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The year of the four emperors is a time in ancient Roman history in which Rome had four emperors in the span of one year.
After Nero committed suicide, Servius Sulpicius Galba (photo below) was announced as the new emperor. Ironically, before Nero committed suicide, Galba was declared an enemy of the state. How soon one’s fortune can change in an instant!
Galba proved to be an unpopular emperor. He was paranoid about losing his life to the very people who betrayed Nero, so he executed senators and guards alike, and refused to pay the soldiers who supported him. The legions abandoned Galba, thereby forcing Galba to appoint a new successor. An ambitious man named Marcus Salvius Otho (photo below) wanted the succession for himself, so he bribed Galba’s guards and the guards killed Galba.
Otho only enjoyed three months of his reign as emperor. The general Aulus Vitellius (photo below) challenged Otho’s right to the throne. In an effort to appease Vitellius, Otho offered his daughter’s hand in marriage. Vitellius refused and Otho committed suicide when he lost the Battle of Bedriacum to the general Aulus Vitellius.
Vitellius’s reign proved to be short lived. He almost bankrupted the treasury with his lavish banquets, and he tortured and executed those who protested his rule. In the Second Battle of Bedriacum, General Vespasian (photo below) defeated Vitellius’s forces. Vitellius went into hiding, but Vespasian’s men found Vitellius and killed him. Thus Vespasian became the fourth emperor in a year.