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The spread of Christianity in the Roman Empire
At the beginning of the third century, the execution of Christians was public entertainment in arenas across the Roman Empire. In 203 AD, amongst a small group of Christian prisoners to be put to death in Carthage were Vibia Perpetua and Felicitas. The fearless way these two women faced down their own execution inspired many converts to Christianity, turning a humiliating public death into a victory for their faith. The Romans found this cult of martyrdom strange and confusing, but they could do nothing to hold back the spread of Christianity throughout the Empire. But rather than continuing to outlaw it, the Romans, in typically pragmatic and shrewd fashion, reached out and assimilated the burgeoning religion. Until in 337, the Emperor Constantine himself declared that he was a Christian. First broadcast on 'Andrew Marr's History of the World' on BBC One in October 2012.
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