Severus

The Emperor Severus.

The ensuring civil war eventually ended with Severus as emperor. Britain had backed a rival candidate, Clodius Albinus, and the army in Britain probably suffered heavy losses in their fight against Severus. However it's not known how much effect all this had in Britain; or whether the tribes used this as an opportunity to carry out raids on the province. Severus however did have to carry out major repairs to the forts in the Pennines and to Hadrian's Wall. In fact so extensive were the repairs to Hadrian's Wall, that until the end of the nineteenth century, Severus was believed to have built the Wall (Until the 1920's it was known as the Roman Wall rather than Hadrian's Wall). The repairs were probably more due to neglected repairs and vandalism during the civil wars than to enemy attacks.

Once Severus had got rid of the challenge from Pertinax, he started to plan his expeditions into Scotland. The first expedition pushed up the eastern side of the Highlands. The Roman's were unable to force the Britons into a pitched battle and the campaign consisted of the Roman army slowly advancing through the difficult terrain, with their engineers driving a route through the swamps and forests; while all the time fighting a vicious guerrilla war with the British tribes. Severus did however eventually force the enemy to agree to surrender a large tract of their land before returning to the south.

The peace didn't last, and the Britons rose again in 210AD. Severus immediately led a punitive expedition into Scotland, giving orders that every native found should be slaughtered. This action was a serious misjudgment causing lasting hatred of Rome among the two great confederates of tribes - the Maetae and the Caledonians.

The strains of the campaigns proved too much for Severus, who was now well in to his sixties, and he died at York on the fourth of February AD211. His death probably saved Scotland from another ferocious expedition. His two sons, Caracalla and Geta hurried back to Rome, both fearing the other, to rule jointly. However the arrangement didn't last and Geta was murdered on Caracalla's orders the next year. Caracalla reign was marked by cruelty, extravagance and treachery until he was finally murdered himself in 217 AD.

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