Constantine, struck as Caesar,
      July 306-July 307, at his main mint, Trier.

Coins of the Roman rulers, July 306 to autumn, 324

This is one web page of many on Roman coins from 284-324. There is a page of links to all the topic pages. This page is about Roman coins after the Second Tetrarchy, from 306-324. 

The Second Tetrarchy ended with the natural death of Constantius, western Augustus, in July 306. His son, Constantine, was acclaimed emperor by his army. A power struggle ensued which involved seven rulers and ended in 324 with one, Constantine, as sole emperor.

Table of Contents:
  The seven major emperors (next)
  Other Romans on coins.
  Coins of each of the seven.
  Notes for collectors on frequencies.
  Coins of the lesser Romans.
  Commemoratives
  History. The sequence of events that affect the coins
  Issues and how they illuminate the power structure. 

  (Click on the obverse image to see both sides of the coin and its identification.) 

What's new?  2020, June 6: A "VLPP" coin of 319-- a new denomination for Constantine. 
                                  May 31: Coin of Maxentius which emphsizes the city of Rome.
                                  May 27: Links to improve navigation have been added, with more comments on related history.
                                  May 17: Coins of Constantine with SolLicinius with Jupiter, and Maxentius with elephants.

 


       Galerius as eastern Augustus
 
   Maximinus II as eastern Caesar
 


    Severus II as western Augustus
 
          Maxentius as Augustus
                  based at Rome
 Maximian, second reign as Augustus
                     in the west
       Licinius as western Augustus
(although not in control west of Siscia)
                                          Rulers, 306-314

The seven competing rulers and their titles in this time period are:

•  Constantine, son of Constantius. He had coins as Caesar (top right) and Augustus. Galerius issued coins in his name with the unusual title FIL AVGG. (Here)

•  Galerius had been eastern Caesar 293-305 under the First Tetrarchy and eastern Augustus during the Second Tetrarchy. After July 306 he had coins as Augustus until his death in 311. (Here)

•  Maximinus II had been eastern Caesar under the Second Tetrarchy, 305-306. After July 306 he continued to have coins as Caesar and he had coins as Augustus from 310 until his death in 313. Galerius issued coins in his name with the unusual title FIL AVGG. (Here) There was also a small anonymous series

•  Severus II had been western Caesar under the Second Tetrarchy, 305-306. After July 306 he had coins as western Augustus until he was defeated in Spring 307 by Maxentius. (Here

•  Maxentius was the son of the western Augustus Maximian who retired in 305. Maxentius usurped power in Rome October 28, 306. He had very rare coins as PRINC INVICT and as Caesar, only at Carthage. He had coins as Augustus from 306 until his death at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge against Constantine, Oct. 28, 312. (Here

•  Maximian, Augustus during the First Tetrarchy, 293-305, came out of retirement to join with Maxentius and had "second reign" coins as Augustus, 306-308. Most of his very common coins are from his "first reign," which is earlier than the time period of this page. (Below, here) (Here is a page with much more about his second-reign coins.)

•  Licinius was appointed at the Conference at Carnuntum as the new western Augustus, November, 308. He had coins as Augustus. 308-324. (Here)

  This page addresses only AE coins, not gold and silver.


History. The sequence of events that affected the coinage is far below on this page
 


Others Romans on Coins. Also, coins were minted in the names of a few lesser characters:
   Galeria Valeria (here), wife of Galerius and daughter of Diocletian, m. 293, d. c. 315. She had coins struck in her name c. Dec. 308 - May 311.
   Crispus (here) and Constantine II (here), sons of Constantine, and Licinius II (here), son of Licinius, were all made Caesars in 317 by agreement of Constantine and Licinius.
   Romulus (here), son of Maxentius, was born about 306 and died in 309 as a young child (during his second consulship!). All his coins are commemorative.
   Alexander of Carthage rebelled against Maxentius at Carthage, 311. His coins are very rare.

   Valerius Valens was appointed co-emperor by Licinius in autumn 316, to help in the first Civil War against Constantine. He was executed as part of the truce agreement in early 317 which ended the war. His coins are extremely rare.
   Martinian was appointed co-emperor by Licinius in 324 to help in the second Civil War against Constantine. His coins are extremely rare.

 


Commemoratives. Some scarce commemorative coins were minted:
  Constantius as DIVO by Constantine.
  Romulus, son of Maxentius. Coins as DIVO by Maxentius. 

