Constantine I

Constantine I (Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus)

Coins from Constantine are divided into five sections, reflecting the impressive scope of his career and consequent breadth of his coinage.

  • Coinage: 306–308
  • 308–312
  • 313–318
  • 318–325
  • 325–337
  • Biography...

I. First coins from Britain and Gaul

Constantine's first coins were orthodox and non-provocative. Most likely he did not strike any coins until after Galerius had confirmed his position. His first coins were struck with the title of caesar. He did strike two new types:

  • "PRINCIPI IVVENTIS" ("Prince of Youth") was new to coinage of the Tetrarchy, but had been a traditional motif in the earlier Empire to commemorate a new caesar. This was so even though Constantine by this time was a fully grown man in his thirties.
  • The Mars coins evoke Mars as Constantine's divine patron. In this, Constantine is choosing to differentiate himself from Maximianus' association with Hercules and Diocletian's two-fold emphasis on the Houses of Jupiter and Hercules.
204-236
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Constantine I caesar
—struck by Constantine I
Treveri, 306
obv.- FL VAL CONSTANTINVS NOB C; laureate, draped bust right
rev.- GENIO POPVLI ROMANI; Genius standing left, head towered, loins draped, holding patera & cornucopiae; S | F in fields; PTR in ex
RIC VI Tr 666A
28mm; 9.1g; nummus
From the very first issue of coins struck for Constantine at Treveri. Constantius died during this issue, so immediately following his death, the first coins were struck in Constantine's name. The vast majority of Constantine's coins struck as caesar are from the next series with the S-A mintmark instead of the earlier S-F series. Rated S in RIC.
104-975
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Constantine I caesar
—struck by Constantine I
Treveri, 307
obv.- FL VAL CONSTANTINVS NOB C; laureate, draped, cuirassed bust right, seen from behind
rev.- GENIO POPVLI ROMANI; Genius, towered, loins draped, stg left holding cornucopia and patera; S A in field; PTR in ex
RIC VI Tr 694
28mm; 7.9g; nummus
Rated S in RIC
104-890
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Constantine I caesar
—struck by Constantine I
Treveri, 307
obv.- FL VAL CONSTANTINVS NOB C; laur cuir bust right
rev.- GENIO POP ROM; Genius standing left holding a patera and cornucopiae. PTR in ex; S|A in field
RIC VI Tr 719b
28mm; 7.3g; nummus
This is probably my favorite Constantine the Grest portrait coin. Click here for close-up detail.
104-950
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Constantine I caesar
—struck by Constantine
Treveri, 307
obv.- F L VAL CONSTANTINVS NOB C; laur-draped-cuir bust right
rev.- GENIO POP ROM; Genius standing facing, towered head left, loins draped with himation, patera in right hand, cornucopiae in left ; S | A across fields; PTR in exergue
RIC VI Tr 719b
27mm; 6.3g; nummus
204-582
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Constantine I caesar
—struck by Constantine I
Treveri, 307
obv.- FL VAL CONSTANTINVS NOB C; laureate and cuirassed bust right
rev.- MARTI PATRI CONSERVATORI; Mars, naked, standing right, leaning on reversed spear and resting shield on ground;S | A in fields; PTR in ex
RIC VI Tr 725
27mm; 7.2g; nummus
104-685
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Constantine I caesar
—struck by Constantine I
Treveri, 307
obv.- FL VAL CONSTANTINVS NOB C; laur dr bust right
rev.- MARTI PATRI PROPVGNATORI; Mars advancing right, holding spear and shield; PTR in ex; S|A in fields
RIC VI Tr 730; Fail 083
27mm; 7.4g; nummus
This might be the most stylish Constantine coin I have.
104-511
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Constantine I caesar
—struck by Constantine I
Treveri, 307
obv.- FL VAL CONSTANTINVS NOB C; Laureate and cuirassed bust right
rev.- PRINCIPI IVVENTIS; Constantine standing left, holding standard in each hand; S-A in fields, PTR in ex
RIC VI Tr 734; Fail 207
27mm; 7.1g; nummus
204-712
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Constantine I caesar
—struck by Constantine I
Treveri, 307
obv.- FL VAL CONSTANTINVS N C; laureate, cuirassed bust right
rev.- PRINCIPI IVVENTVTIS; Prince standing facing, head left, in military dress, holding standard in each hand, S-A across fields, PTR in ex.
RIC VI Tr 743
25mm; 4.6g; half-nummus
rated R2 in RIC
204-713
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Constantine I caesar
—struck by Constantine I
Treveri, 307
obv.- CONSTANTINVS N C; laureate, draped bust right, seen from behind
rev.- VOT X CAESS NN; legend within wreath
RIC VI Tr 749
13mm; 1.4g; eighth-nummus
Very rarerated R4 in RIC. This denomination is not attested in RICthe smallest fraction they acknowledge is a quarter-follis, but this seems clearly intended to be half the size of, for example, my coin 204-585
104-771
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Constantine I caesar
—struck by Constantine I
Treveri, 307
obv.- FL VAL CONSTANTINVS N C; Laureate cuirassed bust of Constantine right
rev.- MARTI PATRI CONSERV; Mars, naked and helmeted standing r., leaning on reversed spear, resting shield on ground; S|A in fields, PTR in ex
RIC VI Tr 740
22mm; 4.4g; half-nummus
A rare early fractional bronze type of Constantine the Great as Caesar. Rated R3 in RIC
204-572
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Constantine I caesar
—struck by Constantine I
Treveri, 307
obv.- FL VAL CONSTANTINVS N C; laureate cuirassed bust right
rev.- MARTI PATRI PROPVG; Mars, helmeted, advancing to right, holding spear and shield; S A in field, PTR in ex
RIC VI Tr 741
22mm; 4.3g; half-nummus
204-585
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Constantine I caesar
—struck by Constantine I
Treveri, 307
obv.- FL VAL CONSTANTINVS N C; laureate, cuirassed bust right
rev.- VOTIS X; legend in wreath
RIC VI Tr 750 [var]
17mm; 2.2g; quarter-nummus
not listed in RIC with this bust type; only the draped, cuirassed bust is catalogued
104-591
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Constantine I caesar
—struck by Constantine I
Lugdunum, 307
obv.- FL VAL CONSTANTINVS N C; laureate / draped bust right
rev.- GENIO POPVLI ROMANI; Genius holding patera over alter, loins draped; N in field; PLC in ex
RIC VI Lug 214b; Fail 72
27mm; 6.9g; nummus
struck in spring 307. Rated S in RIC
204-558
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Constantine I caesar
—struck by Constantine I
Lugdunum, 307
obv.- FL VAL CONSTANTINVS NOB C; Laureate, draped, cuirassed bust right
rev.- GENIO POP ROM; Genius standing facing, modius on head left, loins draped, patera in right hand, cornucopiae in left; T | F across fields; PLC in ex
RIC VI Lug 220b
26mm; 7.7g; nummus
204-711
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Constantine I caesar
—struck by Constantine I
Lugdunum, 307
obv.- FL VAL CONSTANTINVS NC; laureate cuirassed bust right
rev.- GENIO POPVLI ROMANI; Genius standing left, holding patera and cornucopia, altar | N in field, PLC in ex
RIC VI Lug 231
27mm; 7.4g; nummus
104-517
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Constantine I caesar
—struck by Constantine I
Londinium, 307
obv.- FL VAL CONSTANTINVS NOB C;
rev.- GENIO POP ROM; Genius, draped, holding patera and cornucopia
RIC VI Lon 88b; Fail 198
27mm; 6.8g; nummus
RIC rated R
204-416
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Constantine I caesar
—struck by Constantine I
Londinium, 307
obv.- FL VAL CONSTANTINVS NOB C; Laureate and cuirassed bust right
rev.- MARTI PACIF; Mars lunging left, holding branch, spear and shield; PLN in ex
RIC VI Lon 94
26mm; 6.7g; nummus
Rated R in RIC, but I suspect it's rarer than that.
204-021
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Constantine I caesar
—struck by Constantine I
Lugdunum, 307
obv.- FL VAL CONSTANTINVS NC; laureate, cuirassed bust right
rev.- GENIO POP ROM; Genius stg left, modius on head, holding patera and cornucopia; N in field, PLC in ex
RIC VI Lug 235
25mm; 5.5g; nummus
listed as R in RIC

II. Coins as caesar struck by Galerius and Maximinus

Once Galerius confirmed his appointment as caesar, Galerius and Maximinus II both included him routinely in their coinage of 306 and 307.

204-602
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Constantine I caesar
—struck by Galerius
Siscia, 306-307
obv.- FL VAL CONSTANTINVS NOB C; laureate bust right
rev.- CONCORDIA IMPERII; Concordia standing left, modius on head, right arm leaning on scepter; VI in right field; SISΓ in ex
RIC VI Sis 173c
27mm; 9.6g; nummus
204-344
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Constantine I caesar
—struck by Galerius
Heraclea, 306-307
obv.- FL VAL CONSTANTIVS NOB CAES; laureate bust right
rev.- GENIO POPVLI ROMANI; Genius standing left holding a patera and cornucopiae. HTA in ex
RIC VI Her 31
28mm; 9.6g; nummus
104-838
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Constantine I caesar
—struck by Galerius
Heraclea, 306-307
obv.- FL VAL CONSTANTINVS NOB CAES; laur bust right
rev.- GENIO POPVLI ROMANI; Genius standing left, pouring liquid from patera in right hand, holding cornucopia in left; HT-Γ in exergue
RIC VI Her 31
29mm; 13.3g; nummus
rated S in RIC. Quite overweight; this is arguably the largest, heaviest coin of Constantine you're likely to ever find.
204-149
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Constantine I caesar
—struck by Galerius
Serdica, 306-307
obv.- FL VAL CONSTANTINVS NOB CAESAR; Laureate bust right
rev.- GENIO POPVLI ROMANI; Genius standing left, modius on head, naked except for chlamys over left shoulder, holding patera from which liquid flows, & cornucopiae, Γ to right, SMSD in exergue
RIC VI Ser 26
27mm; 7.9g; nummus
Listed as R3 in RIC. The silvering makes it tough to photograph, but this is a wonderful portrait. Even though it is very stylized, the celator clearly tried to capture a younger, youthful Constantine compared to portraits of his father from the same mint and timeframe.
204-703
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Constantine I caesar
—struck by Galerius
thessalonica, 308-309
obv.- FL VAL CONSTANTINVS NOB C; laureate bust right
rev.- GENIO CAESARIS; Genius standing left, holding patera and cornucopia, * | Δ fields; •SM•TS• in ex
RIC VI Thes 31a
25mm; 6.0g; nummus
204-031
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Constantine I caesar
—struck by Maximinus II
Antioch, 306-307
obv.- FL VAL CONSTANTINVS NOB CAES; laureate bust right
rev.- GENIO POPVLI ROMANI; Genius standing facing, head left, modius on head, naked but for chlamys over left shoulder, liquors flowing from patera in right hand, cornucopiae in left; Z in field; ANT: in ex
RIC VI 75 [var]
26mm; 10.6g; nummus
This group of nummi is recorded for all the members of the second tetrarchy, but not for Constantine as Caesar or Severus II as augustus (see 104-646 for an example of the unrecorded Severus II).
204-672
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Constantine I caesar
—struck by Maximinus II
Cyzicus, 307
obv.- FL VAL CONSTANTINVS NOB CAES; laureate bust right
rev.- GENIO AVGG ET CAESARVM NN; Genius standing left, modius on head, naked except for chlamys over left shoulder (falls low), holding patera from which liquid flows and cornucopiae; * in field; KE in ex
RIC VI Cyz 26b
29mm; 9.5g; nummus
204-032
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Constantine I caesar
—struck by Maximinus II
Antioch, 306-307
obv.- FL VAL CONSTANTINVS NOB CAES; laureate bust right
rev.- GENIO POPVLI ROMANI; Genius standing facing, head left, modius on head, naked but for chlamys over left shoulder, liquors flowing from patera in right hand, cornucopiae in left; A in field; ANT: in ex
RIC VI 75 [var]
27mm; 10.5g; nummus
This group of nummi is recorded for all the members of the second tetrarchy, but not for Constantine as Caesar or Severus II as augustus. Despite being technically "uncatalogued" examples have been documented from 10(!) officina; Jan de Veen documents numerous examples here.
204-302
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Constantine I caesar
—struck by Maximinus II
Alexandria, 306-307
obv.- FL VAL CONTANTINVS NOB CAES; laureate bustright
rev.- PERPET V ITAS AVGG; Roma seated left on throne, holding Victory on globe and scepter; round shield below; S | Δ P in fields; ALE in exergue
RIC VI Alex 63; Fail 050
27mm; 8.9g; nummus
Note misspelled obverse legend ("CONTANTINVS"). RIC notes two coins with this legend mistake in Vienna collection, from same dies, also from officina Δ, so perhaps this coin is a third. From the White Mountain Collection; previously, from Pierre Bastien Collection (ex Münzen und Medaillen 61, 7 October 1982), lot 1431. Rated R in RIC

III. Italian mints under Severus II and Maxentius

Although Severus II was acknowledged as Augustus following Constantius' death, he was in a weakened position, with his troops still loyal to Maximianus and Maximianus' ambitious and dissatisfied son, Maxentius, residing in Rome. Accordingly, the mints under his control in northern Italy struck new types with military reverses, with a special emphasis on Constantine, trying to curry his favor.

