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Leaders and rulers in Roman Britain

Coin of Carausius

Diameter: 22.000 mm
Weight: 4.240 g

CM 1977.9-3.1

Coin of Carausius

From: Britain
Date: late 3rd century AD

This bronze coin shows the busts (head and shoulders) of three Roman leaders. At the time that they ruled, the Roman Empire was split into East and West. On the right is Maximian, who ruled the Western Empire and in the centre is Diocletian who ruled the Eastern Empire. Maximian and Diocletian were official Roman emperors who shared the responsibility of looking after the Empire together.

On the left is Carausius, a very ambitious man. He was admiral of the channel fleet, but wanted even more power. In AD 286 he took control of Britain and declared himself emperor. He ruled without official recognition for seven years.

Carausius produced coins like this - showing himself next to the two official emperors - to make people think he was a true emperor. The Latin inscription reads CARAVSIVS ET FRATRES SVI ('Carausius and his brothers').