Rome

The Battle of Arausio. October 6, 105 BC.

The Battle of Arausio took place on October 6, 105 BC in the midst of the Cimbrian Wars, 113-101BC. This battle was a confrontation between the Roman Republican legions, led by the consul Gnaeus Mallius Maximus and the proconsul Quintus Servilius Caepio, and the Germanic tribes (mainly the Cimbri, Teutoni and Ambri) led by the Cimbri King Boiorix and Teuton King Teutobod. It took place between the village of Arausio (in today’s Vaucluse) and the River Rhodanos (Rhône). As a consequence of the division of the Roman forces in two armies, due to the bad relations that existed between the two leaders, the battle was an utter catastrophe for the Republic. In 111 BC, the Ambri and the Cimbri arrived in the southwest of Germania Magna, where the Teutoni and Tigurini joined them. They were looking...

The last Roman emperor elected by the Senate.

Marcus Claudius Tacitus Augustus, known as Tacitus, was the last Roman emperor elected by the Roman Senate, and served only for a short period of time, between 275 and 276 AD. Little is known about Tacitus´ career before his reign. Some sources suggest he served in the Danube Legions before becoming a senator. We do know he held the office of Senate consul, rising to the highest Senate rank, princeps senatus, an office he held at the time he reluctantly accepted to be the next emperor by acclaim of the Senate. After the assassination of Aurelian, an eight-month long interregnum took place. During this time, the army, who normally would proclaim the next emperor,  decided to cede their right to the Senate, due to their remorse over the death of the popular emperor, Aurelian, who had died wi...

The Great Fire of Rome. July 19, 64 AD.

The apocryphal image of Nero fiddling as Rome burned has long been burned into our minds, as well, but the lack of historical eyewitnesses has always made this event a controversial matter. The Great Fire of Rome took place, according to Tacitus, on the night of the 18th to the 19th of July 64 AD (he was only at the time seven years old at the time, but the date is not in dispute). What is known is the fire started in the Circus Maximus in the shops that sold flammable goods like ointments, spreading quickly, and burned for six days. The only living historiographer of that time who recorded the incident was Pliny the Elder, although he only mentioned it briefly, probably because he considered it “one of many” fires that blighted the city. Other contemporary writers, included the philosophe...

Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. June 28, 1519.

Charles I of Spain was also Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire.  He was known as the “Emperor” or the “Caesar”. As Charles I, he first reigned together with his mother, Joanna I of Castille, until 1555, and was king of all the Hispanic reigns and territories, reuniting for the first time in the same person the crowns of Castille (including the kingdom of Navarre) and Aragon. He became Holy Roman Emperor under the name of Charles V on June 28, 1519. As a child, Charles received a humanist and Christian education from the Flemish court. He received through diverse inheritances a huge compound of territories and acquired the imperial election in 1519 (disputed by Francis I of France). Charles set out, with the help of his counsellors, how he could use this immense power. His major concerns be...

Galba Emperor. June 8, 68 AD.

Servius Sulpicius Galba was Roman Emperor from June 8, 68 until his death. He was the first of the four emperors that reigned during 69, known as “the year of the four emperors“. He had an outstanding political career: he was consul in 33, governor of Germania in 45, and proconsul of Africa in 46. In 45, he was sent by Caligula to Germania to replace Gaetulicus, of whom the emperor had grown suspicious. Galba achieved his reputation by developing efficient military policies and imposing strict discipline among his men. During his reign in Germania, he repelled barbarian invasions that had taken Gaul. Caligula was so happy with Galba´s achievements that he rewarded generously the troops under his command. In the turmoil after Caligula´s death, Galba declined taking the throne, e...

The Stoning of Petronius Maximus. May 31, 455.

His birthdate is unclear, being his origins quite obscure, but it is widely believed that the late Roman Emperor, Petronius Maximus, belonged to the illustrious Anicius family. He developed his senatorial career during the reigns of Honorius and Valentinian III and was praetor in the first stage of his career in 411. Around 415, he served as tribunus et notarius, an entry position to the Imperial bureaucracy, which would take him to the position of comes sacrarum largitionum between 416 and 419, as well as urban prefect between 419 and 433. In 433, he was elected consul, and from 439 to 441 held the praetorian prefecture of Italy. By the time he obtained the title of patrician in 445, he had become the Roman with most honors outside the Imperial circle. According to John of Antioch, Valent...

