Well, it was once… way back in AD 306. Emperor Constantius, busy subduing those troublesome northern Picts, died whilst based at York. The Roman troops proclaimed his son, Constantine, Emperor of the known world! He may have been born in Nis, Serbia, but he became Emperor in York!
Just outside the Minster is a statue of our Yorkshire lad. And quite a statue it is. Captures the imperial confidence, pride and swagger very well.
Dressed for battle, a warrior, confident of destiny, yes, this boy could swagger alright. Consider what he went on to do: Killed off his rivals in a bloody civil war, forced the Roman Empire to convert fully to Christianity (God appeared to him in a dream before a battle. “In hoc signo vinces” – by this sign you will conquer) so he led his troops into battle with the sign of the cross on their shields. Such self-belief – always easiest for the victor…!
Vanity! He decided Rome wasn’t good enough and founded a new capital, which of course could only be called…., Constantinople! The statue exudes this arrogant pride. Not just in the imperial look, the aquiline nose, disdainful gaze. Right down to his very fingertips, this man is emperor.
And is any of this relevant now? Well, yes. This was the man that decided what the whole of the western world should believe – the Nicean Creed, AD 325. He bossed the conclave. Not bad for a Yorkshire lad…