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CONSTANS (Flavius Julius) Caesar and Augustus; youngest son of Constantine the Great and Fausta; born about A.D. 320, he was declared Caesar by his father in 333; and obtained two years afterwards the government of Italy, Illyria, and Africa. He shared in the partition of the Empire after the death of Constantine, A.D. 337. His elder brother, Constantine the younger, was slain in 340 near Aquileia while treacherously invading his territory, making Constans master of the whole West, as Constantius was of the East. In the following year he undertook an expedition against the Franks, who had passed the Rhine in order to ravage Gaul. He conducted this war in person with vigour and having first defeated, he then formed an alliance with the invaders whom he obliged to return in peace to their own country. Passing afterward to Britain, he restored that important Province of the empire to a degree of tranquility to which it had long been a stranger. Before he quitted the island on his return to Gaul, Constans established such laws there causing the Roman name to respected and a credit to his own judgement and policy. The remainder of his reign promised to be undisturbed and prosperous, but his passion for the chase and his indulgence in a false security afforded the opportunity to Marcellinus, his financial minister and Chreste, one of his military officers, to form a conspiracy against his life. These two wretches came to a secret understanding with Magnentius, who on the 18th of January 350, during the night, they invested with the purple at the end of a banquet in the city of Autun where the Imperial Court was. Magnentius, after being saluted Emperor by the conspirators, sent Gaison, a Gaulish officer, with some soldiers to murder Constans. But that prince, made aware of what had just occurred, had taken horse to save himself and fled to Spain. Gaison with his band of assassins followed and overtook him at Elne in the Pyrenees where they dragged him out of a church where he taken refuge and put him to death with their daggers. Thus perished Constans in the 30th year of his age on the 27th of February, 350 after having reigned from the period of his father's death for twelve years, nine months and five days.
This prince protected the Christians and was a good warrior, but cruel, debauched and avericious. He allowed his ministers to render his government by their exactions, he was odious to the people and even disliked by the soldiery. He had, however, courage and activity enough to preserve his dominions with a glory not inferior to any of his predecessors.
MINTAGES OF CONSTANS.
His brass coins are common while his gold and silver are rare. His style and titles as emperor are FL CONSTANS Pius Felix AUG and D N CONSTANS PERP AVG.
The coins of Constans exhibit the head of that emperor with diadem ornamented with precious stones, and with the paludamentum and sometimes with the lorica on the breast; in the right hand a javelin and in the left, a buckler. On some coins the head is laureate.
Among the more rare and curious reverses are the following:
Gold Medallions. FELICIA DECENNALIA. Two cupids supporting a crown.
GLORIA REPVBLICAE. Two figures. TRIVMPATOR GENTIVM BARBARARVM. Emperor with labarum and monogram of Christ.
Silver Medallions. FELICITAS PERPETVA. Three figures seated.
TRIVMPATOR GENTIVM BARBARARVM
VIRTVS EXERCITVM (sic). Four military ensigns, Alpha and Omega. (Engraved in p. 118)
Gold. SECVRITAS PERPETVA
GLORIA AVGVSTORVM. Victory marching with garland and trophy. Obv: FL IVL CONSTANS P F AVG. Diademed head of the emperor. (See engraving, above).
OB VICTORIVM TRIVMPALEM. Two victories and a buckler. VICTORIA DD NN AVG, Two Victories. VICTOR OMNIVM GENTIVM. Emperor with labaum. VIRTVS EXERCITVS GALL. Mars.
Brass Medallions. BONONIA OCEANEN (Engraved in p 132).
DEBELLATORI GENTI BARBARR. Emperor on horseback.
GLORIA ROMANORVM. Emperor standing.
GAVDIVM POPULI ROMANI. Etc. etc.
Second Brass. TRIVMPVS (sic) CAESARVM. Full faced Victory in quadriga.
CONSTANS, son of Constantinus Tyrannus, and styled on his very rare coin, in silver, D N CONSTANS P F AVG was associated in the usurpation of government with his father, A.D. 408. He was assassinated at Vienne in the Narbonnaise Gaul by Gerontius, his father's general (who had quarrelled with his master) in A.D. 411 a short time after the tragic end of Constantius, himself. The quinarii bear on their reverse VICTORIA AAAVGGG. A helmeted female seated, holding a Victory and the hasta pura. In the exergue CON. Small brass, SPES AVG with the gate of a castrum.