Four Emperors Era

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68-69 A.D. Four different Roman Emperors ruled in quick succession: Galba, Otho, Vitellius, and Vespasian.

When the people revolted against Nero and the guard deserted him in 68 A.D., Nero took his life thus ending his rule and leaving the position of Emperor open. When Caligula had been assassinated in 41 A.D., Claudius was quickly set up as the new Emperor. This time the succession was not as orderly. Within a 1-year period, 4 different men would claim the title of Emperor as Rome was plunged into civil war. Such anarchy had never been seen since Augustus became the first Emperor almost 100 years ago. There had not been a civil war since the time of the Roman Republic.

The first of the four was Galba, the aged military commander. Declared by the Praetorian guard and then by the senate, he found upon entering Rome that the guard expected a heavy bribe for declaring their support for him. Galba refused on principle, and was murdered when his 'friend' Otho instigated a plot against him. Otho was then the Emperor, but it was never widely accepted. Vitellius marched down with his legions from the Rhine and defeated Otho's forces. Otho committed suicide and Vitellius became Emperor. Vespasian was then declared Emperor by his troops and, under the command of trusted subordinates, his forces marched on Rome. Vitellius was defeated and Vespasian became the Emperor marking an end to a difficult time in Roman history. It was the first direct military confrontation for the Emperorship, but it would not be the last.