Back to Imperial Laws and Letters

AD 364-395 (Valentinian I – Theodosius I)

AD 395-431 (Arcadius and Honorius – Council of Ephesus and Aftermath)

Date
Ancient
Source
C-N # Emperor(s) Summary of document
311
Apr 30
Eusebius, H.e., 8.17.3-10 7 Constantine, Galerius,
Licinius,
Maximin II
Persecution against Christians is officially ended, and Christians are asked to pray for the emperors and the empire. See our persecution page for more information on this period.
311 Eusebius,
H.e., 9.1.3-6
8 Maximin II His governmental officials are ordered to stop persecuting Christians, and to spread the message down to the local level.
311-312 Eusebius,
H.e., 9.7.3-14
9 Maximin II Maximin re-institutes persecution against the Christians. If they will not return to paganism, they should be banished from the cities.
312
Oct 28
Battle of the Milvian Bridge. Constantine takes control of the West.
313
early
Eusebius,
H.e., 9.5.15-20
10 Constantine Any property which has been taken from the Christians in persecution is to be restored. This includes gardens, buildings, or any other property, and is to be done in haste.
313 Lactantius, De Mort., 46.6 11 Licinius Licinius instructs his prefects and tribunes to pray a prayer which he learned in a dream from an angel, asking the “Supreme Holy God” to take care of the empire and grant their requests.
313
early
Eusebius, H.e., 10.5.1-14 12 Constantine
Licinius,
The “Edict of Milan.” Each person may be given authority to practice his religion in the way he sees fit. Not only are Christians allowed to worship as they choose, but any property taken from Christians must be restored. This ordinance is to be published everywhere.
[The empire was not made officially Christian until 380 under Theodosius. See the law on Feb 28, 380.]
313 Eusebius, H.e., 9.9a.1-9 13 Maximin II Maximin writes his governors, instructing them, in light of the Edict of Milan, to stop the persecution he recently renewed (above, 311-312).
313 Eusebius, H.e., 9.10.7-11 14 Maximin II This is Maximin’s official edict of toleration. Some of his governors were continuing the persecution, so he granted Christians full and public freedom to gather and worship. He orders any property confiscated from Christians during persecution to be returned.
313
early
Eusebius, H.e., 10.6 15 Constantine He orders imperial subsidies to be given to the catholic priests of North Africa. In addition, those who are seducing the catholic Christians of North Africa need to be corrected.
[Those who are seducing the catholic Christians are either Donatists or pagans.]
313
early
Eusebius, H.e., 10.7 16 Constantine He releases all catholic clergy from compulsory public service.
[This particular letter dealt with North Africa.]
313 ?
Oct 21
CT 16.2.2 29 Constantine Christian clergy shall be exempted from compulsory public service as not to interfere with their divine services.
[The Codex gives the date as 319, but Seeck, Elliot, and Pharr suggest that it should be dated to 313, and that the following law is a clarification of this one. This law has many parallels to the letter of Constantine to Anullinus, proconsul of Africa, listed immediately above, dating to Spring of 313. Coleman-Norton leaves the 319 date.]
313 ?
Oct 31
CT 16.2.1 30 Constantine Certain catholic clerics are being harassed by heretics so that compulsory public services are too much for them to bear. They should be relieved of their civic duties, and replacements found, and in the future, clerics should not be forced to fulfill compulsory public services.
[The addressee is unspecified, and Pharr and Coleman-Norton emend the year to 319. This law may go with the immediately preceding law for North Africa, or it may be a later, more general law. Elliot and Seeck leave the date without emendation.]
313 Eusebius, H.e.,10.5.18-20 17 Constantine Constantine orders both catholic and Donatist representatives to go to Rome, where the bishop Miltiades will preside over a council to deal with the schism in North Africa. This gives bishops the right to judge ecclesiastical cases.
[This council met in October of 313 and ruled in favor of the Caecilian. The Donatists appealed, and so Constantine summoned the Council of Arles.]
313
late
Eusebius, H.e., 10.5.21-24 18 Constantine Constantine orders both catholic and Donatist representatives to travel to Arles, where a larger council of bishops from all over the West will hear both sides and rule on the schism in North Africa.
313
late
Optatus, De sch. Don., Appendix 3 19 Constantine Constantine writes to Aelafius his ambassador to North Africa, instructing him to bring the representative from both sides to Arles at public expense, and stressing the need to heal the schism.
