Dateline Rome - June, 326 A.D.
How often do we have to hear the same sad stories caused by broken families? The latest tale of our royal family is so sadly typical - boy meets girl, girl has child, man leaves girl for Emperor's daughter, Emperor's daughter accuses first girl's child of treason, boy executes child, repents and executes Emperor's daughter.
The boy in question in our present Emperor Constantine. A product of yet another broken marriage, Constantine's father (Constantius I) left his bar-maid wife Helena to marry Theodora, step-daughter of our late Emperor Maximian. This pattern of broken families continued to Constantine - he chose to leave his paramour Minervina to marry his step-mother's step-sister Fausta, daughter of Maximian and Theodora. This marriage strengthened Constantine's claim to power but left a pretty dysfunctional family in its wake. It also left a son behind with Minervina, our late Caesar Crispus.
At least our Emperor Constantine proved better than the average separated father. Crispus was educated by the best minds in the Empire and at age fifteen he was raised to the purple, becoming a Caesar along with his step-brother Constantine II. The following year saw Crispus serving as Consul and beginning his military career.
This military career saw its high point five years later when Crispus led a fleet of 200 ships against the much larger fleet of his father's rival, Licinius. Crispus' victory was complete and his destiny as Constantine's heir seemed assured.
Yet now we are deprived of our Caesar. His very success seems to have led to his fall. Last June our Crispus was put to death, accused of rape by his stepmother Fausta. We shall never know the validity of Fausta's accusations - the justice administered by our Emperor was harsh and swift. But the result may show the motivation - Fausta's sons are now destined for the purple.
Update - October, 326 A.D.
In a stunning reversal of fortune, reports from the palace indicate that Constantine has apparently repented executing Crispus. The recent arrival of the Emperor's mother Helena may have something to do with this change of heart. Now disbelieving Fausta's allegations, Constantine reportedly had his wife boarded up in a steam room and steamed to death. Imperial spin doctors are trying to convince the public that Fausta's death was a suicide but it is doubtful that anyone would choose to die in such a horrific way.
Contributions to erect a golden statue to Crispus are being accepted at the palace. Donations are voluntary but recommended.