Silver argenteus of Constantine the Great
Roman, AD 306-7
Minted at Trier, Germany
A symbol of security
The Roman emperor Constantine I, 'the Great' (reigned AD 306-37) had a huge influence on the development of Europe in the Middle Ages. It was Constantine who established Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire, and who re-founded the city of Constantinople (named after himself) as its new capital. Constantinople (also known as Byzantium, modern Istanbul) survived as the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire until 1453, almost a thousand years after the fall of Rome in 478.
legacy of Constantine's authority is his coinage. The coins
of Constantine and his sons are still some of the most common to be
dug up in Britain today, and they were clearly also known by the
Anglo-Saxons. A number of Anglo-Saxon coin designs were copied from
coins of Constantine, and some even carry versions of his name.
This silver argenteus
comes from the very beginning of Constantine's reign, when
he was still Caesar (junior emperor). The design on the reverse
shows the gate of a Roman military camp. This design was copied on
coins of the Anglo-Saxon king Edward the Elder (AD 899-924), where
it may symbolize the establishment of fortified towns in the war
against the Vikings.
C.H.V. Sutherland, The Roman Imperial coinage (London, Spink, 1967)
Weight: 3.460 g