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Flavius Julius Crispus
Crispus
(/ˈkrɪspəs/; died 326), also known as Flavius Claudius
Claudius
Crispus
Crispus
and Flavius Valerius Crispus, was a Caesar of the Roman Empire. He was the first-born son of Constantine I and Minervina.[1]

Contents

1 Early life 2 Career 3 Execution 4 In literature 5 References and sources

Early life[edit] Crispus' year and place of birth are uncertain. He is considered likely to have been born between 299 and 305, possibly as early as 295, somewhere in the Eastern Roman Empire, probably the early date since he was being tutored already in 309-310 by Lactantius.[2] His mother Minervina was either a concubine or a first wife to Constantine. Nothing else is known about Minervina. His father served as a hostage in the court of Eastern Roman Emperor
Eastern Roman Emperor
Diocletian
Diocletian
in Nicomedia, thus securing the loyalty of Caesar of the Western Roman Empire Constantius Chlorus, father of Constantine and grandfather of Crispus. In 307, Constantine allied to the Italian Augusti, and this alliance was sealed with the marriage of Constantine to Fausta, daughter of Maximian
Maximian
and sister of Maxentius. The marriage of Constantine to Fausta
Fausta
has caused modern historians to question his relationship to Minervina and Crispus. If Minervina were his legitimate wife, Constantine would have needed to secure a divorce before marrying Fausta, which would have required an official written order signed by Constantine himself, but no such order is mentioned by contemporary sources. This silence in the sources has led many historians to conclude that the relationship between Constantine and Minervina was informal and to assume her to have been an unofficial lover. However, Minervina might have already been dead by 307. A widowed Constantine would need no divorce. Neither the true nature of the relationship between Constantine and Minervina nor the reason Crispus
Crispus
came under the protection of his father will probably ever be known. The offspring of an illegitimate affair could have caused dynastical problems and would likely be dismissed, but Crispus
Crispus
was raised by his father in Gaul. This can be seen as evidence of a loving and public relationship between Constantine and Minervina which gave him a reason to protect her son. The story of Minervina is quite similar to that of Constantine's mother Helena. Constantine's father later had to divorce her for political reasons, specifically, to marry Flavia Maximiana Theodora, the daughter of Maximian, in order to secure his alliance with his new father-in-law. Constantine in turn might have had to put aside Minervina in order to secure an alliance with the same man. Constantius did not however dismiss Constantine as his son, and perhaps Constantine chose to follow the example of his father. Whatever the reason, Constantine kept Crispus
Crispus
at his side. Surviving sources are unanimous in declaring him a loving, trusting and protective father to his first son. Constantine even entrusted his education to Lactantius, among the most important Christian
Christian
teachers of that time, who probably started teaching Crispus
Crispus
before 317. Career[edit] By 313, there were two remaining Augusti in control of the Roman Empire. Constantine reigned as a Western Roman Emperor
Western Roman Emperor
and his brother-in-law Licinius
Licinius
as an Eastern Roman Emperor. On 1 March 317, the two co-reigning Augusti jointly proclaimed three new Caesars; Crispus, alongside his younger half-brother Constantine II and his first cousin Licinius
Licinius
Iunior. Constantine II was the older son of Fausta
Fausta
but was probably about a month old at the time of his proclamation. Thus only Crispus
Crispus
assumed actual duties. Constantine apparently believed in the abilities of his son and appointed Crispus
Crispus
as Commander of Gaul. The new Caesar soon held residence in Augusta Treverorum (modern Trier), regional capital of Germania. In January 322, Crispus
Crispus
was married to a young woman called Helena. Helena bore him a son in October, 322. There is no surviving account of the name or later fate of the son. Eusebius of Caesarea
Eusebius of Caesarea
reported that Constantine was proud of his son and very pleased to become a grandfather. Crispus
Crispus
was leader in victorious military operations against the Franks
Franks
and the Alamanni
Alamanni
in 318, 320 and 323. Thus he secured the continued Roman presence in the areas of Gaul
Gaul
and Germania. The soldiers adored him thanks to his strategic abilities and the victories to which he had led the Roman legions. Crispus
Crispus
spent the following years assisting Constantine in the war against by then hostile Licinius. In 324, Constantine appointed Crispus
Crispus
as the commander of his fleet which left the port of Piraeus to confront the rival fleet of Licinius. The subsequent Battle of the Hellespont was fought in at the straits of Bosporus. The 200 ships under the command of Crispus
Crispus
managed to utterly beat the enemy forces which were at least double in number. Thus Crispus
Crispus
achieved his most important and difficult victory which further established his reputation as a brilliant soldier and general. Following his navy activities, Crispus
Crispus
was assigned part of the legions loyal to his father. The other part was commanded by Constantine himself. Crispus
Crispus
led the legions assigned to him in another victorious battle outside Chrysopolis against the armies of Licinius. The two victories were his contribution to the final triumph of his father over Licinius. Constantine was the only Augustus
