The Gallic Empire
AD 259-274

 

History

By the middle of the 3rd century AD, the Roman Empire had begun to disintegrate under the combined pressures of successive waves of plague and disastrous losses in wars with invading Goths from the north and a resurgent Persian Empire under Shapor I in the east. The situation was made worse by civil wars. In four years no less than eight Roman emperors died1, after which Valerian I became emperor, with his son Gallienus as co-emperor. Almost immediately they were faced by incursions by Shapor and an invasion of Gaul by the German tribes. Gallienus was entrusted with defence of the Rhine, where he won several victories over the next four years 2. Meanwhile Valerian departed to the east to make war on the Persians but after some initial successes, the Roman army was defeated and Valerian captured. The exact date of his captivity is not known but is generally accepted to have been AD 260. However, there are reasons to doubt this date and it is possible he was actually captured in AD 258 and AD 260 was the year that he finally met his death3.

The capture of Valerian triggered an age known from the Scriptores Historiae Augustae (SHA) as that of the "Thirty Tyrants", though this had to be padded out with some names of doubtful validity to arrive at that figure4. The remnants of the Roman army in the east were rallied by Macrianus and Ballista and managed to inflict a defeat on Shapor, causing him to retreat. Macrianus, with his son of the same name proclaimed as emperor, then attempted to invade the west but was defeated and killed by one of Gallienus' generals, Aureolus. The east remained in turmoil for another 12 years and led to the brief existence of a Palmyrene Empire under Queen Zenobia.

Gallienus and his son, Saloninus
Gold aurei in the British Museum (enlarged)

Gallienus had to deal with a succession of rebellions, commencing with that of Ingenuus in the province of Pannonia in AD 2585. While his attention was diverted by this threat, Postumus6, one of his generals who had been left in command of the Rhine frontier, seized power. According to SHA, Postumus had been entrusted with the care of Saloninus, the son of Gallienus who had been elevated to the rank of Caesar in AD 257, and broke faith with his benefactor by killing Saloninus< SUP>7. Postumus seems to have been readily accepted as ruler of the breakaway Gallic Empire, which included Britain and, possibly, part of Spain. Gallienus is supposed to have made a determined attempt to regain the province but called off the attack when he was wounded by an arrow. In reality Aureolus was given the task of continuing the war with Postumus but did not do so with any great vigour, while Gallienus had to deal with the much more serious barbarian invasion of northern Italy.

Postumus
Gold aureus in the British Museum (enlarged)

Despite the danger from the army of Gallienus, Postumus apparently fought two campaigns against the German tribes, once just after his accession, the other circa AD 264-65. His reign lasted into a tenth year, reckoned by his Tribunicias Potestas, during which time he held five consulships8. In AD 268 Laelian9 rebelled against Postumus and was speedily suppressed, but when Postumus refused to let his victorious troops sack the city of Moguntiacum (Mainz) which had supported Laelian, he was attacked by them and killed. Marius10, formerly a blacksmith and a common soldier who had risen through the ranks then seized the empire. His reign is only supposed to have lasted three days but his coinage is sufficiently common to suppose that it was between three and six months duration. He too was murdered, by a soldier he had treated with scorn. The slayer is supposed to have said after the deed "This is a sword that you yourself made", usually taken literally but the meaning is probably allegorical, in that it was as a result of his treatment by Marius.


Laelian and Marius
Note the differences in hair style and beard
Gold aurei in the British Museum (enlarged)

His successor was Victorinus11, a general of Postumus, who reigned for about two years. This would accord well with his coins showing TRP III, with possibly the same number of consulships12. Victorinus was, in his turn, also murdered, by a conspiracy formed by a man whose wife he had seduced. After his death there was a short interregnum in which his mother, Victoria13, held power and it was through her influence that the throne passed to Tetricus14, governor of Aquitania. His son, also called Tetricus15, was given the rank of Caesar. Together they reigned about four years16.

