The Gallic Empire (AD 260- 274)
For a brief time, caused by the weakened state of the empire, the western provinces managed to break away from Rome, creating their own independent state, known as the Gallic empire.
Claudius II Gothicus
Marcus Aurelius Valerius Claudius born 10 May AD 214 in Illyricum. Became emperor in September AD 268. Died at Sirmium, August AD 270. Deified AD 270.
Claudius Gothicus, who had been among the leaders of the conspiracy against Gallienus.
He was the choice of the army to succeed the murdered emperor and was soon after confirmed by the senate.
Claudius Gothicus would make no terms with the besieged rebel Aureolus and did not interfere when the senate sentenced him to death.
the title Gothicus in the emperor’s name is attributed to have been won in his many engagements with Gothic armies and marauders as he set about the task which had been denied Gallienus, that of driving the Goths out of the Balkans after their crushing defeat at Naissus.
(The victory over the Goths at Naissus was for a long time mistakenly believed to have been achieved by Claudius Gothicus.)
Though not all should go well for Claudius Gothicus. In AD 269 Zenobia, queen of Palmyra, who had inherited the title of supreme commander of the east, broke with her alliance to Rome and began her conquest of the eastern provinces of the empire.
Was Claudius still busy with the Goths, and had he also learnt of further troubles with the Jutes (Juthungi) at the borders of Raetia, he simply could not deal with the threat arising from Palmyra.
Yet, Claudius was not to be the man to lead the Roman armies either against the Jutes, nor against Zenobia. A plague broke out in his camp to which he succumbed in AD 270, whilst making preparations for a campaign against the Jutes.
Marcus Aurelius Quintillus became emperor in August AD 270. Died at Aquileia, ca. September AD 270.
Quintillus was the brother of Claudius Gothicus and the story of his brief succession is mainly that of two conflicting claims of Claudius Gothicus’ last will. Did he claim that his brother had made him his successor and was he the preferred choice by many in the army, then Aurelian, Claudius Gothicus’ comrade in arms and highly respected general claimed he had been chosen to succeed.
For a brief time Quintillus, recognized by the senate as the rightful emperor, contested Aurelian’s claim. But soon he found himself completely abandoned, as everyone turned to Aurelian more through fear than by choice, and he committed suicide.
Lucius Domitius Aurelianus born 9 September AD 214. Became emperor in August AD 270. Wife: Ulpia Severina (one daughter; name unknown). Died at Caenophrurium in Thrace, October/November AD 275. Deified AD 275.
The threat of the empire being overrun from several directions at once was temporarily averted by Aurelian (AD 214-275), who became emperor in AD 270. In addition to evacuating the Roman garrisons in Dacia, he defeated the Alemanni, who on this, their fourth invasion of Italy, had got as far as Ariminum.
Though never since Hannibal had any foreign foe thrust so near to the heart of Italy. So threatening had the situation been that Aurelian was moved to raise a new wall of defence encircling Rome.
The overthrow of the Alemanni, following the treaties with the Goths, seemed to promise a long period of security on the Rhine and Danube frontiers. Though there remained beyond the borders of the empire the insolent Persian king, still unpunished for the devastation he had wrought and the humiliation he had inflicted. But before that matter could be taken in hand, there was still the task of reuniting the empire itself, which had had several provinces torn from it by Postumus during his revolt against Gallienus.
Tetricus, by now the fourth successor to Postumus, was still ruling these renegade provinces known as the Gallic Empire.
though in truth this self-styled Gallic emperor was only anxious to be relieved from a situation where he was anything but master. It would have cost him his life at the hands of the soldiery to openly submit to Aurelian. And yet the battle of Châlons is believed by many to have been little more than a token show of defiance, in which Tetricus quite gladly saw his troops defeated in order to be able to relinquish his position.
Then Aurelian’s attention turned to the east of the empire.
In the east Zenobia, following Odenathus, not only claimed for herself the command of the east, as bestowed on her late husband, but was in fact recognized throughout the east and in Egypt, which owed to Palmyra their preservation from the Persians.
The abilities first of Odenathus and then of Zenobia, aided by the wisdom of the philosopher Longinus, had given protection and restored order and prosperity without aid from Rome.
Dispatching his lieutenant Probus to Egypt to take control there, Aurelian himself led the imperial troops against Palmyra.
Zenobia offered valiant but vain resistance. Palmyra itself was besieged and captured. Zenobia herself was taken prisoner at her attempt to flee. along with Tetricus the captive queen was displayed in the magnificent triumph in Rome which celebrated the victories of Aurelian and the restoration of the empire.
The pride of Rome and the emperor being satisfied, the emperor displayed mercy by granting the fallen monarchs their lives.
It now finally remained to deal with Persia. A great expedition to that end was organized and under way, when Aurelian fell victim to a conspiracy.
He was murdered (AD 275) still in the fifth year of his reign, which had been a succession of triumphs. His murderers were not to be rebels but people among his staff who feared deserved or undeserved punishment.