Extraordinarily, the mint at Rome continued to strike the old Moneta type long enough for Constantine to be included in the final issue.

When Maxentius revolted in 307, he also recognized the importance of Constantine's support, and so Constantine also featured promininently in the coinage of Maxentius.

204-464
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Constantine I caesar
—struck by Severus II
Rome, 306
obv.- CONSTANTINVS NOB CAES; laureate bust right
rev.- SAC MON VRB AVGG ET CAESS NN; Moneta standing left, holding scales & cornucopia, R-wreath-Q in ex
RIC VI Rom 159b
27mm; 8.9g; nummus
204-313
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Constantine I caesar
—struck by Severus II
Ticinum, 306
obv.- CONSTANTINVS NOB CAES; Laureate bust right
rev.- VIRTVS AVGG ET CAES NN; Mars advancing right in military dress, holding spear right and trophy over shoulder; • in field, ST in ex
RIC VI Tic 75
26mm; 9.5g; nummus
204-324
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Constantine I caesar
—struck by Severus II
Ticinum, 307
obv.- CONSTANTINVS NOB CAES; laureate bust right
rev.- PERPETVA VIRTVS; Mars advancing right, holding spear and round shield; PT in ex
RIC VI Tic 88
25mm; 6.1g; nummus
ex Elliot-Kent Collection
204-531
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Constantine I caesar
—struck by Maxentius
Ticinum, 307
obv.- CONSTANTINVS NOB CAES; laureate bust right
rev.- HERCVLI CONSERVAT CAES; Hercules to left fighting lion; club to right. ST in ex
RIC VI Tic 87
26mm; 6.0g; nummus
204-001
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Constantine I caesar
—struck by Severus II
Aquileia, 306-307
obv.- CONSTANTINVS NOB CAES; laureate bust right
rev.- VIRTVS AVGG ET CAES NN; Constantine I on horseback riding right, spearing kneeling foe, second foe prostrate on ground, AQΓ in ex
RIC VI Aq 82b; Fail 056
28mm; 9.2g; nummus
rated R in RIC, R in Fail
204-669
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Constantine I caesar
—struck by Severus II
Aquileia, 306-307
obv.- CONSTANTINVS NOB CAES; Laureate, helmeted and cuirassed bust left, holding spear and shield
rev.- VIRTVS AVGG ET CAESS NN; Mars walking right, holding trophy and spear; AQΓ in ex
RIC VI Aq 100b
28mm; 10.1g; nummus
204-146
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Constantine I caesar
—struck by Severus II
Carthage, 306
obv.- FL VAL CONSTANTINVS NOB CAES; Laureate bust right
rev.- SALVIS AVGG ET CAESS FEL KART; Carthage standing facing, head left, in long robe, fruits in both hands; H in field, Δ in ex
RIC VI Car 44b
27mm; 10.5g; nummus
listed as R in RIC
204-255
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Constantine I caesar
—struck by Maxentius
Aquileia, May/June 307
obv.- CONSTANTINVS NOB CAES; Laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, seen from behind
rev.- VIRTVS CONSTANTINI CAES; Constantine on horseback galloping right, holding round shield and casting spear at enemy prone before him; to left, second enemy lying dead with spear in body, AQΓ in ex
RIC VI Aq 111, Fail 164
29mm; 12.2g; nummus

listed as S in RIC, but that seems kind of understated. From the White Mountain Collection. Wonderful style, especially on the reverse: well-modeled figure with detailed armor and boots, beautifuly rendered horse, great detail with the flowing cape and tail. Wonderful example of 4th-century coinage. Click here for detail.

Interesting to compare this coin to 204-001, the previous coin in this series from Aquileia, which were struck by Severus II in the name of himself, Maximinus II, and Constantine. The emperor-on-horseback motif is the same, and Severus uses a generic legend VIRTVS AVGG ET CAESS for all the rulers. After Maxentius assumed control of the mint, he changed the legend to refer specifically to Constantine ("VIRTVS CONSTANTINI") and dropped Maximinus II, as part of his bid to gain Constantine's support.

104-588
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Constantine I caesar
—struck by Maxentius
Aquileia, 307
obv.- CONSTANTINVS NOB CAES; Laureate head right
rev.- CONSERV-VRB SVAE; Roma seated facing, head left, in hexastyle temple, globe in right hand, scepter in left, shield at side, AQG in exergue
RIC VI Aq 117; Fail 127n
26.5mm; 6g; nummus
204-173
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Constantine I caesar
—struck by Maxentius
Aquileia, 307
obv.- CONSTANTINVS NOB CAES; laureate bust right
rev.- CONSERV VRB SVAE; Roma seated facing, head left, holding globe with standing Victory in right hand and sceptre in left; within hexastyle temple, wreath in pediment, in exergue, AQG
RIC VI Aq 117 var
26mm; 6.5g; nummus
Unknown variety with Victory standing on globe. There's many, many varieties of Roma seated in temple holding globe—presumably because the coin design is based on a real temple with a real statue—but I've never seen one that has Victory standing on the globe. This variety isn't listed in RIC, but is mentioned in Jeločnik's accounts of the Čentur hoard. In fact, this coin is a die match for that coin, as illustrated on Plate T.III # 60. See detail.
204-121
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Constantine I caesar
—struck by Maxentius
Rome, 307
obv.- CONSTANTINVS NOB CAES; laureate bust right
rev.- CONSERVATO-RES VRB SVAE; Roma seated facing, head l., in hexastyle temple r. holding globe and sceptre (plain pediment); R * Q in ex
RIC VI Rom 196
25mm; 5.7g; nummus
204-071
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Constantine I caesar
—struck by Maxentius
Carthage, 307
obv.- FL VAL CONSTANTINVS NOB CAES; laureate bust right
rev.- CONSERVATORES AFRICAE SVAE; Africa standing facing, head left, wearing elephant headdress, holding signum and tusk; at feet to left, a lion with a captured bull; SE-F//Δ
RIC VI Car 58; Fail 123
mm; 11.0g; nummus
Listed as S in RIC; RR in Failmezgar; CNG notes "Rare"
104-828
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Constantine I caesar
—struck by Maxentius
Carthage, 307
obv.- CONSTANTINVS NOB CAES; laur bust r
rev.- CONSERVATORES KART SVAE; Carthago, wearing long dress and cloak, standing facing within hexastyle temple, head turned l., holding fruits in both her extended hands; PK-Δ in ex
RIC VI Car 61; Fail 124
26mm; 7.34g; nummus
last issue of Carthage (before Domitius Alexander revolt)

First coinage as augustus

As careful as Constantine was to secure the appropriate imperial recognition from Galerius and the rest of the imperial college, that turned out to be just his opening gambit in what would be an aggressive program for imperial power that Galerius could never quite check.

In 307, Constantine allied himself with Maximianus and Maxentius. In exchange for Constantine's political support for Maxentius (and Maximianus himself, as an active augustus), Constantine married Maximianus' daughter (Fausta) and Maximianus "appointed" Constantine as augustus also. Constantine began striking coins in the names of himself and Maximianus with the title of Augustus—as well as some very rare coins in the name of Maxentius—at his mints in Gaul and Britain, as well as introducing a wide range of reverse types at Lugdunum, the most politically active mint city. Maxentius, in turn, struck coins recognizing Constantine as Augustus.

204-204
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Treveri, 307-308
obv.- IMP CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; Laureate, cuirassed bust right; seen from front in 3/4 view
rev.- VIRTVS MILITVM; Camp gate with no door; 7 rows of bricks; 4 turrets; TR in ex
RIC VI Tr 758; RSC 707e
16.5mm; 1.5g; half-argenteus
rated R2 in RIC
104-951
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Treveri, 307-308
obv.- IMP CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; laur cuir bust r
rev.- MARTI PATRI PROPVGNATORI; Helmeted Mars, naked but for chlamys, advancing right, holding spear and shield. S-A in fields, PTR in ex
RIC VI Tr 776
26mm; 6.1g; nummus
rated S in RIC
104-976
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Treveri, 307-308
obv.- IMP CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; laureate and cuirassed bust of Constantine right
rev.- PRINCIPI IVVENTVTIS; Prince standing facing, head left, in military attire, holding standard in each hand, S—A in fields, PTR in exergue
RIC VI Tr 781
27mm; 6.3g; nummus
This is one of the better Constantine portraits in my collection. Click here to see close-up detail.
104-775
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Treveri, 307-308
obv.- IMP CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; laur cuir bust right
rev.- MARTI PATRI CONSERVATORI; Mars, helmeted, stg r, leaning on reversed spear, shield resting on ground; S|A in field; PTR in ex
RIC VI Treveri 772a; Fail 080
27mm; 7.9g; nummus
204-567
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Londinium, 307-308
obv.- IMP CONSTANTINVS P AVG; laureate cuirassed bust right
rev.- GENIO POP ROM; Genius standing left, loins draped, modius on head, holding patera in left hand, cornucopia in right;PLN in ex
RIC VI Lon 104
27mm; 7.0g; nummus
204-350
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Lugdunum, 307
obv.- IMP C CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; laureate cuirassed bust right
rev.- GENIO POP ROM; Genius stg left, modius on head, loins draped, right hand holding patera, altar to left; N in field; PLC in ex
RIC VI Lug 238
25mm; 6.8g; nummus
First issue from Constantine as augustus. Rated S in RIC.
204-349
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Lugdunum, 307
obv.- IMP C CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; cuirassed bust right
rev.- PRINCIPI IVVENTVTIS; emperor standing facing, in military dress, laureate head left, vexillum in each hand; N in field; PLG in ex
RIC VI Lug 244 [var]
26mm; 5.7g; nummus
From first issue from Constantine as augustus. This type only catalogued with laureate draped cuirassed bust (244), and not with cuirassed-only bust. #244 is rated S in RIC.
204-162
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Lugdunum, 307-308
obv.- IMP C CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; laureate draped bust right, seen from rear
rev.- CONSTANTINO P AVG B R P NAT; Constantine stg facing, head l., in military dress, r. holding globe, l. leaning on sceptre; PLC in ex
RIC VI Lug 252
28mm; 5.9g; nummus
Rated R in RIC. The reverse legend CONSTANTINO P AVG B(ono) R(ei) P(ublicae) NAT(o), means "To Constantine, prince, Emperor, born for the welfare of the state." This likely commemorates Constantine's birthday on 27 February 308. Constantine would have 27 or 28 for this birthday.
204-316
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Lugdunum, 307-308
obv.- IMP C CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; laureate draped bust right
rev.- MARTI PATRI CONSERVATORI; Mars standing right, holding spear pointing down and leaning on shield; PLC in ex
RIC VI Lug 260 [var]
27mm; 7.6g; nummus
This reverse type is completely uncatalogued for this issue, although it ought to be expected since it is present in both the "N" and CI-HS issues that bracket this PLC issue in RIC. In both of those other issues, it is present as part of a set with the other Mars reverse types that are also present in this issue.
204-314
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Lugdunum, 307-308
obv.- IMP C CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; laureate cuirassed bust right
rev.- MARTI PATR SEMP VICTORI; Mars standing right, head left, holding transverse spear and trophy over shoulder; PLC in ex
RIC VI Lug 263 [var]
25mm; 6.3g; nummus
For Constantine, this is only catalogued for laureate/cuirassed bust, seen from rear; not listed for an ordinary cuirassed bust, seen from front. Catalogued by Bastien as note to Lyon 502 — this specific coin, cited and illustrated. Extremely rare, and the only example cited in Lyon.
204-161
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Lugdunum, 307-308
obv.- IMP C CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; laureate draped bust right, seen from rear
rev.- SECVRIT PERPET DD NN; Securitas stg. l., leaning l., with transverse sceptre on column, r. raised to head; PLC in ex
RIC VI Lug 278
27mm; 6.3g; nummus
Rated S in RIC, but I suspect it's a bit rarer than that…
104-761
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Lugdunum, 308
obv.- IMP C CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; laureate draped bust right
rev.- GENIO POP ROM; Genius holding patera over altar; CI - HS in fields, PLC in ex
RIC VI Lug 287; Fail 073
27mm; 6.2g; 308-309
A historical bronze dating to marriage of Constantine to Fausta. The CI in the left field stands for Constantine Imperator and declares his new title along with his new father in law. The horizontal HS stands for Heraclius Senior giving honor to his new father in law. The coin is a clear commemoration of Constantines new position in the tetrarchy and his new wife and her family. Rated S in RIC
204-348
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Lugdunum, 308-309
obv.- IMP C CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; laureate draped bust right (seen from rear)
rev.- PRINCIPI IVVENTVTIS; emperor standing facing, in military dress, laureate head left, vexillum in each hand; C I H S across fields; PLG in ex
RIC VI Lug 299
27mm; 6.1g; nummus
Rated S in RIC
204-107
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Maxentius
Ticinum, 308
obv.- CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; laur bust right
rev.- CONSERV VRB SVAE; Roma seated facing, head left, in hexastyle temple, right hand holding globe, left hand holding a scepter; PT in ex
RIC VI Tic 93
27mm; 6.8g; nummus
204-073
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Ticinum, 307-308
obv.- CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; laureate bust right
rev.- VIRTVS PERPETVA AVG; Hercules strangling the Nemean Lion; club to lower right; ST
RIC VI Tic 99; Fail 166
25mm; 6.13g; nummus
Listed as R in RIC, RR by Failmezgar
104-954
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Maxentius
Rome, 307
obv.- CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; laur bust right
rev.- CONSERVATORES VRB SVAE; Roma seated facing, head left, in hexastyle temple, globe in right hand, scepter in left, wreath in pediment, knobs as acroteria R*Q in exergue
RIC VI Rom 201
27mm; 6.1g; nummus
rated S in RIC

IV. Carnuntum Conference and "filius augustorum" coinage

In November 308 Galerius convened a conference with the retired Diocletian and the un-retired Maximianus in the city of Carnuntum in an attempt to resolve the political mess in the Western half of the empire. The results of this conference were that Maximianus' reassumption of the role of active ruler was condemned; Constantine and Maximinus II were both given the new title of "filius augustorum" as a faux promotion from their official title of caesar; and Galerius' colleague Licinius was appointed augustus in the West, in place of Constantine.

