Roman Empire, Constantine II - A Brief and Wretched Reign

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Constantine II had a brief and somewhat wretched reign. When his father Constantine I 'the Great' died in AD 337 he became senior Augustus, ruling jointly with his brothers Constans and Constantius II. Possessed of a milder temper than his younger siblings, at the meeting at Sirmium in Pannonia where the empire was divided between the three, Constans and Constantius managed to trump Constantine by handing him only Britannia, Gaul and Hispania, a poor share of the empire for the senior Augustus.

An uneasy peace characterised the years after the division of the empire, with Constantine having some control over the lands of his brother Constans as he was his guardian, and so feeling consoled in his position. However, after the death of Hannibalianus and the division of the lands under his control between Constans and Constantius, trouble flared: Constantine demanded that Constans hand over the provinces of Africa to recompense his elder brother for the gains he had made in Thrace and Macedonia. Growing increasingly bitter, and after further infighting over the borders of certain African provinces controlled by Carthage had occured, in 340 Constantine launched an unsuccessful invasion of Italy. The 24-year old emperor was killed in battle, and disgraced by being flung into a river by Constans’ men.

Probably struck early in his reign, this particularly rare solidus uses a reverse type of his father's. At the time of his death, Constantine I had recently celebrated thirty years as emperor, and Constantine II twenty years as Caesar. The elder Constantine had also successfully reconquered Dacia by 336, a province relinquished under Aurelian sixty years before.

Constantine II AV Solidus. Siscia, AD 337-340. CONSTANTINVS PF AVG, laurel and rosette diademed, draped and cuirassed bust right / VICTORIA CONSTANTINI AVG, Victory standing to right, holding shield inscribed VOT XXX, foot on captive seated before; •SIS• in exergue. RIC 4. 4.40g, 22mm, 6h.

Good Extremely Fine. Extremely Rare.