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Constantine II (337-340 A.D.)

Michael DiMaio, Jr. Salve Regina University

Robert Frakes Clarion University


Coin with the image of Constantine II (c)1998 CGB numismatique, Paris

Constantine II, whose full name was Flavius Claudius Constantinus, was the son of Constantine I and Fausta.[[1]] Primary sources for the life and reign of Constantine II are scarce.[[2]] He was probably born in Arles in the summer of 316 A.D. and, like his brothers, raised as a Christian. He was made a Caesar on 1 March 317 and was involved in military expeditions at an early age.[[3]] For instance, in 323, he seems to have taken part in Constantine I's campaigns against the Sarmatians.[[4]] In 326, he was nominally put in command of Gaul at the age of 10 soon after the death of his half-brother Crispus.[[5]] Constantine II's generals apparently won a victory over the Alamanni, since the title Alamannicus appears on his inscriptions from the year 330.[[6]] In 332 he was Constantine I's field commander during the latter's campaign against the Goths.[[7]] Before 335 he was married, but his wife's name is not known. In the years before his father's death in 337, he held court in Gaul.[[8]]

Following the death of their father on 22 May 337, and the subsequent murder of other relatives and heirs,[[9]] Constantine II and his two brothers met in the first part of September 337 in Pannonia where they were acclaimed Augusti by the army to apportion the empire among themselves .[[10]] Constantine's new realm included Britain, Gaul, and Spain. Upon his accession, he freed the fiery Trinitarian Bishop Athanasius from his exile and allowed him to return to Alexandria. [[11]] Whether Constantine II was motivated by sincere Trinitarian belief (popular in his realm) or if he wanted to cause problems from his brother Constantius II is unclear. In 340 Constantine II, in an attempt to seize some of his brother Constans' realm, died in a battle fought near Aquileia.[[12]]

Bibliography

Barnes, T.D. Athanasius and Constantius: Theology and Politics in the Constantinian Empire, Cambridge, 1993.

________. New Empire of Diocletian and Constantine. Cambridge, 1981.

DiMaio, Michael. Zonaras' Account of the Neo-Flavian Emperors, (Ph.D. diss., University of Missouri-Columbia, 1977).

________. and Duane W.-H.Arnold. "Per Vim, Per Caedem, Per Bellum: A Study of Murder and Ecclesiastical Politics in the Year 337 A.D.." Byzantion, 62(1992): 158ff.

________., Jörn Zeuge, and Jane Bethune. "The Proelium Cibalense et Proelium Campi Ardiensis: The First Civil War of Constantine I and Licinius I." AncW: 21(1990): 67ff.

________. "Smoke in the Wind: Zonaras' Use of Philostorgius, Zosimus, John of Antioch, and John of Rhodes in his Narrative on the Neo-Flavian Emperors,." Byzantion 58(1988): 230ff.

Guthrie, Patrick. "The Execution of Crispus," Phoenix 20 (1966): 325-331.

Jones, A.H.M. The Later Roman Empire (Baltimore, 1986 reprint).

________., J.R. Martindale, and J. Morris. "Fl. Claudius Constantinus." The Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire, Cambridge, 1971, 1.223.

Leedom, Joe W. "Constantius II: Three Revisions," Byzantion 48 (1978): 133-136.

Lucien-Brun, X. "Constance II et le massacre des princes," Bulletin de l'Association Guillaume Budé ser. 4 (1973): 585-602.

Pohlsander, Hans. "Crispus Caesar: Brilliant Career and Tragic End," Historia 33 (1984): 76-106.

Seeck, O. "Constantinus (3)." RE 4: col. 1026-1028.

