Gallic Empire

Gallic Empire

Overview
The Gallic Empire is the modern name for a breakaway realm that existed from 260 to 274. It originated during the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

's Crisis of the Third Century
Crisis of the Third Century
The Crisis of the Third Century was a period in which the Roman Empire nearly collapsed under the combined pressures of invasion, civil war, plague, and economic depression...

.

It was founded by Postumus
Postumus
Marcus Cassianius Latinius Postumus was a Roman emperor of Batavian origin. He usurped power from Gallienus in 260 and formed the so-called Gallic Empire...

 in 260 in the wake of barbarian
Barbarian
Barbarian and savage are terms used to refer to a person who is perceived to be uncivilized. The word is often used either in a general reference to a member of a nation or ethnos, typically a tribal society as seen by an urban civilization either viewed as inferior, or admired as a noble savage...

 invasions and instability in Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

, and at its height included the territories of Germania
Germania
Germania was the Greek and Roman geographical term for the geographical regions inhabited by mainly by peoples considered to be Germani. It was most often used to refer especially to the east of the Rhine and north of the Danube...

, Gaul
Roman Gaul
Roman Gaul consisted of an area of provincial rule in the Roman Empire, in modern day France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and western Germany. Roman control of the area lasted for less than 500 years....

, Britannia
Roman Britain
Roman Britain was the part of the island of Great Britain controlled by the Roman Empire from AD 43 until ca. AD 410.The Romans referred to the imperial province as Britannia, which eventually comprised all of the island of Great Britain south of the fluid frontier with Caledonia...

, and Hispania
Hispania
Another theory holds that the name derives from Ezpanna, the Basque word for "border" or "edge", thus meaning the farthest area or place. Isidore of Sevilla considered Hispania derived from Hispalis....

. After Postumus' assassination in 268 it lost much of its territory, but continued under a number of emperors and usurpers.
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Encyclopedia
The Gallic Empire is the modern name for a breakaway realm that existed from 260 to 274. It originated during the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

's Crisis of the Third Century
Crisis of the Third Century
The Crisis of the Third Century was a period in which the Roman Empire nearly collapsed under the combined pressures of invasion, civil war, plague, and economic depression...

.

It was founded by Postumus
Postumus
Marcus Cassianius Latinius Postumus was a Roman emperor of Batavian origin. He usurped power from Gallienus in 260 and formed the so-called Gallic Empire...

 in 260 in the wake of barbarian
Barbarian
Barbarian and savage are terms used to refer to a person who is perceived to be uncivilized. The word is often used either in a general reference to a member of a nation or ethnos, typically a tribal society as seen by an urban civilization either viewed as inferior, or admired as a noble savage...

 invasions and instability in Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

, and at its height included the territories of Germania
Germania
Germania was the Greek and Roman geographical term for the geographical regions inhabited by mainly by peoples considered to be Germani. It was most often used to refer especially to the east of the Rhine and north of the Danube...

, Gaul
Roman Gaul
Roman Gaul consisted of an area of provincial rule in the Roman Empire, in modern day France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and western Germany. Roman control of the area lasted for less than 500 years....

, Britannia
Roman Britain
Roman Britain was the part of the island of Great Britain controlled by the Roman Empire from AD 43 until ca. AD 410.The Romans referred to the imperial province as Britannia, which eventually comprised all of the island of Great Britain south of the fluid frontier with Caledonia...

, and Hispania
Hispania
Another theory holds that the name derives from Ezpanna, the Basque word for "border" or "edge", thus meaning the farthest area or place. Isidore of Sevilla considered Hispania derived from Hispalis....

. After Postumus' assassination in 268 it lost much of its territory, but continued under a number of emperors and usurpers. It was retaken by Roman Emperor
Roman Emperor
The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman State during the imperial period . The Romans had no single term for the office although at any given time, a given title was associated with the emperor...

 Aurelian
Aurelian
Aurelian , was Roman Emperor from 270 to 275. During his reign, he defeated the Alamanni after a devastating war. He also defeated the Goths, Vandals, Juthungi, Sarmatians, and Carpi. Aurelian restored the Empire's eastern provinces after his conquest of the Palmyrene Empire in 273. The following...

 after the Battle of Châlons in 274.

