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Coins that tell the story of the rise and fall of Magnentius


Orange Julius
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I recently purchased a nice for the type and rare variation of the FEL TEMP REPARATIO coins.

What’s cool about this coin to me is how it tells part of the story of Magnentius’ rise and fall. According to Victor Failmezger’s book Roman Bronze Coins From Paganism to Christianity, “This is an unusual type of FEL TEMP REPARATIO struck (only) at Thessalonica after the mint was taken over by Constantius II from Vetranio in preparation for the war against Magnentius.”

So, at the time this coin was minted… Gallus had just been appointed Caesar to watch the East (as these were minted for him as well), Constantius had traveled with his army to meet and “relieve” Vetranio… and was on his way to an battle with an uncertain outcome against Magnentius. Very cool little period of time in my opinion! 

Anyway, a rarer type that I was happy to add to my collection.

So! Let’s see your coins that tell the story of the rise and fall of Magnentius and Decentius!
 28077463-DCE4-4B92-A958-44C978FF8F89.jpeg.2c110de91e475a24d0d634a54541e589.jpeg
Constantius II
Billon heavy maiorina
Obverse: D N CONSTANTIVS P F AVG, rosette-diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from the front
Reverse: FEL TEMP REPARATIO (happy times restored), emperor in military dress standing facing, head left, Victory on globe in his right hand crowning him with wreath, labarum (Christogram standard) in left hand, with right foot spurns captive seated on left, hands bound behind back, wearing Parthian cap, looking back and up at Constantius, Γ left, * right, *TS∆* in exergue.
4th officina, Thessalonica mint
Dec 351 - 352 A.D.;
RIC VIII Thessalonica 172, LRBC II 1671, Voetter 32, SRCV V 18198, Cohen VII 38

Edited by Orange Julius
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Here's Magnentius himself.

[IMG]
Magnentius, AD 350-353.
Roman billon heavy maiorina, 4.68 g, 20.1 mm, 6h.
Arles, AD 352.
Obv: D N MAGNEN-TIVS P F AVG, bare-headed, draped and cuirassed bust; A behind.
Rev: VICTORIAE DD NN AVG ET CAE, two Victories holding wreath inscribed VOT/V/MVL/X and surmounted by chi-rho; I//PAR.
Refs: RIC viii, p. 217, 184; RCV 18823; LRBC II 441; Bastien 272.
 
 

 

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And here's Constans, whose dissatisfied troops proclaimed Magnentius emperor in AD 350.

[IMG]
Constans, AD 337-350.
Roman billon light maiorina, 3.88 g, 19.6 mm, 5 h.
Antioch, sixth officina, AD 348-350.
Obv: D N CONSTA-NS P F AVG, pearl-diademed, draped and cuirassed bust, left, holding globe in right hand.
Rev: FEL TEMP REPA-RATIO, soldier advancing right, looking back, leading barbarian (child?) out of a hut beneath a tree and holding a spear in the left hand; * in upper left field, ANS in exergue.
Refs: RIC 128; RCV 18700; Cohen 19; LRBC II 2617.
 

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Roman Collector said:

And here's Constans, whose dissatisfied troops proclaimed Magnentius emperor in AD 350.

[IMG]
Constans, AD 337-350.
Roman billon light maiorina, 3.88 g, 19.6 mm, 5 h.
Antioch, sixth officina, AD 348-350.
Obv: D N CONSTA-NS P F AVG, pearl-diademed, draped and cuirassed bust, left, holding globe in right hand.
Rev: FEL TEMP REPA-RATIO, soldier advancing right, looking back, leading barbarian (child?) out of a hut beneath a tree and holding a spear in the left hand; * in upper left field, ANS in exergue.
Refs: RIC 128; RCV 18700; Cohen 19; LRBC II 2617.
 

Yeah the story of Constans’ downfall is an interesting part of the story! Apparently he liked to play soldier and dressed like his archers(?)… from what I understand this infatuation with his special guard and his gifts to them were factors that alienated the legions, leading to his lack of military support and killing when cornered by Magnentius’ forces.

Magnentius

Magnentius.jpeg.12b4b05afe00b61df1719b0ef0bf4ae7.jpeg
Decentius
DecentiusLyonsRICVIII-137.JPG.c1f98a2e804150514490ef9b9332e18e.JPG

Edited by Orange Julius
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Magnentius initially struck some coins for Constantius II, hoping to be recognized as co-Emperor.

