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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Roman Coins| ▸ |Constantinian Era| ▸ |Magnentius||View Options:  |  |  | 

Magnentius, 18 January 350 - 10 August 353 A.D.

Magnentius, commander of Constans' imperial guard, rebelled in 350 A.D. He quickly attracted the loyalty of Britannia, Gaul, and Hispania, in part because he was more tolerant towards Pagans. Control of Italia and Africa was secured through election of his men to important offices. He made his brother Decentius caesar. Constantius II, thousands of miles away fighting the Parthians in Syria, signed a hasty peace treaty ceding vast sections of territory, and marched his armies west. Magnentius advanced his armies to meet those of Constantius in the Battle of Mursa Major in 351. Magnentius led his troops into battle, while Constantius spent the day praying in a nearby church. Despite Magnentius' heroism, his troops were defeated. After a retreat into Gaul and another defeat, Magnentius committed suicide in 353.


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"I am the alpha and the omega" is an appellation of Jesus in the Book of Revelation (verses 1:8, 21:6, and 22:13). Alpha (A) and omega (Ω) are respectively the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. This would be similar to referring to someone in English as the "A and Z." Thus, twice when the title appears it is further clarified with the additional title "the beginning and the end" (Revelation 21:6, 22:13). The first and last letters of the Greek alphabet were used because the Book of Revelation was originally written in Greek.
RL91540. Bronze reduced double maiorina, cf. RIC VIII Arles 194 (S), Bastien MM 285, LRBC II 447, SRCV V 18781, Hunter V -, aF, a little rough and porous, part of edge ragged with a split, weight 5.717 g, maximum diameter 25.5 mm, die axis 0o, 2nd officina, Arelatum (Arles, France) mint, c. 1 Jan - 10 Aug 353 A.D.; obverse D N MAGNENTIVS P F AVG, bare-headed, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse SALVS DD NN AVG ET CAES (the salvation of our noble emperor and caesar), large Christogram (Chi-Rho, Christ monogram), flanked by A - W (meaning Christ is the alpha and omega, first and last), SAR[?] in exergue; from the Maxwell Hunt Collection; scarce; $100.00 (88.00)


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Magnentius, commander of Constans' imperial guard, rebelled in 350 A.D. He quickly gained the loyalty of Britannia, Gaul, and Hispania, in part because he was more tolerant towards Pagans. He made Decentius, his brother, caesar. Constantius II, who was fighting the Parthians in Syria, marched his armies west and defeated Magnentius at the Battle of Mursa Major in 351. Magnentius retreated into Gaul and it took two more years to eliminate him. After another defeat in battle, Magnentius committed suicide in 353.
RL91658. Billon heavy maiorina, RIC VIII Lyons 109 (S), Bastien MM 152, LRBC II 209, SRCV V 18792, Cohen VIII 7, gF/aF, well centered, nice dark patina, light marks, closed flan crack, weight 5.759 g, maximum diameter 22.6 mm, die axis 0o, Lugdunum (Lyon, France) mint, c. 18 Jan - end 350 A.D.; obverse D N MAGNENTIVS P F AVG, rosette-diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse FELICITAS REIPVBLICE (the good fortune of the Republic), Magnentius standing slightly left, bare head left, wearing military garb, long paludamentum hanging behind from shoulders, Victory on globe offering wreath in his right hand, labarum (chi-rho Christogram standard) in left hand, FPLG in exergue; from the Maxwell Hunt Collection; scarce; $70.00 (61.60)


Germanic Tribes, Pseudo-Imperial Coinage, Mid 4th - Early 5th Century A.D.

