Marcus Trebellius Maximus (63 -69AD)

The career of this general is documented in two works by Gaius Cornelius Tacitus, The Agricola (chapter xvi, verses 3-4) and The Histories (book I, chapter lx).

Read the biography of Marcus Trebellius Maximus

“Trebellius was less energetic, had no military experience, and kept the province in hand by a mild-mannered administration.”

(Cornelius Tacitus Agricola XVI.iii)

“… Even the barbarians now learned to indulge pleasant vices, and the interruption of civil war afforded a sound excuse for his inaction; but there was mutiny and trouble when the army, accustomed to the field, became riotous and idle. Trebellius, after eluding the violence of the soldiery by escaping to a hiding-place, was then allowed, at the cost of shame and humiliation, to govern on sufferance. They arranged between them, so to speak, that the army should enjoy itself, but should spare its general’s life; so the mutiny came to an end without bloodshed.” (Tacitus Agricola XVI.iii-iv)

“Trebellius Maximus, the governor of Britain, had earned by his meanness and cupidity the contempt and hatred of the army, which was further inflamed by the action of his old enemy Roscius Coelius, who commanded the Twentieth legion, and they now seized the opportunity of the civil war to break out into a fierce quarrel. Trebellius blamed Coelius for the mutinous temper and insubordination of the army: Coelius complained that Trebellius had robbed his men and impaired their efficiency. Meanwhile their unseemly quarrel ruined the discipline of the forces, whose insubordination soon came to a head. The auxiliary horse and foot joined in the attacks on the governor, and rallied round Coelius. Trebellius, thus hunted out and abandoned, took refuge with Vitellius. The province remained quiet, despite the removal of the ex-consul. The government was carried on by the commanding officers of the legions, who were equal in authority, though Coelius’ audacity gave him an advantage over the rest.” (Tacitus Histories I.lx)

The most notable episode in this governor’s administration was the withdrawal of the Fourteenth Legion from Wroxeter by the emperor Nero for use in Germany in AD67. This required a re-shuffling of the British legionary forces; the Twentieth were moved from Usk to replace the Fourteenth at Wroxeter, the Second were moved up from Exeter to Gloucester, and the Ninth were later reunited in a new legionary fortress at Lincoln.

Works Attributed to Trebellius Maximus in Britain
Glevum (Gloucester)SO8318legionary fortress Legio II Augusta.
Viroconium (Wroxeter, Shropshire)SJ5608legionary fortress Legio XX Valeria Victrix.

References for Marcus Trebellius Maximus (AD63-69)

  • The Roman Invasion of Britain by Graham Webster (Batsford, London, 1980);
  • Rome Against Caratacus by Graham Webster (Batsford, London, 1981);
  • Britons and the Roman Army by Grace Simpson (Gregg, London, 1964);
  • Historical Map and Guide: Roman Britain by the OS (3rd Edition, 1956; 4th Ed., 1990; 5th Ed., 2001);