RIC VI Treveri 906


RIC VI Treveri 906


310-311 AD


Coin, Constantine I, Wreath


Bethel University


Anthony Bothun


POINT(739316.041537135, 6404241.01143284)


Render Unto Caesar Coin Project




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Treveri (Trier)




Constantine I (306- 337 A.D.)


Constantine I





Obverse Legend


Obverse Type

Bust of Constantine I, laureate, cuirassed, right

Reverse Type

VO/TIS / X within a wreath

Obverse Analysis

Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus (Life: ca 27 February 272– 22 May 337 AD, Rule: 306- 337 AD)
Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus (Constantine) was born in Moesia to Flavius Valerius Constantius (Constantius Chlorus), and his consort Helena. Constantius was considered a tolerant and politically skilled military officer. In 293, Constantius used his innate skill to become Caesar in the western empire. While his father was in the west, Constantine grew up in the east learning Latin literature, Greek, and philosophy from Diocletian’s court (emperor of the east). Diocletian and the eastern empire were much more open to new ideas, allowing Constantine to learn from pagan and Christian alike. Constantine was kept in the east as a “hostage” by Diocletian to ensure Constantius remained in good behavior. Never the less, Constantine was a loyal servant to Diocletian’s court, going off to war several times in the name of Diocletian. In 303, Constantine bore witness to Diocletian’s Great Persecution of the Christians. It is unlikely that Constantine participated in the persecution.
On May 1st, 305, Diocletian resigned as emperor and Maximian (emperor of the west) did the same, making Constantius and Galerius the successors. It was rumored that Galerius attempted to murder Constantine multiple times. Being under the threat of death or knowing he had no chance of rising in rank under Galerius, Constantine fled to the west to join his father in Gaul (305). For a year, Constantine campaigned with his father until Constantius grew ill and died on July 25th, 306. Before he died, Constantius named Constantine the new Augusti for the western empire. Constantine remained on the frontier for a while battling barbarians, fortifying the border, and building infrastructure. In 306, Maxentius (former emperor Maximian’s son) declared himself emperor, jealous of Constantine’s authority. Galerius sent Severus (new commander of Maximain’s former army) to eliminate Maxentius, however Severus’ troops defected and Severus himself was killed. In order to avoid civil war, Constantine married Maxtinius’s sister, Fausta, and recognized Maxtinius as emperor. Constantine remained in the frontier, avoiding Maxtinius entirely and refused supporting him in his war with the east. Maximian remained in Constantine’s court until his failed rebellion and he later hanged himself (310).

Later that year, Galerius died, leaving no heir to the eastern throne. Eager to take the throne, Constantine and Maxinius waged war. Constantine emerged victorious with the new symbol for his reign, the initials “Chi Rho,” which he saw in a dream. He and Licinius became co-emperors who later signed the Edict of Milan which legalized the worship of Christianity (313). Licinius later began persecuting the Christians again, ignoring the edict. Constantine waged war against him for it and became sole emperor of Rome. He executed many reforms within the empire and moved the capital to Constantinople (though he did also murder his son and wife). In 337, Constantine grew ill and died. Before his death however, he was baptized as a Christian.

Reverse Analysis

The obverse clearly depicts Constantine I as a bust, announcing him as Augustus, or emperor of Rome. The authority, Constantine, is blatantly and simplistically declaring his position in the empire. The abruptness of it was likely to make it clear he was in charge, not Maximian (and a year later, Maximian’s son), who had rebelled in the year 310 seeking dominion and claiming the throne. The cuirass was likely to show Constantine as an able combatant. He spent many of his early years as emperor fighting “barbarians” and quelling rebellions and probably wanted people to know it. The Wreath atop his head was to reaffirm his emperorship since a wreath of bay leaves, or a laureate, meant royalty or nobility before crowns became popular in Rome.
On the reverse side is another simplistic image with the same purpose as the bust on the obverse side. Simply, it was the abbreviation VOTIS and an X within a wreath. It was Constantine vowing to rule for ten years as emperor despite the civil wars he was fighting. Again the wreath of bay leaves appears to encompass the vow, again signifying Constantine’s royalty. Constantine issued this coin most likely to subtly assert his dominance and rule over the Western Roman Empire. The early years of his rule were plagued by war and he needed to remind people he was in charge, and he wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon.




18 mm






“RIC VI Treveri 906,” Render Unto Caesar, accessed May 22, 2024, https://renderuntocaesar.betheldigitalscholarship.org/items/show/35.

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