Constantine of course paid no regard at all to any of these decisions, and never struck any coins with the "filius augustorum" title. However, Galerius and Maximinus II did use the title on coinage, although for a brief period only. Maximinus hated the title as much as Constantine did, and so only struck coins in Constantine's name with the title, whereas Constantine simply ignored it completely.

104-486
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Constantine I fil aug
—struck by Galerius
Nicomedia, 308-309
obv.- FL VAL CONSTANTINVS FIL AVG;
rev.- GENIO CAESARIS CMH (lig); Genius standing left, holding patera and cornucopia; SMNB in exergue
RIC VI Nic 56; Fail 194a
26mm; 6.2g; nummus
ex Clayton collection
204-230
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Constantine I fil aug
—struck by Licinius I
Siscia, 309-310
obv.- CONSTANTINVS FIL AVGG; Laureate head right
rev.- GENIO AVGVSTI; Genius standing left, holding patera and cornucopiae; (crescent) | A in field, SIS in ex
RIC VI Sis 200b
24mm; 7.4g; nummus
rated S in RIC.
204-617
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Constantine I fil aug
—struck by Galerius
Thessalonica, 309
obv.- CONSTANTINVS FIL AVGG; laureate bust right
rev.- GENIO CAESARIS; Genius standing lt., holding a patera and cornucopia, * / Δ in fields, •SM•TS• in ex
RIC VI Thes 32b
25mm; 6.1g; nummus
204-210
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Constantine I fil aug
—struck by Maximinus II
Antioch, 309
obv.- FL VAL CONSTANTINVS FIL AVG; laureate bust right
rev.- GENIO FIL AVGG; Genius standing left, modius on head, holding patera and cornucopiae; o E in right field; ANT• in ex
RIC VI Ant 111
23mm; 7.0g; nummus
This rare reverse legend was only used for a year, only at Antioch, and only for Constantine. Even though Maximinus also, technically, had the same title as Constantine, it is a measure of the distate with which the title was viewed that he only used it for Constantine. (Constantine, for his part, never used the title at all, either for himself or Maximinus.)
204-634
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Constantine I caesar
—struck by Maximinus II
Antioch, 309-310
obv.- FL VAL CONSTANTINVS NOB CAES; laureate bust right
rev.- GENIO CAESARIS *; Genius standing left, modius on head, naked but for chlamys over left shoulder, holding patera and cornucopia. Altar * in left field, I in right field, ANT in ex
RIC VI Ant 118b
25mm; 5.3g; nummus
Rare issue for Constantine as caesar; rated R2 in RIC. For this issue the Antioch mint operated 10 officina; only the last one struck coins for Constantine. It is not quite clear why this issue is struck with the title of "caesar," post-Carnuntum.
204-094
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Constantine I fil aug
—struck by Maximinus II
Alexandria, 308-310
obv.- FL VAL CONSTANTINVS FIL AVG; laureate bust right; divergent ties (α)
rev.- GENIO CAESARIS; Genius standing left, modius on head, naked except for chlamys over left shoulder, holding patera and cornucopiae, K in left field, A-P in right field, ALE in ex
RIC VI Ale 99b
24mm; 6.0 g; nummus
Coins with the filius augustorum title are much more common from the mints controlled by Galerius (such as Siscia and Thessalonica), since the title was his idea and he would have been interested in promoting it. Less common from mints controlled by Maximinus, who was anxious to ditch the whole concept ASAP. However, since Galerius was his patron, he had to acknowledge it to some extent, hence the scarce coinage such as this example. Constantine himself, not bound by any such concerns, never struck any coins with this title at any mints under his control, either in his name or Maximinus' name. Listed S in RIC.

 

 


V. First Sol coinage

In 310, Constantine's coinage undergoes a number of marked changes. In that year Constantine has an intense vision of Apollo as the Sun God. As a result, Constantine begins to identify himself more and more strongly with the cult of Sol Invictus and begins to cultivate a monotheistic perspective. Beginning in 310 Sol becomes the most common motif on Constantine's coinage, proclaiming Sol as Constantine's most important divine patron. Other familiar types such as Mars and Genius also continue to be struck—as well as a large number of assorted reverse types from Londinium—but Sol clearly is the dominant figure.

The other important event in this period is Constantine's break with Maximianus and Maxentius following an aborted revolt by Maximianus. Not only does Maximianus disappear from the coinage, but Constantine begins recognizing Licinius and the other eastern colleagues on his coinage.

Coinage in this period is also sharply reduced in size.

204-120
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Lugdunum, 309-310
obv.- IMP CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; Laureate bust right, cuirassed, draped, seen from rear
rev.- SOLI INVIC-TO COMITI; Sol radiate, stg. l., chlamys draped over l. shoulder, r. raised, l. holding up globe. F-T in fields, PLC in ex
RIC VI Lug 310
24mm; 4.2g; nummus
I love the figure of Sol on the reverse; click here for extra close-up view.
104-514
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Londinium, 310
obv.- IMPCONSTANTINVS P F AVG; Laur Cuir Right
rev.- SOLI INVICTO COMITI; Sol radiate standing left, holding globe in left hand, raised right hand; PLN in ex; T F in fields
RIC VI Lon 121a; Fail 208
24mm; 5.1g; nummus
204-658
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
London, 310-311
obv.- CONSTANTINVS PF AVG; laureate, cuirassed bust right
rev.- ADVENTVS AVG; Emperor on horseback right, right hand raised, left holding up spear. Horse pawing a seated captive to left. * in field, PLN in ex
RIC VI Lon 133
24mm; 4.7g; nummus
104-925
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Londinium, 310-312
obv.- IMP CONSTANTINVS P AVG; laur cuir bust right
rev.- ADVENTVS AVG; Constantine riding left, on horseback pawing captive, holding spear; * in field, PLN in ex
RIC VI Lon 137 [var]
23mm; 3.9g; nummus
In rough condition, but a scarce variety. Picked up from the ebay junk bin. Unlisted for this obverse legend and reverse type; should be catalogued with RIC 133-137.
204-480
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Londinium, 310-312
obv.- CONSTANTINVS AVG; radiate, helmeted & cuirassed bust left, spear over right shoulder & shield on left arm
rev.- ADVENTVS AVG; Constantine on horseback riding left, raising hand and holding spear, about to trample captive seated left; * in field, PLN in ex
RIC VI Lon 141 [var]
24mm; 4.2g; nummus
Unpublished with this bust type; if cataloged, would come after 141. Radiate helmeted busts are much scarcer than the laureate helmeted busts.
104-870
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Londinium, 310-312
obv.- CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; Laur.,draped and cuirassed bust right
rev.- COMITI AVGG NN; Sol standing left, holding globe and whip. * in field, PLN in ex
RIC VI Lon 153; Fail 186
24mm; 4.2g; nummus
104-948
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Londinium, 310-312
obv.- CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; laur cuir bust right
rev.- COMITI AVGG NN; Sol standing left, holding globe and whip, * in right field, PLN in exergue
RIC VI Lon 153
23mm; 4.4g; nummus
104-726
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Londinium, 310-312
obv.- CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; Cuir with spear over right shoulder, shield on left arm, bust facing left
rev.- COMITI AVGG NN; Sol radiate standing left, holding globe and whip
RIC VI Lon 166; Fail 186
23mm; 3.7g; nummus
204-183
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
London, 310-312
obv.- CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; Laureate cuirassed bust right
rev.- CONCORDIA MILIT; Concordia stg. l. holding two standards; * in field; PLN in ex
RIC VI Lon 195
24mm; 4.2g; nummus
104-945
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Londinium, 310-312
obv.- CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; helmeted, cuirassed bust left; spear over right shoulder; shield on left arm
rev.- PRINCIPI IVVENTITVS; Prince stg facing, head left, in military dress, holding standard in each hand; * in field, PLN in ex
RIC VI Lon 217 [var]
23mm; 4.4g; nummus
Unlisted in RIC for this bust type (Z). RIC 217 would be for this bust type, but with a laurel wreath.
204-062
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Londinium, 310-312
obv.- CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; laur cuirassed bust right
rev.- PRINCIPI IVVENTVTVTIS; Prince standing right, in military dress, holding spear and globe, star on right, PLN in ex
RIC VI Lon 222
23mm; 4.5g; nummus
104-753
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Londinium, 310-312
obv.- CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; laur cuir bust right
rev.- SPES REIPVBL; Emperor on horse prancing left, captive on ground
RIC VI Lon 241; Fail 209
22mm; 4.35g; nummus
rated R in RIC
204-598
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Treveri, 309
obv.- IMP CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; laureate draped bust right, seen from rear
rev.- MARTI PATRI PROPVGNATORI; Mars, helmeted, adv. right, right arm hldg. transverse spear, shield on left arm; T | F in field; PTR in ex
RIC VI Tr 832
25mm; 6.7g; nummus
rated R in RIC. This is a rare full-sized nummus from this issue, before the coinage was reduced in size later in this issue.
104-842
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Treveri, 310-313
obv.- IMP CONSTANTINVS AVG; laur cuir dr bust right
rev.- MARTI CONSERVATORI; Helmeted Mars, leaning on reversed spear and shield; T|F in fields, PTR in ex
RIC VI Tr 860; Fail 204
23mm; 4.5g; nummus
Rated S in RIC
104-952
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Treveri, 310-313
obv.- CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; Laureate, cuirassed bust right
rev.- MARTI CONSERVATORI; Mars, helmeted, in military dress, standing facing, head right, reversed spear in right hand, left hand resting on shield ; T | F across fields; PTR in ex
RIC VI Tr 862
24mm; 4.7g; nummus
104-438
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Treveri, 310-313
obv.- IMP CONSTANTINVS AVG;
rev.- SOLI INVICTO COMITI; Sol standing left holding globe, PTR in ex, T F in fields
RIC VI Tr 870; Fail 208
23mm; 4.5g; nummus
204-438
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Treveri, 310-311
obv.- CONSTANTINVS AVG; Laureate and cuirassed bust right
rev.- SOLI INVICTO; Sol standing left, raising right hand, holding globe in left; in exergue PTR
RIC VI Tr 899
19mm; 1.73g; half-nummus
204-716
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Treveri, 310-311
obv.- CONSTANTINVS AVG; laureate cuirassed bust right
rev.- VOT X MVL XX; legend in four lines within wreath
RIC VI Tr 913; Zschucke 11.19
13mm; 1.1g; quarter-nummus

VI. Coinage as Augustus in the East

By 310 Maximinus openly discarded the "filius augustorum" title and began striking coins in his own name as Augustus, and he and Constantine both did the same for each other. Galerius gave in to the inevitable, so that Constantine was now recognized as augustus in coinage from all the eastern mints.

While Galerius' mints still struck only the most traditional types—at least until his death in 311— Maximinus II (like Constantine) was developing a different catalog of types. Many of Maximinus' coins also began to feature Sol.

