Diocletian. Archaeology Museum, Istanbul.
Diocletian's accession, on 20th November 284, is the event which is said to mark the end of a, half-century long, period of disruption and distress for the Roman Empire, known as the third-century crisis, and which ushered in a half-century long – until the death of Constantine (22nd May 337) – period of recovery and major reform. Indeed, Edward Gibbon, in his influential masterwork, ‘The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire’ (published, in six volumes, 1776–88) wrote:
“Like Augustus, Diocletian may be considered as the founder of a new empire.”
Chapter 12
Just a couple of years after his accession, however, Roman Britain broke away from Diocletian and, for a decade, operated as an independent empire.
The death of Carinus, in 285, had left Diocletian as sole ruler of the Roman Empire. Previously, Carinus had governed in the West, whilst his brother, Numerian (into whose shoes Diocletian stepped), had governed in the East.* Diocletian must have seen the benefit of this division of responsibility, since he quickly raised a trusted younger colleague, Maximian, to the rank of Caesar. Maximian took charge in the West, whilst Diocletian returned to the East. Maximian's immediate challenge was that:
“... in Gaul Helianus and Amandus had stirred up a band of peasants and robbers, whom the inhabitants call Bagaudae, and had ravaged the regions far and wide and were making attempts on very many of the cities ... [Maximian] marched into Gaul and in a short time he had pacified the whole country by routing the enemy forces or accepting their surrender. In this war Carausius, a citizen of Menapia, distinguished himself by his clearly remarkable exploits. For this reason and in addition because he was considered an expert pilot (he had earned his living at this job as a young man), he was put in charge of fitting out a fleet and driving out the Germans who were infesting the seas.”
Aurelius Victor ‘Liber De Caesaribus’ Chapter 39
“... Carausius, who, though of very mean birth, had gained extraordinary reputation by a course of active service in war, having received a commission in his post at Bononia [Boulogne], to clear the sea, which the Franks and Saxons infested, along the coast of Belgica and Armorica [i.e. along the northern coast of Gaul] ...”
Eutropius ‘Breviarium Ab Urbe Condita’ Book IX Chapter 21


A section of the town-wall of Verulamium (St Albans). It is the wall's core that is exposed today – originally it was faced in dressed flint. When built, it was about 10 feet thick at the base, about 15 feet high, and was over 2 miles long – enclosing an area of around 200 acres. It was topped by a walkway and parapet, and had two large and, probably, three small gateways. Additionally, the wall was backed by an earth bank, and, except where it ran alongside the River Ver, there was a ditch some 20 feet in front of it.
Although mentioned by neither Aurelius Victor nor Eutropius, it is reasonable to assume that Britain too was subject to attack by Germanic raiding parties. Most towns received masonry walls in the mid/later-3rd century. In ‘The Decline & Fall of Roman Britain’ (second edition, 2004), Neil Faulkner avers:
“Many [towns] were close to the sea or on navigable rivers. Their improved third-century defences would certainly have made them secure against small Germanic war-bands, and, if provided with flotillas and garrisons, they would have guarded access routes into the hinterland. There is no reason to assume the deployment of regular Roman troops. The municipalities were certainly authorised – and most probably ordered – to construct town-walls. It would be rather surprising if they were not at the same time expected to make some provision for local self-defence, perhaps by creating a militia, perhaps by hiring mercenaries; town-walls mean little without men on the parapets.”
Chapter 4
Further, the construction of a system of coastal forts, known as the ‘Saxon Shore Forts’ (of which more later), took place in the late-3rd century.
An inscription in Rome indicates that Diocletian acquired the title Britannicus Maximus before the end of 285. Carinus previously held the same title, which signals that he, or one of his officers, had carried out a successful campaign in Britain. Possibly Diocletian simply took over Carinus' title without having a legitimate claim of his own. Perhaps a campaign initiated by Carinus was brought to a successful conclusion after his death, and so Diocletian claimed the credit. Diocletian apparently dropped the title later, which might suggest that he owed it to a victory achieved by Carausius.
In spring 286, Maximian was elevated to full emperor (i.e. Augustus) status. Diocletian remained the senior partner, however, assuming the title Jovius (after Jupiter), whilst Maximian took that of that of Herculius (after Hercules).
“... [Carausius] having captured numbers of the barbarians on several occasions, but having never given back the entire booty to the people of the province or sent it to the emperors, and there being a suspicion, in consequence, that the barbarians were intentionally allowed by him to congregate there, that he might seize them and their booty as they passed, and by that means enrich himself, assumed, on being sentenced by Maximian to be put to death, the imperial purple, and took on him the government of Britain.”
