Carausius, Marcus Aurelius
CARAUSIUS, MARCUS AURELIUS, tyrant or usurper in Britain, a.d. 286-293, was a Menapian from Belgic Gaul, a man of humble origin, who in his early days had been a pilot. Having entered the Roman army, he rapidly obtained promotion, and was stationed by the emperor Maximian at Gessoriacum (Bononia, Boulogne) to protect the coasts and channel from Frankish and Saxon pirates. He at first acted energetically, but was subsequently accused of having entered into partnership with the barbarians and was sentenced to death by the emperor. Carausius thereupon crossed over to Britain and proclaimed himself an independent ruler. The legions at once joined him; numbers of Franks enlisted in his service; an increased and well-equipped fleet secured him the command of the neighbouring seas. In 289 Maximian attempted to recover the island, but his fleet was damaged by a storm and he was defeated. Maximian and Diocletian were compelled to acknowledge the rule of Carausius in Britain; numerous coins are extant with the heads of Carausius, Diocletian and Maximian, bearing the legend "Carausius et fratres sui." In 292 Constantius Chlorus besieged and captured Gessoriacum (hitherto in possession of Carausius), together with part of his fleet and naval stores. Constantius then made extensive preparations to ensure the reconquest of Britain, but before they were completed Carausius was murdered by Allectus, his praefect of the guards (Aurelius Victor, Caesares, 39; Eutropius ix. 21, 22; Eumenius, Panegyrici ii. 12, v. 12). A Roman mile-stone found near Carlisle (1895) bears the inscription IMP. C[aes] M. AUR[elius] MAUS. The meaning of MAUS is doubtful, but it may be an anticipation of ARAUS (see F.J. Haverfield in Cumberland and Westmoreland Antiquarian Soc. Transactions, 1895, p. 437).
A copper coin found at Richborough, inscribed Domino Carausio Ces., must be ascribed to a Carausius of later date, since the type of the reverse is not found until the middle of the 4th century at the earliest. Nothing is known of this Carausius (A.J. Evans in Numismatic Chronicle, 1887, "On a coin of a second Carausius Caesar in Britain in the Fifth Century").
See J. Watts de Peyster, The History of Carausius, the Dutch Augustus (1858); P.H. Webb, The Reign and Coinage of Carausius (1908).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)