4th century

2008/9 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: General history

Millennium: 1st millennium
Centuries: 3rd century · 4th century · 5th century
Decades: 300s 310s 320s 330s 340s
350s 360s 370s 380s 390s
Categories: Births – Deaths
Establishments – Disestablishments
Eastern Hemisphere at the beginning of the 4th century AD.
Eastern Hemisphere at the beginning of the 4th century AD.
Eastern Hemisphere at the end of the 4th century AD.
Eastern Hemisphere at the end of the 4th century AD.

As a means of recording the passage of time, the 4th century (per the Julian/ Gregorian calendar and Anno Domini era) was that century which lasted from 301 to 400.


In the West, the early part of the century was shaped by Constantine I, who became the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity. Gaining sole reign of the empire, he is also noted for re-establishing a single imperial capital, choosing the site of ancient Byzantium in 330 (over of the current capitals, which had effectively been changed by Diocletian's reforms to Milan in the West, and Nicomedia in the East) to build the city soon called Nova Roma (New Rome); it was later renamed Constantinople in his honour.

The last emperor to control both the eastern and western halves of the empire was Theodosius I. As the century progressed after his death it became increasingly apparent that the empire had changed in many ways since the time of Augustus. The two emperor system originally established by Diocletian in the previous century fell into regular practice, and the east continued to grow in importance as a centre of trade and imperial power, while Rome itself diminished greatly in importance due to its location far from potential trouble spots, like Central Europe and the East. Late in the century Christianity became the official state religion, and the empire's old pagan culture began to disappear. General Prosperity was felt throughout this period, but recurring invasions by Germanic tribes plagued the empire from AD 376 onward. These early invasions marked the beginning of the end for the Western Roman Empire.

According to archaeologists, sufficient archaeological correlates of state-level societies coalesced in the 4th century to show the existence of the Three Kingdoms (AD 300/400-668) of Baekje, Goguryeo, and Silla.


Contemporary bronze head of Constantine I.
Contemporary bronze head of Constantine I.
  • 301: Armenia first to adopt Christianity as state religion, followed by Ethiopia, circa 320
  • 306– 337: Constantine I, ends persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire, calls First Council of Nicaea, see also Constantinian shift, Constantinople becomes new seat of government ( New Rome)
  • 350: About this time the Huns begin to invade the Sassanid Empire.
  • 376: Visigoths appear on the Danube and are allowed entry into the Roman Empire in their flight from the Huns.
  • 378: Battle of Adrianople. Roman army is defeated by Visigoth cavalry. Emperor Valens is killed.
  • 378– 395: Theodosius I, Roman emperor, bans pagan worship, Christianity is made the official religion of the Empire.
  • 383: Battle of Fei River in China

Inventions, discoveries, introductions

  • The Stirrup was invented in China, no later than 322
  • Kama Sutra
  • Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Vaticanus, earliest Christian bibles
  • Book of Steps, Syriac religious discourses

Decades and years

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