falle in to the hondes and power of þeire enemyes and untru peple, and so by a consequente thei scholde loose hooly places. Eusebius in Historia Ecclesiastica, libro decimo. Constantyne themperour ȝafe grete reverence and honoure to prestes, wherefore he commaunded a cownesayle to be kepede at Nicene, by the cownesayle of Seynte Silvester, that the feithe of [folio 232a] Criste myȝhte encrease, and that it myȝhte be declarede and made open. But mony of the bischoppes hade gedrede compleyntes eiche ageyne other, and brouȝhte theyme to themperour that Page 143, vol.5 he scholde do ryȝhteuousenes þerof. Themperour perceyvenge that, and thenkenge the causes of the churche, for whom thei com thider, to be made voide þerby, assignede theym a day after theire cownselle to decide the maters y-movede, writenge theire maters in a booke, and brente theym prively, seyenge: "God hathe made yow as oure iugges, þerfore me thenke it incon|veniente that we scholde iugge yow as oure lordes. But ye awe to speke raþer of your transgressiones and offenses amonge yor selfe, that the disclaunder of your ylle disposicion scholde not be knowen amonge your enmyes; and if ye wille stryve nedely, abyde youre iuggemente of God, as the prophete rehersethe, 'Deus stetit in,' etc. For truly and if y see oon man or eny man of yor religion synne with a woman y wolde cover hym with my mantelle or palle, leste that detraccion scholde sprynge of your religion. Wherefore, brether, procede Page 145, vol.5 in this processe, for the utilite of the feithe of Criste;" and these wordes y-seyde he brente the libelles of the compleyntes. Blessede Martyne was borne in this yere, and movede to þe feithe of Criste in þe xij. yere of his age, laborenge in cheval|lery in the xvj. yere, and was baptizede in the xviij. yere of*. [Seynte Martyne borne this tyme.] his age, usenge werre and actes of chevallery by ij. yere under Iulius after that tyme. The cownsayle Nicene was kepede by ccc. and xviij. bischoppes at the cite callede Nicena in Bithinia, ageyne the Arrianes, Fotynes, and Sabellianes, the seventeen kalendes of Iulius, in whiche cownselle Seynte Nicholas the*. [Seynte Nicholas. Of the ordi|naunce of Lente.] bischop was. Where hit was ordeynede that Lente, or faste of xlti daies, whiche began afore in the viij. idus of Ianuary unto the xv. kalendes of Marche, scholde begynne and endure after the maner and consuetude usede nowe, and that for iij. causes. The firste cause that oure faste myȝhte be cowplede to the passion of Criste. The secunde cause was that peple myȝhte Page 147, vol.5 receyve the blissede body of Criste in the ende of that faste and abstinence. The thrydde cause was that Criste myȝhte fynde us fastenge. Eusebius and Pamphilus write the story ecclesiasticalle un to this processe, whiche story is callede tripertite. Seynte Ierome writethe after this un to the tymes [folio 232b] of Theodosius the yonger, and Theodosius*. [Sic in MS.] the bischop endethe this story. Arnobius the rethoricion was of grete fame in Affrica abowte this tyme; whiche, monyschede in his slepe to receyve the feithe of Criste, cowthe not be admittede by the bischope of that place to the feithe of Criste un tylle that he hade made certeyne bookes of the feithe. Marcus the pope succeded Silvester viij. monethes; whiche ordeynede that the bischoppe Ostiense scholde were a palle, and that he scholde consecrate the pope; to whom Atthanasius Alexandrinus did write, with other bischoppes of Egipte, for lxxti chapitres made commune in the cownsayle Nicene, in whiche epistole þe seide Attanasius, bischoppe of Alexandria, knowlegede the bookes of Page 149, vol.5 the Arrianes to be brente. Iulius the pope succeded Marcus xvj. yere; whiche was putte in to exile in the tyme of Con|stantine the secunde. The boones of Seynte Andrewe tha|postole and of Seynte Luke were translate to Constantinopole. Constantyne the noble emperour diede at Nichomedia, and Seynte Ierom was borne this tyme. That Seynte Ierome seythe Constantyne to have bene baptiȝede of Eusebius the bischoppe of Nichomedia, is to be understonde of Constantyne son to Constantyne the nowble emperour. For Seynte Gregory, in his registre, writenge to Mauricius themperour, callethe Con|stantyne a man of goode memory; and his departenge also is approbate in þe story tripartite; and Seynte Ambrose, on the xiiijthe Psalme, seithe Constantyne to have bene of grete merite afore God. Also Isidorus in his cronicles seythe that he hade Page 151, vol.5 an happy ende. In honour of whom men of the cuntre of Grece halowede the xjthe day of the monethe of May.