History: Constantine and Tony La Russa


1. Introduction
2. Constantine I and his impact on Europe
3. Tony La Russa
4. Conclusion
5. Bibliography

Traditionally it is said that every individual is a unique personality that cannot have its double but in the same time it an undeniable fact that some features of character are common for many people as well as their interests may also coincide and it is due to this human race is so solid and really unified.
In fact it is hardly possible to deny tat the greatest people in history are to a certain extent alike. Naturally they had some difference, even very significant once but still they had a lot of in common what made them really great. To support this viewpoint it would be enough to have a look at the personality of two outstanding people: Constantine I and Tony La Russa. On the one hand they are not simply people from different epochs and continents but they worked in different fields but still they are to a certain extent similar in their methods of work despite all the differences that exist between them.
Constantine I and his impact on Europe
Before starting to speak about the emperor Constantine I it is necessary to dwell upon the sources where the information about this person may be taken from.
At this respect, primary sources are of a paramount importance, particularly those which are written by his contemporaries or were created by himself. It seems to be obvious that they are very significant for any serious analysis because they convey the entity of the epoch Constantine I lived in and it naturally helps understand to what extent he influenced the future development of Europe and in the same time the life and work of Tony La Russa is described by his contemporaries only since he still leads an active life.
Moreover, basically primary sources permit to realize how innovative was the policy of the emperor and what effect his innovations had at those time. Consequently, it will contribute to the understanding of the effect of his life and work for the future history of the whole continent.
Actually, primary sources add that objectiveness for a researcher’s perception that may be lost while studying some secondary sources where the opinions of other authors and the degree of retrospection is much higher. What is meant here is the fact that in secondary sources authors extrapolate the deeds and events of the Constantine’s epoch to the future events and history. And vice versa they take into considerations the future events that took place after the death of Constantine I and the end of his epoch and transmit them to the period of life and work of the emperor. In such a way, a researcher deals with a bit changed information and cannot fully make his or her own judgment about the personality of Constantine I and his contribution to the history of Medieval Europe.
Speaking about primary sources that refer to Constantine I his life and work as well as to his epoch than it may be said that they are not very numerous but relatively sufficient compared to personality of some other emperors or historical figures. However, the specific of history as a science is that there is never enough information and there is always something hidden from historians that a researcher should guess about, presuppose and build his own theories lacking the necessary quantity of information and at this respect simple logic may be at help.
But, returning to the primary sources concerning Constantine I and his epoch, there could be named several among which the most important seem to be the works of those who lived at the same historical period as Constantine I did. Namely, they are Lactantius and Eusebius, who were historians contemporary of Constantine’s reign. As for their works there may be named several of them. For instance, Lactantius is famous for his work “The Death of Persecutors”, whereas Eusebius wrote two major work about the emperor Constantine I, they are “In Praise of Constantine” and “Church History”. Also the works of Socrates and Sozomen, which have the same title “Church History”, may be at use for a researcher.
It is noteworthy that such a big quantity of primary sources are associated with the church history. It is not surprisingly because Constantine I produced probably the greatest impact on the religion of all Europeans and not only of the Middle Ages but even Renaissance and later epochs as well.
However, it is also should be pointed out that the emperor himself also lived some sources that are extremely useful for historians, for instance, his “To the Assembly of the Saints” also conveys a lot of interesting facts and information about Constantine’s views on religion and his policy in this field. At this paper some of the works mentioned above would analyzed in the context of the influence of the emperor Constantine I the Great on the Medieval European history.
There is no doubt that the most outstanding event that occurred in the reign of Constantine I was the transformation of Christianity into official state religion. Many historians both contemporary and ancient put this event on the first place among all the deeds that had ever been done by the emperor.
It is obvious that the choice of Christianity as the official religion of the whole empire produced a significant impact on the future Medieval history of all European continent both western and eastern and shaped not only European religion of the Middle Ages but European philosophy and culture as well.