 

Constantius_II_Rome_188.jpg.2b016224dc7dffa0fe185557f09de1c2.jpg

 

Constantius II
A.D. 350
22mm 4.5gm
DN CONSTAN-TIVS P F AVG; laurel and rosette diademed, draped and cuirassed bust left, holding globe, N behind bust.
FEL TEMP REPARATIO; Emperor holding standard with Chi-Rho on banner and resting hand on shield; in front of him two bound captives; left field N.
In ex. R S
RIC VIII Rome 188

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Posted (edited)

Great coin @Victor_Clark! This must have been an interesting time in Rome! Was this coin minted before or after Nepotian‘s revolt? Likely before? I have one of these, although not as striking. The coin does have a beautiful jade green patina.

ConstantiusIIRomeRICVIII-188.JPG.770d7055e5a1aa1e3c8401455fd868d7.JPG
Rome RIC VIII 188 RQ

Edited by Orange Julius
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I have a poor example similar to the OP type

Obv:– D N CONSTANTIVS P F AVG, Pearl diademed, draped & cuirassed bust right,
Rev:– Emperor in military dress standing left, holding Victory on globe and a labarum, spurning a seated captive with his right foot.
Minted in Thessalonica (G | * //star TSA dot).
Reference:- RIC VIII Thessalonica 178

RI_170ba_img.jpg

I have an example similar to the Constantius - Rome - Captives type

Obv:– D N CONSTANTIVS P F AVG, Pearl diadem, draped, cuirassed, globe in hand; N behind bust
Rev:– FEL TEMP REPARATIO, Emperor bare headed & in military dress standing, holding standard with chi-rho on banner in his right hand, resting left hand on shield, two bound captives in Phrygian helmets standing, facing each other before him
Minted in Rome (N | _ //R dot T). before June A.D. 350
Reference:- RIC VIII Rome 189 (R2)

21.02 mm. 3.10 gms, 0 degrees

RI_170ds_img.jpg

 

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Here's a few coins around the time of the Battle of Mursa (located between Siscia and Sirmium) in Sept 351. Although Magnentius would survive for a few more years after this, this brutal battle was a literal turning point for him, representing his easternmost extent and brief control of Siscia before being turned back to Italy and Gaul.

I'm not sure of the exact sequencing here. In 351 Siscia had been issuing the CONCORDIA MILITVM and HOC SIGNO types with a reverse field mark of "III" (does anyone know what this refers to?) and A behind the bust. RIC VIII refers to the mint of Sirmium being reopened by Constantius II in reaction to Magnentius taking Siscia ... I'm guessing perhaps before rather than after. Sirmium initiaily opened with a single officina, using personel moved from Siscia, producing the exact same CONCORDIA MILITVM and HOC SIGNO types as Siscia, and even the same "III" field mark.

So here's a CONCORDIA MILITVM from Sirmium, RIC VIII 21, perhaps from right before Magnentius's taking of Siscia.

image.png.418217b3af674ae0dea7d071786c5724.png

And here's Magnentius' VICTORIA AVG ET CAES type (similar to his Rome VICTORIA AVG LIB ROMANOR desgin), RIC VIII Siscia 318, issued during his brief control of Siscia in august or september 351, before the battle of Mursa. The mint continues with the "III" field mark, adding an equally mysterious (to me, at least) VAL monogram.

image.png.063e97e91a46cf57e08c40a7cdcbdf5c.png

The battle of Mursa now ensues, one of the bloodiest civil wars in roman history, with over 50,000 dead.

The following type, VICTORIA AVGVSTORVM (also VICTORA CAESARVM), issued from both Siscia and Sirmium may have been issued as a victory type after the battle, although I'm not sure. It's an early type at Sirmium, from the initial single officina phase. RIC VIII only has this type for Constantius II at Sirmium (RIC VIII 25), but my coin is for Constantius Gallus.

image.png.1be3270475a11cacfca577b7338c1e9d.png

 

Edited by Heliodromus
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This is his brother, from the Bridgnorth Hoard, buried before 355. Most of the coins in the hoard were of Magnentius and Decentius, struck after Constantius II’s coinage reform of 348. After Magnentius’s defeat in 353, his supporters were hunted down and brutally tortured by the notorious Paul the Chain, and his coins were demonetised, both good reasons to bury the hoard. Their coins are very uncommon in hoards after 355.

