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Aurelius Valerius Constantius I "Chlorus" di Roma
Male 250 - 306

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  • Photos Flavius Valerius Constantius I Chlorus of Rome.jpg
  • Birth  31 Mar 250  Dardania, Moesia Superior Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender  Male 
    Died  25 Jul 306  Naissus, Moesia Superior, Dacia Ripensis, Yugoslavia Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID  I25293  Ellis-Pagoria Family Tree
    Last Modified  23 Dec 2012 
    Father  Flavius Eutropius of Dardania,   b. 31 Mar 250, Dardania, Moesia Superior (now Kosovo) Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 25 Jul 306, Eboracum, Yorkshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Mother  Claudia Crispina di Roma,   b. 218, Rome, Italy Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID  F10446  Group Sheet
    Family 1  Flavia Iulia Helena of Bithniya,   b. 248, also known as Saint Helen, Helena Augusta, Helena of Constantinople, or Helena of the Cross/Drepanum, Helenopolis, Bithynia, Turkey Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 18 Aug 330 
    Married  Apr 268 
     1. Flavius Valerius Constantin,   b. 272,   d. 337
     2. Constantine "the Great" Flavius Valerius of Rome,   b. 27 Feb 271, Naissus, Moesia Superior, Dacia Ripensis, Yugoslavia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 22 May 337, Nicomedia, Bithynia (now Izmit, Turkey) Find all individuals with events at this location
    Family ID  F10968  Group Sheet
    Family 2  Flavia Maximiana Theodora,   b. 276 
    Married  289 
     1. Flavius Julius (Consul of the Roman Empire) Constantius,   d. 337
     2. Constantina of Rome,   b. 281
    Family ID  F10964  Group Sheet
  • Notes 
    • Audrey Maxine Ellis' 45th Great Grandfather

      Chlorus means pale.

      Constantius I (Latin: Marcus Flavius Valerius Constantius Herculius Augustus;[2][3] c. 31 March 250 - 25 July 306), commonly known as Constantius Chlorus,[4] was Roman Emperor from 293 to 306. He was the father of Constantine the Great and founder of the Constantinian dynasty. As Caesar he defeated the usurper Allectus in Britain and campaigned extensively along the Rhine frontier, defeating the Alamanni and Franks. Upon becoming Augustus in 305, Constantius launched a successful punitive campaign against the Picts beyond the Antonine Wall.[5] However, Constantius died suddenly in Eburacum (York) the following year. His death sparked the collapse of the tetrarchic system of government inaugurated by the Emperor Diocletian.


      Early career

      Born in Dardania,[6] the Historia Augusta claimed Constantius was the son of Eutropius, a noble from northern Dardania, in the province of Moesia Superior, and Claudia, a niece of the emperors Claudius II and Quintillus.[7] Modern historians suspect this maternal connection to be a genealogical fabrication created by his son Constantine I,[8] and that his family were of humble origins.[2] His father, however, might have been the brother of Eutropia, wife of Maximian.

      Constantius was a member of the Protectores Augusti Nostri under the emperor Aurelian and fought in the east against the secessionist Palmyrene Empire.[9] While the claim that he had been made a dux under the emperor Probus is probably a fabrication,[10][11] he certainly attained the rank of tribunus within the army, and during the reign of Carus he was raised to the position of Praeses, or governor, of the province of Dalmatia.[12] It has been conjectured that he switched allegiances to support the claims of the future emperor Diocletian just before Diocletian defeated Carinus, the son of Carus, at the Battle of the Margus in July 285.[13]

      In 286, Diocletian elevated a military colleague, Maximian, to the throne as co-emperor of the western provinces,[14] while Diocletian took over the eastern provinces, beginning the process that would eventually see the division of the Roman Empire into two halves, a Western and an Eastern portion. By 288, his period as governor now over, Constantius had been made Praetorian Prefect in the west under Maximian.[15] Throughout 287 and into 288, Constantius, under the command of Maximian, was involved in a war against the Alamanni, carrying out attacks on the territory of the barbarian tribes across the Rhine and Danube rivers.[14] To strengthen the ties between the emperor and his powerful military servant, in 289 Constantius divorced his wife (or concubine) Helena, and married the emperor Maximianís daughter, Theodora.[16]

      Elevation as Caesar

      By 293, Diocletian, conscious of the ambitions of his co-emperor for his new son-in-law, allowed Maximian to promote Constantius in a new power sharing arrangement known as the Tetrarchy.[17] Diocletian divided the administration of the Roman Empire into two halves, a Western and an Eastern portion. Each would be ruled by an Augustus, supported by a Caesar. Both Caesars had the right of succession once the ruling Augustus died.