204-156
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Maximinus II
Alexandria, 308-310
obv.- FL VAL CONSTANTINVS AVG; Laureate bust right
rev.- GENIO IMPERATORIS; K-A-P in fields, ALE in ex
RIC VI Ale 108
26.5mm; 6.0g; nummus
204-154
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Maximinus II
Cyzicus, 311
obv.- IMP C FL VAL CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; laureate bust right
rev.- GENIO AVGVSTI CMH; Genius standing left, holding patera and cornucopia; MKV in ex
RIC VI Cyz 77b
23mm; 7.9g; nummus
This is another deeply struck coin from fresh dies. This is a wonderfully satisfying coin to hold in hand: thick and heavy, perfectly centered, with a smooth, glossy patina. A photograph doesn't really get it done.
104-907
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Maximinus II
Cyzicus, 313
obv.- IMP C FL VAL CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; laureate / draped bust right
rev.- GENIO AVGVSTI CMH; Genius standing left, holding patera and cornucopia; S in field, SMK in ex
RIC VI Cyz 103
21mm; 3.3g; nummus
Rated S in RIC
204-393
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Maximinus II
Nicomedia, 312
obv.- IMP C FL VAL CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; Laureate bust right
rev.- GENIO AVGVSTI; Genius standing left, holding patera and cornucopiae; SMN in ex, Γ in field
RIC VI Nic 71c
22mm; 5.3g; nummus
104-656
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Maximinus II
Nicomedia, 311
obv.- IMP C FL VAL CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; laureate / draped bust right
rev.- VIRTVTI EXERCITVS; Mars advancing right, holding spear, shield, and trophy; B in field; SMN in ex
RIC VI Nic 70c [sic]; Fail 212
22mm; 4.5g; nummus
This type only listed for Licinius (70a) and Maximinus (70b), not Constantine, which would be expected at 70c.
204-108
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Maximinus II
Nicomedia, 312
obv.- IMP C FL VAL CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; laur bust right
rev.- HERCVLI VICTORI; Hercules standing right, resting hand on hip and holding club with lion skin; * Δ in field; SMN in ex
RIC VI Nic [75c]; Fail 201
21mm; 4.9g; nummus

Unlisted in RIC for Constantine (or Licinius, for that matter), matches RIC 75 for Maximinus; if it were cataloged, it would be RIC 75c.

Tough to get a good picture of this coin because where the silvering has worn off, the metal is patinated pure black, but it is actually quite nice with a terrific portrait and a wonderfully detailed Hercules.

204-022
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Licinius I
Siscia, 311
obv.- IMP CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; laureate bust right
rev.- GENIO AVGVSTI; Genius stg left, modius on head, holding patera and cornucopia; crescent-Γ in fields, SIS in ex
RIC VI Sis 209
25mm; 7.3g; nummus
204-665
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Maximinus II
Antioch, 310-311
obv.- IMP C FL VAL CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; laureate bust right
rev.- GENIO EXERCITVS; Genius standing right, holding patera & cornucopia, altar below, crescent in left field; E in r field, ANT in ex
RIC VI Ant 147d
23mm; 8.2g; nummus
104-801
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Maximinus II
Antioch, 312
obv.- IMP C FL VAL CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; laur bust right
rev.- SOLI INVICTO; Sol, radiate, in long robe, r hand raised, left hand holding head of Serapis; epsilon-I in left field, * in right; ANT in ex
RIC VI Ant 167c; Fail 208d
21mm; 4.2g; nummus
Listed S in RIC. Officina epsilon-I is unlisted.
204-027
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Maximinus II
Alexandria, 312
obv.- FL VALER CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; laureate bust right
rev.- GENIO AVGVSTI; Genius standing left, holding head of Serapis and cornucopiae; *-N-A in fields, ALE • in ex
RIC VI Ale 161
21mm; 4.9g; nummus
The attribution as RIC 161 (listed as S) depends on whether there is the remnant of a * in the field between the heads of Genius and Serapis. If there is no *, then this is an unlisted variant of RIC 158. Thanks to Lech Stepniewski for pointing this out!
204-184
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Maximinus II
Alexandria, 312-313
obv.- FL VALER CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; laureate bust right
rev.- GENIO AVGVSTI; Genius standing left holding head of Serapis and cornucopiae, modius on head, */N/palm branch in field, A in right field, ALE in ex
RIC VI Ale 161
21mm; 5.3g; nummus
Rated S in RIC

VII. Post-Milvian Bridge coinage

Constantine's victory over Maxentius in 312 at the Milvian Bridge was an epochal event in Roman history and a key turning point of his career. Various commemorative types were struck in Britain and Gaul, while the Italian mints abruptly abandoned Maxentian designs and reverted to traditional motifs.

After the dust from the Milvian Bridge triumph had settled, Constantine imposed an increasing amount of coordination and regularity among the different mints. After the flurry of new reverses in 312 and 313, the mints began to standardize on Sol reverses by 315, together with more standard bust types and legends. In addition, Constantine closed the mint at Ostia—which Maxentius had only opened in connection with his invasion of Carthage—and transferred it to Arelate.

104-875
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Treveri, 310-313
obv.- CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; laur cuir bust right
rev.- MARTI CONSERVATORI; cuirassed bust of young Mars right, wearing ornate pseudo-Corinthian helmet
RIC VI Tr 884; Fail 204a
25mm; 5.0g; nummus
104-526
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Treveri, 310-313
obv.- IMP CONSTANTINUS P AUG;
rev.- SOLI INVICTO COMITI; bust of Sol right
RIC VI Tr 889; Fail 208a, Sear 3867
21mm; 4.8g; nummus
204-303
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Ticinum, 312
obv.- CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; Laureate and cuirassed bust of Constantine right
rev.- MARTI CONSERVATORI; Helmeted and cuirassed bust of Mars right.
RIC VI Tr 884 [var]; Bastien, Folles 2
22mm; 4.5g; nummus
This type is typically attributed as RIC 884 from Treveri, but since RIC was published, it has become clear on stylistic grounds that it was also struck in Ticinum, from which it is much more rare. These must have been virtually the first coins struck at Ticinum once Constantine assumed control of the mint during his campaign against Maxentius, perhaps being struck even before his final victory over Maxentius. Perhaps the lack of a usual mint mark indicates that this was a special issue, perhaps intended as a bonus for his troops? From the White Mountain Collection.
204-304
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Ticinum, 312
obv.- CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; Laureate and cuirassed bust of Constantine right
rev.- SOLI INVICTO COMITI; Radiate and draped bust of Sol right
RIC VI Tr 893 [var]; Bastien, Folles 4
22mm; 4.6g; nummus
This is a companion to the previous coin, featuring Sol instead of Mars. It is typically attributed as RIC 893 from Treveri. From the White Mountain Collection.
104-817
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Treveri, 310-315
obv.- IMP CONSTANTINVS AVG;
rev.- MARTI CONSERVATORI; T|F in field; PTR in ex
RIC VI 859; Fail 204
22mm; g; nummus
also RIC VII Tr 50
204-145
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Aquileia, 312-313
obv.- CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; Laureate, cuirassed bust right
rev.- SOL INVICTO COMITI; Sol standing left, raising hand and holding globe; seated captive to left
RIC VI Aq 144
22mm; 3.8g; nummus
This was struck shortly after Constantine assumed control of the mint in his war with Maxentius. At this time, Sol was recognized on Constantine's coins as his patron deity; the addition of the captive at Sol's feet would have been an unmistakeable allusion to his victory over Maxentius and the new political order in Aquileia.
204-038
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Londinium, 312-313
obv.- CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; laur cuirassed bust right
rev.- FELICITAS AVGG NN; Roma seated left, holding branch and globe, * on left, PLN in ex
RIC VI Lon 246
23mm; 4.0g; nummus
listed as R in RIC. Ex. Dr. J. S. Vogelaar Collection
204-063
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Londinium, 312-313
obv.- CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; laur cuirassed bust right
rev.- MARTI CONSERVATORI; Mars standing right, holding long spear & shield, star in left field, PLN in exergue
RIC VI Lon 254
21mm; 4.9g; nummus
104-768
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Londinium, 312-313
obv.- CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; Laur cuir bust right
rev.- PRINCIPI IVVENTVTIS; Prince standing right in military dress, holding transverse spear and holding globe; * in field; PLN in ex
RIC VI Lon 265; Fail 207c
24mm; 4.1g; nummus
204-034
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Londinium, 312-313
obv.- CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; laur cuirassed bust right
rev.- ROMAE AETER AVGG; Roma seated left, holding branch and globe, star on left, PLN in ex
RIC VI Lon 269
22mm; 4.3g; nummus
listed as R in RIC. Ex. Dr. J. S. Vogelaar Collection
204-035
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Londinium, 312-313
obv.- CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; laur cuirassed bust right
rev.- SECVRITAS AVGG; Securitas standing facing, head left, right hand on head, legs crossed, leaning on column, star on left, PLN in ex
RIC VI Lon 277
23mm; 3.5g; nummus
listed as R in RIC. Ex. Dr. J. S. Vogelaar Collection
204-486
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Londinium, 312-313
obv.- IMP CONSTANTINVS AVG; laureate cuiassed right
rev.- SOLI INVICTO COMITI; Sol standing left with right hand raised, cloak over left shoulder, holding globe in left hand, * in right field, PLN in ex
RIC VI Lon 279
21mm; 3.7g; nummus
204-475
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Londinium, 313-314
obv.- IMP CONSTANTINVS AVG; Laureate cuirassed bust right
rev.- SOLI INVICTO COMITI; Sol standing left with right hand raised, cloak over left shoulder, holding globe in left hand, S-F across fields, PLN in ex
RIC VII Lon 10
21mm; 3.4g; nummus
204-584
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Londinium, 316
obv.- CONSTANTINVS P AVG; Laureate, draped, cuirassed bust left
rev.- SOLI INVICTO COMITI; Sol, with raised hand & holding globe, standing in a quadriga facing; S | P in fields; MSL in ex
RIC VII Lon 81
22mm; 2.5g; nummus
104-965
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Rome, 312-313
obv.- IMP CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; laureate cuirassed bust right
rev.- GENIO POPVLI ROMANI; Genius stg left, holding patera and cornucopia; RS in ex
RIC VI Rom 294a
23mm; 4.6g; nummus
One of the first things Constantine did when he captured Rome from Maxentius was issue his own coins, especially the GENIO standard. I like the cartoon-like depiction of Genius on this coin, I wish the face was better struck.
204-587
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Rome, 312-313
obv.- IMP CONSTANTINVS PF AVG; laureate draped cuirassed bust right
rev.- SOLI INVICTO COMITI; Sol standing left, right hand raised, holding globe in left; seated & bound captive at feet to left; RS in ex
RIC VI Rom 343
20mm; 3.5g; nummus
204-550
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Rome, 312
obv.- FL VAL CONSTANTINVS AVG; laureate cuirassed bust right
rev.- PACI PERPET; Pax standing left, holding branch and standard; XII in field; RQ in ex
RIC VI Rom 356
17mm; 2.0g; half-nummus
204-425
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Rome, 312-313
obv.- FL VAL CONSTANTINVS AVG; radiate draped bust right (seen from rear)
rev.- VIRT EXERCIT GALL; Virtus standing left, looking right, rt hand holding reversed spear, left holding parazonium; X VI in fields; RT in ex
RIC VI Rom 360
19mm; 3.0g; 2/3 nummus
VI in field indicates value of 16 denarii; this is about 2/3 the value of a regular nummus, which would have been tariffed at 25 denarii. The odd denomination suggests that was most likely struck as a commemorative issue following his victory over Maxentius, with specific reference to his Gallic legions.
104-955
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Rome, 312-313
obv.- IMP CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; Laureate, draped and cuirassed bust r.
rev.- SPQR OPTIMO PRINCIPI; Legionary eagle between two Vexilla, the left surmounted by a hand and the right wreath; RP in ex
RIC VI Rom 350a
23mm; 4.7g; nummus
204-143
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Ostia, 312-313
obv.- IMP C CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; Laureate cuirassed bust right
rev.- SPQR OPTIMO PRINCIPI; legionary eagle between two vexilla, the left surmounted by a hand, the right by a wreath, MOSTP in exergue
RIC VI Ost 94
22mm; 4.4g; nummus
204-142
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Rome, 313
obv.- IMP CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; Laureate draped cuirassed bust right
rev.- MARTI CONSERVATORI; Mars standing right, right arm resting on inverted spear, left on shield, R/F in fields; RP in ex
RIC VII Rom 6
21mm; 3.1g; nummus
Listed R3 in RIC
204-583
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Rome, 313
obv.- IMP CONSTANTINVS PF AVG; laureate bust right
rev.- FVNDAT PACIS; Nude, helmeted Mars advancing right, looking left, a trophy over left shoulder, chlamys flying behind, and dragging a captive by hair; RT in ex
RIC VII Rom 12
17mm; 1.7g; nummus
204-280
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Ticinum, 312-313
obv.- CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; Laureate cuirassed bust right
rev.- GENIO POPVLI ROMANI; Genius standing l, holding patera and cornucopiae; TT in ex
RIC VI Tic 117
22mm; 4.5g; nummus
Rated S in RIC
104-958
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Ticinum, 312-313
obv.- CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; laur cuir bust right
rev.- MARTI CONSERVATORI; Mars right holding spear and shield; ST in ex
RIC VI Tic 124a
23mm; 4.8g; nummus
Rated S in RIC
204-215
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Ticinum, 312-313
obv.- CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; laureate, cuirassed bust right
rev.- MARTI CONSERVATORI; Facing Mars holding spear and shield; PT in ex
RIC VI Tic 124a
23mm; 4.7g; nummus
Rated S in RIC. Much scarcer with a facing figure of Mars, most examples have Mars facing right, although the facing variety is noted in RIC.
104-803
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Ticinum, 312-313
obv.- CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; laur cuir bust right
rev.- SOLI INVICTO COMITI; Sol stg left, r hand raised, l holding globe; PT in ex
RIC VI Tic 128; RIC VII Tic 3; Fail 208
21mm; 3.9g; nummus
Rated S
204-374
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Ticinum, 316
obv.- IMP CONSTANTINVS PF AVG; laureate cuirassed bust right
rev.- SOLI INVICTO COMITI; Sol stg left, r hand raised, l holding globe; + * in fields; PT in ex
RIC VII Tic 45
19mm; 2.8g; nummus

