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Fausta. Augusta, AD 324-326. Æ Follis (20mm, 3.79 g, 12h). Alexandria mint, 1st officina. Struck under Constantine I, AD 325-326. Draped bust right, hair waved and gathered into tight chignon at nape / Salus standing left, holding two children; SMALA. RIC VII 40; LRBC 1408. Silvering exhibits an attractive golden tone. Good VF.

As daughter of the senior Tetrarch Maximianus, Flavia Maxima Fausta brought a pedigree and important connections to her marriage in AD 307 to Constantine I, recently acclaimed as emperor and vying with several other contenders for supreme power. She soon did her duty and presented Constantine with three sons; however they stood in succession behind Crispus, Constantine’s favorite son by a previous liaison. In 310, Fausta further proved her loyalty by ratting out her father, Maximian, for plotting to resume power; Constantine had him executed and raised Fausta to the title of Nobilissima Femina (“Noblest of Women”). In AD 324, Fausta was raised to the rank of Augusta, along with Constantine’s mother Helena. But in 326 came the sudden execution of Crispus on unknown charges, followed a few months later by Fausta’s own death by suffocation in a steam bath. The story behind this shocking turn of events has been debated for centuries. The most accepted explanation is that Fausta, enamored of Crispus but rejected by him, accused him of rape before Constantine, who acted impulsively and ordered his beloved son’s execution. Helena then discovered her deception and told Constantine, who, filled with rage and remorse, condemned his wife to death. This account seems too closely to follow the legend of Hippolytus and Phaedra to be true, but there seems to have been an official coverup that has kept us guessing ever since. Hence history regards Fausta as another amoral “scheming empress” along the lines of Livia and Lucilla.