British History,Monarchs of Great Britain,King Arthur

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Interesting Events in Early British History



Usurpation of Constantine III - AD 407

With Stilicho out of the picture and concerned by political turmoil and troubling barbarian advances on the continent, the nervous Roman civil and military authorities in Britain proclaimed Constantine the new emperor. The usurper took the title Constantine III, and removed still more troops from the island to campaign in Gaul and Spain, for the purpose of solidifying his imperial claims.

In the last military action before his death in 408, Stilicho, on behalf of Honorius, sent a commander, Sarus, to engage Constantine. Judging Constantine to be too strong after some fighting near Valence, Sarus returned to Honorius in Rome.

Constantine established his headquarters at Arles and proclaimed his son, Constans, who had campaigned so successfully for him in Spain, co-emperor. He made overtures of "friendship" to Honorius, himself, and was invited by the legitimate emperor to come to Rome. While there, though, Constantine became suspicious of treachery on the part of Honorius, and withdrew to Arles.

In October, 409, Gerontius, who controlled a major part of Constantine's army by virtue of the fact that he had been left in charge of Spain by Constans, decided to use his power to stir up a rebellion against Constantine. Apparently, the time for rebellion was ripe, with Gaul and Armorica joining in. It was clear that Constantine was too weak, now, to regain control. Gerontius captured Constans at Vienne in 411 and executed him. Constantine, meanwhile, was under siege by Honorius' troops at Arles. Under the pressure of the siege, Constantine rethought his career path, and gave up his royal robes in favor of the garb of a cleric. He hoped that Honorius' respect for the clergy would secure more favorable terms for himself. We'll never know what the decision would have been, since Constantine, on his way to Honorius at Ravenna, was waylaid and beheaded.


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