This Week In History

Battle of Lake Trasimene – June 24, 217 BC

Unrest within the city government in Saguntum led to the assassination of the supporters of Carthage in 219 BC. Hannibal responded by laying siege and eventually took over the Iberian city with diplomatic ties to Rome. It was on the boundary between the two empires, where the liberty of the city should be preserved, as agreed between Rome and Hasdrubal the Fair. This triggered the Second Punic War between Hannibal and the Carthaginians and the Roman Republic in 218 BC. This is a category of  hannibal coins. Hannibal began to move through the Alps and invaded northern Italy in Spring 218 BC, surprising the Romans and gathering support of the Gallic tribes along the way. The Roman consul, Publius Cornelius Scipio, moved to block Hannibal at Ticinus in November, but was defeated and wounded i...

The Sacking of Rome – June 16, 455 AD

The Vandals were living in the Roman province of Hispania Baetica during the reign of King Gunderic. After Gunderic’s death in 428 AD, his half-brother, Genseric (or Gaiseric), was elected king. He wanted to greatly expand the power and influence of his people, but was suffering from numerous attacks by their neighbors, the larger Visigoth tribe. After being attacked by another neighboring tribe, the Suebi, Genseric decided to move to North Africa, even though he was victorious in this battle. At the time, the Roman governor of North Africa, Bonifacius, was having disputes with Aetius, an accomplished Roman general and Master of Soldiers stationed there. By 429, Genseric had moved all of his people, between 20-80,000 of them, to the new lands and taking advantage of the Roman divided force...

Family Ties – June 8, 218 AD

Marcus Opellius Macrinus was born c.165 AD in Mauretania-Caesarea to parents in the Roman equestrian class. His education allowed him to eventually join the senatorial class. He was a respected lawyer and enjoyed becoming an important bureaucrat under Septimius Severus. Under Caracalla, he was appointed prefect of the Praetorian Guard. Caracalla clearly trusted Macrinus to a great extent, but began to make changes when it was rumored a prophesy told that Macrinus would depose the emperor and take the position for himself. Caracalla reassigned some of the staff of Macrinus, but must not have been aware of the full prophecy, since Macrinus still held his position. In 217, Caracalla, Macrinus and the Praetorian Guard were in the eastern provinces, preparing to campaign against the Parthians. ...

Joan of Arc Captured – May 23, 1430 AD

The Hundred Years’ War began in 1337 between the English under the House of Plantagenet and the French under the House of Valois, for the French throne. In 1380, Charles VI was crowned King of France through inheritance at the age of 11, but was under regency of his four uncles until his 21st birthday and ruled until his death in 1422. His uncles were the Dukes of Burgundy, Berry, Anjou, and Bourbon. Charles VI, suffered from periods of insanity and was at times unable to rule. As such, Louis, who was the king’s brother, Duke of Orléans and Count of Armagnac, fought for guardianship over the royal children and the regency of France itself with the king’s cousin, John, the Duke of Burgundy. This conflict ultimately resulted in the kidnapping of the royal children and the assassination in 14...

Church vs. State – May 3, 495 AD

Pope Gelasius I was elected after the death of Pope Felix III on March 1, 492 AD. At the time of his election, there was tension between the East and West, caused by the repudiation of the Henoticon by Felix. The Roman Emperor Zeno I issued the Henoticon in 482 to reconcile the differences between the Chalcedonian Christians and the Miaphysite Christians, by endorsing the condemnations of Eutyches and Nestorius at the Council of Chalcedon, and approving the twelve anathemas of Cyril of Alexandria, but avoiding the definition of whether Jesus Christ had one or two natures. With this, Zeno was trying to appease both sides, but instead failed to satisfy either. This is a category of  papal coins. In response, Felix had written two letters – one to Zeno and one to Acacius, the Patriarch of Con...

Marc Antony, Jr. – April 30, 30 BC

Marcus Antonius (Marc Antony) was father to four boys and four girls through his five wives: Fadia: None Antonia: Antonia Prima Fulvia: Marcus Antonius Antyllus, Iullus Antonius Octavia: Antonia Major, Antonia Minor Queen Cleopatra VII: Alexander Helios, Cleopatra Selene II and Ptolemy Philadelphus Marcus Antonius Antyllus, Antyllus being a Greek nickname for “archer”, was the first son and born c.43 BC. His mother died when he was around three years old and Marc Antony then married Octavia Minor, sister of Octavian. In 37 BC, Marc Antony and Octavian (along with Lepidus) signed the Treaty of Tarentum, renewing the five-year triumvirate agreement. As part of the treaty, Marcus Antonius Antyllus, only six at the time, was betrothed to Julia, the only daughter of Octavian, and was only about...

