Parents: Titus Flavius Sabinus I and Vespasia Polla
Date of Birth: 17 November 9 CE
Royal House: Flavian
Spouse: Domitilla the Elder, daughter of Flavius Liberalis
Reign: 69 – 79 CE
Summary: Vespasian not only was never meant to be an emperor of Rome, he didn't even respect politics when growing up. His elder brother, Titus Flavius Sabinus II, was the successful one, working closely with the Roman army and becoming personal friends with Emperor Caligula. His mother was his chief motivation, and it did little for him at first. He married young and had two sons, Titus Flavius Vespasianus and Titus Flavius Domitianus. A daughter predeceased him. Seeing few other options, Vespasian finally joined the military in order to raise in political rank. When he returned, he became the head of street-cleaning in Rome and tradition states that Caligula was so upset with his poor performance that he stuffed a handful of mud down Vespasian's toga. Soon after, he became a quaestor in Crete then an tribune in 38 CE. It is probably during this time that he met his long-term mistress, Antonia Caenis, who was a member of the imperial circle and a possible inroad for Vespasian's future successes. By 41 CE, his prospects were looking up. He as a legate in the Legio II Augusta stationed in Germania and he participated in the Roman invasion of Britain in 43. He was vital to the success of the invasion in the southwest, subduing Hampshire, Dorset, Somerset, Devon, Cornwall, and Wiltshire. Upon his return to Rome, he earned himself a triumphal regalia in the parade. In 51 CE, he became a consul and then he retired from public live. In 63, he returned to become governor of Africa and became a close associate with many of the provincial leaders, ingratiating himself rather than earning their enmity. In 66, he was sent to suppress the growing Jewish Revolt in Palestine. During his campaign, he befriended Flavius Josephus who eventually wrote a great tome concerning the Jew's history in Palestine. Josephus praised Vespasian, even once claiming he was the messiah, and lauded his efforts to protect the non-revolting Jews while being kind to those captured in rebellion. Soon after the Jewish campaign was ended, Emperor Nero died and Rome fell into civil war. Three emperors—Galba, Otho, and Vitellius—were all killed in short order and Vespasian felt it his duty to claim the imperial regalia. Troops in Egypt were the first to proclaim him emperor, followed by his own army in Caesarea. Vitellius still had a significant army in Rome but one-by-one the armies outside of Rome and the west declared for Vespasian. While Vespasian secured the grain supply in Egypt, his army invaded Rome and burned much of the city. Vitellius was defeated and killed and the Senate declared Vespasian emperor of Rome.
Domitian, Vespasian's son, was placed in charge of the government while Vespasian returned him. Tax collection became important to refinance the government. Titus continued to quell the Jewish Revolt which had resurged when Vespasian departed for Egypt. He finally ended it by sacking the Jewish Temple and leveling it. Titus then pursued all surviving descendants of David to maintain the myth that Vespasian was the messiah. In Gaul and Germania, a new uprising began led by Julius Sabinus, a claimed descendant of Julius Caesar. Vespasian was a selfish emperor who wished for the focus to remain on him, editing critical histories to emphasize his greatness, and building triumphal architecture to increase his fame. The odd thing is that little is known of his actual reign in Rome. He built many buildings including a colossus of Apollo and he began the Flavian Amphitheater known as the Colosseum. But it is likely that he was under constant threat of assassination and attack, and that he remained in seclusion most of the time. In 78, Vespasian sent Agricola to Britain to consolidate Roman rule in the north. By the middle of 79, Vespasian had grown very sick with a stomach illness and he died at a country estate proclaiming as his last words: "Oh! I think I'm becoming a god!" His eldest son, who is known by the regnal name Titus, succeeded him.
Date of Death: 23 June 79 CE
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