Consequently, it is necessary to analyze what made the emperor to make such a step and what were the conditions and circumstances that led him to such a decision. At this respect, the primary sources of the historians, which were contemporary of Constantine’s reign, are extremely important.
However, it should be pointed out that during his life Constantine the Great several times radically changed his views on religion and policy related to this aspect of life within his empire. At the same time, he tended to be close to deity, to something divine. In this context quite remarkable are words of Eusebius in “The Conversion of Constantine” where the author states that the emperor was convinced that “he needed some more powerful aid than his military forces could afford him, on account of the wicked and magic enchantments which were so diligently practiced by the tyrant, he sought Divine assistance, deeming the possession of arms and a numerous soldiery of secondary importance, but believing the co-operating power of Deity invincible and not to be shaken” (Ch27). It means that he sought for support of his political power from religion and obviously he wanted to be an emperor by the God’s will.
Actually, this idea may be traced in the work of Michael Grants “Constantine the Great: The Man and His Times”, where he states that “it was by the will of God that Constantine became possessed by the Empire” (1999:211). So, it may be an evidence of Constantine’s intention to be close to the almighty God. But it was only one of the reasons why the emperor decided to convert to Christianity not only himself but the whole empire.
Naturally, there were other reasons that were probably even more important for Constantine and his empire. It is necessary to say that at that epoch Roman empire was on its way to decline and civil wars were normal part of the life of the empire. Consequently, ideologically, the population of Roman empire was so diverse that it was vitally important to find a unifying force that would be able to unite all members of Roman society, all the population of this huge country despite nationality, social status, political views, etc.
Christianity with its particular philosophy was probably the best solution of the problem for Constantine, especially if take into consideration the growing popularity of Christianity despite all prohibitions that were quite ordinary in pre-Constantine epochs.
During the reign of Constantine, Christianity prospered. All his deeds were accompanied by God’s will and divine visions that the emperor saw from time to time. Even his conversion to Christianity was predetermined by his vision that happened during the war with his co-emperor Maxentius. As Eusebius describes it, before the crucial battle of Milvian Bridge, the emperor, being convinced that he needed a divine assistance, prayed for it and got a vision of a cross of light at midday, bearing the inscription of ‘in this sign you will be victorious’.
However, the latter fact is nowadays traditionally explained by optic illusion if not the invention of Constantine but still it symbolize what attention he paid to Christianity that should bring him victory in his struggle for power.
Thus, his conversion to Christianity had a dubious effect. For him, it should become a state religion able to unite all peoples and nations by one common idea, philosophy and naturally religion. At the same time, conversion to Christianity of the whole Roman empire had a much more serious and far going consequences for all European civilization in the next epoch that changed ancient world, i.e. the Middle Ages and even further epochs.
However, religion was not the only sphere in which Constantine I the Great produced a great impact on further development of European civilization. He, possessing such a huge empire as Roman, understood that Rome itself could not remain anymore the center of the empire because it was too far in the west and it was extremely difficult to control the whole empire from this city. As a result he decided to create a new center of empire that would unite it in a solid country, and that would lead to the realization of dreams, which Alexander the Great once had attempted to realize, dreams about the uniting of West and East.
On changing several cities as potential centers of his empire he decided to build a new city Constantinople on the basis of Greek settlement Byzantium. The city, being geographically perfectly situated, served as a bridge between Europe and Asia. In such a way he underlined the necessity of the creation of a really united empire in spite of all traditional views and beliefs that treated his decision as a mistake because Rome was a traditional and unique center of Roman empire. But Constantine I was wise enough to change stereotypes and build Constantinople. From this city he could easier control all the territories of a huge empire, particularly its eastern and northeastern borders.
At the same time, such a step of the Roman emperor had serious consequences for European history. First of all, Constantinople remained for a long time an independent and quite a powerful state that was known as Byzantine empire that had existed until the middle of the 15th century. During the Middle Ages this empire was a cultural and scientific center of Europe. While science, culture and art in Western and Central Europe were in decline, in Byzantine empire the heritage of ancient Greece and Rome was kept and multiplied. Furthermore, contacts of the empire with other European countries, either friendly or not (like in the period of Crusades), enriched the culture and science of Western Europe.
