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Victorinus – 268-270 AD

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Marcus Piavonius Victorinus

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Gallic Emperor 268 – 270AD

Marcus Victorinus was emperor of the Gallic Empire, which separated from Rome in 260AD during the aftermath of the capture of Valerian I (253-260AD) by the Persians in battle. Victorinus followed the brief reign of Marcus Aurelius Marius (268AD), who seized power after the assassination of Postumus (260—268AD) by his troops when he would not allow them to sack the city of Mainz. Marius managed to seize power but was quickly assassinated. Some scholars claim his reign lasted just a few days. But his coinage is rare, but not that rare.

Victorinus was of a wealthy Gallic family. He became a soldier under Postumus during the revolution against Rome. Victorinus became the tribunus praetorianorum (tribune of the praetorians) in 266/267AD and advanced to eventually become co-consul with Postumus in 268AD. It was the rebellion of Laelianus in 268AD from the city of Morguntiacum, the modern-day city of Mainz. When Postumus denied his troops the traditional right to sack the city, they murdered him, and that is when Marius seized power briefly, who in turn was murdered by his own troops.

Whether or not Victorinus had anything to do with the murder of Marius is not entirely certain. Nevertheless, Victorinus, having been co-consul with Postumus, was declared emperor by the troops located at Augusta Treverorum (Trier). Victorinus was faced with discontent in the western provinces of the Gallic Empire and their return to the central authority of the Roman Empire. Only the eastern provinces of Gaul, Germania, and Britain recognized him, which illustrated that the Gallic Empire itself was starting to split.

Victorinus AE Antoninii Full Reduced

The debasement in Rome clearly forced the debasement within the Gallic Empire. What we see with the coinage of Victorinus is that the planchets were reduced in size and therefore the latter issues do not have the entire design struck of the reduced planchets.

It was at this time that Hispania (Spain) rebelled against the Gallic Empire and declared its loyalty to Rome and the new emperor Claudius II Gothicus (268-270AD). Claudius rose to power, and the Battle of Naissus earned him the title “Gothicus” (conqueror of the Goths) since his legions routed a vast Gothic army, taking thousands of prisoners and destroying the Gothic as a force.

Claudius then turned to the rebel Gallic Empire. He sent his general Placidianus to south-east Gaul to return the cities to Rome. Placidianus captured Cularo (Grenoble) but did not proceed any further. The mere presence of Placidianus was the reason behind the city of Augustodunum Haeduorum (Autun) abandoning Victorinus and declaring its loyalty to Claudius and Rome. This forced Victorinus to march south and besiege Autun, which finally fell after only after a seven-month siege. This was when Victorinus’ troops sacked and destroyed the city for their disloyalty.

Victorinus then returned to Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium (Cologne) in triumph. Claudius was occupied then by the Alamanni invading the Balkans against the Goths. In the end, Victorinus was murdered at Colonia in early 271 by Attitianus, one of his officers, whose wife Victorinus had supposedly seduced. Since the motive was personal and not political, Victorinus’ mother, Victoria (or Vitruvia), was able to continue to hold power after the death of Victorinus, and she arranged for his deification and, after considerable payment to the troops, the appointment of Tetricus I as his successor. This is why we see Postumus coinage in his name issued by Tetricus.

Victorinus was listed among the Thirty Tyrants in the Historia Augusta, and the academics attempted to call it a fraud. However, far too many coins have been discovered that prove the academics were wrong once again. Historia Augusta does mention Victorinus Junior, who was allegedly the son of Victorinus. No coinage can verify that, but he was reported to have been murdered the next day after his father. The Historia Augusta also says that both father and son were buried near Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium in marble tombs. However, they have not been found.

Monetary System


Mints: Cologne, Vienna (?), unidentified mint

Obverse Legends:


Posthumus Coinage



Victorinus Denominations

AU Aureus (6.33 grms)
AU Quninarius
Æ HEAVY (Double) Antoninianus (5.84 grams)
Æ Antoninianus (3.74 grams)

Æ Antoninianus (Reduced Flan/Planchet)
Æ Denarius

Victorinus AR Denarus

AR Silver Denarius (Rt shield & Spear) Struck from Aureus Dies

Debasement of Victorinus

DecFall Gallic 268 273

Divus Victorinus AE Antoninianus

Posthumus Coinage issued by Tetricus I

Æ Antoninianus

Victorinus AE Imitation

There are numerous barbarous imitations of the Victorinus AE Antoninianii. They tend to bring a premium to the genuine coins struck by the Gallic Empire.

Monetary History of the World
© Martin A. Armstrong