ROMAN EMPIRE, Postumus, 259-268 AD, antoninianus


ROMAN EMPIRE, Postumus, 259-268 AD, antoninianius, no date (265-68 AD), Cologne mint, Obverse: radiate bust R, IMP C POSTVMVS P F AVG, Reverse: Aesculapius standing L, SALVS AVG, billon, 21mm, 3.92g, SR10985, XF-AU

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Postumus was a general in Germany during the joint reign of Valerian and Gallienus. After Valerian was captured by the Persians Gallienus sent his teenage son, Saloninus, to take command of the German war. Postumus thought he was doing quite well without any advice from a child, and got himself acclaimed by his troops. Gallienus was busy dealing with the Persians and let Postumus do his thing. The usurper managed to preserve his “Gallic Empire” for most of two decades and two successors. He was, as usual in that period, assassinated by his troops, who were annoyed when he forbade them to pillage after the capture of Mainz.

The Roman Empire was a system of theoretically constrained autocracy. The Emperor was supposed to be accepted by the Senate, which was supposed to be representing the people. It became difficult to restrain the autocrats. The succession problem was never solved. Many Emperors were murdered. In the 4th century AD the Empire was split for administrative purposes into eastern and western branches, the west devolving into local kingdoms in the 5th century AD, while the eastern branch continued as what we call the Byzantine Empire until 1453.

“Ancient Coins” includes Greek and Roman coins and those of neighbors and successors, geographically from Morocco and Spain all the way to Afghanistan. Date ranges for these begin with the world’s earliest coins of the 8th century BC to, in an extreme case, the end of Byzantine Empire, 1453 AD.