      At Milan on March 1, 293, Constantius was formally appointed as Maximianís Caesar.[18] He adopted the names Flavius Valerius[1] and was given command of Gaul, Britannia and possibly Hispania. Diocletian, the eastern Augustus, in order to keep the balance of power in the imperium[17] elevated Galerius as his Caesar, possibly on May 21, 293 at Philippopolis.[9] Constantius was the more senior of the two Caesars, and on official documents he always took precedence, being mentioned before Galerius.[1] Constantiusí capital was to be located at Augusta Treverorum.

      Constantiusí first task on becoming Caesar was to deal with the Roman usurper Carausius who had declared himself emperor in Britannia and northern Gaul in 286.[9] In late 293, Constantius defeated the forces of Carausius in Gaul, capturing Bononia.[19] This precipitated the assassination of Carausius by his rationalis Allectus, who assumed command of the British provinces until his death in 296.

      Constantius spent the next two years neutralising the threat of the Franks who were the allies of Allectus,[20] as northern Gaul remained under the control of the British usurper until at least 295.[21] He also battled against the Alamanni, achieving some victories at the mouth of the Rhine in 295.[22] Administrative concerns meant he made at least one trip to Italy during this time as well.[20] Only when he felt ready (and only when Maximian finally came to relieve him at the Rhine frontier[23]) did he assemble two invasion fleets with the intent of crossing the English Channel. The first was entrusted to Asclepiodotus, Constantiusí long serving Praetorian Prefect, who sailed from the mouth of the Seine, while the other, under the command of Constantius himself, was launched from his base at Bononia.[24] The fleet under Asclepiodotus landed near the Isle of Wight, and his army encountered the forces of Allectus, resulting in the defeat and death of the usurper.[25] Constantius in the meantime occupied London,[26] saving the city from an attack by Frankish mercenaries who were now roaming the province without a paymaster. Constantius massacred all of them.[23]

      Constantius remained in Britannia for a few months, replaced most of Allectusí officers, and the British provinces were probably at this time subdivided along the lines of Diocletianís other administrative reforms of the Empire.[27] The result was the division of Upper Britannia into Maxima Caesariensis and Britannia Prima, while Flavia Caesariensis and Britannia Secunda were carved out of Lower Britannia. He also restored Hadrianís Wall and its forts.[28]

      Later in 298, Constantius fought in the Battle of Lingones (Langres) against the Alamanni. He was shut up in the city, but was relieved by his army after six hours, and defeated the enemy.[29] He defeated them again at Vindonissa (Windisch, Switzerland),[30] thereby strengthening the defenses of the Rhine frontier. In 300, he fought against the Franks on the Rhine frontier,[31] and as part of his overall strategy to buttress the frontier, Constantius settled the Franks in the deserted parts of Gaul to repopulate the devastated areas.[32] Nevertheless, over the next three years the Rhine frontier continued to occupy Constantiusís attention.[31]

      In 303, Constantius was confronted with the imperial edicts dealing with the persecution of Christians. Instituted by Diocletian, it was avidly pursued by Galerius who noticed that Constantius was well disposed towards the Christians, and saw it as a method of advancing his career prospects with the aging Diocletian.[33] Of the four Tetrarchs, Constantius made the least effort to implement the decrees of the edicts in the western provinces that were under his direct authority,[34] limiting himself to knocking down a handful of churches.[35]

      Accession as Augustus and death

      Between 303 and 305, Galerius began maneuvering to ensure that he would be in a position to take power from Constantius after the passing of Diocletian.[36] In 304, Maximian met up with Galerius, probably to discuss the succession issue and Constantius either was not invited or could not make it due to the situation on the Rhine.[31] Although prior to 303 there appeared to be tacit agreement between the Tetrarchs that Constantiusís son, Constantine and Maximianís son Maxentius were to be promoted to the rank of Caesar once Diocletian and Maximian had resigned the purple,[37] by the end of 304 Galerius had convinced Diocletian (who in turn convinced Maximian) to appoint Galeriusís nominees Severus and Maximinus Daia as Caesars.[31]

      Diocletian and Maximian stepped down as co-emperors on May 1, 305, possibly due to Diocletian's poor health.[35] Before the assembled armies at Milan, Maximian removed his purple cloak and handed it to Severus, the new Caesar, and proclaimed Constantius as Augustus. The same scene played out at Nicomedia under the authority of Diocletian.[38] Constantius, notionally the senior emperor, ruled the western provinces, while Galerius took the eastern provinces. Constantine, disappointed in his hopes to become a Caesar, fled the court of Galerius after Constantius had asked Galerius to release his son as Constantius was ill.[39] Constantine joined his father's court at the coast of Gaul, just as he was preparing to campaign in Britain.[40]

      In 305 Constantius crossed over into Britain, travelled to the far north of the island and launched a military expedition against the Picts, claiming a victory against them and the title Britannicus Maximus II by 7 January 306.[41] After retiring to Eboracum (York) for the winter, Constantius had planned to continue the campaign, but on 25 July 306, Constantius died. As he was dying, Constantius recommended his son to the army as his successor;[42] consequently Constantine was declared emperor by the legions at York.[43]


      Constantius was either married to, or was in concubinage with, Helena, who was probably from Nicomedia in Asia Minor.[44] They had one son, Constantine.

