(Gaius Julius Verus Maximinus)

d. 238

Maximinus was a Thracian giant who attracted the attention of Septimius Severus at a festival. With his enormous size and strength he was able to overthrow virtually anyone set against him. He was invited to join the army, and in spite of his barbarian roots, rose through the ranks. He served under all of the Severan emperors and was a favorite of the army, due to his personal prowess, and fearlessness in battle. Under Alexander Severus, he rose to be commander of the entire army, but he betrayed his trust, plotting to have Severus killed and claiming the throne for himself.

Unlike other emperors who had risen from relatively humble ranks, Maximinus was entirely uneducated and uncultured. Though he was respected in the army, he was roundly hated and feared by almost all the more sophisticated elements of Roman society. The antagonism between Maximinus and the greater Roman nobility and middle classes led to horrendous bloodshed and violence. Maximinus, becoming defensive and paranoid, engaged in brutal purges and abuses of power. Eventually the senate in Rome did their utmost to resist Maximinus by raising two emperors, Maximus and Balbinus to lead armies against him. However, before they actually met in battle, Maximinus was assassinated in his own camp, along with his son. Their heads were brought to Rome and there was universal rejoicing and optimism for the future. Unfortunately, within less than a year, both emperors favored by the senate had themselves been murdered, and the imperial government was plunged into anarchy.

Key events during the life of Maximinus:

Maximinus, a giant Thracian, attracts the attention of Severus.
  Gained renown for enormous size and strength. Joined Roman army.
Rose to rank of centurion under Caracalla.
Retired from court under short reign of Elagabalus.
Raised to military tribune under Alexander Severus.
  Rose to position of supreme command of Roman armies.
Plotted to murder and overthrow Alexander Severus.
Maximus and Balbinus elected to oppose Maximinus.
Murdered, along with his son, by his own troops.

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
Gigantic Emperor  in  The Story of the Romans  by  H. A. Guerber
Imperial Savage  in  Historical Tales: Roman  by  Charles Morris

Short Biography
Septimus Severus Seized Imperial throne after the death of Commodus. Put down many rebellions.
Caracalla Brutal and iron-fisted emperor. Murdered brother Geta. Built "Baths of Caracalla."
Elagabalus Third Severan emperor; assumed throne at 14; effeminate and profligate; deposed by army.
Alexander Severus Fourth Severan emperor; ruled well under the regency of his mother; overthrown by Maximinus.
Maximus Elected co-emperor to replace Maximinus.
Balbinus Elected co-emperor to replace Maximinus.