Gallic Empire

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The Gallic Empire. Galling!

The Gallic Empire (260-274) is the name attached to block of Western European provinces that tried to do a permanent runner from the Roman Empire in the third century AD but were eventually caught and arrested.

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At its greatest extent the Gallic Empire included Britannia, Gaul, Big Hispania, Little Hispania and a block of Germany on the fashionable West bank of the River Rhine (the bit with clean bathrooms). The Gallic Empire lasted for 14 years during a time of maximum disruption in the Roman Empire when literally anyone could be proclaimed emperor in the morning and be found stabbed to in the imperial honeymoon suite hours later.

Origins[edit]

This new empire arose when a Roman General called Postumus went full 'postie' on the imperial representative in the West, a lounge lizard known as Saloninus. This empty purple tunic was 'Casear of Gaul/Spain/Britain' but actually ran his business from Cologne. Saloninus also happened to be a son of ruling Roman emperor Gallienus. There was a dispute about girls, money and Eau de Cologne|aftershave for men and before either knew it, Saloninus was on Charon's next row boat to the underworld. Once Postumus calmed down and realising his hopes for leniency and a probationary sentence for murder were zero, decided to go all in for an imperial job and so proclaimed himself the new emperor. Not it might be added, of the Roman Empire but a new one, the Gallic Empire in 260. Vive Les Gauls!

Postumus was well liked for defending the Imperial frontier against the uncivilised Germans so his breakway empire from Rome gained him the support of a large chunk of the Roman territories. Playboy Gallienus complained about the murder of Saloninus but besides a couple of ineffective counter invasions from Italy, he left Postumus where he was for now.

Independence[edit]

Postumus, with pre-posthumous pre-Mona Lisa smile.

The new empire indicated its break from Rome by labelling itself 'Imperium Galliarum' - Empire of the Gallics. The other breakaway provinces accepted this designation as 'temporary', with some suggesting calling it the 'Unionem Europaeam' in future. Postumus kept the name he chose. He also became overtly Gallic too, smoking foul cigarettes and maintaining a hotel full of personal creature comforts.

This lifestyle choice eventually got to Postumus's soldier-work colleagues. In 268 they managed to 'retire' Postumus permanently when he refused to let his army sack the Roman settlement at Mainz for running out of German sausage after a heavy night. Postumus became truly posthumous, ironic considering the missing bratwursts arrived the next day.

The legions then chose one of their soldiers from the ranks, a blacksmith who laboured under the name of Marcus Aurelius Marius. Marius's father had a sense of humour in naming him after two Rome's greats: Marcus Aurelius and Super Mario. Marius briefly gained the soldiers support by letting them sack Mainz anyway as the newly arrived sausages were beyond the 'Best Eaten By' date. With Mainz was a bit of mess, Marius retreated to another Rhine frontier city at Trier to make sense of his new position. He hadn't a long time to find out. One of Postumus's supporters, a rich Gallo-Roman called Victorinus, decided he wasn't going to take orders from a filthy blacksmith and killed him. The story goes that it was one of Marius's own blades, forged specially for Victorinus. So much for gratitude... shame Marius had been a pleb. At least he got to wear nice clothes for a few months.

Send Him Victorinus[edit]

Empress Victoria of the Gauls, Celts, Germans and the Odds-and-Sods

The new Gallic emperor installed himself in power in Cologne rather than Trier. Being rich, Victorinus liked to smell nice. Trouble however came quick. The Hispanics of Hispania rejected Victorinus and returned to the mainstream Roman Empire. A new emperor called Claudius Gothicus had clambered over the dead body of emperor Gallienus (murdered of course) to gain the main prize. It seemed the Gallic Empire would collapse quickly but Cladius had decided to concentrate in battling Queen Zenobia, the current power boobs in the East. This allowed Victorinus to embed his regime and claim to be the true successor of Postumus. This news came too late for the Gallic city of Autun who had mistakenly rebelled against Victorinus in the belief Claudius would arrive with the Roman Seventh Cavalry. Alas for the good citizens of Autun, they were wrong. And when you back a loser, pretty everything else will go to shit. As in indeed it happenened. The city was destroyed in 270.

All well and fine until one day in early 271, Victorinus got the third leg tremble with another man's wife. The woman's name isn't recorded but her husband's is. This was Attitianus, a centurion in charge of supplies and washing up at the legionary barracks in Cologne. He killed Victorinus with the same sword the emperor had used to dispatch Marius. What goes around comes around.

Unusually in the mad scramble to become Victorinus successor it was the late emperor's wife who got to decide. Empress Victoria (not to be confused with this Victoria, took matters into her own hands. Showing no sign of grief which suggests she was aware her husband was receiving extra sexual oats from outside the marital bed, Victoria announced that she chosen the game addicted C. Pius Esuvius Tetricus. otherwise known as Tetricus or Tetris.

Tetricus[edit]

Tetricus received the message that he was emperor whilst out on a wine sampling tour of Bordeaux. Proclaimed emperor by the local drunken mob in Bordeaux's maain forum, Tetricus made for the de facto capital of the empire in Cologne. Empress Victoria handed over husband's various badges of office including Victorinus recently ventilated imperial toga.

Joining Tetricus on his journey was his son C. Pius Esuvius Tetricus (yeah, exact same as his dad). This Tetricus is also called Tetricus Junior and got to be called Caesar Salad for his 'green' inexperience. The initial idea was a job share. Dad would go to what he knew best i.e. slaughtering Germans. Emperor Tetricus quickly started a war with the nearest German tribe near to Cologne and smashed them. Cue: Hail Tetricus.

The Gallic Empire had already lost Spain and Portugal before. Now they were to lose southern Gaul to Claudius's successor in Rome, Emperor Aurelian - especially when it was learnt that Tetricus had said the wine in Bordeaux had been terrible. In 274 Aurelian finally finished off his war in the East against Zenobia (bagging the queen in the process) and could turn his full attention to the Gallic Empire. The campaign was surprisingly quick. After one battle near Chalons Tetricus realised he had no chance but to personally submit to the Romans.

Twas the End, my friend[edit]

Game not over

Aurelian waited outside his purple tent to meet Tetricus and his son. They lay down their swords and covered Aurelian's imperial slippers with a lot of slobbery kisses. To the surprise of everyone, Aurelian spared the lives of Tetricus senior and junior. The only stipulation Aurelian made was that they signed away their rights to that addictive game named after them. Both readily agreed.

The Gallic Empire was over. Even the Brits gave up and surrendered to Aurelian's authority without a fight. Ex-emperor Tetricus was made to walk behind Aurelian's Golden chariot as he took the victory salute in Rome. Strolling with Tetricus Senior and Junior was Queen Zenobia of Palmyra. All had to wear chains (they had all lost against Aurelian, winner makes the rules) and take the bird from the rude Roman crowds. But Aurelian was true to his word. The prisoners were released and let back into the community. In a rarity for anyone who had become emperor in this particular century ex-emperor Tetricus got a new job and was allowed to keep his own noodle.

Conclusions[edit]

Aurelian was happy to have defeated and absorbed the Gallic Empire at a relatively low cost. He let Tetricus and his son take new jobs in the Roman Empire. Anyone else associated with the rebellious provinces ruling elites also got off lightly. Everyone was apparently happy. Except of course the slaves but they didn't count.