While Vespasian besieged Jerusalem during the Jewish rebellion, emperor Nero committed suicide and plunged Rome into a year of civil war known as the Year of the Four Emperors. After Galba and Otho perished in quick succession, Vitellius became emperor in April 69. The Roman legions of Roman Egypt and Judaea reacted by declaring Vespasian, their commander, emperor on 1 July 69. In his bid for imperial power, Vespasian joined forces with Mucianus, the governor of Syria, and Primus, a general in Pannonia, leaving his son Titus to command the besieging forces at Jerusalem. Primus and Mucianus led the Flavian forces against Vitellius, while Vespasian took control of Egypt. On 20 December 69, Vitellius was defeated, and the following day Vespasian was declared emperor by the Senate. Vespasian dated his tribunician years from 1 July, substituting the acts of Rome's Senate and people as the legal basis for his appointment with the declaration of his legions, and transforming his legions into an electoral college.

Vespasian was born in a village north-east of Rome called Falacrinae . [6] His family was relatively undistinguished and lacking in pedigree. His paternal grandfather, Titus Flavius Petro, became the first to distinguish himself, rising to the rank of centurion and fighting at Pharsalus for Pompey in 48 BC. Subsequently he became a debt collector. [7]

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