A story that has been largely ignored in the chronology of the Roman Empire is the creation in 260AD of an independent empire covering the western provinces of the Roman Empire.  Led by the Roman Emperor Postumus, the Gallic Empire survived for 14 years.  Resisting barbarian attacks, free from the politics and taxation of Rome it comprised modern day Spain, Portugal, Britain, Belgium and France and lower Germany.

The story is a rich one and the names of the emperors are not just dry dusty lines in the annals of the Roman Empire.  We have their names, wives, families, personal stories and anecdotes, archaeology, inscriptions and yes, even portraits - fine art indeed - of the very faces of these Emperors.  We know who they were, where they lived and what they looked like.  Unlike the early Kings of England - we can see the very faces of these Emperors from 1800 years ago

The story of Roman Britain, by example, is much written about, but too little has related the story, the excitement, the boldness and yes, the success of a chain of these military generals, who declared independence and held power for 14 years.  Only now, with the renewed study of the Roman Emperor Aurelian, and the surge in interest in the independent Empire of Palmyra under Queen Zenobia and her son Vabalathus, has the story of their western counterparts begun to emerge from the shadows.

This account seeks to unlock that story and bring back into the history books the story of the Gallic Emperors: Postumus, Laelianus, Marius, Victorinus, Tetricus I and his son Tetricus II.

There are notable highlights that bring the story alive:

  • The coinage itself.  Under Postumus the coinage reached heights of artistic quality and design, unseen since Emperors Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius in the second century
  • The massive surge in the minting of coins under Tetricus I and Tetricus II, of silver mining, of debasement and forgery coupled with local trade and the hiding of vast numbers of coins leading to the modern discovery of vast hoards of coins from the later Gallic Empire.
  • The military success in repelling the vast incursions of barbarian tribes over the Rhine and Danube
  • Development of a chain of fortifications along the coast of Britain and maintenance of food supply lines to feed the legions of Britannia, Hispania and Gaul
  • The Augsburg Altar which confirms that the Gallic Empire of Postumus, extended into the reaches of northern Italy and included the province of Raetia (modern Bavaria)
  • Discovery of the large villa complex in Trier where Victorinus livedas a Prefect, before becoming Emperor
  • Evidence that Britain was not some forgetten outpost, but a maintained network - important and vital with inscibed milestones to erected to the Emperor Tetricus.

These and other elements - are a story worth telling - in and of themselves.  All whilst the central Empire of Rome itself struggled as the Emperor Valerian was defeated and captured; Gallienus his son, fought to cling to office; Claudius II Gothicus and his half brother Quintillus who fought the Alemanni tribes north of Milan.  But it fell to the soldier Emperor Aurelian to take office, fortify the city of Rome and drag the Roman Empire - Rome, Palymra and Gallic Rebels, back together, as one united force.

This is a fast moving story, of generals, legions, religion, invasion and migration.  It is also one of money, food and power.  In this sense it is a modern story that we will recognise.  Above all it is our story - the Emperors who ruled over Britainnia and much more besides.