RIC VII Constantinople 85


RIC VII Constantinople 85


0333-0335 CE


An AE3 of the emperor Flavius Valerius Constantinus.


coins, Constantine I, RIC VII, Cyzicus, Constantine the Great


Bethel University


Collin Barrett


POINT(3225595.56852772 5014147.22802478)
306-337 CE


Render unto Caesar Roman Coin Project








Constantinopolis (Istanbul)




Constantine I (306- 337 A.D.)






Turkey; İstanbul



Obverse Legend


Obverse Type

Bust of Roma, helmeted, wearing imperial cloak, left

Reverse Type

Bust of Roma, helmeted, wearing imperial cloak, left

Obverse Analysis

Flavius Valerius Constantinus (Constantine the Great or Constantine I) was born in the Eastern Ro-man Empire in a province known as Bithynia around the year 280 CE. He is most often remem-bered as the first Christian emperor of Rome, and he notably instituted many laws that either ac-cepted Christianity or lifted restraints on the religion imposed by previous emperors. Constantine was the Augustus from 306-337 CE.
Constantine I spent most of his early adult years in the Eastern Empire in the courts of Dio-cletian in Nicomedia. Meanwhile, his father obtained rank of Caesar and served under the emperor Augustus Maximian in the West. After Diocletian abdicated, Constantine I joined his father in Gaul and eventually ended up fighting in Britannia where his father died (306 CE). This is when Con-stantine’s authority and eventual power took off. With his father dead, the troops hailed him as emperor. During a complex series of civil wars Maxentius joined Constantine I and rebelled against Severus the current emperor of the west. Ultimately, they split the empire with Constantine I in the north and Maxentius in the south. After a few short years, in 312 CE, Constantine I married Fausta, the sister of Maxentius, and in a lightening campaign, he conquered Maxentius at the battle of the Milvian Bridge. This resulted in Constantine I gaining the right to be emperor of West.
In 311 CE, with the death of Galerius, Licinius started a campaign against Maximinus and overthrew his co-emperor in 316 CE, and he became emperor in the sole Eastern Empire after being co-emperor with Maximinus for eight years. Constantine I had created a secret pact with Licinius in 312 CE assuring mutual cooperation after Constantine’s ascension to Augustus. Eventually Constantine I and Licinius reneged the pact and Constantine I acquired portions of the eastern em-pire in 317 CE. Then Constantine I acquired control over all the Eastern Empire in 324 CE after defeating Licinius. Constantine’s adherence to Christianity was closely associated with his rise to power so much so that he even fought the battle of the Milvian bridge in the name of the Christian God, which later became a hallmark of Constantine I in battle.
Most of Constantine’s achievements have a direct association with Christianity, but there was significant peace during his reign, in contrast to the chaos of his predecessors. Immediately af-ter his ascension to power he met with Licinius. Together they created what is now known as the Edict of Milan which restored much of the property confiscated by previously hostile emperors to Christians that had been persecuted for their beliefs, and he even passed laws exempting Christian officials from other service. He erected many churches including the modern Hagia Sophia in Constantinople and he dreamed of but he did not build the Church of St. Peter in Rome. Howev-er, even though he was obviously Christian at the time he was very balanced his actions with many examples of allowing pagan rituals to continue as not to provoke his deposition. Constantine I also convened the Council of Nicaea in 325 CE with the intent of solving the controversy of Arianism to no avail. Although Constantine I was very significant for the Christianization of the Roman Em-pire, he also introduced many other secular advances to the Roman Empire. He was a very success-ful military commander gaining triumphs over the Franks, Sarmatians, and Goths and is remem-bered for introducing the solidus into circulation. He died in the year 337 CE and was buried at Constantinople in the Church of the Apostles and was succeeded by three of sons beginning a dynastic succession of emperors.

On this coin, Constantine I was likely trying to appease the traditional Romans in the empire. This city commemorative coin would have displayed the centrality of Rome to Roman culture, and was necessary because a few years earlier Constantine I decided to centralize his power, and therefore the power of the of the entire empire, at Constantinople. The use on the obverse of the goddess Roma is an obvious representation of the patron of both the city of Rome and her people. It is very interesting for an emperor like Constantine to not have his image on the obverse which would suggest there may have been some unrest over his decision to move the capital, as well as his continued building projects in the east and the declining significance of Rome in the political world of the Empire.

The reverse could also have been politically motivated to appease the pagans in Rome. By appealing to the pagan history of Rome and the story of Romulus and Remus, Constantine I would have appeased the pagans in his entire empire, and many pagans believed Constantine I was too Christian and was making the Roman Empire too Christian. The stars above also could be a reference to Castor and Pollux the brother gods who were very influential in the religious beliefs of come and connected to Romulus and Remus. The battle of Lake Regillus in 495 BCE was also one of the most significant battles in the Latin War and helped Rome to establish itself as the chief power in the Italian peninsula. This reference to the pagan mythology of the Romans would have also been influential on convincing people Constantine was at the very minimum open to the traditional pagan views of Rome, in contrast to his pro-Christian laws.










“RIC VII Constantinople 85,” Render Unto Caesar, accessed May 22, 2024, https://renderuntocaesar.betheldigitalscholarship.org/items/show/7.

Output Formats