Clodius Albinus

Clodius Albinus

Decimus Clodius Septimius Albinus ( Clodius Albinus for short * November 25 (?) Probably around 148 † February 19, 197 near Lugdunum, today's Lyon ) was Roman Caesar from 193 to 195 and anti -emperor against Septimius Severus from late 195 to his Death. He is often referred to as one of the emperors of the second year of the four emperors in 193, but this goes back to a late tradition that is considered untrustworthy.

Septimius Severus and Albinus [ edit | edit source ]

After Pertinax was , the praetorian prefect Aemilius Laetus and his men, who had arranged the murder, "sold" the imperial throne to wealthy senator Didius Julianus, effectively crowning him emperor, but a string of mutinies by the troops in the provinces meant the next Emperor was far from decided. Immediately afterwards, Pescennius Niger was proclaimed Emperor by the legions in Syria Septimius Severus by the troops in Illyricum and Pannonia and Albinus by the armies in Britain and Gaul.

In the civil war that followed, Albinus was initially allied with Septimius Severus, who had captured Rome. Albinus added the name Septimius to his own, and accepted the title of Caesar from him the two shared a consulship in 194. Albinus remained effective ruler of much of the western part of the Empire, with support from three British legions and one Spanish. Ε] When Didius Julianus was put to death by order of the Senate, who dreaded the power of Septimius Severus, the latter turned his arms against Pescennius Niger. After the defeat and death of Niger in 194, and the complete discomfiture of his adherents, especially after the fall of Byzantium in 196, Severus resolved to make himself the absolute master of the Roman Empire. Albinus seeing the danger of his position, prepared for resistance. He narrowly escaped being assassinated by a messenger of Severus, after which he put himself at the head of his army, which is said to have consisted of 150,000 men. Β]

Decimus Clodius Ceionius Albinus was born in Hadrumentum, Roman Africa, Roman Empire (present-day Sousse, Tunisia) in 150 AD to an aristocratic Romano-African family. He joined the Roman Army while young and served under the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius during his campaign against Avidius Cassius' uprising. Marcus Aurelius' son and successor Commodus appointed Clodius Albinus as Governor of Roman Britain in 191, but, upon hearing a false rumor that Commodus had died, Albinus denounced the emperor before his men, accused Commodus of being a tyrant, and shared his pro-Roman Senate sentiments. An infuriated Commodus responded by sending a replacement to relieve Albinus of his governorship, but Commodus was assassinated before he could oust Albinus from power. After Pertinax's assassination and the election of Didius Julianus as emperor, the Roman military mutinied in the provinces, and Pescennius Niger was proclaimed emperor in Roman Syria, Septimius Severus by the troops in Illyricum and Pannonia, and Albinus by the armies in Britannia and Gaul. Albinus allied with Septimius Severus, sharing the consulship with him in 194 and accepting the title of Caesar. Albinus remained the effective ruler of much of the western empire, supported by three British legions and one Spanish. After Severus defeated Niger in 194 and captured Byzantium in 196, he sought to become the sole ruler of the empire, and Albinus survived an assassination attempt from one of Severus' messengers and came to lead an army of 150,000 troops.


In the autumn of 196, Septimius Severus had his son Caracalla made co-emperor and convinced the Senate to declare Albinus himself an official enemy of Rome. Albinus mobilized his legions in Britannia, proclaimed himself Emperor, and brought his massive army to Gaul. He established Lugdunum (Lyon) as his base, but he failed to win the loyalty of the Rhine legions. On 19 February 197, Albinus met Severus' army at the Battle of Lugdunum, facing 150,000 of Severus' own troops the 300,000 Roman troops who fought in the battle made up two-thirds of the entire Roman Army. Albinus was defeated and slain, and his naked body was then trampled by Septimius. His wife and two sons were then executed, despite having been promised clemency.

