THE BRITANNIC COINAGE OF CONSTANTIUS
Gaul and Londinium Production (294-306)

HISTORICAL OVERVIEW

Last updated: 10 September 2017

Diocletian - the reforming Augustus

RIC VI, Londinium, No.6a - Diocletian:

[Diocletian coin photo] [Diocletian coin photo]
IMP C DIOCLETIANVS PF AVG .................... GENIO POPV -- LI ROMANI

Diocletian (Caius Aurelius Verus Diocletianus) has come down in history as an astute politician, accomplished administrator and a stalwart leader. Upon assuming the Imperium as Augustus in 284 he determined to bring an end to the social and political chaos that had pervaded the Roman Empire for over fifty years by instituting several radical reforms including the institution of a Dyarchical, and subsequently a Tetrarchical, form of government. He was the driving force in reorganizing the entire Imperial Governmental System and reforming the coinage.

The Dyarchy -- Maximian Herculius appointed Augustus by Diocletian

RIC VI, Londinium, No.6b - Maximian Herculius:


IMP C MAXIMIANVS PF AVG ................. GENIO POPV -- LI ROMANI

In 285 Diocletian appointed Marcus Aurelius Valerius Maximianus, a close friend and a renowned General like himself, as his Caesar elevating him to co-Augustus the following year. Diocletian emphasized his status as Senior Augustus by adopting Jovius as his Protector-God and assigning Herculius to Maximian. Diocletian subsequently divided the Empire geographically with himself as Augustus of the East and Maximian Herculius as Augustus of the West, thereby instituting a Dyarchy. Diocletian established his headquarters at Nicomedia and Maximian Herculius his at Milan.

Carausius - usurper Augustus of secessionist Britain

RIC V (2), London, Carausius, Antoninianus, No. 475


CARAUSIUS

The political and military turmoil of the third century spawned numerous external assaults on the Roman Empire. One of these was the incessant seafaring piracy in the waters surrounding the Roman occupied island outpost of Britain. In 286 Maximian Herculius, in his capacity as Dyarch Augustus of the West, designated a highly regarded military commander named Marcus Aurelius Mausaeus Carausius, of Flemish descent, to head a fleet of ships who's mission was to eliminate, or at least severely curtail, this piracy. Carausius had distinguished himself by outstanding leadership and military prowess, especially as a naval "Admiral", in the Gallic campaigns.

Carausius established his operational base at the coastal city of Boulogne (Gesoriacum) in Roman occupied northern Gaul. Carausius did indeed accomplish his mission, but reports of corruption and extortion led Maximian Herculius to dispatch a fleet of ships in order to remove Carausius from command. However, Carausius proved too strong and he repulsed the attack. Carausius subsequently used his continental base to launch an invasion force to occupy and subjugate Britain. Landing in the north, Carausius secured the support of the native Picts and, advancing south, confronted and defeated the forces of the Roman Governor. Having thus conquered the Island, he proclaimed himself Augustus of a Secessionist Britain, becoming an effective and efficient Administrator using the Roman Imperial governmental framework as a model. He maintained control of Boulogne and coastal northern Gaul.

Carausius established his own mints at London (Londinium) and Colchester (Camulodunum - Clausentum) -- "C" Mint -- and across the Channel in Gaul which began to produce coins of distinctive style in gold, silver and bronze.

Carausius attempted to assert his equality with the legitimate Dyarchal Augusti, Diocletian and Maximian Herculius (not accepted by them), by issuing a series of Antoniniani (some in their names) which included the titulature AVGGG (the three Augusti: Diocletian, Maximian Herculius and Carausius) as part of the reverse legend.


RIC V (2), London, Carausius, Antoninianus, No. 335


IMP C CARAVSIVS P AVG ......................................... PAX AVGGG | S .....P | C


RIC V (2), London, Carausius, Antoninianus. No. 5


IMP C DIOCLETIANVS PF AVG ........................ PAX AVGGG | S .....P | MLXXI


RIC V (2), London, Carausius, Antoninianus, No. 34


IMP C MAXIMIANVS PF AVG ........................ PAX AVGGG | S .....P | MLXXI

Institution of the Tetrarchy

In 293 Diocletian finalized the Institution of a Tetrarchy -- government of the Empire by four interacting rulers -- two Augusti assisted by two subordinate Caesars, which each Augustus would personally select. The two Caesars, chosen because of their proven leadership abilities, assisted the Augusti with civil administration and command of the armies. Caius Galerius Valerius Maximianus was chosen by Diocletian to be his Caesar of the East and Flavius Valerius Constantius was chosen by Maximian Herculius be his Caesar of the West.

