Magnentius was one of the generals under the command of Constans. Early in the year 350 he gathered that the tide of wars was turning against the dominion of the Constantines and declared himself emperor. On hearing of the news Constans was dispossessed and took flight. He found temporary shelter in a temple he hoped would be his sanctuary. Magnentius sent a few of his men for him, tracked him down then breached the temple and murdered him. The rule of the whole western empire was now under his control. Constantius II was thousands of miles away embroiled in a difficult war with the Parthians in Syria and it took several months to hear of what happened out west. He had the difficult choice of following through with this war or take care of the dangerous usurpation of Magnentius. He decided to sign a hasty peace treaty with the Parthians which ceded vast sections of territory and zoomed westwards to deal with Magnentius. For his part, Magnentius tried in vain to seek a diplomatic solution to the problem with Constantius as he wanted to avoid an open armed conflict with his army at all costs. This not only did not pan out but he also had to deal with a revolt launched by a relative of Constantius within Rome itself. This strained Magnentius's resources while the main arm of Constantius's army inexorably approached. The revolt was eventually crushed but his forces were weakened. In the end he was unable to avoid the inevitable and faced several losing battles against Constantius. As he retreated farther into his heartland he realized it was a lost cause and committed suicide.
RIC 34, LRBC 19 AE1 Obv: DNMAGNENTIVSPFAVG, bare-headed, draped and cuirassed bust right.
Rev: SALVSDDNNAVGETCAES Exe: A W/AMB; Chi-rho christogram. Lot sold for $1,000 1/16/02.
S 4026 AE3 Obv: DNMAGNENTIVSPFAVG.
Rev: VICTORIAEDDNNAVGETCAES. Two Victories standing facing each other holds shield inscribed VOT/V/MVLT. Lot sold for $10 11/12/01.