Ancient coins

This Week In History – Commodus Imperator. 27 November 177 AD.

On November 27, 177, Emperor Marcus Aurelius granted his son Commodus the rank of “Imperator” and makes him Supreme Commander of the Roman legions. This marked the start of Commodus´ rule, first as co-emperor with his father, and solely after his father´s death in 180. His accession was the first time a son had succeeded his biological father since Titus succeeded Vespasian in 79. He was also the first emperor to have both a father and grandfather (who had adopted his father) as the two preceding emperors. During his solo reign, the Empire enjoyed a period of peace and reduced military conflict compared to his father´s reign but intrigues and conspiracies abounded, leading Commodus to an increasingly dictatorial style of leadership that culminated in a God-like personality cult...

Trajan, Nerva´s successor. October 28,97 AD.

In September 96, Emperor Domitian was succeeded by Marcus Cocceius Nerva. After a brief and turbulent year in power, culminating in a revolt by members of the Praetorian Guard, Nerva was compelled to adopt the more popular Trajan as his heir and successor. Since Nerva was really unpopular with the army and had recently been forced to execute Domitian´s killers by his Praetorian Prefect, he felt the need to gain support of the military in order to avoid being deposed. He accomplished this on October 28 of 97 by naming Trajan as his adoptive son and successor, pleading only Trajan´s outstanding military merits. There are hints that Trajan´s adoption was imposed on Nerva, as Pliny wrote, and if this is what happened, then Trajan would be an usurper, and the notion of natural continuity betwee...

End of the Siege and Battle of Alesia. 5 October, 52 BC.

The Siege and Battle of Alesia meant the end of the Gallic Wars, and took place from September to October 52 BC. It befell around the Gallic fortified settlement of Alesia, “capital” of the Mandubii tribe. It confronted the Roman army of Julius Caesar against an alliance of Gallic tribes, united under the leadership of Vercingetorix of the Averni. In history, it is considered one of Caesar´s most important military victories, as well as a classic example of siege warfare. This battle marked the end of the Gallic independence of France and Belgium. The day after the battle, Caesar ordered the Gauls to surrender their weapons and deliver their chieftains. The chieftains were brought before him and Vercingetorix was surrendered. For Caesar, Alesia was an enormous personal success, both milita...

Heraclius, emperor. October 4, 610.

In 608, Heraclius the Elder, Heraclius´ father, renounced his loyalty to the Emperor Phocas. The rebels even issued coins showing both Heraclii dressed as consuls, though neither of them had claimed the imperial title. Phocas responded with executions, among them of the ex-Empress Constantina and her three daughters. Heraclius’ younger cousin Nicetas launched a successful overland invasion of Egypt, where he defeated Phocas´ army. While this invasion was taking place, the younger Heraclius sailed eastward through Sicily and Cyprus, planning to enter Constantinople. Some prominent Byzantine aristocrats came to meet Heraclius, and he arranged to be crowned and acclaimed as Emperor before even entering Constantinople. As he approached the city, and planned the attack, the Excubitors, th...

The Battle of Marathon – September 12, 490 BC.

  The Battle of Marathon defined the end of the first of the Greco-Persian Wars. The battle took place in the bay near the town of Marathon, not far from Athens, in the Attica coast. On one side, the Persian king Darius I wanted to invade and conquer Athens for supporting the cities of Ionia in their attempt to bring down Persian rule. On the other side, Athenians and their allies, the Plataeans. It was in this battle where Philippedes ran from Athens to Sparta to ask the Spartan army for help, as the Persian army wouldn´t stop once Athens was conquered. Sparta was engaged in a religious festivity at that moment, and gave this as an excuse for not coming in Athen´s aid. After five days of fighting, the Athenian and Plataean army crushed the Persian infantry, which fled with a huge los...

Sasanian Empire

The Sasanian Empire began after the fall of the Parthian Empire and existed from 224 AD under Ardashir I, to 651 AD under Yazdgard III. It was the last Iranian empire before the rise of Islam. The power and extent of the Sassanian kings grew so great, King Shapur I captured the Roman Emperor Valerian I in 260 at the Battle of Edessa and used the emperor as a footstool when mounting his horse. There are various accounts of what happened to Valerian after his capture, but the Sasanians would have their advancement into Roman territory halted by forces at Palmyra. At its greatest extent, the Sasanian Empire controlled nearly all of the modern Middle East, along with a great part of Western and Central Asia, the Caucasus, parts of North Africa and the Levant. Their success branched off to othe...

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