[The Council of Arles took place in August of 314.]
314 Optatus, De sch. Don., Appendix 5 20 Constantine Constantine, frustrated, orders the dissatisfied Donatists, who will not yield to the rulings of Arles, to be brought to his court for the hearing for which they have appealed.
315 Augustine, C. Cres.,3.70.81 and Letter 88.4 21 Constantine It had been discovered that the evidence used against Caecilian was based on a forgery, and so Constantine summons the forger to appear before him and the Donatists in Rome, so that once the evidence is presented, the schism can be healed.
315 Optatus, De sch. Don., Appendix 6 22 Constantine Constantine summons the catholic and Donatist representatives from North Africa to a third hearing at Milan, where the new evidence can be examined before them all, including Caecilian, whom he has summoned from North Africa.
315
Oct 15
CT 16.8.1 23 Constantine The Jewish community may not stone a Jewish convert to Christianity. Anyone who participates in such an act shall be burned. If anyone from the people joins the Jewish sect, he shall receive the deserved punishments with them.
315 Optatus, De sch. Don., Appendix 8 24 Constantine Constantine tells the prefect of Africa to have the churches prepare for his visit (which never actually took place), when he would come deliver a verdict on the schism and rule what type of worship is acceptable and bring uniformity back to the church.
316
June 8
CI 1.13.1 26 Constantine Constantine adds a fourth legal method for freeing slaves – one may now publicly free his slave in a church before the bishop.
316 Augustine, C. Cres.,7.71.82 27 Constantine Constantine, after hearing the charges brought against Caecilian, declares him innocent.
316 Constantine [Constantine passes a law against the Donatists, now lost, but mentioned in CT 16.6.2 (on Oct 17, 377, below). This law seems to be repealed in 321 or 322 by a law recorded by Optatus, C. Don., appendix 9 (below). Date uncertain.]
317-319 May 23 CT 9.16.3 Constantine Magicians and such who use their art against the minds of men are guilty and shall be punished; however, to use this art for good, to seek favorable weather during harvest for example, is allowable under the law. [The date listed is 321-324; however, Bassus, the prefect to whom the law was issued, held office from 317-319.]
318
June 23
CT 1.27.1 28 Constantine Constantine gives Christians the right to take their cases before an ecclesiastical court rather than a secular court. The ruling of those bishops will carry the same authority as a secular court.
319
May 15
CT 9.16.2 Constantine Even friendship with the owner of the house is no excuse for a soothsayer to enter a residence.
319
Sept 1
CT 9.16.1 Constantine A soothsayer who approaches another’s private residence for any reason is in violation of the law. The “superstitions” of soothsayers are limited to public ceremonies. [The date listed is February 1, but Pharr notes that Maximus, the prefect to whom the law was issued, assumed this office on September 1; thus, either September 1 is accurate, or the date actually was February 1 of the year 320.
320
Jan 31
CT 8.16.1 31 Constantine Laws passed in former times which punished celibacy and childlessness are now repealed. This applies to women as well.
320 ?
May 26
CT 16.2.10 32 Constantine Clerics of the church are exempt from tax payments and menial compulsory public services, as are their wives, children, and servants. This applies even if they made the money by trade. This is an incentive to join the clergy. It is assumed their money will be used to help the poor, which is why it is not taxed.
[The date given for this law is 353. But the consuls listed do not match those living in 353, and both Pharr and Coleman-Norton have chosen to put this law in 320.]
320 ?
July 18
CT 16.2.3 33 Constantine This law references a previous law, stating that no decurion or anyone else capable of fulfilling compulsory public service should be admitted to the clergy, but only those from the poorer ranks should take ecclesiastical office. The previous law is either non extant, or a textual emendation is necessary (see note). This law clarifies that the restriction of decurions becoming clergy was not retroactive, and so decurions who had joined the clergy before the promulgation of the first law did not have to leave their positions in the church.
[Seek and Elliott change the year of this law and of 16.2.6 (listed on June 1, 320) to 329. According to their emendation, the previously mentioned law in 16.2.3 is actually 16.2.6, and the decurions were not restricted from the clergy until 329.]
321
Mar 3
CI 3.12.2 34 Constantine All judges, inhabitants of cities, and craftsmen should rest on Sunday. But farmers are free to work on Sunday as necessary.
