Roman Empire

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...

The Battle of Zama. October 19, 202 BC.

The Battle of Zama meant the end of the 17 years long Second Punic War. An army led by Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus, supported by Masinissa, the Numidian leader, defeated a force greater in numbers and that counted with eighty war elephants, led by commander Hannibal. In Hannibal´s army there were a great number of conscripts, and it had been recently hampered by the vaunted Numidian cavalry,that had switched sides and now supported the Romans, having a superior cavalry by then. Instead of massing together to oppose the elephants, Scipio´s troops blew their horns loudly so that the elephants would charge through their open ranks, pelting them with missiles as they passed through, confusing and defeating them. Scipio deployed his army in three lines: the first line was composed of the...

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...

Domitian, Emperor. September 13, 81 AD.

After a short reign, Titus, the elder son of Vespasian, died unexpectedly as a result of a disease on the 13th September 81. Next day, his younger brother Domitian was proclaimed emperor by the Praetorian Guard, his reign being the longest since that of Tiberius and the last of the Flavian Dynasty. He is described by classical sources as a cruel and paranoid tyrant, comparing his vileness to that of Nero or Caligula. Nevertheless, this sources have proven to be not very objective, as they come from writers openly hostile to the emperor, and modern research has shown that he was a ruthless but efficient monarch that developed cultural and economic programs that set the foundation of a very prosperous 2nd century.

Probus Born – August 19, 232 AD

According to most sources, Marcus Aurelius Probus was born on August 19, 232 AD in Sirmium, Pannonia Inferior (modern-day Sremska Mitrovica, Serbia). David Vagi notes in his two-volume work, “Coinage and History of the Roman Empire”, Probus may have actually been instead born in Siscia, given the interesting and unusual attention paid to that city on his coinage. In fact, his coinage itself displays the most elaborate bust types, along with very unusual legends and a complex set of mintmarks that combine to make a multitude of varieties. The most extensive website of which I currently know on the coins of Probus, was created by my friend GK, at: http://probvs.net/probvs/ Not much is documented about Probus before he joined the military, around 250 AD, when he was of age. Civil wars and tri...

Roman Provinces

The Roman Empire was sprawling and massive as they assimilated regions they conquered and mostly kept the population and cultures intact to a degree. In order to keep all of the provinces running smoothly, local mints were established to produce (mostly) base-metal coins. Over the course of the empire, more than 600 provincial mints provided the means for those not living in the large cities to conduct trade, while showcasing important themes, buildings or religious icons. Some large provincial mints, such as Tyre in Phoenicia, were allowed to strike silver coins. But mostly the provincial cities and towns featured their flavor on copper and bronze. This is the Roman Provincial Coinage. Interestingly, some Roman provincial issues are the only way to collect some of the family members, such...

Hadrian Dies at Baiae – July 10, 138 AD

Trajan expanded the borders of the Roman Empire to its greatest extent and was hoping his adopted successor, Hadrian, would continue to conquer even more territory. Hadrian was an experienced soldier, having campaigned with Trajan against the Parthians as a legate in early 117. History doesn’t describe Hadrian as having done anything outstanding during the campaign, however, Trajan did appoint him as governor of Syria when the current governor had to vacate to deal with problems in Dacia. During this time, Trajan was of ill health and getting worse, so he returned to Rome and left Hadrian in the East to keep matters under control. This is a great category in Roman Coins. After Trajan died on August 8, 117, Hadrian was endorsed by the Senate on August 9 as the next Roman emperor. Although n...

Pertinax Declared Emperor – January 1, 193 AD

The Roman emperor, Commodus, was murdered on December 31, 192 AD by Praetorian prefect Quintus Aemilius Laetus, Commodus’s mistress Marcia and chamberlain Eclectus. At the time, Publius Helvius Pertinax was the urban prefect and was rushed to the Praetorian camp and declared emperor on January 1, 193. Upon ascending to the throne, Pertinax immediately ran into issues with the Praetorians, who suspected he was part of the conspiracy to rid the world of Commodus and expected to be rewarded in helping him gain his new title. This is a category of  Denarius. Pertinax felt the military needed stricter discipline as they were getting too accustom to a licentious living, and instituted reforms, which they resisted and hated him for it. He also did not want to pay the Praetorians the donative they...

An Empire Reunited – September 6, 394 AD

In 392 AD, the Roman Empire was split into the Eastern and Western empires. Valentinian II led the west, while Theodosius I was in charge of the east. Both emperors favored Christianity over the old pagan gods, causing tension between the two rulers and members of the Senate. Although there was wide-spread violence on a small scale throughout the empire over the two main religions of the empire, for the most part the debate of Christianity versus Paganism was theological and academic. That all changed when Valentinian was found dead in his residence on May 15, 392. This is a category of  roman empire coins. Arbogast, a Frankish general, was the magister militum of the Western empire, making him the de facto ruler upon the death of Valentinian. He immediately sent word to Theodosius, saying...

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