Constantius Gallus

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Constantius Gallus
Caesar of the Roman Empire
Solidus-Constantius Gallus-thessalonica RIC 149.jpg
Gallus coin celebrating Rome and Constantinople.
Reign15 March 351 – 354 (Caesar of the east under Constantius II)
Bornca. 325/6
Massa Veternensis
IssueAnastasia (only daughter)
Full name
Flavius Claudius Constantius Gallus
Regnal name
Flavius Claudius Constantius Gallus Caesar
Dynasty Constantinian
Father Julius Constantius
Mother Galla

Flavius Claudius Constantius Gallus (ca. 325/326–354), commonly known as Constantius Gallus, was a member of the Constantinian dynasty and Caesar of the Roman Empire (351–354). Gallus was consul three years, from 352 to 354.

The Constantinian dynasty is an informal name for the ruling family of the Roman Empire from Constantius Chlorus to the death of Julian in 363. It is named after its most famous member, Constantine the Great who became the sole ruler of the empire in 324. The dynasty is also called Neo-Flavian because every Constantinian emperor bore the name Flavius, similarly to the rulers of the first Flavian dynasty in the 1st century.

Caesar (title) cognomen, later an imperial title of Roman empire

Caesar is a title of imperial character. It derives from the cognomen of Julius Caesar, the Roman dictator. The change from being a familial name to a title adopted by the Roman Emperors can be dated to about AD 68/69, the so-called "Year of the Four Emperors".

Roman Empire Period of Imperial Rome following the Roman Republic (27 BC–476 AD)

The Roman Empire was the post-Roman Republic period of the ancient Roman civilization. Ruled by emperors, it had large territorial holdings around the Mediterranean Sea in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and the Caucasus. From the constitutional reforms of Augustus to the military anarchy of the third century, the Empire was a principate ruled from Italy, homeland of the Romans and metropole of the empire, with the city of Rome as capital. The Roman Empire was then ruled by multiple emperors and divided in a Western Roman Empire, based in Milan and later Ravenna, and an Eastern Roman Empire, based in Nicomedia and later Constantinople. Rome remained the nominal capital of both parts until 476 AD, when Odoacer deposed Romulus Augustus after capturing Ravenna and the Senate of Rome sent the imperial regalia to Constantinople. The fall of the Western Roman Empire to barbarian kings, along with the hellenization of the Eastern Roman Empire into the Byzantine Empire, is conventionally used to mark the end of Ancient Rome and the beginning of the Middle Ages.



Gallus was a son of Julius Constantius by his first wife Galla. Gallus' paternal grandparents were the Emperor Constantius Chlorus and his second wife Flavia Maximiana Theodora. Julius Constantius was a paternal half-brother of the Emperor Constantine I, which, in turn, meant Gallus was a half-first cousin of Constantine's sons, Constantine II, Constantius II and Constans. At some point prior to 331/2, Gallus' mother, Galla, seems to have died, as at that stage, Gallus' father was married to one Basilina and had had a son by that marriage.

Julius Constantius was a politician of the Roman Empire and a member of the Constantinian dynasty, being a son of Emperor Constantius Chlorus and his second wife Flavia Maximiana Theodora, a younger half-brother of Emperor Constantine I and the father of Emperor Julian.

Galla was a member of the Constantinian dynasty that ruled in the Roman Empire.

Constantius Chlorus Roman emperor

Constantius I, commonly known as Constantius Chlorus, was a Caesar from 293 to 305 and a Roman Emperor from 305 to 306. He was the father of Constantine the Great and founder of the Constantinian dynasty.

Gallus had three siblings: an elder sister, of unknown name, who was the first wife of Constantius II, an elder brother, also of unknown name, who died in the purges after the death of Constantine I, and a younger half-brother by his father's second marriage, named Flavius Claudius Iulianus, commonly known as Julian.

An unnamed daughter of Julius Constantius was the first known wife of Constantius II.


Gallus was said by Ammianus Marcellinus to have been very good looking, making particular note of his soft blond hair. [1]

Ammianus Marcellinus was a Roman soldier and historian who wrote the penultimate major historical account surviving from antiquity. His work, known as the Res Gestae, chronicled in Latin the history of Rome from the accession of the Emperor Nerva in 96 to the death of Valens at the Battle of Adrianople in 378, although only the sections covering the period 353–378 survive.


