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The Edict of Milan (Edictum Mediolanensium) was a letter signed by emperors Constantine I and Licinius that proclaimed religious toleration in the Roman Empire. The letter was issued in 313 AD, shortly after the conclusion of the Diocletianic Persecution.

History

The Edict of Milan was issued in 313, in the names of the Emperors Constantine, who ruled the western parts of the empire, and Licinius, who ruled the east. The two Augusti were in Milanmarker to celebrate the wedding of Constantine's sister with Licinius.



A previous edict of toleration had been recently issued by the emperor Galerius from Serdica and posted up at Nicomediamarker on 13 May 311. By its provisions, the Christians, who had "followed such a caprice and had fallen into such a folly that they would not obey the institutes of antiquity", were granted an indulgence.
Wherefore, for this our indulgence, they ought to pray to their God for our safety, for that of the republic, and for their own, that the commonwealth may continue uninjured on every side, and that they may be able to live securely in their homes.


Their confiscated property, however, was not restored until the Edict of Milan was signed. The Christians' meeting places and other properties were to be returned:
...the same shall be restored to the Christians without payment or any claim of recompense and without any kind of fraud or deception...


It directed the provincial magistrates to execute this order at once with all energy, so that public order may be restored and the continuance of the Divine favor may "preserve and prosper our successes together with the good of the state."

The actual letters have not been retrieved inscribed upon stone. However, they are quoted at length in Lactantius' On the Deaths of the Persecutors (De mortibus persecutorum), which gives the Latin text of both Galerius's Edict of Toleration as posted at Nicomedia on 30 April 311, and of Licinius's letter of toleration and restitution addressed to the governor of Bithynia, posted at Nicomedia on 13 June 313. Eusebius of Caesarea translated both into Greek in his History of the Church (Historia Ecclesiastica). His version of the letter of Licinius must derive from a copy as posted up in Palestine (probably at Caesarea) in the late summer or early autumn of 313, but the origin of his copy of Galerius's edit of 311 is unknown, since that does not seem to have been promulgated in Palestine.

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