  Maximian, Constantius, and Galerius as DIVO by Maxentius.
  Galerius as DIVO by Maximinus II as FIL AVG and as DIVO by Licinius.  

Two of those commemorative types from the period 306 to 324 are illustrated below and all of them are discussed on the page "Commemorative Coins of 306-324." 

 


Events. The time period for this page begins in July 306 with Constantine's acclamation as emperor. By the end of 313, when Maximinus II died, only Constantine and Licinus were left standing. They had two civil wars. The first in 316-317 ended with a truce after Constantine gained territory. In 317 they agreed to make their three sons Caesars and each minted for the other. However, in 324 they had a second civil war which ended with the defeat of the Licinii and their execution shortly thereafter. Then Constantine was sole Augustus, the event which ends the time period discussed on this page. (For much more abut the events that affect coins, see below.)

Note for collectors. Coins of each of the seven main rulers are common, as are coins of Galeria Valeria, Crispus, Constantine II, and Licinius II. The commemorative issues are all scarce or rare. It is quite possible, and not expensive, to get an attractive collection of all the rulers except Alexander, Valens, and Martinian. For more about the frequencies of the coins, see below.
   This page does not illustrate all the types. Unlike the First Tetrarchy and the Second Tetrarchy, each of which had a small number of follis types which were all illustrated on their pages, the period 306 to 324 has very many follis types--far too many to illustrate them all. For example, Failmezger lists 170 AE types for Constantine and 48 for Maxentius. 

 

The seven main emperors:

Constantine is key to the beginning and the end of this period from July 306 to 324. His elevation to emperor upon the death of his father in July 306 and the usurpation of power in Rome by Maxentius in October 306 violated the orderly tetrarchal succession rules and initiated this period of conflict. After many events (outlined below) that affected who was in power where, his defeat of Licinius in 324 left him the sole Augustus. The coinage of Constantine consists of well over 150 types and is far too complex to discuss throughly here, but the next five coins illustrate important changes.  



Constantine as Caesar, July 306 - July 307
29-28 mm.
Struck c. Spring 307.
FL VAL CONSTANTINVS NOB C
(FLavius VALerius) A young portrait.
GENIO POPVLI ROMANI
Genius standing left, loins draped, holding patera and cornucopia.
  S   A
  PTR

RIC VI Trier 694 "Spring 307"

 

In 307 Constantine, with the support of Maximian, took the title Augustus after the previous western Augustus, Severus II, was defeated and killed by Maxentius. He was Caesar who, by the system, would be promoted to Augustus when the previous Augustus died. Maximian, who had had the title of Augustus, had the authority to award it. 
 

Constantine, struck mid 310 - late 312
at London
22-21 mm. 4.16 grams.
CONSTANTINVS PF AVG
PRINCIPI IVVENTVTIS
"Prince of youth," previously a title given to young heirs.
     *
  PLN
RIC VI London 215.
Lovely even green patina.


 



After Constantine had been Augustus and the Conference at Carnuntum (late 308) decided he should be demoted to Caesar, Galerius hoped that the title "FIL AVGG" (filii augustorum, sons of the Augusti)--higher than "Caesar" but below "Augustus"--would suit Constantine and Maximinus II. It didn't. The story of that title is on the page "Constantine as Caesar and as FIL AVG (A.D. 306-310)." 


Constantine, as FIL AVG
25 mm. 5.89 grams.
Struck late 308 - May 310
at Alexandria
FL VAL CONSTANTINVS FIL AVG
[only one G]

RIC VI Alexandria 100b 

This coin in the name of Constantine was struck at Alexandria, in the territory of Maximinus II. Coins of Maximinus II in the same issue are struck with the title Caesar. He did not accept the FIL AVG title. Neither of them minted for themselves using that title which was awarded by Galerius. 
 

Constantine is a saint of the Eastern Orthodox Church because he was the first emperor to support Christianity. Nevertheless, his coins show much more homage to the sun god, Sol.

Constantine, 307-337
24-22 mm. 
Struck c. 309-310 [RIC]
IMP CONSTANTINVS PF AVG
SOLI INVICTO COMITI (Comrade of the invincible Sol, the sun god)
Sol standing left, radiate, naked, raising right hand in blessing and holding globe.
F   T    (Felicitas Temporum?)
PLG   

RIC Lugdunum (Lyons) 309.
 
