Constans III

641-668

The word Byzantine is often used as a pejorative for political intrigue and Machiavellical shenanigans and we can see why, to use one example, in the events leading up to the rise of Constans to power. Years before he was to become emperor, Heraclius had sowed the seeds of discontent in his family by taking his niece Martina as his concubine. This naturally created all sorts of problems for the Orthodoxy in Constantinople who struggled to reconcile their incestuous relationship with the hyper-strict interpretation of the Bible. Under pressure, the patriarch himself recognized them as man and wife despite, understandably, a good deal of hemming and hawing. But that was to be only one facet of the problem for Heraclius Constantine, the eldest son and heir apparent, eyed his step-mother (and cousin) with suspicion for she made no bones about advancing the cause for the imperial succession of their son Heraclonas. Since Heraclonas had no legal right to the throne she would first need to find a way to eliminate Heraclius Constantine. Heraclius himself would play no significant role as he was weak, ill and soon to die. Heraclius Constantine for his part evidently failed to fend for himself adequately since Martina eventually had him poisoned, or so it was strongly suspected, and it all quite reminiscent of how Agrippina had handled a similar problem nearly six centuries before. But if either she or Heraclonas found any joy in the success of their malevolent plans it was all over rather quickly. As word spread of the untimely death of Heraclius Constantine, and it all fitting far too neatly into Martinaís gameplan, a military coup threatened to right the wrongs and put them both to to the sword. Heraclonas took a conciliatory move and declared Constans, son of Heraclius Constantine, as his co-emperor. But it was a day late and a dollar short. Within a few days their supporters abandoned their cause and they were subsequently captured, mutilated and exiled in disgrace never to return to Constantinople.

Because he was not quite a teenager yet, Constansí own will in political matters was if not outright irrelevant then heavily muted by a number of palace powerbrokers. Eventually he rid himself of their meddling to take a stand and rule as a true sovereign. His concerns ring familiar to us. Arabs have poured in from the eastern provinces gobbling up huge sums of the resources at his disposal. He is able to find an ignominious peace with them just in time for a number of different ethnic groups in the Balkans threaten to ravage the western dominions. As he rushes to buttress his defenses in that corner the Arabs unleash a new round of raids. And so on. Like many emperors before and after him he is not only preocuppied with the unending waves of invaders but also religious strife in his own backyard. Church leaders representing every Christian sect and sub-sect imaginable made it their lifelong careers to tout their agenda while undermining those of their rivals. Popes, patriarchs and exarchates could never find any common ground and the emperor often was caught in their crossfire. Constans tried to intervene several times with sometimes inconclusive results, sometimes disastrous results and always a step closer to a complete schism.

The beginning of the end came with the singularly awful decision to curb any dynasty contentions upon his death by having his brother assassinated, thus ensuring imperial careers for his sons. Either he mis-calculated and saw no need for a cover-up or it was an ineffectual one since the public outcry was immediate and such that he fled the city en route to Sicily under the face-saving pretext of keeping a closer eye on the Italian peninsula whose Byzantine holdings were quickly evaporating. Sicilians resented their presence on principle but grumbling turned to real outrage when he taxed them so heavily that it had become little more than legalized robbery. A lowly chambermaid spared the locals the trouble of forming a riot by whacking Constans over the head with a soap holder as his master was bathing. Unconscious, he then drowned in the bathtub.

Now on to a word or two about coins from this period. Itís hard to believe but for much of the year 641 Heraclius Constantine, and then Heraclonas, have taken turns being joint and then sole rulers yet there is not one single coin known to this day bearing either one of their names. Of course coins were being minted during this time, the reason we donít have legends to match to a portrait is thanks to the Heraclians having such ambiguous family names to begin with. Heraclius Constantine would have used a form dropping the first name and Heraclonas was really just a nickname by which he would have been referred to only in private. Officially, his name was Constantine Heraclius! Add to this the newcomer Constans whose official name was also Constantine and itís little surprise that all of these peopleís coins got hopelessly mixed up together. A number of Byzantine numismatists have taken great pains to assign names from this period based on small stylistic clues but their efforts are far from universally accepted. Short of a future device analogous to a carbon dating machine, and one precise enough to tell apart man-made objects created within a month or two thousands of years ago, it all seems a futile pursuit given the circumstances.

AU Solidus


SB 936, DOC II 1a (Heraclonas), MIB 3a AU Solidus Obv: dNCONSTANTINUSPPAVG - Crowned facing bust, holding globus cruciger.
Rev: VICTORIAAVGUA Exe: CONOB - Cross potent on three steps. (Constantinople).



SB 937, DOC II 2 (Heraclonas), MIB 4a AU Solidus Obv: dNCONSTANTINUSPPAVG - Small crowned facing bust, holding globus cruciger.
Rev: VICTORIAAVGU Exe: CONOBK - Cross potent on three steps. 642-645 (Constantinople).