Eutropius ‘Breviarium Ab Urbe Condita’ Book IX Chapter 21
“But by this nefarious act of brigandage, first of all the fleet which once guarded the Gauls was abducted by the pirate [Carausius] as he fled, and then in addition a great number of ships were built on the model of ours, a Roman legion was seized, some divisions of foreign troops were intercepted, Gallic merchants were assembled for a levy, considerable forces of barbarians were attracted by means of the booty from the provinces themselves, and all these were trained for naval service under the direction of those responsible for that crime.”
‘Panegyrici Latini’: ‘VIII. Panegyric on Constantius Caesar’ Chapter 12 (Anonymous, delivered 297)


When the anonymous panegyrist says that Carausius “seized” a legion (which means, of course, that a legion defected to Carausius), in the singular, he is presumably referring to a legion stationed on the Continent. There were three legions resident in Britain, and Carausius must, surely, have had their support – it's hard to believe that Roman sources would have missed the opportunity to mention any setbacks.
Actually, Carausius issued a series of coins commemorating nine legions, but only two of the British legions – II Augusta and XX Valeria Victrix, both stationed in Britannia Superior (the South) – were featured. The missing legion being VI Victrix, based at York, in Britannia Inferior (the North). It seems reasonable to suppose that the nine legions commemorated were those that had furnished vexillations (detachments) for Carausius' task force in Gaul – the men who had backed his rebellion. In one case it was most (probably not all) of a legion, with its commander (the vexillations would have been lead by lower ranking officers), that had sided with Carausius, and was mentioned by the panegyrist. The most likely candidate is XXX Ulpia Victrix, whose base was at today's Xanten, on the lower Rhine. VI Victrix was, probably, not commemorated simply because it did not serve with Carausius in Gaul. The legion does, however, feature on a recently (2001) recognized, later, coin of Carausius.
Carausius probably had his capital in London, and it is fairly certain that he established a mint there. Some, though by no means all, of his coins bear a mint mark. Those
A silver denarius of Carausius, depicting him being welcomed by Britannia. The inscription reads:
(Come, awaited one)
with the letters RSR beneath.
bearing the letter L are considered to have been minted in Londinium (London). Some bear the letter C (or possibly G), but, although there are several candidates – Camulodunum (Colchester), Cataractonium (Catterick), Clausentum (Bitterne, possibly), Corinium (Cirencester), Glevum (Gloucester) – their provenance remains unknown. Carausius would appear to have also controlled a portion of northern Gaul, stretching from the coast to, at least, Rotomagus (Rouen), where, probably only early in his reign, he is also believed to have minted coins. Inscriptions on his coinage suggest that Carausius saw himself as a saviour, restoring the traditional values of Rome's ‘good old days’.


Other than on his coinage, the only inscription to feature Carausius is on a milestone found near Carlisle. It provides the fullest version of his name:
This is interpreted as “Imperator Caesar Marcus Aurelius Mausaeus Carausius Pius Felix the Invincible Augustus”. In fact, MAVS does not represent a common Latin name, and, although Mausaeus is generally accepted, it is not inconceivable that there has been a mason's error – for instance, MAES would represent the common name Maesius.
Subsequently, the milestone was inverted – the end with the dedication to Carausius being buried in the ground – and a new dedication to Constantine was inscribed on the other, now exposed, end. There had been a third inscription between these two, but it was erased.
According to a panegyric (speech of praise) on Maximian, probably delivered on 21st April 289, since the suppression of the Bagaudae, Maximian had been busy dealing with German invaders:
“Scarcely was that unhappy outburst [of the Bagaudae] stilled when immediately all the barbarian peoples threatened the destruction of the whole of Gaul ... What god would have brought us such unhoped-for salvation had you [Maximian] not been present?..
I pass over your countless battles and victories all over Gaul. For what speech could do justice to so many great exploits.”
‘Panegyrici Latini’: ‘X. Panegyric on Maximian’ Chapters 5 & 6 (Mamertinus)
Maximian subsequently crossed the Rhine frontier into Germany, eliciting Mamertinus to exclaim:
“... all that I see beyond the Rhine is Roman!”
‘Panegyrici Latini’: ‘X. Panegyric on Maximian’ Chapter 7
At any rate, seemingly by 288 Maximian was in a position to make preparations to cross the Channel and overthrow Carausius. Mamertinus says (Chapter 12) that, aided by good weather, Maximian, “throughout almost the whole year”, constructed warships – inland, on rivers, presumably because Carausius was in control of the Channel. It appears that Maximian had defeated Carausius' forces in northern Gaul, and the assault on Britain was about to be launched, when Mamertinus was speaking:
“It is through your good fortune, through you felicity, Emperor, that your soldiers have already reached the Ocean in victory, and that already the receding waves have swallowed up the blood of enemies slain upon that shore.