Victorinus
Gold aureus in the British Museum

Tetricus I and his son Tetricus II
Gold aurei in the British Museum

This was, until just a short while ago, the accepted history of the Gallic Empire but in 2004 a discovery 17 showed that there was in fact another ruler in Gaul whose reign fell between that of Victorinus and Tetricus. In a hoard containing some 5,000 3rd century antoniniani there was one in the name of a Domitianus. The style of the coin confirms the period when it was made. SHA does give the story of a Domitianus as one of the 30 Tyrants but the passage may not refer to the same man 18. It is possible that the Domitianus on the coin was the leader of the plot against Victorinus, the man whose wife had been seduced, who managed to briefly seize power.

It was probably due to his lack of success against Postumus that Aureolus was transferred to the Danube province of Rhaetia, but in AD 268 he rebelled against Gallienus and declared himself emperor. He marched on Mediolanum (Milan) and was besieged there by Gallienus after defeat in battle. Hoping he might receive assistance from the Gallic Empire, he declared his support for Postumus and even issued coins in his name. On the night of 20 March AD 268 Gallienus was murdered by a conspiracy of officers and the commander of the nearby garrison at Ticinum (Pavia) became emperor in his place as Claudius II.

Claudius II
Aureus in the British Museum (enlarged)

The first of a succession of competent soldier emperors, Claudius chose, as his first act, to press home the siege of Mediolanum. The city quickly fell and Aureolus was executed. At about the same time the city of Autun in Gaul rebelled against the Gallic emperor and sustained a siege of seven months before being overcome. It is believed that Claudius despatched a force in an attempt to aid the defenders of Autun, which reached at least as far as Grenoble19. The following year the Roman army led by Claudius II defeated a vastly superior force of Goths at the battle of Naissus but the victory was undone when plague was transmitted from the survivors to the Romans and in April AD 270 brought about the death of the emperor. He was succeeded by his brother Quintillus, who committed suicide after a very brief reign20 when he heard that the legions had declared Aurelian as emperor.

 


Aurelian
Heavy post-reform aureus in the British Museum (enlarged)

Aurelian was quickly required to repel another Gothic invasion, after which there was a brief period of peace, broken by a German invasion which brought about the defeat of the Roman army at Placentia. Despite this setback, Aurelian was eventually successful and turned his attention to the east, where Zenobia ruled part of the empire through her son Vabalathus. The recovery took over a year and it was late AD 272 or the following year before Aurelian could return to the west and take up the challenge of the Gallic Empire. In the event, this proved less difficult than expected. The two Tetrici, mistreated and despised by their own army, alarmed at intrigues led by Faustinus, governor of Treveri, and apprehensive of Aurelian, sent secret messages to the emperor indicating that they wished to abdicate. At Châlons they deserted to Aurelian and watched their army cut to pieces in the ensuing battle. The empire was once more united under a single emperor, the first time for over two decades.

This was not the end of the Tetrici. After surviving to be displayed in Aurelian's triumphal procession through Rome in AD 274, the elder Tetricus was made a corrector (supervisor) of Lucania in Italy and his son became a Senator of some distinction.

The Coinage

Early antoninianus of Postumus
British Museum

By the time that Postumus became emperor in Gaul, the Roman coinage was in disarray. The main denomination issued was the base silver antoninianus of a falling standard of fineness, by then only about 15% silver. Gold coins were produced erratically and at a greatly reduced weight to match the fall in the value of the antoninianus. The silver denarius had virtually disappeared from circulation after Trajan Decius had them recalled and restruck as antoniniani and the issue of the larger bronze coins, the sestertius, dupondius and as, had almost ceased as the economy headed for collapse. The achievement of Postumus was that although this trend continued in the central empire controlled by Gallienus, at first this decline was halted in the Gallic Empire. The antoninianus of Postumus remained recognisable as a silver coin until late in his reign but thereafter the collapse of the Gallic coinage was dramatic, ending with antoniniani which were virtually copper, with just the faintest silver wash to maintain the illusion of it being a silver coin, light in weight and poorly struck. Huge quantities were minted, reflected in hoards from the period, most of which contain many thousands of coins, mainly the very debased antoniniani of Victorinus and the Tetrici.

