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Minervina was a partner of the Roman emperor Constantine I and the mother of his first son Crispus .

Little is known about Minervina. The information about her relationship with Constantine and her son Crispus comes from several late antique sources: Both the Epitome de Caesaribus , written shortly after 395, and the later historian Zosimos (around 500) mention them only in passing in connection with the appointment of Crispus as Caesar ( Lower emperor) - there she is referred to as a concubine. A panegyric held at Constantine's wedding to Fausta in 307 points to an earlier wedding of Constantine, but without explicitly mentioning Minervina.

It is disputed whether Constantine's relationship with Minervina was just a concubinage or whether the couple was also married. In the former case, Crispus would have been an illegitimate son. Edward Gibbon , a historian of the Enlightenment, interpreted Minervina as an "obscure but legitimate object of the youthful attachment to Constantine" and accepted her as the legitimate wife of Constantine. Otto Seeck (at the beginning of the 20th century) later protested against this , referring to the comments of Zosimos, the Epitome de Caesaribus and the Middle Byzantine historian Johannes Zonaras (who could fall back on older models) and the passage in the Panegyric as a reference pointed to another woman. More recently, however, Timothy D. Barnes and the Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire have accepted Minervina as the rightful wife of Constantine. Barnes refers to the use of the pagan historian Eunapios , who is unreliable in this question, by Zosimos, the Epitome and Zonaras.

The chronological classification of the relationship is also not certain. Crispus was believed to be born in AD 305. In 307 Konstantin married Fausta - a political marriage because she was the daughter of Emperor Maximian , whose support Konstantin wanted to secure. Whether Minervina 307 was cast out by Constantine or was already dead cannot be determined either. There is no evidence for Timothy Barnes' hypothesis that Minervina may have been a relative of Emperor Diocletian .


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  1. Epitome de Caesaribus 41.4; Zosimos 2,20,2. She is also mentioned as a concubine by the Middle Byzantine historian Johannes Zonaras 8.2.
  2. Panegyrici Latini 6 (7), 4.1. Seeck, History of the Fall of the Ancient World , Vol. 1, p. 476, who comes to the conclusion: “That Constantin was legally married earlier cannot be doubted”.
  3. ^ Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire , 12 vols., Ed. by John B. Bury with an introduction by William EH Lecky , Fred de Fau and Co., New York 1906, vol. 3, p. 218: "Minervina, the obscure but lawful object of his youthful attachment, had left him only one son, who was called Crispus ”.
  4. Seeck, History of the Fall of the Ancient World , Vol. 1, p. 476 f .; Vol. 4, p. 377.Similar to Joseph Vogt , Constantin der Grosse und seine Jahrhundert , 2nd, revised edition, Verlag F. Bruckmann, Munich 1960, p. 141 f., Who, however, probably wrongly referred to the engagement to Fausta Dated year 300.
  5. ^ Barnes, The New Empire of Diocletian and Constantine , pp. 42 f .; PLRE , Vol. 1, pp. 602 f.
  6. Barnes, Constantine , pp. 48 f., 69, 206.