In what frame of mind is that pirate [Carausius] now, when he can see your armies on the point of penetrating that channel (which has been the only reason his death has been delayed until now) and, forgetting their ships, pursuing the receding sea where it gives way before them? What island more remote, what other Ocean, can he hope for now? By what means can he finally escape the punishment he owes the State unless he is swallowed up by the earth and devoured, or snatched away by some whirlwind onto inaccessible crags?.. Thus anyone at all may easily perceive what great success is likely to await you in this maritime venture, considering what a favourable bout of weather has already gratified you.”
‘Panegyrici Latini’: ‘X. Panegyric on Maximian’ Chapters 11 & 12
Great success, however, clearly didn't await Maximian. A glancing reference in a later panegyric might suggest that the expedition was scotched by “inclemency of the sea”.* It is, though, quite possible that Maximian's forces suffered a defeat at the hands of Carausius – a view which seems to be supported by Eutropius, who reports that:
“With Carausius, however, as hostilities were found vain against a man eminently skilled in war, a peace was at last arranged.”
‘Breviarium Ab Urbe Condita’ Book IX Chapter 21
And Aurelius Victor states that:
“... Carausius was allowed to retain his sovereignty over the island, after he had been judged quite competent to command and defend its inhabitants against warlike tribes.”
‘Liber De Caesaribus’ Chapter 39
The bronze antoninianus of Carausius (right), showing himself alongside Diocletian and Maximian, bears the legend CARAVSIVS ET FRATRES SVI, that is ‘Carausius and his Brothers’. On the reverse is PAX AVGGG, which represents ‘the Peace of the three Augusti’. Set around the lower body of Peace is the mintmark: SCP. Numismatists seem to agree that these coins were made, at the ‘C’ mint, in the early 290s.
Carausius may have seen himself as a ‘brother’ to Diocletian and Maximian, but it seems clear that the feeling was not reciprocated. They were simply tolerating Carausius until they were in a position to remove him. In 293, Diocletian inaugurated a system of government known as ‘the tetrarchy’ (rule by four). Each Augustus elevated one of their subordinates to the rank of Caesar – Galerius in the case of Diocletian; Constantius Chlorus (‘the Pale’) in the case of Maximian – and control of the Empire was shared between the four of them. The problem of Carausius became Constantius' responsibility. He took prompt action:
“Thus you straightway made Gaul yours, Caesar, simply by coming here. Indeed the swiftness with which you anticipated all reports of your accession and arrival caught the forces of that band of pirates who were then so obstinate in their unhappy error, trapped within the walls of Gesoriacum [Boulogne], and denied access to the Ocean which washes the gates of the city to those who had relied for so long upon the sea. In this you displayed your divine forethought, and the outcome matched your design, for you rendered the whole bay of the port, where at fixed intervals the tide ebbs and flows, impassable to ships by driving piles at its entrance and sinking boulders there. You thereby overcame the very nature of the place with remarkable ingenuity, since the sea, moving back and forth in vain, seemed to make sport, as it were, of those to whom escape was denied, and offered as little practical help to those shut in as if it had ceased to ebb at all...
... immediately necessity and trust in your clemency had put an end to the siege the very first wave which bore down upon those same barriers burst through them, and that whole line of trees, unconquered by the surge as long as there was a need for it, collapsed as if a signal had been given and its guard duty was at an end. The result was that no one could doubt that the harbour, which had been closed to the pirate so he could not bring help to his men, had opened of its own accord to aid our victory. For the whole war could have been finished immediately, invincible Caesar, under the impulse of your courage and good fortune, had not the necessity of the case persuaded you that time should be spent on the building of a navy. During the whole of this period, however, you never ceased to destroy those enemies whom terra firma permitted you to approach ...”
‘Panegyrici Latini’: ‘VIII. Panegyric on Constantius Caesar’ Chapters 6 & 7 (Anonymous, delivered 297)
Whilst Constantius waited until a new fleet was built, Carausius was killed by his second-in-command:
“At the end of seven years [i.e. in 293], Allectus, one of his supporters, put him to death, and held Britain himself for three years subsequently ...”*
Eutropius ‘Breviarium Ab Urbe Condita’ Book IX Chapter 22


Eutropius assigns Carausius a reign of seven years and Allectus a reign of three. However, Aurelius Victor says that Carausius:
“... was treacherously overthrown six years later by a man named Allectus ...”
‘Liber De Caesaribus’ Chapter 39
Victor allots Allectus a reign of “a short while”. There is no certainty, but, on balance, it seems likely that Carausius rebelled in the autumn of 286, and was killed in 293 (presumably after Constantius captured Boulogne, which he seems to have accomplished quite soon after his elevation to Caesar on 1st March 293). Allectus, as will be seen, was overthrown by Constantius in 296.
