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4th Century AD


Overview

The 4th century AD, also known as the 300s AD, spanned from AD 301 to AD 400 according to the Julian calendar. During this time, the two-emperor system established by Diocletian in the previous century fell into regular practice, with the East growing in importance as a center of trade and imperial power. This prosperity was felt throughout the period, with advancements in art, architecture, and literature. However, the empire faced recurring invasions by Germanic tribes from 376 CE onward, which posed a challenge to the Roman military. To counteract these threats, the Romans had to invest heavily in fortifications and change their military strategies, which had far-reaching effects on the empire's economy and society. Despite these challenges, the 4th century AD was a period in Roman history, characterized by both growth and conflict.


Christianity

The 4th century AD was a pivotal period in human history, marked by changes and developments in various parts of the world. One of the more important events during this era was the establishment of Christianity as the official state religion of the Western Roman Empire. This occasion marked the beginning of a new era in the empire's history, one that would bring about many changes in the empire's political, social, and cultural landscape.

As Christianity became the official state religion, the empire's old pagan culture began to disappear gradually. New religious practices and beliefs replaced the old ones, and the empire's social and cultural fabric underwent a transformation. The Christian church became a force within the empire, and its influence over people's lives was felt in every aspect of society. The church's teachings and doctrines shaped people's beliefs, values, and attitudes, and the empire's laws and policies were affected as a result.


The establishment of Christianity as the official state religion also had an impact on the empire's political landscape. The church and the state became closely entwined, with the emperor acting as both the political and religious leader of the empire. This led to a merging of secular and religious power, with the church playing a crucial role in the empire's political affairs. However, despite the growing influence of Christianity within the empire, the early invasions that occurred during this time marked the beginning of the end for the Western Roman Empire. The empire's political, economic, and military power gradually weakened, and the invaders took over much of the empire's territories. These invasions would eventually lead to the fall of the Western Roman Empire, leaving a major impact on the history of the world. In conclusion, the establishment of Christianity as the official state religion in the latter part of the 4th century AD was a defining moment in the history of the Western Roman Empire. This momentous occasion brought about many changes in the empire's political, social, and cultural landscape, and its impact is still felt to this day. Despite the empire's eventual downfall, the legacy of Christianity's establishment as the official state religion lives on, shaping the course of history for centuries to come.


China

In China, the Jin dynasty was a force that had unified the nation in 280. However, by the start of the century, the dynasty was in trouble due to political infighting, which led to the insurrections of the northern barbarian tribes. These tribes quickly overwhelmed the Jin empire, causing the Jin court to retreat and entrench itself in the south beyond the Yangtze River. This marked the beginning of the Eastern Jin dynasty around 317. The rise of the Eastern Jin dynasty was not without challenges. Emperor of the Former Qin, Fu Jiān, was determined to conquer the Jin dynasty in the south and reunite the land under his banner. However, his efforts were thwarted at the Battle of Fei River in 383, which led to massive unrest and civil war in his empire. This, in turn, ultimately led to the fall of the Former Qin and the continued existence of the Eastern Jin dynasty.

Despite the Eastern Jin dynasty's survival, the aftermath of the Battle of Fei River and the civil war that followed had an impact on the dynasty. The influx of refugees from the north, combined with political instability and economic challenges, made it difficult for the dynasty to maintain its power and influence. Nevertheless, the Eastern Jin dynasty managed to persevere for several more decades, leaving an impact on Chinese history.


Historians of the Roman Empire

Historians of the Roman Empire often refer to the "Long Fourth Century". This period spans from the fourth century proper, beginning with the accession of Emperor Diocletian in 284, and ending with the death of either Honorius in 423 or Theodosius II in 450. This period was marked by changes and developments within the Empire. Some of the events during this era include the division of the Empire, the adoption of Christianity as the official religion, the establishment of Constantinople as the new capital of the Empire, and the rise of the Huns and other barbarian tribes. Additionally, this period saw advancements in architecture, art, and literature, with many of the most iconic works of the Roman Empire being produced during this time. Overall, the Long Fourth Century is a fascinating era in Roman history that continues to capture the imagination of scholars and enthusiasts alike.