 

204-668
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Arelate, 313
obv.- IMP CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; consular bust right, wearing trabea, holding eagle-tipped scepter in right hand, globe in left
rev.- MARTI CONSERVATORI; Mars advancing right, transverse spear in right hand, trophy across left shoulder; TARL in ex
RIC VII Ar 25 [var]
22mm; 2.6g; nummus
This type not catalogued with any form of consular bust. While Constantine served as consul in both 313 and 315, the special nature of the reverse type suggests it was struck in 313, along with the several other exceptional reverse types that accompanied the opening of the mint in 313.
204-627
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Arelate, 313-315
obv.- IMP CONSTANTINVS PF AVG; Laureate and cuirassed bust left, holding spear over right shoulder, shield on left arm
rev.- PROVIDENTIAE AVGG; Female standing right on prow, holding cornucopia, being received by Tyche of Arles standing left, holding vexillum; QARL in ex
RIC VII Ar 30
21mm; 3.1g; nummus
This type commemorates the transfer of the mint of Ostia to Arles in 313. Very rare; rated R5 in RIC.
204-630
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Arelate, 316
obv.- IMP CONSTANTINVS PF AVG; laureate draped and cuirassed bust right
rev.- SOLI INVICTO COMITI; Sol standing left holding globe in left and raising right, M left, F right, QARL in ex.
RIC VII Ar 89
19mm; 2.6g; nummus
204-352
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Arelate, 316
obv.- IMP CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; Laureate draped cuirassed bust right
rev.- SOLI INVICTO COMITI; Sol standing front, head left, raising hand and holding globe; M F in fields; ARLΔ in ex
RIC VII Ar 100
19mm; 3.2g; nummus
EX ANS Collection. EX Lhotka Collection.
204-359
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Rome, 316
obv.- IMP CONSTANTINVS PF AVG; laureate draped cuirassed bust right
rev.- SOLI INVICT CO[M DN]; Sol standing left with right hand raised and Victory on globe in left hand, ✶∪ in fields
RIC VII Rom 48
18mm; 3.4g; nummus
Very scarce variety with Sol holding Victory. Rated R4 in RIC
104-994
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Rome, 317-318
obv.- IMP CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; laureate draped cuirassed bust right
rev.- SOLI INVICTO COMITI; Sol standing left, head radiate, chlamys over left shoulder, raising right hand, globe in left, RT in exergue, wreath in field
RIC VII Rom 97
22mm; 3.8g; nummus
204-581
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Rome, 318
obv.- IMP CONSTANTINVS PF AVG; laureate draped cuirassed bust right
rev.- SOLI INVICTO COMITI; Sol standing left, with right hand raised, globe in left hand, T within wreath in left field; RP in ex
RIC VII Rom 136
18mm; 3.7g; nummus
204-477
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Treveri, 317-318
obv.- CONSTANTINVS PF AVG; Laureate cuirassed bust right
rev.- SOLI INVICTO COMITI; Sol standing facing, head left, holding globe, right hand raised, •ATR in ex., T F in fields
RIC VII Tr 160
21mm; 4.5g; nummus
204-499
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Treveri, 313-315
obv.- CONSTANTINVS PF AVG; Laureate cuirassed bust right
rev.- SOLI INVICTO COMITI; Sol standing left, holding globe, right hand raised, PTR in ex., T F in fields
RIC VII Tr 41
23mm; 4.2g; nummus

VIII. Eastern coinage before the first civil war

While Constantine was absorbing the territory conquered from Maxentius, Licinius rapidly took control over the eastern half of the empire. First, Licinius took over Galerius' European territory (and mints) in 311 when Galerius died. Then, in 313, he defeated Maximinus II and took over the rest of the eastern empire. While Constantine's coinage featured Sol and Mars, Licinius' bronze coinage featured Jupiter almost exclusively, whether struck in his name or Constantine's.

104-659
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Maximinus II
Cyzicus, 311
obv.- FL VAL CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; laureate bust right
rev.- IOVI CONSERVATORI AVGG; Jupiter stg legt, holding globe and sceptre; eagle holding wreath at feet; MKV-Γ in ex
RIC VI Cyz 80; Fail 202c
24mm; 6.5g; nummus
Unusually heavy for a "Iovi Conservatori" nummus. This was struck just before the size of the nummus was sharply reduced throughout all of the eastern mints; at 6.5 grams, this is about as heavy a Jupiter nummus as you're likely to see, the overwhelming majority of them are ~3 grams or less.
104-959
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Licinius I
Heraclea, 312
obv.- IMP C FL VAL CONSTANTINVS PF INV AVG; laureate bust right
rev.- IOVI CONSERVATORI AVGG; Jupiter standing facing, head left, chlamys hanging from left shoulder, holding globe and leaning on sceptre; wreath - Δ in field; SMHT in ex
RIC VI Her 72
24mm; 4.5g; nummus
Listed as S in RIC
204-501
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Licinius I
Heraclea, 313
obv.- IMP C FL VAL CONSTANTINVS PF AVG; laureate bust right
rev.- IOVI CONSERVATORI AVGG; Jupiter standing left, holding Victory on a globe & scepter; at feet, left, an eagle with a wreath in its beak, ε to right, SMHT in exergue
RIC VI Her 75 / RIC VII Her 5
23mm; 4.5g; nummus
204-697
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Licinius I
Heraclea, 313-314
obv.- IMP C FL VAL CONSTANTINVS PF AVG; laureate bust right
rev.- IOVI CONSERVATORI AVGG; Jupiter standing facing with Victory on globe and sceptre; eagle with wreath in beak at feet; B to right, SMHT in ex
RIC VI Her 75 / RIC VII Her 5
23mm; 3.1g; nummus
204-702
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Licinius I
Thessalonica, 312
obv.- CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; Laureate head right
rev.- IOVI CONSERVATORI; Jupiter standing facing, head left, naked but for chlamys over left shoulder, globe in right hand, scepter in left Wreath | B across fields
RIC VI Thes 50b
24mm; 4.8g; nummus
104-535
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Licinius I
Thessalonica, 312
obv.- CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; Laureate head right
rev.- IOVI CONSERVATORI; Jupiter standing facing, head left, naked but for chlamys over left shoulder, globe in right hand, scepter in left hand. Wreath in left field, B in right; SMTS in ex
RIC VI Thes 50b; Fail 202a
24mm; 5.24g; nummus
204-150
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Licinius I
Thessalonica, 312-313
obv.- IMP C CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; Laureate, draped and cuirassed bust rt
rev.- IOVI CONSERVATORI AVGG NN; Jupiter standing left, holding Victory and a sceptre, eagle at his feet, •TS•E• in ex
RIC VI Thes 61b
23mm; 3.7g; nummus
This is a curious obverse legend. The addition of the AVGG NN to the legend would seem to indicate that there were now two Augusti, presumably Licinius and Constantine; yet this type was also struck in the name of Maximinus II, in addition to the other two.
204-615
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Thessalonica, 316-317
obv.- IMP CONSTANTINVS PF INV AVG; laureate bust right
rev.- IOVI CONSERVATORI; Jupiter standing facing, head left, chlamys hanging from left shoulder, holding Victory on globe and leaning on sceptre, eagle with wreath left, mintmark •TS•A• in exergue
RIC VII Thes 4
22mm; 2.9g; nummus
This scarce issue was struck during the Civil Way with Licinius while Constantine held Thessalonica, formerly controlled by Licinius. This explains the unusual legend with INV in the title, which was pointedly only used for Constantine's coins during this issue, not Licinius.
204-147
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Licinius I
Siscia, 313-315
obv.- IMP CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; Laureate bust left
rev.- IOVI CONSERVATORI; Jupiter standing left, holding Victory on globe and sceptre; eagle at feet; SIS in ex
RIC VII Sis 5
21mm; 3.1g; nummus
Detailed figure of Jupiter.
204-552
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Siscia, 317
obv.- IMP CONSTANTINVS PF AVG; laureate, draped, cuirassed bust right
rev.- SOLI INVICTO COMITI; Sol standing left, chlamys across left shoulder, raising right hand and holding globe in left hand; * to left; ASIS in ex
RIC VII Sis 31
19mm; 2.5g; nummus
204-666
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Licinius I
Antioch, 313-314
obv.- IMP C FL VAL CONSTANTINVS PF AVG; laureate bust right
rev.- IOVI CONSERVATORI AVGG; Jupiter standing left holding victory on globe and scepter, eagle at feet left, holding wreath; wreath - AI - III in field; ANT in ex
RIC VII Ant 7
19mm; 3.1g; nummus
204-185
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Licinius I
Alexandria, 313-314
obv.- FL VALER CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; laureate bust right
rev.- GENIO POPVLI ROMANI; Genius standing left holding head of Serapis and cornucopiae, modius on head, N/palm branch in field, Γ-wreath in right field, ALE in ex
RIC VII Ale 2
21mm; 5.3g; nummus
Rated R4-R5 in RIC. This coin was struck shortly after Licinius defeated Maximinus in 313. Upon the defeat of Maximinus, all of the mints formerly under the control of Maximinus began striking "Iovi Conservatori" types like Licinius' other mints and ceased production of Maximinus types. For some reason, the Alexandria mint didn't follow this pattern and continued striking the "Genius holding head of Serapis" type from Maximinus. Exceptionally, the mint also reverted to the old "Genio Populi Romani" legend, in place of the "Genio Augusti" legend that had been used with this reverse type under Maximinus. Perhaps this was an attempt to project a message of tradition and continuity during this period of political change?
204-065
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Licinius I
Alexandria, 315
obv.- IMP C FL VAL CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; Laureate head right
rev.- IOVI CONSERVATORI AVGG; Jupiter standing facing, head left, naked but for chlamys over left shoulder, Victory on globe in right hand, scepter in left. Eagle holding wreath in left field; wreath-Z-N in right field, ALE in ex
RIC VII Ale 7
20mm; 3.0g; nummus
204-153
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Licinius I
Nicomedia, 317-320
obv.- IMP CONSTANTINVS AVG; Laureate, draped bust left, holding mappa in left hand, globe and sceptre in right
rev.- IOVI CONSERVATORI AVGG; Jupiter standing left, chlamys across left shoulder, holding Victory on globe and leaning on eagle-tipped sceptre, palm to left, Z to right, SMN in ex.
RIC VII Nic 23
20mm; 3.3g; nummus

"VICTORIA LAETAE" coinage

Around 319 Constantine reformed his coinage again and introduced a new reverse design, one with two winged Victories flanking an altar. The reverse inscription VICTORIA LAETAE PRINC PERP translates as "Joyous victory to the eternal prince." No doubt this captures the mood following Constantine's victory in the first civil war with Licinius. In a move indicative of how Constantine was consolidating, centralizing, and systematizing his control of the empire and its bureaucracy, this design was the only bronze coin type struck throughout his domain, at every mint.

The other reason this type is significant is because it marks the beginning of the end of pagan coinage, and so is a significant milestone on the road to the empire's impending conversion to Christianity. With a few minor exceptions, the Mars and Sol coins of the previous period were the last pagan deities to appear on Roman coins. The mints under Licinius' control continued to strike Licinius' Jupiter motif for few more years, but only until they came under Constantine's control.

204-283
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Treveri, 318-319
obv.- IMP CONSTANTINVS AVG; cuirassed bust left with high-crested helmet; spear over left shoulder
rev.- VICTORIAE LAETAE PRINC PERP; Two Victories placing shield inscribed VOT PR on altar; PTR in ex
RIC VII Tr 208a
17mm; 2.84g; nummus
204-109
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Ticinum, 318-319
obv.- IMP CONSTANTINVS P F AVG; Helmeted, laureate cuirassed bust right
rev.- VICTORIAE LAETAE PRINC PERP; Two Victories placing Shield inscribed VOT/PR on altar with cross. TT in ex
RIC VII Tic 86
19mm; 3.8g; nummus
204-066
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Siscia, 319
obv.- CONSTANTINVS AVG; Helmeted, cuirassed bust left with shield and spear
rev.- VICT LAETAE PRINC PERP; Two Victories placing Shield inscribed VOT/PR on altar. •ASIS• in ex
RIC VII Sis 84
19mm; 3.8g; nummus

The exception to the above pattern is Thessalonica, where Constantine most likely resided after his victory over Licinius in 317. The first coin shown here is a singular type, struck only at Thessalonica for a single issue, showing Sol as the patron deity of the army. This is probably the last time Sol appeared on a Roman coin.

204-123
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Thessalonica, 319
obv.- CONSTANTINVS AVG; laureate bust right
rev.- VIRT EXERC; Sol stg. in the middle of what RIC describes as a Roman camp; •TS•Γ• in ex.
RIC VII Thes 66
19mm; 2.5g; nummus
Holed in antiquity, most likely to be worn around the neck as a pendant by a soldier in one of Constantine's legions. Listed as R5 in RIC

Constantine's divine ancestors

Around this time Constantine also issued a series of small fractional bronzes designed to honor his deceased and deified forebears, and thereby emphasize his own divine descent—his father, Constantius; his father-in-law, Maximianus; and, interestingly, the 3rd-century emperor Claudius II Gothicus, from whom Constantine also claimed descent, even though there is no real evidence to support this. Claudius II was renowned for a tremendous victory over the Goths (hence his title), a victory which took place close to Constantine's birthplace and near the time of his birth.

