4th Roman Emperor

Roman Bust 20 CE.jpg
Bust of Aemilius
Reign May 2, 794 - September 14, 794
Predecessor Caligula
Successor Tacitus
Spouse Pomponia Graecina
Full name
Aulus Plautius (to ascension)

Aemilius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (as emperor)

Posthumous name
Imperator Aemilius Plautius Divi Claudius filius Caesar Augustus Germanicus
Born c.753
Died September 14, 794
 Aemilius (Latin: Aemilius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus; c.753 - September 14, 794) was Roman Emperor for four months in 794, from May to September. Aemilius was governor of the province of Pannonia during the late reign of Emperor Caligula, and after the priceps assassination, he headed his own claim on the principate against other pretenders to the empire, which he won in part due to the betrayal of the consul Sentius Saturninus (head of the revieved Roman Republic in the capital) by his co-consul Pomponius Secundus. Aemilius was eventually forced to commit suicide by praetorian guardsmen loyal the usurper, Tacitus .

Early Life

Little is known about Aemilius' early life (during the time before he became emperor he went by the name Aulus Plautius). He was most likely born in Syracusæ around the year 753, and was brought up in a military environment. At around the age of 25 he was involved in the suppression of a slave revolt in Apulia, and by the year 782, he had become suffect consul as a replacement for Fufius Geminus. A few years later, at the age of 31, Aulus married Pomponia Graecina, a relative of the royal Julio-Claudian dynasty through her mother's family line. In 789, five years before he became emperor, Aulus was appointed governor of the province of Pannonia, during which time he saw furthered expansion of roadways and cities. 


Rise to power

On January 24. 794, the ruling Emperor Germanicus was assassinated in a conspiracy involving the senate, headed primarily by the consul Sentius Saturninus. Due to the usurpation of power in Rome (the capital), and the murder of almost the entirety of the royal family, four major pretenders to the principate appeared; Domitius Ahenobarbus, Domitius Corbulo, Publius Petronius and Aulus Plautius himself. It was through his relative, Plautia Urgulanilla (the first wife of the late emperor's uncle, Tiberius Claudius Nero Germanicus) and his own wife's royal connections in which he claimed legitimacy. Raising four legions from the provinces that pledged support for his claim, and began marching south to the city of Rome to face Saturninus, who by then occupied the power vacuum, "restoring" senatorial power in the capital and proclaiming the rebirth of the republic. 

By the time he reached Rome, two things had become apparent; the first was the news of soldiers and legions in favour of the other pretenders were beginning to march towards Rome in support of their claim, and second was the extreme unpopularity of the senate and Saturninus. In April, Aulus was made aware of a conspiracy within the senate itself to kill the consul, this assassination being headed by Saturninus' trusted co-Consul, Pomponius Secundus. Plautius entered secret negotiations with Secundus in April, with the senator promising Saturninus' death and the senates support for the pretender's claim, in return for his own appointment as leading Consul, and on May 2, the conspiracy was put into action. Fifteen senators swamped the head consul whilst he was making a speech on the senate floor, and stabbed him to death. Shortly after, Secundus managed to gain control of the praetorian guard, and ordered the immediate opening of the city gates to let in Aulus and his four legions, the senate soon pleading their allegiance to Plautius, proclaiming him Caesar whilst he took the imperial name, Aemilius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus.

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