Emperor of the Roman Empire

Bust of Constans
Reign 337–350, jointly with Constantine II (until 340) and Constantius II
Full name Flavius Julius Constans Augustus
Born c.323
Died 350
Place of death Vicus Helena, southwestern Gaul
Predecessor Constantine I
Successor Constantius II
Dynasty Constantinian
Father Constantine I
Mother Fausta

Constans (Latin: Flavius Julius Constans Augustus)[1] (c.323[1][2]–350), was Roman Emperor from 337 to 350. He defeated his brother Constantine II in 340, but anger in the army over his personal life and preference for his barbarian bodyguards saw the general Magnentius rebel, resulting in Constans’ assassination in 350.



Constans was the third and youngest son of Constantine the Great and Fausta, his father's second wife.[3] He was educated at the court of his father at Constantinople under the tutelage of the poet Aemilius Magnus Arborius.[1]

On 25 December 333, Constantine I elevated Constans to the rank of Caesar at Constantinople.[1] Prior to 337, Constans became engaged to Olympias, the daughter of the Praetorian Prefect Ablabius, although the marriage never came to pass.[3] With Constantine’s death in 337, Constans and his two brothers, Constantine II and Constantius II divided the Roman world between themselves,[4] after first disposing of virtually all of the relatives of their father who could possibly have a claim on the throne.[5] The army proclaimed them Augusti on September 9, 337.[1] Almost immediately, Constans was required to deal with a Sarmatian invasion in late 337, over whom he won a resounding victory.[3]

Division of the Roman Empire among the Caesars appointed by Constantine I: from left to right, the territories of Constantine II, Constans, Dalmatius and Constantius II. After the death of Constantine I (May 337), this was the formal division of the Empire, until Dalmatius was killed and his territory divided between Constans and Constantius.

At first, Constans was under the guardianship of Constantine II, and the original settlement saw Constans receiving the praetorian prefectures of Italy and Africa.[6] Constans was unhappy with this division, and so the brothers met at Viminacium in 338 to revise the boundaries.[6] Constans managed to extract the prefecture of Illyricum and the diocese of Thrace,[6] provinces that were originally part of what was meant to be ruled by his cousin Dalmatius as per Constantine I’s proposed division of the Empire after his death.[5] Constans’ brother, Constantine II, soon complained that he had not received the amount of territory that was his due, stemming from his position as the eldest of Constantine’s sons.[7]

A bust of Emperor Constans.

Annoyed that Constans had received Thrace and Macedonia after the death of Dalmatius, Constantine demanded that Constans hand over the African provinces, which, in order to maintain a fragile peace, he agreed to do.[7][8] Soon however, they began quarrelling over which parts of the African provinces belonged to Carthage, and thus Constantine, and that which belonged to Italy, and therefore Constans.[9] This led to growing tensions between the two brothers, which were only heightened by Constans finally coming of age and Constantine refusing to give up his guardianship. The end result was that in 340, Constantine II invaded Italy.[8] Constans, at that time in Dacia, detached and sent a select and disciplined body of his Illyrian troops, stating that he would follow them in person with the remainder of his forces.[7] Constantine was eventually trapped at Aquileia, where he died, leaving Constans to inherit all of his brother’s former territories – Hispania, Britannia and Gaul.[4]

According to the sources, Constans began his reign in an energetic fashion.[4] In 341-2, Constans led a successful campaign against the Franks and in the early months of 343 visited Britain.[3] The source for this visit, Julius Firmicus Maternus, does not give a reason for this but the quick movement and the danger involved in crossing the channel in the dangerous winter months, suggests it was in response to a military emergency of some kind, possibly to repel the Picts and Scots.[3]

Regarding religion, Constans was tolerant of Judaism but promulgated an edict banning pagan sacrifices in 341.[3] He suppressed Donatism in Africa and supported Nicene orthodoxy against Arianism, which was championed by his brother Constantius. Although Constans called the Council of Sardica in 343 to settle the conflict,[10] it was a complete failure[11] and by 346 the two emperors were on the point of open warfare over the creedal dispute.[12] The conflict was only resolved with an interim agreement that allowed each emperor to support their preferred clergy within their own spheres of influence.[12]


In the final years of his reign, Constans developed a reputation for cruelty and misrule.[13] Dominated by favourites, offended by his homosexuality[3][12] and openly favouring his select bodyguard, he lost the support of the legions.[7] In 350, the general Magnentius declared himself emperor at Augustodunum with the support of the troops on the Rhine frontier - and later the western provinces of the empire.[14] Constans was enjoying himself nearby when he was notified of the elevation of Magnentius.[7] Lacking any support beyond his immediate household,[7] he was forced to flee for his life. Trying to reach either Italy or Spain, Magnentius' supporters cornered him in a fortification in Vicus Helena in the Pyrenees, southwestern Gaul,[15] where he was killed by Magnentius' assassins after seeking sanctuary in a temple.[12]

