Flavius Magnus Magnentius
usurper of the Roman Empire

Although Magnentius restored certain rights to the Pagans, the reverse of this coin bears a prominent Christian chi-rho.
Reign January 18, 350 – August 11, 353
Born 303
Birthplace Samarobriva, Gaul
Died August 11, 353(353-08-11) (aged 50)
Place of death Mons Seleucus
Predecessor Constans
Successor Constantius II
Wife Justina

Flavius Magnus Magnentius (303 – August 11, 353) was a usurper of the Roman Empire (January 18, 350 – August 11, 353).


Early life and career

Born in Samarobriva (Amiens), Gaul, Magnentius was the commander of the Herculians and Iovians, the Imperial guard units.[1] When the army grew dissatisfied with the behavior of Roman Emperor Constans, it elevated Magnentius at Autun on January 18, 350. Constans was abandoned by all except a handful of retainers, and he was slain shortly afterwards by a troop of light cavalry near the Pyrenees.


Magnentius quickly attracted the loyalty of the provinces in Britannia, Gaul, and Hispania, in part because he proved to be far more tolerant towards both Christians and Pagans. His control on Italia and Africa was applied through the election of his men to the most important offices. However, the short-lived revolt of Nepotianus, a member of the Constantinian dynasty, showed Magnentius that his status of Emperor was to be consolidated against the members of that dynasty.

The self-proclaimed emperor tried to strengthen his grasp on the territories previously controlled by Constans, moving towards the Danube. Vetranio, commander of the Pannonian army, had been elected Augustus by his troops in Mursa on 1 March. This revolt had a loyalist mark, since Vetranio was supported by Constantina, and Constantius II himself recognized Vetranio, sending him the imperial diadem.


The remaining emperor of the family of Constantine I, Constantius II broke off his war in Syria with Persia, and marched west. Despite Magnentius' efforts to gain Vetranio to his cause, the old general reached Constantius with his army, and resigned the crown.

After electing Magnus Decentius (probably his brother) to Caesar and gathering as many troops as possible, the armies of Magnentius and Constantius met in the Battle of Mursa Major in 351; Magnentius led his troops into battle, while Constantius spent the day of battle praying in a nearby church. Despite Magnentius' heroism, his troops were defeated and forced to retreat back to Gaul.

As a result of Magnentius' defeat, Italy ejected his garrisons and rejoined the loyalist cause. Magnentius made a final stand in 353 in the Battle of Mons Seleucus, after which he committed suicide by falling on his sword.

Following the suppression of Magnentius' rebellion, Constantius commanded an investigation be made to find his followers. The most notorious agent in this search was the primicerius notariorum Paulus Catena.

Some sources state that Magnentius' father was a Briton and his mother a Frank.[2]


  1. ^ Zosimus, ii.58
  2. ^ Drinkwater pp.131–59. Original sources: Epit. de Caes. 42.7; Zos. HN 2.46.3, 54.1; Zonar. 13.6.1.


  • Cameron, Averil, and Peter Garnsey ed., The Cambridge Ancient History, Vol XIII, Cambridge University Press, 1988.
  • Drinkwater, J.F. (2000). "The revolt and ethnic origin of the usurper Magnentius (350–53), and the rebellion of Vetranio (350)". Chiron (30). 

External links

Media related to Magnentius at Wikimedia Commons

Political offices
Preceded by
Consul of the Roman Empire
with Gaiso
Succeeded by
Flavius Magnus Decentius Caesar,
Paulus ,
Flavius Iulius Constantius Augustus V,
Flavius Claudius Constantius Caesar
Preceded by
Flavius Magnus Decentius Caesar,
Paulus ,
Flavius Iulius Constantius Augustus V,
Flavius Claudius Constantius Caesar
Consul of the Roman Empire
with Flavius Magnus Decentius Caesar II,
Flavius Iulius Constantius Augustus VI,
Flavius Claudius Constantius Caesar II
Succeeded by
Flavius Iulius Constantius Augustus VII,
Flavius Claudius Constantius Caesar III

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Magnentius — Centeni …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Magnentĭus — Magnentĭus, Flavius Magnus, ein Franke aus Gallien, gewann bei Kaiser Constans durch Tapferkeit großes Ansehen u. wurde zum Befehlshaber der kaiserlichen Leibgarden, der Jovianer u. Herculianer, ernannt; 350 n. Chr. ermordete er den Constans u.… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Magnentĭus — Magnentĭus, Flavius Magnus M., röm. Kaiser 350–353, von Geburt ein Franke aus Gallien, stieß 350 in Augustodunum (Autun) als germanischer Truppenführer mit Hilfe des Marcellinus den verhaßt gewordenen Constans vom Thron und wurde in Gallien,… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • MAGNENTIUS — natione Barbarus, Roman. Imperat. an. Urb. Cond. 1103. Coronam Augustoduni, in Galliâ, arripuit, A. C. 350. Constantemqueve Imperat. in Ruscinonensi Comitatu interfici iussit. Dein Africâ, Italiâ et Galliâ potitus, usque in Noricum et Pannoniam… …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • Magnentius — ▪ Roman emperor in full  Flavius Magnus Magnentius   died Aug. 11, 353, Gaul       usurping Roman emperor from Jan. 18, 350, to Aug. 11, 353. His career forms one episode in the struggles for imperial power that occurred after the death of… …   Universalium

  • Magnentius —    Usurper (350 353) who killed Constans I (q.v.) in battle in 350, and took over the western empire after defeating rival Nepotianus. Constantius II (q.v.) defeated him at Mursa in 351, after which Magnentius lost Italy (q.v.) in 352.… …   Historical dictionary of Byzantium

  • Magnentius, B. — B. Magnentius (4. Jan.), Erzbischof von Mainz. S. B. Rhabanus …   Vollständiges Heiligen-Lexikon

  • Magnentius — Magnẹntius,   Flavius Mạgnus, römischer Gegenkaiser (seit 350), * wohl Ambianum (heute Amiens), ✝ Lugdunum (heute Lyon) 10. 8. 353; war britisch fränkischer Herkunft; erhob sich als hoher Offizier (Comes) 350 in Gallien (Augustodunum/Autun)… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Magnus Magnentius — Magnentius Flavius Magnus Magnentius (* um 303 wohl in Ambianum, heute Amiens; † 10. August 353 in Lugdunum, heute Lyon) war römischer Gegenkaiser von 350 bis 353. Er war wohl britisch fränkischer Herkunft und diente als Offizier in der römischen …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Flavius Magnentius — Magnence Magnence Usurpateur romain …   Wikipédia en Français

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