Gallus was born in Massa Veternensis , Italia, after his father had been recalled from exile. Gallus' father and his elder brother were amongst those killed during the purges that occurred in the imperial family after the death of Constantine I in 337. Gallus himself was one of the only imperial males, outside of the three sons of Constantine I and Fausta, who were not killed; the others being Gallus' younger half-brother, Julian, and their cousin, Nepotian, each of whom was very young at the time.

Massa Marittima Comune in Tuscany, Italy

Massa Marittima is a town and comune of the province of Grosseto, southern Tuscany, Italy, 49 km NNW of Grosseto.

Nepotianus Roman usurper

Julius Nepotianus, sometimes known in English as Nepotian, was a member of the Constantinian dynasty who reigned as a short-lived usurper of the Roman Empire. He ruled the city of Rome for twenty-eight days, before being killed by his rival usurper Magnentius' general Marcellinus.

There is debate over where Gallus spent his youth. One view is that he lived with Julian in Nicomedia under the care of bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia until 340. At that point, Eusebius was made bishop of Constantinople, which necessitated Gallus and Julian following him there. It is believed that, after the death of Eusebius in 341, Constantius then sent Gallus and Julian to continue their studies at the imperial household in Macellum, Cappadocia. An alternative view claims that hints in the sources suggest that Gallus was sent to Ephesus to study, then to a type of exile in Tralles and from there to the imperial household in Macellum.

Nicomedia ancient city of Vithynia

Nicomedia was an ancient Greek city in what is now Turkey. In 286 Nicomedia became the eastern and most senior capital city of the Roman Empire, a status which the city maintained during the Tetrarchy system (293–324).

Eusebius of Nicomedia was the man who baptised Constantine the Great. He was a bishop of Berytus in Phoenicia. He was later made the Bishop of Nicomedia, where the imperial court resided. He lived finally in Constantinople from 338 up to his death.

Macellum indoor market building in Ancient Rome

A macellum is an ancient Roman indoor market building that sold mostly provisions. The building normally sat alongside the forum and basilica, providing a place in which a market could be held. Each macellum sold different kinds of produce, depending on local availability, but it was not uncommon to import these comestibles, especially at ports like Pompeii.


Constantius Gallus in a later copy of the Chronography of 354 Chronography 354 gallus caesar.png
Constantius Gallus in a later copy of the Chronography of 354
Turkey adm location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location of Antioch in present-day Turkey

In 350, Magnentius had rebelled and killed the emperor Constans, claiming the purple. Constantius II prepared to move against the usurper, but needed a representative in the East, so he called Gallus at Sirmium, raised him to the rank of caesar (15 March 351), gave him the name Constantius, and strengthened the bonds with his cousin by allowing Gallus to marry his sister Constantina. Gallus and Constantina, who probably shared her brother's aim of controlling the young Caesar, set up residence in Antioch.

During his rule, Gallus had to deal with a Jewish rebellion in Judea/Palestine (see Jewish revolt against Gallus). The rebellion, possibly started before Gallus' elevation to Caesar, was crushed by Gallus' general, Ursicinus, who ordered all the rebels slain.

Gallus was saved from an assassination plot by a woman, who revealed that some members of her household were planning the murder. Some sources, among whom are Joannes Zonaras, claim that this plot had been organized by Magnentius in order to distract Constantius.

Philostorgius claims that Gallus' generals won a campaign against the Sassanids. Other sources, basing their views on an almost-peaceful situation between the Sassanids and Romans while Shapur II was engaged in a campaign against the Huns in the east, dismiss this claim. Ammianus [2] relays an abortive scheme of Nohodares, Shapur's lieutenant in Mesopotamia, to surprise the town of Batnae, which was betrayed by some in his own army, in 353. In the same year, Gallus sent the comes Orientis , Nebridius, against the Isaurians, who had been raiding the coastal provinces, and were now besieging Seleucia on the Calicadnus. They dispersed on his approach. [3]

As a consequence of the need to gather food for the troops for a Persian campaign or because of drought, the grain supply in Antioch decreased. In order to counter the higher price of grain, Gallus forced the passage of some laws regardless of the opinion of the Senate, thus alienating the senatorial class of Antioch. Ammianus Marcellinus, a pro-senatorial writer, tells how the anger of the people of Antioch for the famine was diverted by Gallus towards the consularis Syriae Theophilus, who was killed by the mob.

Ammianus reports also that Gallus and Constantina brought a number of wealthy people to trial for magic, ending in the execution of innocents and in the confiscation of their wealth. The same source claims that Gallus walked anonymously in Antioch by night, asking passersby for their opinion on their caesar, while Julian records the great amount of time spent by Gallus at the Hippodrome, probably to obtain popular support.