Origins


The Crisis of the Third Century
Crisis of the Third Century
The Crisis of the Third Century was a period in which the Roman Empire nearly collapsed under the combined pressures of invasion, civil war, plague, and economic depression...

 began as Emperor Valerian
Valerian (emperor)
Valerian , also known as Valerian the Elder, was Roman Emperor from 253 to 260. He was taken captive by Persian king Shapur I after the Battle of Edessa, becoming the only Roman Emperor who was captured as a prisoner of war, resulting in wide-ranging instability across the Empire.-Origins and rise...

 was defeated and captured by the Sassanid Empire
Sassanid Empire
The Sassanid Empire , known to its inhabitants as Ērānshahr and Ērān in Middle Persian and resulting in the New Persian terms Iranshahr and Iran , was the last pre-Islamic Persian Empire, ruled by the Sasanian Dynasty from 224 to 651...

 of Persia, leaving his son Gallienus
Gallienus
Gallienus was Roman Emperor with his father Valerian from 253 to 260, and alone from 260 to 268. He took control of the Empire at a time when it was undergoing great crisis...

 in very shaky control. Shortly thereafter, the Palmyrene Empire
Palmyrene Empire
The Palmyrene Empire was a splinter empire, that broke off of the Roman Empire during the Crisis of the Third Century. It encompassed the Roman provinces of Syria Palaestina, Egypt and large parts of Asia Minor....

, which came to encompass Egypt, Syria, Judea
Iudaea Province
Judaea or Iudaea are terms used by historians to refer to the Roman province that extended over parts of the former regions of the Hasmonean and Herodian kingdoms of Israel...

, and Arabia Petraea
Arabia Petraea
Arabia Petraea, also called Provincia Arabia or simply Arabia, was a frontier province of the Roman Empire beginning in the 2nd century; it consisted of the former Nabataean kingdom in modern Jordan, southern modern Syria, the Sinai Peninsula and northwestern Saudi Arabia. Its capital was Petra...

 also broke away.

The governors in Pannonia
Pannonia
Pannonia was an ancient province of the Roman Empire bounded north and east by the Danube, coterminous westward with Noricum and upper Italy, and southward with Dalmatia and upper Moesia....

 staged unsuccessful local revolts. The emperor left to the Danube to attend to their disruption. This left Postumus
Postumus
Marcus Cassianius Latinius Postumus was a Roman emperor of Batavian origin. He usurped power from Gallienus in 260 and formed the so-called Gallic Empire...

, who was governor of Germania Superior
Germania Superior
Germania Superior , so called for the reason that it lay upstream of Germania Inferior, was a province of the Roman Empire. It comprised an area of western Switzerland, the French Jura and Alsace regions, and southwestern Germany...

 and Inferior
Germania Inferior
Germania Inferior was a Roman province located on the left bank of the Rhine, in today's Luxembourg, southern Netherlands, parts of Belgium, and North Rhine-Westphalia left of the Rhine....

, in charge at the Rhine border. The imperial heir Saloninus
Saloninus
Publius Licinius Cornelius Saloninus Valerianus was Roman Emperor in 259 or 260.-Early life:Saloninus was born around the year 242. His father was the later emperor Gallienus, his mother Cornelia Salonina, a Greek from Bithynia...

 and the praetorian prefect Silvanus remained at Colonia Agrippina (Cologne
Cologne
Cologne is Germany's fourth-largest city , and is the largest city both in the Germany Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia and within the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Area, one of the major European metropolitan areas with more than ten million inhabitants.Cologne is located on both sides of the...

), to keep the young heir out of danger and perhaps also as a control on Postumus' ambitions. Before long, however, Postumus besieged Colonia Agrippina and put the young heir and his guardian to death. Postumus established his capital at Cologne.

The Gallic Empire had its own senate, two annually elected consuls (not all of the names of the consuls have survived) and its own praetorian guard. Postumus himself seems to have held the office of consul five times.

Postumus successfully fended off Gallienus in 263, and was never challenged by him again. However, in early 268 he was challenged by Laelianus
Laelianus
Ulpius Cornelius Laelianus was a usurper against Postumus, the emperor of the Gallic Empire. His revolt lasted from approximately late February to early June 269.-Origins:...

, probably one of his commanders, who was declared emperor at Mainz
Mainz
Mainz under the Holy Roman Empire, and previously was a Roman fort city which commanded the west bank of the Rhine and formed part of the northernmost frontier of the Roman Empire...

 by his Legio XXII Primigenia
Legio XXII Primigenia
Legio XXII Primigenia was a Roman legion levied by Roman Emperor Caligula in 39, for his campaigns in Germania. There are still records of the XXII Primigenia in Mogontiacum from the end of 3rd century...

