Update: Caesars & Augusti who campaigned in Britain

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by jamesicus, Sep 25, 2020.

  1. jamesicus

    jamesicus Supporter! Supporter

    Four Augusti died in Britain:

    SEPTIMIUS SEVERUS - at Eboracum (York), AD 211, while campaigning in the north.

    CARAUSIUS - in southern Britain, AD 293, assassinated by his Chief Minister, Allectus.

    ALLECTUS - in southern Britain, AD 296, killed in battle with the invading force of Constantius.

    CONSTANTIUS (Chlorus) - at Eboracum (York), AD 306, while campaigning in the north.


    In 55 BC Julius Caesar became the first Roman Imperator to set foot in Britain. He fought skirmishes with local Chieftains in the south east of the country eventually departing Britain later that year to resume his campaign in Gaul. He returned in early 54 BC and successfully subjugated the Britannic forces only to abandon the campaign later in the year.

    Denarius, Crawford, Roman Republican Coins (RRC), No. 480/8 (March 44 BC - Alfoldi)

    Coin obverse depiction: Julius Caesar wreathed head facing right
    Inscription clockwise from right: CAESAR DICT PERPETVO (Dictator in Perpetuity)

    Coin reverse depiction: Venus standing, facing left, holding statuette of victory on palm of right hand and supporting vertical scepter with left hand
    Inscription vertical to right: L BVCA (L. Aemilius Buca, Moneyer)

    Weight: 3.5g


    Claudius freed all slaves and restored the liberties of numerous Roman citizens of all ranks unjustly exiled or imprisoned by Caligula in order to signal the return to a government of tolerance and stability.

    BMCRE Vol I, CLAUDIUS, As, Rome, No. 206 (Pl. 36.6)
    RIC Vol I, CLAUDIUS, As, Rome, No. 113

    Obverse depiction: Claudius, bare headed facing left
    Inscription clockwise from bottom: TI CLAVDIVS CAESAR AVG P M TRP IMP P P

    Reverse depiction: Personification of Liberty, standing right, holding Pileus (Freedman’s cap) in right hand
    Inscription clockwise from bottom: LIBERTAS AVGVSTA | S -------- C (left and right)

    Claudius perceived that it was imperative for him to accomplish a great feat of arms in order to enhance his prestige with the Senate and prove himself worthy of the title of Augustus. His own father NERO CLAUDIUS DRUSUS and brother GERMANICUS had been acclaimed as great military leaders on the northern frontier and he was determined to emulate their successes. His predecessor (and nephew), CALIGULA, had set out to conquer Britain and add that island outpost to the Empire, but had failed. Now Claudius was determined to fulfill that mission and to that end in AD 43 he dispatched an advanced force consisting of four legions commanded by a renowned general and close ally of the Claudians, AULUS PLAUTIUS, to invade Britain and engage the Britannic forces there.

    Shortly thereafter Claudius landed in Britain and assumed command of the army led by General Plautius. In short order Claudius accepted the surrender of the Britannic forces, appointed Plautius Governor of Britannia and subsequently returned to Rome to celebrate his Triumph and enhance his entitlement by the Senate as Father of the Country - PATER PATRIAE (PP), and exalted servant of the People - OB CIVES SERVATOS.

    Sestertius, RIC Vol. I, Rome, Claudius, No. 112, 50-54AD (36mm, 28.2gm)

    Obverse depiction: Claudius, laureate head facing right

    Reverse depiction: Civic Oak Wreath
    Inscription in four lines:

    EX SC
    P P

    (within wreath)

    In AD 208 Septimius Severus set out for Britain accompanied by his sons Caracalla and Geta with the avowed aim of restoring the much damaged Hadrian's wall and subduing the warlike native tribes of northern Britain and Caledonia (Scotland). In AD 211 he became terminally ill during the campaign, and after proclaiming Victory over Britannia, he withdrew to his headquarters at Eboracum (York) where he died later that year

    Septimius Severus, Denarius, RIC Vol. IV, No. 335

    Obverse depiction: Laureate head facing right
    Inscription clockwise from bottom: SEVERVS PIVS AVG BRIT

    Reverse depiction: Victory (Britannia?) seated left writing on shield
    Inscription: VICTORIAE BRIT

    Caracalla, Denarius, RIC Vol. IV, No. 231a

    Obverse depiction: Laureate head facing right
    Inscription clockwise from bottom: ANTONINVS PIVS AVG BRIT

    Reverse depiction: winged Victory advancing right holding trophy
    Inscription: VICTORIAE BRIT

    Geta, Denarius, RIC Vol. IV, No. 91

    Obverse depiction: Laureate head facing right
    Inscription clockwise from bottom: P SEPT GETA PIVS AVG BRIT

    Reverse depiction: Victory standing left holding wreath and palm branch
    Inscription: VICTORIAE BRIT


    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 two mints in Britain: one at London (Londinium) and the other at Colchester (Camulodunum - Clausentum) and a Continental mint in Gaul.