It is interesting that this type with Sol is so very common under Constantine and types that reference Christianity are so rare. Even though he saw the famous vision that converted him to Christianity October 28, 312, this SOL type is very commonly minted until at least 317. (We know because it is on coins of Crispus and Constantine II who became Caesars in 317.) In great contrast, Christianity only receives very rare and obscure references on his coins. See a page about Christian references on Roman coins.) 

The ancient literature is unclear, but constantine is sometimes thought to have had an earlier vision in 310 of Apollo, a sun god. If so, that would please pagans and Apollo (a Greek god) could be regarded as Sol. Maybe that earlier event inspired this SOLI type. 

In 318 or 319 there was a recoinage. The common SOLI INVICTO COMITI type (above) was discontinued and replaced with what must be a new denomination, which we known because hoards that include this new "VLPP" type rarely include the older SOLI coins, even though the coins are much the same size. 


Constantine, 307-337
19 mm. 3.32 grams. Silvered.
Struck 319 at London.
VICTORIAE LAETAE PRINC PERP
Two Victories holding shield inscribed VOT/PR
over altar with + in wreath
PLN in exergue.
RIC London 168, "320"
Cloke and Toone 9.01.004 "319"







 

Galerius was made eastern Caesar of the First Tetrarchy in 293. Upon the retirement of Diocletian in 305 he became eastern Augustus of the Second Tetrarchy and he remained Augustus until his death in 311. All of his coins as Caesar (under the First Tetrarchy) and some of his coins as Augustus (those under the Second Tetrarchy) are from earlier than the time period of this page.

Galerius, as Augustus. 
26 mm. 6.63 grams.
MP MAXIMIANVS PF AVG
GENIO POP ROM
S  A across field
PTR in exergue

RIC VI Trier 714. "c. summer 307".  This group is shared with Constantine as Caesar, Maximinus II as Caesar, and, according to RIC, half-folles of Maximian with this exact same legend! The portrait looks like Galerius rather than Maximian and it is from Trier, apparently before Maximian began his second reign. RIC and I both attribute it to Galerius.

 

Galerius, as Augustus.
25 mm. 8.22 grams.
Struck c. 308-309 at Cyzicus, one of his mints.

GAL MAXIMIANVS PF AVG
GENIO IMPERATORIS
 B    (second officina)
 MKV  (Moneta, Cyzicus)

RIC VI Cyzicus 42. "c. 308-309."
 
 

Maximinus II was eastern Caesar of the Second Tetrarchy and remained Caesar until after the Conference at Carnuntum in late 308. He wanted to be promoted to Augustus, but Galerius was still Augustus in the east. The Conference decided that Constantine should be demoted from Augustus back to Caesar, which Constantine did not accept. To mollify both of them, Galerius offered the new title FIL AVGG (sons of the Augusti) and minted for both of them with that title. Maximinus II did not accept that title and remained Caesar at his own mints until Maximinus II had his army promote him to Augustus in 310 (His coins as FIL AVG are from mints of Galerius). 

Maximinus II as Caesar.
27 mm. 
Struck c. 308 by Galerius at Cyzicus for Maximinus II.
GAL VAL MAXIMINVS NOB CAES

GENIO CAESARIS
  MKΓ

RIC VI Cycicus 34


Maximinus II as FIL AVGG
25-23 mm. 7.18 grams.
Struck c. 309-310 at Siscia, a mint of Galerius
MAXIMINVS FIL AVGG
GENIO AVGVSTI
<crescent>  Γ
      SIS

RIC VI Siscia 200a
 
In 310 Maximinus had himself promoted to Augustus by his army. Galerius had to accept it. 

Maximinus II, Caesar 305-310 and Augustus 310-313
Struck 312 at Alexandria, his own mint.
23 mm. 
IMP C GAL VAL MAXIMINVS PF AVG
GENIO AVGVSTI
Genius standing left holding head of Serapis and Cornucopia.
  X   Γ
  ALE

RIC VI Alexandria 149b.


During the reign of Maximinus II there were some anonymous types.

16-15 mm.
GENIO AN-TIOCNENI, Antioch seated facing, river god swimming below
APOLLONI-SANCTO, Apollo holding patera and lyre
B for the second officina) in the right field. SMA in exergue (Sacra Moneta Antioch).
Vagi 2954.  van Heesch, type 3, plate 11.3. (96 examples)

Not in RIC, but common anyway.