Decentius as Caesar Centenionalis, 350-353image.png.d9e158d899bc4e4192e1c284af658701.pngLugdunum. Bronze, 23mm, 5.92g. Bareheaded and cuirassed bust right; D N DECENT(I-VS NOB CAES). Large Chi-Rho , flanked by A and ω, SALVS DD NN (AVG ET CAES); mintmark PSLG (RIC VIII, 157/159). Reportedly from the Bridgnorth (Shropshire) Hoard 2007, Portable Antiquities Scheme IARCH-65B7BF

Edited by John Conduitt
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The man of the hour:

Screenshot_20200920-200510_PicCollage-removebg-preview.png.412d94ab5b451f97cb73b1a05097d545.png

You know you made it when there are even barbarous imitations of your coins!

Screenshot_20200920-200548_PicCollage-removebg-preview.png.01fd5b8423dfc5963b1ae1c2beed6b07.png

And a little more love for his brother/ buddy?

Screenshot_20200920-200721_PicCollage-removebg-preview.png.f7b3223bb117fdb4e4b4e803139d6827.png

Edited by Ryro
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This type was only struck at Trier and is attributed to the period known as the Revolt of Poemenius. This event would be completely lost to history except for the brief passage in Ammianus 15.6.4: ...Poemenius was condemned as a malefactor, hailed to execution and perished; he was the man (as we have told above) who was chosen to protect his fellow-citizens when Trier closed its gates against Decentius Caesar.

Sometime in A.D. 353, the citizens of Trier revolted against Decentius and declared their support of Constantius II (SALVS AVG NOSTRI = Safety of our Augustus). Unfortunately for Poemenius, he was executed in A.D. 355, probably for his support of Silvanus.

 

Trier_332.JPG.f10c9e53af9199b847d09314da0d5012.JPG

 

Constantius II
A.D. 353
23x25mm    6.3g
D N CONSTANTIVS P F AVG; pearl-diademed, draped and cuirassed bust right.
SALVS AVG NOSTRI; Chi-Rho flanked by A and W
In ex. TRS✶
RIC VIII Trier 332

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Bronze coin (AE Centenionalis) minted at Trier during the reign of MAGNENTIUS between 351 - 353 A.D. Obv. D.N.MAGNENTIUS.P.F.AVG. Bare-headed, dr. & cuir. bust r. Rev. VICTORIAE.DD.NN.AVG.ET.CAE. Two Victories standing facing each other, resting shield, inscribed VOT.V.MVLT.X. on cippus. RCS #4023. RICVIII #307 pg.162. DVM #28. LRBC #56.

Propagandra to rouse the Catholics against the Arian Constantius. Roman Historical coins

- Bronze coin (AE Centenionalis) minted at Lyons during the reign of DECENTIUS, as Caesar between 351 - 353 A.D. Obv. D.N.DECENTIVS.NOB.CAES. Bare-headed, dr. & cuir. bust r. Rev. VICTORIAE.DD.NN.AVG.ET.CAE. Two Victories standing facing each other, resting shield, inscribed VOT.V.MVLT.X. on cippus. RCS #4035. RICVIII #148 pg.188. DVM #11. LRBC #228.

JR-196 OBV.jpg

JR-196 REV.jpg

JRB-239 OBV.jpg

JRB-239 REV.jpg

Edited by Jims,Coins
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In the year 250 Constans was murdered after trying to escape the man of Magnentius

1536128230_ConstansSiscia.png.8e0885404f2a5659802583a0d6461d1e.png

Here Magnentius and his brother and co-ruler Decentius

Magnentius.png.7d857bb8d280477d7df1f4c29031887a.pngDecentius.png.3058866876918ade5a62a63f27e018af.png

Constantius had to make peace with the persians and to march back from east to west to meet Magnentius... I guess he was in a quite disgruntled mood and not willing to negotiate with Magnentius. The general Vetranio (Of whom I sadly dont own a coin yet) staged somekind of a pro-constantius revolt in Pannonia and Illyricum and by this denying Magnentius some important Legions. Vetranio will also mint coins in the name of Constantius II. like the following one before he abdicates in his favor once he arrived on the scene.

