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Quintus Fabricius Septivarian (The Conspirators' Republic)

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Quintus Fabricius Septivarian (1239-1307) was a Roman politician, magistrate, and general who served as consul three times (1282-1287, 1292-1297, and 1297-1302). He was a member of the Senate from 1281 until his death in 1307.

Life

Septivarian was the only son of Gnaeus Severus Septivarian, censor from 1247 to 1249 and quaestor sacri palatii from 1252-1262. Gnaeus Severus, of ancient patrician stock, was a career public servant, and wealthy enough to afford an education of the highest quality for his son. The younger Septivarian was educated in Corinth and Athens before completing his schooling at the Consular University of Rome in 1259.

Septivarian was granted a commission as a centurion due to the influence of his father's friends in 1260, and distinguished himself in multiple engagements with the Teutons between that year and 1263, when he was promoted to the rank of military tribune. He commanded Roman forces in the Battle of the Pfalzerwald, winning decisively and capturing several Teuton chieftains. The Senate rewarded him in 1267 with the governorship of Noricum, the Romanized portions of Southeastern Germany. During his rule over Noricum, Septivarian curbed corruption in local government, executing several magistrates who had terrorized their subjects. He reformed the legal system of Noricum so that common citizens could at least petition the magistrates to hear their pleas, and, when threatened by a peasant uprising in the south of Noricum, used diplomacy and some degrees of bribery to obtain the submission of the insurgents.

In 1272, L. Alaghiarus Bellincian was elected Consul. A benefactor of the Severus family, Bellincian appointed Septivarian master of the horse, the second most senior position in the Roman army. Though Bellincian was notoriously corrupt and was turned out of office in 1277, Septivarian instituted revolutionizing reforms that converted the army into a far more efficient fighting force. Reorganizing the legions so that the commander of each was elected by the Senate rather than appointed by the Consuls or provincial rulers, he also adopted useful foreign tactics, such as improved cavalry maneuvers learned from Asiatic horsemen on the steppes of Central Asia.

Shrewdly declining to support Bellincian in 1277, Septivarian was appointed by the new Consular duo as commander of the Tenth Legion, which was engaged in costly fighting in the area south of Damascus with Arab invaders. Under Septivarian's command, the Tenth Legion forced the Arabs back into Judea and briefly threatened Jerusalem, but was forced to withdraw with the onset of a severe drought. He returned in 1280 to Rome as a popular hero, and was awarded a Triumph, the first in seventy-eight years.

In 1281, he was appointed magister militum, or commander of the armed forces, and was given a seat in the Senate. Continuing with his reform program, Septivarian turned his eye to politics, attaining the support of many patrician senators for his 1282 consular bid. Narrowly elected, he took office alongside wealthy merchant Marcius the Anatolian, the plebeian Aedile of Rome.

Septivarian did not seek a second term in 1287, and was appointed proconsul of Gallia by the Senate. His tenure in Gallia was uneventful, but it was during this period that he composed The Ruler and the Ruled, a philosophical and political treatise that would greatly influence Later Republican government.

He ran again alongside Marcius in 1292 for the consulship, winning handily. It was in 1293 that he unveiled the famed Septivarine Reforms, expanding on various measures he and Marcius had instituted in their earlier consulship. He was easily reelected in 1297, though Marcius was defeated by popular Henricus Dandulus. The relationship between Septivarian and Dandulus was testy, resulting in various leadership schisms and plots.

In 1300, the Italian Droughts began, lastin until 1308. A poor government response resulted in a backlash against the consuls, and neither Septivarian nor Dandulus stood for reelection in 1302. In 1304, the Great War of the Serfs erupted, with Southern Italian land-locked peasants turning against their liege lords. In 1307, after the defeat of the Third and Seventh Legions at Neapolis, a large peasant army marched on a nearly-undefended Rome. The consuls fled the city, faced with popular opposition, and the Senate appointed Septivarian magister militum. Sensing the chance to advance his career once more, Septivarian raised a ragtag army and confronted the peasants at Anzio, where they had encamped.

Despite his leadership, his untrained army of citydwellers fled when the peasants advanced, and Septivarian and his escort were left to face the attackers alone. Refusing to flee, Septivarian attempted to make a stand, but was encircled by rebels and killed. The peasants, astonished by their victory, did not press on Rome and were defeated by a Sicilian army sent by that province's procurator.

He was survived by his wife, Lucilla Sylvestrina, and his sons Junius and Paulus Antonius. Paulus Antonius would serve as Consul from 1332-1337, and Junius would command the Roman fleet in its engagement with the rebellious Proconsul of Lusitania in 1319. A monument in Rome and, later, the Second Senate House were named in his honor.

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