ROMAN EMPIRE, Constantine I, Filius Augustorum, 309-310 AD, follis, Thessalonika mint


ROMAN EMPIRE, Constantine I, Filius Augustorum, 309-310 AD, follis, no date (309-310 AD), Thessalonika mint, officina 4, Obverse: laureate bust R, CONSTANTINVS FIL AVGG, Reverse: Genius standing L, holding patera & cornucopia, GENIO CAESARIS, dot-SM-dot-TS-dot, star in left field, D in right field, billon, 26mm, 6.23g, SR15583, AU/XF

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Son of Constantius I, Constantine was Caesar in the west when his father died. He was passed over for western Augustus in favor of Licinius I. After several years war broke out between them, Constantine winning in the end. He proceeded to dismantle the Tetrarchy system and inaugurated a new governmental organization that still had eastern and western Emperors but with a single family running a dynastic operation within the ruling structure. Supposedly converted to Christianity at his death. Rome became officially Christian shortly after. Called Constantine the Great. This coin displays the title “Son of Emperors,” a meaningless consolation prize for not being made Augustus by Galerius.

The Roman Empire was a system of theoretically constrained autocracy. The Emperor was supposed to be accepted by the Senate, which was supposed to be representing the people. It became difficult to restrain the autocrats. The succession problem was never solved. Many Emperors were murdered. In the 4th century AD the Empire was split for administrative purposes into eastern and western branches, the west devolving into local kingdoms in the 5th century AD, while the eastern branch continued as what we call the Byzantine Empire until 1453.

Ancient Coins includes Greek and Roman coins and those of neighbors and successors, geographically from Morocco and Spain all the way to Afghanistan. Date ranges for these begin with the world’s earliest coins of the 8th century BC to, in an extreme case, the end of Byzantine Empire, 1453 AD.