Roman Emperor A.D. 193-211.

An African by birth, Septimius Severus rose through the ranks of the Roman army to become governor of Upper Pannonia. When the Praetorian Guard murdered the emperor Pertinax and auctioned off the throne to Didius Julianus, 16 legions on the Rhine and Danube declared Severus to be the true emperor, and marched on Rome. There were at this time two other main rivals for the throne, Clodius Albinus, the governor of Britain, and Pescennius Niger, the governor of Syria. Both elected to bide their time, with Pescennius remaining in luxury in Byzantium and Clodius refraining from declaring himself emperor and signing a treaty with Severus (who got to Rome first anyway). Severus pledged his friendship to Pescennius, then marched his legions to the east, besieging Byzantium. Niger managed to flee, but the armies of Severus caught up to him on the banks of the Euphrates river and executed him in the fall of 194 AD. Byzantium itself refused to surrender and did not fall until 196. In 195, Clodius declared himself emperor, but once again failed to march on Rome immediately, instead waiting for the snow in the passes to clear. By the time he did march, Severus had his armies in position, and they met in battle for the last time at Lugdunum in 197. Clodius was defeated, and Severus was now undisputed emperor.

As an emperor, he was far better than average, instituting many reforms, and dismissing all the members of the corrupt Praetorian Guard. Much of his time was spent putting down rebellions all over the empire, including most notably the rebellion by the Scots in Britain. He brought his two sons, Geta and Caracalla with him everywhere, to toughen them up, and when he died left them to rule together. His last words to them before he died at York in 211 were to rule together as brothers, keep the armies happy, and forget everyone else.

See Roman Emperors

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