Born in Lyons in the province of Gaul in 186, he was the son of the future emperor Septimius Severus and Julia Domna. His given name was Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, but he adopted the name Caracalla, which referred to the hooded tunic worn by his fellow-countrymen.
Severus, who had taken the imperial throne in 193, died in 211 while visiting Eboracum (York), and Caracalla was proclaimed co-emperor with his brother Publius Septimius Antoninius Geta. Caracalla killed Geta and carried out a vendetta against Geta's supporters, in order to strengthen his own hold on power. When the inhabitants of Alexandria heard Caracalla's claims that he had killed Geta in self-defense, they produced a satire mocking this claim, as well as Caracalla's other pretensions. Caracalla responded to this insult savagely in 215 by slaughtering the deputation of leading citizens who had unsuspectingly assembled before the city to greet his arrival, then unleashed his troops for several days of looting and plunder of Alexandria.
Two things stand out from his reign: the edict of 212 (Constitutio Antoniniana) granting Roman citizenship to freemen throughout the Roman Empire; and the construction of a large thermae outside Rome. The remains, which are known as the Baths of Caracalla, can still be seen.
Caracalla had effectively become a military dictator, and was consequently very unpopular. While travelling from Edessa to begin a war with Parthia, he was assassinated near Harran on April 8, 217. He was succeeded by Macrinus.
See also: Severan dynasty family tree
(193 - 211)
(217 - 218)