Two busts of Emperor Caracalla, one showing him as a young man

On this day in history: Emperor Caracalla died

History of Italy News

Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, also known as Caracalla, was a Roman emperor who ruled from 198 to his death on 8th April 217 AD.

Caracalla belonged to the Severan dynasty. He was the eldest son of Emperor Septimius Severus and Empress Julia Domna. Initially made co-ruler with his brother Geta in 198 aged only 10, he became the sole ruler after his brother’s murder in 211.

During his reign, he delegated administrative duties to his mother, focusing less on governance. His rule was marked by internal unrest and external threats from Germanic tribes.

The Edict of Caracalla

Caracalla’s reign is notable for the Antonine Constitution, also called the Edict of Caracalla, which granted Roman citizenship to all free men in the empire. This edict also bestowed upon them Caracalla’s adopted name, “Marcus Aurelius.”

Domestically, he is remembered for constructing the Baths of Caracalla, the second-largest public baths in Rome, introducing a new Roman currency called the antoninianus, and ordering massacres in Rome and other parts of the empire.

In 216, he initiated a campaign against the Parthian Empire but was assassinated by a dissatisfied soldier in 217. He was succeeded by Macrinus as emperor.

Tyrannical leader

Historical accounts depict Caracalla as a tyrant and cruel leader. Contemporaries such as Cassius Dio and Herodian emphasised his military prowess over his governance.

In later centuries, legends arose about his supposed role as king of Britain. Also, comparisons were drawn between his tyranny and that of King Louis XVI of France.

Modern portrayals continue to cast Caracalla as one of the most ruthless Roman emperors.

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