For much more about this series, see the page "Anonymous civic issues under Maximinus II (AD 310-313)"  
 
 

Severus II was western Caesar under the Second Tetrarchy and assumed the title of western Augustus when Constantius died in July 306. His territory included Rome. When Severus was in the north Maxentius usurped power in Rome. When Severus tried to take Rome back he was defeated in Spring 307. Coins of Severus from after the Second Tetrarchy have him as Augustus. They are less common than his coins as Caesar during the Second Tetrarchy. 


Severus II as Augustus, July 306-Spring 307.
27 mm. 11.38 grams.
Struck July 306-Spring 307 at Aquileia, one of his mints.
IMP C SEVERVS PF AVG
Helmeted bust left, visible right hand holding scepter over far shoulder, shield on left. 
FIDES MILITVM AVGG ET CAESS NN
Fides front, head left, holding two standards.
  AQP

RIC VI Aquileia 77b.
 
 

Maxentius was the adult son of Maximian, western Augustus of the First Tetrarchy. One of the amazing distinctions of the tetrarchal system was that is did not automatically promote sons of the current rulers. By the standards of most ages, Maxentius would have become Caesar when Maximian was forced to retire in 305. However, Diocletian thought Maxentius unfit and realized that if he (Diocletian) were to support Constantine as Caesar under Constantius it would be impolitic to not promote Maxentius, so both were passed over in favor of new men who became Caesars for the Second Tetrarchy (Severus II in the west and Maximinus II in the east, both supported by Galerius).  In 306 when Constantius died Severus II became Augustus in the west (and Constantine became Caesar). When Severus II was absent from Rome it didn't take long for Maxentius to rally the troops at Rome and assume power. There are very rare coins of his from Carthage that give him the title PRINC INVICT and then very rare coins that give him the title Caesar. However, almost all of his coins have the title Augustus.

Maxentius, struck middle to late 309
at Ostia, one of his mints.
26 mm. 6.26 grams.
IMP C MAXENTIVS PF AVG
AETERNITAS AVG N
"Our eternal Augustus"
The Dioscuri (distinguished by the stars at the top of their heads) standing, holding long staffs and facing each other and holding horses with wolf and twins between.
MOSTΓ

RIC Ostia 16.


The center of power for Maxentius was Rome, which had been neglected for decades by previous rulers. For example, Diocletian visited Rome only once (and cut short his visit) in his long reign. When the new rulers removed the exemption from taxation that citizens of Rome had enjoyed, it was too much and the citizens and praetorians were happy to support a ruler who would emphasize the special nature of the city. The Dioscuri (Castor and Pollux) and the wolf-and-twins refer to legends of Rome's early history.   

Maxentius
26-25 mm. 6.55 grams.
IMP C MAXENTIVS PF AVG

CONSERV VRB SVAE
(Protector of their city = Rome)
tetrastyle temple, Roma seated left on shield, handing globe to Maxentius, captive at feet, wolf and twins in pediment, Victories as acroteria.
AQP
RIC Aquileia 113 "late summer 307"

This common type references the city of Rome in at least four ways (temple of Roma, legend, Roma herself, wolf-and-twins). The city was the center of his power, so this type illustrates his reign.

 

 
Maxentius's coinage is remarkable for the many unique types issued. Licinius was in office much longer but issued fewer different types. 

Maxentius
25-22 mm. 6.63 grams.
IMP C MAXENTIVS PF AVG
A common obverse design
FEL PROCES CONS III AVG N
Maxentius' ceremonial inaguration of his third consulship, Jan. 1, 310.
Chariot draw by four elephants. Victory flying left to crown Maxentius, the driver, in imperial robes. 

RIC VI Rome 217 "308-310" [but for Jan. 310]
 

Maximian had been Augustus in the First Tetrarchy and was forced to retire in 305 by Diocletian. (His retirement issues are here.) When Maxentius usurped power in Rome in October 306, Maximian soon joined him and began his so-called "second reign." A large majority of coins of Maximian are of his first reign. Coins of his second reign are identified by reverses shared with other rulers who are known to be ruling after the Second Tetrarchy. 

Maximian, second reign. 
Struck autum 307 - c. 309/310
25 mm. 7.35 grams.
IMP C MAXIMIANVS PF AVG
CONSERV VRBS SVAE
  
 AQP

RIC VI Aquileia 121b.



Here is a page with much more on his second-reign coins.
 

