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Flavius Julius Constans[1] (c.323[1][2]–350), commonly known as Constans, was Roman Emperor from 337 to 350. He defeated his brother Constantine II in 340, but anger in the army over his personal life and preference for his barbarian bodyguards saw the general Magnentius rebel and in 350, resulting in Constans’ assassination.



Constans was the third and youngest son of Constantine the Great and Fausta, his father's second wife.[3] He was educated at the court of his father at Constantinople under the tutelage of the poet Aemilius Magnus Arborius.[1]

On 25 December 333, Constantine I elevated Constans to the rank of Caesar at Constantinople.[1] Prior to 337, Constans became engaged to Olympias, the daughter of the Praetorian Prefect Ablabius, although the marriage never came to pass.[3] With Constantine’s death in 337, Constans and his two brothers, Constantine II and Constantius II divided the Roman world between themselves,[4] after first disposing of virtually all of the relatives of their father who could possibly have a claim on the throne.[5] The army proclaimed them Augustus on September 9, 337.[1] Almost immediately, Constans was required to deal with a Sarmatian invasion in late 337, over whom he won a resounding victory.[3]

At first, Constans was under the guardianship of Constantine II, and the original settlement saw Constans receiving the prefectures of Italia and Africa.[6] Constans was unhappy with this division, and so the brothers met at Viminacium in 338 to revise the boundaries.[6] Constans managed to extract the prefecture of Illyricum and the diocese of Thrace,[6] provinces that were originally part of what was meant to be ruled by his cousin Dalmatius as per Constantine I’s proposed division of the empire after his death.[5] Constans’ brother, Constantine II, soon complained that he had not received the amount of territory that was his due, stemming from his position as the eldest of Constantine’s sons.[7] Annoyed that Constans had received Thrace and Macedonia after the death of Dalmatius, Constantine demanded that Constans hand over the African provinces, which, in order to maintain a fragile peace, he agreed to do.[7][8] Soon however, they began quarrelling over which parts of the African provinces belonged to Carthage, and thus Constantine, and that which belonged it Italy, and therefore Constans.[9] This led to growing tensions between the two brothers, which were only heightened by Constans finally coming of age and Constantine refusing to give up his guardianship. The end result was that in 340, Constantine II invaded Italy.[8] Constans, at that time in Dacia, detached and sent a select and disciplined body of his Illyrian troops, stating that he would follow them in person with the remainder of his forces.[7] Constantine was eventually trapped at Aquileia, where he died, leaving Constans to inherit all of his brother’s former territories – Hispania, Britannia and Gaul.[4]

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