Carausius and Allectus

The British Usurpers

P. J. Casey; With translations of the texts by R. S. O. Tomlin

View Inside Price: $57.00


February 22, 1995
232 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
35 b/w illus.
ISBN: 9780300060621
Cloth

Between A.D. 286 and 296, the Gallo-Roman military commander Carausius and his successor Allectus ruled Roman Britain, forming a renegade government there that threatened the stability of the Roman Empire. Constantius Chlorus eventually suppressed this separatist regime, and his success paved the way for his son Constantine to use Britain as the base for his own bid for imperial recognition.
Using literary, archaeological, and numismatic evidence, P.J. Casey brilliantly pieces together this little-known but extraordinary episode in the history of Roman Britain. Casey sets out the Continental and British background to the revolt, which he closely dates and, contrary to current published wisdom, locates initially in Gaul. He finds that Britain's independence was based on naval power—the first time that insular sea power played a major part in British history. He describes how Carausius and Allectus controlled the sea-lanes of the English Channel and the North Sea, maintaining what was probably the most effective naval force in the Roman world after serious naval warfare ceased in the reign of Augustus. He reviews the marine technology of the period and outlines the strategies of Roman coastal protection. He concludes by considering how Carausius was depicted by writers from the medieval period onward, in particular assessing the use of Carausius and Allectus as historical icons in periods of national crisis in British history.

P.J. Casey, Reader in Archaeology in the department of archaeology at the University of Durham in England, is an expert on Roman coinage.

"This book offers a detailed account of a specific historical event as well as a useful discussion of the problems of confronting disparate sorts of historical evidence."—Choice

"A valuable work of scholarship that completely reappraises the evidence for the Carausius and Allectus episode. Much will be of interest to the general reader, and the work will be required reading for any historian of the late third century."—Colin M. Wells, Trinity University

"John Casey has undertaken the first major study of Carausius and his even more enigmatic successor, Allectus, and the results will be of value not only to the Romano-British specialist but to anyone with a serious interest in the ancient world. . . . The British Usurpers is both literate and scholarly, and deserves the widest readership possible."—Anthony Barrett, Classical Views