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Faustinus (274 A.D.)

Michel Polfer

Centre Universitaire de Luxembourg

Faustinus was a usurper against Tetricus I, the last emperor of the so-called "Gallic Empire". He is known only from a few mentions in literary sources that report a certain Faustinus instigated a mutiny among the troops of Tetricus.[[1]] Neither his complete name nor the year of his birth are known. According to Polemius Silvius,[[2]] he rebelled in Augusta Treverorum (Trier), the provincial capital of Gallia Belgica. Aurelius Victor informs us that Faustinus held the office of a provincial governor under Tetricus I ,[[3]] so he was probably praeses of Gallia Belgica when he rebelled.

The chronology of Faustinus' usurpation against Tetricus I is disputed. While some scholars have dated his rebellion to the year 273 A.D.,[[4]] it more probably took place in 274. The literary evidence shows Tetricus I asked Aurelian for help against the usurper, which would mean Faustinus rebelled in the very last months of the reign of Tetricus I.[[5]] Both Tetricus I and his son Tetricus II were likely to have spent late 273 and early 274 A.D. in Augusta Treverorum, before moving south to fight against the troops of Aurelian.[[6]] Thus, spring or early summer of of the year 274 A.D. is the most likely period for the usurpation of Faustinus. Zonaras tells us that, after his victory over Tetricus I, Aurelian had to crush a second revolt in Gaul and succeeded quickly in doing so.[[7]] Perhaps this reflects a continuation of the revolt of Faustinus for some time after Tetricus I surrendered to Aurelian in the summer of 274 A.D.[[8]] We know nothing about the actions of Faustinus during his rebellion nor of his later fate.[[9]]


1) Primary Sources :

Aurelius Victor, Liber de Caesaribus (35,4), ed. F. Pichlmayr, Leipzig, 1911 (reprinted 1970)

Eutropius, Breviarium (9.10-13), ed. C. Santini, Leipzig, 1979.

Scriptores Historiae Augustae (Tyranni triginta) (24), ed. E. Hohl, Leipzig, 1927.

Zonaras, Annales (12.27.), ed. M. Pinder (Corpus Scriptorum Historiae Byzantinae), Bonn 1844.

Zosimus, Historia Nova (1.29-1.62), ed. L. Mendelssohn, Leipzig, 1887.

Orosius, Historiarum adversus paganos libri VII (7.23.5) , ed. C. Zangenmeister, Leipzig, 1889.

Polemius Silvius, Laterculus (49), (Mommsen [ed.], Chron. minor., MGH, AA, 9.1.521-522).

2) Secondary Sources :

Drinkwater 1987 : J. F. Drinkwater, The Gallic Empire. Separatism and Continuity in the North-Western Provinces of the Roman Empire A.D. 260-274, Stuttgart, 1987 (= Historia Einzelschriften Heft 52).

Kienast 1990 : D. Kienast, Römische Kaisertabelle. Grundzüge einer römischen Kaiserchronologie, Darmstadt, 1990.

König 1981 : I. König, Die gallischen Usurpatoren von Postumus bis Tetricus, München 1981.

PIR F 131.

PLRE 326, Nr. 1.

Notes :

[[1]]Aur. Vic. Caes. 35.4; Eutropius 9.10, 9.13; Polemius Silvius, Laterculus 49.

[[2]]Polemius Silvius, Laterculus 49 (Chron. Min. I.522).

[[3]]Aur. Vic. Caes. 35.4.

[[4]]Most recently Kienast 1990, 246 and T. Franke in Der Neue Pauly Bd. 4, Stuttgart, 1998, 444, no. 3.

[[5]]Aur. Vic. Caes. 35.4; Eutropius 9.13.1; Orosius 7.23.5; SHA Tyr. trig. 24.3. See König 1981, 172, 177, 181.

[[6]]Drinkwater 1987, 41, 125, 187.

[[7]]Zonaras 12.27 (2.607-608).

[[8]]This hypothesis was first proposed by König 1981, 181. Yet, since it allocates several months to the usurpation of Faustinus, it flounders on the fact that there are no coins struck in his name -- particularly because he was in control of the main "Gallic" mint in Trier. Alternatively, Faustinus may not have been a rebel against Tetricus I, but rather his immediate successor after Aurelian defeated Tetricus I in Châlons-sur-Marne in the summer of 274 A.D. (Drinkwater 1987, 43). This hypothesis would also fit well with the information provided by Zonaras (12.27 [2.607-608]) that Aurelian crushed a second revolt in Gaul. The short period in late summer/autumn 274 A.D. it allows for the reign of Faustinus fits with the absence of coins struck in his name.

[[9]]C. E. Stevens, "The social and economic aspect of rural settlement," in C. Thomas, ed., Rural settlement in Roman Britain (CBA Research reports 7), London, 1966, 122, n. 118, suggests that Faustinus held property in Britain, which was confiscated by the imperial government.

Copyright (C) 1999, Michel Polfer. This file may be copied on the condition that the entire contents, including the header and this copyright notice, remain intact.

Comments to: Michel Polfer.

Updated:24 June 1999

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