321
Mar 3
CT 16.10.1 Constantine If a public structure is struck by lightning, according to custom an inquiry will be made of the soothsayers as to the portent of the lightning.
321
Apr 18
CT 4.7.1 35 Constantine This law augments the law of June 8 316. Any slave freed before a bishop is automatically granted Roman citizenship. Clergy may free their slaves through their wills and it may be immediately enacted by a bishop.
321
July 3
CT 16.2.4 36 Constantine Every person shall have the right to leave property to the catholic Church in his will.
321
July 3
CT 2.8.1 37 Constantine This is an exception to the law passed March 3, 321 regarding Sunday. Though most legal work is still forbidden, the legal transactions connected to freeing slaves may be conducted on Sunday.
321 Eusebius, VC, 4.20 38 Constantine Constantine requires all soldiers to gather on Sundays and recite a prayer he composed to the almighty God.
[The date is somewhat speculative. Eusebius only records that this took place shortly after Sunday was declared a day of rest.]
321-322 Optatus, De sch. Don., Appendix 9 39 Constantine Constantine orders toleration of Donatists in North Africa. No action is to be taken against them.
[Based on CT 16.6.2 (on Oct 17, 377, below), it may be surmised that this repeals a law against the Donatists which is no longer extant.]
321
Dec 11
CT 16.8.3 Constantine Jews can and should serve on municipal councils; however, two or three Jews may be given permission to be exempt from this compulsory public service.
323
Dec 25
CT 16.2.5 41 Constantine Christians shall not be forced into participating in pagan practices; anyone who forces a Christian into such an act shall be publicly beaten, unless he holds an honorable rank, in which case he will be fined and the money given to the state treasury.
[The date listed is May 25, but according to Coleman-Norton, Pharr and Elliot, Constantius would not have been in Sirmium (where the law was issued) until December, so the date should be Dec. 25, 323.]
323 Martyrdom of Habib the Deacon 42 Licinius All who will not make a pagan sacrifice were to be burned with fire.
[The persecution under Licinius is described in Eusebius, H.e. 10.8.14-19 and VC 1.51-56 and 2.1-2.5. The Martyrdom of Habib the Deacon is a Syriac document from Egypt, now at the British Museum. This persecution only affected the eastern portions of the empire.]
324 Eusebius, VC 2.48-60 44 Constantine Constantine encourages all citizens of the empire, both pagan and Christian, to live in peace and unanimity without restraining the other group.
[See note on the authenticity of anti-pagan legislation in the Life of Constantine.]
324 Eusebius, VC 2.46 45 Constantine After his victory over Licinius, Constantine gives permission to restore, repair, or enlarge the churches in the east which had been damaged in the persecution under Licinius. The governors are instructed to give whatever help is requested.
324 Eusebius, VC 2.44-45 Constantine Constantine passes a law against idol-worship, statues, divination, and especially against pagan sacrifices.
[See note on the authenticity of anti-pagan legislation in the Life of Constantine.]
324 Eusebius, VC 2.24-42 46 Constantine After his victory over Licinius, Constantine addresses the wrongs committed against Christians in the eastern half of the empire. All exiled Christians, as well as those banished to the mines or made slaves, are to return to their previous position. All who were deprived of property are to have their property restored. Anyone who has lost rights or military office is to be restored. Christians are given the right to leave their property to the church in their wills.
[The authenticity of this document has been questioned, but papyrus discovered in the twentieth century strengthened the case for authenticity. See A.H.M. Jones, “Notes of the Genuineness of the Constantinian Documents in Eusebius’ Life of Constantine,” The Journal of Ecclesiastical History 5 (1954), pp. 197-200.]
324 Eusebius, VC 2.64-72 47 Constantine Constantine writes to Alexander of Alexandria and his priest Arius, attempting to compel them to put aside what he sees as a trifling disagreement over words.
324 Mss: Paris syr. 62 and Brit. Mus. Add. 14, 526 and 528. 48 Constantine Constantine directs bishops from all over the east to assemble at Nicaea, redirecting the council which was originally planned to meet in Ancyra.
325 see note 49 Constantine Constantine is on record as having addressed the council at Nicaea three times. The first time he discouraged the bishops from accusing one another, and then burned the accusations. The second, he expressed his desire that the schism caused by the Arians be healed. Third, he dismissed the council and encouraged the use of the Nicene Creed.