204-082
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Constantius I commem
—struck by Constantine I
Siscia, 317-318
obv.- DIVO CONSTANTIO PIO PRINCIPI; Laureate veiled bust right
rev.- REQVIES OPTIMORVM MERITORVM; Emperor seated left on curule chair, raising right hand, holding sceptre; SIS in ex
RIC VII Sis 42
16mm; 1.5g; half-nummus
104-516
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Claudius II (Gothicus) commem
—struck by Constantine I
Thessalonica, 317-318
obv.- DIVO CLAVDIO OPTIMO IMP; veiled laureate bust r
rev.- REQVIES OPTIMORVM MERITORVM; Claudius seated l. on curule chair, TS [epsilon] in ex
RIC VII Thes 26; Fail 332; Sear-3232 var;
17mm; 1.6g; half-nummus
Rare. In this special issue of fractional coins Constantine I honors his father Constantius I, his father-in-law Maximian Herculius, and, on our coin, also his alleged ancestor Claudius Gothicus
104-533
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Constantius I commem
—struck by Constantine I
Rome, 317-318
obv.- DIVO CONSTANTIO PIO PRINC; Constantius, laureate and veiled bust right
rev.- MEMORIAE ATERNAE; eagle standing right, looking left; RP in ex
RIC VII Rom 111; Fail 333
17mm; 1.8g; half-nummus

Struck by Constantine to commemorate his deceased and now-deified father. Part of a series that also honored his purported ancestor, Claudius II Gothicus, and his father-in-law, Maximianus, to emphasize to the populace Constantine's illustrious ancestry.

204-095
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Maximianus commem
—struck by Constantine I
Rome, 317-318
obv.- DIVO MAXIMIANO SEN FORT IMP; Maximianus, laureate and veiled bust right
rev.- REQVIES OPTIM-ORVM MERITORVM; Emperor sitting on curule chair holding sceptre
RIC VII Rom 104; Fail 332
21mm; 3.0 g; nummus
much larger flan than expected for this issue; should be about 18mm. See http://www.oudgeld.com/webbib/conscomm.htm for more info about this coin (article by Gert Boersema, originally from Celator).
204-479
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Claudius II (Gothicus) commem
—struck by Constantine I
Rome, 317-318
obv.- DIVO CLAVDIO OPTIMO IMP; Laureate and veiled bust right
rev.- REQVIES OPTIMORVM MERITORVM; Divus Claudius seated left on curule chair, raising hand and holding scepter; RP in ex
RIC VII Rom 106
19mm; 3.63g; nummus

VOTA coinage

Around 320–321 Constantine again introduced a new set of reverse types for all the mints. Both types were based on more or less traditional motifs that had often been used previously on Roman coins.

  • One design, VIRTVS EXERCITVS, proclaimed the "Valor of the army." It showed several bound captives under a banner. The banner usually had a votive legend.
  • The second design was a traditional votive legend surrounded by a wreath.

Votive coins were supposed to commemorate the anniversary of an emperor's reign (5 years, 10 years, 20 years, etc.) and also convey the emperor's promise to serve faithfully for another 5–10–20 years, or whatever.

Both designs were struck for both emperors and all the caesars, but again there was considerable variation in bust type and the specific votive formula, depending on which augustus/caesar was the subject and when the coin was struck. For example, Constantine in 321 often expressed VOT XX, commemorating 15 years in power and expressing vows for another 5. On these coins, for the first time Constantine is styled MAX AVG. Licinius' objections, if any, are not recorded.

204-139
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Lugdunum, 321
obv.- CONSTANTINVS AVG; Laureate cuirassed bust right
rev.- VIRTVS EXERCIT; Vexillum with banner inscribed VOT / XX between two captives seated on ground C | R across fields; PLG in ex
RIC VII Lug 115
20mm; 3.9g; nummus
204-219
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Rome, 321
obv.- CONSTANTINVS AVG; Laureate bust right
rev.- D N CONSTANTINI MAX AVG; Legend surrounding laurel wreath, enclosing VOT / • / XX RQ in ex
RIC VII Rom 237
19mm; 3.03g; nummus
204-406
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Thessalonica, 318-319
obv.- CONSTANTINVS AVG; laureate ciurassed bust right
rev.- VOT XX MVLT • XXX; legend surrounded by wreath; TS•Δ•
RIC VII Thes 31
18mm; 3.0g; nummus
204-483
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Thessalonica, 320
obv.- CONSTANTINVS AVG; helmeted, cuirassed bust right
rev.- VIRTVS EXERCIT; standard inscribed VOT/XX with captives on either side, S|F across fields, •TS•Γ• in ex
RIC VII Thes 75
19mm; 3.1g; nummus

A short-lived peace

In 321 the VIRTVS EXERCIT types were retired in favor of a new reverse motif, this time with the legend BEATA TRANQVILLITAS, celebrating the "Blessed peace" that seemed to exist in 321, with the final war with Licinius still several years away. These were only struck at Londinium, Lugdunum, and Treveri, so perhaps they refer specifically to the peaceful state of the Rhine/German frontier. A globe rests on an altar which typically has a votive inscription, expressing the responsibility of the emperor for the world's security; above, three stars watch over the globe, probably representing Constantine and his two sons who were caesars at this time.

During this period, the other mints continued striking regular votive coins.

Despite their limited scope, these types were issued with a remarkably large variety of bust types and reverse details. Dieter Alten and Carl-Friedrich Zschucke catalog almost 100 bust types from Treveri alone in their exhaustive “Die Römische münzserie Beata Tranquillitas in der prägestätte Trier 321–323” [2004], and similar variety was produced from the other mints.

204-110
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
London, 323-324
obv.- CONSTANTINVS AG; Helmeted, cuirassed bust left
rev.- BEAT TRANQLITAS; Globe on altar inscribed VOT/IS/XX in three lines; above, three stars; PLON in ex
RIC VII Lon 269
21mm; 3.0g; nummus
Note from seller: "The helmets in this issue normally show some floral design and some dots. This helmet is, to my knowledge, unique in showing a detailed starry sky. The seven dots form the well-known constellation of the Pleiades (compare the inset image of the Pleiades with the red-marked dots on the helmet), with the Moon crescent in the lower middle. The identity of the three big stars is unknown, perhaps they signify three planets. Detailed astronomical depictions are not uncommon on Roman coins, but this may be the only one from the London mint."
204-140
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Trier, 323-324
obv.- CONSTANTINVS AVG; Laureate bust of Constantine right, draped in consular mantle and holding eagle-tipped scepter
rev.- BEATA TRANQVILLITAS; Altar inscribed VO / TIS / XX, surmounted by globe with plain vertical lines and diagonals between horizontal lines, three stars above; PTR• in ex
RIC VII Tr 342
19mm; 3.4g; nummus
The silvering on the coin makes it tough to photograph some of the wonderful portrait detail.
204-212
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Constantine II caesar
—struck by Constantine I
Treveri, 323
obv.- CONSTANTINVS IVN NOB C; Laureate half-length bust right, dressed as the High Priest of Sol; scepter in right hand, globe in left surmounted by radiate Sol standing facing, nude but for chlamys over left shoulder, right hand raise.
rev.- BEATA TRANQVILLITAS; Globe set on altar inscribed VO / TIS / XX, three stars above; . STR crescent in exergue
RIC VII Tr 409 [var]
20mm; 3.2g; nummus

Virtually unknown bust type that is not listed in RIC. Footnotes on RIC VII, p.200, mention two examples of RIC 409 with a similar, Sol-on-globe bust type. This example is unmistakeably Sol.

However, Alten and Zschucke do discuss this bust type [18r] specifically in their “Die Römische münzserie Beata Tranquillitas” :

Note to bust 18r:
This bust is only for Constantine II. The Caesar is wearing the garb of the chief priest of the Sol-cult. This is not the usual consular mantle, which is laid in folds over the arm, but a robe with sleeves. This is clear from the hand holding the scepter which is quite visible standing out from the left sleeve.
This portrayal suggests that at this time, Constantine I transferred the office of High Priest of the Sol-cult for political reasons to his second son. The Augustus wanted to demonstrate with this gesture his religious neutrality and gain the good graces of the Christian population, a growing portion of his empire.

(my translation, from the original German text)
They catalog this as no. 143, with maybe a dozen examples known. The example pictured in their book is neither an obverse nor reverse die match, so evidently enough of these were minted to warrant at least two dies. This is the only bust type—out of nearly 100 different varieties—in which the ruler is shown dressed as High Priest.

204-141
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Arelate, 321
obv.- CONSTANTINVS AVG; Laureate bust right
rev.- DN CONSTANTINI MAX AVG; VOT XX in wreath, P-crescent-A in ex
RIC VII Arl 233
19mm; 3.6g; nummus
Deeply struck from fresh dies.
204-144
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Ticinum, 322-325
obv.- CONSTANTINVS AVG; Laureate head right
rev.- D N CONSTANTINI MAX AVG; Legend surrounding wreath terminating in large jewel, enclosing VOT / • / X X / crescent, TT in exergue
RIC VII Tic 167
18mm; 3.0g; nummus

 


In 322, Constantine went to war to combat the Sarmatians on the Danube frontier, and won a major victory. This was commemorated with a new bronze coin design struck throughout his territory in 323/324, replacing the previous TRANQVILLITAS coins.

204-148
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Sirmium, 324-325
obv.- CONSTANTINVS AVG; Laureate bust right
rev.- SARMATIA DEVICTA; Victory advancing right, SIRM in exergue
RIC VII Sirm 48
19mm; 3.1g; nummus
Commemorates Constantine’s victory over the Sarmatians in AD 322. One of my favorite portraits, with great reverse detail.
204-198
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Treveri, 324-325
obv.- CONSTANTINVS AVG; Laureate bust right
rev.- SARMATIA DEVICTA; Victory advancing right, STR-crescent in exergue
RIC VII Tr 435
21mm; 2.8g; nummus

Coinage as sole emperor

Constantine's massive victory over Licinius in 324 left Constantine in possibly the most unchallenged position of any Roman emperor since the golden age of Antoninus Pius. The empire was again as firmly united as it had ever been, and there were no longer any political rivals of any kind anywhere in the empire. This led to some bland coins.

In the years after 324, the "camp-gate" design became the standard bronze coin motif. This had been a standard design on silver argentei from 25 and 30 years earlier. It had also been struck on bronze coins from Rome and Heraclea immediately following the first civil war. Now however, it was ubiquitous throughout the empire.

Despite the intent to have a standard coin design throughout the empire, the sheer number of these coins that were struck means that all sorts of idiosyncracies arise in the reverse design, resulting in these coins being one of the most avidly collected Roman coin types.

204-131
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Constantine I augustus nummus.
—struck by Constantine I
Trier, 324-325
obv.- CONSTANTINVS AVG; laureate bust right
rev.- PROVIDENTIAE AVGG; Campgate with six rows, two turrets, no doors, star above; PTR in exergue
RIC VII Tr 449
18mm; 3.4g; nummus
Sharply struck portrait in high relief, unusually so for this era.
204-266
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Arelate, 325-326
obv.- CONSTANTINVS AVG; laureate bust right
rev.- VIRTVS AVGG; Campgate (5 layers) with four turrets and open doors, star above; in ex.: PA-crescent-RL
RIC VII Arl 291
18mm; 3.0g; nummus
204-203
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Rome, 324-325
obv.- CONSTANTINVS AVG; laureate bust right
rev.- PROVIDENTIAE AVGG; campgate (8 layers) with two turrets, star above; in ex.: RP
RIC VII Rom 264
19mm; 4.0g; nummus
204-218
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Cyzicus, 324-325
obv.- CONSTANTINVS AVG; laureate bust right
rev.- PROVIDENTIAE AVGG; campgate (6 layers) with two turrets, star above; in ex.: SMKΓ
RIC VII Cyz 24
19mm; 2.8g; nummus
Remarkably thick silver coating, just a little bit worn off the high points.
204-199
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Thessalonica, 326-328
obv.- CONSTANTINVS AVG; laureate "heroic"-style bust right
rev.- PROVIDENTIAE AVGG; Camp gate with two turrets and star above; • in right field; SMTSE in ex
RIC VII Thess 154
20mm; 3.6g; nummus
Unusual "heroic"-style bust.

 

 


The first coins from Constantinople

Shortly after his defeat of Licinius, Constantine commenced the rebuilding of Byzantium as his new capital in the east—Constantinople. In 326 a mint was officially opened at Constantinople, although the city would not be officially rededicated for another four years.

As you might imagine, this was accompanied by a new set of coin types. Four new types were introduced that, collectively, represented the latest war and victory over Licinius.

In 327–328 Constantine executed notable military campaigns against the Goths on the Danube. Constantine built the first stone bridge over the Danube to the Gothic shore ande established a fortress there, called Daphne. For the next three years, the Constantinople mint struck coins commemorating these victories with a single new type with CONSTANTINIANA DAFNE legend ("Constantinian Victory").