Byzantium, Nova Roma. May 11, 330.

Byzantium was the Greek capital city of Thrace, situated in the Western part of the entrance of the Bosphorus Strait, actually Istambul. It has occupied an outstanding part in History since its founding, around 668 BC, according to Herodotus. Byzantium suffered, as did all Greece, Rome´s tutoring. The city entered a period of decline, although all of the Greek cities in this period were well supplied. During the Macedonian Wars, between Rome and Philippus V, Romans awarded Byzantium with the title of confederate city for their help. In 191 BC the city was a Roman ally and acknowledged as a free city, although it lost this status in 100 BC. Emperor Claudius reduced the city taxes to make up for its losses in the war against Thrace. Vespasian integrated Byzantium in the Roman province of Thr...

The Death of Caracalla. April 8, 217.

His father, Roman emperor Septimius Severus initiated the Severan Dynasty, a dynasty of military emperors. Caracalla´s birthname was Septimius Severus Bassianus, but became known by the agnomen Caracalla because after the Danube wars he started wearing a hooded Gallic tunic called “caracallus”. Septimius Severus ruled over Rome for 18 years with iron fist and decided to split power between his two sons, Geta and Caracalla, which proved to be a huge mistake, being both corrupt and evil. Caracalla in the end killed Geta in February 212 and made up a story in which a band of assassins managed to get to Geta´s quarters and he had tried to defend him heroically but was finally defeated and his brother killed. Of course, nobody believed him, but as he was now the sole emperor, nobody could do an...

Commodus sole Emperor. March 17, 1180 AD.

Marcus Aurelius´ reign was characterized by continuous wars. In March 17, 180 AD, after two years leading the campaigns in the Danube himself, he died leaving his son Commodus as sole emperor of the Roman Empire. Therefore, although Commodus´ reign was more or less peaceful if compared with his father´s, it was terribly unstable and turbulent in political terms. His reign was subject to his own infatuations and needs instead of the needs of his people. In words of Dio Cassio: Commodus´ reign marked the transition a golden and silver age to that of rust and iron. This phrase has defined what many modern historians call the Decadence of the Roman Empire. Commodus stayed with his army in the Danube until he proposed a peace treaty to the Germanic Tribes, which didn´t hesitate to accept the Em...

The Battle of Silva Arsia. March 1, 509 BC.

The Battle of Silva Arsia was a battle that confronted the forces of the Roman Republic and the Etruscans from Tarquinii and Veii, led by the deposed Roman king Tarquinius Superbus. The battle took place in Roman territory, in the Arsian forest. The battle was one of the several attempts of Tarquinius to recover the throne, and may also be analyzed as part of the permanent conflict between the Etruscan cities and a Roman Republic that was growing both in strength and in territorial expansion. The battle is part of the ancient history of Rome, most probably, a legend in great part. In 509 BC, Roman monarchy was overthrown, and the Roman Republic started as the first elections of the first consuls took place. The deposed king, Tarquinius Superbus (Tarquinius “The Proud”), whose family came f...

February 1, 1851. Mary Shelley.

  Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, better known by her husband´s surname, Mary Shelley, was a British writer, mostly remembered for being the author of the Gothic novel Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus (1818), which is actually considered to be the first modern science-fiction novel, starting the genre. She also published and promoted Percy Bysshe Shelley´s works, romantic poet and philosopher, as well as her husband. Both her father and her mother were reputed philosophers and politicians, her mother being also a famous feminist activist that unfortunately died after giving birth of puerperal fever. She received from her father, William Godwin, an education that urged her to join liberal politics, and gave her to read her mother´s memoirs and books, that incremented Mary´s devotion t...

The Murder of Caligula. January 24, 41 AD.

Formally known as Gaius (Gaius Caesar Augustus Germanicus), but better known as Caligula, the third Roman emperor, from 37 to 41 AD, was born to the Julio-Claudian dynasty. He was son of Germanicus, one of the greatest generals of Roman history and adoptive son of Emperor Tiberius. His mother was Agrippina the Elder, a fiercely independent woman, who was married to Germanicus by order of Tiberius in order to bring him closer to the Julian family. As a child he accompanied his father on campaigns in the north of Germania, where he received the nickname of Caligula meaning “little (soldier’s) boot” in Latin, after the small boots (caligae) he wore… a nickname he grew to hate. Germanicus died in Syria, possibly poisoned by order of Tiberius, who saw him and his descendants a...

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