Easter Sunday

Pontius Pilate was the fifth prefect of Judaea, and governed during the reign of Roman emperor, Tiberius. The four Christian Gospels all agree Pilate did not want to have Jesus Christ executed, but relented to the crowds who demanded it. The Gospels tell: Matthew: Pilate symbolically washes his hands to show he didn’t want to be held responsible for the execution of Jesus and was only doing what was demanded of him. Mark: Jesus was innocent of plotting against the Roman Empire and Pilate agreed and didn’t want to condemn him. Luke: Not only did Pilate find Jesus innocent of plotting against the Empire, but Herod Antipas of Galilee agreed. John: Quotes Pilate as saying “I find no guilt in Him [Jesus]” and asks the Jews if he should be freed. Matthew 22:15-22            Paying the Imperial T...

Death of Antoninus Pius – March 7, 161 AD

Titus Aurelius Fulvus Boionius Arrius Antoninus was born September 19, 86 AD to Titus Aurelius Fulvus and Arria Fadilla near Lanuvium, Italy. Antoninus’s father and grandfather were both consuls in Rome and in 130 AD, he held the position as well. Sometime between 133 and 136 he became the proconsul of Asia. Nearing the end of his life, the emperor Hadrian adopted Lucius Aelius Verus in 136 in expectations of passing along the throne to him. When Aelius died unexpectedly of an acute illness on January 1, 138, Hadrian had a problem – no heirs and failing health himself. On February 25, he adopted Antoninus, who was married to Faustina Senior, with the understanding he would in turn adopt Faustina’s nephew, Marcus Aurelius, and Lucius Verus, the son of Aelius. On July 10, Hadrian died and An...

Britannicus and Nero – February 11, 55 AD

Tiberius Claudius Germanicus was the son of Roman emperor Claudius, and his third wife, Valeria Messalina. He was born on February 12, 41 AD, less than a month after Claudius had begun his reign. Two years later, Claudius was offered the title of “Britannicus” by the senate, to honor him for his invasion of Britain. He declined the offer, instead passing it on to his two-year old son, who would then be known as Tiberius Claudius Caesar Britannicus. Suetonius records that Claudius loved Britannicus greatly, picking him up during public events and saying “Good luck to you, my boy!”, to which the viewers would echo the sentiment. All seemed to be going well for the heir-apparent, until 48 AD. This is a category of  nero coins. Valeria Messalina, while still wife of Claudius, married Gaius Sil...

Octavian and Livia Married – January 17, 38 BC

During the period of the Second Triumvirate, Tiberius Claudius Nero was fighting on the side of Julius Caesar’s assassins, against the triumvirs. After the Battle of Philippi, he continued to fight on the side of Lepidus and Marc Antony against Octavian. When the triumvirs came to a peace agreement, and the proscriptions began, Tiberius Claudius Nero was forced to flee Italy with his wife, Livia Drusilla, and son and future emperor, Tiberius. In 40 BC, Octavian married Scribonia, relative of Sextus Pompey. It was a political maneuver, but it did result in the only known offspring Octavian would foster – a daughter named Julia (the Elder or Major). In 39 BC, a general amnesty was announced between the triumvirs and the Pompeian faction. During this time, Tiberius Claudius Nero returned to R...

The Gladiator Emperor – December 31, 192

Marcus Aurelius Commodus Antoninus was born in 161 AD, at Lanuvium, to the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius and Faustina Junior. Even though the practice of naming genetic offspring as the next ruler had fallen out of fashion with end of the Flavian Era, Commodus and his younger brother, Annius Verus, were made co-Caesar when they were both elevated at 5 or 6 years old and 3 respectively. Only Commodus lived to adulthood, however – Annius Verus died around six years old. Commodus accompanied Marcus Aurelius on campaigns during his early adolescent years, where he began his training. When Commodus was 15, his father elevated him to co-Augustus and he married Crispina. Marcus Aurelius died only three years later and Commodus abandoned pretty much everything his father worked to achieve on...

Io Saturnalia – December 17-23

Although initially, the feast of Saturnalia began on December 17 in ancient Roman times, it was later expanded run to December 23. The Roman god, Saturn, presided over several aspects of life, including agriculture, wealth, liberation and time. As such, his festival period was a time to exchange gifts and engage in social activities otherwise not acceptable. Slaves were allowed to reverse roles with their masters during feasting and were allowed free speech. The traditional Roman toga was replaced with brightly-colored Greek synthesis, or cenatoria (dinner wear). Citizens and slaves alike were allowed to wear the pileus, as opposed to the bare-headed norm. During the festivities, gambling and playing dice was permitted by everyone. It was a time of over-eating and over-drinking. Horace wro...

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