First English edition of the Nuremberg chronicle: being the Liber chronicarum of Dr. Hartmann Schedel…

Commodus Lucius Antoninus, the eighteenth Roman emperor, succeeded his father M. Antoninus. While carrying him, his mother Faustina dreamed that she bore many snakes, and among them a rather violent one. And she bore Commodus and Antoninus. After the latter’s death, Marcus the father, caused Commodus to be tutored by good men with great care. Although Commodus had excellent Greek and Latin teachers and masters, they were of no benefit to him, for from early childhood he bore the marks of a cruel, unchaste disposition, and at twelve years of age showed signs of his future cruelty. He went to the German wars with his father, in which he spared neither shame nor tears. At last he no longer had anything in common with his father, was offensive to all men, and became useless, except for one thing, namely, that he fought against the Germans with success, but not without assistance from the Christian soldiers. When in the same wars his army suffered for lack of water, it was sent from heaven pursuant to the prayers of the Christian soldiers; and lightning struck the Germans and Sarmatians. When he returned to Rome, he relapsed into every form of wantonness and vice, following Nero in many ways. He caused many Roman senators, and chiefly the most distinguished in nobility and address to be slain; others he forbade the city, and sold their lands and their control. His body was of regular stature, his countenance drunken, his conversation indecent. He always dyed his hair, and he praised his own locks and beard to his barber. During the time of his evil life the city suffered disaster through the destruction of the library in the Capitol by fire caused by lightning. Commodus was judged an enemy of mankind, and strangled in the twelfth year of his reign. The senate and people demanded that his body be dragged by a hook and tossed into the Tiber. But afterwards, by an order of Pertinax, he was buried in the monument of Hadrian (Adriani).

L. Aurelius Commodus, Roman emperor, 180-192 CE, son of M. Aurelius and the younger Faustina, was born at Lanuvium, 161, and was thus scarcely twenty when he succeeded to the empire. He was an unworthy son of a noble father, one of the most savage tyrants that ever disgraced a throne. It was after the suppression of the plot against his life, which had been organized by his sister Lucilla in 183, that he first gave uncontrolled sway to his ferocious temper. He resigned the government to various favorites in succession, and abandoned himself without interruption to shameless debauchery. But he was at the same time the slave of the most childish vanity and sought to gain popular applause by fighting as a gladiator, and slew thousands of beasts in the amphitheater with bow and spear. In consequence of these exploits he assumed the name of Hercules, and demanded that he be worshipped as a god. In the following year his concubine, Mercia, found on his tablets while he slept that she was doomed to perish along with Laetus and Eclectus, and other leading men in the state. She immediately administered poison to him, but as its operation was slow, Narcissus, a celebrated wrestler, was introduced, and by him Commodus was strangled in his bath on December 31, 192.

The last two sentences of this paragraph are not in the German edition of the Chronicle.

Helvius (Helius) Pertinax, nineteenth Roman emperor, was born in the village of Martis in the Apennines. By reason of his good conduct he advanced from station to station until he was crowned emperor. But he was poor, a characteristic which was then regarded as a vice; and for this he was despised. Yet he was an honorable old man, with groomed beard, curly hair, corpulent body, lordly appearance, of moderate speech, and more affectionate than good. He was finally slain in Pallacio by Julianus, the jurist, in the sixth month of his reign; for the troops and people of the court hated him. Yet the Roman populace was displeased at the manner of his death; and therefore the senate pronounced him a god.[Helvius Pertinax, Roman emperor from January 1st to March 28th, 193 CE, was of humble origin, and rose from the post of centurion both to the highest military and civil commands in the reigns of M. Aurelius and Commodus. On the murder of Commodus, he was 66 years of age, and was reluctantly persuaded to accept the Empire. He commenced his reign by introducing extensive reforms into the civil and military administration of the Empire; but the troops who had been accustomed to ease and license under Commodus were disgusted with the discipline that he attempted to force upon them, and murdered their new sovereign after a reign of two months and twenty-seven days. On his death the praetorian troops put the Empire up for sale, and it was purchased by M. Didius Julianus.]

