Galba Otho Vitellius Vespasian
I am not going to lie to you. I am having too much fun with these guys. And Nero. But as I research each of these men, I have found corruption more rampant than anything in any of our recent elections. Rome was a mess and it had allowed this to happen by ignoring where the power came from. Rome SPQR was anything but for the ‘Senate and the People of Rome”
What led to this was the greed and power emperors held. From the time of Julius Caesar, the people went along with the Julian line of emperors from Julius, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero. By this time, Nero felt immensely powerful. But he had seen many horrors during his childhood, and I believe he was one scared boy while on the throne. Yet his Golden Palace was a masterpiece. Like me, however, he was not a financial wizard and broke the bank with his expenses. He was eliminated.
The legions decided if they were going to die for the throne, they may as well decide who that would be. SOOO, the legions in the west decided on Galba. The legions of Germania/north decided on Vitellius. The legions of the east decided on Vespasian. The praetorians decided on Otho.
One by one they came to the throne and power and died…except for Vespasian.
Galba was a crotchety old coot who was bald, gouty, militant. He refused to pay tributes to the legions, especially the praetorian guards.” I do not buy my legions.” He removed the ever-faithful but biker-like German Guards for his own choosing. He executed without trial citizens he thought he could not trust, and extorted money from the cities he passed through on his way to Rome. Well, once in Rome he lasted two months.
Otho came next. He was a younger man, much the age of Nero, had played with Nero, wore a wig that looks real, plucked his body of all hair, but actually turned out to be a fairly good emperor for a while. At least he paid off or made promises to. But he had come to power with a coup. He turned the Praetorian guards against Galba and overtook the throne. Now that was a bloody day.
At the same time Otho claimed the throne, the northern legions hailed for Vitellius. He was a glutton. He literally ate his way down through Italy on his way to the throne. Four banquets a day. But in his case, he was but a pawn to men who controlled him. Valens for one. But he did not care.
Now the first battle in Bedriacum happened between Otho’s legions and Vitellius’. Otho thought he had lost but his men remained faithful. And Otho gave in and committed suicide. As Vitellius came through, he left the dead bodies of the legions to rot. “Ahh, the smell of victory.” He said in passing through.
Meanwhile, Vespasian, the mule driver, the common solder’s man, a true leader had been chosen by the easter legions and soon all the main legions who now has a choice, as the legions who had fought for Otho.
The second battle at Bedriacum broke out with Vespasian’s advanced legions who won by a sunrise. Literally. The battle exploded accidentally one afternoon and continued through the night. At sunrise, Vespasian’s legions hailed the rise of the sun as they usually did. However, Vitellius’ legions thought recruitments had arrived and submitted defeat. Now Vitellius panicked in Rome and was executed thereafter a hard-fought riot in Rome.
Vespasian buried Nero’s Golden Palace, built the Coliseum on its lake, started charging people taxes on going to the public restrooms, brought peace, and stabilized the treasury while still pissing off the Senate as all the emperors did.
What I am having fun with is making all this happen. I get to play with these facts and write Red Fury Rebellion. This is why I love writing historical fiction.