Gold quinarius of Postumus datable to AD 261-266
but probably AD263 when he celebrated his German victory
British Museum

The gold coinage of Postumus was minted at a weight standard approximating to 1/50th of a Roman pound, a standard maintained, as might be expected, in the brief reigns of Laelian and Marius. All the aurei of Victorinus were much lower, about 1/60th of a pound, and those of the Tetrici only 1/72nd of a pound. The coinage of Postumus included the minting of brass sestertii and double-sestertii, as well as a few that appear to be dupondii and asses, all in much larger amounts than did Gallienus21. Early coins, apart from a few local references, for example, the Rhine god (SALVS PROVINCIARVM) and the cult of Hercules at Deuso (HERCVLI DEVSONIENSI), to which can be added the much rarer HERCVLI MAGVSANO for a similar cult at Magusa on the Moselle, are fairly normal types for the period. Even the series proclaiming the restoration of Gaul, RESTITVT(or) GALLIARVM, is what might be expected from someone who wants to justify his rebellion. It is not until the middle of his reign that a dramatic change can be seen. The Quinquennalian celebrations of Postumus must have coincided with a major victory over the Germani. In addition to taking the title Germanicus Maximus, and proclaiming Victoria Germanica, on his aurei Postumus is depicted wearing a military helmet, very unlike the image projected on his earlier coins.

Antoninianus of Postumus with reverse INTERNVTIVS DEORVM
showing Mercury, messenger of the gods

British Museum

One particular group of coins stands out. Datable to AD 265 by an aureus with legend PM TRP VII COS III PP, they refer to the health of the emperor, SALVS POSTVMI AVG and SALVS AVG, the loyalty of the army, FIDES EXERCITVS, and two antoniniani featuring Mercury, the messenger of the gods, MECVRIO FELICI and the unusual, if not unique, legend INTERNV(n)TIVS DEORVM. Mercury also appears with the emperor on the datable aureus. These have been interpreted as meaning that Postumus had been seriously ill, or maybe wounded in some battle, and that somehow his life had been spared and he had made a recovery22.

The end of the reign was notable for a special issue of base silver denarii, the reverses of which commemorated the Twelve Labours of Hercules. Similar reverses were used on some aurei and there is also in existence a rare dupondius and an equally rare as showing Hercules capturing the Ceryneian stag which might indicate that the series once extended to the smaller denominations as well. There are various theories concerning the reason for this "Festemmision" of Postumus, but the most likely is that it celebrates (or anticipates) the commencement of the tenth year of his accession.

Postumus as Sol, on the reverse of an aureus in the British Museum
The obverse has a normal portrait bust.

At the start of his reign Postumus seems to have identified himself with Sol, the sun god, but from AD 267 onwards his allegiance was transferred almost totally to Hercules and on antoniniani from his ninth year he is shown in the guise of Hercules, wearing a lion skin and holding a club over his shoulder; the reverse shows the bow of Hercules, his club and quiver full of arrows.

Antoninianus of Postumus as Hercules, datable to AD 267
British Museum

In AD 267 Postumus issued antoniniani from Cologne marked with C C A A or COL CL AGRIP (Colonia Claudia Agrippina Augusta), or just C A, placed either side of the figure of Jove on antoniniani with legend IOVI VICTORI, which has the appearance of being a mint mark.

Antoninianus struck in the name of Postumus by Aureolus at the Milan mint
Reverse: VIRTVS EQVIT    Mintmark: T
British Museum

Some antoniniani were struck in the name of Postumus at Mediolanum when Aureolus was beseiged there. The emperors had installed a mint in that city a few years earlier to meet the needs of the Danubian frontier and undoubtedly it was these facilities that Aureolus used. Some carry mint marks, the letters P, S and T23, denoting the three officinae (workshops) used on other imperial coins.

Postumus, brass sestertius
British Museum

Throughout his varied and interesting coinage Postumus is shown with a flowing beard and curled hair, remarkably different from his predecessors and a stark contrast to the close-cropped hair and beard of the military emperors that followed. That this was the style affected at the Gallic court is confirmed by all the other Gallic emperors and pretenders save for Marius.

Laelian survived long enough to issue some very rare aurei and antoniniani24, the former with two reverse designs, one showing Tellus25 reclining, with a rabbit by her side, and the other Virtus26 holding an ensign and spear. The aurei were extremely well executed, despite unfavourable comparisons that have been made with those of Postumus. Though his gold coins are rarer than those of Laelian, Marius managed greater variety27, which supports the idea of a longer reign than the three days that has been attributed to him, probably three or four months. The antoniniani with reverse VICTORIA AVG showing Victory running right are extensively die-linked with the coins of Laelian with the same reverse28.

