Emperor of Roman Britain (293-96)

Allectus is a shadowy figure at the very edges of Roman history; little is known about him or his origins, not even his full name, merely Allectus.

He held the position of rationalis summae rei, that is the chief finance minister under Carausius after the latter established a rebel empire in Britain and northern Gaul in 286. Allectus is generally believed to have been responsible for the assassination of Carausius after the fall of Gesoriacum (modern Boulogne) to the forces of Constantius Chlorus. This has normally been viewed as an act of treachery by Allectus, but it has been suggested that he may have been motivated more by a desire to begin negotiations with Rome.

Allectus maintained a programme of public appearances, which he recorded on gold coins adorned with the legend Adventus Augusti ( the coming of the emperor ). But despite appointing himself consul, Allectus seems to have abandoned the messianic ideaology promoted by Carausius and neither was there any promise of the return of the Saturnian earthly paradise.

There is some evidence that he began a building programme at Londinium perhaps in an attempt to curry favour with the native Romano-British worthies. It is reasonably certain that he hired some Frankish mercenaries to help defend the island. This however didn't stop Constantius Chlorus' invasion preparations. In 296 the praetorian prefect Asclepiodotus landed with an army and marched on Londinium; Allectus went to intercept and in the subsequent battle was defeated and killed.

Constantius Chlorus marched into Londinium in triumph and struck a gold medallion to celebrate the recovery of Britain and the slaughter of Allectus' Frankish mercenaries calling himself the 'restorer of the eternal light'.

Part of the reason why we know so little of Allectus, and only a little more of his predecessor Carausius and the rebel empire of Britain is that the Roman authorities were embarrassed at their success and only made the briefest of references in the official records. It is only through modern analysis of the numismatic and archaeological evidence that we have established some idea of what happened.


Peter Salway Roman Britain Oxford University Press (1991)

Euro-sceptics of Roman Britain by John Creighton British Archaeology (Issue no 2, March 1995) and www.bedoyere.freeserve.co.uk/carausius.htm

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