RIC VI, Londinium, No. 21 - Galerius Maximian as Caesar:

[Galerius coin photo] [Galerius coin photo]
MAXIMIANVS NOB CAES .............................. GENIO POPV -- LI ROMANI


RIC VI, Londinium, No. 22 - Constantius as Caesar:

[Condtantius coin photo] [Constantius coin photo]
CONSTANTIVS NOB C ................................. GENIO POPV -- LI ROMANI

The first assignment given Constantius by Maximian Herculius was to remove Carausius, the usurper Augustus of secessionist Britain, and restore that former possession to the Empire. Constantius thereupon besieged and captured Boulogne and then wrested coastal Gaul from Carausius. Constantius now set about planning the invasion, occupation and restoration of secessionist Britain to the Empire. One of the first orders of business for Constantius in 294 was to insure that a supply of reformed aes coinage (folles) - now the commonplace legal tender of the Roman Empire - was available for use not only by his occupying force, but also by the British civilian populace. To that end Constantius established a Mint in Gaul (exact location usually listed as unknown, although some French sources list it as Boulogne), manned by Lugdunese workers, to produce this invasion coinage - unmarked (i.e. without a mint mark) issued in the names of Diocletian & Maximian Herculius as Augusti and Constantius & Galerius Maximian as Caesars:

RIC Volume VI, Lugdunum, No. 14a - Diocletian:

[Diocletian coin photo] [Diocletian coin photo]
IMP C DIOCLETIANVS PF AVG ............................. GENIO POPV -- LI ROMANI


RIC Volume VI, Lugdunum, No. 14b - Maximian Herculius:

[Maximian coin photo] [Maximian coin photo]
IMP C MAXIMIANVS PF AVG ................................. GENIO POP -- VLI ROMANI


RIC Volume VI, Lugdunum, No. 17a - Constantius:

[Constantius coin photo] [Constantius coin photo]
FL VAL CONSTANTIVS NOB C .............................. GENIO POPV -- LI ROMANI


RIC Volume VI, Lugdunum, No. 17b - Galerius Maximian:

[Galerius coin photo] [Galerius coin photo]
C VAL MAXIMIANVS NOB C .............................. GENIO POPV -- LI ROMANI

Allectus - usurper Augustus of secessionist Britain

After an uneasy interregnum Constantius, newly appointed Tetrarch Caesar of the West, in 294 besieged and captured Boulogne and then wrested coastal Gaul from Carausius. Shortly thereafter Allectus, the chief Minister and associate of Carausius, conspired to assassinate him and thereupon declared himself Augustus of Secessionist Britain.

RIC V (2), London, Allectus, Antoninianus, No. 33


IMP C ALLECTUS P F AVG ............................. PAX AVG ..... S (Pax standing left) A
M L in exergue.

Allectus continued operation of the London and Colchester/Camulodunum/Clausentum (uncertain) mints and coins were issued in his name and bearing his portrait. In addition to the silver washed copper Antoninianus of Carausius, Allectus issued a copper coin of reduced size bearing the letter Q in the exergue which has been interpreted to mean Quinarius

Britain restored to the Roman Empire by Constantius

In 296 Constantius launched a powerful naval invasion force against Britain in two divisions: one led by himself, which sailed from Boulogne and the other led by the Praetorian Prefect of Maximian Herculius, Asclepiodotus, which sailed from the mouth of the river Seine. The mission of Constantius was to remove Allectus from power and restore Britain to the Empire. This mission was accomplished and although Constantius was in overall command of the operation, some historical sources assert it was the force under Asclepiodotus that did most of the fighting on land and in fact it was they who defeated and killed Allectus during the decisive battle. Constantius subsequently entered the city of London to proclaim his conquest as restorer of the eternal light of the Roman Empire: Redditor Lucis Aeternae.

[Constantius medallion photo]

This is a photograph of the reverse of a bronze copy of the famous ten aurei multiple (RIC VOLUME VI, TREVERI, No. 34), the original of which presently resides in the museum at Arras, commemorating the restoration of Britain to the Roman Empire by Constantius in 296. It depicts the personification of Londinium (LON) kneeling and supplicating to Constantius (on horseback) outside of the City Fortification while a galley with Roman soldiers waits on the river Thames. The inscription REDDITOR LVCIS AETERNAE proclaims Constantius as the restorer of the eternal light (of Rome). The Treveri (Trier) mint mark (PTR) is in the exergue.

