A silver siliqua of “Claudius Constantine II, King of the Britons“(1), minted in Lugdunum. He is more commonly known as Constantine III, 407-411, who, declared emperor by troops in Britain in the traditional manner, took most of the remaining legions to Gaul “to attempt its rescue from the barbarians”(2). Again, taking the legions to Gaul was traditional for Emperors declared in Britain. They always felt that they must rescue Gaul too.
But in Gaul, despite achieving recognition and co-Emperorship from Honorius, Constantine III was unsuccessful and the Saxons invaded both Gaul and Britain in 409. With Irish raiders still threatening in the west and under Saxon onslaught from the sea, the Britons disavowed Constantine III, deposed his officials and instigated “fresh troop enrolled to replace those who had gone to Gaul, and military operations undertaken with vigour against the invaders.” (3)
Zozimus, based on the contemporary historian Olympiodorus, says the “Britons fought gallantly and freed their cities from the barbarians” (4). In 410 a despatch from the Emperor Honorius arrived authorizing the Britons to take measures for their own defence. (5). Britain was still a Roman province.
Meanwhile Constantine III’s position disintegrated. He was ,defeated in Italy, betrayed by Gerontius (his general in Spain), defeated again and besieged in Arles. He ended a prisoner of Honorius’ Pannonian soldier-general Constantius, the future co-Emperor Constantius III, who had him beheaded on the way to Ravenna in 411.
Constantine III, 407-411,
AR Siliqua, 15.5mm, 1.3g, Lugdunum, 408-411;
obverse: D N CONSTANTINVS P F AVG, pearl-diademed, draped and cuirassed bust right /
reverse: VICTORI A AAVGGG, Roma seated left on cuirass holding Victory on globe and inverted spear, SMLD in exergue; RIC X 1531, RSC 4B, small flan.
- Edward Foorde, The Last Age of Roman Britain, 1925.
- Geoffrey of Monmouth, Historia Regum Britanniae (The history of the kings of Britain), c. 1136.
- Zosimus, Historia Nova. Book 6, c 518.
- Thomas Clanvowe, De gestis Britonum, c 1380.
(1) Geoffrey of Monmouth,
(2) Foorde, pg. 131
(3) Foorde, pg. 131
(4) Zosimus vi, 6
(5) Foorde, pg. 132