ROMAN COINS OF THE LONDON MINT: 296-325 AD
As cataloged in RIC, Volumes VI and VII

HISTORICAL OVERVIEW

Last updated: 25 November 2016

This page relates to the roles played by the coinage of Carausius & Allectus plus that produced at the "Unknown Continental Mint" in the development of the London Mint coinage.

Diocletian and Maximian Herculius 285-293 AD

Diocletian assumed the Imperium as Augustus in 284. The following year he appointed Marcus Aurelius Valerius Maximianus: Maximian, a close friend and a renowned General like himself, as his Caesar elevating him to co-Augustus a year later in 286. Diocletian subsequently divided the Empire geographically with himself as Augustus of the East and Maximian as Augustus of the West, thereby instituting a Dyarchy.

[Diocletian coin photo] [Diocletian coin photo]
Diocletian (Augustus of the East) and Maximian (Augustus of the West)


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Carausius - usurper Augustus of secessionist Britain 286-293

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, 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.


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

[Carausius coin photo] [Carausius coin photo]
IMP C CARAVSIVS PF AVG ......................................... PAX AVG | S ..... P


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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 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), Colchester - Camulodunum - Clausentum (uncertain) and across the Channel in Gaul which began to produce coins of distinctive style in Gold, Silver and Copper. PAX was a common reverse on coins of this period.

Carausius and his coinage struck jointly in the names of himself, Diocletian and Maximian

Carausius attempted to assert his equality with -- and acceptance as a co-Augusti by -- the legitimate Dyarchal Augusti, Diocletian and Maximian, by issuing a series of coins in their names and including the titulature AVGGG (the three Augusti) as part of the reverse legend.


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

[Carausius coin struck as co-augusti with Diocletian and Maximian photo] [Carausius coin struck as co-augusti with Diocletian and Maximian photo]
IMP C CARAVSIVS P AVG ......................................... PAX AVGGG | S .....P | C


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

[Carausius coin struck in the name of Diocletian photo] [Carausius coin struck in the name of Diocletian photo]
IMP C DIOCLETIANVS PF AVG ........................ PAX AVGGG | S .....P | MLXXI


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

[Carausius coin struck in the name of Maximian photo] [Carausius coin struck in the name of Maximian photo]
IMP C MAXIMIANVS PF AVG ........................ PAX AVGGG | S .....P | MLXXI


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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. Diocletian emphasized his status as Senior Augustus by adopting Jovius as his Protector-God and assigning Herculius to Maximian. 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: Galerius Maximian was chosen by Diocletian to be his Caesar of the East and Flavius Valerius Constantius: Constantius was chosen by Maximian to be his Caesar of the West.

Allectus - usurper Augustus of secessionist Britain 293-296

After an uneasy interregnum Constantius, newly appointed Tetrarch Caesar of the West, in 293 beseiged and captured Boulogne and then wrested coastal Gaul from Carausius. Shortly thereafter Allectus, the chief Minister/Praetorian Prefect of Carausius, conspired to assassinate him and thereupon declared himself Augustus of Secessionist Britain.


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

[Allectus coin photo] [Allectus coin photo]
IMP C ALLECTVS PF AVG ......................................... PAX AVG | S .....A | ML


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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

Restoration of Britain to the Roman Empire by Constantius in 296

After beseiging and capturing Boulogne and re-conquering adjacent coastal Gaul in 293, Constantius set about planning the invasion, occupation and restoration of secessionist Britain to the Empire.

One of the first orders of business for Constantius was to insure that a supply of reformed Aes coinage - 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 Continental Mint (exact location unknown), manned by Lugdunese workers, to produce this "Invasion Coinage" - unmarked (i.e. without a mint mark) folles issued in the names of Diocletian & Maximian Herculius as Augustus and Constantius & Galerius Maximian as Caesar.


RIC Volume VI, (Lugdunum), Group I, (iv), Class I, No. 14a (Diocletian), 14b (Maximian), 17a (Constantius), 17b (Galerius), c. 296, 10.5-8.75 gm, 28/26 mm. with laureate heads facing right.

RIC VI, Lugdunum, Constantius, No. 17a

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

[Constantius coin photo]
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NOTES:


In 296 Constantius launched a powerful naval invasion force against Britain in two divisions: one led by himself the other led by his praetorian prefect, Asclepiodotus. His mission was to remove Allectus from power and restore Britain to the Empire. This Constantius did, one of his lieutenants killing Allectus during a land engagement.


Bronze copy of 10 aurei multiple commemorating the restoration of Britain to the Roman Empire by Constantius in 296.

[Constantius Chlorus medallion photo] [Constantius Chlorus medallion photo]
FL VAL CONSTANTIVS NOBIL CAES ............ REDDITOR LVCIS AETERNAE


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The reverse of this famous medallion, the original of which presently resides in the museum at Arras, depicts the personification of London kneeling and supplicating to Constantius (on horseback) outside the City Fortification while a galley with Roman soldiers waits on the river Thames.

References and Resources


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