Year of the Five Emperors

Five men claimed the title of Roman emperor in 193 AD

The Year of the Five Emperors refers to the year 193 AD, in which there were five claimants for the title of Roman Emperor. The five were Pertinax, Didius Julianus, Pescennius Niger, Clodius Albinus and Severus.


Possible statue of Pertinax, National Museum of the Union, Alba-Iulia, Romania
Roman emperor
Reign1 January 193 – 28 March 193
SuccessorDidius Julianus
Born1 August 126
Alba Pompeia, Italia
Died28 March 193 (aged 66)
Rome, Italia
SpouseFlavia Titiana
Full name
Publius Helvius Pertinax
Regnal name
Imperator Caesar Publius Helvius Pertinax Augustus[1]
FatherHelvius Successus

The year 193 opened with the murder of Commodus on New Year's Eve, 31 December 192. The City Prefect Pertinax was proclaimed Emperor on New Year's Day, 1 January 193.

Pertinax tried to restore discipline in the Praetorian Guard, and did not pay them what they had expected. He was assassinated by the Praetorian Guard on 28 March 193. They then auctioned off the post of Emperor.


Didius Julianus
Bust of Didius Julianus, Residenz Museum, Munich
Roman emperor
Reign28 March – 1 June 193
SuccessorSeptimius Severus
Born29 January 133 (Dio) or 137 (SHA)
Mediolanum, Italy
Died1 June 193 (aged 56 or 60)
SpouseManlia Scantilla
IssueDidia Clara
Full name
Marcus Didius Julianus (before 193)[2][3]
Regnal name
Imperator Caesar Marcus Didius Severus Julianus Augustus[2]
FatherQuintus Petronius Didius Severus
MotherAemilia Clara

Later that same day, Didius Julianus outmaneuvered Titus Flavius Sulpicianus (Pertinax's father-in-law and also the new City Prefect) for the title of Emperor. Flavius Sulpicianus offered to pay each soldier 20,000 sestertii to buy their loyalty (eight times their annual salary; also the same amount offered by Marcus Aurelius to secure their favours in 161). Didius Julianus however offered 25,000 to each soldier to win the auction and was proclaimed Emperor by the Roman Senate on 28 March.


Septimius Severus
Alabaster bust of Septimius Severus at Musei Capitolini, Rome
Roman emperor
Reign14 April 193[source?] – 4 February 211
PredecessorDidius Julianus
SuccessorCaracalla and Geta
BornLucius Septimius Severus[4]
11 April 145[5]
Leptis Magna
Died4 February 211 (aged 65)[6]
IssueCaracalla and Geta
Regnal name
Imperator Caesar Lucius Septimius Severus Pertinax Augustus[4]
FatherPublius Septimius Geta
MotherFulvia Pia

However, three other prominent Romans challenged for the throne: Pescennius Niger in Syria, Clodius Albinus in Britain, and Severus in Pannonia.

Severus marched on Rome to oust Didius Julianus and had him decapitated on 1 June 193, then dismissed the Praetorian Guard and executed the soldiers who had killed Pertinax.

Consolidating his power, Severus battled Pescennius Niger at Cyzicus and Nicea in 193 and then defeated him at Issus in 194.

Clodius Albinus initially supported Septimius Severus believing that he would succeed him. When he realised that Severus had other intentions, Albinus had himself declared Emperor in 195 but was defeated by Severus at the Battle of Lugdunum on 19 February 197.


  1. Cooley, Alison E. (2012). [[[:Template:Googlebooks]] The Cambridge Manual of Latin Epigraphy]. Cambridge University Press. p. 494. ISBN 978-0-521-84026-2. {{cite book}}: Check |url= value (help)
  2. 2.0 2.1 Hammond, p. 33.
  3. Wotawa, col. 412.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Cooley, Alison E. (2012). [[[:Template:Googlebooks]] The Cambridge Manual of Latin Epigraphy]. Cambridge University Press. p. 495. ISBN 978-0-521-84026-2. {{cite book}}: Check |url= value (help)
  5. Birley (1999), p. 1.
  6. Birley (1999), p. 187.