Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Vetranio - Temporary Emperor

Vetranio entered the army and served with distinction under the mighty Constantine I (AD 306-337), the first Christian ruler of Rome, who even during his lifetime came to be called "Magnus" -- The Great. Upon Constantine's death, the Roman Empire was split between his three surviving sons: Constantine II, Constantius II, and Constans. In 340 CE, a spate of sibling bloodletting eliminated Constantine II and the survivors divvied up the spoils, with the West going to Constans, who late in his reign made Vetranio master of infantry for Pannonia. However, a coup toppled Constans early in 350, replacing him with Magnentius, who had no blood connection to the Constantinian dynasty. Magnentius quickly consolidated his power base. Commanding a large army at a critical crossroads between the two rivals, Vetranio was in a delicate position.
ConstantiusFor 10 months, Vetranio played the man in the middle, alternately professing loyalty to Constantius and telling Magnentius he might be open to an alliance. In December of 350, Constantius marched west and met Vetranio at Naissus in modern Serbia. On Christmas day, both emperors mounted a platform before the assembled armies, where Vetranio formally abdicated the throne. Constantius pensioned him off to an opulent estate in Bithynia. Vetranio had brilliantly played the difficult hand dealt him, had briefly been counted among the rulers of the Roman world, and enjoyed a far better fate than most other men who claimed the deadly purple. Having two mints under his control, Siscia and Thessalonica, Vetranio struck coins both in his own name and that of Constantius II. His bronze coinage is scarce, the silver rare, the gold extremely rare.