Saturday, 3 October 2015

Caesar Vespasianus Augustus

Vespasian- Wikimedia Commons
This post is about Titus Flavius Vespasianus. 

He doesn't personally feature in my Celtic Fervour Novels but the events which take place are happening because he is in ultimate charge of the Ancient Roman Empire. 

A little background to Vespasian...

Titus Flavius Vespasianus sounds like a nice enough name, to me, but the owner of it went on from humble beginnings to become the founder of the Flavian dynasty of Ancient Roman Emperors. Ruling the Empire as Caesar Vespasianus Augustus, Vespasian took control of Rome and its affairs after a very turbulent time of civil war which followed the death of Emperor Nero.

Nero’s mismanagement of Rome was legendary and was a huge hurdle for anyone to sort out. Rome was in turmoil when Nero committed suicide and only a leader who had command of Roman legions would be able to grasp power. Galba, with the support of the ‘Spanish’ legions did just that, however, his reign was short lived. Having seized the throne in June AD 68 he was assassinated in January of AD 69 by the Praetorian Guard— under orders from Otho.  

Otho, was emperor for even less time since he committed suicide by April AD 68, battles not having gone in his favour and Vitellius having come put as the victor.  

Command of Rome then fell to Vitellius who commanded the troops in Germania. Unfortunately for Vitellius, Vespasian had been very successful in the Judean area of the Empire and Vespasian decided that it was time that he should make a bid to become emperor. After only 8 months of rule, Vitellius was murdered by Vespasian’s troops. 

The story of the fast changing emperors stops there, though, because once Vespasian held power of Rome, he kept it firmly in his grip for the next decade, from December AD 69 to June 79.

Since Book 1 of my Celtic Fervour Series, The Beltane Choice, begins in AD 71, the action takes place during the reign of the Emperor Vespasian. Although my Celtic tribes lived in northern Britannia, they were seriously affected by the policies of Vespasian when he assumed power of the Roman Empire.

So who was Vespasian?

Of humble birth, Vespasian was borne in Reate north of Rome. His father was of equestrian status and was a tax collector. His mother was also of equestrian rank and her brother raised the status of the family by becoming a senator.

From this less than exalted background, Vespasian was a Roman citizen so he joined the army and gradually progressed through the usual ranks from military tribune to praetor. Vespasian was familiar with Britannia having been in charge of the Legio II Augusta during the  invasion of the Emperor Claudius in AD 43. Vespasian distinguished himself by taking over the isle of Wight and his legions subdued many of the tribes of the southern coast (Devon), his tactical methods of bombardment having been applauded. Awarded triumphal honours after this achievement, he was made a consul in AD 51 and his career blossomed.

Though he had gained support in his career during the reigns of Tiberius, Caligula and Claudius he was unfortunately in disfavour when Nero was in power. As the story goes, it wasn’t the sensible thing to fall asleep when Nero was performing or to neglect to ingratiate oneself in the presence of the emperor. His disgrace was short lived, however, because he was given commend of Judea in AD 67.

The complex process of gaining command didn’t happen immediately, but by AD 69 the circumstances were suitable for him to make a bid for the emperor’s position.

During the years AD 67-69 there was considerable unrest in Britannia. Many of the Celtic  tribes weren’t happy with being subjects of Rome, so Vespasian inherited a situation which meant spending considerable effort to quell the natives of Britannia. 

And that is where my Garrigill warriors come in to the picture. I've chosen not to write about what Vespasian did in Britannia, but have preferred to take a fictitious Celtic tribe of the north, a Brigante Tribe from the hillfort of Garrigill.  I've written about what happened to them when the orders of Vespasian dictated that Rome should expand its westernmost territorial boundaries. 


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