Born in Germanic, it was made extremely young prisoner and took service among Romans where he became captain of the guards of the emperor Constant Ier. It was made proclaim emperor with Augustodunum (Autun) in 349, and beat Constant which perishes in its escape 350. Going on Rome, it there demolished and killed Népotien, another usurper, and proposed with Constance II to recognize it Empereur of Occident.
The memory of this emperor became honnie because of the religious policy which it followed under his reign. Indeed, Magnence was pagan convinced, which restored the temples and made celebrate in large pump of the night sacrifices (that Constant had prohibited in 341). Pragmatic, he did not persecute the Christians and even made engrave the Chrisme on some of his currencies in order to reconcile the authorities of the Church. However, in Rome, it clearly supported holding them of the old religion by naming only the pagan ones at the stations high-placed (urban prefecture, annone, etc). The sacrifices in the honor of Cybèle reappeared as of 350 on the hill of the Vatican, and one found over there the dedication of a pagan priest thanking fine Magnence for having put at the " long nuit" Christian woman who was, according to him, killed on Rome.
Constancy II went quickly against him and beat it with Mursa on the Drave in Illyrie and forced it to escape. Magnence gave itself death to Lugdunum (Lyon), in 353. After the fall of the usurper, Constancy II, arien and persecutor of the catholics, Jews and the pagan ones, reconsidered the decisions of Magnence by a concise edict, dated November 23rd 353: That are abolished the night sacrifices celebrated on order of Magnence, and which such an impious license is from now on isolated .
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