One of the most notable features of the coinage of Victorinus was the series of aurei naming thirteen legions, with reverse designs that represented their respective badges or emblems. It is highly unlikely that all these legions were under his control and the most likely explanation was that they were vexillationes, detachments, serving in Gaul as part of the field army in the defence of the Rhine border at the time of the rebellion. Apart from these, the coinage of Victorinus quickly subsided into bland stereotypes, very different from the vigour of the coinage of Postumus. This was probably caused by the sheer demand for coinage, due to the collapse in the value of the antoninianus, the bulk of which were as bad if not worse as contemporary imperial issues.

After the murder of Victorinus and the very brief reign of Domitianus, there was an interregnum, during which the void was filled by the issue of CONSECRATIO (sometimes CONSACRATIO) reverses with obverse DIVO VICTORINO PIO, showing that his mother Victoria had managed to have Victorinus consecrated as a god. This interim coinage was replaced by issues for the Tetrici, in which the younger Tetricus was associated with his father from the outset. Their antoniniani were of a poor standard, enabling forgers to take advantage by producing huge numbers of counterfeits, though from hoard evidence these forgeries mostly went into circulation after the Tetrici had abdicated, before Aurelian could re-establish his own mint in Gaul and his reformed antoniniani gained widespread circulation29.

The Tribunician Powers and Consulships of the Gallic Emperors

The following is based on the most probable arrangement and seems to accord with traditional dates. However, some is a matter of interpretation and therefore open to correction. In particular, although the traditional dates synchronise the accessions of Victorinus and Claudius II, and the Tetrici and Aurelian, there is a suggestion from hoard evidence30 that Victorinus became emperor of Gaul some time after Claudius II and likewise that the Tetrici came after Aurelian by a similar interval.

Year

Emperor

Tribunician Power and Consulship etc.

Late AD 259

Postumus

TR P COS (or TR P COS I)

AD 260

 

TR P II COS II (or TR P COS II)

AD 261

 

TR P III COS III (or TR P COS III)

AD 262

 

TR P IIII COS III

AD 263

 

TR P COS III ( TR P V but not shown on coins; also with IMP V and VICT GERM)

AD 264

 

TR P VI COS III

AD 265

 

TRP VII COS III

AD 266

 

(TRP VIII COS III assumed - not shown on coins)

AD 267

 

TRP VIIII COS IIII (or TR P COS IIII or just COS IIII)

AD 268

 

TR P X COS V (IMP X COS V or just COS V)

 

Laelian

(TR P assumed, not on coins)

 

Marius

(TR P assumed, not on coins)

 

Victorinus

TR P COS II (or COS II - first consulship with Postumus in AD 267 or 268?)

AD 269

 

TR P II COS II

AD 270

 

TR P III COS III

 

Tetricus I

TR P COS (or TR P I COS)

AD 271

 

TR P II COS

AD 272

 

TRP III COS II (or just COS)

AD 273

 

(TR P IIII? Not known on coins)

AD 274

 

(TR P V?) COS III VOT X (or just VOT X)

The third Consulship of Tetricus, is celebrated on coins with the heads of both the Tetrici on the obverse, either facing or jugate and was obviously linked to an important occasion. If that was not the quinquennalia it is difficult to see what else it could have been. In addition, there are coins for the Tetrici with VICTORIA AVGG VO X. The inscription VOT X looks forward to a reign of ten years having just commenced or completed a fifth year.

Gallic Empire Mints

Postumus inherited the mint at Trier (Augusta Treverorum) established by Gallienus during his Germanic wars, and it seems unlikely that the mint was ever located anywhere else. Georg Elmer suggested that this mint (which he identified as Cologne) worked with three officinae. and thanks to their work on the Cunetio Hoard Edward Besley and Roger Bland have now demonstrated that this was indded the case and that late in the reign one of these officinae was detached and used to set up a mint at Cologne, the first coins being those described above marked C C A A and C A. Interestingly this apporoximates to what was set out in Roman Imperial Coinage Vol.II, Part 2, which ascribed all the early coins to Lugdunum and the later coins to Cologne.

