Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques and Discoveries of the English Nation, by Richard Hakluyt

The life and trauels of Constantine the great, Emperour and king of Britaine.

Flauius Constantinus cognomento Magnus post Genitorum Constantium Britannorum Rex, ac Romanorum Cæsar Augustus, ex Britannica matre in Britannia natus, et in Britannia creatus Imperator, patriam natalem magnificè suæ gloria; participem fecit, Profligatis Alemanis, Hispanis, et Francis, eorúmque Regibus pro spectaculo bestijs obiectis, Galliam subiectam tenuit: Tres Helenæ matris auunculos Brittanos, Leolinum, Traherum, et Marium, quos cæteris semper fidentiores habuerat in suis fortunis, Italis à Maxentij tyrannide foelicitèr liberatis, in Senatorum ordinem Romæ promouit. Innumeræ in eo (vt Eutropius habet) claruêre tam animi, quàm corporis virtutes, dum appetentissnnus esset gloriæ militaris, successu semper in bellis prospero. Inter literas tam Græcas quàm Latinas, à Christianissima matre Helena Christi fidem edoctus, eos honorabat præcipué [‘præciqué’ in original] qui in Philosophia Christiana vitam reclinassent. Vnde ab oceani finibus nempe Britannis incipiens, ope fretus diuina, religionis curam in medijs superstitionum tenebris cepit, ab Occiduis ad Indos, innumeras ad æternæ spem vitæ erigens gentes. Animum diuinis exercendo studijs, noctes trahebat insomnes, et quæsita scribendi diuerticula per otium frequentabat: Imperium oratione, ac Sanctis operationibus continendum ratus, Egregius Christianæ disciplinæ præco, filios ac proceres docuit, pietatem diuitijs omnibus, atque adeò ipsi anteferre totius mundi Monarchiæ. Falsorum deorum euersor. Imaginum cultus per Græciam, Ægyptum, Persiam, Asiam, et vniuersam ditionem Romanam, repetitis abrogat legibus, iubens per edicta Christum coli, Euangelium prædicari sacrum, Ministris honores, et alimenta dari, atque idolorum vbíque destrui templa. Et vt fidei forma cunctis videretur, Euangelium Iesu Christi ante se semper ferri fecit, et Biblia sacra ad omnes prouincias destinari, diademáque Monarchicum primus Britannis regibus dedit: Ecclesijs infinita præstitit, agros, annonam, stipem egenis, ægris, viduis, ac orphanis, pro quibusque vt pater sollicitus. Eusebium, Lactantium, et similes, familiarissimos habuit, et hanc ad Deum orationem indiès ipsis in eius vita testibus fudit. Vnum et Deum esse nouimus, vnum te Regem intelligimus, appellamus adiutorem, nobis abs te victoria cecidit, ex te Aduersarium fudimus, &c. Pro delicijs habuit, vt Sextus Aurelianus tradit, literarum studia colere, bonos artes fouere, legere, scribere, meditari: composuit Græcè et Latinè multos libros et Epistolas. E vita Nicomediæ discessit Senex, ætatis suæ Anno 66. et Imperij 32. à Christi verò incarnatione 339. Constantinopoli sepultus, Octauio in Britannijs regnante. Eius vitam in quatuor libris Eusebius Cæsariensis Græcè scripsit, et Ioannes Portesius Gallus in Latinum transtulit sermonem.

The same in English.

Flauius Constantine, surnamed the great, king of the Britaines after his father, and Emperor of the Romanes, borne in Britanie of Helena his mother, and there created Emperour, made his natiue countrey partaker of his singular glory and renoume.

Hauing conquered and put to flight the Almanes, Spaniards, Frenchmen, and their Kings for a spectacle throwen out to wild beasts, he held France it selfe as subiect vnto him: and hauing happily deliuered the Italians from the tyrannie of Maxentius, he preferred three of his mothers vncles, all Britaines, namely, Leoline, Trahere, and Marius, whom in all his actions he had found more faithfull vnto him then any others, to be of the order of the Romane Senators.

Eutropius reporteth, that he infinitely excelled in the vertues both of the mind and body also, and that hauing a pleasure in the practise of warre, and in the iust commendation, of Martiall prowesse, he neuer pitched his field but his successe in the battel was alwayes victorious. His mother Helena hauing instructed him in the faith of Christ, although hee made much of all men that were learned in the Greeke and Latine tongues, yet he yeelded speciall honor to those that spent their time in the studie of Diuinitie, which he called Christian Philosophie: so that beginning at the furthest part of the Ocean sea, which then was taken to be his owne natiue soyle of Britaine, and trusting in the assistance of God, when the darkenes of superstition was most thicke, then hee vndertooke a care of Religion, stirring vp innumerable nations from the West as farre as India it selfe, to the hope of eternall life.

Hee passed many nightes without sleepe, hauing his minde occupied in diuine studies: and whensoeuer his laisure from greater affaires did permit him, his vacant times should be spent in the vse of writing and other good exercises, assuring himselfe that his kingdomes and Empire were to be continued and strengthened to him by prayer and holy workes: and oftentimes taking vpon him as it were the person of a notable preacher of Christian discipline, he would teach his children and nobilitie, that godlinesse was to be preferred before riches, yea, before the Monarchie of all the world.

He ouerthrew the false gods of the heathens, and by many lawes often reuiued, he abrogated the worshipping of Images in all the countries of Greece, Egypt, Persia, Asia, and the whole Romane Empire, commanding Christ onely by his Edicts to be worshipped, the sacred Gospell to be preached, the Ministers thereof to be honored and relieued, and the temples of Idoles euery where to be destroyed.

Whithersoeuer he went hee caused the booke of the Gospell of Christ to be still caried before him, that thereby it might appeare to be a forme of faith to all men, and to appertaine generally to all nations.

He was the first that appointed an Imperiall Diademe, or Crowne to the Kings of Britaine.

He was most beneficiall to all Churches, bestowing vpon them lands and fields, and vpoh the poore, sicke persons, widowes and orphanes, corne and wood, being as carefull of them as if he had beene their naturall father.

He vsed learned men most familiarly, as Eusebius, Lactantius and others, and they are witnesses that this was his usuall prayer to God. O Lord we know thee to be the onely God, we are sure that thou art the onely King, and wee call vpon thee as our helper: through thee we haue gotten the victorie, and by thee we haue ouerthrowen the enemie.

Sextus Aurelius reporteth, that it was his greatest delight to imbrace the studie of learning, to fauour good Arts, to read, write and meditate, and that he composed many bookes and Epistles both in the Greeke and Latine tongues.

He died at Nicomedia, being then 66. yeres of age, in the 32. yere of his reigne, and in the 339. yeere after the Incarnation of Christ, and was buried at Constantinople, Octauius being then King of Britaine: whose life Eusebius bishop of Cæsarea hath written in Greeke in 4 bookes, which afterwards, were translated into the Latine tongue by Iohn Portes a Frenchman.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/h/hakluyt/voyages/v05/chapter21.html

Last updated Monday, March 10, 2014 at 22:44