Roman Emperor Trajan Decius

Trajan Decius Gold Aureus

Gaius Messius Quintus Trajanus Decius, commonly referred to as Trajan Decius, ruled Ancient Rome from 249 to 251 AD. Roman Emperor Trajan Decius wanted to restore Rome to its former glory and ancient traditions. Therefore, he decreed the Decius’ edict. This was a proclamation for Empire-wide loyalty. The Decius’ edict meant that all Roman citizens needed to make a sacrifice to Rome’s gods or face torture, execution and seizure of assets. 

Moreover, Christian belief would not allow for them to worship any other god. As a result, Emperor Trajan Decius cracked down harshly on those he believed were undermining the ancient traditions of Rome. Consequently, they were persecuted and tortured. Even Pope Fabian was killed! By the end of Decius’ second year as Emperor, he resorted back to earlier tradition of tolerance.

The Downfall of Emperor Decius

A barbarian invasion forced Roman Emperor Trajan Decius to shift his attention away from domestic affairs. Decius needed a decisive battle win to score points with the Roman citizens. He riled his troops together and headed for Rome’s border. A battle ensued, and at first Decius seemed to have his win. He caused the Goths to flee into the marshes of Abrittus. However, it was a ruse that led him and his troops straight into an ambush. Roman Emperor Trajan Decius, and about half of his army, perished in the debacle. Instead of glorious victory, it was the first time a Roman emperor fell to a foreign enemy.

The catastrophic defeat at Abrittus accelerated the Roman Empire’s slide into anarchy. Christians claimed it was God’s revenge on their Roman persecutors.

Below – Gold Aureus coin issued during Decius’ reign. Find beautiful Roman coins like this one and many more at Austin Rare Coins. All coins offered by Austin Rare Coins are certified and graded by NGC Ancients.