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Nerva in Trouble

Contributed by David Verne

After Nerva becomes Emperor, he inherits a large budget deficit from Domitian's building projects and games. In order to bring finances under control, he cuts the amount of holidays in the year, around 200. He then institutes tax cuts and tries to reform the welfare system; he has limited success with this and the Senate and people couldn't be happier, but there was a very important group that was disgruntled. The military was enraged that Domitian's assassins hadn't been brought to justice, and the Praetorian Guard was also angry that the Senate had largely ignored them in deciding succession. Nerva gave a small bonus to the military; it was no where near enough and were even more upset that Nerva had thought throwing some money their way would smooth over their grievances.

With the economy straining under tax cuts, welfare reforms, and land redistribution, Nerva's administration was working hard to bring things back to normal. This was made more difficult by the fact that Nerva had outlawed treason trials but allowed the Senate to prosecute people. This led to chaos as Senators spent their time getting back at personal enemies, and one Senator remarked that Domitian's tyranny was preferable to Nerva's anarchy. In October, as Nerva is trying to regain authority from not having any control over the Senate, the Praetorians decide to take matters into their own hands and besiege the palace in the middle of the night. They hold Nerva hostage and force him to hand over Domitian's assassins. After the Praetorians execute the assassins, Nerva gives a public speech thanking the Praetorians for reminding him of his duty.

Everything was ready to collapse when Nerva announced that he had chosen an heir. He adopted a popular and skilled general, Marcus Trajan, as his heir and instantly things calmed down. The army loved Trajan and no one else really had an issue with him. [1]

My Take by David Verne
Nerva will die in January 98 A.D. and considering how chaotic his short reign was, its surprising that he was remembered favorably. Everyone loved Trajan so much that Nerva was seen favorably for his choice of heir, especially since he had the decency to die quickly and allow Trajan to assume rule. Nerva is remembered as the first of the five good emperors; a string of emperors who had no biological children and chose heirs based on merit. They ruled Rome for almost a century, and it was under them that the Empire reached the height of its power.

The Chinese and Parthians Parley

Contributed by Southpaw Ben

Chinese General Ban Chao sends the Ambassador Gan Ying to help to establish regular relations between the Parthians and the Chinese. The Parthians at one point were a part of Alexander the "Great"'s empire, breaking off as the Seleucid empire upon his death. The Parthian empire takes up much of modern day Iran. Gan Ying was then sent to try to find and meet the Romans, who also had relations with the Parthian Empire at this time, though they had been at war on and off since 66 BC and would countinue warring until 217 AD. Gan Ying would cross the Parthian empire and eventually reach to Persian Gulf, before being told that it was uncrossable and returning home. However, this trek made him the furthest west Chinese emissary recorded during antiquity. He did bring home descriptions of Roman traditions that, while based in some elements of truth, were largely fanciful.

My Take by Southpaw Ben
It's amazing just how small the world of antiquity actually was. Many think of the Chinese and Romans, or westerners in general, never coming close to interacting until much later around the 1100-1200s. However, there are reports of a Roman legion, through a series of unfortunate misadventures, that MAY have ended up in China. (They were captured in a war against the Parthian Empire, pressed into service, then captured AGAIN by the Chinese, according to some legends, with estimates of it being as early as 36 BC. There is some evidence in the chinese recods of a "Fish-scale formation" used by a small force against the Chinese forces. Thi was claimed by some to have been the Roman testudo, one of their signature fighting styles. They also point to a town named Liquian (pronounced very similarly to "Legion") that suposedly had higher frequencies of European traits, such as light hair, blue or green eyes, light skin color and Roman noses)


See Also


  1. Duncan, Mike (December 13, 2009). 77- What Time is It?.
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parthian_Empire https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gan_Ying https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ban_Chao

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