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Ancient Warfare magazine Vol X.6 - Ancient Rome In Turmoil

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Ancient Warfare magazine Vol X.6 - Ancient Rome In Turmoil The Year of the Four Emperors... mehr
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Ancient Warfare magazine Vol X.6 - Ancient Rome In Turmoil
The Year of the Four Emperors

Theme: William E. Welsh, "The Year of the Four Emperors - Historical introduction"

Emperor Nero committed suicide in the summer of AD 68. Four usurpers in quick succession took the mantle of emperor at the urging of their troops. The first three had neither control of the Roman army nor the innate leadership qualities necessary to establish stable rule. Although of humble birth, the last of the string of four was a gifted general who possessed the personal charm and ability to reverse the downhill slide that marked the end of the Julio-Claudian Dynasty. His name was Titus Flavius Vespasianus.

Theme: Tilman Moritz, "Suetonius' On the Life of the Caesars - Managing the crisis"

When Marcus Salvius Otho, designated emperor, raced through Rome for his acclamation at the Praetorian camp, he suffered a series of mishaps. He travelled incognito in a closed sedan, yet soon his bearers became exhausted and he had to continue on foot. Otho then almost tripped over his shoelaces. Finally, a few supporters raised Otho onto their shoulders and carried him into the camp. It was the unpromising start of the Year of Four Emperors.

Theme: Sidney E. Dean, "Military turmoil in an era of crisis - Legions come, legions go"

The instability of the Year of Four Emperors extended to the Roman army. New legions were raised, disbanded, backed pretenders to the throne, changed allegiance and succumbed to battles against other legions and former allies. In the end, six legions were formed and six disbanded between AD 68 and 70 - the greatest turnover of imperial legions in any comparable time frame in the entire Principate.

Theme: Anthony Riches, "The Batavian Revolt of AD 69-70 - Casus Belli!"

The revolt of the Batavians was, on the face of it, a simple thing: the Romans had upset tribal mercenaries, who then rose up and taught them a lesson as to how to manage subject peoples and their armies. And yet the story that can be teased out of the primary sources - Tacitus and Dio Cassius - is that of a far more complex historical event.

Theme: Haggai Olshanetsky, "The Jewish Revolt and the struggle in Rome - Contenders from the East"

The last years of Emperor Nero's regime were turbulent times witnessing many military campaigns - most of them to quell revolts against the Empire. The greatest revolt of them all was the one in Judea, starting in AD 66. In this article, I will show its impact on the end-result of the power struggle in Rome.

Theme: Seán Hußmann, "The story of Julius Sabinus - The man who would be Caesar"

When a pre-modern empire's central authority is weakened, divided, or engaged in violent civil strife one can usually observe a process of fragmentation. A breakdown of central power can lead to armed uprisings and insurrections of fringe groups, often located at the borders of the empire - ethnical minorities or religious communities, for example - usually led by a more or less charismatic leader or warlord.

Theme: P. Lindsay Powell, "Two battles on the Via Postumia, AD 69 - The road to hell"

The Via Postumia in the north of Italy was a flashpoint in the Roman 'game of thrones' of AD 69. In the fields around Bedriacum and Cremona, two bloody clashes between rivals' armies occurred. Upon on the outcome of these battles the fates of not one, but two emperors were decided.

Theme: Murray Dahm, "Vespasian's (re-)organization of the empire - Putting the pieces in place"

After Vespasian was declared emperor by his troops in Alexandria on 1 July AD 69, he had to take steps to secure his claim. A force under the general and governor of Syria, Gaius Licinius Mucianus, would depart for Rome. This force would include the legion VI Ferrata as well as detachments from three others (V Macedonica, X Fretensis, and XV Apollinaris) and, in addition, the 18-year old Domitian would accompany it. The circumstances surrounding this expedition, however, reveal how Vespasian planned for the future beyond simply securing his throne.

Theme: Josho Brouwers, "The fate of those who stand out - Purple thread"

When I was studying Archaeology at the VU University in Amsterdam, one of the courses I took was on Roman art and archaeology. I vividly remember a class that dealt with Roman portraiture. Naturally, we looked at portraits of the Roman emperors and my Professor described how Vespasian seemed like a kindly old man. "Almost grandfatherly," as he put it. But Vespasian was a soldier and ruler of the largest empire that the ancient world had ever seen. He had - perhaps by necessity - a ruthless streak.

The Roman army in detail: Duncan B. Campbell, "The Roman army in detail - The problem of the First Cohort"

One of the facts we know about the Roman imperial legion is that it was divided into ten cohorts. Nine of these cohorts each comprised six centuries of soldiers commanded by six centurions, but the first cohort - we are often told - was considerably larger. We also learn that, paradoxically, it had fewer centuries, but that these had more soldiers than the centuries in the other nine cohorts. So where does this information come from?

Special: Tang Long, "Greatest Military Disaster in Ancient History - Massacre at Chang-Ping"

In 260 BC, at a battlefield that belied its namesake of Chang-Ping (i.e. 'Eternal Peace'), two great armies clashed. When the dusts cleared, 450,000 men - the entire army of one side - perished, their bones paving the way for the creation of the Imperial Chinese Empire. It was a watershed moment in Chinese history, and the greatest military disaster of ancient warfare.

Hollywood Romans: Graham Sumner, "The Roman army on screen, part 6 - Spartacus"

Following hot on the trail of the success of Ben-Hur (1959) came Universal Studios' Spartacus (1960). In true Hollywood tradition, Universal were initially in a race with rival studio United Artists who were producing a film called The Gladiator about the same legendary character, starring Yul Brynner. However, the competition failed to materialize and Spartacus went on to become one of the most acclaimed and enduring of all American epics.
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