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Question re. division of late Roman Empire after Constantine

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Hello all,

I've a hopefully straightforward question. It arose when reading around the history of the divisions of the Empire after the death of Constantine I, between the 3 brothers Constantine II, Constans and Constantius II. If Constantius II had the Eastern Empire, including Egypt, how is it that coins were struck in the name of Constans at the mint of Alexandria during that period?

My interest was peeked by a particular coin I've just obtained, but I am sure I've other examples of the apparent contradiction from elsewhere. I've only just got around to trying to understand, but have been unable to find a simple explanation spelled out anywhere. Was it usual for LRCs to be struck at mints in the name of Emperors that had power over other parts of the empire?

For the sake of eye candy, here's my new coin..

Constans, Centenionalis, Alexandria, struck 348-359 AD. ex Derek Aldred
5.03g, 21mm, 180⁰
Obvs. DN CONSTA-NS PF AVG Rosette diademed, draped & cuirassed bust left holding globe
Rev. FEL TEMP REPARATIO Emperor standing left over two captives, holding shield & labarum bearing chi-rho symbol. Star left field. ALEA in exergue.

Kevin D:
I have a solidus struck at Milan (western part of the empire) in the name of Arcadius (ruling in the eastern part of the empire at the time) by his brother Honorius (ruling in the western part of the empire at the time).

I don't know specifically about your coin, but there was a practice of one emperor striking in the name of a co-emperor in other cases, such as the one detailed above.

Yes. To be clear, I know there are many such instances, but I was wondering if there was significance to it. Whether, for the entire period it was entirely usual for all parts of the empire to mint some in the name of the Augustus of the other part regardless of the political situation. Whether, when it was done it, indicated concord, and when not, the reverse? In other words, did it carry any meaning?

Chapters could be written on this.

The short answer is that the standard practice was for each Emperor to strike coins for all of the others whom they recognized as official co-emperors.

Thus "splits" like under Constantine's family, Valentinian's family, Theodosius' family, etc. were official and were more like the division of the Empire under Diocletian's tetrarchy than an actual split into independent polities.  This was generally true whether each part had a little independence or a lot of independence - as long as they recognized each other.

By contrast, usurpers and rebels were usually not recognized by existing emperors, though sometimes the usurper or rebel would strike coins for the official emperor thus "recognizing" them and signalling that they were seeking to in turn be recognized as a legitimate co-emperor.

Though the usual practice was for emperors to strike coins for each other there were still some more subtle politics (court intrigue) that were played.  For example, one emperor might not strike coins for all of another emperor's sons, thus coins for some caesars at some times only appear in the territory of daddy, not others.  Or they might signal a lower status for others with such obscure things like un-broken legends or bare heads.....


Thank you so much for that answer, SC. Just the sort of 'in a nutshell' summation I was looking for, but could find nowhere else. Much appreciated!



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