Victor claims that Allectus:
“... after he had been entrusted by the former [i.e. Carausius] to manage the treasury, fearing execution because of his misdeeds, had seized power through a criminal act.”
‘Liber De Caesaribus’ Chapter 39
The Latin phraseology Victor uses to describe Allectus' position under Carausius is, as above, often interpreted as meaning he was his finance minister, but this is not at all certain. He may well have been his praetorian prefect.*
The anonymous ‘Panegyric on Constantius Caesar’ says of Carausius' “pirates”:
“... long impunity for their crime had inflated the audacity of desperate men, so that they gave out that that inclemency of the sea, which had delayed your [Constantius'] victory by some necessity of fate, was really terror inspired by themselves, and they believed, not that the war had been interrupted by deliberate policy, but that it had been abandoned out of despair, so much so that now that his fear of a common punishment had been laid to rest one of the henchmen of the archpirate killed him: he judged that after all imperial power was recompense for such a great hazard.”
‘Panegyrici Latini’: ‘VIII. Panegyric on Constantius Caesar’ Chapter 12
Conventionally, the mention of an “inclemency of the sea” is seen as a reference to Maximian's failed attempt to dislodge Carausius in 289 – either as a genuine reason for the loss of Maximian's fleet, or as a cover for it being smashed by Carausius' naval superiority. However, the panegyric, delivered in 297, celebrates Constantius' recovery of Britain, and it is, perhaps, unlikely that reference to such a distant failure would be thought suitable for mention. It could be, then, that Constantius himself attempted to launch an invasion which was abandoned, ostensibly because of stormy weather. Presumably, he had, in any case, access to few ships, and maybe he lost some of those in the abortive expedition – certainly, as mentioned by the panegyrist (Chapter 12), his men were novices “in the art of seafaring” – hence he decided to bide his time and build a large fleet.* The panegyrist stresses Britain's importance to Rome:
“... a land so abundant in crops, so rich in the number of its pastures, so overflowing with veins of ore, so lucrative in revenues, so girt with harbours ...”
‘Panegyrici Latini’: ‘VIII. Panegyric on Constantius Caesar’ Chapter 11
Britain would play a crucial role supplying grain to the Rhine garrisons.See section
Portus Adurni (Portchester) Saxon Shore Fort.
“The most complete Roman fortress walls in northern Europe” according to English Heritage.
Exactly when in the late-3rd century, and by whom, the decision to establish a coastal defence system in the south-east – comprising the, so-called, ‘Saxon Shore Forts’ – was taken is difficult to determine (a popular theory is that Probus, 276–282, was responsible). What is clear, from numismatic evidence, however, is that, even if it was not initiated by Carausius, both he and Allectus developed the network. The forts get their name from an entry in the ‘Notitia Dignitatum’. Nine forts, around the south-eastern corner of Britain, are listed under the command of the Count of the Saxon Shore (comes litoris Saxonici). Perhaps the term ‘Saxon Shore’ was applied because this stretch of coast was vulnerable to raids by the Saxons, but it may be that the Saxons referred to were settlers rather than raiders – by 297, the practice of settling barbarians on land inside the Empire, to provide a ready supply of troops to fight against barbarians outside the Empire, was already established.* Whatever the origin of the name, it is, for the most part, accepted that the purpose of this network of forts was to combat sea-borne, Germanic, raiding parties (and presumably, for Carausius and Allectus, an invading Roman force).


At most of the nine forts insufficient evidence has been found to pinpoint their building dates. Coin histograms and building-style can give a general idea of when a particular fort was constructed. At Brancaster and Reculver, the traditional ‘playing card’ shape and absence of bastions tends to suggest that they were built in the first half of the 3rd century, and subsequently incorporated into the network. (Reculver is the only Saxon Shore Fort where an inscription has been found, but it can only be attributed to the 3rd century in general.) The rest of the forts clearly date from the late-3rd century, though they are not built to a standard pattern.*
The Saxon Shore Forts named in the ‘Notitia Dignitatum’ are usually identified with the sites shown here.
Two of them seem to have been closely dated. Portchester, which, by a coin of Carausius found in the construction levels, has been dated to after 286, and Pevensey. Because of the site's coin histogram, the discovery of a coin of 330–35 in a void beneath a bastion, and on stylistic grounds, Pevensey has, until recently, been seen as a late addition – thought to date from around the 340s. In 1994, however, timber piles and coins were unearthed which indicate that the fort was built under Allectus (293–296).
Not included by the ‘Notitia’ is the fort at Caister-on-Sea – a ‘playing card’ fort, apparently built in the early-3rd century and occupied until the late-4th. Walton Castle is also missing from the ‘Notitia’. Actually, this fort is now missing, full stop, having been lost to coastal erosion. What is known of it, though, suggests it was built in late-3rd century style. At Bitterne, defences, apparently of the late-3rd century, have also been found, and some writers include the site as part of the network, but it has not been conclusively demonstrated that it was a fort – it may have been a fortified harbour town.