325 Gelasius, H.e. 3, appendix 1 50 Constantine Constantine explains to the congregation at Nicomedia why he exiled their bishop Eusebius. Eusebius had been the leading proponent of Arianism, and had encouraged Arians from Egypt even after the Council of Nicaea. He warns them not to defend him, or they too will be punished.
[Within a few years, Eusebius of Nicomedia had regained the emperor’s favor. He was eventually made bishop of Constantinople and baptized Constantine on his deathbed.]
325 Gelasius, H.e. 3, appendix 2 51 Constantine Constantine warns a certain Theodotus that if he does not support and uphold the ruling of the Council of Nicaea, he will be banished as other bishops already have.
325 Eusebius, VC 3.17-20 52 Constantine Constantine encourages all churches throughout the empire to celebrate Easter according to the ruling of the Council of Nicaea. There is no penalty for disobedience, however.
325 Socrates, H.e. 1.9 53 Constantine Constantine exhorts the Alexandrians to follow the Nicene faith, which he praises, and to disavow Arius, whom he condemns. The council is to be regarded as the will of God.
325
Oct 1
CT 15.12.1 Constantine Since gladiatorial games are eliminated, those criminals who formerly would have been made gladiators as punishment, are now to be sent to the mines.
326 Eusebius, VC 3.30-32 54 Constantine Constantine orders a church to be built over the holy sepulcher and commands the local government officials to assist.
326
June 1
CT 16.2.6 55 Constantine This is a repetition and qualification of a law from July 18, 320. While the clergy are granted exemption from compulsory public services, exemption cannot be given indiscriminately to everyone who claims to be part of the clergy, because the wealthy are not supposed to be clergy. Also, the roles of the clergy cannot be expanded in order to help exempt more people from public services. When a clergyman dies, his successor should not be chosen from the wealthy, for the wealthy should assume secular obligations.
[Seeck and Elliot (listed ) emend both this law and the law 16.2.3, listed on July 18th, 320. They move both of these laws to 329, thus reversing their order. In that case, this law would be the original restriction on clergy exemptions, and 16.2.3 would be a qualification released a month later.]
326
Sept 1
CT 16.5.1 56 Constantine Exemption from compulsory public services shall only be granted to clergy of the catholic church, and not to heretics or schismatics.
326
Sept 25
CT 16.5.2 57 Constantine Novatians may posses their own church buildings and cemeteries, provided they are rightfully theirs and did not once belong to the catholic Church.
[Novatians disagreed with the Church about absolution.]
327 Socrates, H.e. 1.25 58 Constantine Constantine invites Arius to his court, where he may end his exile by confessing the Nicene faith before Constantine. Arius is allowed to use public transportation.
[date uncertain]
328 Gelasius H.e. 3.15.1-5 71 Constantine Constantine pleads with the bishop Alexander of Alexandria to accept Arius back into communion.
[It is possible that this letter was written later to Athanasius.]
330 Optatus, De sch. Don., appendix 10 59 Constantine Constantine writes to the Numidian catholic church, granting them exemption from compulsory public service. He orders that a new basilica be built at public expense, to replace a basilica taken by the Donatists.
330
Feb 5
CT 16.2.7 60 Constantine Lectors, subdeacons, and other clergy shall not have to serve as local senators. Given to the consular of Numidia.
330 Eusebius, H.e. 3.60-62 61 Constantine Constantine writes to Antioch, advising them not to elect Eusebius of Caesarea as their bishop, since that would go against canon 15 of the Council of Nicaea. Three letters in this connection survive.
330 Eusebius, VC 3.52-53 63 Constantine Constantine orders pagan altars and idols to be destroyed at Mambre. Those who used them are to be banished, and once the area has been purged a basilica is to be built. If the local governors ignore this command they will be punished.
[See note on the authenticity of anti-pagan legislation in the Life of Constantine.]
330
Nov 29
CT 16.8.2 Constantine Jewish elders shall be exempt from compulsory public service. If such men are currently decurions, they are exempt from travel.
331
Dec 1
CT 16.8.4 Constantine Jewish priests and synagogue leaders are exempt from compulsory public service of a corporeal nature.
332 or 322 Eusebius, VC, 3.64-65 40 Constantine Constantine forbids heretical groups to assemble. Their buildings must be surrendered to the catholic church.
[See note on the authenticity of anti-pagan legislation in the Life of Constantine.]
