There is a theory that Roman Emperor Majorian got the job on the strength of his name and nothing else. His full name was 'Majorian Sergeant Majorian' and had been knocking around the Roman Empire for sometime. A close friend of both general Aetius, Emperor Valentinian III and his mother Galla Placidia, Majorian had expected to marry an imperial princess. But something evidently went wrong and he was consigned to a minor post in charge of army surplus sandal supplies and washable togas. Then Majorian's luck changed.
Majorian's birth date was probably around about 420. He seems to have joined the army under Aetius's command. Since the Roman army was a hodge podge of regular troops, mercenaries and barbarian allies, this would have involved a lot of running away. In the wars against Attila the Hun it was the Visigoths who had checked him rather than any Roman. But Majorian survived.
It was around this time that Majorian became besties with a German general called 'Herr' Ricimer. The latter had ambitions to become a master-manipulator and schemed to make Majorian an emperor one day.
Majorian wanted to become part of the imperial ruling family and fixed his attention on Princess Placidia, the youngest daughter of Emperor Valentinian. The only catch was she had barely started primary school. Majorian would have to wait a few years before Placidia became a woman.
However Majorian's marital (and social climbing ambitions) were thwarted by Emperor Valentinian's murder. In the aftermath, the new emperor Petronius Maximus gave Placidia to one of his relatives, a Roman aristocrat called Olybrius. Majorian judged it would be a good time to disappear and with the help of his friend Ricimer, was re-assigned out of Rome in a dead end job.
But this was a stroke of fortune. Shortly after Majorian made himself scarce, the Vandals arrived in Rome under their king Genseric. Breaking through the walls, the Vandals lived up to their name. What they couldn't seize, they crashed and smashed. In addition, Genseric helped himself to the Imperial Roman family, carting off Placidia with her mother and elder sister and killing the rest. Regretfully (to Majorian) that didn't include Olybrius who was on a business trip to Constantinople.
Once the Vandals eventually woke up from their breaking and entry party and went home, a Gallic Roman called Avitus was installed by the Visigoths as the new Roman Emperor in the West. He was opposed by Ricimer who instead proposed his friend Majorian as emperor. Avitus was eventually persuaded to retire and take up religion as a new hobby (he was enthroned bishop of Placentia in Italy).
Ricimer was now the top banana in what was left of the Western Roman Empire. Majorian would get the imperial job but first he would have to 'tidy up something'. This was to make sure Avitus had no imperial encore. Majorian strangled Avitus whilst he was at work listening to confessions.
Majorian was now emperor. He immediately wrote to the Vandal king asking him to return the imperial family to Rome but received a message in crude German which told him to stuff his head up his own arse. Genseric also informed Majorian that Princess Placidia had left Carthage for Constantinople where she was to be re-united with her husband Olybrius.
Plans to expandEdit
What was left of the Roman Empire in the West was distinctly a very sick puppy. The Visigoths held half of Gaul and most of Spain whilst the Vandals were happily sacking everything around the Mediterranean from their base in Carthage, North Africa. Majorian however fancied he could restore Rome's fortunes alone. He didn't need the Eastern Romans to help which was just as well as Majorian's imperial counterpart Leo I refused to add him to his greeting card list.
At first, all went well. Roman authority was restored in Gaul and Majorian caught the Visigoths by surprise as they sat sunning their pale bodies on sun loungers in Spain. Catching them defenceless and dressed only in speedos, Majorian had a quick and cheap triumph. He enrolled them in the Roman Army as 'federales'. This involved exercises practising a Mexican wave and putting up with Salma Hayek telling the same story about how she became Frida Kahlo.
This should have allowed Majorian to concentrate on the Vandals. He was still sore at them for losing his chance to marry Placidia. A fleet was ordered to be built and taxes to be re-imposed on Rome's aristocracy who had found ways of avoiding paying for anything except their bar bills at the Colosseum.
Death and more deathEdit
All this hive of activity for Ricimer worried. Perhaps also the Vandal king, the old sea dog Genseric was involved. Majorian's ships were burnt at their moorings by saboteurs dressed like Antifa. In Rome the filthy rich told Ricimer in Rome that Majorian was a 'danger' to their cosy pensions and deposited more gold coinage in the barbarian general's bank account so that he would get the hint
Pretending to meet in the forest for a 'spot of light hunting', the unsuspecting Majorian was captured and de-noggined. Ricimer apologised to his dead friend and said it was 'strictly business'. There was a new imperial vacancy.
Majorian is called the last of the true blooded Romans to get stuck into the barbarians. He was the first soldier-emperor in the West since Constantius III 40 years before. But it was to no avail. Majorian neglected to get rid of Ricimer and for that, he was now dog meat.
Libius Severus (in the West)