Authentic Ancient Coin of: Magnus Maximus - Roman Emperor 383-388 A.D. Bronze AE4 13mm (1.12 grams) Aquileia mint: 383-388 A.D. Reference: RIC 55a (Aquileia), LRBC 1103 DNMAGMAXIMVSPFAVG - Diademed, draped and cuirassed bust right. SPESROMANORVM Exe: SMAQ - Camp gate with two turrets and star above. Magnus Clemens Maximus (ca. 335–August 28, 388), also known as Maximianus and Macsen Wledig in Welsh, was a Hispano-Roman usurper of the Western Roman Empire from 383 until his death, in 388, by order of Emperor Theodosius I.Life Maximus was a distinguished general who served under Theodosius the Elder. He certainly served with him in Africa in 373 and on the Danube in 376.It is likely he also may have been a junior officer in Britain during the quelling of the Great Conspiracy in 368. Assigned to Britain in 380, he defeated an incursion of the Picts and Scots in 381. Maximus was proclaimed emperor by his troops in 383. He went to Gaul to pursue his imperial ambitions taking a large number of British troops with him. Following his conquest of Gaul, Maximus went out to meet his main opponent, Gratian, whom he defeated near Paris. Gratian, after fleeing, was killed at Lyon on August 25, 383. Continuing his campaign into Italy Maximus was stopped from overthrowing Valentinian II, who was aged only twelve, when Theodosius I, the Eastern Roman Emperor, sent Flavius Bauto with a powerful force to stop him. Negotiations followed in 384 including the intervention of Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, leading to an accord with Valentinian II and Theodosius I in which Maximus was recognized as an Augustus in the west. Maximus made his capital at Augusta Treverorum (Treves, Trier) in Gaul and ruled Britain, Gaul, Spain, and Africa. He issued coinage and a number of edicts reorganizing Gaul's system of provinces. Some scholars believe Maximus may have founded the office of the Comes Britanniarum as well. He became a popular emperor, Quintus Aurelius Symmachus delivered a panegyric on Maximus' virtues. He used barbarian forces such as the Alamanni to great effect. He was also a stern persecutor of heretics. It was on his orders that Priscillian and 6 companions became the first people in the history of Christianity to be executed for heresy, in this case of Priscillianism, by other Christians (though the civil charges were for the practice of magic), and their property was confiscated. These executions went ahead despite the wishes of prominent men such as St. Martin of Tours. Maximus' edict of 387 or 388 which censured Christians at Rome for burning down a Jewish synagogue, was condemned by Bishop Ambrose who said people exclaimed: ‘the emperor has become a Jew’ In 387 Maximus managed to force Valentinian II out of Rome after which he fled to Theodosius I. Theodosius I and Valentinian II then invaded from the east and campaigned against Magnus Maximus in July-August 388, their troops being led by Richomeres and other generals. Maximus was defeated in the Battle of the Save, and retreated to Aquileia. Meanwhile the Franks under Marcomer had taken the opportunity and invaded at the same time further weakening Maximus' position. Andragathius, magister equitum of Maximus and killer of Gratian, was defeated near Siscia while Maximus' brother, Marcellinus, fell in battle at Poetovio. Maximus surrendered in Aquileia and although he pleaded for mercy was executed. The Senate passed a decree of Damnatio memoriae against him. However, his mother and at least two daughters were spared. Maximus' son, Flavius Victor, was executed at Trier by Valentinian's magister peditum Arbogast in the fall of the same year What happened to Maximus' family after his downfall is not related. He is known to have had a wife, who is recorded as having sought spiritual counsel from St. Martin of Tours during his time at Trier. Her ultimate fate, and even her name, have not been passed down to history. The same is true of Maximus' mother and daughters spared by Theodosius. One of these daughters might have been married to Ennodius, proconsul Africae (395). Ennodius' grandson was Petronius Maximus, another ill-fated emperor, who ruled in Rome for but 77 days before he was stoned to death while fleeing from the Vandals on May 24, 455. Other descendants of Ennodius, and thus possibly of Maximus, included Anicius Olybrius, emperor in 472, but also several consuls and bishops such as St. Magnus Felix Ennodius (Bishop of Pavia c. 514-21). We also encounter an otherwise unrecorded daughter of Magnus Maximus, Sevira, on the Pillar of Eliseg, an early medieval inscribed stone in Wales which claims her marriage to Vortigern, king of the Britons.Role in British and Breton history In Gildas's De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae written in the sixth century, Maximus is attributed an important role as the man responsible for withdrawing Roman troops from Britain on a major scale and thus leaving it open to barbarian attack. The archaeological evidence backs up Gildas's account in that the late fourth century seems to have been the period when Roman troops were withdrawn from areas likeHadrian's Wall and Segontium, with no coins found later than 383. The earliest Welsh genealogies give Maximus (Welsh: Macsen/Maxen Wledig) a role as a founding father of the dynasties of many of Welsh kingdoms such as the Kingdom of Powys, Kingdom of Gwent and the Kingdom of Dyfed - the sort of claims reflected in the Pillar of Eliseg and in lists of the Fifteen Tribes of Wales. It has been argued that this role may be a result of genuine land grants and delegationd of authority by Roman authorities to local leaders such as Vortigern and Padarn Beisrudon troop withdrawal. It also has been suggested he settled the Déisi and Attacotti in Britain. Although it is impossible to back these ideas with any