Emperor Alexander Severus

Rome's Age of Insurrection, AD222-235

John S McHugh

Date Published :
October 2017
Publisher :
Pen and Sword
Illustration :
20 illustrations
No associated books available.


Alexander Severus' is full of controversy and contradictions. He came to the throne through the brutal murder of his cousin, Elagabalus, and was ultimately assassinated himself. The years between were filled with regular uprisings and rebellions, court intrigue (the Praetorian Guard slew their commander at the Emperor's feet) and foreign invasion. Yet the ancient sources generally present his reign as a golden age of just government, prosperity and religious tolerance

Not yet fourteen when he became emperor, Alexander was dominated by his mother, Julia Mammaea and advisors like the historian, Cassius Dio. In the military field, he successfully checked the aggressive Sassanid Persians but some sources see his Persian campaign as a costly failure marked by mutiny and reverses that weakened the army. When Germanic and Sarmatian tribes crossed the Rhine and Danube frontiers in 234, Alexander took the field against them but when he attempted to negotiate to buy time, his soldiers perceived him as weak, assassinated him and replaced him with the soldier Maximinus Thrax. John McHugh reassesses this fascinating emperor in detail.

About The Author

John S McHugh has a BA and MA in Ancient History. His love of the ancient world has led him to travel to many classical sites. He is currently an Assistant Headmaster at a secondary school in Bolton. He is the co-author of a text book on Boltons connections with the slave trade and is currently assisting Bolton Museum with a project to record the oral history of the local populace with the aim of promoting understanding between people of different generations or ethnic and social backgrounds.


“British academic McHugh, who has written on the Emperor Commodus and other subjects, does a masterful job in giving us this life of Alexander Severus set within his unstable times which presaged even more instability… This is a rich work, and valuable for anyone with an interest in the Roman Empire.”

- The NYMAS Review, Winter 2018

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