Roman Empire

Petronius Maximus, Western Roman Usurper AD 455

RIC 2202; Lacam pl. IV, 3 (same dies); Depeyrot 48/3, Extremely Fine

Rome. D N PETRONIVS MA-XIMVS P F AVG, diademed, draped and cuirassed bust of Petronius Maximus right. Reverse: VICTORI-A AVGGG emperor standing facing, holding long cross and Victory on globe, foot on man-headed serpent; R-M//COMOB.

Ex NAC 38 (21 March 2007), 298

In AD 454, the wealthy senator Petronius Maximus convinced Valentinian III that Aetius was plotting against him and arranged the death of the magister militum killed. Maximus then requested to take Aetius’ place as head of the imperial armies. When Valentinian III refused, the enraged senator conspired with soldiers loyal to Aetius to murder the Western Emperor. Proclaiming himself the Western Emperor on March 17, AD 455, Maximus tried to secure his position by marrying Licinia Eudoxia, the widow of Valentinian III, and arranging a marriage between his son and the daughter of Eudoxia. This backfired because the latter was already betrothed to Huneric, the son of the Vanadal king Geiseric. When it was learned in Rome that Geiseric was planning an invasion to avenge this slight to his honor everyone in the city panicked, including Maximus. While attempting to flee the city, the usurper was set upon by an angry mob and stoned to death. Three days later, Geiseric seized Rome and sacked it over the course of two weeks.