BRITANNIC COINAGE AND THE TETRARCHY

Last updated: 1 December 2017

COINAGE PRODUCED IN BRITAIN BY THE USURPER AUGUSTI CARAUSIUS & ALLECTUS

Historical Overview

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.

The Mints established by Carausius

Carausius established 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. The coins depicted in this section were minted in Britain at either the London (Londinium) or the "C" (Colchester/Camulodunum/Clausentum) Mints.

Coinage produced in Britain by Carausius

SELECTED EXAMPLE COINS:

RIC V (2), Carausius, Antoninianus, No. 355:


IMP C CARAVSIVS P AVG .............................................. PAX - A - VGGG | S .....P |
C
in reverse exergue

Coin reverse legend ends in AVGGG - an attempt by Carausius to indicate that he, Diocletian and Maximian Heculius were a fraternity of co-equal Roman Emperors - not accepted by them.
Draped, radiate, bust
"C" Mint.
3.8 gm.


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

[LON coin photo][LON coin photo]
IMP C DIOCLETIANVS P AVG .............................................. PAX AVGGG | S P
M L XXXI

Cuirassed, radiate, bust
London Mint.
Struck by Carausius in the name of Diocletian.
3.8 gm.


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

[LON coin photo][LON coin photo]
IMP C MAXIMIANVS P AVG .............................................. PAX AVGGG | S P
M L XXXI

Cuirassed, radiate, bust
London Mint.
Struck by Carausius in the name of Maximian Herculius (Maximianus).
3.95 gm.


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


IMP C CARAVSIVS PF AVG ......................................... PA - X - AVG | S .....P

Draped, radiate, bust
London Mint.
3.9 gm.

Assassination of Carausius by Allectus

In 293, Allectus, who was the chief minister of Carausius, assassinated him (or orchestrated his assassination) and proclaimed himself Augustus of Secessionist Britain.

The coinage produced by Allectus

Allectus continued operation of the London and "C" 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 (half antoninianus) denominaion.
London Mint.

SELECTED EXAMPLE COINS:

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


IMP C ALLECTVS P F AVG ............................. PA - X - AVG ..... S (Pax standing left) A
M L in reverse exergue.

Cuirassed, radiate, bust
London mint
5.1 gm.


RIC V (2), Allectus, Quinarius, No. 55:


IMP C ALLECTVS P F AVG ............................. VIRTVS AVG ..... (Galley)
Q L in reverse exergue.

Allectus "Q" coin issue - The reverse depicts a Roman galley - symbolic of the dominant sea power emphasized by the Usurper Augusti.
Cuirassed, radiate, bust
London Mint.
2.8 gm.


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