In 296, whilst Maximian guarded the Rhine frontier,* Constantius mounted his assault on Britain. Despite adverse weather conditions, Constantius set sail from Boulogne with a section of his army, whilst the remainder, under his praetorian prefect Asclepiodotus, sailed from the mouth of the River Seine.* Aurelius Victor says (‘Liber De Caesaribus’ Chapter 39) that Asclepiodotus “was sent ahead with a detachment of the fleet and of the legions”, whereas according to the ‘Panegyric on Constantius Caesar’, which is of course the contemporary source, it was Constantius who sailed first. Either way, it was Asclepiodotus' fleet that arrived off the coast of Britain first.* Allectus apparently knew of Constantius' plan, since he had stationed a fleet near the Isle of Wight in order to intercept this section of the invading army. As luck would have it, fog enabled Asclepiodotus to slip, unnoticed, past the enemy fleet. Having landed on the British coast, Asclepiodotus' men burned their own ships. Meanwhile, Allectus was evidently lying in wait, with a fleet, at another location – presumably one of the Saxon Shore Forts on the Channel coast, east of the Isle of Wight, opposite Boulogne. Constantius had still not arrived, so, leaving his fleet in place, Allectus hastily marched against Asclepiodotus.
“Why did the standard-bearer himself of that criminal faction [i.e. Allectus] retreat from the shore that he held? Why did he desert his fleet and harbour, unless it was because he feared you, invincible Caesar, whose approaching sails he had seen, about to arrive at any moment? Whatever the case, he preferred to make trial of your generals than to receive in person the thunderbolt of Your Majesty – madman he, who did not know that wherever he might flee, the power of your divinity would be everywhere that your images, everywhere that your statues, are revered.
He, however, in fleeing you, fell into the hands of your men: vanquished by you, he was crushed by your armies. At last, afraid when he looked back and saw you on his heels, he was stricken out of his senses and rushed to his death so hurriedly that he did not draw up battle line or deploy all the forces which he was dragging behind him, but without a thought for his vast preparations rushed forward with those old chiefs of the conspiracy and divisions of barbarian mercenaries. And furthermore, Caesar, such an asset to the State was your good fortune that almost no Roman died in this victory of the Roman Empire. For, as I hear, none but the scattered corpses of our foulest enemies covered all those fields and hills.”
‘Panegyrici Latini’: ‘VIII. Panegyric on Constantius Caesar’ Chapters 15 & 16
One of the “scattered corpses” was Allectus.
“Of his own accord he had discarded the apparel which he had profaned when alive, and he was discovered on the evidence of scarcely a single garment. When death was near, so truly did he foretell what was in store for him that he did not wish his body to be recognized.”
‘Panegyrici Latini’: ‘VIII. Panegyric on Constantius Caesar’ Chapter 16
Those of Allectus' Frankish mercenaries who had not been killed in the battle made for London. Some of Constantius' ships had lost their bearings in the fog and had become separated from the fleet. They now, however, made a timely arrival in London, and:
“... slaughtered indiscriminately all over the city whatever part of that multitude of barbarian hirelings had survived the battle, when they were contemplating taking flight after plundering the city. Your men not only gave safety to your provincials by the slaughter of the enemy, but also the pleasure of the spectacle.  O manifold victory of innumerable triumphs, by which the Britains have been recovered, the might of the Franks utterly destroyed, the necessity of submission imposed besides upon the many peoples detected in that criminal conspiracy, by which, finally, the seas were swept clean and restored to everlasting peace!”
‘Panegyrici Latini’: ‘VIII. Panegyric on Constantius Caesar’ Chapter 17
It seems that only after the fighting was over did Constantius himself finally set foot on British soil.
“And so it was fitting that, as soon as you stepped onto that shore, a long-desired avenger and liberator, a triumphal crowd poured forth to meet Your Majesty, and Britons exultant with joy came forward with their wives and children, venerating not you alone, whom they gazed at as one who had descended from heaven, but even the sails and oars of that ship which had conveyed your divinity, and prepared to feel your weight upon their prostrate bodies as you disembarked. Nor is it any wonder if they were carried away by such joy after so many years of miserable captivity; after the violation of their wives, after the shameful enslavement of their children, they were free at last, at last Romans, at last restored to life by the true light of empire...
... of other areas, some remain which you can acquire if you should wish, or reasons of state require: but beyond the Ocean what was there except Britain? This you have so fully recovered that those peoples, too, who cling to the extremities of the same island, obey your very nod.”
