Northern Africa 333: Ezana the Great
Constantine’s victory over Licinius in 324 firmly established Christianity as the dominant religion in the Roman Empire. Encouraged by Roman missionaries, the assertive Ezana of Aksum officially adopted the Christian faith in the early 330s, becoming the first ruler in the region to do so.
18 Sep 324 Battle of Chrysopolis▲
Having secured naval supremacy, Constantine crossed the Bosporus in September 324 and established himself near Chrysopolis. Licinius, who had rallied a new army in Asia, marched out to face him but Constantine attacked first and swiftly defeated him. The next day Consantia, Licinius’ wife and Constantine’s sister, persuaded Constantine to spare his rival’s life and Licinius was allowed to live in security in Thessalonica. However, the following year Constantine accused him of conspiring against him, possibly with the Tervingi Goths, and had him executed.
8 Nov 324–11 May 330 Foundation of Constantinople▲
Following his victory over Licinius, Constantine selected Byzantium—strategically located between Europe and Asia, and the Black Sea and Mediterranean—as the site for his new imperial residence. Over the next six years he had the city greatly expanded and encouraged people from across the Roman Empire to move there, dedicating the rebuilt Byzantium as Constantinople in 330. Constantine used Constantinople as his capital and permanent residence but, although it had its own senate, it would remain officially subordinate to Rome until 359.
325–329? Shapur II’s Arab Wars▲
In 325, having reached the age of sixteen, Shah Shapur II of Persia led a campaign to expel the Arabs from Mesopotamia and the Persian coast, which they had occupied during his youth. After this, he crossed the Persian Gulf, reasserted Persian control over eastern Arabia, and launched a punitive campaign deep into the Arabian interior. He destroyed wells, led Arab prisoners through the desert by ropes strung through their pierced shoulders, and forcibly relocated many Arabs within his empire. To protect Persia from further Arab raids, a “Wall of the Arabs” was built along the Euphrates.
20 May–25 Aug 325 First Council of Nicaea▲
In 325 Constantine invited all 1,800 bishops of the Christian church within the Roman Empire to meet at Nicaea to attain a consensus on Christian affairs; about 300 actually attended and the Council was formally opened in May. The Council condemned Arianism—which held that Jesus is subordinate to God—in favor of what would become known as the Nicene Creed—which affirmed that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit were of the same essence. After this the Council mandated a calculation for the date of Easter and promulgated early canon law, establishing a degree of unity in the Christian church.
333? Saint Ezana▲
In the 320s Ezana became Negus of Aksum and proceeded to consolidate and expand Aksumite power in northeast Africa. Upon the new Negus’ request, his former tutor, the Phoenician Roman Christian Frumentius, returned to Aksum as a bishop and established what would become the Church of Ethiopia. Officially adopting Christianity in around 333, Ezana began putting crosses on his coins and dropped his claim to be the son of the war god Mahrem.