SB 938, DOC II 1, MIB 3a AU Solidus Obv: NCONSTANTINVSPPAV - Crowned facing bust, holding globus cruciger.
Rev: VICTORIAAV Exe: CONOB - Cross potent on three steps. 641-646 (Constantinople).



SB 940, DOC II 3a, MIB III 7a AU Solidus Obv: NCONSTANTINSPPAV - Crowned bust facing, wearing chlamys, holding globus cruciger.
Rev: VICTORIAAV Exe: CONOBS - Cross Potent on three steps. 641-668 (Constantinople).



SB 942, DOC II 5 AU Solidus Obv: NCONSTANTINSPPAV - Crowned bust facing, holding globus cruciger.
Rev: VICTORIAAVΓ Exe: /CONOB - Cross Potent on three steps. 647 (Constantinople).



SB 942, DOC II 5d, Hahn 9 AU Solidus Obv: NCONSTANTINSPPAV - Crowned bust facing, holding globus cruciger.
Rev: VICTORIAAVH Exe: /CONOB - Cross Potent on three steps. 647 (Constantinople).



SB 944, DOC II 7, MIB III 11 AU Solidus Obv: NCONANTINPPAVG - Crowned facing bust, holding globus cruciger.
Rev: VICTORIAAV Exe: CONOB - Cross potent on three steps. (Constantinople). $400 1/16/02.



SB 947, DOC II 11, MIB III 14 AU Solidus Obv: NCONANTINPPAVG - Crowned facing bust, holding globus cruciger.
Rev: VICTORIAAV Exe: S/CONOB - Cross potent on three steps. (Constantinople).



SB 948, DOC II 12, MIB III 15 AU Solidus Obv: NCONANTINPPAVG - Crowned facing bust, holding globus cruciger.
Rev: VICTORIAAV Exe: S/CONOB+ - Cross potent on three steps. (Constantinople).



SB 950, DOC II 14 AU Solidus Obv: NCONSTANTINSPPAV - Crowned bust facing, with short beard, wearing chlamys and holding globus cruciger in right hand.
Rev: VICTORIAAV Cross Potent on three steps.



SB 956, DOC II 20 AU Solidus Obv: NCONSTANINSCCONSTAN - Crowned facing bust, holding globus cruciger.
Rev: VICTORIAAVG Exe: CONOB - Cross potent on three steps. 651-654 (Constantinople). $300 4/1/01.



SB 957, DOC II 19 AU Solidus Obv: NCONSTANINSPPAG - Crowned facing bust, holding globus cruciger.
Rev: VICTORIAAVG Exe: CONOBI - Cross potent on three steps. 651-654 (Constantinople).



SB 959, DOC II 25, MIB III 26 AU Solidus Obv: NCONSTANINSCCONSTAN - Crowned facing busts of Constans II and Constantine IV.
Rev: VICTORIAAVGA Exe: CONOB - Cross potent on three steps. c.654-659 (Constantinopolis).



SB 959, DOC II 25, MIB III 26 AU Solidus Obv: NCONSTANINSCCONSTAN - Crowned facing busts of Constans II and Constantine IV.
Rev: VICTORIAAVGΓ Exe: CONOB - Cross potent on three steps. c.654-659 (Constantinopolis).



SB 961, DOC II 27c, MIB III 27 AU Solidus Obv: NCONSTANINSCCONSTAN - Crowned facing busts of Constans II and Constantine IV.
Rev: VICTORIAAVGΓ Exe: CONOB+ - Cross potent on three steps. c.654-659 (Constantinopolis).



SB 962, DOC II 28, MIB III 29 AU Solidus Obv: NCONSTANINSCCONSTAN - Crowned facing bust of Constans II to left and Constantine IV to right; cross above and in between them.
Rev: VICTORIAAVA Exe: CONOB - Cross on globe with letter A on either side at top; Heraclius standing to left and Tiberius standing to right, each holding a globe cruciger. 659-661 (Constantinople).



SB 962, DOC II 28, MIB III 29 AU Solidus Obv: NCONSTANINSCCONSTAN - Crowned facing bust of Constans II to left and Constantine IV to right; cross above and in between them.
Rev: VICTORIAAVΔ Exe: CONOB - Cross on globe with letter A on either side at top; Heraclius standing to left and Tiberius standing to right, each holding a globe cruciger. 659-661 (Constantinople).



SB 962, DOC II 28, MIB III 29 AU Solidus Obv: NCONSTANINSCCONSTAN - Crowned facing bust of Constans II to left and Constantine IV to right; cross above and in between them.
Rev: VICTORIAAV Exe: CONOB - Cross on globe with letter A on either side at top; Heraclius standing to left and Tiberius standing to right, each holding a globe cruciger. 659-661 (Constantinople).