certainty, and they could be later invention, it is obvious that a connection to Macsen was seen as highly desirable early in Welsh history. The ninth century Historia Brittonum gives another account of Maxiumus and assigns him an important role:The seventh emperor was Maximianus. He withdrew from Britain with all its military force, slew Gratianus the king of the Romans, and obtained the sovereignty of all Europe. Unwilling to send back his warlike companions to their wives, families, and possessions in Britain, he conferred upon them numerous districts from the lake on the summit of Mons lovis, to the city called Cant Guic, and to the western Tumulus, that is Cruc Occident. These are the Armoric Britons, and they remain there to the present day. In consequence of their absence, Britain being overcome by foreign nations, the lawful heirs were cast out, till God interposed with his assistance.Modern historians believe that this idea of mass British troop settlement in Brittany by Maximus may very well reflect some reality, as it accords with other historical evidence and later Breton traditions.Welsh legend Legendary versions of Maximus' career in which he marries a Welsh princess Helen may have been in popular circulation in Welsh speaking areas from an early point. Although the story of Helen and Maximus's meeting is almost certainly fictional, there is some evidence for the basic claims. He is certainly given a prominent place in the earliest version of the Welsh Triads which are believed to date from c. 1100 and which reflect far older traditions. Macsen is also frequently referred to in Welsh poetry as a point of comparison to later Welsh leaders. These legends come down to us in two separate versions.Geoffrey of Monmouth According to Geoffrey of Monmouth's fictional Historia Regum Britanniae (ca. 1136), basis for many English and Welsh legends, Maximian as he calls him, was a Roman senator and nephew of Coel Henthrough his brother Ioelinus and was king of the Brythons following the death of Octavius. Geoffrey tells this came about because Octavius, the king of the Britons, wanted to wed his daughter to such a powerful half-Roman, half-Briton and give the kingship of Britain as a dowry to that husband so he sent a message to Rome offering his daughter to Maximian.Caradocus, the Duke of Cornwall, had suggested and supported the marriage between Octavius's daughter and Maximian. Maximian accepted the offer and left Rome for Britain. Geoffrey claims further that Maximian gathered an army as he sacked Frankish towns along the way. He invaded Clausentum (modern Southampton) unintentionally and nearly fought the army of the Britons under Conanus before a truce was made. Following further negotiations, Maximian was given the kingship of Britain and Octavius retired. Five years into his kingship, Magnus Maximus assembled a vast fleet and invaded Gaul, leaving Britain in the control of Caradocus. Upon reaching the kingdom of Armorica, he defeated the king and killed thousands of inhabitants. Before departing to Rome, he summoned Conanus, the rebellious nephew of Octavius, and asked him to rule as king of the land, which was renamed Brittany, or 'Little Britain'. Conan's men married native women after cutting out their tongues to preserve the purity of their language. Geoffrey of Monmouth presents this legend to explain the Welsh name for Brittany, Llydaw, as originating from lled-taw or half-silent. Given that Conan was well established in genealogies as the founder of Brittany this certainly is connected to an older tradition than Geoffrey. Following the death of Caradocus rule of Britain as regent passed to Dionotus, who facing a foreign invasion appealed to Maximus who finally sent a man named Gracianus Municeps with two legions to stop the attack. He killed many thousands before the invaders fled to Ireland. Maximus died in Rome soon after and Dionotus became the official king of the Britons. Unfortunately, before he could begin his reign, Gracianus took hold of the crown and made himself king over Dionotus. The Dream of Macsen Wledig Although the Mabinogion tale The Dream of Macsen Wledig is written in later manuscripts than Geoffrey's version, the two accounts are so different that scholars agree the Dream cannot be based purely on Geoffrey's version. The Dream's account also seems to accord better with details in the Triads, so it perhaps reflects an earlier tradition. Macsen Wledig, the Emperor of Rome, dreams one night of a lovely maiden in a wonderful, far-off land. Awakening, he sends his men all over the earth in search of her. With much difficulty they find her in a rich castle in Britain, daughter of a chieftain based at Segontium (Caernarfon), and lead the Emperor to her. Everything he finds is exactly as in his dream. The maiden, whose name is Helen or Elen, accepts and loves him. Because Elen is found a virgin, Macsen gives her father sovereignty over the island of Britain and orders three castles built for his bride. In Macsen's absence, a new emperor seizes power and warns him not to return. With the help of men from Britain led by Elen's brother Conanus (Welsh: Kynan Meriadec, French: Conan Meriadoc), Macsen marches across Gaul and Italy and recaptures Rome. In gratitude to his British allies, Macsen rewards them with a portion of Gaul that becomes known as Brittany.Later literature The prominent place of Macsen in history, Welsh legend and in the Matter of Britain means he is often a character or referred to in historical and Arthurian fiction. Such stories include Stephen R. Lawhead's Pendragon Cycle, Mary Stewart's The Hollow Hills, and Rudyard Kipling's Puck of Pook's Hill. The popular Welsh folk song Yma o Hyd, recorded by Dafydd Iwan in 1981, recalls Macsen Wledig and celebrates the continued survival of the Welsh people since his days.