333 Eusebius, VC 4.36 64 Constantine Constantine orders Eusebius of Caesarea to prepare 50 copies of the Sacred Scriptures in well-prepared parchments, easily read aloud and portable, written by competent and accurate copyists. This is to be done as quickly as possible.
333
May 5
CS 1 65 Constantine Judicial decisions made by bishops are to be upheld. Enforcement is to be the responsibility of the prefect. If a party to a lawsuit may request the case to be heard by a bishop rather than a secular judge, the request is to be granted.
333 or 327 Socrates, H.e. 1.9 66 Constantine Constantine orders that Arians now be referred to as Porphyrians, that all works of Arius or Arians be burned, and that anyone hiding a work of Arius suffer capital punishment.
333 or 327 Gelasius, H.e. 3.19 67 Constantine Constantine sends a long, belittling letter to Arius and his followers. At the end, he threatens to heavily fine the Arians and force them to accept compulsory public services unless they immediately return to the catholic faith. If Arius returns, he promises to be lenient.
334 Athanasius, Apol. sec. 68 68 Constantine Constantine, hearing that Arsenius is alive, has found all the charges against Athanasius to be false, the results of wicked plots against him. He condemns the recent disturbances in the streets of Alexandria. He instructs Athanasius to take this letter with him and read it publicly often. He promises to personally look into any future allegations or disturbances against Athanasius, and punish anyone bringing false accusations or stirring up trouble.
334 Athanasius, Apol. sec. 70 69 Constantine In a letter, Constantine rebukes the Alexandrians for causing trouble and encourages them all to accept Athanasius, whom he has cleared of all charges against him.
334 Athanasius, Apol. sec. 70 70 Constantine Constantine praises John Archaph, a former leader of the Meletians, for uniting with Athanasius. He summons him to his court by means of public transportation.
335 Athanasius, Apol. sec. 59 72 Constantine Constantine orders Athanasius to re-admit Arius or face deposition.
335 Eusebius, VC 4.42 73 Constantine Constantine writes to the Council of Tyre, instructing them to put an end to all factions in the church.
335 Athanasius, Apol. sec. 81 74 Dionysius Dionysius, the imperial representative at the Council of Tyre, writes to the fact-finding commission sent from Tyre to Alexandria. He warns to be impartial as not to justify criticism about the way the case was handled.
335 Athanasius, Apol. sec. 86 75 Constantine Constantine relates to the Council of Tyre how Athanasius met him unexpectedly in Constantinople, complaining about ill-treatment at Tyre. According to Athanasius’ reasonable request, he now summons the Council of Tyre to relocate in Constantinople where the emperor can hear the charges against Athanasius.
[When no one from Tyre appeared, the Emperor sent Athanasius into exile in Trier, either to keep him safe or to get him out of the way (Apol sec. 9). Athanasius was recalled by Constantius early in his reign.]
336
May 8
CT 16.8.5
CT 16.9.1
CS 4
76 Constantine Jews are not allowed to harass Jewish converts to Christianity, and will be punished in accordance with the nature of the act. Also, if a Jew circumcises a non-Jewish slave, the slave is to be taken from the Jew and remain free.
337
July 17
Athanasius, Apol. sec. 87 77 Constantine II Constantine announces that Athanasius is to be restored as bishop of Alexandria. He claims that the reason Athanasius had been exiled was for his own safety.
[Other bishops were also returned at the death of Constantine.]
337 Athanasius, Apol. sec. 85 78 Constantius A church is to be built for the priest Ischyras, an opponent of Athanasius who accused him falsely.
339
Aug 13
CT 16.9.2 79 Constantius,
Constans
Jews may not hold slaves of any other people and must let them go free. Jews who circumcise non-Jewish slaves shall be executed. If a Jew is found to own Christian slaves, all his slaves are to be taken away and freed.
339
Aug 13
CT 16.8.6 80 Constantius,
Constans
Women who were formerly employed by the government as weavers, but were led away by Jews, may now return to weaving. Hereafter, Jews may not unite Christian women in their villainy. If they are found proselytizing Christian women, they shall suffer capital punishment.
341
CT 16.10.2 Constantius Pagan superstition and sacrifices are completely forbidden, in accord with the law set forth by Constantine.
[The law of Constantine referred to may be from 324 just after the victory of Licinius but see the note on the authenticity of anti-pagan legislation in the Life of Constantine and Curran (listed in note), p. 185]
342
Feb 26
CT 16.2.11 81 Constantius, Constans The sons of clergy are exempt from compulsory public service as long as they are below the legal age.
