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Roman Empire

Ruler: Maximinus I
Reigned: 235 - 238 AD
Denomination: AR Denarius
Date of Issue: Mar 235 - Jan 236 AD
Obverse: Laureate, draped and cuirassed bust right "IMP. MAXIMINVS PIVS AVG."
Reverse: Fides standing left holding 2 standards. "FIDES MILITVM"
Reference: RCV 2337, RSC 7, RIC 7a
Weight: 2.2 gms
Diameter: 18.5 mm

MAXIMINUS, (Gaius Julius Verus Maximinus), called Thrax (Thracian)

  • Maximinus was born in 172 or 173. His parents were peasants in Thrace, on the western shore of the Black Sea.
  • He enlisted in a Thracian auxiliary unit, in around 190. By 232 his career had advanced and he was in the forefront of Alexander Severus's Mesopotamian expedition.
  • In the German campaign of 234 he was placed in charge of new recruits at a camp near Mainz.
  • Severus attempted to buy off the Germans, which did not go down very well with his troops, who were already disillusioned with him.
  • In March 235, soldiers threw the purple imperial cloak over Maximinus's shoulders and declared him emperor.
  • The rebels immediately marched against Alexander, who was in camped at Vicus Britannicus (modern day Bretzenheim).
  • Alexander was found weeping and clinging to his mother. Both were killed.
  • Maximinus as emperor, crossed the Rhine bridge in the summer of 235, and spent the rest of the year fighting the Germans in the Taunus and Wurttemberg area.
  • He then moved to the Danube frontier, where he fought campaigns against the Dacians and Sarmatians for two years.
  • These military operations were expensive and unpopular for those that had to pay for them.
  • In January 238 at Thysdrus in Africa Proconsularis, a province of North Africa, a group of aristocrats killed the pro-Maximinus fiscal procurator and declared the governor of the province, the 80 year old Marcus Antonius Gordianus Sempronianus (Gordian I), and his 46 year old son, (Gordian II), Augustii.
  • When Maximinus, who was at Sirmium (near Belgrade), heard the news he at once assembled an army and advanced on Rome.
  • Meanwhile, Capellianus the governor of Numidia, bordering Africa Proconsularis, marched on Carthage, where the younger Gordian was killed. When his father heard the news he hanged himself, after just 20 days in power.
  • As the Senate had supported the Gordians, it was now in danger from Maximinus. They therefore elected two of their number, Pupienus and Balbinus, as joint rulers.
  • Because this was not popular with the citizens of Rome, the Senate also chose the 13 year old grandson of Gordian I (Gordian III) as caesar.
  • Maximinus, having reached Italy, found the gates of the city of Aquileia closed to him.
  • He beseiged the city, but his own soldiers were plotting against him. Some of his own solders from the Legion 'Parthica' and some from the praetorian guard, from Rome, forced their way into his tent and killed him. Also killed was his 23 year-old son, Gaius Julius Verus Maximinus, who had been raised to the rank of Caesar two years before.
  • The assassins took the heads of Maximinus and his son to Ravenna, where Pupienus was mustering troops, and then to Rome.

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