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316) and once more decided against them. Then they turned round and said, What business has the emperor to meddle with the Church ? A vigorous persecution was begun, but with small success. A band of Donatist fanatics called Circumcelliones ranged the country, to refer : committing disorders and defying the authorities to make martyrs of them. Even in 317 Constantine ordered that their outrages were not to be retaliated ; and when they sent him a message in 31 that they would in no way communicate with "that scoundrel, his bishop," he stopped the persecution as useless, and frankly gave them toleration.
In 893 Constantius was made Caesar, and practically master of Gaul, with the task assigned him of recovering Britain from Carausius. But as a condition of his elevation he was required to divorce Helena and marry Theodora, a stepdaughter of Maximian. Constantine was taken to the court of Diocletian, partly as a hostage for his father, and partly with a view to a future place for him in the college of emperors. So he went with Diocletian to Egypt in 296, and made acquaintance on the way with Eusebius, the future historian and bishop of Caesarea.
So too when before 310 he sanctioned manumissions in churches, he was only taking a hint from the manumissions in certain temples. Yet again, when in 313 (and by later law) he exempted the clergy of the Catholic Church not those of the sects from the decurionate and other burdens, he gave them only the privileges already enjoyed by some of the heathen priests and teachers. But the relief was great enough to cause an ungodly rush for holy Orders, and with it such a loss of taxpayers that in 320 he had to forbid th,e ordination of anyone qualified for the curia of his city.
Cambridge medieval history vol 1