By the third century CE, the once-might Roman Empire began to show signs of collapse. A parade of emperors took the throne, mostly from the ranks of the military. Years of civil war and open revolt led to an erosion of territory. Charismatic generals sought to consolidate their own power, but none was as powerful, or as ambitious, as Postumus.
Born in an outpost of the Empire, of common stock, Postumus rose swiftly through the ranks, eventually commanding Roman forces “among the Celts”—a territory that included modern-day France, Belgium, Holland, and England—and was proclaimed emperor of that region by his troops. Thus was born the so-called Gallic Empire.