      In 289 political developments forced him to divorce Helena. He married Theodora, Maximian's daughter. They had six children[10]:
      Flavius Dalmatius
      Julius Constantius
      Flavia Julia Constantia


      Christian legends

      As the father of Constantine, a number of Christian legends have grown up around Constantius. Eusebius's Life of Constantine claims that Constantius was himself a Christian, although he pretended to be a pagan, and while Caesar under Diocletian, took no part in the Emperor's persecutions.[45] His first wife, Helena, found the True Cross.

      British legends

      Constantius's activities in Britain were remembered in medieval British legend. According to Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the Kings of Britain (1136), Constantius was sent to Britain by the Senate after Asclepiodotus, here a British king, was overthrown by Coel of Colchester. Coel submitted to Constantius and agreed to pay tribute to Rome, but died only eight days later. Constantius married Coel's daughter Helena and became king of Britain. He and Helena had a son, Constantine, who succeeded to the throne of Britain when his father died at York eleven years later.[46] The identification of Helena as British had previously been made by Henry of Huntingdon,[47] but has no historical validity: Constantius had divorced Helena before he went to Britain.


      Primary sources
      Aurelius Victor, Epitome de Caesaribus
      Joannes Zonaras, Compendium of History 1050581 extract: Diocletian to the Death of Galerius: 284-311
      Zosimus, Historia Nova

      Secondary sources
      Southern, Pat. The Roman Empire from Severus to Constantine, Routledge, 2001
      Potter, David Stone, The Roman Empire at Bay, AD 180-395, Routledge, 2004
      Birley, Anthony (2005), The Roman Government in Britain, Oxford University Press, ISBN 9780199252374
      Jones, A.H.M., Martindale, J.R. The Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire, Vol. I: AD260-395, Cambridge University Press, 1971
      Canduci, Alexander (2010), Triumph & Tragedy: The Rise and Fall of Rome's Immortal Emperors, Pier 9, ISBN 978-1741965988
      http://www.roman-emperors.org/chlorus.htm DiMaio, Robert, "Constantius I Chlorus (305-306 A.D.)", De Imperatoribus Romanis] (1996)


      1. Southern, pg. 147
      2. Martindale, pg. 227
      3. "Marcus Flavius Valerius Constantius", "Valerius Constantius", "Gaius Valerius Constantius", and "Gaius Fabius Constantius" have been found on inscriptions, while Aurelius Victor (Caes 39:24) implied it may have been Julius Constantius
      4. From the Greek ??????, meaning pale/yellow-greenish
      5. W.S. Hanson "Roman campaigns north of the Forth-Clyde isthmus: the evidence of the temporary camps"
      6. Roman Colosseum
      7. Historia Augusta, Life of Claudius 13
      8. Southern, pg. 172
      9. Potter, pg. 288
      10. Martindale, pg. 228
      11. Historia Augusta, Life of Probus 22:3
      12. Odahl, Charles Matson. Constantine and the Christian Empire. New York: Routledge, 2004. p.16
      13. Potter, pg. 280
      14. Southern, pg. 142
      15. DiMaio, Constantine I Chlorus; Canduci, pg. 119
      16. Potter, pg. 288; Canduci, pg. 119
      17. Southern, pg. 145
      18. Birley, pg. 382
      19. Birley, pg. 385
      20. Southern, pg. 149
      21. Birley, pg. 387
      22. Birley, pgs. 385-386
      23. Southern, pg. 150
      24. Birley, pg. 388
      25. Aurelius Victor, Liber de Caesaribus, 39
      26. Potter, pg. 292
      27. Birley, pg. 393
      28. Birley, pg. 405
      29. Eutropius, Breviarum 9.23
      30. UNRV History: Battle of the Third Century AD
      31. Southern, pg. 152
      32. Birley, pg. 373
      33. Potter, pg. 338
      34. Potter, pg. 339; Southern, pg. 168
      35. DiMaio, Constantine I Chlorus
      36. Potter, pg. 344
      37. Potter, pg. 340
      38. Potter, pg. 342
      39. Southern, pg. 169; Canduci, pg. 119
      40. Southern, pg. 170; Eutropius, Breviarum 10.1; Aurelius Victor, Epitome de Caesaribus 39; Zosimus, Historia Nova 2
      41. Birley, pg. 406
      42. Potter, pg. 346
      43. Eutropius, Breviarum 10.1-2; Canduci, pg. 126
      44. Eutropius, Breviarum 9.22; Zosimus, Historia Nova 2; Exerpta Valesiana 1.2
      45. Eusebius, Vita Constantini 1.13-18
      46. Geoffrey of Monmouth, Historia Regum Britanniae 5.6
      47. Henry of Huntingdon, Historia Anglorum 1.37

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