King of Rome for just Eight Months...

27 Nov 2017  Mon

Emperor Vitellius defeated Emperor Otho in 69CE and succeeded him to the Roman throne. The significance of these Roman emperors is that they ruled in the same year, the span of their reign was for few months. Vitellius ruled Rome for the term of eight months. The year of Galba, Otho and Vitellius reign Rome was engulfed with the fire of civil war. The reason for this chaos was the conflicts between the power-hungry noblemen, they wanted to become the sole administrator of imperial Rome.

Emperor Vitellius was called ‘Aulus Vitellus Germanicus Augustus’ after his coronation. Upon his accession, he added the honorific cognomen ‘Germanicus’ to his title instead of traditional ‘Caesar’. His accession to the throne was challenged by the brigades (legions) stationed in the eastern provinces, they proclaimed their leader Vespasian as their emperor. This dispute between Vitellius and Vespasian transformed into war cry and it resulted in the defeat of Emperor Vitellius at the second Battle of Bedriacum in northern Italy.

Vitellius also minted coins like his predecessors. The gold Aureus of Vitellus was circulated in 69CE which had the bust of the Emperor depicted on the obverse. The reverse of this coin illustrates Concordia seated facing left holding a patera in right hand and cornucopia in left hand. The coinage of Emperor Vitellius consists of denominations like Denarius, Sestarius, AS, etc.

After the defeat at Bedriacum, Vitellius prepared to abdicate in favour of Vespasian. Later on, he was executed by the Vespasian soldiers in 69 CE. Thus, Vitellius was the third king in the ‘year of the four kings’ of Rome.

Learn more about his predecessor Emperor Otho.

To know more about Roman coinage click here.

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