Other Notable Events

In the 4th century, the Gupta Empire was established, marking the beginning of a new era in Indian history. The empire lasted for over two centuries and saw a period of prosperity and cultural development. During this time, the arts flourished, including literature, sculpture, and architecture. The Gupta dynasty also saw many scientific and mathematical advancements, such as the invention of the decimal system and the concept of zero. The empire was known for its peaceful rule and tolerance of different religions and cultures, which helped its success and impact on Indian history.

In the year 306, Constantine the Great became the ruler of the Roman Empire. His reign marked a turning point in the history of Christianity, as he ended the persecution of Christians. This was a step towards the eventual establishment of Christianity as the main religion in the Roman Empire. Constantine's reign also saw the founding of a new capital city, which he named Constantinople. This city would go on to become one of the most dominant cultural, economic, and political centers in the world. With its strategic location at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, Constantinople had the main role in the development of trade and commerce in the region. The city's influence extended far beyond its borders, as it became a hub for art, literature, and philosophy. It was a time of change, and the Roman Empire adapted to new ideas and ways of life. Constantine the Great's legacy lived on way past his lifetime and continues to be felt today, as his contributions to Christianity and the development of Constantinople made a lasting impact on the world.


The Huns

The period between 350 and 400 was marked by new events in history - the Huns began to launch attacks on the Sassanid Empire. These attacks were brutal and shaped the future of both the Huns and the Sassanid Empire. The reasons for these attacks are not entirely clear, but historians suggest that it may have been due to the Huns' need for resources or a desire to expand their territory. Regardless of the reasons, the attacks had an impact on the Sassanid Empire, which struggled to defend itself against the relentless onslaught of the Huns. This period, therefore, represents a turning point in the history of both the Huns and the Sassanid Empire.


Late 4th Century

From the early centuries of the Christian era, the Roman Empire was home to a diverse array of religions and faiths, including various pagan cults, Judaism, and Christianity. However, by the late 4th century AD, Christianity had gained significant traction and had become a major force within the empire. In 378, Theodosius I ascended to the throne and began issuing a series of edicts that progressively banned pagan worship, leading to the eventual establishment of Christianity as the Empire's official religion. Theodosius I's edicts had far-reaching consequences, leading to the widespread persecution of pagans. This was met with resistance and opposition from those who saw their religious beliefs being threatened by the growing influence of Christianity. However, Theodosius I was determined to establish Christianity as the Empire's official religion, and his efforts eventually paid off. Religious conflict plagued the empire, with tensions between Christians and pagans often leading to violence and bloodshed. However, the establishment of Christianity as the Empire's official religion paved the way for the spread of the faith throughout Europe and the rest of the world. The Christianization of the Roman Empire marked a turning point in the history of the Christian church, as it gained state support and became the dominant religion of the Western world. The legacy of Theodosius I's actions continued to be felt for generations, shaping the course of history for centuries. The establishment of Christianity as the Empire's official religion allowed the spread of the faith throughout the Western world, leading to the development of a Christian civilization that impacted human history. Despite the religious conflicts and controversies that marked this period, it remains a pivotal moment in the history of Christianity and the Roman Empire and one that continues to be seen in our world today.

 

References

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  • Grant, M. (1985). The Fall of the Roman Empire. New York: Simon & Schuster.

  • Kaldellis, A. (2008). "The Postmodern Reception of Ammianus Marcellinus". The Classical Journal. 103 (3): 303–317.

  • Lenski, N. (2002). Failure of Empire: Valens and the Roman State in the Fourth Century A.D. University of California Press.

  • Luttwak, E. (1976). The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire. Johns Hopkins University Press.

  • Maas, M. (2005). "The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Attila". Cambridge University Press.

  • Potter, D. (2004). The Roman Empire at Bay: AD 180–395. Routledge.

  • Sivan, H. (1987). "Aphrodito Before and After the Persian Conquest". Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient. 30 (3): 248–256.

  • Southern, P. (2001). The Roman Empire from Severus to Constantine. Routledge.

  • Treadgold, W. (1997). A History of the Byzantine State and Society. Stanford University Press.

  • Treadgold, W. (1997). A History of the Byzantine State and Society. Stanford University Press.




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