These new types were only struck at Constantinople. The other mints continued striking the campgate coins.

104-811
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Constantinople, 327
obv.- CONSTANTINVS MAX AVG; laur bust right
rev.- GLORIA EXERCITVS; Emperor stg left, looking right, holding reversed spear and leaning on shield; Γ in foeld, CONS in ex
RIC VII Cons 16; Fail 348
19mm; 3.5g; AE3
rated r3 in RIC, S in Failmezgar
104-490
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Constantinople, 328
obv.- CONSTANTINVS MAX AVG; Diademed bust right
rev.- LIBERTAS PVBLICA; Victory standing on galley holding 2 wreaths; in ex, CONS
RIC VII Con 25; Fail 350
19mm; g; nummus / AE3
The galley on the reverse commemorates the great naval victory won by Constantine's son Crispus that was a key battle in Constantine's war with Licinius, recently concluded in 324, that left Constantine in sole control of the empire.
204-152
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Constantinople, 327-328
obv.- CONSTANTINVS MAX AVG; Rosette-diademed, draped, cuirassed bust r.
rev.- CONSTANTINIANA DAFNE; Victory seated l. on cippus, palm-branch in each hand, looking r.; trophy in front, at the foot of which kneeling captive turning head, spurned by Victory
RIC VII Con 35
20mm; 3.5g; nummus
Very well-struck reverse with super details; click here to see more.

A number of cities also struck special commemorative coins to mark visits by Constantine following the defeat of Licinius. These have no obverse legend, just a portrait of the emperor or caesar with the name and title on the reverse. With the exception of coins from Antioch, these are generally quite scarce and collectible.

204-155
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Antioch, 324-325
obv.- Laureate bust facing right; no legend
rev.- CONSTANTINVS AVG; wreath and below legend ; SMANT Z in ex, dot below
RIC VII Ant 57; Fail 335
17mm; 2.2g; nummus
Listed as R5 in RIC, which means that at the time of its publication, the authors knew of only one example (in the collection at Oxford University). Obviously more have turned up since then, but it is still relatively scarce. Antioch coins from this era often have much nicer style than other mints; this is a wonderful Constantine portrait from this period.
204-670
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Rome, 326
obv.- [none]; Rosette-diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right
rev.- CONSTANTINVS AVG; legend in three lines; wreath above; SMRP in ex
RIC VII Rom 281
18mm; 2.6g; nummus

The years 326-327 marked the empire-wide celebration of Constantine's vicennalia, the 20-year anniversary of his reign. In addition, this also marked the decennalia, or 10-year anniversary, of his sons' appointment as caesars. These were of course celebrated on the coinage, which largely replaced the camp-gate designs. Despite it being the 20-year anniversary, the Constantine coins have the formula VOT XXX, which expresses the emperor's forward-looking vows of 30 years of service.

The first coin below shows one of the most famous Constantine portraits, the "eyes to heaven" gaze that is commonly intepreted as a Christian gesture.

204-151
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Heraclea, 327-329
obv.- CONSTANTINVS AG; Diademed head right, looking upward with "eyes to heaven" gaze
rev.- D N CONSTANTINI MAX AVG; Legend surrounding laurel wreath terminating in large jewel and enclosing VOT / • / XXX • SMHB in ex
RIC VII Her 92
19mm; 3.2g; nummus
104-960
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Heraclea, 326
obv.- CONSTANTINVS AVG; laur bust right (regular bust, not "eyes to heaven.")
rev.- DN CONSTANTINI MAX AVG; laurel wreath, VOT XXX in two lines within.; SMH-Γ in ex
RIC VII Her 82
19mm; 3.0g; nummus

Dedication of Constantinople

In 330, the new capital of Constantinople was officially dedicated. At the same time—surprise!—the coinage was reformed.

  • The campgate reverse was replaced as the standard bronze coin type by GLORIA EXERCITVS, with two soldiers holding standards; like the campgate, it was a generic type honoring the army.
  • Two new types were introduced, one for each of the capitals. Instead of imperial portraits on the obverse, each had a personification of either Rome or Constantinople.

These coins were struck throughout the empire by all the mints, until Constantine's death.

In addition, several small commemorative half-denominations were struck in Constantinople. Interestingly, these each feature a bust of Genius on the obverse, the last time Genius would appear on a Roman coin, bringing the coinage types full circle from the first coins Constantine struck during the Tetrarchic era in 306.

104-961
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Heraclea, 330-333
obv.- CONSTANTINVS MAX AVG; Laureate, draped and cuirassed bust r
rev.- GLORIA EXERCITVS; Soldiers flanking two standards
RIC VII Her 121
18mm; 2.4g; nummus
104-541
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Nicomedia, 330-335
obv.- CONSTANTINVS MAX AVG; Diademed draped cuir bust right
rev.- GLORIA EXERCITVS; Two soldiers on either side of two standards; SMNA in ex
RIC VII Nic 188; Fail 365
18mm; 3.06g; nummus
Interesting, vivid portrait style for this period.
204-180
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Constantinopolis commemorative
—struck by Constantine I
Treveri, 332-333
obv.- CONSTANTINOPOLIS; Helmeted bust representing Constantinopolis, with reversed spear, helmet with pearl diadem, wearing imperial cloak
rev.- [no legend]; Victory standing left on prow, holding spear and shield, TR•S in ex
RIC VII Tr 548
17mm; 2.6g; nummus
104-102
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VRBS ROMA commemorative
—struck by Constantine I
Siscia, 334-335 AD
obv.- VRBS ROMA; bust of Roma; her crested helmeted bust left wearing imperial mantle
rev.-Female wolf standing left, her head back, suckling Romulus and Remus, two stars above; •ΓSIS • in ex
RIC VII Sis 240
17mm; 2.3g; Bronze
204-546
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Rome, 330
obv.- VRBS ROMA; Bust of Roma left wearing plumed, visored & crested helmet and ornamental mantle
rev.- [none]; Wolf standing left, suckling Romulus and Remus, * * above, RFQ in exergue
RIC VII Rom 331
17mm; 2.4g; nummus
204-649
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NA NA
—struck by Constantine I
Arelate, 332-333
obv.- VRBS ROMA; Helmeted bust of Roma left wearing imperial mantle
rev.- [none]; Romulus and Remus suckling from she-wolf; two stars above with triple-palm branch; PCONST in ex
RIC VII Arl 368
17mm; 2.2g; nummus
204-648
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[Rome commemorative]
—struck by Constantine I
Lugdunum, 332
obv.- VRBS ROMA; Helmeted bust of Roma left wearing imperial mantle
rev.- [none]; Romulus and Remus suckling from she-wolf; two stars above; pellet-in-crescent PLC in ex
RIC VII Lug 257
15mm; g; nummus
104-796
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Constantinople, 330
obv.- POP ROMANVS; draped bust of Genius left, cornucopiae on shoulder
rev.- Milvian Bridge over river; CONS/Γ
RIC VIII Cons 21; Fail 367
15mm; 1.3g; AE4
Commemorative issue struck in celebration of the foundation of Constantinople, 330 AD.
104-481
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Constantine I augustus
—struck by Constantine I
Constantinople, circa 330
obv.- POP ROMANVS; laureate and draped bust of Genius(?) left, holding cornucopiae on shoulder
rev.- Star of eight rays within wreath; in ex, CONSI (officina 10)
RIC VIII Con 22; Fail 367
14mm; 1.1g; half-nummus
Commemorative coin, struck to celebrate the city's official rededication in 330. Concerning this issue, RIC notes that the "weight and alloy suggest that they date in fact from the early 330s."

Commemorative coinage after his death

In 337 Constantine died a natural death, a relative rarity for a Roman emperor. On his deathbed he was baptized, officially becoming a Christian and bequeathing one last legacy to the empire. His sons struck a series of commemorative coins after his death, in which he was deified—kind of, in a left-handed sort of way. The most common of these coins show him ascending to heaven in a quadriga, evoking his great pagan patron, Sol Invictus; however, in these coins the "hand of God" is visible, casting the traditional imagery in a Christian light.

104-844
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Constantine I commem
—struck by Constantius II
Antioch, 337-340
obv.- DN CONSTANTINVS P F AVGG; veiled bust right
rev.- Deified Constantine driving quadriga right, hand of God reaching down from above; SMANA in ex
RIC VII Ant 37
16mm; 1.7g; AE4
104-911
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Constantine I commem
—struck by Constantius II
Antioch, 337-340
obv.- CONSTANTINVS PT AVGG; veiled bust right
rev.- IVST VEN MEM; Aequitas in long dress standing facing, head turned l., holding scales in her r. hand; SMANH in ex
RIC VIII Ant 64; Fail 390
15mm; 1.5g; AE4
104-876
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Constantine I commem
—struck by Constantius II
Nicomedia, 347-348
obv.- DN CONSTANTINVS PT AVGG; Veiled Constantine I right
rev.- VN MR; Constantine, veiled, standing right; SMNZ in ex
Fail 400
16mm; 1.5g; AE4
204-408
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Constantine I commem
—struck by Constans
Lugdunum, 337-340
obv.- DIVO CONSTANTINO P; Veiled bust of Constantine, right
rev.- AETERNA PIETAS; Emperor, in military dress, standing left, holding spear and globe; TR (tau-rho) monogram in field
RIC VIII Lug 3
13mm; 1.9g; AE4

Expected mintmark PLC is off the flan. Listed as R in RIC.

Of the several reverse types that were struck by Constantine's sons following his death, the AETERNA PIETAS coins are by far the rarest. The mints at Lugdunum and Arelate each struck a different variety; these were the only two mints that struck this type.

204-243
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Constantine I commem
—struck by Constantine II
Arelate, 337
obv.- DIVO CONSTANTINO P; Veiled bust right
rev.- AETERNA PIETAS; Emperor in military dress, standing r., holding spear and globe; in field r., X; in exergue, PCONST
RIC VIII Arle 17; LRBC 429
15mm; 1.9g; AE4
Bust of Constantine I

Uffizi Gallery, Florence
photo by author

The reign of Constantine—of course one of the towering figures of Roman, and all, history—is a logical bookend to Diocletian's.

Constantine was most likely born in 272 or 274 AD. At the time of his birth, Aurelian was emperor, and Constantine's father Constantius was already a distinguished soldier fighting in the Palmyrene wars in Syria. Even though his father—and by extension, Constantine himself—was of low birth, his father's career advanced rapidly. When Diocletian won the throne, Constantius was governor of Dacia, and his support of Diocletian was crucial to Diocletian's final victory. This earned Constantius continued advancement under Diocletian, and Constantine a place in Diocletian's court.

Constantine's presence at Diocletian's court was no doubt as a noble hostage to ensure the good behavior of his father, but it ensured that Constantine grew up familiar with the trappings of power and court life, and the intrigues and politics. As a counterpart to court life, Constantine also served in the field in Galerius' armies. Among his contemporaries in the second generation of tetrarchs—along with Maximinus II and Maxentius—only Constantine appears to have achieved a distinguished military career, ultimately serving as one of Diocletian's military tribunes. During this period Constantine also may have become acquainted with Licinius, who was also serving in Galerius' armies in the Persian campaigns of this period. Unlike Maximinus II and Maxentius, Licinius (who was 20-25 years older than Constantine) was an established commander. By all accounts there was no love lost between Galerius and Constantine, who no doubt recognized the potential, younger, rival.

Even though, according to contemporary accounts such as Lactantius, Constantine was widely expected to be appointed caesar in 305 after Diocletian's abdication, Galerius had used his relationship with Diocletian to engineer the appointment of two of his proteges as caesars: his nephew Maximinus II, a contemporary of Constantine, and Severus II, an older colleague of Galerius. This left Constantine in a position of some peril.

At this time Constantius, who was in poor health, requested that Constantine be allowed to join him in Gaul. Constantine left court immediately to join his father—according to some accounts, in a secretive flight just ahead of Galerius' assasins. Constantine joined his father in time to campaign against Picts in Scotland. After only a short period, Constantius died, but the Pict campaigns allowed Constantine to establish his own military reputation with his father's armies, so on the death of his father—who was himself a successful, well-regarded general—Constantine is acclaimed Augustus by the troops on July 25, 306, in Erboracum (York).

In a politically astute move, Constantine sent Galerius his official implements & insignia and applied to him for official recognition. Constantine no doubt recognized the strength of his position and could afford to make such a gesture. Galerius has no choice but to legitimize Constantine as Caesar, at the same time elevating Severus II to Augustus, preserving the tetrarchic structure. Given Constantine's military support and political capital, anything else would have meant large-scale civil war. Constantine immediately begins striking coins in his own name at his father's mints in Londinium, Treveri, and Lugdunum. The other imperial colleagues also strike coins in his name at the other mints.

Constantine immediately proved himself to be an energetic monarch, improving and reforming his military defences, and fighting numerous campaigns against various German tribes. Constantine soon established his capital at Treveri and embarked on an extensive building program—his basilica still stands—and built the first stone bridge across the Rhine.

