Constans I, Roman Emperor

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Reigned 337 to 350; b. 320; d. c. 350. Son of Constantine, coemperor with his brothers Constantine II and Constantius II, he added Gaul, Britain, and Spain to his own jurisdiction over the prefecture of Italy. This he accomplished by defeating and killing Constantine II in 340. In the defense of his frontiers he expelled the Franks from Gaul in 341 and 342 and cleared Britain of barbarian invaders. Constans was an orthodox Catholic who favored churchmen at his court and strove to moderate Constantius II's arianism. Learning from Oriental bishops of the Arians' tampering with the Nicene Creed in 342, he summoned the Council of sardica in 343, hoping to vindicate the decisions of Nicaea. He forced Constantius to reinstate St. athanasius in Alexandria in 345. As long as Constans lived, the West escaped Arianism. At the request of donatus he intervened in the Donatist and Circumcellion revolt in North Africa aiding the Catholic recovery. He prohibited public pagan sacrifices, but his domineering character and tyrannical rule cost him his subjects' good will, and in 350 the usurper Magnentius overthrew him.

Bibliography: o. seeck, Paulys Realenzyklopädie der klassischen Altertumswissenschaft, ed. g. wissowa et al. 4.1:948952. j. palanque, The Church in the Christian Roman Empire, tr. e. c. messenger (London 1949). e. stein and j. palanque, Histoire du bas-empire (Paris 194959) v.1. j. palanque, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, ed. a. baudrillart et al. (Paris 1912) 13:583584.

[r. h. schmandt]

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Constans I, Roman Emperor

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