Coins of Constantine I

Roman Emperor (AD 306-337)

Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus was born in 285, the son of the tetrarch Constantius Chlorus and his concubine Helena. Constantine was kept by Diocletian at his court and showed great promise as an officer. When his father died at York in 306, Constantine was proclaimed emperor by his troops although he was only given the title of Caesar of the West by the emperor Galerius. Maxentius disputed the accession which led to civil war. In 308, Constantine and Daia officially became Augusti and Maxentius was declared a public enemy. Constantine defeated Maxentius at the Battle of Mulvian Bridge in 312, at which point he replaced Daia as the senior Augustus. In 313, Licinius became emperor of the East, ruling with Constantine, but relations between the two were unstable. Civil war once again ensued. By 324, Constantine had forced the abdication and execution of Licinius. Constantine was now sole ruler.

After the defeat of Maxentius, Constantine issued the famous Edict of Milan in 313, which granted complete religious toleration to the empire’s subjects. This edict was a response to Constantine’s conversion to Christianity (although when and if this actually happened is still greatly debated), and his attempt to end the persecution of the Christians in the empire. Constantine I, the Great, is often referred to as the first Christian emperor. Byzantium in the east was transformed to become the new capital of the empire, and renamed Constantinople. Constantine died in 337.

(See also: Constantine the Great.)

AE 3, Rome
AD 321-324

Bust of Constantine r., with crested helmet and cuirass, encircled by CONSTANTINVS A<VG>

Globe set on cippus inscribed VOTIS XX, three stars above, mint mark (dot) PTR (crescent) below. Encircled by BEATA TRANQVILLITAS