Constantine II

Constantine II
Roman Emperor
In PowerSep 9, 337 – 340
BornFeb 316
Arelate, Viennensis
Died340 (aged 24)
Aquileia, Italy
FatherConstantine the Great

Flavius Claudius Constantinus, also known as Constantine II, was born in February 316 in Arelate, a city in the south of modern-day France. His father was Constantine the Great, and his mother was Fausta. When Constantine II turned one year old, he was declared Caesar by his father. 

In 326, after his half-brother Crispus died, Constantine II superseded him and took charge of Gaul as commander. At thirteen years old, he was able to win a battle against the Germanic warriors called the Alemanni. Being merely a child of fourteen years, it was almost a certainty that his generals were the ones who fought the battle for him. Nonetheless, Constantine II acquired the title Alemannicus in honor of the victory. To gain more experience on the battlefield, his father again took him along in a clash against the Goths, this time appointing him as one of the generals. 


When Constantine the Great died in 337, Constantine II assumed the throne, along with his two brothers, Constantius II and Constans. The three brothers were expected to divide the empire with their cousins, Dalmatius and Hannibalianus. The brothers, however, hated the idea of sharing the empire with their cousins, who were also their junior emperors. Soon, Dalmatius was killed by his own men under mysterious circumstances, while details of Hannibalianus’ death are unclear. What is clear, though, is that all of the three brothers’ male cousins were killed, except two, who were mere infants. Constantine II was believed to be the orchestrator of these killings, although Constantius II and Constant would not have objected to these slayings. In September of the same year, the three brothers gathered and partitioned the empire among themselves. Constantius II took Egypt and the Asian regions; Constantine II took Gaul, Hispania, and Britannia; while Constans received Dalmatius’ former territories, Thrace, Macedonia, and North Africa.


Constantine II was the eldest of the three and therefore felt entitled to receive the largest territory. He had guardianship over Constans, who was the youngest and had been used to dominating him. He soon ordered Constans to turn over Thrace and Macedonia to him, which Constans did, only to prevent a war. Following this, Constantine II demanded from Constans portions of North Africa. A quarrel ensued about which specific areas belonged to whom. The dispute became even more heated when Constantine II continued to impose his guardianship on his younger brother, even though Constance had reached his twentieth year in 340. Constantine II took the younger emperor’s defiance as an offense against brotherly dominance. In the same year, he marched his troops toward Italy to take over more areas. During that time, Constans was in Dacia but sent a portion of his troops to confront his brother’s forces. His generals ambushed Constantine’s troops in Aquileia, and Constantine died in the battle. 

After Constantine II’s death, Constans added his dead brother’s domains to his territories.