CONSTANTINE I'S MONETARY REFORM
Imperial Rome
by Enrico Forlanini

Constantine I around 310 introduces a new gold coin, the solidus aureus, struck at 1/72nd of a libra (= about 4.54 grams), in the Western mints under his control. In the East, on the other hand, Licinius keeps coining aurei at 1/60th of a libra with an imposing facing portrait. His defeat in Chrysopolis in 324, apart from marking the end of the Tetrarchy and Constantine I's control over the whole imperial territory, imposes the solidus as gold denomination. Two fractions are also issued: the semissis (half-solidus) and an even smaller denomination (about 1.70 grams). As far as silver is concerned, Constantine introduces the miliarensis (= 1/18th of a solidus) and the siliqua (= 1/24th of a solidus) in 323/325 A.D.

Constantine's portrait keeps the style of the First Tetrarchy, reestablishing for a few century the type of the beardless Emperor, which was rarely interrupted - for example by Julian the Apostate, between 360-363 A.D. Exceptional are some issues of solidi showing Constantine gazing upward: a sign of Christian devotion according to Eusebius of Caesarea, or a throwback to the style of Hellenistic portraits, according to other commentators. New mints are devoted to the production of gold coinage, such as Constantinople - imperial capital after 330 A.D. - Arelate/Constantina and Sirmium.

Click on the images of the coins to enlarge them


Semisse
di Costantino I

Solido
di Costantino I

Aureo
di Licinio I

Solido
di Costantino I

Solido
di Costantino I

Solido
di Giuliano


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