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THIS SYRIAN BORN NIECE of Roman Emperor Septimius Severus became the first woman to openly and officially rule the Roman Empire. On her coin, Julia Mamaea appears with heavily curled hair and wearing a crown.
She first came to power with her mother when her son, Severus Alexander, ascended to the throne at the age of 14. He was thrust into the position when hIs predecessor Elagabalus was murdered by the Praetorian Guard. The two women, both named Julia, were named co-regents for Alexander because of his youth.
The two openly administered affairs of State for the under aged Alexander. Julia ruled ably at first, reversing scandalous policies of her predecessor, appointing 16 distinguished senators as her advisors, and making the distinguished lawyer Ulpian her chief advisor and head of the Praetorian Guard.
When Alexander reached adulthood after the death of Julia's mother, Alexander conferred on Julia the title of consors imperii . The position, which meant partner in rule, had been previously offered to co-emperor Lucius Verus by Marcus Aurelius. The appointment of a women to the position was unprecedented at the time.
Romans, however, were not unaccustomed to the idea of being governed by a woman. Julia's aunt Julia Domna had been remarkably visible in administering governmental functions for her husband Emperor Septimius Severus and her son Emperor Caracalla.
During Julia's reign, Julia received the title of Mater Castorum (mother of the camps) and Mater Senatus (mother of the Senate) and largely avoided scandals. Her contemporaries described her as virtuous. She consulted with the Christian theologian Origen about Christian doctrine.
Even so, Julia could ruthless when her interests called for it however. When her son married Barbia Orbiana in 225 and her father was made co-emperor, Julia had Barbia removed from the palace and ordered the murder of her father (and co-emperor).
You might think it would be hard to find any common ground between a Roman Empress and a Presidential candidate what with times being so different. You might try foreign policy however. Some think that is a shortcoming of Hillary and international affairs were certainly not Julia's strong suit.
As consul imperii she accompanied her son on military missions with the Legions.. And with him she tried to settle a major dispute with the Alammani. She got a 'deal' with the Alammani but the terms were so unpopular with members of Rome's 22nd Legion that they lynched both her and her son, raising their own Maximinius to the throne.
Travel, business and history with original photos.
Clinton Richardson - author, photographer, business advisor and traveler.
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