Synopsis by Mike Cummings
Episode four of this four-part series chronicles the rise of Constantine and Christianity and the end of the empire's glory years. After the birth of Christianity, its followers suffer persecution until the fourth century. Then, in 306 A.D., a future friend, Constantine, becomes one of four rulers of the empire -- two in Rome and two in Byzantium. In 312 A.D., Constantine has a vision of Christ that leads him to victory against the rival western emperor, Maxentius. Afterward, Constantine decrees toleration for Christians, then wins a war against the east to become sole ruler of the eastern and western empires. In 324 A.D., he moves the empire's capital to Byzantium, rebuilds it, and names it Constantinople. With the support of his Christian mother, Constantine builds churches and makes Christianity the state religion, then becomes a Christian himself on his deathbed. Meanwhile, the western empire falls to barbarian invaders. Two centuries later, Emperor Justinian I reorganizes the empire's legal system, beautifies Constantinople, and attempts to reclaim Rome, but fails. Upon his death, the glory days of the empire end, although the eastern empire survives until the Ottoman Turks conquer it in 1453.