Born Lucius Septimius Severus in AD 146 at Leptis Magna in Africa, Severus was approaching 50 years old before he was proclaimed emperor. Following a brilliant military career, and upon the death of Commodus, he was promoted to the governorship of Upper Pannonia. Severus was a loyal follower of Pertinax, the ruler who succeeded Commodus.
However, Pertinax’s reign was short lived due to the reforms and economies he instituted. He was murdered on March 28, 193 AD, and Didius Julianus was elevated to emperor. The elevation of Didius Julianus was considered shameful by most Romans, and caused much indignation in the provinces. Severus was quickly declared emperor by the troops at Carnuntum.
He promptly disposed of Julianus and Niger, and defeated his third rival, Clodius Albinus, shortly thereafter. Much of Severus’ reign was spent campaigning in and ensuring the security of different parts of the empire, and visiting many of the provinces. He went to Britain in AD 208 to settle the unrest, and repair the damage to Hadrian’s Wall; both created by the great invasion by the barbarians of the north in AD 197. The strain of his last campaign, the unsuccessful invasion of Caledonia, caused Severus to do a thing most unnatural for a Roman Empire Emperor. He died a natural death at York, in Britain, on February 4, AD 211.