‘Panegyrici Latini’: ‘VIII. Panegyric on Constantius Caesar’ Chapters 19 & 20
A gold medallion struck (at Trier – mintmark PTR) to commemorate the overthrow of Allectus, and probably awarded to a participant in the campaign.
Whilst troops arrive by ship, a mounted Constantius is welcomed, by a kneeling figure, before the gates of London. The medallion is inscribed:
‘Restorer of the Eternal Light’.
Amongst the political, military and economic reforms instigated by Diocletian was the reorganisation of regional government. Provinces were to be reduced in size and increased in number – the military and civil aspects of their administration would be separated.* The provinces were to be grouped into territories called dioceses – each diocese would be supervised by an official called a vicar (vicarius). The whole empire was to comprise twelve diocese – one of them would be Britain. These dramatic changes, which would take a considerable time to work through, began around the time that the tetrarchy was created in 293. In 296, after the overthrow of Allectus, the new order could be introduced in Britain also.
During the reign of Caracalla (211–217), the single province of Britannia had been divided into two provinces: Britannia Superior (based on London) and Britannia Inferior (based on York).* Under Diocletian's reformed system, the Diocese of the Britains (dioecesis Britanniarum) comprised four provinces: Britannia Prima (based on Cirencester), Britannia Secunda (based on York), Flavia Caesariensis (based on Lincoln), and Maxima Caesariensis (based on London).


It is clear that there was more than one province of Roman Britain at the time of Constantius' victory – the ‘Panegyric on Constantius Caesar’ refers (Chapter 17) to “the Britains” being recovered, and (Chapter 20) to “those provinces” having an abundance of craftsmen. Presumably these were still the two provinces created at the time of Caracalla. At any rate, the post-Diocletian British provinces are named in the ‘Verona List’ – a document listing all the dioceses and their provinces, dating from about 314.
It is supposed that, by analogy with what happened elsewhere, Britannia Prima was formed in Britannia Superior, and Britannia Secunda in Britannia Inferior. Inscriptions on a rectangular column-base from Cirencester (Corinium) suggest that the town was capital of Britannia Prima.* Bishops from, what are thought to be, the capitals of the other three provinces: London (Londinium), York (Eboracum) and Lincoln (Lindum), are listed as being present at the Council of Arles in 314.* Flavia Caesariensis would seem to have been named after Constantius (Flavius Constantius Caesar), but, surely, Maxima Caesariensis cannot have been named after, the western Augustus, Maximian, and it would, perhaps, be peculiar if it had been named after, the eastern Caesar, Galerius Maximianus. Perhaps Diocletian's reforms initially created just one extra British province called Caesariensis, maybe named after its capital, Caesarea. The problem is that there is no known Caesarea in Britain. It is possible, however, that Constantius granted London the title after he liberated the city. (London was certainly titled Augusta late in the 4th century – possibly it changed from Caesarea when Constantius became Augustus in 305.) So, this province of Caesariensis was soon (before 305) divided to produce Maxima Caesariensis and Flavia Caesariensis – the two parts named after the western Augustus and Caesar. On the other hand, Maxima Caesariensis might be so called simply because it was the biggest or most important British province. In the ‘Notitia Dignitatum’, the governor of Maxima Caesariensis is of higher rank (consularis) than the governors of the other three British provinces (praeses). This strongly suggests that London, the most important city in Britain, was the capital of Maxima Caesariensis. (The vicar of the British provinces probably had his headquarters in London.) By default, then, Lincoln is the capital of Flavia Caesariensis and York of Britannia Secunda.
The praetorian prefect was an emperor's right-hand man, and, as such, wielded authority in all areas of government. The position had developed from commander of, the traditional imperial bodyguard, the Praetorian Guard. Under Constantine, however, military responsibilities were removed from the praetorian prefect. (The Guard itself was reduced by Diocletian, then disbanded by Constantine in 312.) In the fullness of time, as recorded in the ‘Notitia Dignitatum’ (c.400), there were four regional praetorian prefectures – each prefect overseeing the dioceses that comprised a geographical area of the Empire – from west to east: the Prefecture of the Gauls, the Prefecture of Italy, the Prefecture of Illyricum, and the Prefecture of Oriens. The Prefecture of the Gauls included Britain (also Spain), and was administered from Trier (in modern Germany).
An Instructive Example of Godliness    
Aurelius Victor ‘Liber De Caesaribus’ by H.W. Bird
Ammianus Marcellinus ‘Res Gestae’ by John C. Rolfe
Eutropius ‘Breviarium Ab Urbe Condita’ by John Selby Watson
‘Panegyrici Latini’ by C.E.V. Nixon and Barbara Saylor Rodgers
See recap.
In modern Belgium.
A grouping of Germanic tribes along the lower Rhine.