Julianus Didius was the successor to Pertinax. When the troops were carrying the head of the slain Pertinax on a pole through the city to their camp, Julianus found the body of Pertinax in the palace and caused it to be interred with great honor. Some say Julianus himself killed Pertinax and then usurped the sovereignty. Others say it was Julianus the grandson of the great jurist Julian, whose ancestors were of Milan. This man was a most evil person, and lived so shamefully that he was hated by the people and deserted by everyone. He was defeated by Severus and slain in the seventh month of his reign.[M. Didius Salvius Julianus bought the Roman Empire from the praetorian guards, when they put the Empire up for sale after the death of Pertinax in 193 CE. Flavius Sulpicianus, praefect of the city, and Didius bid against one another, but it was sold to Didius on his promising each soldier a donative of 25,000 sesterces. He held the Empire for only two months, being murdered by soldiers when Severus was marching against the city.]

Severus, the Roman emperor, a native of Africa, was so well educated in Greek and Latin in infancy that he acquired a high understanding of them. When as a child he played with other children, he sat as judge and pronounced judgments, while the other children stood about him. He went to Rome where by reason of his learning he was raised from one position to another until he was chosen emperor. He was stingy, serious, and fatigued by many wars. He ruled the common people with strength and care. He was devoted to philosophy, and so victorious over the Parthians, Adiabeni, and Arabs, that he made a province of Arabia. He adorned Rome with public buildings, was moderate in his meals, poor in dress, a disposition to be fatherly, at times fond of wine, but rarely ate meat. He was handsome in person, large, wore a long beard, had gray and curly hair, a venerable countenance, and a lovely voice, and he spoke of his African country even in his old age. Finally he was subjected to many dangerous attacks, not alone in Syria, but also in Gaul and Britain, and being deserted by all his company and afflicted by his relatives, he died at Eburacum, in Gaul, in the 17th year of his reign. He left two sons, Bassanius and Geta.[L. Septimus Severus, Roman emperor from 193-211 CE, was born in 146, near Leptis in Africa. After holding various military commands under M. Aurelius and Commodus, he was at length appointed commander-in-chief of the army, in Pannonia and Illyria. The army proclaimed him emperor after the death of Pertinax (193). He immediately marched upon Rome, where Julianus had been made emperor by the praetorian troops. Julianus was put to death upon his arrival before the city. Severus then turned his arms against Pescennius Niger, who had been saluted emperor by the eastern legions. The struggle was brought to a close by a decisive battle near Issus, in which Niger was defeated by Severus, and having been shortly afterwards taken prisoner was put to death by order of the latter (194). Severus then laid siege to Byzantium, which refused to submit to him even after the death of Niger, and which was not taken till 196. The city was treated with great severity by Severus. Its walls were leveled with the earth, its soldiers and magistrates put to death, and the town itself, deprived of all its political privileges, made over to the Perinthians. During the continuance of this siege, Severus had crossed the Euphrates (195) and subdued the Mesopotamian Arabians. He returned to Italy in 196, and in the same year proceeded to Gaul to oppose Albinus, who had been proclaimed emperor by the troops in that country. Albinus was defeated and slain in a terrible battle fought near Lyons on the 19th of February, 197. Severus returned to Rome in the same year; but after remaining a short time in the capital, he set out for the east in order to repel the invasion of the Parthians, who were ravaging Mesopotamia. He crossed the Euphrates early in 198, and commenced a series of operations that were attended with brilliant results. Seleucia and Babylon were evacuated by the enemy; and Ctesiphon was taken and plundered after a short siege. After spending 3 years in the east, and visiting Arabia, Palestine and Egypt, Severus returned to Rome in 202. For the next 7 years he remained tranquilly at Rome; but in 208 he went to Britain with his sons Caracalla and Geta. Here he carried on war against the Caledonians, and erected the celebrated wall, which bore his name, from the Solway to the mouth of the Tyne. After remaining 2 years in Britain he died at Eboracum (York) on the 4th of February, 211, in the 65th year of his age, and the 18th of his reign.]