Clodius Albinus

over Pescennius, desiring to keep the throne for his sons, and observing that Clodius Albinus, inasmuch as he came of an ancient family, was greatly beloved by the senate, 1 sent him certain men with a letter couched in terms of the greatest love and affection, in which he urged that, now that Pescennius Niger was slain, they should loyally rule the state together. The following, so Cordus declares, is a copy of this letter: “The Emperor Severus Augustus to Clodius Albinus Caesar, our most loving and loyal brother, greeting. After defeating Pescennius we despatched a letter to Rome, which the senate, ever devoted to you, received with rejoicing. Now I entreat you that in the same spirit in which you were chosen as the brother of my heart you will rule the empire as my brother on the throne. Bassianus and Geta send you greetings, and our Julia, too, greets both you and your sister. To your little son Pescennius Princus we will send a present, worthy both of his station and your own. I would like you to hold the troops in their allegiance to the empire and to ourselves, my most loyal, most dear, and loving friend.”

VIII. This was the letter that he gave to the trusted attendants that were sent to Albinus. He told them to deliver the letter in public but, later, they were to say that they wished to confer with him privately on many matters pertaining to the war, the secrets of the camp, and the trustworthiness of the court, and when they had come to the secret meeting for the purpose of telling their errand, five sturdy fellows were to slay him with daggers hidden in their garments. 2 And they showed no lack of fidelity. For they came to Albinus and delivered Severus’ letter, and then, when he read it, they said

Clodius Albinus

VI. As soon as he came of age he entered military service, and by the aid of Lollius Serenus, Baebius Maecianus and Ceionius Postumianus, all his kinsmen, he gained the notice of the Antonines. In the capacity of a tribune he commanded a troop of Dalmatian horse he also commanded soldiers of the First and the Fourth legions. 1 At the time of Avidius’ revolt he loyally held the Bithynian army 157 to its allegiance. Next, Commodus transferred him to Gaul 2 and here he routed the tribes from over the Rhine and made his name illustrious among both Romans and barbarians. This aroused Commodus’ interest, and he offered Albinus the name of Caesar 3 and the privilege, too, of giving the soldiers a present and wearing the scarlet cloak. 4 But all these offers Albinus wisely refused, for Commodus, he said, was only looking for a man who would perish with him, 5 or whom he could reasonably put to death. The duty of holding the quaestorship was in his case remitted. This requirement waived, he became aedile, but after a term of only ten days he was despatched in haste to the army. 6 Next, he served his praetorship under Commodus, and a very famous one it was. For at his games Commodus, it is said, gave gladiatorial combats in both the Forum and the 194 theatre. And finally Severus made him consul at the time when he purposed to make him and Pescennius his successors.

VII. When he at last attained to the empire he was well advanced in years, for he was older, as Severus himself relates in his autobiography, 7 than Pescennius Niger. But Severus, after his victory

Lucius Pescennius Niger

Lucius Pescennius Niger (c.140-194): Roman general, emperor for a short while in 193-194.

Lucius (or Gaius) Pescennius Niger was born in Aquinum, a modest provincial town in Italy, between 135 and 140. He was the son of a Roman knight named Annius Fuscus and his wife Lampridia.

These were the years of the emperor Antoninus Pius, when the Roman world was tranquil and at peace with most of its neighbors. This peace, however, was shattered during the reign of Marcus Aurelius (161-180), who had to wage war against the Germanic tribes along the Danube, and whose brother Lucius Verus had to fight a big war against the Parthian Empire in the east. When peace was lost, Pescennius was more than twenty years old and it was probably no coincidence that in this restless age a military man like him was to rise higher than a normal equestrian's son.

He served as military prefect of an auxiliary cohort during the reign of Marcus Aurelius. The next step of his career, a double military tribuneship (a high position in a legion), is attributed to the reign of the next emperor, Commodus (180-192). Although Pescennius was no longer a young man, he seems to have done his job excellently and must have impressed the emperor, because he was accepted as senator with the rank of a former praetor.