Moreover, Byzantine empire brought Christianity, so carefully brought up by Constantine the Great in his empire, and civilization in Eastern Europe. Traditionally treated as barbarous tribes of Slavs became Christians who learned a lot from Byzantine culture and Christian religion, even alphabet and literacy were brought in Eastern Europe, for instance Kievan Rus, from Byzantine empire.
Another very serious impact that Constantine produced on Europe by building Constantinople was the idea of unification and uniting of Europe and Asia. In the Middle Ages Western Europe was practically isolated from Asia that still remained the desired land for Europeans. It may be said that Constantine, introducing of Christianity as a state religion, showed them the way where the Promised Land was and this way lied through his city, Constantinople.
By the way, the idea of uniting the empire is extremely important, particularly for Medieval Europe that suffered from feudal wars between representatives of one and the same nation. Probably, Constantine was one of the last emperors who managed to unite such a huge territory with enormous population in one empire.
However, Constantine’s achievements in conversion of Roman empire to Christianity and creation of a new center of the empire are not the only ones. He also contributed to the development of culture and arts. The achievements and experience of architects that worked at that time were widely used later in Byzantine empire and in Western Europe as well.
Also his reformation of army was quite important but it probably did not such an effect as other deeds of Constantine the Great.
As for legislative activity and reforms it should be said that the Roman laws produced a significant impact on the development of jurisprudence in Europe and naturally, Constantine by his state activity made his own contribution into the development of Roman, and consequently, European legislation.
Tony La Russa
At first glance Tony La Russa has nothing in common with the great Roman emperor Constantine but when his life story and work are analyzed deeper than it becomes obvious that to a significant extent they used similar methods in their work and their relation to people though some not less significant differences may be found as well. Furthermore, the fields where Constantine and Tony La Russa worked do not add arguments to compare and contrast these two outstanding people of their times.
Nonetheless it is possible to say that to a certain extent sport and big politic are similar to one another and the methods that are used in politics may be successfully applied in sport as well and vice versa.
However, it should be said that researchers possess much more wider range of views on Constantine, his personality and deeds, than on Tony La Russa’s ones. The main reason is that when Constantine I is discussed it is possible to use both primary and secondary sources and thus, it is possible to view his politics, his personality in retrospection. In such a way a modern researcher have more tools to define his role in history while the only sources about Tony La Russa are works of his contemporaries this is why it is practically impossible to fully appreciate his contribution into the development of sport and sport management in the US and probably in the world at large.
Nonetheless, some conclusions may be made even now since the contribution of Tony La Russa into the development of baseball and sport at large are obvious and his managerial talent is well known. So, comparing Constantine I and Tony La Russa it would be better to compare their deeds since nothing describes a person better than a person’s deeds. In fact some similarities between Constantine I and Tony La Russa may be found when the career of the latter as a sportsman is discussed. It is a well-known fact that he was seriously injured and the injury disturbed him till the end of his career but it has never stopped him. It reveals his boldness and ability to overcome difficulties and the same traits may be found in the character of Constantine I, especially when he introduced Christianity as the main religion of Roman Empire. Obviously, introduction of Christianity met a strong opposition, but Constantine I ignored it and realized his plans regardless all the problems he faced.
The further development of Tony La Russa career as a manager soon revealed his difference from Constantine I. Despite the fact that Tony La Russa received a Juris Doctor degree he never entered the legal profession while Constantine, being a ruler, an emperor of the most powerful country at the time could not fail to develop his legal and legislative activities. Moreover he introduced a number of legislative innovations that have already been described above. Unlike Constantine, Tony La Russa estimated: “I decided I’d rather ride the buses in the Minor League than practice law for a living” (Will 2004:105).