SB 962, DOC II 28, MIB III 29 AU Solidus Obv: NCONSTANINSCCONSTAN - Crowned facing bust of Constans II to left and Constantine IV to right; cross above and in between them.
Rev: VICTORIAAV+ Exe: CONOB - Cross on globe with letter A on either side at top; Heraclius standing to left and Tiberius standing to right, each holding a globe cruciger. 659-661 (Constantinople).



SB 964, DOC II 30 AU Solidus Obv: Crowned facing busts of Constans, with long beard, and Constantine IV.
Rev: VICTORIAAVΔ Exe: CONOB - Cross potent between standing figures of Heraclius and Constantine. c.661-663 (Constantinople).



SB 964, DOC II 30 AU Solidus Obv: Crowned facing busts of Constans, with long beard, and Constantine IV.
Rev: VICTORIAAVθ Exe: CONOB - Cross potent between standing figures of Heraclius and Constantine. c.661-663 (Constantinople).



SB 966, DOC II 32e AU Solidus Obv: Crowned facing busts of Constans III to left and Constantine IV to right; cross above and between them.
Rev: VICTORIAAVX Exe: CONOB - Cross potent on three steps; Heraclius to left and Tiberius to right. c.661-663 (Constantinople).



SB 967, DOC II 33 AU Solidus Obv: Crowned (plumed) bust of Constans III to left and crowned facing bus of Constantine IV to right; cross above and between them.
Rev: VICTORIAAVS Exe: CONOB - Cross potent on three steps; Heraclius to left and Tiberius to right. c.661-663 (Constantinople).



SB 974, DOC II 42, MIB III 41 AU Solidus Obv: VICTORIAAVA - Crowned facing bust, holding globus cruciger.
Rev: No legend Exe: CONOB - Tiberius, Constantine IV, and Heraclius standing facing, each holding a globus cruciger. c.663-668 (Constantinople).



SB 974, DOC II 42, MIB III 41 AU Solidus Obv: VICTORIAAVS - Crowned facing bust, holding globus cruciger.
Rev: No legend Exe: CONOB - Tiberius, Constantine IV, and Heraclius standing facing, each holding a globus cruciger. c.663-668 (Constantinople).



SB 977, DOC II 22d AU Solidus Obv: Crowned facing bust, holding globus cruciger.
Rev: VICTORIAAVG Exe: /CONOB - Cross on steps. 651-654 (Constantinople).



SB 978, DOC II 23d AU Solidus Obv: Crowned facing bust, holding globus cruciger.
Rev: VICTORIAAVG Exe: /CONOB+ - Cross on steps. 651-654 (Constantinople).



SB 1029 AU Solidus Obv: dNCONSTAtINP - Beardless bust facing, wearing crown and chlamys and holding globus cruciger.
Rev: VICTORIAGU Exe: CONOB - Cross potent on base and two steps. (Carthage).



SB 1030, DOC II 108, MIB II 57 AU Solidus Obv: dNCONSTANtINP - Beardless bust facing, wearing crown and chlamys and holding globus cruciger.
Rev: VICTORIAGU Exe: P/CONOB - Cross potent on base and three steps. (Carthage).



SB 1037, DOC II 115, MIB 64 AU Solidus Obv: dNCONSTANTI... - Facing bust of Constans III, holding globus cruciger.
Rev: VICTORIA(indictional year) Exe: CONOB - Cross potent on three steps. (Carthage).



SB 1038, DOC II 117v, MIB 65 AU Solidus Obv: dNCONCTANTI - Facing bust of Constans with long beard, holding globus cruciger.
Rev: VICTORIA(indictional year) Exe: P/CONOB - cross potent on three steps.



SB 1039, DOC II 122, MIB 66 AU Solidus Obv: dNCONSTANuCCI... - Facing busts of Constans and Constantine IV; cross between heads.
Rev: VICTORAGV(indictional year) - Cross potent on three steps; P in right field. (Carthage).



SB 1043, DOC II 125, MIB 72 AU Solidus Obv: DONC - Facing busts of Constans and Constantine IV.
Rev: No legend - Facing busts of Heraclius and Tiberius; cross over P in between. 659-668 (Carthage).



SB 1117 AU Solidus Obv: NCONStANtINSPPAV - Crowned bust facing, holding globus cruciger.
Rev: VICTORIAAVS Exe: K/CONOB - Cross potent on base and three steps.



SB 1133 AU Solidus Obv: NCONStANtNYSPPAV - Bust facing, with larger head with slight beard, wearing crown with cross on circlet and chlamys, and holding globus cruciger.
Rev: VCTORIAAVGYG Exe: K/CONOB - Cross potent on base and three steps.


