The Gallic Empire, as it is often called today, was a break-away political entity of the Roman Empire lasting from AD 260 to AD 274. At its greatest extent it included the western European provinces of Gallia, Germania, Belgica, Hispania and Britannia; basically, today’s France, Spain, England, the Low Countries and part of Germany.
Silver Antoninianus of Postumus AD260-269
Ruled first by the local Governor Postumus and later by Marius, Victorinus and Tetricus, the Gallic Empire was not a rejection of Roman authority by the local populations, which by this time had long been thoroughly Romanized. Rather, it seems to have been the result of local populations turning to the most capable Roman administrators to deal with increasingly frequent destructive incursions into Rome’s European territories by Frankish and Germanic barbarians, and to address economic concerns related to debasement of the currency, in the immediate aftermath of a disastrous war with the Persian Empire. As a political entity it came to an end in AD 274 with the victory of the Roman Emperor Aurelian over Tetricus, whose life was spared.
The coinage output of the Gallic Emperors is interesting and complex and previously unrecorded types are still being found by metal detector enthusiasts and amateur numismatists. Under Postumus the quality of silver coinage in the Gallic Empire seems to have been superior to that produced by the central Roman Empire under Gallienus. It would later decline and under Tetricus was of even lower quality than that of the central Roman Empire, particularly with an improvement of coin quality and silver content under Aurelian.
Because of the political turmoil in the western European provinces during this time, a great number of coin hoards are known from England and France and to a lesser extent from Belgium, Holland and Spain. These hoards often contain thousands of coins, suggesting they were considered to be of very little value individually, that they were often concealed due to the uncertainty of the times or both.
The images presented here link back to coins of this period either available on our website as of this writing or previously sold by us.
Recommended resources: The University of Virginia’s Roman Coin Project offers an excellent introduction to the Gallic Empire, including an analysis of coin hoards of this period that shed light on possible economic motivations for the split from central Roman authority. It may be accessed here: http://www.virginia.edu/artmuseum/VirtualExhibitions/Coins/gallic_empire.htmlhttp://www.virginia.edu/artmuseum/VirtualExhibitions/Coins/gallic_empire.html