Augustus
left in the Empire. He honoured his son for his support and success by depicting his face in imperial coins, statues, mosaics, cameos, etc. Eusebius of Caesaria wrote for Crispus
Crispus
that he is "an Imperator
Imperator
most dear to God and in all regards comparable to his father." Crispus
Crispus
was the most likely choice for an heir to the throne at the time. His siblings Constantine II, Constantius II
Constantius II
and Constans
Constans
were far too young and knew very little on the tasks of an emperor. However, this would never come to be. Execution[edit] In 326, Crispus' life came to a sudden end: on his father's orders, he was tried by a local court at Pola, Istria, condemned to death and executed. Soon afterwards, Constantine had his own wife, Fausta, killed; she was drowned in an over-heated bath.[3] The reason for this act remains unclear and historians have long debated Constantine's motivation. Zosimus in the 5th century and Joannes Zonaras in the 12th century both reported that Fausta, stepmother of Crispus, was extremely jealous of him. She was reportedly afraid that Constantine would put aside the sons she bore him. So, in order to get rid of Crispus, Fausta
Fausta
set him up. She reportedly told the young Caesar that she was in love with him and suggested an illegitimate love affair. Crispus
Crispus
denied the immoral wishes of Fausta
Fausta
and left the palace in a state of shock. Then Fausta said to Constantine that Crispus
Crispus
had no respect for his father, since the Caesar was in love with his father's own wife. She reported to Constantine that she dismissed him after his attempt to rape her. Constantine believed her and, true to his strong personality and short temper, executed his beloved son. A few months later, Constantine reportedly found out the whole truth and then killed Fausta.[citation needed] This version of events has become the most widely accepted, since all other reports are even less satisfactory. That Fausta
Fausta
and Crispus could have plotted treason against Constantine is rejected by most historians, as they would have nothing to gain considering their positions as favourites of Constantine. In any case, such a case would not have been tried by a local court as Crispus' case clearly was. Another view suggests that Constantine killed Crispus
Crispus
because as a supposedly illegitimate son, he would cause a crisis in the order of succession to the throne. However, Constantine had kept him at his side for twenty years without any such decision. Constantine also had the authority to appoint his younger, legitimate sons as his heirs. Some reports claimed that Constantine was envious of the success of his son and afraid of him. This seems improbable, given that Constantine had twenty years of experience as emperor while Crispus was still a young Caesar. Similarly, there seems to be no evidence that Crispus
Crispus
had any ambitions to harm or displace his father. So while the story of Zosimus and Zonaras seems the most believable one, there are also problems relating to their version of events. Constantine's reaction suggests that he suspected Crispus
Crispus
of a crime so terrible that death was not enough. Crispus, his wife Helena and their son, also suffered damnatio memoriae, meaning their names were never mentioned again and deleted from all official documents and monuments. The eventual fate of Helena and her son is a mystery. Constantine did not restore his son's innocence and name, as he probably would have on learning of his son's innocence. Perhaps Constantine's pride, or shame at having executed his son, prevented him from publicly admitting having made a mistake.[citation needed] It is beyond doubt[citation needed] that there was a connection between the deaths of Crispus
Crispus
and Fausta. Such agreement among different sources connecting two deaths is extremely rare in itself. A number of modern historians have suggested that Crispus
Crispus
and Fausta really did have an affair. When Constantine found out, his reaction was to have both of them killed. A possible cause of delay in the death of Fausta
Fausta
is pregnancy. Since the years of birth for the two known daughters of Constantine and Fausta
Fausta
remain unknown, one of their births could have delayed their mother's execution. The story of Zosimus and Zonaras listed above is similar to both the legend of Hippolytus of Athens
Athens
(casting Crispus
Crispus
in the role of the youth, Constantine in the role of Theseus
Theseus
and Fausta
Fausta
in the role of Phaedra) as well as the Biblical account of Joseph and Potiphar's wife (Genesis 39). In literature[edit] Crispus
Crispus
became a popular tragic hero after the success of Bernardino Stefonio's neo-Latin tragedy Crispus, which was performed at the Jesuit Collegio Romano in 1597. Closely modelled on Seneca's Phaedra, this became a model of Jesuit tragedy and one of the main bases for Alessandro Donati's 1631 Ars Poetic and Tarquinio Galluzzi's 1633 Defense of Cripus. The play was adapted for the French stage by Francois de Grenaille as L'Innocent malhereux (1639) and by Tristan l'Hermite as La Morte de Chrispe ou les maleurs du grand Constantine (1645). It was performed as an opera in Rome (1720) and London (1721), where it was entitled, Crispo: drama[4], not to mention Donizetti's 1832 opera Fausta. The story is also retold and embellished in chapter 31 of Sir Walter Scott's novel Count Robert of Paris. References and sources[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Crispus.

