Showing posts with label Emperor Titus. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Emperor Titus. Show all posts

21 December 2017

Strife-torn Rome turns to Vespasian

Elevation of military leader ends Year of Four Emperors

Vespasian, the ninth Emperor of Rome
Vespasian, the ninth Emperor of Rome
The ninth Roman emperor, Vespasian, began his 10-year rule on this day in 69AD, ending a period of civil war that brought the death of Nero and encompassed a series of short-lived administrations that became known as the Year of the Four Emperors.

Nero committed suicide in June 68 AD, having lost the support of the Praetorian Guard and been declared an enemy of the state by the Senate.

However, his successor, Galba, after initially having the support of the Praetorian Guard, quickly became unpopular.  On his march to Rome, he imposed heavy fines on or vengefully destroyed towns that did not declare their immediate allegiance to him and then refused to pay the bonuses he had promised the soldiers who had supported his elevation to power.

After he had several senators and officials executed without trial on suspicion of conspiracy, the Germanic legions openly revolted and swore allegiance to their governor, Vitellius, proclaiming him as emperor.  Bribed by Marcus Salvius Otho, the Roman military commander, members of the Praetorian Guard set upon Galba in the Forum on January 15, 69AD and killed him.

Otho was named as Galba’s successor but the Germanic legions were unhappy and persuaded their leader to march on Rome and claim power. Defeated in the Battle of Bedriacum, which took place in an area close to today’s city of Cremona, Otho committed suicide, having been emperor less than three months.

The make-up of the Roman Empire in 69AD
The make-up of the Roman Empire in 69AD
Now Vitellius was declared emperor but his extravagance in power drove the imperial treasury close to bankruptcy and when he began the torture and murder of both moneylenders and opponents of his regime it was clear he would struggle to retain power.

Meanwhile, Vespasian, who had acquired kudos as a military leader during the invasion of Britain in 43AD and had been charged by Nero with quelling the Great Jewish Revolt of 67AD as the appointed commander in Judaea, was building a powerbase in the east, where he had the support of the legions in Syria and Egypt.

With the eastern legions behind him, he marched on Rome. At the same time, the Danubian legions in the north declared their support for him and an army led by Marcus Antonius Primus scored a spectacular victory over Vitellius’s army in the Second Battle of Bedriacum.

Back in Rome, Vitellius desperately offered bribes in the hope of rallying some support and when this failed he had no option but to flee.  Before he could escape Rome, however, he was captured by Vespasian’s army and killed on December 20.

The Colosseum in Rome was begun by Vespasian and  completed by his son, Titus
The Colosseum in Rome was begun by Vespasian and
completed by his son, Titus
The Senate accepted Vespasian as emperor the following day and he remained in control for 10 years until his death in 79AD, probably from dysentery.

He did not take up office in Rome until 70AD, at first remaining in Egypt to consolidate his power base and quell the opposition that still existed there from pockets who had supported to one or other of his predecessors. His son, Titus, meanwhile, completed the job he had been given to restore order in Judaea.

When Vespasian did move to Rome, he reformed the financial system and initiated several ambitious construction projects, including the Flavian Amphitheatre, better known today as the Roman Colosseum.

As a response to the revolts of 68–69, Vespasian introduced strict rules of conduct to strengthen army discipline. Also, through his general, Agricola, Vespasian continued imperial expansion in Britain.

After his death, he was succeeded by his eldest son, Titus. It was the first time a Roman emperor had been succeeded directly by his own natural son and the period of their combined rule, along with that of Titus's brother, Domitian, became known as the Flavian dynasty, after the family name of Flavius.

Calvatone is home of the La Bine Nature Reserve
Calvatone is home of the La Bine Nature Reserve
Travel tip:

The Battles of Bedriacum are thought to have taken place close to the present-day village of Calvatone, about 35km (22 miles) east of Cremona in Lombardy.  The area is well known for the protected area known as La Bine Nature Reserve, an area of marshland either side of the Oglio river that is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, featuring many aquatic mammals and birds in particular.

Travel tip:

Rome’s Colosseum, built of travertine, tuff, and brick-faced concrete, was the largest of all the Roman amphitheatres. Construction began under Vespasian in 72AD and was completed by his son, Titus, in 80 with further modifications were made during the reign of Titus’s younger brother, Domitian (81–96), the three emperors who made up the Flavian dynasty. It is estimated the Colosseum could hold up to 80,000 spectators.  It is thought that, having been known first as the Flavian Amphitheatre, it became known colloquially as the Colosseum because of its proximity to a colossal statue of Nero.