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This type was minted by and used as currency by tribes outside the Roman Empire. It copied a Roman type issued by the usurper Magnentius. The style is fairly close to the Roman prototype but the obverse legend and mintmark are blundered and it weighs much less than the Roman prototype.
RB91846. Bronze AE 19, for prototype cf. RIC VII Trier 269 (Roman, Magnentius, Trier mint, usurper in Gaul, 350 - 353 A.D.), VF, tight flan, reverse flan flaws, weight 2.688 g, maximum diameter 19.0 mm, die axis 180o, tribal mint, 350 - mid 5th century A.D.; obverse MAGNEN-TIVS AVGV (or similar), bare-headed, draped and cuirassed bust of Magnentius right; reverse GLORIA ROMANORVM (glory of the Romans), Magnentius in military dress galloping right, shield on left arm, spearing a barbarian before horse, shield and broken spear on the ground below horse, TR in exergue; $70.00 (61.60)


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Magnus Magnentius was proclaimed emperor on 18 January 350 at Autun (Gaul) with support of the army on the Rhine frontier. Constans fled to Spain, where he was assassinated at Castrum Helenae. In the spring 351, Constans' brother Constantius marched West with 60,000 men to remove Magnus Magnentius but it would take more than two years to defeat him. In 352, Constantius II invaded northern Italy in pursuit of the usurper Magnus Magnentius, who withdrew with his army to Gaul. Constantius declared an amnesty for Magnentius' soldiers, many of whom deserted to him. By the end of the year Constantius entered Milan.
RL87846. Billon heavy maiorina, RIC VIII Lyons 7 (R), LRBC II 7, Bastien MM 107, SRCV V 18815, Cohen VII 70, VF, brown tone, small crowded flan, edge cracks, uneven strike with weak areas, weight 4.310 g, maximum diameter 24.7 mm, die axis 180o, 1st officina, Ambianum (Amiens, France) mint, 351 - 352 A.D.; obverse D N MAGNENTIVS P F AVG, bare-headed, draped, and cuirassed bust right, A behind; reverse VICTORIAE DD NN AVG ET CAE (victories of our lords, Emperor and Caesar), two Victories flanking and holding wreath resting on column, containing VOT V MVLT X, AMB followed by a branch exergue; rare; $38.33 (33.73)







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OBVERSE| LEGENDS|

DNMAGMAGNENTIVSPFAVG
DNMAGNENTIOPERPETVOAVG
DNMAGNENTIVSAVG
DNMAGNENTIVSPFAG
DNMAGNENTIVSPFAVG
FLMAGNENTIVSPFAVG
IMCAEMAGNENTIVSAVG
IMPCAEMAGNENTIVSAVG
IMPCAESMAGNENTIVSAVG
MAGMAGNENTIVSAVG
MAGNENTIVSAVG


REFERENCES|

Bastien, P. Le Monnayage de Magnence (350-353). (Wetteren, 1983).
Carson, R., P. Hill & J. Kent. Late Roman Bronze Coinage, Part II: Bronze Roman Imperial Coinage of the Later Empire, A.D. 346-498. (London, 1960).
Carson, R., H. Sutherland & J. Kent. The Roman Imperial Coinage, Vol. VIII, The Family of Constantine I, A.D. 337 - 364. (London, 1981).
Cohen, H. Description historique des monnaies frappes sous l'Empire Romain, Vol. 8: Carausius to Constantine & sons. (Paris, 1888).
Depeyrot, G. Les monnaies d'or de Constantin II Zenon (337-491). Moneta 5. (Wetteren, 1996).
Failmezger, V. Roman Bronze Coins From Paganism to Christianity, 294 - 364 A.D. (Washington D.C., 2002).
King, C. & D. Sear. Roman Silver Coins, Volume V, Carausius to Romulus Augustus. (London, 1987).
Paolucci, R. & A. Zub. La monetazione di Aquileia Romana. (Padova, 2000).
Robinson, A. Roman Imperial Coins in the Hunter Coin Cabinet, University of Glasgow, Vol. V. Diocletian (Reform) to Zeno. (Oxford, 1982).
Sear, D. Roman Coins and Their Values, Vol. V: The Christian Empire: The Later Constantinian Dynasty...Constantine II to Zeno, AD 337 - 491. (London, 2014).
Vagi, D. Coinage and History of the Roman Empire. (Sidney, 1999).
Voetter, O. Die Mnzen der romischen Kaiser, Kaiserinnen und Caesaren von Diocletianus bis Romulus: Katalog der Sammlung Paul Gerin. (Vienna, 1921).

Catalog current as of Tuesday, October 22, 2019.
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Roman Coins of Magnentius