Alexander Severus was emperor from 222 to 235 A.D. (where he is listed on the Biblical Timeline Poster with World History) and last of the Severan dynasty. His father was Marcus Julius Gessius Marcianus and his mother was Julia Mamaea. His father was a judge and his mother was a noblewoman. He was also the great-nephew of Julia Domna and her husband Lucius Septimius Severus. Alexander became eligible for being emperor after he was adopted by Septimius Severus. Alexander Severus was a young adult in his early 20s when he became emperor. Once he started to rule his mother had a lot of influence over his decisions. She surrounded the boy with wise people, made sure that he had sound character and changed how Severus’ administration would operate.
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The Emperor, his Mother and their Soldiers
His mother had arranged for Severus to be married to Sallustia Orbiana but later had her banished because of her influence over Severus. Alexander or his mother couldn’t control the army and ended up alienating themselves from the military. Mutinies were common in Rome at the time. The Praetorian Guard and a riot happened in Rome when the people rose up against them. The Praetorian Guard killed a prefect named Ulpian at the feet of Severus. The soldiers would not obey Emperor Alexander and they rebelled against him all over the empire.
Even though Alexander had some success in battle and as commander and chief of his army, he just was never able to receive the full respect of his soldiers. Around 234 A.D., the Germans were pushing across the Rhine once again and they needed to be punished. Alexander’s mother tried to get him to bribe the Germans instead. Once the soldiers found out what he did they decided to choose a very popular and well-respected soldier named Gaius Maximinus to become the next emperor. After making this decision, they assassinated Alexander in 235 A.D.
Historians claim that the death of Alexander Severus brought an end to the Principate of Rome. The Principate of Rome is considered the first period of the Roman Empire from the Rule of Augustus Caesar to the death of Alexander Severus which brought about the Crisis of the Third Century.
Policies of Emperor Severus
Though Alexander Severus wasn’t considered a good soldier most people thought of him as a good ruler. He had improved the mood of the Roman people and uplifted the dignity of the Roman state. He also diminished his desire for extravagant living while in power. He eased the tax burden, promoted science, literature and art. Even though the soldiers didn’t really care for him, he also improved their lives. He even had loan offices established for the people so that they could receive loans at moderate interest. He was also opened minded about religion. He even wanted to erect a temple for Christ but was dissuaded by Roman priests not to take this action. He allowed the Jews to build a synagogue in Rome and gave them the Severus Scroll which was a copy of the Torah.
Severus was married at least three times before he died. One of his wives was named Sallustia Orbiana had a father named Seius Sallustius who tried to assassinate him. The emperor had no choice but to divorce her and banish her from the kingdom. He assassinated her father for trying to get away with this deed.
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