30 December 2016

Titus – Roman Emperor

'Good' ruler who helped victims of Vesuvius eruption

A statue of  Titus unearthed in Herculaneum, which can be found in a Berlin museum
A statue of  Titus unearthed in Herculaneum,
 which can be found in a Berlin museum
The Roman Emperor Titus was born Titus Flavius Vespasianus on this day in AD 39.

He was Emperor from AD 79 to 81 and is remembered for capturing Jerusalem and for completing the Colosseum in Rome.

Two months after his accession, on August 24, AD 79, Mount Vesuvius in Campania began erupting, eventually killing thousands of people around Pompeii and Herculaneum.

Titus appointed officials to coordinate the relief effort, while donating large amounts of money from the imperial treasury to aid the victims. He visited Pompeii twice.

Titus was a member of the Flavian dynasty and succeeded his father Vespasian after his death, becoming the first Roman emperor to come to the throne after his biological father.

Titus was believed to have been born in Rome on December 30, AD 39, the eldest son of Titus Flavius Vespasianus, who was commonly known as Vespasian.

His father had earned prestige as a military commander, taking part in the invasion of Britain in AD 43 under the emperor Claudius.

Titus served under his father in Judea during the first Jewish-Roman war. The campaign came to a brief halt with the death of Emperor Nero in AD 68, which launched Vespasian’s bid for imperial power.

When Vespasian was declared Emperor in July AD 69, Titus was left in charge of ending the Jewish rebellion.  In AD 70 he besieged and captured Jerusalem and the Arch of Titus was built in Rome to commemorate his victory.

The Arch of Titus in Rome, built to commemorate the  victory of Titus in capturing Jerusalem
The Arch of Titus in Rome, built to commemorate the
victory of Titus in capturing Jerusalem
After the death of Vespasian from an infection, Titus succeeded him as Emperor.

Under the rule of his father, he gained notoriety in Rome while serving as prefect of the Praetorian Guard, and for carrying on a controversial relationship with the Jewish queen, Berenice.

There were fears among some Romans that Titus might be another Nero, whose leadership was seen as brutal and corrupt. In fact, his brief reign was considered a triumph by Suetonius and other historians, who saw him as a 'good' emperor and recorded that he was much loved by the population.

Building work on the Flavian amphitheatre, now known as the Colosseum, began in AD 70 under Vespasian and was finally completed in AD 80 under Titus. To inaugurate the amphitheatre, spectacular games, including gladiatorial combat and mock naval battles, were held there, lasting for 100 days.

But after barely two years as Emperor, Titus died of a fever on 13 September AD 81. Historians have speculated about his death and suspicion has fallen on his brother, Domitian, who succeeded him as Emperor and could have poisoned him.

Travel tip:

The Colosseum in the centre of Rome is the largest amphitheatre ever built. Construction began on the oval building in about AD 70 close to the Forum. The amphitheatre was built to hold up to 80,000 spectators and was used for events such as gladiator contests, mock sea battles and executions. Nowadays it has links to the Catholic Church and the Pope always starts his torch-lit Good Friday procession there.

The gladiator barracks: One of the ruins left behind after the eruption of Vesuvius and later uncovered at Pompeii
The gladiator barracks: One of the ruins left behind after the
eruption of Vesuvius and later uncovered at Pompeii
Travel tip:

Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD 79, burying the Roman cities of Pompeii, Herculaneum, Oplontis and Stabiae and killing thousands. An eyewitness account of the eruption has been left behind by a Roman administrator and poet, Pliny the Younger, who described the event in his letters to the historian Tacitus. In the early hours of the morning of 25 August, pyroclastic flows of hot gas and rock began to sweep down the mountain, knocking down all the structures in their path and incinerating or suffocating the people who remained. The remains of about 1500 people have been found at Pompeii and Herculaneum. The excavated ruins of Pompeii, show what daily life was like in a Roman city, down to what was sold in the shops and how people decorated their homes. Tourists can also visit the volcano, which since 1955 has been part of Mount Vesuvius National Park.

More reading:

AD 79: Europe's worst volcanic disaster

Decline and fall: Gibbon's epic work on history of Roman Empire

The 1944 Vesuvius eruption

Also on this day: