Constantine as Caesar

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by IMP Shogun, Jun 25, 2021.

  1. IMP Shogun

    IMP Shogun Well-Known Member

    Happy Friday!

    History sometimes is stranger than fiction:

    With the death of Constantius in 306 A.D. and the success of the war in Britain, many expected Constantine to be named the new western emperor; however, Severus (caesar and close friend of Galerius) was promoted to the position, despite the claim that Constantius had named his son as augustus on his deathbed. Regardless of the official decree, Constantine was declared augustus by his men. Galerius, however, refused to recognize this declaration. Not to be overlooked, Maxentius, who had also been passed over in 305 CE, ignored both Galerius and Constantine and declared himself augustus in October of 307 CE. Galerius refused to recognize him but failed to unseat him (Severus II R.I.P.). Constantine remained aloof from the Italian conflict, however eventually consummated an alliance with Maxentius and his father Maximian by marrying the latter's daughter Fausta - all the while avoiding direct military involvement. However, over the spring and summer of 307 AD, he had left Gaul for Britain to avoid any involvement in the Italian turmoil. (Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, 30; Lenski, "Reign of Constantine" (CC), 62–63; Odahl, 86–87)

    By 308, there were therefore no fewer than four claimants to the rank of Augustus (Galerius, Constantine, Maximian and Maxentius), and only one to that of Caesar (Maximinus)

    Constantine I as Caesar follis RIC VI 89b minted 307 A.D. in London

    I'm curious how folks have Constantine I represented in their collection as Caesar (or anything else from that tumultuous period you feel like sharing!). I've found that these issues as Caesar are somewhat less common than other Tetrachy issues due to the short period of time they were minted and have found examples from\, for example, Ticinum to be even less common still - perhaps due to the difficulties between Maxentius and Galerius.
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2021
  2. Avatar

    Guest User Guest

    to hide this ad.
  3. Jim Dale

    Jim Dale Well-Known Member

    Nice history lesson, but of no use to my collection of modern coins. Have fun with yours. I just finished my collection of silver FDR Dimes. If they cost over $7, I wouldn't buy one. I have a few that will need to be replaced, but there are many coin collectors that were help in my collection. My next goal is the Mercury Dimes.
  4. Finn235

    Finn235 Well-Known Member

    Nice one!

    My example is from London; eventually I hope to get an earlier and even heavier one that's closer to the full 10g
    Constantine Caesar London genio.jpeg

    Also don't forget about the special title FIL AVGG - Filius Augustorum that was issued mainly by mints controlled by Galerius as a way of recognizing that Constantine was there, without recognizing him as Augustus
    Constantine fil avgg genio.jpg

    The same title was also granted to Maximinus
    Maximinus II FIL AVGG Thessalonica genio.jpg
  5. Heliodromus

    Heliodromus Well-Known Member

    I think you meant 10-306 for Maxentius's usurpation, rapidly following Constantine's rise to power in 7-306. Maxentius's usurpation was likely inspired by Constantine, and he may have been hoping/expecting a similar outcome of acceptance by Galerius, his father-in-law (who despised him!), but no such luck.

    Galerius/Severus II seem to have taken a surprisingly long time to respond to Maxentius (wanting to avoid a winter campaign, perhaps), but by Spring 307 Severus marched on Rome only to be defeated by Maximianus who had gladly come out of retirement to assist his son.

    It seems to be at this point, in Spring of 307, having just defeated Severus, that Maximianus departed for Gaul in order to make an alliance with Constantine to strengthen their position against Galerius. The terms of the alliance involved an immediate recognition of Maximianus by Constantine, and an agreement for Constantine to marry Maximianus's daughter Fausta later in the year, and then be elevated to augustus on (the rather dubious) authority of the now-usurper Maximianus.

    Per the coinage, it appears that sometime in Spring-Summer of 307 Constantine, and perhaps Maximianus, may have visited Britain, as attested by this rare Adventvs Avgg (plural) type for Constantine as caesar issued from London. There are also a number of other rare types unique to London, both for Constantine as caesar, and his new colleague Maximianus, which give the impression of the London mint taking the lead here, maybe due to an imperial presence.

    Constantine I CAES Adventvs Avgg London 307 (RIC VI London 82 R2 - 23mm PRD).jpg

    Among the London only types are Mars reverses of Marti Pacif and Mars Victor, which then give way to Marti Patri Conservatori and Marti Patri Propvgnatori, as part of a standard reverse type set then also issued from Trier and Lyons.

    Constantine I CAES Marti Pacif London 307 (RIC VI London 94 R) uncleaned 25mm 7.08g.jpg

    Maximianus Marti Patri Conservatori London 307 (unlisted for M, cf C1 CAES RIC 95) 25x23mm.jpg

    In the meantime, back in Italy, apparently while Maximianus was absent, Galerius made a rapid 2nd failed attempt to oust Maxentius. Perhaps this occured while Constantine and Maximianus were in Britain (if indeed they were), but it'd seem surprising if they had antipipated it and still chosen to go.