    The coins depicted here were produced in Britain by the London (Londinium) mint.

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

    Obverse depiction: draped, radiate, bust
    Inscription: IMP C CARAVSIVS PF AVG

    Reverse depiction: Pax standing left, holding olive branch
    Inscription: PA - X - AVG | S .....P

    London Mint.
    3.9 gm.

    Allectus, the chief minister of Carausius, assassinated him (or orchestrated his assassination) in AD 293. He continued operation of the British Carausian mints and coins were issued in his name and bearing his portrait

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

    Obverse depiction: cuirassed, radiate bust
    Inscription: IMP C ALLECTVS P F AVG

    Reverse depiction: Pax standing left, holding olive branch
    Inscription: PA - X - AVG ..... S - A, M L in reverse exergue.

    London mint
    5.1 gm.


    Allectus died in battle with the invading force of Constantius in southern Britain.

    In AD 296 Constantius, then Caesar of the West, invaded secessionist Britain and restored it to the Empire as directed by Maximian Herculius, Augustus of the West

    RIC Volume VI, Lugdunum, No. 17a, Constantius, Caesar of the West:

    Obverse depiction: truncated bare neck bust, laureate, facing right

    Reverse depiction: Genius of the Roman people, standing
    Inscription: GENIO POPV -- LI ROMANI

    Earliest obverse legend
    10.1 gm.
    Britannia invasion coinage produced in Gaul at unknown Continental mint

    Constantius campaigned in Britain as both Caesar and Augustus - the only Imperator to do so.

    RIC VI, Londinium, No. 47, Constantius, Augustus of the West:
    CT (Cloke & Toone), No. 4.02.003, 1 May 305 - 26 July 306.

    Obverse depiction: laureate, cuirassed bust facing right.

    Reverse depiction: Genius of the Roman people standing left
    Inscription: GENIO POPV -- LI ROMANI

    Constantius was elevated to Augustus of the West after the Abdication of Diocletian and Maximian Herculius. He Died at Eboracum (York) while campaigning against the warlike tribes of the North in AD 306. On his death bed, Constantius conferred Imperium on his son and companion, Constantine.

    RIC VI, Londinium, No. 89b, Constantine, Caesar of the West:
    CT (Cloke & Toone), No. 5.03.004, c. November - December AD 307.

    Obverse depiction: laureate, draped, bust facing right.

    Reverse depiction: Genius of the Roman people standing left
    Inscription: GENIO - POP ROM, PLN in reverse exergue

    Genius with head towered and loins draped
    Issued shortly after the death of Constantius following tentative recognition as Caesar of the West by Galerius

    Weight: 9.3 gm.
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2020
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  3. furryfrog02

    furryfrog02 Well-Known Member

    Great write up James!
    Stylistically, I like the Septimius Severus and Caracalla. I'm such a huge fan of anything depicting Victory. Especially when they specify what their victory is over, in this case Britain.
    I like the Carausius as well just for the length of his neck! The engravers clearly weren't going for realistic depictions...

    I really wish I had been into ancient coins while I lived in London. I spent many a day in the British Museum, but I know I could've expanded my historical knowledge if I had added coinage into my interests.
  4. jamesicus

    jamesicus Supporter! Supporter

    Thank you @furryfrog02. I know what you mean about regrets along that line - I have many of those myself!
    Luke B, DonnaML and furryfrog02 like this.
  5. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

  6. jamesicus

    jamesicus Supporter! Supporter

    Thank you Bing. Where on earth did you find that great likeness of me?:)
  7. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

    I looked in the mirror and he was looking back at me.
  8. IMP Shogun

    IMP Shogun Active Member

    So I know Constans had his trip to Britannia at a very interesting time in 343 AD which some folks attribute his galley coins too. Constans' trip was likely successful given the previous indications of looting and subsequent rebuilding of that time but also he dropped some of his favorite foederati there...

    Vespasian campaigned in Britannia in 43 AD as commander of the Second Legion. (You didn't say they had to be Augustus or Caesar at the time of their campaign!)

  9. IMP Shogun

    IMP Shogun Active Member

    Has anyone come across a Constantine III ?


    Very odd that there isn't anything from London and no bronze, or are they just not listed (and so many fakes)?

    He did get the purple but he may not have campaigned in Britain afterwards.
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