History Extra logo
The official website for BBC History Magazine and BBC History Revealed

11 March: On this day in history

What events happened on 11 March in history? We round up the events, births and deaths…

Published: March 11, 2022 at 5:55 pm
Try 6 issues for only £9.99 when you subscribe to BBC History Magazine or BBC History Revealed

11 March AD 222: Rome’s emperor of excess meets a bloody end

Even in the lurid parade of Roman emperors, Elagabalus stands out. Born into the imperial Severan dynasty in c203 AD, he found himself catapulted to supreme power in his early teens and soon began to court controversy.

Advertisement

To the horror of the Roman elite, their teenage emperor – whose real name was Marcus Aurelius Antoninus – had signed up to the cult of the Syrian sun god Elagabalus, after whom he now named himself. Once emperor, he renamed his god Deus Sol Invictus – God the Undefeated Sun – and installed him at the head of the Roman pantheon. Then he declared himself high priest, had himself publicly circumcised and made the city’s bigwigs watch while he danced around the Sun’s new altar.

In the meantime, Elagabalus’s sexual conduct was raising eyebrows across the city. In total he married and divorced five women, but his chief relationships seem to have been with his chariot-driver, a male slave called Hierocles, and an athlete from Asia Minor called Zoticus. According to gossip, the emperor “set aside a room in the palace and there committed his indecencies, always standing nude at the door of the room, as the harlots do… while in a soft and melting voice he solicited the passers-by”. If any doctor could give him female genitalia, he said, he would give him a fortune.

Eventually, the Praetorian Guard, sick of their emperor’s excesses, switched their allegiance to his cousin Severus Alexander and turned on Elagabalus. As the historian Cassius Dio recorded, there was no mercy for either Elagabalus or his mother: “Their heads were cut off and their bodies, after being stripped naked, were first dragged all over the city, and then the mother’s body was cast aside somewhere or other while his was thrown into the river.” | Written by Dominic Sandbrook


11 March 1387

Paduan troops led by English mercenary John Hawkwood defeat the Veronese at the Battle of Castagnaro.


11 March 1513

Giovanni di Lorenzo de’ Medici was proclaimed Pope Leo X. His authorisation of the widespread sale of indulgences to help fund the rebuilding of St Peter’s in Rome would lead to conflict with Martin Luther.


11 March 1708

Queen Anne refuses to sign the Scottish Militia Bill, the last time a British monarch has vetoed a bill passed by parliament.


11 March 1708

The Cruisers and Convoys Act introduces the system of prize money payments to the officers and crews of British ships that capture enemy vessels.


11 March 1809

Hannah Cowley, playwright and poet, dies in Tiverton, Devon. Her plays frequently challenged the traditional roles of women in society. Her first success came in 1776 with The Runaway, an attack on the injustice of arranged marriages, which David Garrick staged at Drury Lane with Sarah Siddons in the starring role. Cowley overcame attempts by rivals like Sheridan to prevent her plays from being staged, and in 1780 she enjoyed her biggest success with The Belle's Stratagem.


11 March 1830

Ten-year-old Princess Alexandrina Victoria discovered that she was heir to the throne of the United Kingdom and declared "I will be good".

Advertisement

11 March 1811

The first major Luddite rioting broke out when Nottingham textile workers protested at declining working conditions and changes to the hosiery manufacturing process. Over 200 stocking frames were destroyed in the following three weeks.

Browse more On this day in history
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Sponsored content