Bastien records the original (unique) coin as No. 218 in his book on the Arras Hoard and mentions that galvano copies were made and sold by the Paris coin dealer Bourgey. At a weight of 23.0 grams I think the copy depicted here was cast in bronze from one of those galvano copies. There appears to be numerous other copies in circulation in a variety of metals - brass/bronze, silver, gold, gilded copper, etc. Following are obverse and reverse depictions with attribution information:

[Constantius medallion photo] [Constantius medallion photo]
FL VAL CONSTANTIVS NOBIL CAES ............. REDDITOR LVCIS AETERNAE
LON (right) PTR (exergue)

Initial series of coins produced at the London Mint

The initial folles c. 297 (RIC Volume VI, Londinium, No. 1-5), again issued in the names of Diocletian & Maximian Herculius as Augustus and Constantius & Galerius Maximian as Caesar, closely followed the design, size and weight of the unknown Continental Mint "Invasion" coinage except they now bore a LON mint mark in the reverse exergue.


RIC Volume VI, Londinium, No.1a - Diocletian

[Diocletian coin photo] [Diocletian coin photo]
IMP C DIOCLETIANVS PF AVG .................... GENIO POPV -- LI ROMANI
LON
in exergue

As depicted in RIC Volume VI, Plate 1.
Subsequent coinage produced at the London Mint was unmarked (i.e. no LON mint mark in the reverse exergue) until the issue of reduced size/weight folles after the death of Constantius in 306.

Abdication of Diocletian and Maximian Herculius

On 1 May 305, Diocletian and Maximian Herculius abdicated to become Seniore (retired) Augusti as planned. Constantius succeeded Maximian Herculius as Augustus of the West and Galerius Maximian succeeded Diocletian as Augustus of the East. Flavius Valerius Severus (Severus), a close friend of Galerius Maximian, was appointed Caesar of the West by Constantius and Galerius Valerius Maximinus Daia (Maximinus Daza) was appointed Caesar of the East by Galerius Maximian.

RIC VI, Londinium, No. 77a, Diocletian:

[Abdication coin photo] [Abdication coin photo]
DN DIOCLETIANO FELICISSIMO SEN AVG
PROVIDENTIA DEORVM QVIES AVGG

Obverse: Laureate bust of Diocletian in Imperial mantle holding mappa in right hand and olive branch in left hand.
Reverse: Personification of Providentia, standing left, and extending hand to personification of Quies, standing right, holding olive branch and leaning on scepter.


RIC VI, Londinium, No. 76b, Maximian Herculius:

[Abdication coin photo] [Abdication coin photo]
DN MAXIMIANO BEATISSIMO SEN AVG
PROVIDENTIA DEORVM QVIES AVGG

Obverse: Laureate bust of Maximian Herculius in Imperial mantle holding mappa in right hand and olive branch in left hand.
Reverse: Personification of Providentia, standing left, and extending hand to personification of Quies, standing right, holding olive branch and leaning on scepter.

Elevation of Galerius Maximian and Constantius to Augustus

RIC VI, Londinium, No. 42 - Galerius Maximian as Augustus:

[Galerius coin photo] [Galerius coin photo]
IMP C MAXIMIANVS P F AVG ......................... GENIO POPV -- LI ROMANI


RIC VI, Londinium, No. 47 - Constantius as Augustus:

[Constantius coin photo] [Constantius coin photo]
IMP CONSTANTIVS PIVS FEL AVG ....................... GENIO POPV -- LI ROMANI

Selection of Severus and Maximinus (Daia) as Caesar

RIC VI, Londinium, No. 59a - Severus as Caesar:

[Severus coin photo] [Severus coin photo]
SEVERVS NOBILISSIMVS CAES ......................... GENIO POPV -- LI ROMANI


RIC VI, Londinium, No. 59b - Maximinus as Caesar:

[Maximinus coin photo] [Maximinus coin photo]
MAXIMINVS NOBILISSIMVS NOB C ......................... GENIO POPV -- LI ROMANI

Death of Constantius

Constantius died at Eboracum (York) in Britain during a campaign against the warlike tribes of the North on 25 July 306. Just before he died, Constantius conferred Imperium on his son, Flavius Valerius Constantinus (later Constantine the Great). The army commanded by Constantius wanted Constantine proclaimed Augustus, however, Galerius Maximian, the now de-facto senior Augustus, instead proclaimed him Caesar of the West and elevated Severus to Augustus of the West in accordance with the rules for succession.


RIC VI, Londinium, No. 89b, Constantine as Caesar

[Constantine coin photo] [Constantine coin photo]
FL VAL CONSTANTINIVS NOB C ........................... GENIO POP ROM (PLN)

Draped laureate bust, Genius with head towered and loins draped.
Issued shortly after the death of Constantius following recognition as Caesar by Galerius.
Hereafter, folles were issued at reduced size and weight.
.


The London Mint continued to operate until 325 now under the auspices of Constantine


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