The coins of Laelian pose the question as to where they might have been struck. Because the only city definitely associated with his name was Moguntiacum, it has been assumed that they were minted there but this assertion has no real foundation. As indicated above, die links with coins of Marius show that Laelian's coins were the product of the single-officina mint of Cologne.

Coin Hoards (see also Note 30, below)

Most Roman coin hoards fall into recognisable groups. Those with coins of the Gallic Empire are no exception. There are at least five distinct groups, viz:

Although Gallic Empire coins occur in hoards after AD 282, they are usually in small quantities. The exception might appear to be the Blackmoor Hoard, but this was buried in two containers and was, perhaps, two separate lots of coins assembled in different periods. It is the only hoard deposited after AD 282 that I know with such high quantities of Gallic coins.

Sources - Historical

Scriptores Historiae Augustae - written in the late 4th Century (though purporting to have been written earlier). The lives of the Thirty Tyrants, which includes the Gallic Emperors, was written by Trebellius Pollio, who also wrote the lives of Valerian, Gallienus and Claudius II. The life of Aurelian was written by Flavius Vopiscus.

De Caesaribus - written by Aurelius Victor in the latter half of the 4th century.

There are also brief passages in the works of Eutropius, Orosius Paulus, Polemius Silvio and Zosimus, all written in the 5th century and also Zonaras in the 12th century.

Sources - Coins

"Die Münzpragüng de Gallischen Kaiser in Koln, Trier und Mailand", Georg Elmer, 1941.

Roman Imperial Coinage, Volume V, part 2.

Both parts of Roman Imperial Coinage Volume V badly need updating in the light of modern research. For example, all the coins of Postumus are divided between a mint at Cologne and one at Lugdunum. As with the coins of Carausius and Allectus, too many barbarous copies (contemporary forgeries) have been listed among the genuine pieces, making the picture even more confused.

The Twelve Labours of Hercules on aurei and denarii ("Festemmision")

Denarii

Obverse

Reverse

POSTVMVS PIVS FELIX AVG Jugate busts of Postumus and Hercules facing right

HERCVLI ARCADIO Hercules capturing the Ceryneian stag

HERCVLI ARGIVO Hercules slaying the Hydra


British Museum

HERCVLI ERVMANTINO Hercules with the wild boar of Erymanthus

HERCVLI GADITANO Hercules fighting three soldiers, representing the triple-headed monster Geryones

HERCVLI IMMORTALI Hercules dragging Cerberus in chains

HERCVLI INVICTO Hercules stealing the girdle of Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons


British Museum

HERCVLI NEMAEO Hercules strangling the Nemean lion

HERCVLI PISAEO Hercules on his way to cleanse the Augean stables

HERCVLI ROMANO Hercules in the Garden of Hesperides

HERCVLI THRACIO Hercules taming the horses of Diomedes

POSTVMVS AVG Three-quarter facing bust
Note: This denarius may be a cast of the aureus listed below.

HERCVLI THRACIO Hercules taming the horses of Diomedes

Aurei

POSTVMVS PIVS FELIX AVG Jugate busts of Postumus and Hercules, facing right.

HERCVLI ARGIVO Hercules slaying the Hydra

HERCVLI AVG Hercules shooting the vultures of Stymphalus with a bow and arrow

HERCVLI CRETENCI Hercules capturing the Cretan bull

HERCVLI LIBICO Hercules strangling Antaeus

HERCVLI NEMAEO Hercules strangling the Nemean lion

POSTVMVS AVG Three-quarter facing bust wearing radiate crown

HERCVLI THRACIO Hercules taming the horses of Diomedes

 

Legionary aurei of Victorinus

Obverse

Reverse

IMP C VICTORINVS P F AVG Laureate bust right

LEG PRIMA MINERVINA P F Victory stg. left with a ram

IMP C VICTORINVS P F AVG Jugate busts of Victorinus and Sol

LEG II AVGVSTA P F Pegasus stg. right

IMP C VICTORINVS P F AVG Jugate busts of Victorinus and Sol

LEG II TRAIANA P F Hercules stg. right with club, bow and lion's skin

IMP VICTORINVS P F AVG Laureate cuirassed bust right

LEG III GALLICA P F Bull stg. right

IMP C VICTORINVS P F AVG Laureate bust right

LEG IIII FLAVIA P F Two lions, face to face, with a head above wearing a helmet decorated with an elephant's head