[Since they were below the legal age, their property was their father’s estate which their fathers had given to them when they joined the clergy. But until they reached the legal age, the estate was still under the control of their father. See Elliot in bibliography above.]
[The code lists the date as 356. Pharr and Coleman-Norton prefer 342 on the basis that Longinianus, to whom this statute is addressed, was Prefect of Egypt in 342.]
343
July 4
CT 15.8.1 82 Constantius If a prostitute converts to Christianity, only another Christian may buy her as a slave.
343
Aug 27
CT 16.2.8 83 Constantius Clergy and their servants shall not have to pay any taxes, or any new taxes in the future, nor shall they have to quarter strangers, and they shall be tax exempt if they start their own business.
345 or 346 Athanasius, Apol. sec. 51 84 Constantius Constantius summons Athanasius to his court where he will be restored from exile to his position as bishop of Alexandria.
346 Athanasius, Apol. sec. 54 85 Constantius Constantius announces that Athanasius has been cleared of all charges, is being returned to Alexandria, and that all ordinances against him and his followers are void. There should be no suspicion against him.
346 Athanasius, Apol. sec. 54-55 86 Constantius Constantius writes to the Alexandrians, informing them that Athanasius has been restored, and exhorting them to obey the laws against rioting.
346 Athanasius, Apol. sec. 56 87 Constantius Constantius writes to the prefect of Egypt, instructing him to recognize Athanasius, and confirming that the followers of Athanasius are to receive the standard clerical exemptions from compulsory public service. If any laws are found against Athanasius and his followers, they are void.
346 Athanasius, Hist. Ar. ad Mon. 23 88 Constantius Constantius instructs the prefect of Egypt to send copies of every document dealing with Athanasius to the imperial court.
346
Nov 1
CT 16.10.3 Constantius Although pagan religious practices are banned (see law in 341, CT 16.10.2), temple buildings situated outside the walls are to be preserved for the sake of the circus and other amusements.
[On the basis of the dates of the administration of the addressee, Catullinus, Pharr prefers 342 to 346, an alternative date.]
346
Dec 1
CT 16.10.4 Constantius Pagan temples are to be closed; access to them is denied, and violators face capital punishment. The property of a violator will be given to the state treasury. Governors who fail to carry out this punishment will be punished.
[There are three possible dates: 346, 354, 356. Bradbury leans toward 346 for the sake of consistency with 16.10.3. The addressee, Taurus, was Prefect 355-361. Bradbury concedes the date is not certain.]
347 Passion of Maximian and Isaac §3 Constantius? The Donatists were ordered to be reconciled with the catholic church in North Africa. Those who refused were to be exiled or killed.
[Donatist exiles were allowed to return under Julian in 362. That they were later allowed to return gives credence to this law of banishment. See translation and law of 362, Coleman-Norton #120 below.]
349
Apr 11
CT 16.2.9 89 Constantius Clergy are exempted from all compulsory public services and municipal duties. Their sons should continue in the clergy unless obligated by service in the Senate.
350
c. June
Athanasius, Apol. ad Const. 23 90 Constantius Constantius writes a letter to Athanasius at the death of Constans (Feb. 350). He encourages him that he need not fear. Constantius desires to have him as bishop in his own place ” in every season.” He is encouraged to fulfill his patriarchal duties of teaching and prayers.
352 ?
July 3
CT 16.8.7 91 Constantius,
Julian
Persons who join Judaism from Christianity, if the accusation can be proven, shall have their property confiscated and given to the state treasury.
[The alternate date given is 357.]
353
Nov 23
CT 16.10.5 Constantius Night-time pagan sacrifices, which had briefly been allowed under the usurper Magnentius, are again forbidden.
354
Aug 22
CT 9.25.1 92 Constantius Anyone who rapes a consecrated Christian virgin or widow will suffer the same capital punishment as any rapist.
355 Eusebius of Vercelli, opera 93 Constantius He writes to Eusebius of Vercelli, instructing him to attend the Council of Milan (which is in progress, but Eusebius has refused to attend).
355 Athanasius, Hist. Ar. ad Mon. 33 94 Constantius Constantius added his weight to the Council of Milan, which he had convened to condemn Athanasius. He commands that the bishops either condemn Athanasius or suffer banishment.