Pescennius went on to occupy an unknown office in Dacia (modern Romania). Here, he fought against the Sarmatians, a coalition of Iranian tribes that had settled in Central Europe. Another man is named in the same context: Decimus Clodius Albinus, who will return in our story. The fact that two senators with the rank of former praetors are mentioned in a military situation, strongly suggests that they were the commanders of the garrison of Dacia, which consisted of V Macedonica and XIII Gemina.

By now, Pescennius must have had a good reputation as a commander. When in 185 a man named Maternus freed some prisoners and started a gang of robbers that invested Gaul, Commodus considered this a serious crisis and appointed Pescennius Niger as governor of the province called Gallia Lugdunensis. Deserters from several army units had joined Maternus, but Pescennius overcame them, together with the Eighth Augustan Legion of Strasbourg (186).

After a consulship at an unknown moment, Pescennius was considered worthy of the governorship of Syria, a very important position, where he had to command two legions, III Cyrenaica and IIII Scythica. He arrived in Antioch, his new residence, in 191. It seems that Pescennius was sincerely liked by the Syrians.

Under normal circumstance, this governorship was the zenith of an extraordinary career. However, the circumstances were nor longer usual. The situation in Rome was worsening. The emperor Commodus had waged something like a war against the Senate and had tried to boost his popularity, which was declining after a great fire, by acting as a gladiator and presenting himself as the Roman Hercules. Although the Romans were not unused to imperial extravaganza, they found this shocking and several courtiers decided that Commodus' reign had to be terminated.

Several reliable men had already been appointed to key positions, and perhaps Pescennius' appointment as governor of Syria (and general of its legions) was among them. In the night of 31 December 192 / 1 January 193, the conspirators decided to strike. They murdered the gladiator-emperor and hailed the old general Pertinax as emperor. Like Pescennius Niger, he was a social climber who had made his career in the army - and outside the Senate.

The coup had been bloodless, but unfortunately, something went wrong. On 28 March 193, eighty-six days after the murder of Commodus, a sedition broke out in the camp of the imperial guard. A group of soldiers burst into the palace, where one of them killed his emperor.

This time, the succession had not been considered beforehand and there was no natural candidate availavle. The soldiers were not fighting for a particular pretender, they were just angry. Two men, however, were considered capax imperii ("fit to rule"): the prefect of the city, Pertinax' father-in-law T. Flavius Sulpicianus, and a noble war hero named Marcus Didius Julianus. The latter offered more money to the soldiers and became emperor.

The Romans did not know what was more shocking: the outrageous behavior of Commodus, the murder of Pertinax, or the fact that the empire had been auctioned away. Didius Julianus had to cope with people shouting that they wanted another ruler, and they usually mentioned the same name: Lucius Pescennius Niger. The new emperor sent an assassin to kill the popular governor, but in vain.

Instead, Julianus was informed that Pescennius had heard about his popularity and had accepted the imperial purple himself on 19 (?) April 193. He had proclaimed the beginning of a new "Golden age" after the dictatorial rule of Commodus and Julianus, and had received recognition from every province in the east, from the Parthian king Vologases V, and from the ruler of Hatra, a small kingdom in Mesopotamia.

Pescennius' position was excellent. To start with, he controlled at least five and probably nine legions. He could certainly count on II Traiana Fortis in Alexandria, X Fretensis in Jerusalem, III Cyrenaica in Bosra in northern Arabia Petraea, III Gallica in Raphanaea (Syria), and XII Fulminata in Melitene. We do not know about the loyalty of other legions in the region (VI Ferrata in Caparcotna in Galilee, IIII Scythica at Zeugma, XVI Flavia Firma at Samosata, and XV Apollinaris at Satala), but we can assume that they supported Pescennius Niger as well. However, the new ruler probably would not have to fight at all, because he controlled the port of Alexandria, which was crucial for the food supply of Rome. He could starve the capital. Or so it seemed.