British Museum

IMP C VICTORINVS P F AVG Laureate cuirassed bust left, holding a spear and a shield bearing the head of Medusa

LEG V MACIDONICA P F Bull stg. right, by an eagle on a globe

IMP VICTORINVS P F AVG Laureate bust right

LEG X FRETENSIS P F Bull stg. right

British Museum

IMP VICTORINVS P F AVG Laureate bust right

LEG X GEMINA P F The Dioscuri stg. facing, with heads turned towards each other

IMP VICTORINVS P F AVG Laureate bust right

LEG XIII GEMINA P F Lion walking left

IMP C VICTORINVS P F AVG Laureate bust right

LEG XIIII GEMINA P F Capricorn stg. right, next to eagle on a globe

(i) IMP C VICTORINVS P F AVG Jugate busts of Victorinus and Sol

(ii) IMP VICTORINVS P F AVG Laureate head right

LEG XX VAL VICTRIX P F Boar running left

British Museum (electrotype)

IMP C VICTORINVS P F AVG Laureate bust right

LEG XXII P F Hercules stg. left, holding a club and a lion's skin, beside a capricorn

IMP C VICTORINVS P F AVG Laureate draped bust right

LEG XXX VLPIA PIA F Jupiter stg. , head turned left, holding a sceptre and a thunderbolt, beside a capricorn,

(i) IMP C VICTORINVS P F AVG Jugate busts of Victorinus and Sol left

(ii) IMP VICTORINVS P F AVG Laureate head right


British Museum

LEG XXX VLP VICT P F Jupiter stg. , head turned left, holding a sceptre and a thunderbolt, beside a capricorn,


British Museum

 

Notes:

1. The eight were Philip I and his son and co-emperor Philip II, both killed at the Battle of Verona in AD 249; Trajan Decius and his son Herennius Etruscus, both killed fighting the Goths at Abrittus, and another son, Hostilian, who died of plague AD 251; Trebonianus Gallus and his son Volusian, murdered by their own troops in AD 253; Aemilian, murdered AD 253.

2. Celebrated on coins with the legend VICTORIA GERMANICA etc. and RESTITVTOR GALLIAR.

3. The last dateable coin for Valerian is that recording the fifth renewal of his Tribunicias Potestas, TRP V, which would have been AD 257, whereas those for Gallienus go on to record his TRP VI and VII as well as later dates. This apparent freezing of Valerian's TRP is matched by provincial coins, including Alexandria, where the latest dates equate to AD 257. SHA says that Valerian was captured in his sixth year (AD 258). Valerian did, of course, continue to feature on the coinage until AD 260.

4. Tyranni Triginta, which may be also translated as "Thirty Pretenders".

5. According to SHA this was in the consulships of Tuscus and Bassus, and they were consuls in AD 258.

6. Marcus Cassianius Latinius Postumus, to give him his full name.

7. If this story is true then the rebellion could not have taken place until AD 260 because Saloninus seems to have been still alive at that time. Other sources say that Saloninus was entrusted to the care of another, called Silvanus or Albanus depending on the source, and it was a quarrel between Postumus and Silvanus that provoked the rebellion and brought about the death of Saloninus. The accepted date though is AD 259 and the discrepancy might be because Saloninus was besieged in Agrippina (Cologne), and it may have taken a few months before it fell.

8. That is to say a consulship of his breakaway empire. Assuming his reign began in the latter half of AD 259, his first TRP would have been until December and then he would have been TRP II in AD 260. Thus he would be TRP X in AD 268.

9. Ulpius Cornelius Laelianus - called Lollianus in SHA and Aelianus or L. Aelianus elsewhere.

10. Marcus Aurelius Marius - SHA makes him successor to Victorinus but this is easily disproved by the coinage.

11. Marcus Piavvonius Victorinus - SHA says that Postumus had already made him emperor but there is no evidence to support this.