AU 20 Siliqua Solidus


SB 981A, DOC II 19 Lightweight Solidus Obv: NCONSTANINSPPAG - Crowned facing bust, holding globus cruciger.
Rev: VICTORIAAVGS Exe: BOXX - Cross potent on three steps. 651-654 (Constantinople).


AU Semissis


SB 983, DOC II 44.1, MIB 50 AU Semissis Obv: NCONSTANTINVSPPAV - Diademed, draped and cuirassed bust right.
Rev: VICTORIAAVS - Cross potent on globe. 641-668 (Constantinople). $373 5/11/05.



SB 1091, MIB II 102 AU Semissis Obv: NCONSTANTINVSPPA - Diademed, draped and cuirassed bust right.
Rev: VICTORIAAVS - Cross potent on globe; Γ in right field. 659-661 (Constantinople).


AR Hexagram


SB 989, DOC II 48, MIB III 142 AR Hexagram Obv: DNCONSANTINVSPPAV - Crowned, draped bust facing, holding globus cruciger.
Rev: EUSADIUTAROMANIS - Cross on globe on three steps. 641-647 (Constantinopolis).



SB 990, DOC II 49, MIB III 143 AR Hexagram Obv: DNCONSANTINVSPPAV - Crowned, draped bust facing, holding globus cruciger.
Rev: EUSADIUTAROMANIS - Cross on globe on three steps. 646-647 (Constantinopolis).



SB 991, DOC II 50 AR Hexagram Obv: DNCONSANTINVSPPAV - Crowned bust with short beard, holding globus cruciger.
Rev: Cross on globe on three steps. 647-654. $285 9/19/01.



Unlisted AR Hexagram Obv: Crowned facing busts of Constans II and Constantine IV; cross above and in between them.
Rev: Constans II and Constantine IV standing on either side of cross potent on three steps; B below.


AR Third Siliqua


SB 1050, DOC II 132, MIB III 157a AR Third Siliqua Obv: CONTAN - Crowned, draped bust facing, holding globus cruciger.
Rev: PAX, cross above and pellets in field. 651-657 (Carthage).


AR Quarter Siliqua


SB 1135, DOC II 204v, MIB III 160 AR Quarter Siliqua Obv: ICVAVT - Diademed, beardless bust right.
Rev: + over O, C to left and N to right, all within wreath.


AE Follis


SB 1004 AE Follis Obv: Crowned, draped facing bust holding globus cruciger.
Rev: Large M Exe: regnal year and officina; cross above, NEO to right and ANA to left. (Constantinopolis).



SB 1005 AE Follis Obv: Constans III standing, facing, holding cross and cross on globe.
Rev: Large M Exe: regnal year and officina; cross above, NEO to right and ANA to left. (Constantinopolis). $8 11/23/04.



SB 1104, DOC II 176 AE Follis Obv: Crowned beardless facing bust, wearing chlamys and holding globus cruciger.
Rev: Large M; monogram above. 641-647 (Syracuse).



SB 1104, DOC II 178 AE Follis Obv: Crowned beardless facing bust, wearing chlamys and holding globus cruciger.
Rev: Large M Exe: SCL - Monogram above. 641-647 (Syracuse).



SB 1107, MIB III 207, DOC II 178 AE Follis Obv: Crowned bust facing, holding globus cruciger.
Rev: Large M Exe: SCL - Monogram above. 650-651 (Syracuse).



SB 1108, MIB III 208, DOC II 179 AE Follis Obv: Constans III standing facing, holding globus cruciger; indictional year to right.
Rev: Large M Exe: SCL - Monogram above.(Syracuse).



SB 1109 AE Follis Obv: Constans and Constantine IV standing.
Rev: Large M Exe: SCL - Monogram above M. 654-659 (Syracuse).



SB 1110, DOC II 181 AE Follis Obv: Constans and Constantine IV standing.
Rev: Large M Exe: SCL - Heraclius and Tiberius at sides, monogram above. 657-668 (Syracuse).


AE Half Follis


SB 1057, MIB III 196 Half Follis Obv: Crowned, draped facing bust.
Rev: Large cross with X on either side Exe: CRTG. (Carthage). $11 4/10/05.


AE 10 Nummi


SB 1021 AE Decanummium Obv: Crowned, draped bust facing, holding globus cruciger; cross to left.
Rev: Large I Exe: CON - Regnal date to left, officina to right. (Constantinople).



SB 1115, DOC II 185 AE Decanummium Obv: Crowned facing bust, holding globus cruciger.
Rev: Large I - AN to left, NO to right. (Syracuse).



SB 1125, DOC II 185 AE Decanummium Obv: Crowned facing bust, holding globus cruciger.
Rev: Large I - ANNO written around "I" starting from bottom left and going counterclowckwise. (Syracuse). $525 4/1/01.