[This may not be a verbatim quotation from Constantius, but we know that he exiled a handful of bishops who refused to condemn Athanasius. While the imperial orders do not survive, many other Western supporters of Athanasius were soon to be exiled, for instance Liberius of Rome and Hilary of Poitiers. For the Council of Milan, see Theodoret , H.e. 2.12]
355
Sept 23
CT 16.2.12 96 Constantius, Constans Bishops shall not have to appear before secular judges; accusations against them shall be brought before other bishops.
[Given as a letter Sept. 23, accepted on October 7.]
356
Feb 6
CT 13.1.1 97 Constantius,
Julian
Those who work for the church as gravediggers are exempted from the tradesmen’s tax.
356
Feb 20
CT 16.10.6 Constantius Those guilty of idolatry or pagan sacrifices must suffer capital punishment.
356
Nov. 10
CT 16.2.13 101 Constantius,
Julian
Privileges granted to the church in the city of Rome shall be firmly guarded.
[The manuscript reads 357, but Barnes moves the date to 356 based on his study of imperial residences.]
356
Dec 4
CT 9.16.5 Constantius Constantius declares a curse on those who perform the magic arts and thereby “jeopardize the lives of innocent persons.” [The year listed is 357; however, Pharr proposes 356 since the law was given at Milan and Constantius left Milan in April of 357.]
356
Dec 28
CT 16.2.14 102 Constantius,
Julian
Clergy, along with their wives, children, and servants, are forever exempt from paying taxes (even if they engage in trade) or rendering compulsory public service.
[Constantius left Milan April 28, 357; therefore, Pharr believes that this law must have been given in 356, although 357 is also listed in the text. The law was given December 6 and read into the records on December 28.]
357
June 25
CT 9.16.4 Constantius Anyone who consults a soothsayer on account of curiosity of the future will suffer capital punishment.
357
July 5
CT 9.16.6 Constantius Even a high-ranking man convicted of wizardry will face torture. [The date listed is 358; however, Pharr suggests 357.]
357 Athanasius, Apol. ad Const., 30 98 Constantius He writes to the Alexandrians, threatening death to anyone who will continue to support Athanasius instead of the new bishop, George.
357 Athanasius, Apol. ad Const. 31 99 Constantius He requests the leaders of the kingdom of Auxumites to send the missionary Frumentius, who had been sent there by Athanasius, back to Alexandria, to report to the new bishop, George.
357 Athanasius, Hist. Ar. ad Mon. 43 100 Constantius,
Julian
He writes to bishop Hosius of Cordova, instructing him to condemn Athanasius.
358 Sozomen, H.e. 14.4 103 Constantius Constantius writes that the followers of Eudoxius (the Anomians), who had taken over Antioch, do not have his support and that they should lose the rights of holding councils of public assemblies.
359
May 28
Hilary, Hist. Frag. A, 8 (VIII) 104 Constantius Constantius writes to the Council of Rimini, instructing them to come up with a credal formula and to decree nothing in respect to the easterners. He vows to make void anything they decide against the easterners.
359 Athanasius, De Syn. 55 105 Constantius The western bishops assembled at Rimini had written to Constantius, informing him that they intended to maintain their stance against Arianism, and asking to go home. He writes back, instructing them to wait there until he sends them a course of action which he expects them to follow.
360
Jan 18
CT 11.1.1 106 Constantius Exemption from taxes may only be given to catholic churches and a few select individuals. Governors who have granted tax-exemption beyond this are to pay the difference themselves.
360
June 30
CT 16.2.15 107 Constantius,
Julian
Clerics who have taken on small business to provide supplemental income shall be exempt from compulsory public service. But those who were tradesmen before becoming clergy are still subject to taxation. All clerics who hold land as personal property are subject to taxation and compulsory public service.
361
Feb 14
CT 16.2.16 108 Constantius,
Julian
Persons of extraordinary virtue shall live in perpetual security
[This might mean an exemption from compulsory public service for clergy.].
361
Aug 29
CT 12.1.49 109 Constantius This is a somewhat complicated law about property and the clergy. Bishops may retain property. Priests whose virtue is approved by the community may retain their property. But a lower cleric whose piety is not celebrated, but who entered the priesthood to gain tax exemptions, shall be forced to give up 2/3 of his property, either to his family or the municipality.
