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Constans

Emperor A. D. 337 - 350

Constans was the youngest son of Constantine I and his second wife Fausta. Upon Constantine's death, Constans was put in charge of Italy and North Africa. With his brothers Constantine II and Constantius II, he participated in a massacre of many of his relatives who were considered potential traitors and threats to the new emperors.

In 340, Constans had a dispute with his brother Constantine II over the administration of Italy. Constantine II led an army against his younger brother but was soundly defeated in a battle near the northern Italian city of Aquileia. Constantine II was killed in the fighting. Constans now became ruler of the entire Western Roman Empire.

The next decade was a more peaceful one. Constans defeated the Franks so decisively that they agreed to become a vassal nation and defend Rome’s frontiers on the Rhine against other Germanic barbarians. In 343, Constans visited Britain in order to deal with the barbarian Picts and Scots who had again crossed the Northern defenses and were committing depredations amongst the settled Romano-British farmers and townspeople to the South.

In A. D. 350, Magnentius, one of Constans' leading generals, led a revolt in Gaul. Constans was caught unawares and took refuge at the fortress of Helena at the base of the Pyrenees but was killed by one of Magnentius' agents. Magnentius became emperor in the West in 350. This act of treachery went unpunished until Constantius II, the only surviving one of the three brothers defeated Magnentius after bitter fighting in 353.


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