Licinius was appointed Augustus by the Conference at Carnuntum in late 308. In 308 the west had three rulers all claiming the title of Augustus--Constantine, Maxentius, and Maximian. Galerius called the Conference at Carnuntum (with Galerius, Maximian, and Diocletian attending) to determine who should rule where and with what title. The results were that Maximian was told to retire again. Maxentius was declared a "public enemy," and Constantine was supposed to drop back down to Caesar, and a new man, Licinius, become Augustus without ever having been Caesar. Constantine recognized Licinius as an Augustus, but continued to mint for himself as Augustus too.


Licinius, 308-324
25 mm.
VAL LICINNIANVS LICINNIVS PF AVG
(Note the double N's where later it would be spelled with a single N. Also, it is common for the first issues of each emperor to use longer versions of his name. After emperors became well known, their names in obverse legends tended to be shorter.) 
laureate head right
GENIO AVGVSTI
  A   *
   MKV

RIC Cyzicus 54 "c. 309-310."  That is, this large coin was struck shortly after the Conference at Carnuntum as one of the first issues in his name. 

At 25 mm this coin is much larger than most coins of Licinius. From 306 to 317 or so the size of the follis decreased continually and, with experience, you can almost tell the RIC date by size alone. 


Licinius, 308-324
20 mm. 2.89 grams.
Struck 316 according to RIC and 308-309 according to Schulten, at Trier, a mint of Constantine
IMP LICINIVS PF AVG
GENIO POP ROM
  T   F
  BTR

RIC Trier 120


After Carnuntum when Licinius was appointed Augustus in the west, Galerius was responsible for the Balkans and Asia Minor and Maximinus II for Syria and Egypt. Licinius held only the former territory of Severus, minus that held by Maxentius. That is, he had Pannonia, including the mint of Siscia. Maximinus II took much of the east upon the death of Galerius in 311, and Licinius took all the east by defeating Maximinus II in battle in 313. Under the First Tetrarchy Hercules was the patron deity in the west and Jupiter in the east. Because most of the coins of Licinius are later issues that mention Jupiter (IOVI CONSERVATORI), collectors might think of Licinius as a Jovian, eastern, emperor. Nevertheless, technically he began as the western Augustus.


Licinius
19 mm. 3.27 grams.
IMP LICINIVS AVG
Licinius in consular robes left, holding mappa and globe
He was consul each of the years 315 through 318.
IOVI CONSERVATORI AVGG
Jupiter standing left holding Victory on globe and long staff.

RIC VII Nicomedia 24, "317-320" but probably 317 or 318, consular years.
 

Notes for collectors:  Coins of Constantine are extremely common--the most common of all the Roman rulers. He reigned thirty years as Augustus and only one year as Caesar, so his coins as Caesar are less common and carry a substantial premium. His coins as FIL AVGG an even greater premium. Here is a table with frequencies.

 
     Ruler     Title     Frequency
Constantine Caesar
Augustus
FIL AVGG
common, with a premium
extremely common
scarce, with a large premium
Galerius Caesar
Augustus

very common
very common

Maximinus II Caesar
Augustus
FIL AVGG
very common
common
scarce, with a large premium
Severus II Caesar
Augustus

common
scarce

Maxentius Princips
Caesar
Augustus
very rare
very rare
common, with many types
Maximian first reign
second reign
very common
common
Licinius Augustus very common
Galeria Valeria Augusta common
Crispus Caesar very common
Constantine II Caesar
Augustus
very common
scarce
Licinius II Augustus very common
Romulus DIVO rare
Alexander of Carthage
(308-310)
Augustus very rare
Valens (316-317) Augustus extremely rare
Martinian (324) Augustus extremely rare
 
 

Other Romans on Coins.

Galeria Valeria was a daughter of Diocletian. She was given to Galerius is marriage when he became Caesar in 293 and coins were later minted for her at all the mints in the east, from Siscia to Alexandria, but apparently not until after the Conference at Carnuntum in late 308.

Galeria Valeria
25 mm. 6.21 grams
GAL VALERIA AVG
VENERI VICTRICI
 ✳  A
•SM•SD•

RIC VI Serdica 41 "Late 307-8" (That may be wrong. The other mints all have her coins beginning "late 308" or "Dec. 308" as if the Conference at Carnuntum brought her into the picture.) 

 

Crispus, eldest son of Constantine, was made Caesar in 317 at the same time as Constantine II and Licinius II.

Crispus, Caesar 317-326.
Struck 317.
21-20 mm. 3.33 grams.
CRISPVS NOB CAES
PRINCIPI IVVENTVTIS
"Prince of youth," a title given to young heirs.
Emperor standing left, right hand resting on shield, left holding long vertical scepter.
AQT in exergue.