. Postumus quickly retook Mainz and Laelianus was killed. However the success meant little and he was overthrown and killed by his own troops, reportedly because he did not allow them to sack the city.

After Postumus


After the death of Postumus, the Gallic Empire began to fall apart. Roman Emperor Claudius Gothicus re-established Roman authority in Gallia Narbonensis
Gallia Narbonensis
Gallia Narbonensis was a Roman province located in what is now Languedoc and Provence, in southern France. It was also known as Gallia Transalpina , which was originally a designation for that part of Gaul lying across the Alps from Italia and it contained a western region known as Septimania...

 and parts of Gallia Aquitania
Gallia Aquitania
Gallia Aquitania was a province of the Roman Empire, bordered by the provinces of Gallia Lugdunensis, Gallia Narbonensis, and Hispania Tarraconensis...

, and there is some evidence that the provinces of Hispania, which did not recognize the subsequent Gallic Emperors, may have re-aligned with Rome.

Marcus Aurelius Marius
Marcus Aurelius Marius
Marcus Aurelius Marius was emperor of the Gallic Empire in 269 following the assassination of Postumus.-Reign:According to later tradition, he was a blacksmith by trade who rose through the ranks of the Roman army to become an officer. He was present with the army that revolted at Moguntiacum...

 was instated as emperor upon Postumus' death, but died very shortly after; the literary sources say he reigned only two days, though it is more likely he reigned for a few months. Subsequently Victorinus
Victorinus
Marcus Piavonius Victorinus was emperor of the secessionist Gallic Empire from 269 to 271, following the brief reign of Marius. He was murdered by a jealous husband whose wife he tried to seduce.-Reign:...

 came to power, being recognized as emperor in northern Gaul and Britania, but not in Hispania. Victorinus spent most of his reign dealing with insurgencies and attempting to recover the Gaulish territories taken by Claudius Gothicus. He was assassinated in 271, but his mother Victoria
Victoria (Roman usurper)
Victoria, also known as Vitruvia, was a leader in the roman breakaway realm Gallic Empire in the late 3rd century. She was the mother of Victorinus, who ruled as Gallic Emperor until his assassination in 271...

 took control of his troops and used her power to influence the selection of his successor. With Victoria's support, Tetricus I
Tetricus I
Gaius Pius Esuvius Tetricus was Emperor of the Gallic Empire from 271 to 274, following the murder of Victorinus. Tetricus, who ruled with his son, Tetricus II, was the last of the Gallic emperors following his surrender to the Roman emperor Aurelian.-Reign:Tetricus was a senator born to a noble...

 was made emperor, and was recognized in Britannia and the parts of Gaul still controlled by the Empire. Tetricus fought off Germanic barbarians who had begun ravaging Gaul after the death of Victorinus, and was able to re-take Gallia Aquitania and western Gallia Narbonensis while Roman Emperor Aurelian
Aurelian
Aurelian , was Roman Emperor from 270 to 275. During his reign, he defeated the Alamanni after a devastating war. He also defeated the Goths, Vandals, Juthungi, Sarmatians, and Carpi. Aurelian restored the Empire's eastern provinces after his conquest of the Palmyrene Empire in 273. The following...

 was engaging Queen Zenobia
Zenobia
Zenobia was a 3rd-century Queen of the Palmyrene Empire in Roman Syria. She led a famous revolt against the Roman Empire. The second wife of King Septimius Odaenathus, Zenobia became queen of the Palmyrene Empire following Odaenathus' death in 267...

's Palmyrene Empire
Palmyrene Empire
The Palmyrene Empire was a splinter empire, that broke off of the Roman Empire during the Crisis of the Third Century. It encompassed the Roman provinces of Syria Palaestina, Egypt and large parts of Asia Minor....

 in the east. He established the imperial court at Trier
Trier
Trier, historically called in English Treves is a city in Germany on the banks of the Moselle. It is the oldest city in Germany, founded in or before 16 BC....

, and in 273 he elevated his son, Tetricus II
Tetricus II
Caius Pius Esuvius Tetricus was the son of Tetricus I, Emperor of the Gallic Empire ....

, to the rank of Caesar
Caesar (title)
Caesar is a title of imperial character. It derives from the cognomen of Julius Caesar, the Roman dictator...

. The following year Tetricus II was made co-consul, but the Empire grew weak from internal strife, including a mutiny led by the usurper Faustinus
Faustinus
Faustinus was an usurper against Tetricus I, the last emperor of the Gallic Empire. Not much is known about him. Neither his complete name nor the year of his birth are known. Few literary sources mention that Faustinus instigated a mutiny among the troops of Tetricus I. He rebelled in Augusta...

