Rise to Power

The Septimius Severus family were wealthy and distinguished in Leptis Magna, a prominent city of the Carthaginian Empire, founded by Phoenicians.

As a young man he advanced through the customary succession of offices under the reigns of Emperor Marcus Aurelius and Commodus.

In 191 CE, on the advice of the prefect of the Praetorian Guard, emperor Commodus appointed Severus as governor of Pannonia Superior.

Emperor Commodus was assassinated the following year. Pertinax was acclaimed emperor, but he was then killed by the Praetorian Guard in early 193CE.

In response to the murder of Pertinax, Severus’ legion XIV Gemina acclaimed him emperor at Carnuntum.
Nearby legions, such as X Gemina at Vindobona, soon followed suit. Having assembled an army, Severus hurried to Italy.

Pertinax’s successor in Rome, Didius Julianus, had bought the emperor in an auction. Julianus was condemned to death by the Senate and killed.

Severus took possession of Rome without opposition.

He executed Pertinax’s murderers and dismissed the rest of the Praetorian Guard, filling its ranks with loyal troops from his own legions.

How did Septimius Severus became Emperor

Consolidation of Power

The legions of Syria had proclaimed Pescennius Niger emperor.

At the same time Severus felt it reasonable to offer Clodius Albinus, the powerful governor of Britannia the rank of Caesar, which implied some claim to the succession.

With his rear safe, he moved to the East and crushed Niger’s forces at the Battle of Issus (194 CE).

He devoted the following year to suppressing Mesopotamia and other Parthian vassals who had backed Niger.

Afterwards, Severus declared his son Caracalla as his successor, which caused Clodius Albinus to be hailed emperor by his troops and to invade Gaul.

After a short stay in Rome, Severus moved north to meet him.

On 19 February 197 CE at the Battle of Lugdunum, with an army of about 75,000 men, mostly composed of Pannonian, Moesian and Dacian legions and a large number of auxiliaries.

Severus defeated and killed Clodius Albinus, securing his full control over the empire.

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