Britannia : 306 A.D.

Constantine the Great, Roman and Briton Emperor

From Bononia, Germania Constantine and his brother crossed the Channel to Britain and made their way to Eboracum (York), capital of the province of Britannia Secunda and home to a large military base. Constantine was able to spend a year in northern Britain at his father’s side, campaigning against the Picts beyond Hadrian’s Wall in the summer and autumn.
Constantius’s campaign, like that of Septimius Severus before it, probably advanced far into the north without achieving great success. Constantius had become severely sick over the course of his reign, and died on 25 July 306 in Eboracum (York). Before dying, he declared his support for raising Constantine to the rank of full Augustus. The Alamannic king Chrocus, a barbarian taken into service under Constantius, then proclaimed Constantine as Augustus. The troops loyal to Constantius’ memory followed him in acclamation. Gaul and Britain quickly accepted his rule;Iberia, which had been in his father’s domain for less than a year, rejected it.
Constantine  in  Eboracum

Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia


Because of his fame and his being proclaimed Emperor in the territory of Roman Britain, later Britons regarded Constantine as a king of their own people. In the 12th century Henry of Huntingdon included a passage in his Historia Anglorum that Constantine’s mother Helena was a Briton, the daughter of King Cole of Colchester. Geoffrey of Monmouth expanded this story in his highly fictionalized Historia Regum Britanniae, and account of the supposed Kings of Britain from their Trojan origins to the Anglo-Saxon invasion. According to Geoffrey, Cole was King of the Britons when Constantius, here a senator, came to Britain. Afraid of the Romans, Cole submitted to Roman law so long as he retained his kingship. However, he died only a month later, and Constantius took the throne himself, marrying Cole’s daughter Helena. They had their son Constantine, who succeeded his father as King of Britain before becoming Roman Emperor.

Historically, this series of events is extremely improbable. Constantius had already left Helena by the time he left for Britain.Additionally, no earlier source mentions that Helena was born in Britain, let alone that she was a princess. Henry’s source for the story is unknown, though it may have been a lost hagiography of Helena.

St. Helen’s Church location in York, UK.

Related Blogs

    Theodosius’s Walls

    Theodosius  Walls1
    Theodosius Walls1

    Following the death of Eudoxia, the Praetorian Prefect Anthemius took control of the Eastern Empire and ran it wisely for the next decade. Meanwhile in the West, anti-barbarian policies will lead to the invasion of Italy by Alaric.
    These, big, ancient Walls I saw several times as I toured around Istanbul. Some are still in ruins, and some have been restored. Evidently, the wall contained 8 main gates. The main public gates led across the moat on bridges, while the secondary gates, traditionally called “Military Gates”, led to the outer sections of the walls.

    They are located on the outskirts of Istanbul, built by the Byzantine Emperor Theodosius II (408-450) who expanded the area of his imperial capital of Constantinople by building these great land walls farther out into the country. When finished, the Theodosian Walls were almost 7 kms in length. They were breached only twice: in 1204 by the armies of the Fourth Crusade, and in 1453, a thousand years after they were built! by the gigantic cannon of Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror, after which Constantinople became Istanbul.

    Theodosius  Walls2
    Theodosius Walls2

    In 1894 a disastrous earthquake toppled parts of the walls.

    There is also the Palace of the Porphyrogenitus which is a large three-story building located between the inner and outer fortifications of the northern corner of the Theodosian Walls. On the east is the remnant of a balcony. The roof and all of the floors of the structure have disappeared. The remaining walls are elaborately decorated in geometric designs using red brick and white marble typical of the late Byzantine period.

    You will have to look at your map to decide where you want to go and have a look at them.


    Theodosius  Walls5
    Theodosius Walls5

    Who Was the Better Roman Emperor?

    Princeton researchers have created a website called All Our Ideas. It allows people to compare two ideas and vote on the one they think is best.  So, for instance, the site asks, “What is our most important national priority?” You then click on one of two ideas. When you do, you’re offered another pair of ideas. You’re free to add your own suggestions, too.

    Someone has set up a page there to ask Who Was the Better Roman Emperor?  Very amusing but I am not sure if I can really say if Florianus was better than Galba. Other votes were easy. Augustus beats Caligula hand down.