For some years, there was an empire inside the Roman Empire. It had his own Praetorian Guard, two annually elected consuls and possibly its own senate.
This empire is known as the Gallic-Empire or in Latin as the Imperium Galliarum. The Empire came to life when the Roman Empire was very weak. Some years before 260 CE (the year the Gallic Empire was founded by Postumus), the Roman Empire was faced with trouble on its borders. The Roman emperor Valerian was defeated in the Battle of Edessa by the Sassanid Persians in the beginning of the year 260. After this battle Valerian arranged a meeting with Shapur I (also known as Shapur the Great, the second shahanshah of the Sasanian Empire) to talk about peace. Unfortunately for Valerian, Shapur seized him and, according to one story, held him prisoner for the rest of his life. This, combined with conflict along other borders and economic problems within the empire made it possible for Postumus to establish the Gallic Empire.
However, who was this man, Postumus, who established an empire of his own?
At this time, he was the Roman governor in Germania Inferior and Germania Superior. We know next to nothing about his early life or where he was born. What we know for sure is that he had defeated the Franks in 260 and was popular in the Batavian region. He must have been a very powerful man. Valerian’s son and successor Gallienus had his son Saloninus stationed in Cologne (Keulen) with the prefect Silvanus – probably to keep an eye on the ambitious Postumus.
In 260 when Gallienus could not control the Gallic region due to problems in the east, Postumus must have seen his chance to gain power. He sieged the city of Cologne, murdering Saloninus and the prefect Silvanus. Gallienus could not do anything since he was at the other side of the empire; he had neither the men nor the resources to attack Postumus. It was so frustrating for him that he once wrote to Postumus the question if he wanted to fight in a one-on-one battle. Postumus was not interested in fighting; he just wanted to consolidate his empire, which included Britannia, Gaul, Germania and, for a time, Hispania.
The coins of Postumus are in my opinion some of the most beautiful coins the ancient Romans ever created. Real artists must have been worked in the mints of the Gallic empire. Famous are the coins from Postumus with Hercules or three-quarter-facing busts.
There were also many contemporary copies in circulation during the reign of Postumus, which it is possible to classify into two groups. First, the coins, denarii and aurei, that were intended to deceive people. They were not made from silver or gold but from another, cheaper, metal. Second, the coins made from base metals. These were not made to deceive, as there was no gain for the counterfeiters in this. These coins were made by small unofficial mints on a local basis. The reason for this is that the official mints could not meet the demand for small change.
- Weight: 3.38 g
- Diameter: 19.77 mm
Roman Empire Ulpius Cornelius Laelianus (Gallic Empire – Imperium Galliarum)
D/ IMP C LAELIANVS P F AVG
R/ VICTORIA AVG
- Obv. IMP C POSTVMVS P F AVG. Draped armor bust
- Rev. VICTORI–A POSTVMI AVG. Roma on throne
- Weight: 12.34 g
- Diameter: 30.10 mm
- Catalog: RIC:144var, 260-269 CE
Laureate, draped & cuirassed bust left, raising right hand,Galley right with four rowers, steersman,This Sestertius with portrait left is extremely rare. Furthermore, the exergue on reverse is with SC instead of AVG. Probably unpublished and unique,IMP C POSTVMVS P F AVG,LAETITIA SC
- Weight: 3.09 g
- Catalog: RIC 324; Elmer 592
Obv: IMP C POSTUMUS P F AUG, radiate, draped, cuirassed bust of Postumus to the right.
Rev: REST ORBIS; Postumus standing to the right, spear in left hand, extending right to turreted female figure kneeling to the left before him, with cornucopia in left hand, clasping the emperor’s hand with her right.
Very rare. Well-centered on a full flan.
- Weight: 22.1g
- Diameter: ca.31mm
IMP C POSTVMVS P F AVG, radiate, draped and cuirassed bust right. SALVS AVG, Salus seated left on an ornate chair, holding patera towards a serpent rising from an altar to left.
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