On the other hand this fact from the biography of Tony La Russa may be treated as a trend that reveals the fact that he did not like radical changes in his life and in his surrounding that was absolutely untypical for Constantine who, despite his name, which symbolizes constancy, introduced radical changes quite readily and in first turn it concerns his religious views which he changed so often and eventually stopped upon Christianity.
On the other hand, it is impossible to say that Tony La Russa is a man who has permanent interest, or more precisely who is fully devoted to one organization. He often changed clubs he played in or he managed and he readily accept such changes and this can be treated as pragmatism from his part just like Constantine whose policy was marked by a high degree of pragmatism so that he even changed the capital of his empire out of sheer pragmatism.
Furthermore, an important part of Constantine’s politics was aimed at the unification of West and East of Europe and Asia. To a certain extent the changes of clubs made by Tony La Russa during his career as a payer and manager may be interpreted in the same way as an attempt to unify baseball teams from different parts of the US as a part of one sport of one country but this kind of unity is rather spiritual while Constantine rather tended to physical unification through cultural, religions, economic and political expansion of Roman Empire to East and West.
Managerial abilities and inclinations of Tony La Russa compared to Constantine I worth particular attention. Generally speaking it is possible to estimate that Tony La Russa attitude to his players is much more human compared to the attitude of Constantine I to his people but it may be explained by the huge time gap between them and the enormous difference in moral and ethical views of their epochs. Obviously Constantine did not pay much attention to actual needs of his people. For instance, his introduction of Christianity as the official religion of Roman empire was made practically violently despite the exiting variety of different religious cults, which had deep historical roots and a lot of adepts who really believed in different Gods the new official religion suggested them instead. It means that individuals were of little importance for Constantine.
As for Tony La Russa, it should be said that he appreciated individuals much more than the ancient Roman emperor but still his attitude to his player was and remains in fact quite seriously criticized because it is considered to be impersonal attitude. What is meant here may be clearly explained by George Will who, in his book “Men at Work: The Craft of Baseball”, characterizes Tony La Russa along with his long-time pitching coach Dave Duncan as “making more use of statistical analysis than any other team in the major leagues” (2004:381). It means that statistical data are more important for Tony La Russa than personalities of his players but it does not necessarily mean that he won’t give a chance to a person whose statistics is not perfect yet.
Finally, it should be said that both Constantine I and Tony La Russa were real leaders in the field they worked. It is evident that they had a strong charisma that made people follow them, believe their ideas which were quite innovative and even extraordinary to a certain extent. In fact it is their charisma that made both Constantine and Tony La Russa so significant personalities in the history of world politic and sport correspondingly.
Thus, taking into consideration all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that Constantine I and Tony La Russa are very similar to one another in their style of work and some traits of character, but there are also some differences which are not only the result of their indvidual inclinations but simply the result of difference in the epochs, life style, mentality, social surrounding and social status. Anyway their contribution in the world politic and sport are obvious but at this point it is necessary to underline that it would be a bit erroneous to limit their impact only by the spheres they worked in. Obviously influenced other spheres of life as well since both politic and sport are closely related to culture, economy, and other spheres of life. On the other hand it is necessary to remember that methods they used in their work are widely criticized and not always accepted since they are not democratic and impersonal to a certain extent.

1. Alfoldi, Andreas. The Conversion of Constantine and Pagan Rome. Oxford 1969.
2. Barnes, Timothy D. "Lactantius and Constantine." JRS 63, 1973.
3. Barnes, Timothy D. Constantine and Eusebius. Cambridge, Mass., 1981.
4. Eusebius. The Conversion of Constantine.
5. Grants, Michael. Constantine the Great: The Man and His Times. LA: Routledge, 1999.
6. Jones, A. H. M. Constantine and the Conversion of Europe. Oxford 1989.
7. Lieu, Samuel N. C., and Dominic Montserrat, (ed.). Constantine: History, Historiography and Legend. New York: New Publishers, 1998.
8. Will, George. Men at Work: The Craft of Baseball. New York: Touchstone, 2004.

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