Birthday: November 17, 9
Died At Age: 69
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Also Known As: Titus Flavius Vespasianus
Born in: Falacrine
Famous as: Roman Emperor
Emperors & Kings
Ancient Roman Men
Spouse/Ex-: Caenis, Domitilla the Elder
father: Titus Flavius Sabinus
mother: Vespasia Polla
siblings: Titus Flavius Sabinus
children: Domitian, Domitilla the Younger, Titus
Died on: June 23, 79
place of death: Rieti
Who was Vespasian?
Vespasian was the ninth emperor of Rome who founded the Flavian dynasty. Born in Rome to a relatively undistinguished family, Titus Flavius Caesar Vespasianus Augustus was the youngest son of his parents, most of whose early life was eclipsed by his elder brother’s achievements. Later, he served in the military for several years and subsequently became the legate of the second legion in the invasion of Britain in 43 AD. Upon achieving several other military successes, he rose in the senate to become consul and was appointed the proconsul of Africa, a decade later. Subsequently, Emperor Nero put him in charge of the subjugation of Judaea during the Jewish Revolt but when Nero committed suicide, Vespasian prepared his own bid for power. In the ‘Year of the Four Emperors’ during which the two emperors namely Galba and Otho perished in quick succession, the legions of Egypt, Judaea, and Syria voted for Vespasian, opposing Vitellius’ succession to the throne. After a major bloody battle between both the forces, Vespasian conquered Rome and Egypt and was declared Emperor by the Roman senate. During his ten-year reign, Vespasian worked towards restoring Rome's finances ruined during the civil war and reinstating discipline in the army after the civil wars. Upon his death, Vespasian became the first Roman Emperor to be directly succeeded by his own natural son, thus establishing the Flavian dynasty
Childhood & Early Life
Vespasian, whose full name was Titus Flavius Caesar Vespasianus Augustus, was born on November 17, 9 AD, in Falacrina, Italy, to Titus Flavius Sabinus, a tax collector, and his wife, Vespasia Polla.
He was the youngest member of the family with an elder brother, Titus Flavius Sabinus. Most of Vespasian’s early life was overshadowed by Sabinus who served in the army and was also the prefect of Rome for many years under Nero.
Although Vespasian initially hesitated to work for high public office, eventually, he decided to follow in his brother’s footsteps. He served in the military in Thrace for about three years and went on to achieve the praetorship in 39 AD.
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Accession & Reign
In 41 AD, when Claudius ascended the throne, Vespasian was appointed legate of Legio II Augusta.
In 43 AD, Vespasian participated in the Roman invasion of Britain in 43 AD. He displayed great valour and distinguished himself with his bravery and military acumen. His military successes, earned him lots of honors and he was appointed consul of Britain.
After Claudius’s death in 54 AD, Vespasian was not in the good books of his wife, Agrippina and hence retired from public life for a while.
In 63 AD, Vespasian was appointed the proconsul in Africa. His stint in Africa was not very popular one and his extreme financial rigour earned him the wrath of the people.
In 67 AD, Nero appointed him to command the troops against the Jewish rebellion in Judaea. The following year, Vespasian conducted a couple of successful campaigns, conquering almost all parts of Judaea except Jerusalem.
In 68 AD, while the forces of Vespasian surrounded Jerusalem, Nero committed suicide and the war was abruptly stopped by Vespasian. Nero’s suicide plunged Rome into a year of civil war known as the ‘Year of the Four Emperors’.
The first of the four emperors was Galba who was eventually accepted by Vespasian but Galba was murdered in January 69 AD, leaving the throne empty again. Following his death, Otho came to the throne but he also perished in April 69 AD.
Thereafter, Vitellius emerged as the Emperor in April 69, to which the Roman legions of Roman Egypt and Judaea reacted by proclaiming Vespasian as their Emperor in July 69 AD. With strong military support from his allies, Vespasian fought the Vitellius army and eventually took control of Rome along with Egypt.
In December 69 AD, upon Vitellius’ defeat at the hands of Vespasian’s allies, Vespasian was officially declared the emperor by the Roman Senate. While living in Egypt, he was mostly concerned with raising money and therefore increased provincial taxation to generate revenues. In October 70 AD, he returned to Rome.
Although little information is known about Vespasian’s reign between 71 AD and 79 AD, it is quite evident that he devoted most of his time in restoring the infrastructure and economy of Rome which was damaged during the civil war. He reformed the financial system at Rome and initiated several massive building programs including the Flavian Amphitheatre, the present-day ‘Roman Colosseum’.
During his reign as the Roman emperor, Vespasian also paid a great deal of attention to military affairs. He made important changes in the East and replaced the single army in Syria with three armies, with a total of six legions, in Cappadocia, Syria, and Judaea.
He worked towards restoring a war-torn Rome to its former glory by raising taxes and reclaiming public land in order to collect money. He used some of it on ambitious construction projects which included temples and early work on what is known today as the ‘Roman Colosseum’. Vespasian legitimized himself along with his dynasty by offering Rome a stable and peaceful future.
Personal Life & Legacy
He married Flavia Domitilla, the daughter of Flavius Liberalis from Ferentium. The couple had three children; two sons, Titus Flavius Vespasianus and Titus Flavius Domitianus, and a daughter named Domitilla. His wife and daughter died before Vespasian became Emperor in 69 AD.
Upon the demise of his wife, Vespasian became romantically involved with an earlier mistress, Antonia Caenis. She became his wife in all but formal status and they remained together until her death in 75 AD.
Vespasian died on June 23, 79 AD, at the age of 69. He was succeeded by his elder son, Titus.