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The Year of The 4 Roman Emperors – The Ultimate Fight for Power

The year of the 4 Emperors took place in 69 A.D. It signified the period in which three leaders had been changed over the course of one year.

This was particularly significant for the empire as it meant anyone with slight power could reach the throne.

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But of course, not everyone is fit to rule an empire.

After Emperor Nero died, the well-known dynasty of Julio-Claudian died as well.

In this article, we shall follow the drama and action that happened during the year of the 4 emperors.

The Fall of Emperor Nero

The first of the 4 Emperors was Emperor Nero.

It was said Nero was not a great ruler and did not do much for the empire. Nero was killed and left no valid claim to the empire.

Nero’s death allowed for more ambitious people to fight for power and caused a civil war.\

However, following Emperor Galba, three more emperors would come to take the throne that year.

Emperor Nero had been betrayed by his general, Galba, who in the previous years fought against Nero with regards to the taxes imposed.

The Fight For Power

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The 4 Emperors

Emperor Galba

Emperor Galba thought that as emperor, he had unlimited power.

Galba started changing policies.

First, he attacked each city that didn’t support him. He then changed a lot of reforms made in the last years regarding the Roman Empire.

He also killed some senators for ‘security reasons’.

Emperor Vitelius

Galba’s downfall was that he did not pay the people who made him emperor.

As a result of this, some of the legions revolted and made Vitellius their new emperor. This made Galba furious.

Vitelius was still in Germania with the Roman legions, whilst Galba was in Rome.

Emperor Othno

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Otho, an aristocrat and a respected noble, didn’t have the military power of legions but he knew how to take advantage of this power struggle.

He made the Praetorian Guard take his side and stripped Galba from his title.

Otho then took control of the Empire.

However, he still had to deal with Vitelius coming over from Germania with the legions.

The legions were very experienced due to the Germanic Wars and posed a serious threat.

Vitelius started to charge in and won minor victories over Otho.

The battle that changed everything was the Battle of Bedriacum.

Emperor Otho lost the battle and after the loss he killed himself.

The 3rd of the 4 emperors was now dead.

The Last of The 4 Emperors

Vitelius came to power after the Battle of Bedriacum.

It is also worth mentioning there were many games played behind Vitelius’s back as well as plots to overthrow him.

Following the reign of Vitelius came Vespasian who held huge authority.

All of the Legions in Asia, Egypt, Syria, and Judea proclaimed him to be their Emperor.

Vespasian had full control over the legions.

When Vespasian arrived and established himself in Egypt, he took control of the grain supplies which allowed him to grow even more in power.

Titus, Vespasian’s son, was his co-leader and the person he trusted the most.

With the strength and the power of the army, Vespasian went to claim the empire.

A huge battle took place against Vitelius, called “The Second Battle of Bedriacum” in which Vespasian won.

Defeated, Vitelius went back to Rome as a last stand but it was not enough. He was killed in the process of fleeing and Vespasian was made emperor.

Following this, Vespasian held the throne for a significant amount of time establishing “The Flavian Dynasty“.

Vespasian and his son Titus (who would come to rule later) were competent leaders and managed to restore some stability back into the empire.

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