RIC VII Aquileia 9. "317"


Constantine II was the second son of Constantine, a half-bother of Crispus from different mother, Fausta.

Constantine II, "Constantine Junior" on the coin.
Caesar 317-337 and Augustus 337-340.
Struck 317.
20 mm.

CONSTANTINVS IVN NOB CAES
CLARITAS REIPVB
  R  S
 ARLB

RIC VII Arles 104 


Licinius II, the son of Licinius, was made Caesar in 317 at the same time as Crispus and Constantine II. 

Licinius II, "Licinius Junior" on the coin. 
Caesar 317-324.
21 mm. 2.98 grams.
Struck 317-318.

LICINIVS IVN NOB CAES
VIRTVS MILITVM DD NN
Virtus advancing right with spear in right and trophy over left shoulder.
•TS•Є

RIC VII Thessalonica 22.
 
Note for collectors. By 317 the follis had been "reduced" from c. 28 mm to c. 20 mm. None of the base-metal coins of Crispus, Constantine II, and Licinius II are larger than 21 mm, so they are not nearly as large as the earlier tetrarchal folles. Coins for each of them are very common. Among them, coins for Constantine II are the most common because he lasted much longer--until 340, whereas Licinius II lasted only until 324 and Crispus until 326.

Not Martinian.  In 324 when Licinius was losing the second Civil War with Constantine, shortly after July 3 he appointed Martinian as co-Augustus to help. The final battle of that war was September 18, 324, so Martinian didn't last long. His coins were minted at Cyzicus and Nicomedia. His coins are so very rare very few collectors will ever have one, so some are happy to find a coin from the same group in RIC



Constantine, struck 321-324 at Cycicus in the group that has coins of Martinian.
21-18 mm. 3.84 grams.
IMP C FL VAL CONSTANTINVS PF AVG
Radiate bust right
IOVI CONSERVATORI
Jupiter standing left holding Victory on globe, capitve looking back at feet to right, eagle with wreath in beak to left
  X
 IIΓ   (not a gamma, but a symbol for 1/2)  i.e. 12 1/2
SMKA
RIC Cyzicus 14. 


RIC dates coins in this group (with this field mark) to "321-324." It is certain that coins of Martinian in this group were issued only very late in this date range. Do not think that the RIC date ranges for groups are necessarily correct for all the types in the group. Also, date ranges given in RIC are only educated guesses based on the best information available in 1973, but the information was far from complete then and is still far from complete. Don't be surprised if research since 1973 has moved the dates of some groups in RIC. While working on these pages I have noticed numerous inconsistencies in RIC (wonderful though it is) that future research will address. 
 

Commemoratives. Commemorative folles were issued for Constantius, Romulus, Galerius, and Maximian. Smaller commemoratives were issued c. 317 by Constantine for Claudius II (a supposed ancestor), Constantius (his father), and Maximian (his father-in-law).


Romulus, son of Maxentius, was born c. 306 and died in 309, having been consul twice even though he was only a young child. He was never Caesar, but commemorative coins were issued in his name by Maxentius.

Romulus, d. 309.
24 mm. 6.45 grams.
DIVO ROMVLO N V BIS CONS
    (Nobilissimus Vir Bis Consul)
    (most nobleman twice consul)

AETERNAE MEMORIAE
Domed shine, doors ajar, eagle on top. No columns.
MOSTQ

RIC VI Ostia 34 "Late 309-Oct. 312
 

One way to legitimize your rule was to be the son of another ruler, or in some other way associate yourself with another ruler. Constantine immediately minted coins in the name of his deified father, Constantius.


Constantius, Caesar 293-305 and Augustus 305-306.
30-27 mm. 8.90 grams.
Struck late 306 - early 307 by Constantine
at Lugdunum (Lyons).

DIVO CONSTANTIO AVG
CONSECRATIO, eagle standing right, head turned back and up
  PLG

RIC Lugdunum 202.


Constantine also issued small DIVO coins in the names of Claudius II, Maximian, and Constantius. 

DIVO CLAVDIO OPTIMO IMP
In the name of Claudius II, 268-270
Struck by Constantine, 317-318
at Rome.
19 mm. 
REQVIES OPTIMOR MERIT

RIC VII Rome 106.

This type is small, but the larger of two sizes of commemoratives stuck for Claudius II, Constantius, and Maximian 317-318.  


