Trebonianus Gallus

Trebonianus Gallus
Roman Emperor
In Power Jun 251 – Aug 253
Born 206
Died Aug 253 (aged 47)
Wife Afinia Gemina Baebiana

Trebonianus Gallus was born in Italy in 206 to a family with a senatorial background. He married Afinia Gemina Baebiana and they had two children, Gaius Vibius Volusianus and Vibia Galla. He served the empire as consul, governor, and finally, as emperor from 251 to 253. Gallus played a vital part in the intense Gothic wars during his time.

Rise to Power

In 251, Emperor Decius and his son, Herennius, journeyed to Abritus to force out the invading Goths. Gallus fought alongside the two, but both Decius and Herennius died in the battle. With the Goths victorious, Gallus had to return to Rome. He was, however, declared by his soldiers as the new emperor. In Rome, though, it was Decius’ son, Hostilian, who was proclaimed emperor by the Senate. Upon arrival in Rome, Gallus chose to adopt Hostilian as his son and acknowledge him as his co-emperor. By this time, however, the Cyprian plague was spreading in the empire and it soon claimed the life of the young Hostilian. Following this, Gallus proclaimed his son, Volusianus, as his co-emperor.


Gallus’ first business as emperor was to settle a peace treaty with the Goths. This treaty required Rome to make yearly payments to the Goths to not make them invade again. This act secured peace for the time being, but it also made Gallus unpopular with the people. Meanwhile, Shapur I, leader of the Persians, invaded the Roman provinces of Armenia, Syria, and Mesopotamia. The plague had killed thousands of people, including Roman soldiers, and this left Gallus with no manpower to retaliate. To add more to his troubles, the Goths started invading the Danubian territories again.

To distract the public’s attention from his military incapacity, Gallus relaunched the persecution of Christians. The distraction did not help him much, and soon a rebel named Aemilius Aemilianus posed to seize the throne from him. Aemilianus, who was a governor of Lower Moesia, assaulted the Goths and drove them out of Roman territory. Aemilianus’ soldiers saw in him a new hope against the barbarians, and they proclaimed him their emperor.


Aemilianus advanced towards Rome, and Gallus braced for a fight. Gallus lacked manpower, though, and sent for the help of Publius Licinius Valerianus, who was in charge of the armies on the Rhine. Valerianus, however, failed to arrive in time as Aemilianus marched swiftly into Italy. Gallus’ men, knowing that they would be slaughtered by Aemilianus’ much larger troops, killed their leader, including his son, Volusianus. Aemilius Aemilianus succeeded them to the imperial throne.