Constantine(the Great)....Hostage of Diocletian?!?

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by ominus1, Nov 30, 2020.

  1. ominus1

    ominus1 Well-Known Member

    ...I was getting out of my group of Crispus coins(yeah someone on my list is getting a very nice one, but i won't say who!:)) and happened to read the info page i'll show states that Constantine, father of Crispus, son of Constantius Chlorus was a hostage of Diocletian's in the time of the tetarchy to ensure loyalty of Cons. Chlorus... i'm like WTH?!? this paper i've had for many years, but i don't remember being aware of THAT!:eek::oldman:....tell us your thoughts on this and/or post a coin/artefact/info such as whatever you feel is revelant to the topic..(enlarge to read if need be:watching::oldman::playful:) hostage 001.JPG hostage 002.JPG
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  3. OutsiderSubtype

    OutsiderSubtype Well-Known Member

    The young Constantine was brought to the courts of Diocletian and Galerius for military and political seasoning. Some say he was a hostage. Others like Stephen Williams, the biographer of Diocletian, say calling him a hostage is inaccurate.

    Lactantius says that when Diocletian and Maximian retired, everyone expected Constantine to be named as one of the new Caesars. Diocletian called an army assembly at his court at Nicomedia.

    The assembly waited in tense anticipation for the names to be announced. [Diocletian] then said that the Caesars were to be Severus, and Maximinus. There was general amazement. Constantine stood prominently nearby, and men began to wonder whether he had not changed his name to Maximinus. But then, in the full view of everyone, Galerius reached back his hand, brushing Constantine aside, and drew Daza forward ...

    Lactantius was a Christian, writing against the persecutors, and became an advisor to Constantine. So probably take that story with a grain of salt.

    As tensions rose after Diocletian's retirement, Constantine and his father realized that Constantine's position at the court of Galerius was becoming untenable. Constantius asked Galerius to send him his son back. The story is Constantine caught Galerius in a good mood after dinner and got him to agree.

    Here is a coin of Maximinus II Daia, whose elevation Lactantius said was so surprising. It is from Nicomedia.

  4. gsimonel

    gsimonel Well-Known Member

    Sending your son as a "hostage" to a foreign leader was not unusual. It ensured that the father would not rebel at the same time it inculcated the son into the ways of the foreign leader's society, creating loyalty in the son. The tradition continued into Diocletian's time even though both Diocletian and Constantius I were both Romans. For Constantine, it was as much an education into leadership as a means of ensuring loyalty.
  5. Victor_Clark

    Victor_Clark standing on the shoulders of giants Dealer

    There is another source that says Constantine made a dramatic midnight escape and as he got to each outpost, he swapped out his tired horse for a fresh one and killed the others so pursurers could not catch him. Another source has Constantine fighting a lion while in the East-- "Galerius...lay a plot against the youth and set him to fight with a savage lion." The truth is that Constantine most likely had it pretty good in the East. My impression is that he did not even really like the West, probably considering it a backwater. Shortly after reuniting with his father, he spent several years slowly moving east, until he finally made his new capitol in Byzantion/ Constantinople.
    OutsiderSubtype and ominus1 like this.
  6. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    It seems that Diocletian had second thoughts about the loyalty of Constantius, especially since there were so many power grabs going on in the West. Keeping Constantine in a place where a watchful eye would be on him all the time looks like smart collateral & insurance that Constantius wouldn't turn usurper too :smuggrin:.You might say Constantine was a "friendly prisoner" in Diocletian's camp....
    ominus1 likes this.
  7. ominus1

    ominus1 Well-Known Member mans hostage is another mans guest :D
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  8. Victor_Clark

    Victor_Clark standing on the shoulders of giants Dealer

    Constantine was not merely a hostage, he also served in the military during his early time in the East.
  9. Caesar_Augustus

    Caesar_Augustus Well-Known Member

    It was likely that he served under Galerius during the Roman invasion of the Persian Empire. He probably saw Ctesiphon and observed the military weakness of the Persians. Why else would he be so confident during the last years of his life while he was preparing for the conquest of Persia? Constantine did benefit greatly from his time in the East. He saw the strategic importance of the East firsthand.
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