 


There are numerous commemorative types issued during the period 306-324. They are discussed on a separate page, "Commemorative Coins of 306-324." 
 

History. The sequence of events.  The events that had a significant impact on the coinage are listed next. The end of the Second Tetrarchy with the death of Constantius begins the period of this page.
 

Second Tetrachy     west     east
Augustus Constantius Galerius
Caesar Severus II Maximinus I


•  Constantine was acclaimed emperor by the army (surely prearranged by Constantius) when Constantius died July 25, 306. He minted coins as Caesar.
•  Severus II, Caesar in the west, became Augustus in the west as expected in a tetrarchal system and approved by Galerius (the remaining, eastern, Augustus). There seems to have been some time lapse because there are issues (at Trier and Siscia) with both Severus and Constantine as Caesars. (Discussed on the page about dating)

•  Maxentius, son of Maximian, seized power in Rome October 28, 306 when Severus was away in the north.
•  Maximian came out of retirement to join him in November. He resumed the title Augustus and began his "second reign."
•  Maxentius (early[?] 307) took the title Augustus (There are issues with Maxentius as Augustus and Constantine as Caesar)
•  Severus II was defeated in Spring 307 while attempting to retake Rome which was in his territory.
•  Constantine, who was already married and had a son, Crispus, divorced his wife to make a dynastic marriage to Fausta (March 307), daughter of Maximian and sister of Maxentius, thus cementing the support of the elder statesman Maximian, while the alliance freed up Maximian and Maxentius to oppose Galerius's attempt to retake Rome. (Coins in the name of Fausta are common, but not minted until much later, after the fall of Licinius.) Constantine assumed the title Augustus with the authority of Maximian but without the approval of Galerius. Constantine's elevation to Augustus was as expected in a tetrarchal system because the Caesar becomes Augustus when the Augustus (Severus II) dies.  Constantine did not pick a Caesar; there were already too many rulers in the west. At the time, Maxentius and Maximian were also claiming the title Augustus in the west.
•  Maxentius and his father Maximian had a falling out when Maximian tried, and failed, to get the army at Rome to follow him instead of Maxentius. Maximian fled to the court of Constantine at Trier.
•  Alexander of Carthage rebeled against Maxentius in 308, issued rare coins, and was defeated in 310.

•  Galerius, eastern Augustus, called a Conference at Carnuntum (25 miles east of Vienna on the Danube) in November 308 to straighten out who would be ruling where in the west, with Galerius and Maximian attending and the retired Diocletian attending to lend his authority. Diocletian had been seriously ill and no longer was the strong man he had been. The conference was dominated by Galerius. The decisions of the Conference were that Constantine should go back to being Caesar and a new man, Licinius, would become western Augustus with his territory being Pannonia until Italy and Africa could be recovered from Maxentius. Also, Maximian was required to retire (again. He went to Constantine's court until executed in 310 for plotting) and Maxentius was declared a "public enemy." This merely complicated matters because Constantine and Maxentius did not step down (Why would they?) and the eastern Caesar Maximinus II was offended that the new man Licinius would get the title Augustus, leapfrogging him. 
•  Galeria Valeria, daughter of Diocletian and wife of Galerius since 293, was added to the coinage, 308-310. 
•  Galerius invented and awarded a new title to both Constantine and Maximinus II, FIL AVGG, sons of the Augusti. Neither of them minted coins with that title for himself, but Galerius used it for both of them 308-310 and Maximinus used it for Constantine.
•  Romulus, the very young son of Maxentius, died in 309. Maxentius minted DIVO pieces for him, late 309-312.
•  Maximinus II had his army promote him to Augustus in 310.
•  Maximinus II and Constantine were acknowledged as augusti by Galerius (as INVictus AVG? Maybe Maximinus II first?) 
•  Galerius dies from a terminal illness, beginning of May, 311. Maximinus II takes much of his territory.  
•  Maximinus II mints coins for Galerius as DIVO which include his (Maximinus') name with title FIL AVG and Licinius mints coins for Galerius as DIVO. 
•  Maxentius coined DIVO coins c. 310-311 for Maximian, Constantius, and Galerius (for Galerius after he died in May 311).

