69: Roman Legions Proclamed Vespasian Emperor

69: Roman Legions Proclamed Vespasian Emperor
Photo Credit To Bust of Vespasian / Wikipedia Commons

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 1. July 69
  • When Vespasian was proclaimed emperor on this day, he found himself in what is now Israel. He was, in fact, in the port city of Caesarea Maritima, only about 40 km from Nazareth, the town where Jesus Christ spent his youth several decades earlier.

On this day in the year 69, Roman troops in Egypt elected Vespasian as the Roman emperor. This took place during the tumultuous era after the death of Nero, in which there was a succession of several Roman emperors during only one year. However, Vespasian’s fate was to consolidate power, to continue to rule for a relatively long time and even to establish a new dynasty (both of Vespasian’s sons ruled for many years after their father).

 Vespasian was not of particularly high origin and represented a new type of emperor – one descended from the middle class and not the Roman patricians. His birth name was Titus Flavius Vespasian (so his dynasty was named the Flavian dynasty). At the time of Nero, Vespasian was a military commander who was sent to Judea in 66 to suppress a Jewish uprising. Indeed, the war in Judea was still in progress at the time when Vespasian was proclaimed emperor. In fact, at the time of the proclamation on this day, Vespasian was in what is today Israel. He was, in fact, in the port city of Caesarea Maritima only about 40 km from Nazareth, the town where Jesus Christ had spent his youth several decades earlier.

 Vespasian was first declared emperor by the Roman troops in Egypt. Judea was under his control and Syria, Illyria, Pannonia, and Moesia soon joined him. The support of legions was crucial for claiming the Roman imperial throne at that time. Vespasian was obviously successful at that. It is interesting that Vespasian, after he was declared emperor, did not come to Rome from the Middle East until autumn next year.

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