Julia Avita Mamaea
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Julia Avita Mamaea
Julia Mamaea
Augusta
Julia Avita Mamaea Louvre Ma3552.jpg
Bust of Julia Mamaea, Louvre
Consors imperii of the Roman Empire
Reign3/4 October 226 - 19 March 235
PredecessorAlexander Severus (As the sole ruler of the empire)
SuccessorMaximinus Thrax
Co-rulerwith Alexander Severus
Augusta of the Roman Empire
Reign13 March 222 - 19 March 235
PredecessorJulia Soaemias and Julia Maesa
SuccessorCaecilia Paulina
Co-Augustae
BornAfter 180 AD
Emesa, Syria
Died235 AD
Germania Superior
Spouse
IssueAlexander Severus
Theoclia
Full name
Julia Avita Mamaea
Regnal name
Julia Avita Mamaea Augusta
DynastySeveran
FatherGaius Julius Avitus Alexianus
MotherJulia Maesa

Julia Avita Mamaea (14 or 29 August after 180–235) was a Syrian noble woman and a Roman regent of the Severan dynasty. She was the mother of Roman Emperor Alexander Severus and served as regent of Rome during his minority, de facto during his reign, first with the help and support of her mother Julia Maesa and then herself alone. She even in the last years of his reign, she retained power as a consors imperii (partner in absolute rule), and continued to control his son's decisions as a co-ruler with Alexander. This was done in the past almost by her powerful aunt Julia Domna and was repeated by her. Mamaea herself next to her aunt, mother and sister, was the one of the few ancient Roman women in Roman history to equally share the power of running the entire empire with Roman Emperor legally and enjoyed equal honors with the emperor. She was killed in 235 by rebel soldiers along with her son.

Family

Antoninianus of Julia Maesa
Antoninianus of Julia Mamaea

Julia Avita Mamaea was the second daughter of Julia Maesa, a powerful Roman woman of Syrian origin, and Syrian noble Gaius Julius Avitus Alexianus. She was a niece of empress Julia Domna, emperor Lucius Septimius Severus, and sister of Julia Soaemias Bassiana. She was born and raised in Emesa (modern Homs, Syria).

Julia's first husband was a former consul (whose name is unknown) who died. Julia married as her second husband Syrian Promagistrate Marcus Julius Gessius Marcianus.[1] Julia bore two children during her marriage to Marcianus, a daughter Theoclia and a son, Marcus Julius Gessius Bassianus Alexianus, later emperor Alexander Severus. Perhaps she may have had an elder son called Marcus Julius Gessius Bassianus.[2] Unlike her sister, Julia was described as virtuous and reportedly never involved in scandals. Julia was attentive to the education of her son, Alexander, whom she prepared adequately for becoming emperor of Rome. Alexander thought much of his mother's advice and followed what she told him to do.[3]

Regency of Alexander

Bust of Julia Mamaea, Pushkin Museum

As a member of the Imperial Roman family, under the authority of his aunt Julia Domna. she watched closely the death of her cousin Caracalla and the ascent to power of her nephew Elagabalus, the oldest grandson of Julia Maesa and her choice to the throne. Eventually Elagabalus and his mother Julia Soaemias proved incompetent rulers and favor fell on Alexander, Julia's son. He became emperor in 222, following Elagabalus' murder by the Praetorian Guard. Julia and her mother became regents in the name of Alexander, then 13 years old. He never managed to escape her maternal domination,for a little over a year, the two women collaborated and together ran the Roman Empire with Alexander as its figurehead, but with Maesa's death in 224, Mamaea began to run the show by herself. at first Julia and her mother ruled very effectively. She and Maesa's reversed all Elagabalus' scandalous policies, chose 16 distinguished senators as advisers and relied heavily on the famous Lawyer Ulpian, who was also from Syria. Ulpian was made head of the Praetorian Guard. However, he was unable to control the Praetorians and was murdered by them in 228. Upon adulthood, Alexander confirmed his esteem for his mother and named her consors imperii (imperial consort or Partner in rule), but the roles of her and her son had openly reversed and Mamaea effectively controlled the young emperor's decisions. It was in this condition that she accompanied her son in his campaigns: an honor and custom started with Julia Domna, Like her aunt, she too held many positions, including: Augusta, mater Augusti nostri et castrorum et senatus et patriae (empress, mother of the emperor, the camp, the senate and the country) All these official titles and honors allowed her to utilise the imperial powers like her aunt and mother.

Meanwhile, Julia had become jealous of her son's wife, Barbia Orbiana, whom Alexander married in 225, and whose father had been made Caesar or co-ruler. Because at the same time that she became consors imperii (co-ruler) with his son. Julia Orbiana, took the equal position of as augusta with her mother-in-law Julia Mamaea, and became her rival in influencing the emperor. Julia Mamaea had Barbia expelled from the palace and had her father executed, all this was done against the will of Alexander Severus, because his mother had too much influence over him and he obeyed all her orders. Julia called on Origen, the Alexandrian Christian leader, to provide her with instructions in Christian doctrine.[4]

Death

After an inconclusive expedition to repel a Persian invasion in 232, mother and son went north to deal with a German attack. Alexander so alienated the Rhine legions by his lack of military prowess and his inflexibility towards pay demands that the troops proclaimed Maximinus Thrax as emperor in 235.[5] Troops sent to kill Alexander found him clinging to his mother in a tent. Mother and son were butchered together, ending the Severan dynasty.[6]

Ancestry

See also

References

  1. ^ Birley, Anthony Richard (1999). Septimius Severus: the African emperor. Routledge. p. 222. ISBN 978-0-415-16591-4. Retrieved .
  2. ^ Birley, Septimius Severus: The African Emperor, p.217&222
  3. ^ A Cyclopedia of Female Biography, Julia Mamea, Henry Gardiner Adams, editor, Kessinger Publishing, 2007, Pg. 426.
  4. ^ The Emergence of Christianity, Cynthia White, Greenwood Press, 2007, Pg. 14.
  5. ^ Herodian, 6:8
  6. ^ Herodian, 6:9

External links


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