•  Maxentius was killed at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge against Constantine, Oct. 28, 312.
•  War between Licinius and Maximinus II resulted in the death of Maximinus II, April 313.  
•  Licinius inherited the entire east. So, from 313-317 only Constantine and Licinius are rulers. (In 317 they promoted their sons to Caesar.)
•  Valerius Valens was made co-emperor by Licinius autumn-late 316 during the first Civil War between Licinius and Constantine. Constantine overran the territory of Valens and he was executed in 317. 
•  The Civil War lead to a truce in which Crispus, Constantine II, and Licinius II were made Caesars in 317
•  Martinian was made co-emperor late summer 324 by Licinius during the second Civil War with Constantine.
•  Licinius was defeated and forced to retire in autumn 324. Licinius and his son and Martinian were all executed in 325.
•  Constantine became sole Augustus in 324 with his sons Crispus and Constantine II as Caesars. 

This is the time period in which Christianity went from a persecuted religion to a permitted religion to the dominant religion. There is almost no indication on coins of this period of this monumental struggle. Christianity and Roman coins are discussed at "Christian Symbols on Roman Coins." 


How coins reflect events

Issues.  An "issue" is a group of coins presumed to be produced at the same mint and during the same time period because they have the same mint marks (below the ground line on the reverse, i.e. "in exergue") and control marks (in the field). Sometimes an issue is subdivided by officina number (e.g. A, B, Γ, Δ). One issue may have different officina numbers and different legends for different rulers. Mints frequently changed mintmarks and control marks, so two coins with the same mint and control marks (not counting the officina number) must have been minted at almost the same time.

The next two coins are from the same issue. Note how they have the same mintmark (ALE) and field marks (K to the left and A over P on the right). 




Alexandria was a mint of Maximinus II. The first coin is of Maximinus with the title Caesar and the second has Constantine with the title FIL AVG.  Mints frequently changed mintmarks and control marks, so these must have been minted at almost the same time, which demonstrates that Maximinus II was recognizing Constantine as a co-ruler with the title FIL AVG, but he was not using that title for himself (however, Galerius was using it for him).
 
Usually a mint changes its types or mintmarks or control-marks or legends when there is a change in instructions to the mint because of a change in the power structure. Usually a type in an issue was issued in the names of all the rulers recognized at the mint (sometimes, but rarely, the type was appropriate just for both Augusti or just for both Caesars). For example, when an issue has Galerius as Augustus with co-ruler Severus II as Augustus, we know the Galerius was not from the time of the Second Tetrarchy. It must be later because Severus II did not have the title Augustus until after the Second Tetrarchy. 

The vast imperial territory was divided among the emperors. The output of the many mints is evidence to help decide who was ruling where and when, and whom they were recognizing as co-rulers. For example, this issue from Rome under Maxentius includes Constantine. 


Constantine as Caesar, July 306-July 307
minted by Maxentius at Rome after October 306.
26 mm.
CONSTANTINVS NOB CAES
CONSERVATORES VRB SVAE
(a reverse legend and design used for Maxentius and not before)
Roma seated within 6-column temple.
R*Q

RIC VI Rome 164 "c. summer 307"

Issues by Maxentius from Rome after the winter of 307/8 do not include Constantine, so a break between Maxentius and Constantine is recorded by the coinage.

We do not yet know enough to properly identify all issues in this time period. Often RIC, published long ago in 1973, groups together two or three different obverse legends for a single ruler. It seems likely that coins issued for an emperor at the same time had the same legend, so it is probable that two legends mean there were really two issues, one after the other, and the RIC group should be subdivided. However, we just don't know yet which legend was first and which other emperors participated with which of their legends. So we can identify a "group," but not yet subdivide it properly into issues. A great deal of research remains to be done.

 

Conclusion.  After the Second Tetrarchy the orderly tetrarchal system broke down. There had been four rulers, two Augusti and two Caesars, each with his own territory and each minting coins in substantial numbers for each of the other rulers, with a system for orderly succession. Nevertheless, the reason Constantine became emperor in the west when Constantius died is that he was the son of Constantius and his army made it happen, not because he was appointed according to tetrarchal rules. Also, with the usurpation of Maxentius there were five rulers and then soon six simultaneous rulers minting for some, but not all, of the other rulers. In this period coins have mint and control marks which help us to determine who was minting where and for whom. Coins are evidence for the territory of each ruler and illuminate the relationships between rulers. For example, we can see what Galerius and the other rulers thought about Constantine, and how their thoughts evolved as Constantine became more established, by analyzing the mints, types, dates, and volumes of coins in the name of Constantine minted throughout the empire. This is one time period when coins are especially interesting for their importance in illuminating history. 
 

The End


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