In particular, a Germanic people occupying territory adjoining the North Sea coast between the Elbe and Weser. Roman sources, however, clearly use the name in a general way. Eutropius' “Saxons” could just as well come from Friesland, to the west of the Saxon heartland, or the Jutland Peninsula, to the east. Incidentally, Eutropius' mention here is the first certain literary reference to the Saxons.
I Minerva based in  Germania Inferior
II Augusta Britannia Superior
III Parthica Italy
IV Flavia Moesia Superior
VII Claudia Moesia Superior
VIII Augusta Germania Superior
XX Valeria Victrix Britannia Superior
XXII Primigenia Germania Superior
XXX Ulpia Victrix Germania Inferior
The letters RSR, found on some of Carausius' coins, pose something of a conundrum. They do not seem to represent any town in Britain, or northern Gaul, where the coin could have been minted. Similarly, the mysterious caption I.N.P.C.D.A features on the reverse of a unique bronze medallion. The legend “Expectate veni” is believed to be an allusion to a line from Vergil's ‘Aeneid’: “From what shores do you come Hector, the long-awaited one?”  Guy de la Bédoyère (‘The Numismatic Chronicle’, 158, 1998) has deduced that RSR and I.N.P.C.D.A also allude to Virgil: “Redeunt Saturnia Regna, Iam Nova Progenies Caelo Demittitur Alto” (‘Eclogues’ IV), that is “The Saturnian kingdoms return [or “The Golden Age returns”], now a new generation is let down from heaven above”.
The ‘Panegyrici Latini’ is a compendium of twelve Latin panegyrics, which, with the exception of the first (dated AD100), were composed during the period 289 to 389. None of the surviving manuscripts is earlier than the 15th century. Some manuscripts, including the one considered to be most faithful to the original, apparently attribute both panegyric X and panegyric XI to one Mamertinus. This attribution is, however, not accepted in all quarters.
‘Panegyrici Latini’: ‘VIII. Panegyric on Constantius Caesar’ Chapter 12 (Anonymous, delivered 297).
‘Notitia Dignitatum’ (Register of Dignitaries): A list of Roman civil and military posts, originating from c.400. No surviving manuscript, however, is earlier than the 15th century. All extant copies are believed to derive from a single, c.10th century, copy, which was apparently lost in the late-16th century.
The nine forts depicted in a copy of the ‘Notitia Dignitatum’ made in 1436 (Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Canon. Misc. 378).
A bar-chart displaying of the number of coins found from successive time periods. The theory is that the number of coins of a particular period that were lost at a site, is related to the intensity of occupation of the site during that period.
In effect, deputy emperor and designated heir.
Traditionally, the ‘Panegyric on Constantius Caesar’ is attributed to Eumenius. However, Nixon and Rodgers, in their 1994 edition of the ‘Panegyrici Latini’, convincingly reject this attribution. The speech was delivered, in the presence of Constantius, in the spring – apparently shortly after the anniversary of his accession (1st March) – of 297 (the year is now well established).
The notion that Allectus was Carausius' finance minister has been encouraged by a longstanding interpretation of the RSR inscription found on some of Carausius' coins (as on the silver denarius pictured previously). In a paper featured in ‘The Numismatic Chronicle’, 158 (1998), Guy de la Bédoyère writes:
“It is normally interpreted as Rationalis Summae Rei, ‘financial minister’. This is an attested office and accords with the description by Aurelius Victor of Allectus as a high official under Carausius: Allectus... Qui cum eius permissu summae rei praeesset, “Allectus... who by his [Carausius'] leave had been placed in charge of the ‘financial department’”'... there are two problems with this expansion of RSR. Firstly, the normal abbreviated epigraphic form of Rationalis Summae Rei office is RAT.S.R. Secondly, and more importantly, it does not appear on any other Roman coins at any other time.”
‘Carausius and the marks RSR and I.N.P.C.D.A.’
And in a footnote:
“... it must be stressed that summa res has a wide range of meanings; for example, Cicero, de Re Publica I.xxvi.42, summa rerum, ‘supreme authority’.”
Guy de la Bédoyère convincingly demonstrates that RSR is, in fact, an allusion to a phrase by Virgil.
In their 1994 edition of the ‘Panegyrici Latini’, Nixon and Rodgers insist that Constantius would have had to have built a fleet before he could contemplate a campaign against Britain. They suggest that he was unlikely to have been in a position to mount the, hypothetical, failed expedition until 294. This does, though, present a chronological difficulty, since it also shifts Allectus' overthrow of Carausius to 294. Constantius succeeded in defeating Allectus in 296, but Eutropius assigns Allectus a three year reign. This issue can be resolved by assuming Eutropius used inclusive reckoning (Allectus' rule being during 294, 295 and 296), which, assuming Victor did not use inclusive reckoning, would also bring Eutropius' seven years for Carausius into line with Victor's six. This rationale, however, would place Carausius' rebellion in 288, which seems too late.