References

^ Potter, David. (2008) Emperors of Rome: Imperial Rome from Julius Caesar to the last emperor. London: Quercus, p. 187. ISBN 9781847245526 ^ Barnes, Timothy, Constantine: Dynasty, Religion and Power in the Later Roman Empire, 2011, p. 177-8. ^ Roman Emperors – DIR Fausta ^ Marc Fumaroli, Heros et orateurs. Rhetoriques et dramaturgie corneliennes, Geneva: Droz, 1996

Sources

Torino, Alessio (2008). Bernardinus Stephonius S.J. Crispus-tragoedia. Rome: Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei. 

Political offices

Preceded by Ovinius Gallicanus , Caesonius Bassus Consul of the Roman Empire 318 with Imp. Caesar C. Valerius Licinianus Licinius
Licinius
Augustus
Augustus
V Succeeded by Imp. Caesar Flavius Valerius Constantinus Augustus
Augustus
V, Valerius Licinianus Licinius
Licinius
Caesar

Preceded by Imp. Caesar Flavius Valerius Constantinus Augustus
Augustus
VI, Flavius Claudius
Claudius
Constantinus Caesar Consul of the Roman Empire 321 with Constantine II, Licinius, Licinius
Licinius
II Succeeded by Petronius Probianus, Amnius Anicius Julianus

Preceded by Acilius Severus, Vettius Rufinus Consul of the Roman Empire 324 with Constantine II Succeeded by Sextus Anicius Faustus Paulinus, Valerius Proculus

v t e

Roman and Byzantine emperors

Principate 27 BC – 235 AD

Augustus Tiberius Caligula Claudius Nero Galba Otho Vitellius Vespasian Titus Domitian Nerva Trajan Hadrian Antoninus Pius Marcus Aurelius
Marcus Aurelius
and Lucius Verus Commodus Pertinax Didius Julianus (Pescennius Niger) (Clodius Albinus) Septimius Severus Caracalla
Caracalla
with Geta Macrinus
Macrinus
with Diadumenian Elagabalus Severus Alexander

Crisis 235–284

Maximinus Thrax Gordian I
Gordian I
and Gordian II Pupienus
Pupienus
and Balbinus Gordian III Philip the Arab
Philip the Arab
with Philip II Decius
Decius
with Herennius Etruscus Hostilian Trebonianus Gallus
Trebonianus Gallus
with Volusianus Aemilianus Valerian Gallienus
Gallienus
with Saloninus and Valerian II Claudius
Claudius
Gothicus Quintillus Aurelian Tacitus Florian Probus Carus Carinus
Carinus
and Numerian

Gallic Emperors: Postumus (Laelianus) Marius Victorinus (Domitianus II) Tetricus I
Tetricus I
with Tetricus II
Tetricus II
as Caesar