361
Aug 29
CT 8.4.7 110 Constantius If imperial officials attempt to enter the clergy without having fulfilled their financial obligations, as a means of escaping them, they shall give 1/3 of their property either to relatives or the office staffs where they serve.
362 Julian, Ep. 378C-80D 111 Julian Julian castigates the pagan Alexandrians, who had murdered Athanasius’ rival archbishop George when he ruined the temple of the local god Serapis. They should not have broken the law, but should have taken out their grievances legally.
362 ? Gregory Naz. Con. Iul. 1.76 Julian According to Gregory Nazianzus, Julian issued a decree that the Christian church be referred to as “the Galilean” movement.
362 Julian Ep. 377D-78C 113 Julian Julian asks the prefect of Egypt to carefully collect the late George’s library. He would have the “Galilean” books burned, but that could lead to the accidental destruction of the pagan works.
362 Julian, Ep. 404B-C 112 Julian Julian recalls all who were banished under Constantine in connection with “the Galilean madness” to be returned from exile.
[This apparently does not mean they are to be restored to their sees, as Athanasius was soon banished for presuming to take back the bishopric of Alexandria.]
362
Mar 13
CT 12.1.50 114 Julian Among other things, it is decreed that Christian decurions cannot plead for exemption from their obligations based on their Christianity.
[This seems to be a reference to the exemptions given to the clergy by previous emperors.]
362 Julian Ep. 398C-9A 115 Julian Julian, angered by Athanasius’ resumption of the bishopric of Alexandria without his permission, expels him from Alexandria (beginning Athanasius’ fourth exile).
362 Julian, Ep. 422A-4A 116 Julian No Christians are allowed to teach the pagan classics (essentially debarring them from being teachers). Any student may study them, however.
362
Aug 1
Julian Ep. 435D-8C 117 Julian In this letter Julian reveals that he has restored property to the non-Arians who lost it under Constantius. He had upheld legislation that a Christian may not be forced to sacrifice even if his public office requires it. He instructs Christians not to riot. He also informs us that he had taken away the right of bishops to serve as secular judges.
362 Julian Ep. 380D-1A 118 Julian Julian writes to the Byzacenes, informing them that all from the wealthy senatorial class among them were expected to resume their senatorial duties, whether or not they be Christian clergy. The only exceptions are those who have served in the capital.
362 Julian Though the decree does not exist, there are multiple reports that Julian forced Christians to pay for temples they had demolished. (e.g. Sozomen H.e. 5.5, Theodoret H.e. 3.7.6-10)
362 Julian Ep. 376C-D 119 Julian Julian decrees that Christians are not to be harmed in any way, but pagans are to be given preference to them. He blames Christians for the tumultuous state of the empire.
362 Augustine, Cont. Litt. Pet. 2. 97.224 120 Julian Donatists exiles are to return to North Africa.
[It seems a law passed in 347 ended up in the expulsion of many Donatists from North Africa.]
362 Julian, Ep. 376A-C 121 Julian Julian censures the prefect for allowing Athanasius to stay in Alexandria after he was supposed to be exiled. He threatens a heavy fine for non-compliance.
362 Julian, Ep. 432C-5D 122 Julian Julian denies the requests of some Alexandrians to allow Athanasius to remain in Alexandria. He orders that his reply be published to the Alexandrians.
363 Julian, Ep. 424B-5A 123 Julian In response to riotous behavior against Valentinians, Julian orders that the money and property of the Arian congregation at Edessa (who possessed a rich basilica) be confiscated. He threatens exile and sword for those who continue the civil strife.
363 Athanasius, Ep. ad Iov. appendix 124 Jovian He denies the requests of a delegation of Egyptian Arians, seeking some other bishop than Athanasius.
363 or 364 Athanasius, Ep. ad Iov. 125 Jovian He reinstates Athanasius as bishop of Alexandria.

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AD 364-395 (Valentinian I – Theodosius I)

AD 395-431 (Arcadius and Honorius – Council of Ephesus and Aftermath)

H. Drobner (The Fathers of the Church: A Comprehensive Introduction, trans. S. Schatzmann, updated by W. Harmless and H. Drobner [Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2007] , pp. 187-89) makes a strong case for placing the end of the the “fourth-century” period of church history at the year 430, and we have followed his suggestion, with a few exceptions. For the interested reader, Coleman-Norton lists 174 more laws and letters up to the year 534.

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