Doubting his cousin's loyalty, Constantius reduced the troops under Gallus, and sent the Praetorian Prefect Domitianus to Antioch to urge Gallus to go to Italy. Different sources tell different stories, but all agree that Gallus arrested Domitianus and the quaestor Montius Magnus who had come to his aid, and that the two officers were killed.

The arrest of Montius Magnus led to the discovery of what seems to be a plot to usurp Gallus' position. The conspirators had the support of two tribuni fabricarum (officers of the weapons factories) who had promised the weapons for an uprising (Ammianus Marcellinus, 14.7.18), and probably of the troops in Mesopotamia, as well as of the rector of the province of Phoenice. All suspected in connection with the plot, including many innocents, were put to death by order of the Caesar. [4]

Fall and death

Constantius was informed of the treason trials in Antioch during a campaign against the Alamanni. After concluding a peace treaty with the Germanic tribe, Constantius decided to settle the matter with his cousin. [5]

First he summoned Ursicinus to the West, whom he suspected of inciting Gallus in order to create the occasion for a revolt and the usurpation of his own son. [6]

Next, Constantius summoned Gallus and Constantina to Milan. Constantina left first, in order to gain some of her brother's trust, but died at Caeni Gallicani in Bithynia. Gallus, whose bonds to Constantius had been weakened, stayed in Antioch. Constantius tried to lure Gallus, sending the tribunus scutariorum Scudilo to tell Gallus that Constantius wanted to raise him to Augustus . Gallus took Constantius's bait and left Antioch to meet him. Gallus staged a chariot race in Constantinople's Hippodrome and crowned the victor, an honor reserved only for an Augustus. This insolence enraged Constantius. In an attempt to further isolate Gallus from any form of military protection, Constantius had the garrisons removed from the towns in Gallus's path.

When Gallus arrived at Poetovio in Noricum, Barbatio, an officer who had been supporting Gallus' dismissal within Constantius' court, surrounded the palace of the Caesar and arrested him, stripping Gallus of the imperial robes, but assuring him that no harm would come to him. Gallus was led to Pola, Istria (now Pula, Croatia). Here he was interrogated by some of the highest officials of Constantius' court, including the eunuch praepositus sacri cubiculi Eusebius and the agens in rebus Apodemius. Gallus tried to put the blame for all of his actions on Constantina, but Constantius sentenced him to death; the emperor later changed his mind, and ordered Gallus spared, but Eusebius prevented the order from reaching the executioners.

See also

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  1. Ammianus Marcellinus, Res Gestae, 14.11.28
  2. XIV., III., 1-4
  3. Ammianus Marcellinus, The History, (Kindle edition), XIV., II., 1-17
  4. Ammianus, ibid. IX., 8
  5. Ammianus Marcellinus, The History, (kindle edition), XIV., XI., 1
  6. Ibid. 2-5 (Ammianus, as Ursinicus' personal attendant, accompanied him on this Gallic voyage).


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Preceded by
Imp. Caesar Flavius Magnus Magnentius Augustus,
Post consulatum Sergii et Nigriniani (East)
Consul of the Roman Empire
with Magnus Decentius Caesar
Imp. Caesar Flavius Iulius Constantius Augustus V
Succeeded by
Imp. Caesar Flavius Magnus Magnentius Augustus II,
Magnus Decentius Caesar II,
Imp. Caesar Flavius Iulius Constantius Augustus VI,
Flavius Claudius Constantius Caesar II
Preceded by
Magnus Decentius Caesar,
Paulus, Imp. Caesar Flavius Iulius Constantius Augustus V, Flavius Claudius Constantius Caesar
Consul of the Roman Empire
with Imp. Caesar Flavius Magnus Magnentius Augustus II
Magnus Decentius Caesar II
Imp. Caesar Flavius Iulius Constantius Augustus VI
Succeeded by
Imp. Caesar Flavius Iulius Constantius Augustus VII,
Flavius Claudius Constantius Caesar III
Preceded by
Imp. Caesar Flavius Magnus Magnentius Augustus II,
Magnus Decentius Caesar II,
Imp. Caesar Flavius Iulius Constantius Augustus VI,
Flavius Claudius Constantius Caesar II
Consul of the Roman Empire
with Imp. Caesar Flavius Iulius Constantius Augustus VII
Succeeded by
Flavius Arbitio,
Q. Flavius Maesius Egnatius Lollianus