3rd Century Rome (63rd Caesar): Florian Billon Aurelianianus, 276AD, NGC CHAU – SOLD

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Florianus (Marcus Annius Florianus Augustus, died 276), also known as Florian, served as Emperor of Rome for the span of a few months in 276. Alleged to be a maternal half-brother to Emperor Tacitus, Florianus was appointed Praetorian Prefect in Tacitus’s army during the campaign against the Goths. After the death of Tacitus, he was chosen by the army of the West to be emperor without approval by the Senate. Another source tells us that Florianus proclaimed himself Emperor upon hearing that his half brother had died. Nonetheless he struck coins carrying the “SC” legend, which is evidence of some connection to the Roman Senate. Florianus had the support of Italia, Gaul, Hispania, Britain, Africa and Mauretania. However only two or three weeks into his reign, Phoenicia, Palestine, Syria, and Egypt declared in favor of Probus, who held high command in the East and possibly was the military commander of the entire Eastern Roman Empire. At that time, Florianus was in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey) driving the barbarian Goths to the brink of defeat. Probus had made the claim that Tacitus had meant for him to succeed him.

Florianus marched on his challenger with a vastly superior military force. He felt that he could not lose. It was near Tarsus that the two armies closed up upon each other. However Probus was able to avoid a direct clash with Florianus’s massive forces. A stalemate followed with the two armies preparing for battle. The excellent troops under Florianus’s command were mostly from army bases along the Danube River, and therefore were not used to the heat found in Asia Minor. It is quite possible that his soldiers became afflicted with heat exhaustion, sun stroke, and other heat-related ailments, causing the collapse of morale in Florianus’s encampment. Attempting one last time to gain the upper hand over Probus, his demoralized troops would have none of it. After a reign of 88 days, Florianus was killed by his own men.