614254084_ConstantiusII2.png.52393c27fdcfad66e9fb774fe494b65e.png

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here's a Vetranio...interestingly with no beard and looking more like Constantius II

 

Vetranio_no_beard.JPG.d49792bdd82fc4c0592d8bfd309194f2.JPG

 

Vetranio
A.D. 350
22x24mm     3.5gm
D N VETRANIO P F AVG; laureate, draped & cuirassed bust right.
CONCORDIA MILITVM; Vetranio standing facing, holding labarum inscribed with Chi-Rho in each hand, star above, A in left field, B in right.
In ex. •TS∆•
RIC VIII Thessalonica 132

 

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6 hours ago, Ryro said:

You know you made it when there are even barbarous imitations of your coins!

It's interesting how many barbarous imitations there were of Magnentius, given how short his reign was and how soon his coins were demonetised. Perhaps its a symptom of the state of the Empire at the time.

Magnentius Barbarous Imitation, 350-355image.png.e2de978a291a05958dea8111b1526ac8.pngBritain. Bronze, 14mm, 1.36g. Bare-headed bust, draped, cuirassed, right; (D N MAGNEN)-TVS PF AVG. Two Victories, winged, draped, facing each other, holding between them a wreath inscribed VO/MV/X; ICTORINE DD NN (AVG ET CAES) (cf RIC VIII Lugdunum, 144b).

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I love the OP coin. I'm fascinated by Roman captives coinage, so I'm going to be obsessively looking for one of these. 

Here's a Constantius II that I've seen described as struck under Magnentius:

image.png.6e35dbcfae574e39885798f527221f5a.png

Roman Imperial. Constantius II (337 – 360) AE Maiorina (5.97g, 24.5mm, 12h). Rome, under Magnentius, 350.
Obverse: D N CONSTANTIVS P F AVG // A to left. Draped and cuirassed bust of Constantius to right, wearing laurel rosette diadem and holding globe in right hand.
Reverse: GLORIA ROMANORVM // * in upper right field // R B in exergue. Constantius on horseback to right, his horse galloping right over a shield and broken spear, spearing kneeling barbarian enemy wearing a Phrygian helmet with outstretched arms.
Reference: RIC VIII Rome 195-196, B.
Pedigree: Ex-Antonio Hinojosa Pareja (Lucernae Numismática, Alcalá la Real, Spain), purchased c. 2009-2014.

 

I've only got the one in the name of Constantius II, not the Magnentius of the same type, but here's something interesting about them from JPC Kent in RIC (p. 239-240). The fallen enemies depicted on the Constantius coins all have pointed caps/helmets (in the tradition of 3rd-4th century coins, suggesting an "Eastern" or Persian enemy), while the coins of Magnentius all depict bareheaded enemies (possibly "Western" enemies):

spacer.png

Were they bareheaded because Magnentius' coins were depicting Germanic tribes -- maybe even the mercenaries used by Constantius II? 

He makes a similar suggestion about the Fallen Horseman types. This is from RIC VIII page 44, where Kent discusses a similar change in the imagery on Fallen Horsemen coinage. (I can't tell if he means after Magnentius’s death in 353, or after 350, when Magnentius was elevated and Constans assassinated? I find his volume confusing in places.)

In any case, Constantius suddenly began issuing much larger numbers of the “variety 3” horseman (FH3 = Horseman turning and reaching back toward the soldier) until 361. Kent suggests this “variety 3” horseman might have represented Magnentius (i.e., his soldiers):

image.png.515515b134573e6389b80d3e40fe1e8f.png

 

This might be my only FH3 (soldier reaching up) from Constantinople (RIC 82), but I'm not sure it's from the issue Kent meant (he may have meant the later, smaller ones). This one is usually dated prior to 351, so it'd have to be in the narrow window c. 350/1 to apply here:

spacer.png

Constantius II (Augustus, 337-361 CE) AE Centenionalis (7.67g, 25mm, 12h). Struck in Constantinople, 348-351.
Obv: D N CONSTANTIVS P F AVG. Pearl-diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust, surrounded by border of dots. 
Rev: FEL TEMP REPARATIO // Γ to left // CONSЄ* in exergue. Soldier standing left, holding long oval shield with circular boss, and spearing fallen horseman; bearded horseman astride fallen horse, turning and reaching back with left arm (FH3), wearing short-brimmed (Scythian? Frankish?) helmet, ornate tunic, and trousers. "Centering dot" (?) between soldier and horse. Dotted border.
Ref: RIC 82, LRBC 2026; cf. RIC 81 (FH4). NVMMVS BIBLE II NBD N° 61536 (this coin; 
LINK).
Prov: Ex-Bertolami Fine Arts Auction 37 (19 Sept 2017), Lot #689 (corr. RIC 81) & e-92 (2 Oct 2020), Lot 1554 (corr., RIC 81, weight reported as 7.70g)