Excavations on the site of an unfinished monumental complex, near St Paul's in London, produced timber remains dating from 294. It is thought possible that this would have been the palace of Allectus, but he never survived to complete it.
Though not built to a standardised design, all the forts, bar Brancaster and Reculver, share the features – such as the bastions (presumably used for mounting artillery pieces) and high, thick walls seen in the photograph of Portchester – typical of late Roman military architecture. It has been argued that there is a detectable evolution in the architecture – Burgh Castle representing a transitional stage between the traditional and full-blown late types, and Pevensey being the most modern. Buildings within the late forts have proved hard to find. At Portchester, for instance, there is little to suggest that there were permanent structures before the 340s.
In fact, the panegyrist does not name Asclepiodotus at all – simply referring to “your [i.e. Constantius'] generals”. The abbreviated histories of Aurelius Victor and Eutropius, however, unequivocally attribute the campaign's success to, Constantius' praetorian prefect, Asclepiodotus. The only other detail they provide is Victor's assertion that Asclepiodotus “was sent ahead” – Victor could have simply assumed that, since he arrived first, Asclepiodotus had set off first. The panegyrist, although he was intent on magnifying Constantius' achievement, could hardly tamper with facts that would have been well known to his audience, so assuming that the panegyrist is correct, it is something of a mystery why Constantius did not arrive first. A later panegyric might provide a clue. It says that Constantius “sailed over such a calm sea”, whilst our contemporary panegyrist says (Chapter 14) that the ocean “was raging”. Could it be, then, that stormy weather caused Constantius to turn back, regroup his fleet and wait for the storm to blow over before finally crossing to Britain?
‘Panegyrici Latini’: ‘VI. Panegyric on Constantine’ (anonymous) Chapter 5, delivered 310.
See: The Roman Army in Britain, Part II.
See: The Caledonian Campaigns of Septimius Severus.
There are inscriptions on three faces of the column-base (probable letters are underdotted, restored letters are in square brackets, ¦ indicates a line break).
which is interpreted:
‘To Jupiter Greatest and Best, Lucius Septimius ..., most perfect man, governor (praeses) of Britannia Prima, restored this, a citizen of the Remi.’
‘This statue and column was raised under the Old Religion.’
Left side:
‘Septimius renewed this, Prima province's ruler.’
The Remi were a tribe from north-eastern Gaul. The city of Reims is named from them.
The surviving text is corrupt. That Eborius was bishop of York (Eborius episcopus de civitate Eboracensi), and Restitutus was bishop of London (Restitutus episcopus de civitate Londiniensi) seems clear. Adelphius, though, is episcopus de civitate colonia Londiniensium. It is generally accepted that colonia Londiniensium should be emended to colonia Lindinensium, meaning Lincoln – which was established as a colonia (colony) around the year 90. Also present at the Council, from Britain, were Sacerdos, a priest, and Arminius, a deacon. Presumably these two were representing the absent bishop of the fourth province, whose see is not named.
Ammianus Marcellinus:
“... the old town of Lundinium, which later times called Augusta.”
‘Res Gestae’ Book XXVII Chapter 8
“... Augusta, which was earlier called Lundinium ...”
‘Res Gestae’ Book XXVIII Chapter 3
The ‘Panegyric on Constantius Caesar’ mentions (Chapters 9 and 21) that captured Germanic barbarians (specifically named are the Chamavi, Frisii and Franks) were allocated land to cultivate in areas of Gaul that had become depopulated. In return, the settled tribesmen had an ongoing obligation to serve in the Roman military when required. These Germanic farmer/soldiers are called laeti (the earliest use of the term appears in Chapter 21 of the panegyric). It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that Carausius and Allectus could have settled Germanic people on the Saxon Shore.
The ‘Notitia Dignitatum’ notes that two forts in Gaul were “on the Saxon Shore”. Both sites are unidentified (there are, of course, theories), but one, Grannona, is under the command of the Dux Tractus Armoricani et Nervicani and the other, Marcis, under the Dux Belgicae Secundae. These two commands cover the northern coast of Gaul – the coast which Eutropius had associated with Saxon raids in 285. There is, however, no conclusive evidence that Saxons had actually settled on the Saxon Shore, on either side of the Channel, by around 400, when the ‘Notitia Dignitatum’ was compiled.
“For you yourself lord Maximian, Emperor eternal ... protected that whole frontier not with equestrian forces, not with foot soldiers, but by the terror inspired by your presence: Maximian on the bank was worth as many armies as you like!”
‘Panegyrici Latini’: ‘VIII. Panegyric on Constantius Caesar’ Chapter 13