Roman Rulers of Britain – Severan Dynasty

Below is a detailed article about the Severan Dynasty (193–235 A.D.) rulers in Britain that ruled during the Roman era. The Romans invaded England in 43 AD and continued ruling for the next four hundred years. There were different rulers throughout this period that brought in different changes in Roman Britain in terms of politics, administration, and government. Let us learn about the different rulers below.

Who were the Severan Dynasty rulers in Britain?

The Severan Dynasty (193–235 A.D.) comprised the relatively short reigns of

Septimius (193–211 A.D.)
Caracalla (with Geta, 211–12 A.D.) (211–17 A.D.)
Macrinus (217–18 A.D.)
Diadumenianus (218 A.D.)
Elagabalus (218–22 A.D.)
Alexander Severus (222–35 A.D.)

Here is information about couple of emporers.

Emperor Septimus Severus

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Roman Emperor – Septimius Severus

Lucius Septimius Severus was the Roman Emperor from 193 AD to 211 AD. He belonged to the Libyan dynasty. He came from a Punic family. He was a former Senator before rising to the throne. He entered the Roman Senate in the year 170 AD. He was also the governor of Gaul around 187 AD and was living in Lyon which was then called Lugdunum. He was married to his second wife Julia Domna at the time. She came from the priestly family of Eliogabal.

The death of Didius Julianus who was executed by the Senate led to another election for the Emperor’s position. There were three able candidates for the position – the Governor of Britain – Clodius Albinus, the Governor of Syria – Niger, and Septimus – the Governor of Pannonia Superior. All three had different legions working under them. Not only that, they had a very powerful military base. Septimus proved himself the most worthy before the senate by calling himself the savior and the avenger of Pertinax. Another reason was that Pannonia was the closest to Rome.

He was a strategic ruler and therefore offered peace agreements with the other two governors. He offered Albinus, the governor of Britain the title of ‘Caesar’. Septimus became the ruler in 193 AD. He raised new legions all across the Roman Empire and three new in Italy where he was based. He traveled to all the Roman provinces in the east and captured Mesopotamia where there was a Parthian rule. He eliminated the Parthians and established the Roman empire in Babylon and Seleucia. He declared victory in all of the Eastern provinces.

In Rome, he brought in many administrative reforms and military reforms that were long-running in the Roman Empire. His reign was one of the reigns by the five good Roman Rulers or Emperors.

He also traveled to Egypt and reorganized the Roman Empire. He also invaded some parts of Northern Africa, by conquering over the desert tribes that lived there. He then returned to Italy and stayed there for a few years. He launched a campaign in Roman Britain in order to achieve some military glory. He brought with himself the best military officials Rome had. In 211 AD, he died of gout in Roman Britain county Ebaracum which is present-day York. Due to his long-running conquest in Britain, he called himself Britannicus.

Emperor Caracalla

Caracalla was the son of Severus and inherited the throne after the death of his father. He reigned the Roman Empire from 211 AD to 217 AD. He was born in Lyon where his father was the governor. Septimus Severus set out to Britain in 208 AD which is when Caracalla campaigned with his father in Scotland. During the campaign may records mention that he made an attempt to kill his father in order to inherit the throne.

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A sculpture of Roman Emperor Caracalla

While they were away in Scotland, Septimus’s other son Geta was in charge of the Roman empire’s administration. After the death of Septimus, both sons became emperors together. They were constantly in a quarrel with each other and plotted each other’s death so as to inherit the throne as a sole emperor. Finally, Caracalla had his men murder the brother and became a sole emperor. The plot was such that Caracalla was supported by his mother.

While explaining the situation to the senate, Caracalla made it look like Geta’s murder was an act of self-defense by Caracalla. He also explained why the joint emperorship would not work and needed to be out thrown. Caracalla made many reforms in administration. He increased tax revenues and increased a large tax burden on the citizens. The tax paid by the soldiers had risen to 50 percent. Not only that, the peasant class suffered highly with this reform.

The coins were made of almost 80 percent silver and gold. This he reduced by 50 percent and hence changed the coinage of the Roman Empire. During his reign, the military activity in Roman Britain went down. He was incapable of keeping an eye on the Scottish natives and their attempts of invasion. He was instrumental along with his father to divide the Roman Britain empire into two provinces – Britannia Superior and Britannia Inferior.

He then spent some latter years in upper Germany safeguarding the British territories. Caracalla is remembered to be cruel and unjust as a ruler. In many references, he is also stated to be disloyal to the public.

He was only 29 years old when he died. He was murdered by one of the soldiers which were all a part of a conspiracy.

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