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Alexander

Severus Biography
Alexander Severus was the last emperor of the Severan
dynasty. This biography of Alexander Severus provides detailed
information about his childhood, life, achievements, works &
timeline.
Quick Facts
Also Known As Marcus Aurelius Severus Alexander Augustus
Famous as

Roman Emperor

Nationality

Italian

Born on

01 October 208 AD

Zodiac Sign

Libra

Born in

Arca Caesarea (modern Akkar, Lebanon)

Died on

19 March 235 AD

Place of death

Mainz

Father

Marcus Julius Gessius Marcianus

Mother

Julia Mamaea

Siblings

T heoclia

Spouses

Sallustia Orbiana, Augusta, Sulpicia Memmia

Alexander Severus, also called Marcus Aurelius Severus


Alexander Augustus, was a Roman Emperor who was the last
emperor of the Severan dynasty. He reigned over the Roman
Empire from 222 to 235. His reign was marked by civil wars,
foreign invasion and collapse of the monetary economy.
Ascending the throne when he was just a teenager, the young
Alexander was nothing more than a puppet in the hands of his
powerful mother who yielded the actual power. The young
emperor was just a pawn in the web of political conspiracies his
mother and grandmother had woven in order to achieve power.
Alexanders cousin Elagabalus, a teenager himself, had been
proclaimed the emperor in 218. Their grandmother persuaded
Elagabalus to adopt Alexander in order to make him the heir
apparent. Then playing a cruel political trick the grandmother
had Elagabalus assassinated in 222 which resulted in the
ascension of Alexander Severus as the emperor. Thrust into
such a powerful and responsible position so early in his life,
Alexander was unable to fulfill his duties in an orderly manner
and faltered especially during times of political unrest. His
troubled reign came to an end in 235 when he along with his
mother was murdered by his own troops.
Childhood & Early Life
He was born on 1 October 208 to Marcus Julius Gessius
Marcianus, a Syrian Roman Aristrocrat, and Julia Avita
Mamaea, a powerful Roman woman. His maternal
grandmother was Julia Maesa, a woman who held lofty
political ambitions.

From a young age he was trained in literature and military


services. Some of his teachers included Valerius Cordus,
Titus Veturius, and Aurelius Philippus.
He was a handsome boy who loved to socialize with his
friends. He was a very simple person who wore plain
white robes and cloaks and was not fond of imperial
clothing or gold.
Asce nsion & Re ign
In 218 his cousin, Elagabalus, was made the emperor. At
that time Elagabalus was just 14 years old and his
grandmother Julia Maesa had played a prominent role in
his becoming the emperor.
Julia Maesa used her influence to persuade Elagabalus to
adopt the young Alexander and proclaim him as the heir
apparent. However, later on Elagabalus changed his mind
and rumors were rife that he saw Alexander as a threat
and planned to have him eliminated.
In 222 Elagabalus was assassinated by members of the
Praetorian Guard in a plot formulated by his own
grandmother in order to bring her other grandson to
power. T hus Alexander became the emperor, unopposed,
at the age of 13.
Since he was too young to rule on his own, he was often
guided by his mother and grandmother. In spite of his
young age he tried his best to rule in the true interest of
his people.
He employed noted jurists for administration of justice and
it is claimed that he created a board of 16 senators. He
dismissed excessive extravagance at the imperial court
and created a municipal council of 14.
He was very open-minded when it came to religious
matters and wanted to build a temple for Jesus though he
was advised against it. He gave permission for a
synagogue to be built in Rome.
He was sympathetic towards the soldiers and enacted

many policies for their benefit. T he soldiers were given


the right to name anyone as heir in their willa right that
civilians at that time did not have.
Even though he successfully ruled during peace time, he
lacked the leadership skills to protect his citizens during
wars. In 230 and 231, the Sassanid king Ardashir I
invaded the Roman province of Mesopotamia.
Alexander s army lacked the discipline to face such
attacks though for the time being he was able to defend
his territory. However, there was a mutiny in 232 in which
Taurinus was proclaimed emperor. Alexander managed to
control the uprising and Taurinus drowned and died as he
was trying to escape.
Another enemy attack took place in 234 when the German
barbarians crossed the Rhine and Danube and reached
the gates of Rome. Alexander s soldiers who were already
disillusioned by their emperor s incompetence were further
enraged at this unexpected attack.
He tried his best to lead his forces in the war against the
Germans but he woefully lacked the skills to be a
successful general. In a desperate attempt, he tried to buy
off the German tribes and this agitated his own soldiers
very much. He was now viewed as unfit to be the emperor
after this incident and assassinated by his own men.
Pe rsonal Life & Le gacy
He became the emperor at the tender age of 13 and was
thus highly dependent on the guidance of his mother and
grandmother and solely on his mother after his
grandmother s death.
He was married thrice. He married Sallustia Orbiana in
225 and divorced her in 227. His second wife was Sulpicia
Memmia, a member of an ancient Patrician family in Rome.
He also had another wife whose identity is not known. He
did not have children with any of his wives.
He had become very unpopular among his own soldiers

due to his incompetence especially during the German


war. Alexander, along with his mother, was assassinated
on 19 March 235. He was the last of the Syrian emperors.
His death resulted in the end of the Severan dynasty.