Trebonianus Gallus

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Head of Trebonianus Gallus in the National Archaeological Museum in Florence

Gaius Vibius Trebonianus Gallus (* 206 in Perusia ; † August 253 ) was Roman Emperor between 251 and 253 together with his son Volusianus .



Trebonianus Gallus was born in Italy into a family with widely respected ancestors and senatorial backgrounds. He had two children from his marriage to Afinia Gemina Baebiana , the future emperor Gaius Vibius Volusianus and a daughter, Vibia Galla. In the 1940s he was a suffect consul and 250 governor of the province of Moesia ( Moesia ), from which it can be seen that the Emperor Decius trusted him. In Moesia , Gallus was a key figure in repelling the frequent invasions of the Goths across the Danube, making him popular with the army.

At the beginning of June 251, Emperor Decius and his older son and co-emperor Herennius Etruscus died in the battle of Abrittus during a campaign against the Goths (for the background, see also Imperial Crisis of the 3rd Century ). Thereupon the soldiers of the Danube Army proclaimed Gallus emperor, although the younger son of Decius, Hostilian , who remained in Rome , who bore the title Caesar , was entitled to his successor. Trebonianus Gallus was thus one of the few soldier emperors who came from the old heartland of the empire.

The Senate made Hostilian the new emperor. To avoid civil war, Gallus accepted Hostilian as co-emperor and adopted him. Hostilian's mother Herennia Etruscilla kept the title Augusta , while the wife of Gallus had to forego this title for the time being. Gallus married his son to Hostilian's sister.

In November 251, Hostilian died of the plague in Viminatium . From then on, in possession of sole power, Gallus appointed his son Volusianus as co-emperor.


Coin portrait of Trebonianus Gallus

Eager to show competence and gain popularity in the city, Gallus quickly got involved in the fight against the epidemic and organized the burial of the victims. Gallus is often counted among the persecutors of Christians , but the only evidence of this is the alleged imprisonment of the Roman bishop Cornelius in 252.

Like his predecessors, Gallus did not have an easy reign. In the east, the Persian King Shapur I invaded and conquered the province of Syria (Syria) without encountering Roman resistance. On the Danube, the Gothic tribes invaded the country again despite the peace treaty of 251. The army was not satisfied with the emperor, and when Aemilianus , the governor of the provinces of Moesia superior (Upper Moesia ) and Pannonia (Pannonia), took the initiative to attack and defeat the Goths, he was proclaimed emperor by his soldiers.

Gallus prepared for the fight. He recalled several legions and other reinforcements from the Rhine border; The later Emperor Valerian was among the loyal military leaders . Despite these measures, Aemilianus marched to Italy to enforce his claim. Gallus did not get the chance to defend himself: he was murdered by his own troops in August 253. His son Volusianus shared his fate.


  • Ulrich Huttner: From Maximinus Thrax to Aemilianus. In: Klaus-Peter Johne (Ed.): The time of the soldiers' emperors. Crisis and transformation of the Roman Empire in the 3rd century AD (235–284). Volume 1. Akademie-Verlag, Berlin 2008, here p. 211 ff.

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predecessor Office successor
Decius Roman Emperor