The Gallic Empire
AD 259-274


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Mosaic in the Rheinisches Landesmuseum, Trier, naming
Victorinus as Tribunus Pret[oria]norum (Praetorian Tribune)

NB Part of this mosaic has been repaired, hence the missing letters.



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 died (note 1), 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 (note 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 death ((note 3).

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 figure (note 4). 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.

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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 258 (note 5). While his attention was diverted by this threat, Postumus (note 6), 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 (note 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.

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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 consulships (note 8). In AD 268 Laelian (note 9) rebelled against Postumus and was speedily suppressed, but when Postumus refused to let his victorious troops sack the city of Mogontiacum (Mainz) which had supported Laelian, he was attacked by them and killed. Marius (note 10), 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 actually about three months in 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 perhaps allegorical, in that it was as a result of some mistreatment by Marius.

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

His successor was Victorinus (note 11), 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 consulships (note 12). 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, Victoria (note13), held power and it was through her influence that the throne passed to Tetricus (note 14), governor of Aquitania. Soon after, his son, also called Tetricus (note 15), was given the rank of Caesar. Together they reigned about four years (note 16).

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Gold aureus in the British Museum (enlarged)

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

This was, until just a short while ago, the accepted history of the Gallic Empire but in 2004 a discovery (note 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 cannot refer to the same man (note 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 seize power briefly.

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.  In 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.

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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 Grenoble (note 19). 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 late AD 269 (or very early in AD 270) brought about the death of the emperor. He was succeeded by his brother Quintillus, who committed suicide after a very brief reign (note 20) when he heard that the legions had declared Aurelian as emperor.

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

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Early antoniniani of Postumus
LAETITIA AVG, showing a war galley,
SALVS PROVINCIARVM, with a reclining figure of the Rhine god.
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.

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Gold quinarius of Postumus datable to AD 262-267
but probably AD263 when he celebrated his German victory
British Museum (enlarged)

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 Gallienus (note 21). 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 Quinquennalia 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.

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

British Museum (enlarged)

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 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 recovery (note 22).

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.

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Postumus as Sol, on the reverse of an aureus in the British Museum .(enlarged)
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 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 a quiver full of arrows.

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Antoninianus of Postumus as Hercules, datable to AD 268
British Museum (enlarged)

In AD 268 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.


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Postumus antoninianus, reverse IOVI VICTORI, with mintmark C A



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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 besieged there. The emperors had installed a mint in that city a few years earlier to meet the needs of the Danube frontier and undoubtedly it was these facilities that Aureolus used. Some carry mint marks, the letters P, S and T (note 23), denoting the three officinae (workshops) used on other imperial coins. Most of these Mediolanum coins are poorly made and very difficult to obtain in top condition.

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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 (note 24) as well as antoninian, the former with two reverse designs, one showing Hispania or Tellus (note 25)) reclining with a rabbit by her side, and the other the emperor as Virtus (note 26) holding an ensign and spear. These 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 variety (note 27). On the whole coinage of Marius is of a greater volume and much more varied, which supports the idea of a much longer reign than the three days that has been attributed to him, at least 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 reverse (note 28). 

Because of the support given to Laelian by Mogontiacum, this has somehow been translated by modern numismatists into the site of his mint. It is extremely unlikely that this was the case, as the coinage itself testifies.  The die- links mentioned above clearly demonstrate that Laelian’s single officina mint was the same as that of Marius.  The two-officinae mint of Trier passed directly from Postumus to Marius. If, for a moment, we assume that Laelian set up a new mint completely from scratch, the standard of the coins it produced was remarkably good for such a brief reign, unmatched by that of any other usurper from that or any other period.  Of course, if he had taken over the mint at Cologne, this would be  as expected, unworthy of comment.  If instead it was a completely new mint, the situation be that Cologne still issued coins of Postumus (there would be no reason not to) then ceased production entirely. Meanwhile, the new mint (i.e. Mogontiacum) first produced coins for Laelian, then, instead of being closed down immediately by Marius, continued to mint for him and continued to do so for Victorinus and the Tetrici.  Die-links and mules show that it was almost certainly the same mint throughout and, if Cologne, had first to be recovered from Laelian.  The assumption always seems to be that Laelian had been defeated and was already dead before the death of Postumus it seems more likely Laelian was still in the field and it was Marius who afterwards finished him off before losing out to Victorinus.  Indeed, Victorinus may have seized power in Trier (and consequently the mint there) while Marius was still dealing with Laelian. 

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 circulation (note 29).

The Tribunician Powers and Consulships of the Gallic Emperors

The following is based on the most probable arrangement and is somewhat different to traditional dates. However, this 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, hoard evidence (note 30) support the view that Victorinus became emperor of Gaul some time after Claudius II and likewise, that the Tetrici came after Aurelian by a similar interval.



Tribunician Power and Consulship etc.

