This Week In History

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...

The Year of Four Emperors – 69 AD

When January 1, 69 arrived, Servius Sulpicius Galba was on the throne of the Roman Empire, following the suicide of Nero in June the previous year. It was a tumultuous time in the empire, with civil war breaking out in several regions. Galba himself rose to the purple through the machinations of the Praetorian Guard prefect, Nymphidius Sabinus, after the failed attempt of Vindex to promote Galba, while he was governor of Hispania Tarraconensis, to replace Nero. Galba marched into Rome with the Legion VII Galbiana, which would later be renamed VII Genima. Support was tenuous for Galba in the beginning as it was, even though he was confirmed by the Senate. Two of the legions in Gaul refused to support him and instead wanted the governor of their region, Aulus Vitellius Germanicus, proclaimed...

Cicero: Orator, Lawyer, Politician – December 7, 43 BC

Marcus Tullius Cicero came from a wealthy family of the equestrian order in the ancient Roman Republic. His prose influenced European languages through his Latin for thousands of years and is considered one of the greatest orators of Roman times. His letters, rediscovered in the 14th century, are often cited as the spark for the renaissance of public affairs and Roman culture. Coupled with all of his linguistic abilities, Cicero was also an accomplished politician and successful lawyer. This is a catgory of  roman republic coins. His political career began in 75 BC as quaestor in western Sicily. He was honest and trustworthy in this position accounting for the public treasuries, and as such was pleaded by the public to take up a case against Gaius Verres, a local corrupt governor (some thi...

Marcus Aurelius Promoted – December 1, 147 AD

Marcus Aurelius was born to Marcus Annius Verus and Domitia Lucilla in 121 AD. Although his parents were wealthy, they were not descendants of the current emperor, Hadrian, or his lineage. However, these were different times in the Roman Empire from when Augustus began it the century previous – these were the times of adoptive lineage. Aurelius spent his childhood in his family’s estate, with private tutors, and later credited his family for all of his upbringing and good personality traits. Although his father died when he was only three, he credits him with instilling “modesty and manliness” through his teachings and his posthumous reputation. He credits his mother for his “piety, simplicity of diet and avoiding the ways of the rich”. Aurelius also credited his tutors for shaping h...

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