Notes

[[1]]For Constantine II's name, see: ILS, 712-13, 721-2, 724; AE 1960, # 06; he is called Flavius Constantinus on one inscription: ILS 714. Constantine II's early life is discussed by Otto Seeck, RE 4, s.v. "Constantinus (3)," col. 1026. 21f. For a listing of the sources that treat the parentage of Constantine II, see T. D. Barnes, The New Empire of Diocletian and Constantine (Cambridge, MA., 1981), 44. The authors of PLRE wrongly claim that Constantine II was a bastard of Constantine I (A. H. M. Jones, J. R. Martindale, and J. Morris, The Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire [Cambridge, 1971], s. v. "Fl. Claudius Constantinus 3," 1. 223); this contention is based upon an argument from silence.

[[2]]The surviving books of Ammianus Marcellinus, which present our best political source for the fourth century, begin their coverage with the Fall of 353. For sources for Constantine II, see the short references in Origo Constantini Imperatoris (=Anonymus Valesianus), Aurelius Victor, Eusebius, Eutropius, Zosimus, Orosius and Zonaras.

[[3]]For a discussion of the dating of the birth and Caesarship of Constantine II, see Michael DiMaio, Jörn Zeuge, and Jane Bethune, "The Proelium Cibalense et Proelium Campi Ardiensis: The First Civil War of Constantine I and Licinius I," AncW 21 (1990): 89ff.

[[4]]For the chronology and sources for Constantine I's expeditions against the Sarmatians, see ibid, 84.

[[5]]For Constantine II's nominal command of Gaul, see further Seeck, RE 4, col. 1026. 56 ff. For the death of Crispus, see Patrick Guthrie, "The Execution of Crispus," Phoenix 20 (1966): 325-331 and, more recently, Hans Pohlsander, "Crispus Caesar: Brilliant Career and Tragic End," Historia 33 (1984): 76-106.

[[6]]For his victory over the Alamanni, see ILS 724; CIL 3.7000; Barnes, New Empire, 84; idem, Athanasius and Constantius: Theology and Politics in the Constantinian Empire (Cambridge, MA., 1993): 310-11, nn. 4-5.

[[7]]For a discussion of the Gothic war and sources that treat it, see DiMaio, Zonaras' Account of the Neo-Flavian Emperors: A Commentary (PhD diss., University of Missouri-Columbia, 1977): 194 ff.

[[8]]For his marriage, see Euseb. VC, 4. 49; for his residences in Gaul, see Athanasius, Apol. c. Arian. 87.7 (Opitz, ed., 2.1.166); for a listing of Constantine II's residences and movements before 337, see Barnes, New Empire, 84-5; for the same information after the death of Constantine I, see idem., Athanasius and Constantius, 218.

[[9]]For these events, see X. Lucien-Brun, "Constance II et le massacre des princes," Bulletin de l'Association Guillaume Budé ser. 4 (1973): 585-602; Joe W. Leedom, "Constantius II: Three Revisions," Byzantion 48 (1978): 133-36. More recently, see Michael DiMaio and Duane W.-H. Arnold, "Per Vim, Per Caedem, Per Bellum: A Study of Murder and Ecclesiastical Politics in the Year 337 A.D.," Byzantion 62 (1992): 198 ff.

[[10]]For a listing of the sources which discuss the division of the empire among the sons of Constantine and problems with their interpretation, see Michael DiMaio, "Smoke in the Wind: Zonaras' use of Philostorgius, Zosimus, John of Antioch, and John of Rhodes in his Narrative on the Neo-Flavian Emperors," Byzantion 58 (1988): 236 ff. For more general discussion, see Barnes, Athanasius and Constantius, 19ff.

[[11]]A. H. M. Jones, The Later Roman Empire (Baltimore, 1986 reprint): 114.

[[12]]For a reconstruction of the Battle of Aquileia and the sources that treat it, see DiMaio, Byzantion 58 (1988): 240 ff.

 

 


 

Copyright (C) 1998, Michael DiMaio, Jr. and Robert Frakes. This file may be copied on the condition that the entire contents,including the header and this copyright notice, remain intact.

 

 


 

Comments to: Michael DiMaio, Jr. and Robert Frakes

Updated: 2 May 1998

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