Summer AD 259



AD 260



AD 261



AD 262



AD 263


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

AD 264



AD 265



AD 266


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

AD 267



AD 268


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



(TR P assumed, not on coins)



(TR P assumed, not on coins)



TR P COS II (or just COS II)- first consulship with Postumus in AD 266 or 267?)

AD 269



AD 270




Tetricus I


AD 271



AD 272


TRP III COS II (or just COS)

AD 273


(TR P IIII? Not known on coins)

AD 274



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. Dating to AD 272 at the latest, this was too late to be for the elevation of Tetricus II to the rank of Caesar, though it may be celebrating a joint consulship  with his father, but with VOT X, which would normally follow the start of a fifth year, it is difficult to believe that the coins are anything other than the celebration of the quinquennalia and would normally be viewed as such. In addition, there are aurei for the Tetrici inscribed VICTORIA AVGG VO X which also looks forward to a reign of ten years.

Gallic Empire Mints

In contrast to Webb in RIC, who divided the coins between Lugdunum and Cologne (Colonia Claudia Ara Aggripensium), Georg Elmer instead identified the principal mint as Cologne, with Trier (Augusta Treverorum) as a branch mint.  That it was not Lugdunum makes sense. The main purpose of Roman mints was to provide funds for the army, and with the Germanic campaigns along the Rhine frontier occupying the attention of both Gallienus and Postumus, situating the mint at Lugdunum would require coins to be transported some 350 miles in order to pay the garrisons, more than three times the distance from Trier. It could, of course, just as easily be set up in Cologne, as Elmer believed, but it is clear from the coinage that the mint there was not set up until AD 267, using personnel transferred from Trier.

Elmer also put forward the theory that this mint operated with three officinae.  Thanks to their work on the Cunetio Hoard, Edward Besley and Roger Bland have now demonstrated the case for the three officinae and confirmed that late in the reign, one of them was detached and used to set up the mint at Cologne, the first coins being those described above marked COL CL AGRIP, C C A A and C A.

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 Mainz (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 in Cologne.  The rest of Marius’ coinage was minted at Trier. 

More coins of the Gallic emperors can be see here:





Forgeries of Gallic Empire Gold Coins

Over 50 years ago, during my research into the coinage of the Gallic Empire, I discovered that a gold coin of Victorinus in the British Museum that had been part of the collection since the 18th century was in fact a forgery. Following this, and a trip round Europe and a lengthy survey of other collections, I was able to identify others, all with similar pedigrees, which were also cast forgeries, all duplicating genuine coins. They were of a very high standard, certainly able to withstand all but the most meticulous scrutiny. It is possible that there were others that managed to pass inspection even when in possession of the facts. These findings were the subject of a presentation to the Royal Numismatic Society on 18 December 1973. This provoked something of a furore at the time and a lot of heart-searching. At the time there were several people who refused to believe that they possessed a fake even when the evidence was pointed out to them.  Without wishing to be alarmist, all Gallic Empire coins should be carefully checked.  There is no secret in how to identify them, just a careful inspection should suffice.

The Numismatic Chronicle recorded the presentation as follows:

“Mr K J J Elks read a paper on 18th-century forgeries of Gallic Empire coins. Mr Elks illustrated and discussed a series of technically skilful cast forgeries of 3rd-century gold coins. The provenance of many of these are proven back into the 18th century and in one case at least the source is possibly earlier still.  These pieces demonstrate that a venerable pedigree was no guarantee of authority and that even at so early a date the competence of these forgeries was already dangerously high.”

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:

·         Deposited circa AD 261, near the start of Postumus’ reign

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.

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  (Translated into English by Nick Wells, available online).

The Cunetio and Normanby Hoards”, Roger Bland, Edward Besley and Andrew Burnett, with additional notes by Sam Moorhead, Spink 2018.

“Roman Imperial Coinage, Volume V, part 2”,  Percy Webb, 1933

Both parts of Roman Imperial Coinage Volume V badly need updating in the light of modern research.


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




Jugate busts of Postumus and Hercules facing right

HERCVLI ARCADIO Hercules capturing the Ceryneian stag

HERCVLI ARGIVO Hercules slaying the Hydra

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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

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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



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





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 (enlarged)

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

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British Museum (enlarged)

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

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British Museum (electrotype, enlarged)

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

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British Museum (enlarged)

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

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British Museum (enlarged)



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 explained by Saloninus being 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 summer of AD 2590, 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 266, 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 recorded 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 others 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 revisiting my notes about the Gallic Emperors  made in 1970-, I was reminded that I had seen the coin, by then in the Biblioteque Nationale, Paris (who, very kindly provided me with a plaster cast), and 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 too 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. Aurelian was known to be emperor by 25 May AD 270, but we can still suppose a reign of at least three months.

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. An alternative suggestion is that this is a personification of Germania. Some descriptions of this coin state that the standard is inscribed XXX, denoting Legio XXX Ulpia Victrix, but this is not absolutely clear and may be a meaningless artistic flourish. Laelian's family name was Ulpia and there may have been some connection with the Legion, though not necessarily with the Ulpian gens, which included the emperor Trajan.

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.