Galerius – 305-311 AD

Galerius

Galerius_Bust

305 – 311 AD


Gains Galerius Valerius Maximianus, commonly known as Galerius by historians, served as co-emperor from 293 to 311 AD in both the first and second Tetrarchy and was one of the most ardent opponents of Christianity. As a youth he had been a herdsman but entered the army of Aurelian and made his way through the ranks until 293, when he was chosen by DIOCLETIAN to form the Tetrarchy; as Caesar, he was Diocletian’s deputy in the East, while CONSTANTIUS I CHLORUS was Caesar to MAXIMIAN in the West. To ensure his position, Galerius divorced his wife and married VALERIA, Diocletian’s daughter.

In 294 – 295, he worked to restore order on the shaky Danube frontier, which demanded constant fighting in Pannonia. In 296 he was ordered by Diocletian to Syria, where Narses, the Persian ruler, had launched a major assault against Rome. An initial counterattack was a disaster, but Galenus attempted another one in 298 and captured Armenia and Mesopotamia as well as one of the Persia capitals, Ctesiphon. Galerius was honored and returned to the Balkans, where THESSALONICA was transformed into a suitable metropolis for his residence, complete with an ard commemorating his victory over the Persians.

With his victory behind him, Galerius took steps to improve his position in the Tetrarchy. He became more active in Diocletian’s decision making, according to the historian Lactantius, and successfully demanded the most severe persecutions of Christians, supported by his mother, Romula, an ardent pagan. The edicts of persecution, espe daily the third and fourth, destroyed churches and books and enforced a death penalty on Christians.

In May 305, Diocletian and Maximian formally abdicated in favor of their deputies. Galerius now shared power with Constantius but actually commanded true imperial supremacy by holding all of the East and much of the West. Furthermore, the two new Caesars, Maximin Daia and Severas II, were clients. Constantius died in 306 at Ebur acum (York), and Galerius named Severus Augustus, elevating Constantius’ son CONSTANTINE to the rank of Caesar to form a new Tetrarchy. This political maneuver was defeated by Maximian’s son MAXENTIUS, who seized Rome, Italy and part of Africa, declaring himself the rightful heir to the throne of his father. Severus tried to crush Maxentius but failed, and even Galerius himself was repulsed. Maxentius put Severus to death, and only the ultimately unsuccessful Conference ofCARNUNTUM staved off the demise of the Tetrarchy.

Galerius-Tomb

Galerius remained in full control of the East until an illness struck him in 311. Lactantius recorded in vengeful detail the extent of Galerius’ suffering, describing the slow, agonizing deterioration of his health, replete with sores and hideous stinking worms. Amid this “heaven sent” death, Galerius signed a new edict, joined by his fellow tetrarchs, rescinding all previous anti-Christian proclamations. Henceforth, Christianity was to be tolerated and allowed to propagate freely in the Empire. Eusebius, Lactantius and other writers ascribed his remorse to divine intervention. Galerius succumbed at Easter, 311AD, and was buried in his hometown of Romulianum where is tomb still stands today.


Monetary System

Mints: London, Treveri, Lugdunum, Ticinum, Aquiles, Rome, Carthage, Siscia, Thessalonica, Heraclea, Nicomedia, Cyzicus, Antioch, Alexandria

Obverse Legends:

As Caesar

MAXIMIANVS NOB C
MAXIMIANVS CAES
GAL VAL MAXIMIANVS NOB CAES

As Augustus

MAXIMIANVS AVG
MAXIMIANVS P F AVG
GAL MAXIMIANVS P F AVG
IMP MAXIMIANVS P F AVG
IMP C GAL VAL MAXIMIANVS P F AVG

Posthumous Coinage by Maxentius & Maximinus II

IMP MAXENTIVS DIVO MAXIMIANO SOCERO
DIVO GAL VAL MAXIMIANO
DIVO MAXIMIANO MAXIMINVS AVG


DENOMINATIONS

As Caesar

Galerius Caesar

AU DOUBLE Aureus
AU Aureus (5.37 grams)
AR Argentius
Æ Antoninianus
Æ Denarius
Æ Quinarius
Æ Follis
Æ Tetradrachm (Egypt)

As Augustus

AU DOUBLE Aureus
AU Aureus (5.37 grams)
AR Argentius
AR ½ Argentius
Æ Antoninianus
Æ Follis

Posthumous Coinage

Æ Follis


The Monetary History of the World
© Martin A. Armstrong