A Roman medallion of Emperor Constantine I (the Great)

In 2016, the Christian Bauwens Fund acquired this remarkable Roman gold medallion. It is a “double Solidus”, a coin that was often used as a medallion awarded to deserving soldiers or officials.  

The obverse shows Constantine 1st, Emperor from AD 306 à 337, in military uniform. It is, however, the reverse side of the medallion that makes it particularly interesting. Two afflicted German warriors – personifications of members of the Alemanni and Franks tribes – are represented on the banks of a river outside the walls of a Roman settlement, in which is the statue of the Emperor. If we are to believe a eulogy to Constantine from the 4th century, the scene refers to a bridge that the Emperor had built on the Rhine in AD 310. Destined to link Cologne, on the left bank, with a fort constructed on the right bank, in the current neighbourhood of Deutz, the work considerably improved the Romans’ control over the River Rhine, which was essential in their fight against the Germans. The representation of this bridge on the medallion shows its strategic importance and its contribution to the glory of Constantine.

Material / technique: 
3 cm (Ø); 8.97 g (weight)
Type of acquisition: 
Acquired by the Christian Bauwens Fund
Year of acquisition: 
Depository institution: 
Royal Library of Belgium, Brussel (KBR)