Three months after Constantine succeeded his father, Maxentius, the son of the retired emperor Maximianus, revolted in Rome (October 306) against Severus, undoubtedly motivated by the example of Constantine. Maxentius was soon joined by his father, who came out of retirement to again assume an active role as augustus. Or one of them, at any rate. Constantine—secure in his political position, having secured Galerius' sanction—now began a delicate, patient game of playing off Maxentius, Maximianus, Severus, and Galerius against one another.

Initially, Constantine allied himself with Maxentius, boxing in Severus II between them. Maxentius and Maximianus quickly defeat Severus. Constantine marries the daughter of Maximianus, and Maximinus confers the rank of augustus on Constantine.

In 307 and 308, Galerius and Licinius lead another campaign against Maxentius. Constantine helps neither party, but when the campaign turns against Galerius, Galerius has to withdraw because he can't risk having Constantine, from his position in Gaul, in his rear.

In 308, Maximianus and Maxentius feud with each other. Maximianus flees to Constantine's court. Maximianus and Constantine encourge Domitius Alexander, the military governor of Carthage, to rebel against Maxentius and withold the grain supply to Rome.

In late 308, at a conference convened by Galerius to resolve the political mess in the empire, Maximianus is once again stripped of his titles while Licinius is promoted to Augustus. The chips really start to fall for Constantine at this point. Maxentius is forced to go to war against Domitius Alexander and defeats him in 309. Constantine executes Maximianus in 310, Galerius dies in 311, and Constantine then strikes an alliance with Licinius against Maxentius. No longer having to worry about Licinius at his flank, Constantine can finally move decisively against Maxentius. This encourages Maximinus II to go to war against Licinius, drawing Licinius and his armies far away from Constantine. When Licinus defeats Maximinus II in 313, it means in a four-year period the number of "augusti" has shrank from 6 to just 2.

During this period, Constantine experienced a series of religious visions that profoundly affected him. In contrast to the strongly pagan policies of Diocletian and Galerius—that eventually led to the great Christian persecutions of 303 and later—Constantine appears to have been raised in a decidedly pro-Christian atmosphere. His mother, Helena, and first wife Minervina, were either Christian or pro-Christian sympathizers, and while his father could not be a Christian in his official position, he was certainly very tolerant of Christians and enforced Diocletian's anti-Christian edicts with the barest minimum of vigor. In Nicomedia, the young Constantine was probably exposed to Christian intellectuals like Lactantius.

In 310 Constantine experienced his first vision, that led him to adopt Sol/Apollo as his patron god (which was reflected in his coinage, which at this time began to prominently feature Sol). In the 3rd century AD, cults devoted to Sol, Apollo, and Mithras served as a proto-monotheism that for many people served as a stepping-stone to adopting Christianity. And so it was with Constantine, who experienced another vision in 312 before his final battle with Maxentius, this time of the Christian god. Constantine famously instructed his troops to paint the Christian chi-rho symbol on their shields, and went on to defeat Maxentius at the Milvian Bridge. (One striking example of the syncretism between sun-worship, monotheism, and Christianity was Constantine's decree in 321 that both Christians and non-Christians should celebrate "the day of the Sun" which began the tradition of Sunday as the Christian sabbath.)

The Battle of the Milvian Bridge was a watershed event that left Constantine in unquestioned authority over the entire western Roman empire. And Constantine now used his position to bestow a level of imperial patronage on the Christian Church that completely transformed it.

  • In 313, Constantine (jointly with his new colleague, Licinius) issued the Edict of Milan that officially legalized Christianity and reversed the persecutions that were begun by Galerius and were still being rabidly pursued by Maximinus II.
  • Constantine's official patronage contributed to an enormous number of churches and related buildings being constructed, beginning in this period. In particular, in the 312-314 period, Constantine donated the original Lateran Palace to the bishop of Rome, establishing the Lateran Palace as the traditional home of the Pope. And around 320 or so, construction began on St. Peter's basilica, again under Constantine's patronage.
  • Finally, Constantine took a strong interest in church affairs and doctrine. He convened a number of church councils to establish creed, doctrines, and resolve disputes. These were not always successful as such, but Constantine's role in their affairs left no doubt as to their importance and the importance of the Church.

Meanwhile, in the eastern half of the empire, Licinius was mirroring Constantine's consolidation of power. Following the death of Galerius in 311, Licinius assumed control over the entire Balkan territory. When Maximinus invaded in 313, Licinius defeated him also and assumed control over the entire eastern half of the empire. Both augusti were now in comparable positions of territory, unquestioned political authority, and military power.

Unlike the power-sharing relationship between Diocletian and Maximianus, there was no question of cooperation between the two men, despite their nominal status as allies. By 316, tensions in the border province of Pannonia led to open civil war. A peace treaty was concluded in 317 on terms favorable to Constantine and left Constantine in control of most of the Balkan peninsula.

During this period Constantine continued a program of political reorganization. Constantine moved his capital to Sirmium, continuing a pattern of Constantine gradually moving his power base east—from his original capital of Treveri, to Milan, to Sirmium. Also as part of the peace treaty, the sons of Constantine and Licinius were appointed to the rank of caesar: Licinius II in the east, and Crispus and Constantine II in the west. Unlike the caesars appointed by Diocletian however, these were strictly dynastic and honorific gestures instead of genuine executive appointments, since Crispus, the oldest, was perhaps 12 years old. (Since Licinius had married Constantine's sister as part of their alliance in 313, Licinius II was also Constantine's nephew.) Eventually, Constantine closed the mints at Londinium and Ticinum while opening new mints at Sirmium and Constantinople.

Despite the peace treaty, differences between the two emperors continued to crystallize. In 320, Licinius revoked the Edict of Milan and again began persecuting Christians (although with nothing close to the severity of Galerius and Maximinus) while promoting traditional paganism. The Christian persecutions were a direct challenge to Constantine and turned the political conflict between the two men into a religious one: the older Licinius representing a return to traditional Roman gods and paganism, while the younger Constantine represented the more progressive emerging monotheism.

In 324 open warfare resumed, and this war featured some of the largest battles ever fought in Roman history to that point. In addition to his Roman forces, Licinius also had a large number of Goth auxiliaries, while Constantine fought with a large number of Frankish allies. Constantine won an epic battle at Adrianople, in which both generals had almost 300,000 men in the field; Crispus, now fully of age and commanding Constantine's fleet, destroyed Licinius' navy at the Hellespont; and Constatine finally destroyed Licinius at the battle of Chrysopolis.

The entire war was fought in and around Byzantium, giving Constantine a first-hand appreciation of that city's military and strategic value. So one of the immediate outcomes of the the war was Constantine's decision to move his capital to that city; and, in commemoration of his new status as unquestioned sole Roman emperor, his decision to refound the city and name it after himself, as Constantinople. By 326 a mint had been established and was striking coins with the new name of the city, and in 330 the new capital was officially dedicated.

Immediately after the war in 325, Constantine convened the great Council of Nicaea in an effort to resolve doctrinal disputes within the church. This was the first ecumenical council—in other words, a council with bishops from the entire empire, from all different sects. Among the achievements were the denouncement of Arianism; the adoption of the Nicene creed; and the decision to calculate Easter based on the Latin, solar calendar instead of the Jewish, lunar calendar. This was one of the final, decisive breaks between Judaism and Christianity.

The year 326 contained what is perhaps the darkest event of his reign: the executions of his son, Crispus, and his wife, Fausta. Recall that Crispus was the son of Constantine's first wife, Minervina, who he cast aside to marry Fausta, daughter of Maximianus. Fausta subsequently gave birth to Constantine's other children. There are differing opinions as to whether Crispus was actually having an illicit affair with his step-mother, or was falsely accused by his step-mother because Crispus was an impediment to the advancement of her own children. Nevertheless, the execution of Crispus was a sensation, since at this time he was a popular hero in the empire because of his role in the victory over Licinius and position as presumptive heir.

By all accounts, Constantine was profoundly grief-stricken. Several months later, Fausta was also executed in a horrible manner, by being boiled alive in a super-heated bath, reportedly at the urging of Constantine's mother, Helena. Helena then left court, embarking on her pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

In 332 Constantine began his next great military campaign, this time an attempt to retake the province of Dacia on the other side of the Danube, which had been abandoned to the Goths by earlier emperors. Constantine rebuilt the stone bridge over the Danube and crushed the Goths in another massive battle that by some accounts left over 100,000 Goths dead.

Constantine continued to look eastward, this time to war with the Persian empire. In 335 a new political organization left the empire with 4 caesars: Constantine's three sons by Fausta, and his nephew, Delmatius. Constantine II was in charge of Gaul and the west; Constans, in Italy; Constantius II, in the eastern empire on the Persian frontier; and Delmatius, in the territory surrounding Constantinople. Another nephew, Hannibalianus, was appointed King of Armenia, in a move designed to provoke the Persian king Shapur. This left Constantine himself free to command his armies against the Persians.

In 337 Constantine fell ill and died near Nicomedia. He was baptized on his deathbed by the bishop of Nicomedia; reportedly, his original plan had been to be baptized in the River Jordan as a prelude to his invasion of Persia.

Historians have puzzled over why Constantine, one of the shrewdest political players of antiquity, could have implemented the clumsy succession plan of 335. Almost immediately upon his death, fighting broke out among the five heirs. Decentius and Hanniblianus were executed first. Later, Constantine II lost a power struggle with Constans. Constans himself was killed when Magnentius revolted in Gaul in 350. Constantius II wound up having the longest reign of his sons; after defeating Magnentius, he continued to reign as sole ruler until 361.

 

 

Timeline

272 AD—Constantine born in in Naissus (modern Niš, Serbia). Some dispute; some claim a later date 280 or 282.

293—Constantine moves to Diocletian's court in Nicomedia when his father is named Caesar for Gaul & Britain.

296—Campaigns on the Danube frontier against barbarians.

296/297—Accompanied Diocletian in campaign against Domitius Domitianus as member of Diocletian's bodyguard.

297—Campaigns in Syria against the Persians, serving under Diocletian.

298—Campaigns in Persia under Galerius.

303—Diocletian and Galerius begin Christian persecution.

304 or 305—First son Crispus is born.

305—Diocletian abdicates; Constantius appointed Augustus in the west; Constantine, now a senior military tribune, is passed over for Caesar; journeys to Gaul to join his father and escape Galerius' custody.

July 306—Constantius dies; Constantine acclaimed Augustus by his troops. Galerius reluctantly appoints Constantine as Caesar for Britain, Gaul & Spain.

October 306—Maxentius (son of Maximianus) revolts and seizes power in Italy.

Spring 307—Constantine (now living in Treveri) defeats invading Franks in Rhine frontier.

Autumn 307—Constantine allies with house of Maximianus. He recognizes Maxentius; marries Fausta, Maximianus' daughter; and is named Augustus by Maximianus.

308—Galerius and Diocletian hold conference at Carnuntum to resolve political chaos. Constantine demoted to Caesar, and Licinius appointed as Augustus in west. Constantine refuses to recognize the decisions, and remains de facto Augustus.

310—Attempted revolt by Maximinaus in Gaul ends in death of Maximianus and final breach with Maxentius. Constantine's first "vision" of Apollo leads to patronage of Sol cult of Sol Invictus.

311—Death of Galerius. Maximinus and Maxentius strike formal alliance, in response to alliance between Constantine and Licinius.

March–October, 312—Constantine campaigns victoriously in Italy and advances to Rome.

Oct. 28, 312—Constantine routs Maxentius at Battle of Milvian Bridge following second vision, this time of Christian symbol.

March 313— Publishes Edict of Milan, establishing religious tolerance throughout empire.

313-314—Victorius in major campaigns against Franks.

314—Convenes Council of Arelate to condemn Donatism.

316–317—First civil war with Licinius. Son Constantine II is born.

317—Crispus and Constantine II are appointed caesar, along with Licinius II. Son Constantius II is born.

Mar. 7, 321—Decrees Sunday as a day of rest.

322–323—First wars against Goths and Sarmatians. Youngest son Constans is born.

324—Second civil war with Licinius. Constantius II appointed caesar.

Sept. 18, 324—Victory at Battle of Chrysopolis ends Licinius power. Constantine is sole emperor.

324—Constantius II appointed caesar.

325—Convenes Council of Nicaea, the first empire-wide ecumenical Christian council. Condemns Arianism and formulates Nicene Creed.

325—Oration to the Assembly of Saints delivered in Antioch -- most extensive surviving statement by any emporeror between Marcus Aurelius and Julian.

326—Consulate VII (with son Constantius, his first). Mint at Constantinople begins striking coins.

326—Executes eldest son Crispus at Pola in Istria. Several months later, executes wife Fausta.

326-328—Helena's pilgrimage to Holy Land. Results in discovery of the True Cross (allegedly), and founding of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and other important churches.

329—Consulate VIII (with son Constantine II, his fourth)

May 11, 330 Byzantium officially rededicated as Constantinople.

332—Second war with Goths ends with massive victory.

333—Youngest son, Constans, appointed caesar.

334—Second war with Sarmatians ends with massive victory.

335—Nephew Dalmatius appointed to be fourth and final caesar.

336—Ulfilas is consecrated Bishop for Goths; translates Bible into Gothic language.

336—Recovers Dacia province (lost since Aurelian in 271); begins planning Persian campaign.

May 22, 337—Dies in Nicomedia.