Dominate 284–395

Diocletian
Diocletian
(whole empire) Diocletian
Diocletian
(East) and Maximian
Maximian
(West) Diocletian
Diocletian
(East) and Maximian
Maximian
(West) with Galerius
Galerius
(East) and Constantius Chlorus
Constantius Chlorus
(West) as Caesares Galerius
Galerius
(East) and Constantius Chlorus
Constantius Chlorus
(West) with Severus (West) and Maximinus II (East) as Caesares Galerius
Galerius
(East) and Severus (West) with Constantine the Great
Constantine the Great
(West) and Maximinus II (East) as Caesares Galerius
Galerius
(East) and Maxentius
Maxentius
(West) with Constantine the Great
Constantine the Great
(West) and Maximinus II (East) as Caesares Galerius
Galerius
(East) and Licinius
Licinius
I (West) with Constantine the Great (West) and Maximinus II (East) as Caesares Maxentius
Maxentius
(alone) Licinius
Licinius
I (West) and Maximinus II (East) with Constantine the Great (Self-proclaimed Augustus) and Valerius Valens Licinius
Licinius
I (East) and Constantine the Great
Constantine the Great
(West) with Licinius
Licinius
II, Constantine II, and Crispus
Crispus
as Caesares (Martinian) Constantine the Great
Constantine the Great
(whole empire) with son Crispus
Crispus
as Caesar Constantine II Constans
Constans
I Magnentius
Magnentius
with Decentius as Caesar Constantius II
Constantius II
with Vetranio Julian Jovian Valentinian the Great Valens Gratian Valentinian II Magnus Maximus
Magnus Maximus
with Victor Theodosius the Great (Eugenius)

Western Empire 395–480

Honorius Constantine III with son Constans
Constans
II) Constantius III Joannes Valentinian III Petronius Maximus
Petronius Maximus
with Palladius Avitus Majorian Libius Severus Anthemius Olybrius Glycerius Julius Nepos Romulus Augustulus

Eastern/ Byzantine Empire 395–1204

Arcadius Theodosius II Pulcheria Marcian Leo I the Thracian Leo II Zeno (first reign) Basiliscus
Basiliscus
with son Marcus as co-emperor Zeno (second reign) Anastasius I Dicorus Justin I Justinian the Great Justin II Tiberius
Tiberius
II Constantine Maurice with son Theodosius as co-emperor Phocas Heraclius Constantine III Heraklonas Constans
Constans
II Constantine IV
Constantine IV
with brothers Heraclius
Heraclius
and Tiberius
Tiberius
and then Justinian II as co-emperors Justinian II
Justinian II
(first reign) Leontios Tiberios III Justinian II
Justinian II
(second reign) with son Tiberius
Tiberius
as co-emperor Philippikos Anastasios II Theodosius III Leo III the Isaurian Constantine V Artabasdos Leo IV the Khazar Constantine VI Irene Nikephoros I Staurakios Michael I Rangabe
Michael I Rangabe
with son Theophylact as co-emperor Leo V the Armenian
Leo V the Armenian
with Symbatios-Constantine as junior emperor Michael II
Michael II
the Amorian Theophilos Michael III Basil I
Basil I
the Macedonian Leo VI the Wise Alexander Constantine VII
Constantine VII
Porphyrogennetos Romanos I Lekapenos
Romanos I Lekapenos
with sons Christopher, Stephen and Constantine as junior co-emperors Romanos II Nikephoros II Phokas John I Tzimiskes Basil II Constantine VIII Zoë (first reign) and Romanos III Argyros Zoë (first reign) and Michael IV the Paphlagonian Michael V Kalaphates Zoë (second reign) with Theodora Zoë (second reign) and Constantine IX Monomachos Constantine IX Monomachos
Constantine IX Monomachos
(sole emperor) Theodora Michael VI Bringas Isaac I Komnenos Constantine X Doukas Romanos IV Diogenes Michael VII Doukas
Michael VII Doukas
with brothers Andronikos and Konstantios and son Constantine Nikephoros III Botaneiates Alexios I Komnenos John II Komnenos
John II Komnenos
with Alexios Komnenos as co-emperor Manuel I Komnenos Alexios II Komnenos Andronikos I Komnenos Isaac II Angelos Alexios III Angelos Alexios IV Angelos Nicholas Kanabos (chosen by the Senate) Alexios V Doukas

Empire of Nicaea 1204–1261

Constantine Laskaris Theodore I Laskaris John III Doukas Vatatzes Theodore II Laskaris John IV Laskaris

Eastern/ Byzantine Empire 1261–1453

Michael VIII Palaiologos Andronikos II Palaiologos
Andronikos II Palaiologos
with Michael IX Palaiologos
Michael IX Palaiologos
as co-emperor Andronikos III Palaiologos John V Palaiologos John VI Kantakouzenos
John VI Kantakouzenos
with John V Palaiologos
John V Palaiologos
and Matthew Kantakouzenos as co-emperors John V Palaiologos Andronikos IV Palaiologos John VII Palaiologos Andronikos V Palaiologos Manuel II Palaiologos John VIII Palaiologos Constantine XI Palaiologos

Italics indicates a co-emperor, while underlining indicates an usurper.

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 75236

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