    After the death of Severus, Maxentius now also controlled northern Italy, including the Ticinum mint, although Aquileia seems to have been isolated until the retreat of Galerius. Ticinum and Aquileia would then, in later 307, issue coins stroking the ego of Constantine, such as this Hercvli Conservat Caes type depicting Hercules defeating the Nemean lion, perhaps chosen due to a story of western/Herculean Constantine having defeated a lion "as a training exercise" while being held hostage at the court of Galerius.

    Constantine I CAES Hercvli Conservat Caes Ticinum 307 (RIC VI Ticinum 87 S) 26mm 6.23g.jpg

    The coins of Constantine as caesar continue until his marriage to Fausta and elevation to augustus on the auspicious date of 12-25-307, Natalis Invictus, after which they all live happily ever after.
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2021
  6. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Well-Known Member

    Shogun, I like the portrait on your nummus :D. What is the size & weight of your coin o_O? The London Mint did some of the finest portraits on Constantine's coinage. Pictured below are 2 of my favorite coins of Constantine as Caesar :happy:.

    CNG 477, Lot 638.jpg
    Constantine I as Caesar, AD 306-309 (struck c. summer AD 307), Trier Mint, 1st Officina. AE Nummis: 29 mm, 8.73 gm, 6 h. RIC 719b. Ex CNG Inventory, 774824, July 2006.

    Constantine I, 27 mm, 9.50 gm, AD 306-7, RARE.jpg

    Constantine I as Caesar, AD 306-309 (struck AD 306-early 307) Trier Mint, 1st Officina. AE Nummus: 28 mm, 9.50 gm, 7 h. RIC VI 666a. Rare. Ex White Mountain Collection, Ex CNG May 5, 2010.
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2021
  7. IMP Shogun

    IMP Shogun Well-Known Member

    That one is 29mm when I measure to that irregular edge and 8.8g.
  8. Heliodromus

    Heliodromus Well-Known Member

    FYI, RIC failed to note that this type was actually struck at two different weight standards, first at a nominal weight of 1/40lb (8.22g), then a later issue at 1/48lb (6.85g). However due to extremely poor weight control the only way to tell the two issues apart is actually by size, not weight. The size that matters is the die size (i.e. the size the coins were meant to be), not the flan size which varies a lot.

    The critical measurement is the pearl ring diameter (PRD), the diameter from center-to-center of the dotted border, with the early heavier issue measuring at approx 24.5mm and the later lighter one at 23mm. The numismatist Pierre Bastien ("Some Comments on the Coinage of the London Mint") gives measurements of 24mm and 23mm.

    I loaded the picture of your coin into a photo editor to measure it, and it seems the PRD is 24.5mm (based on the max diameter being 29mm), which means it's from the earlier 1/40lb issue.
    IMP Shogun and Claudius_Gothicus like this.
  9. Clavdivs

    Clavdivs Well-Known Member

    Constantine I (Caesar, 306-309). Æ Follis (29mm, 8.59g, 12h). Heraclea, 306-7. Laureate head r. R/ Genius standing l., holding patera and cornucopiae; HTB.
  10. gsimonel

    gsimonel Well-Known Member

    Caesar_Augustus and IMP Shogun like this.
  11. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member

    My favorite Constantine as Caesar is this AE1 issued from Rome while in control of Maxentius. I'm not sure how impressed Constantine was by being termed only Caesar but it was not long before the two were battling for control of Rome and the world.
  12. Caesar_Augustus

    Caesar_Augustus Well-Known Member

    I read a lot into the life of the great emperor Constantine, and it does seem like he was the type of guy who would stop at nothing to rule the whole world.

    Constantine the Great
    AE Follis
    306 - 307 A.D., Antioch Mint, null Officina
    10.40g, 26.0mm, 6H

    Laureate head right

    Genius standing left, modius on head, naked but for chlamys over left shoulder, liquors flowing from patera in right hand, cornucopiae in left

    Exergue: -/A//ANT:

    Provenance: Ex. Budgies-Beak eBay 2019

    Reference: Not in RIC
  13. Heliodromus

    Heliodromus Well-Known Member

    Well, he may not have liked it, but really had no complaint .. quite yet. At this point Constantine is still calling himself caesar since that is all Galerius had afforded him.

    Shortly after this, when Maximianus elevated Constantine to augustus, Maxentius duly went along and we then see Constantine as augustus in this same series (RIC 197 vs your 196).

    However, where Constantine presumably was offended, as intended, was on the following issue RIC 203 (now shorter CONSERV legend, with "H" in left field), where Maxentius "demotes" him back to caesar !!

    What had happened was that Maximianius has tried to usurp his usurper son in 308, and then fled Rome upon failing. Maxentius was understandably unhappy about this and shortly afterwards stopped coining for both Maximianus and Constantine (perhaps blaming him for it?), but oddly not before this RIC 203 "H" issue including both the demoted Constantine AND his disgraced father (RIC 202b) !

    Maximianus Conserv Vrb Svae Rome 307-308 (RS H, RIC VI Rome 202b R) 27x24mm 6.78g.jpg
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2021
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page