The Year of the Four Emperors happened in the year 69 A.D. and it was a period where three leaders were changed in the course of a year. This is a pretty serious thing for the empire because this means anyone with slight power might reach the throne, but not everyone is fit to rule the empire.
Good thing a bright person got the throne and established a new dynasty. After Nero died, the well known dynasty of Julio-Claudian died as well. The new emperor which sat on the “throne” made some good changes as well, but this isn’t a topic that will cover his life and work, but instead we shall cover only one year and all the drama and action that was in that year.
Before all of this the ruler of the Roman empire was Nero, he wasn’t such a good ruler and didn’t do much for the empire as well, but every ruler has left a mark. Nero was killed and there wasn’t a valid claim to the throne.
Knowing the opportunity can be seized, it was time for the more ambitious people to act, so the civil war began.
In the meantime Nero got killed, he was betrayed and there was a plot on him. There was a person called Glaba who in the previous years rebelled against Nero about the taxes.
Nero didn’t get much respect and, here the power of the Praetorian Guard comes into play. The Emperors guard had the power to change the emperor himself if they wanted to and that is what happened. They made a plot against him and Nero was down, as a pretender to the throne came Galba.
But after Galba there should be three more emperors, lets see what happened. Nero died in 68 and Galba was emperor that year as well.
The Three Others
But Galba wasn’t “Smart”. He thought as emperor that he had unlimited power, he as emperor started changing things, firstly he went after each city that didn’t support him, he changed a lot of reforms made in the last years regarding the Roman Empire. He also killed some senators for security reasons. Maybe this was a smart move but it had limits.
The main problem was he didn’t pay the guard that made him an emperor and they weren’t happy.
Here came a guy named Otho.
Also at the same time some of the legions revolted and made Vitellius as their new emperor. This made Galba furious.
Now back to Otho, he didn’t have the military power of legions but he knew how to play this moment. He was an aristocrat and a respected noble. He made the Praetorian Guard take his side and as easy as they made Galba emperor they unmade him as well.
Galba was taken out of the throne in 69 and Otho took the Empire. But there was still Vitelius coming over from Germania with the legions. These legions were very experienced and gave them a serious threat. They had experience from the Germanic Wars and were ready for another war.
Vitelius started coming in and won minor victories over Otho but the battle that changed everything was Battle of Bedriacum. Otho lost it and after the loss he killed himself.
Who Won This Silly War?
Here came Vespasian. The new emperor came to power but didn’t do much, and it is also worth to mention that there were games that were plaid behind his back as well as plots to overthrow him.
The main problem with Vespasian was that he had huge authority. All of the Legions in Asia, Egypt, Syria, and Judea proclaimed him to be their Emperor.
He was there preventing uprisings and he had control over the legions. When he arrived and established himself in Egypt and took control of the grain supplies, that’s when he grew even more in power.
He had a son Titus which would be emperor but only for a short time (he build the famous arena in Rome). Titus was his co-leader and whom he trusted the most. Other legions joined Vespasian as well, because the soldiers had massive respect for him.
With the authority and the power of the army he went over to take his throne. There was a big battle in the midst of all of this that was called “The Second Battle of Bedriacum” which Vespasian won.
Vitelius as a loser went back to Rome in a last stand but it wasn’t enough. He ran but was killed in the process and Vespasian was made emperor. The year was 69 when he became Emperor.
After this Vespasian will hold the throne for quite some time establishing a new dynasty, the Flavian dynasty. Later his son Titus and his other son Domitian would rule as well.
Vespasian was a good leader as well as his son Titus who restored some stability into the empire.