12. The first of these two consulships seems to have been before he became emperor. Possibly he was consul together with Postumus in AD 267, which might explain the statement in SHA that Postumus had made him co-emperor.

13. She is also called Vitruvia by SHA.

14. Caius Pius Esuvius Tetricus. He was of senatorial rank and, according to Eutropius, he was proclaimed emperor by the army in his absence and assumed the purple at Burdigala (Bourdeaux).

15. Caius Pius Esuvius Tetricus, the same as his father.

16. The length of their reign is disputed. The highest Tribunicias Potestas for Tetricus I is TRP III, (at the earliest this would be AD 272), linked with a second consulship. However, there are coins that show a third consulship and celebrating the quinquennalia of the Tetrici, which therefore could not have been before AD 273, and may be more comfortably accommodated in early AD 274.

17. This should have been realised over a century ago, because another coin of Domitianus was discovered at Cleons, Loire Inferieure, France in 1900 but dismissed as a hoax. Details were published by E. Babelon in 1901 but ignored by the numismatic world, though it was accepted by Percy Web and so managed to be included in RIC. Interestingly, on reading my notes made in 1972-75 about the Gallic Empire, I found that I had included Domitianus, something that I had completely forgotten until the latest coin surfaced. I am sure that there are more such coins awaiting discovery. The similarity of the portrait to that of Victorinus means that it would be all to easy for numismatists sorting through thousands of poor quality Gallic coins to overlook this identification.

18. In SHA he was a general of Aureolus who played a large part in the defeat of Macrianus. Zosimus, writing in the early 6th century, says that he was a pretender who arose in the time of Aurelian. Neither version seems to fit with an emperor in Gaul.

19. From an inscription left by one of the commanders of the force, see Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum XII, 2228.

20.According to SHA, Eutropius and Zonaras, Quintillus only reigned for 17 days, but this is given as 77 days elsewhere and "a few months" in yet another source. Seventeen days seems far too short a time. Since Aurelian was known to be emperor by 25 May AD 270, we can suppose a reign of at least five or six weeks.

21. Gallienus was still minting sestertii etc. as late as AD 264 but they are all very scarce.

22. Carson, R.A.G. "Internuntius Deorum: A new type for Postumus and its place in the series" Congres International de Numismatique 1953 Vol 2

23. That is to say Prima, Secunda, Tertia (first, second, third)

24. The gold coins used two obverse dies and four reverse dies. There were at least 35 obverse and 40 reverse dies used for the antoniniani. There is what purports to be a Laelian denarius in the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, but this is a cast copy taken from one of the aurei.

25. Alternatively a personification of Hispania, depending on which authority is cited.

26. Alternatively a personification of Germania. On some descriptions of this coin the standard is supposed to be inscribed XXX, denoting Legio XXX Ulpia Victrix. When examined closely this seems very doubtful and what is on the standard appears to be just a meaningless artistic flourish.

27. There are, I believe, twelve known aurei of Laelian and only nine of Marius. By comparison there are over 200 aurei of Postumus.

28.This emerged from a study I made in the early 1970s. Suspecting that such links existed, I gave the material to a friend and fellow numismatist, Derek Aldred, asking him to look into it and he had the honour of making the first discovery, quickly followed by several others. We were eventually able to identify 55 different obverse dies and 51 reverse dies for Laelian, with nine of these reverse dies shared by Marius.

29. That neither of the Gallic mints was at Lugdunum (Lyons) seems to be indicated by what is known about the circumstances of the establishment of Aurelian's mint there in late AD 274. SHA mentions that (first?) he had to put down a rebellion in that city. His reformed antoniniani were of the same size as the original coins of that denomination, but were lighter in weight and still only about 4% silver, though with a more substantial silver coating.

30. These are the so-called Lafaurie hoards, named after the French numismatist who first noted them. These are characterised by containing either (1) coins of Claudius II but not Victorinus or (2) coins of Claudius and Quintillus (and sometimes Aurelian) but no coins of the Tetrici.

Coin Gallery

 

List of amendments:

Page introduced 23 February 2005
Coin Gallery added 27 February 2005
5 December 2013 - Text revised to bring this article into line with the results of the study of the Cunetio Hoard by Besley and Bland.

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