For learning. For inspiration. Or just for fun.
The Golden Age of Carausius : A Roman commander facing court martial took refuge in politics, and for ten years London was an imperial capital.
The Golden Age of Carausius

Based on ‘History of the English Church and People’ Book I by Bede (?672-735), and ‘Ahead of his Time’ in The Independent.

Roman Britain was no backwater: it was prosperous and civilised, and its people were critical of Rome’s bungled wars in the East and porous borders in Europe. In fact, her people felt ready to govern themselves, making Britannia a good place to start for would-be Emperors.

IN 286, Carausius was appointed to command the ‘Britannic Fleet’, patrolling the English Channel to keep Franks and Saxons from raiding Britain’s southern coasts. Rumour had it, however, that he let some raiders through so he could pocket their plunder for himself, and Emperor Maximian summoned him for a court martial.

Faced with likely execution, Carausius gambled. Since Rome already had two co-emperors, Maximian and Diocletian,* Carausius proclaimed himself their equal in London, naming himself ‘Restorer of Britain’ and ‘Spirit of Britain’ – not as if returning to Celtic barbarianism, but as if in Britain Rome was being reborn. “The Golden Ages return,” his imperial coinage proclaimed, quoting Rome’s national poet, Virgil, “a new generation is sent from heaven above.”*

For seven years not even Maximian could dislodge Carausius, but in 293 new Roman co-emperor Constantius stripped the rebel of his possessions in Gaul.* Support at home faltered, and Carausius was assassinated by his Treasurer, Allectus, who was defeated at Silchester three years later by Constantius.

* That year, 286, the Emperor Diocletian had created Maximian his co-emperor with responsibility for the western provinces, so Diocletian could concentrate on battle-campaigns in the Balkans, Asia Minor and the east. Both had the rank of ‘Augustus’, though Diocletian was senior.

* From Eclogue IV: ‘Redeunt Saturnia regna, / iam nova progenies caelo demittitur alto.’ Literally, ‘The reign of Saturn returns, now a new generation is sent down from high heaven’. The Age of Saturn was the Romans’ ‘Golden Age’ of innocence and equality, commemorated yearly in the Saturnalia of December, when certain social conventions and laws were temporarily suspended. The long line was fitted onto a coin by reducing it to ‘RSR INPCDA’, the first letter of each word in sequence.

* In 293, Diocletian instituted the ‘Tetrarchy’, adding two additional and more junior ‘Caesars’, Galerius in Illyricum (the Balkans, including Greece) and Constantius Chlorus in Britain, Gaul and Spain. When Constantius died at York in 306, his son Constantine was proclaimed Emperor at his bedside, and after facing down his rivals became sole ruler in 324, until his death in 337.

Based on ‘History of the English Church and People’ Book I by Bede (?672-735), and ‘Ahead of his Time’ in The Independent.

More like this

Classical History (25) Roman Britain (4) History (405)

Picture: © Portable Antiquities Scheme, via Wikimedia Commons. Licence: CC-BY-SA 2.0. View original
A silver denarius from the Frome Hoard, minted by Carausius during his brief spell as self-proclaimed Emperor of Roman Britain. He saw himself as co-emperor alongside Rome’s existing co-emperors, but they did not see him in the same way. After seven years of holding onto power ‘with great daring’, in Bede’s phrase, he was murdered by his chancellor of the exchequer, and three years later Britain was back under Roman government.

Amazon Books

Featured Music

Letters Game

What is the longest word you can make using these letters?

Press enter or type a space to see feedback on your word.

More like this: Letters Game Games with Words

Numbers Game

Make the total shown using two or more of the numbers underneath it. You can add, subtract, divide and multiply. Use any number once only.

More like this: Target Number (Mental Arithmetic Game) Mental Arithmetic

Selected Stories
By Samuel Smiles
A sympathetic understanding of the trials of other people is essential for getting along.
By Charles Dickens
Oliver was elected as the unwilling spokesman for all the hungry children.
Sometimes it is right to ‘turn a blind eye’.
By John Buchan
In John Buchan’s story about the Great War, Richard Hannay must watch as his friend sacrifices his life for the Allies.
By Samuel Smiles
Samuel Smiles reminds us that until we brought the railways to India, we had little to boast about as an imperial power.
By Leslie Howard
In a Christmas broadcast in 1940, actor Leslie Howard explained why British sovereignty was worth fighting for.