See also

  • Itineraries of the Roman emperors, 337–361


Primary sources

Secondary sources

  • DiMaio, Michael; Frakes, Robert, Constans I (337–350 A.D.), in De Imperatoribus Romanis (D.I.R.), An Online Encyclopedia of Roman Emperors
  • Jones, A.H.M., Martindale, J.R. The Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire, Vol. I: AD260-395, Cambridge University Press, 1971
  • Canduci, Alexander (2010), Triumph & Tragedy: The Rise and Fall of Rome's Immortal Emperors, Pier 9, ISBN 978-1741965988 
  • Gibbon. Edward Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire (1888)


  1. ^ a b c d e Jones, pg. 220
  2. ^ Victor, 41:23
  3. ^ a b c d e f g DiMaio, Constans I (337–350 A.D.)
  4. ^ a b c Eutropius, 10:9
  5. ^ a b Victor, 41:20
  6. ^ a b c Canduci, pg. 130
  7. ^ a b c d e f Gibbon, Ch. 18
  8. ^ a b Victor, 41:21
  9. ^ Zosimus, 2:41-42
  10. ^ Socrates Scholasticus, Church History, book 2, chapter 20.
  11. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia, 1930, Patrick J. Healy, Sardica
  12. ^ a b c d Canduci, pg. 131
  13. ^ Zosimus, 2:42
  14. ^ Eutropius, 10:9:4
  15. ^ Victor, 41:21:23

External links

Born: 320 Died: 350
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Constantine I
Roman Emperor
Served alongside: Constantius II
and Constantine II
Succeeded by
and Magnentius
Political offices
Preceded by
Ursus ,
Consul of the Roman Empire
with Constantius II
Succeeded by
Septimius Acindynus,
Lucius Aradius Valerius Proculus
Preceded by
Petronius Probinus ,
Antonius Marcellinus
Consul of the Roman Empire
with Constantius II
Succeeded by
Marcus Maecius Memmius Furius Baburius Caecilianus Placidus,
Flavius Romulus
Preceded by
Amantius ,
Marcus Nummius Albinus
Consul of the Roman Empire
with Constantius II
Succeeded by
Vulcacius Rufinus,

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  • Constans — (* zwischen 320 und 323; † Februar 350 in Südgallien bei Elne), mit vollständigem Namen Flavius Iulius Constans, war der jüngste Sohn Konstantins des Großen und von 337 bis 350 römischer Kaiser. 333, noch im Kindesalter, wurde er zuerst zum… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Constans — Constans, Constant Nom de baptême formé sur l adjectif latin constans (= ferme), qui a donné Constantius …   Noms de famille

  • Constans — Constans, 1) C. I., Flavius Julius, 3. Sohn Constantins des Großen u. der Fausta, geb. 320 wurde 333 Cäsar, erhielt bei der Theilung des Reichs seines Vaters (335) als Cäsar Illyrien, Italien u. Afrika u., nach seines Bruders Constantin Besiegung …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Constans [1] — Constans, 1) der jüngste von Konstantins d. Gr. drei Söhnen aus dessen zweiter Ehe mit Fausta, geb. 323 (nach andern 320), seit 333 Cäsar, verwaltete seit 335 Italien, Illyricum und Afrika, während Konstantin (H.) den übrigen Westen, Constantius… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Constans [2] — Constans (spr. kongstāngs), Jean Antoine Ernest, franz. Minister, geb. 3. Mai 1833 in Béziers, betrieb mehrere Jahre ein Geschäft in Spanien, studierte dann aber die Rechte und wurde Professor der Rechtswissenschaft an den Fakultäten zu Douai,… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Constans — (spr. kongstáng), Jean Antoine Ernest, franz. Staatsmann, geb. 3. Mai 1833 zu Béziers, Prof. der Rechte, 1876 in der Deputiertenkammer, 1879 Unterstaatssekretär, 1880 81 Minister des Innern, 1886 87 Gesandter in China, 1887 88 Generalgouverneur… …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • constans — index consistent, constant (adjective), constant (noun), immutable, regular (orderly), resolute …   Law dictionary

  • CONSTANS I — CONSTANS I. tertius Constantini M. ex Fausta fil. Caesar a Patre factus est, A. C. 333. quô mortuô, Italia, Africa et Illyricum cum Graecia illi obtigit. gallis devictis fratrem Constantinum, cui Gallia, Hispania et Britannia cesserat, sibi… …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • CONSTANS II — CONSTANS II. fil. Constantipi III. nepos Heraclii, Heracleoni patruo successit, A. C. 641. Monothelitarum fautor, Paulum Ecclesiae Constantinopolitanae praefecit, eius consiliô edictum, cui Typi nomen, divulgans, quô utramque partem silere iussit …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • CONSTANS — fil. Constantini tyranni, A. C. 407. a Patre Caesat factus, et in Hispaniam missus est. Primo felix, mox miserrime periit, ex monacho Imperator. A Gerontio Viennae occisus. Bloud. l. 1. Oros. l. 7. c. 40. Sozom. 1. 6. etc. Feminae Principes …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • constans — {{/stl 13}}{{stl 7}}[wym. konstans] {{/stl 7}}{{stl 8}}rz. mnż ndm, mat. {{/stl 8}}{{stl 7}} wielkość stała, najczęściej przyjmowana w trakcie rozważań za niezmienną, w odróżnieniu od innych, zmiennych wielkości <łac.> {{/stl 7}} …   Langenscheidt Polski wyjaśnień

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