The Romans and Syrians were not the only people who abhorred from the coup of Didius Julianus. The soldiers of the army of the Danube preferred the governor of Pannonia Superior, Septimius Severus, as emperor (9 April 193). In his province, he controlled I Adiutrix in Brigetio, X Gemina in Vindobona (modern Vienna), and XIIII Gemina in Carnuntum. However, he could also employ the legions of the Upper Danube, III Italica of Regina Castra and II Italica of Lauriacum, and he could rely upon the units of the Lower Danube and Dacia, like II Adiutrix at Aquincum (Budapest), IIII Flavia Felix in Singidunum (Belgrade), VII Claudia at Viminacium, V Macedonica and XIII Gemina at Potaissa and Apulum in Dacia, I Italica in Novae, and XI Claudia at Durostorum, near the delta of the Danube.

Septimius Severus had a larger army and was closer to Rome. With the Pannonian legions I Adiutrix and XIV Gemina, he made a lightning raid on Rome, which he reached on 9 June. By then Didius Julianus was already murdered and Severus was recognized by the Senate.

Meanwhile, the chaos had only increased, because in faraway Britain, Decimus Clodius Albinus (once Pescennius' fellow-commander in the war against the Sarmatians) had assumed the imperial purple as well. He could count on the three British legions (II Augusta at Isca/Caerleon, VI Victrix at Deva/Chester, XX Valeria Victrix at Eburacum/York). The only undecided legions were those of Germania Inferior, once Clodius Albinus' province, and Germania Superior (XXX Ulpia Victrix at Xanten, I Minervia at Bonn, XXII Primigenia at Mainz, VIII Augusta at Strasbourg), Hispania (VII Gemina), and Numidia (III Augusta). Clodius Albinus understood that, with three legions, he was no match for Severus, and accepted a position as caesar, intended successor.

Now Severus had his hands free to attack Pescennius Niger. He sent and army to Egypt - an expedition about which we know next to nothing but must have been important to restore the food supply of Rome. At the same time, he arrested the family of his opponent, and sent the two easternmost legions of the Danube, I Italica and XI Claudia, to Byzantium, which controlled the Bosphorus. However, the legionaries found that this strategically important city had already been occupied by Pescennius himself. And there was a second enemy army, commanded by Asellius Aemilianus, his right-hand man and the governor of the province of Asia.

Negotiations were conducted - Pescennius proposing to share the empire and Severus offering his rival a guarantee - but when these had come to naught, fighting broke out. Ultimately, the reinforced army of Septimius Severus was able to make a landing in Asia and defeat the army of Pescennius Niger at Nicaea (January 194). Asellius Aemilianus was caught at Cyzicus. Pescennius, who had been in Byzantium, now fled to Syria. When he had arrived, he learned that Egypt was lost as well (13 February).

This was not the end of his emperorship, however. Byzantium still held out, and Severus still needed to reach Syria. He would have to cross the Taurus Mountains, which meant that he had to force his way through the Cilician Gate. Apparently, Pescennius personally commanded the troops in the Taurus. In his History of the Roman Empire, the historian Herodian says that heavy rainfall forced the defenders to give up their position, and that the Severans reached the plain of Cilicia. Between this country and the plain of Antioch was the coastal zone of Issus, where Alexander the Great had defeated his rival Darius III Codomannus of Persia in 331 BCE. This was to be the place of another decisive battle.

It took place on 31 March 194, and Pescennius Niger was defeated. According to the historian Cassius Dio, 20,000 people were massacred. note [Cassius Dio, Roman History 75=74.8.1.] Pescennius tried to flee to his ally, the Parthian king Vologases V, but he was intercepted by the soldiers of Severus before he could cross the Euphrates. His reign had lasted less than one year. He was killed and his head was sent to Byzantium in order to induce the defenders to surrender. Severus punished Pescennius' adherents and sent his family into exile. The Senate convened and pronounced a damnatio memoriae.

