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Maximinus I (The Thracian)

Emperor A.D 235 - 238

It was rumored that Maximinus could drink sixty pints of wine and eat forty pounds of meat a day. The popular barbarian soldier was also reputed to be over eight feet tall and to have worn his wife' bracelet as a ring. The stories of his physical feats were astounding. He even won a race running on foot against the old emperor Septimius Severus who was on horseback! He was a warrior but not a good general or statesman. He led his armies against the Germans but fought as a foot soldier, slaying enemy soldiers easily due to his immense size and strength. He ran the government in much the same way, often exiling or murdering senators who dared to oppose him.

Maximinus' harsh policies angered the people of the empire and in the provinces. He doubled the pay of the army and had to raise taxes to an oppressive level to finance his continuous warfare against the Germans. In A.D. 238, the citizens of North Africa rebelled against Maximinus' procurator, or financial officer in charge of taxes. They proclaimed an eighty-seven year old man by the name of Gordianus emperor and his son was made co-emperor with him. When news of the rebellion reached Maximinus, he decided to march on Rome. Already unpopular with the people, this move caused him to be hated even more. He laid siege to the city of Aquileia, whose citizens stoutly resisted. They used burning sulfur against his troops, and the women even cut their hair to weave into bowstrings. Maximinus' German troops were becoming demoralized and decided to do away with him. They slew him and his son in their tent and put their heads on poles, which they paraded around outside the camp.

That year there were five emperors of Rome, two of whom were emperor for only three weeks. The Senate finally chose the popular thirteen year old grandson of the elder Gordian as their emperor, seating him on the shoulders of a tall man so the people could see him as he was clothed in the purple robes.


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