Edited by Curtis JJ
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Here's another Magnentius that's a seeming rarity, BEATITVDO PVBLICA, Aquileia, 351 (RIC 164):

image.png.64dc101a00260dec6ef61e25994abd49.png

 

Roman Imperial. Magnentius AE3 (Half Centenionalis (?), 20mm, 2.4g, 6h). Aquileia, 351 CE.
Obv: MAG MAGNENTIUS AVG. Bare head of Maxentius, draped, right.
Rev: BEATITVDO PVBLICA. Magnentius in curule chair left, holding sceptre and raising right hand. Exergue: AQT
Ref: RIC VIII Aquileia 164; Vagi 3299 (citing RIC VIII Aqu 164-166); Bastien 353; Cohen 1; Sear 18839.
Prov: Uncertain group lot, c. 2000-2013.

Edited by Curtis JJ
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3 minutes ago, Curtis JJ said:

I've only got the one in the name of Constantius II, not the Magnentius of the same type, but here's something interesting about them from JPC Kent in RIC (p. 239-240). The fallen enemies depicted on the Constantius coins all have pointed caps/helmets (in the tradition of 3rd-4th century coins, suggesting an "Eastern" or Persian enemy), while the coins of Magnentius all depict bareheaded enemies (possibly "Western" enemies):

That is interesting. I never noticed before. I think the hat is all that can be discerned on my Constantius II fallen horseman, and it's definitely pointed. I read that Magnentius was bare-headed in his portraits because he wanted to be a man of the people and differentiate himself from Constantius II, so it's odd he would show his enemies bare headed.

Constantius II Follis, 352-355image.png.4d86a27ef6d34bf2fed4916cbbb7d188.pngBronze, 15-16mm, 1.92g. Constantius II, pearl-diademed, draped, cuirassed, right, nothing behind bust; DN CONSTAN-TI(VS PF) AVG. Soldier, helmeted, draped, cuirassed, advancing left, spearing fallen horseman with right hand and wearing shield on left arm; shield on ground to right; horseman wearing a pointed cap, no letter above his head, turning to face soldier, extending right arm; (FEL TEMP) REPAR(ATIO); RPLG? In exergue (RIC VIII, 196). Found on the banks of the River Thames, Abingdon, Oxfordshire.

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59 minutes ago, Curtis JJ said:

Here's another Magnentius that's a seeming rarity, BEATITVDO PVBLICA, Aquileia, 351 (RIC 164):

I have the associated "VIRTVS EXERCITVS" fraction for Decentius FORT CAES, RIC VIII Aquileia 178.

These two fractions were presumably issued on the same occasion, which given the consular reverse of the BEATITVDO type, issued only for Magnentius, would have been Magnentius' first, and only, consulship in 351. The VIRTVS EXERCITVS type was issued for both Magnentius and Decentius.

image.png.f0b137bb0afcd93b346a8c8ad74465f8.png

My specimen is actually a variant of RIC 178, having a reverse legend of EXERCITVM not EXERCITVS. RIC does illustrate the type for Magnentius with an EXERCITVS legend.

image.png.c4c1a4b7a8714d5a6df47fa85b12019e.png

Given the rarity of the type it's not possible to say if the legend was differentiated by emperor, wihch seems unlikely, or which one was more common/correct. The somewhat unusual EXERCITVM legend seems to have been copied from a Vetranio fraction from relatively nearby Thessalonica.

image.png.509229130f7d79c7528339bdc83de7af.png

 

Edited by Heliodromus
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I find it fascinating that Magnentius Gloria Romanorum coinage reverses the fallen horseman motif and a horseman riding down a foot soldier. I don't have one of those coins but would love to see what you guys have! It seems a deliberate jab at Constantius and may be a response to the Anti-Magnentian fallen horseman that @Curtis JJ elaborated on?

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A bit rough but an interesting Magnentius Ae type from Rome:

Obv: IMP CAE MAGN-ENTIVS AVG; Bare and cuirassed bust right, N behind

Rev: VICTORIA AVG LIB ROMANOR; Victory standing right and Libertas standing left each with one hand on trophy between them; RP in exergue

Size: 21mm, 4.1 gms

Ref: RIC VIII 191

1002943773_MagnentiusVICTORIAAVGLIBROMANOR1a.jpg.4f918234b69edc57acd84e52a15e6142.jpg

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