What Was the Importance of the Edict of Milan?

importance-edict-milan Credit: Driendl Group/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

The Edict of Milan is considered an influential factor in the fall of the Roman Empire. Many have argued that the rise of the Christian faith, which was a direct result of the Edict of Milan, contributed to the decline of Rome. The Roman emperors Constantine I and Licinius formed the edict in Milan in February 313.

The Edict of Milan was a proclamation that permanently established religious tolerance in the Roman Empire. This edict allowed Christians, in particular, the freedom to worship whatever deity they chose and assured them the right to keep property and to organize churches.

Christianity eventually became the state religion of the Roman Empire in 380. While the former polytheistic Roman religion viewed the emperor as having divine status, the new Christian religion moved the religious focus away from the state to a single deity. The addition of popes and church elders playing a role in the politics of Rome may have made the political scene more complex.

Many scholars consider the Edict of Milan as only one of many contributing factors in the fall of the Roman Empire. It is likely that economic, military and administrative factors also played a significant role in the Empire's decline.