The Ninth Emperor of Rome


Titus Flavius Vespasianus, known as Vespasian, was born in 9 AD in Reate (Rieti), north west of Rome. He had a successful military career, commanding the second legion in the invasion of Britain in 43 AD and conquering the south west of England. He later rose in the senate to become consul in 51 AD and governor of Africa a decade later. He became a trusted aide of the emperor Nero and was put in charge of the suppression of the Jewish Revolt (66 AD – 70 AD). By 68 AD, most of Judaea was recovered, although Jerusalem remained to be taken.

During the rapid turnover of emperors following the death of Nero in 68 AD, Vespasian prepared his own bid for power. The legions of Egypt, Judaea, Syria and then the Danube all declared for him, and he sent his commander Primus ahead to secure Italy on his behalf. A major, and bloody, victory was achieved at Cremona, and Primus took Rome in December 69 AD. The senate passed a law conferring the powers of emperor on Vespasian and he arrived in Rome in the late summer of 70 AD, having left his elder son Titus in charge in Judaea. Jerusalem was taken in August 70 AD and the Jewish temple was destroyed.

Vespasian’s major objectives are to restore Rome’s finances after Nero’s wasteful reign, to restore discipline in the army after the civil wars and to ensure the succession of his son Titus.


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