The victorious emperor immediately launched a short war against the Parthians, who had supported his opponent. This, at least, was the pretext, but the real reason must have been that he had won a civil war and needed a victory in a foreign war to make his emperorship acceptable. After he had gained some successes in Mesopotamia, he returned to Rome, defeated Clodius Albinus in Gaul, went to Mesopotamia again and sacked the Parthian capital Ctesiphon. All this was commemorated on the Arch of Septimius Severus on the Forum Romanum.

Although Lucius Septimius Severus had been the enemy of Pescennius Niger, the two men had much in common. Like Pertinax and Didius Julianus, they were experienced generals. From the reign of Marcus Aurelius on, the Romans had to defend themselves against dangerous enemies -the Germanic tribes in the north and the Sasanians in the east- and these military commanders were to be the new leaders of the Roman world. When Pescennius Niger was born, the Mediterranean was tranquil and peaceful when he died, this world had started to become unquiet. Although his reign was not a success, the future belonged to military leaders like Pescennius.

After the death of Pertynax, the Pretorian Guard conducted a kind of tender for the imperial office. Father-in-law of the murdered Pertinax, Sulpicianus, and Didius Julianus took part in it. The latter won by offering each praetorian 25,000 seniors in exchange for support to the throne. Soon the governors of three Roman provinces came out against the new emperor: Septimius Severus (Panonia), Clodius Albinus (Britain), and Pescenius Niger (Syria). With the progress of Severus’ army towards Rome, Didius Julianus left other followers. Ultimately, the Senate recognized Septimius Severus as emperor and sentenced Didius Julianus to death. Caesar was murdered in his palace on June 1, 193.

After the death of Didius Julius, there was a civil war between the claimants to the throne – Septimius Severus, who took over Italy and the western part of the Empire, and Pescennius Niger, whose forces concentrated in Anatolia and Syria. Sewer, who had a definite military advantage, decided to launch an offensive towards the centers of support of his rival. Initially, Pescennius Niger tried to carry out a quick strike on Severus’ forces, but during the campaign he was forced to retreat eastwards. Severus’ forces won the battles of Kyzikos (193), Kius (194), and Issos (194), which sealed the fate of Pescennius Niger, who was killed while trying to escape to Persia. The last center of resistance – the city of Byzantium – was not taken over by Severus’ supporters until December 195.

Clodius Albinus

Decimus Clodius Septimius Albinus Augustus (c. 150 – 19 February 197) was a Roman usurper who was proclaimed emperor by the legions in Britain and Hispania (the Iberian Peninsula, comprising modern Spain and Portugal) after the murder of Pertinax in 193 (known as the "Year of the Five Emperors"), and who proclaimed himself emperor again in 196.

In autumn 196, Albinus crossed from Britain to Gaul, bringing a large part of the British garrison with him. He defeated Severus&apos legate Virius Lupus, and was able to lay claim to the military resources of Gaul, but although he made Lugdunum the headquarters of his forces, he was unable to win the allegiance of the Rhine legions.

On 19 February 197 Albinus met Severus&apos army at the Battle of Lugdunum. After a hard-fought battle, with 150,000 troops on each side according to Dio Cassius, Albinus was defeated and killed himself, or was captured and executed on the orders of Severus.&hellipmore

[close] Decimus Clodius Septimius Albinus Augustus (c. 150 – 19 February 197) was a Roman usurper who was proclaimed emperor by the legions in Britain and Hispania (the Iberian Peninsula, comprising modern Spain and Portugal) after the murder of Pertinax in 193 (known as the "Year of the Five Emperors"), and who proclaimed himself emperor again in 196.

In autumn 196, Albinus crossed from Britain to Gaul, bringing a large part of the British garrison with him. He defeated Severus' legate Virius Lupus, and was able to lay claim to the military resources of Gaul, but although he made Lugdunum the headquarters of his forces, he was unable to win the allegiance of the Rhine legions.

On 19 February 197 Albinus met Severus' army at the Battle of Lugdunum. After a hard-fought battle, with 150,000 troops on each side according to Dio Cassius, Albinus was defeated and killed himself, or was captured and executed on the orders of Severus.

Clodius Albinus, Roman Emperor (usurper)

Rome was originally the capital of the Roman emperor. Later, it moved to Milan, and then Ravenna (A.D. 402-476). After the fall of Romulus Augustulus, in A.D. 476, Rome continued to have an emperor for almost another millennium, but that Roman emperor ruled from the East.

(31 or) 27 B.C. - 14 A.D. Augustus 14 - 37 Tiberius 37 - 41 Caligula 41 - 54 Claudius 54 - 68 Nero Year of the 4 Emperors

(ends with Vespasian) 68 - 69 Galba 69 Otho 69 Vitellius

69 - 79 Vespasian 79 - 81 Titus 81 - 96 Domitian 5 Good Emperors

96 - 98 Nerva 98 - 117 Trajan 117 - 138 Hadrian 138 - 161 Antoninus Pius 161 - 180 Marcus Aurelius (161 - 169 Lucius Verus)

(The next cluster of emperors is not part of a specific dynasty or other common grouping, but includes 4 from the year of the 5 emperors, 193.) 177/180 - 192 Commodus 193 Pertinax 193 Didius Julianus 193 - 194 Pescennius Niger 193 - 197 Clodius Albinus

193 - 211 Septimius Severus 198/212 - 217 Caracalla 217 - 218 Macrinus 218 - 222 Elagabalus 222 - 235 Severus Alexander (More emperors without a dynastic label, although it includes the year of the 6 emperors, 238.) For more on this age of chaos, read Brian Campbell's excellent synopsis in The Romans and Their World.

235 - 238 Maximinus 238 Gordian I and II 238 Balbinus and Pupienus 238 - 244 Gordian III 244 - 249 Philip the Arab 249 - 251 Decius 251 - 253 Gallus 253 - 260 Valerian 254 - 268 Gallienus 268 - 270 Claudius Gothicus 270 - 275 Aurelian 275 - 276 Tacitus 276 - 282 Probus 282 - 285 Carus Carinus Numerian

285-ca.310 Diocletian 295 L. Domitius Domitianus 297-298 Aurelius Achilleus 303 Eugenius 285-ca.310 Maximianus Herculius 285 Amandus 285 Aelianus Iulianus 286?-297? British Emperors 286/7-293 Carausius 293-296/7 Allectus

293-306 Constantius I Chlorus Dynasty of Constantine

293-311 Galerius 305-313 Maximinus Daia 305-307 Severus II 306-312 Maxentius 308-309 L. Domitius Alexander 308-324 Licinius 314? Valens 324 Martinianus 306-337 Constantinus I 333/334 Calocaerus 337-340 Constantinus II 337-350 Constans I 337-361 Constantius II 350-353 Magnentius 350 Nepotian 350 Vetranio 355 Silvanus 361-363 Julianus 363-364 Jovianus

(More emperors without a dynastic label) 364-375 Valentinianus I 375 Firmus 364-378 Valens 365-366 Procopius 366 Marcellus 367-383 Gratian 375-392 Valentinianus II 378-395 Theodosius I 383-388 Magnus Maximus 384-388 Flavius Victor 392-394 Eugenius

[See: Table of Eastern and Western Emperors]

395-423 Honorius [Division of the Empire - Honorius' brother Arcadius ruled the East 395-408] 407-411 Constantine III usurper 421 Constantius III 423-425 Johannes 425-455 Valentinian III 455 Petronius Maximus 455-456 Avitus 457-461 Majorian 461-465 Libius Severus 467-472 Anthemius 468 Arvandus 470 Romanus 472 Olybrius 473-474 Glycerius 474-475 Julius Nepos 475-476 Romulus Augustulus

Table of Eastern and Western Emperors

Print Resources Chris Scarre: Chronicle of the Roman Emperors Adkins and Adkins: Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome

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