. By that time Aurelian had defeated the Palmyrene Empire and had made plans to re-conquer the west. He moved into Gaul and defeated Tetricus at the Battle of Châlons in 274; according to the sources, Tetricus, weary of the in-fighting, offered to surrender in exchange for clemency for him and his son. This detail may be later propaganda, but either way, Aurelius was victorious, and the Gallic Empire was effectively dismantled.

Causes


Beyond a mere symptom of chaos in the third century crisis, the Gallic Empire can be interpreted as a measure of provincial identification competing with the traditional sense of romanitas, of the cohesive loyalties of individual legions, and of the power accumulated by entrenched Romanized aristocratic kinship networks whose local power bases ranged from the Rhine to Baetica, although the extent of "Gaulish" self-identification that nationalist historians have inferred is probably inflated. Postumus declared his sole intention was to protect Gaul – this was his larger Imperial task – and in 261 he repelled mixed groups of Franks
Franks
The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...

 and Alamanni
Alamanni
The Alamanni, Allemanni, or Alemanni were originally an alliance of Germanic tribes located around the upper Rhine river . One of the earliest references to them is the cognomen Alamannicus assumed by Roman Emperor Caracalla, who ruled the Roman Empire from 211 to 217 and claimed thereby to be...

 to hold the Rhine limes
Limes
A limes was a border defense or delimiting system of Ancient Rome. It marked the boundaries of the Roman Empire.The Latin noun limes had a number of different meanings: a path or balk delimiting fields, a boundary line or marker, any road or path, any channel, such as a stream channel, or any...

secure, though lands beyond the upper Rhine and Danube had to be abandoned to the barbarians within a couple of years.

Gallic emperors


The Gallic emperors are known primarily from the coin
Coin
A coin is a piece of hard material that is standardized in weight, is produced in large quantities in order to facilitate trade, and primarily can be used as a legal tender token for commerce in the designated country, region, or territory....

s they minted. The political and military history of the Gallic Empire can be sketched through their careers. Their names are as follows:
  • Postumus
    Postumus
    Marcus Cassianius Latinius Postumus was a Roman emperor of Batavian origin. He usurped power from Gallienus in 260 and formed the so-called Gallic Empire...

     260 - 268 (including joint rule with his son Postumus Junior
    Postumus Junior
    Postumus Iunior was an usurper against Roman Emperor Gallienus, according to the Historia Augusta. He is included in the list of the Thirty Tyrants....

     ? - 268)
    • (Laelianus
      Laelianus
      Ulpius Cornelius Laelianus was a usurper against Postumus, the emperor of the Gallic Empire. His revolt lasted from approximately late February to early June 269.-Origins:...

       268, usurper)
  • Marius
    Marcus Aurelius Marius
    Marcus Aurelius Marius was emperor of the Gallic Empire in 269 following the assassination of Postumus.-Reign:According to later tradition, he was a blacksmith by trade who rose through the ranks of the Roman army to become an officer. He was present with the army that revolted at Moguntiacum...

     268
  • Victorinus
    Victorinus
    Marcus Piavonius Victorinus was emperor of the secessionist Gallic Empire from 269 to 271, following the brief reign of Marius. He was murdered by a jealous husband whose wife he tried to seduce.-Reign:...

     268 - 270
    • (Domitianus
      Domitianus
      -Introduction:Domitianus was probably a Roman soldier of the mid-third century AD who was acclaimed Emperor, probably in northern Gaul, in late 270 or early 271 AD and struck coins to advertise his elevation...

       271? usurper)
  • Tetricus I
    Tetricus I
    Gaius Pius Esuvius Tetricus was Emperor of the Gallic Empire from 271 to 274, following the murder of Victorinus. Tetricus, who ruled with his son, Tetricus II, was the last of the Gallic emperors following his surrender to the Roman emperor Aurelian.-Reign:Tetricus was a senator born to a noble...

     270 - 274 (residence Trier
    Trier
    Trier, historically called in English Treves is a city in Germany on the banks of the Moselle. It is the oldest city in Germany, founded in or before 16 BC....

    )
    • Tetricus II
      Tetricus II
      Caius Pius Esuvius Tetricus was the son of Tetricus I, Emperor of the Gallic Empire ....

       270 - 274 (son of Tetricus; caesar
      Caesar (title)
      Caesar is a title of imperial character. It derives from the cognomen of Julius Caesar, the Roman dictator...

      )

External links