The future emperor Vespasian was born Titus Vespasinus Flavius in the year 9 AD. He was born in Falacrina to T Flavius Sabinus and Vespasia Polla. His father was a successful tax collector and banker and his family was of equestrian rank. Details of Vespasians first fifteen years are sketchy but it is known that Vespasians parents usually took long business trips and that he was educated by his paternal grandmother, Tertulla.
In 25 AD Vespasian assumed the Toga Vilaris and ws elevated to senatorial rank. Upon this elevation of power, Vespasian held a number of important positions. He was a tribune to Thrace as well he had a quastorship in Crete and he held the offices of aedile and praetor under Gaius. It was during his early years that Vespasian married a woman named Flavia Domitilla who bore him three children, a daughter and the future emperors Titus and Domitan.
Vespasian had enjoyed immense favor during the time of the emperor Claudius. It was Vespasian who was sent to command the legions during Claudius' invasion of Britain. Vespasian performed well in Britain and his legions successfully fought thirty battles, subdued two local tribes and conquered the island of Wight. Because of his great victories in Britain, Claudius granted him a triumph and gave him two priesthoods. By 51 AD Vespasian had been elevated to the rank of Consul where he then withdrew from public life.
Under Nero, Vespasian was made proconsul of Africa in 63 AD. After his term in Africa, Vespasian returned to Rome where he became a leading figure in the court of Nero and important enough that he accompanied the emperor on his famous tour of Greece. It was during this tour that Vespasian fell out of favor with Nero because he supposedly fell asleep during one of his performances. Shortly after ,in 67 AD, Vespasian was sent by Nero to quell the unrest in Judea.
During the year 68 AD numerous revolts by Galba and Vindex, the governor of Gallia Lugdunensis brought the reign of Nero down. These revolts resulted in the suicide of the emperor and the ascension of Galba as Caesar and started the period known as the four emperors. Vespasian swore his allegiance to each emperor but decided to revolt against Vitellius. After a short fight, the troops of Vespasian entered Rome on the morning of December 20, 79 AD and by the evening Vitellius was dead and Vespasian was the new emperor of Rome.
When he became emperor, Vespasian faced an empire that was totally ravaged due to the extravagant spending of Nero and Gaius and the civil war of that year. In Rome he restored the capitol which had burned in 69 AD as well as constructing a temple to the deified Claudius on the Caelian hill. He also encouraged rebuilding on vacant lots within the city and built a temple of peace to commemorate the end of the civil war. Vespasian also started construction on the Flavian Amphitheater or Coliseum which would be finished by his successor ,Titus, on the spot where part of the Golden House of Nero once stood.
Vespasian believed that these building projects and other improvements that were needed to stabilize the Roman economy would cost a great deal of money. To get these funds, Vespasian lowered the production of certain goods which would make them less common and more expensive (inflate the price) . He also increased the taxation on the provinces to make up for the lost funds (he even included a fee to use public toilets) .However, Vespasian did put these revenues to very good use and he made sure the tax income benefited the taxpayers. He was the first emperor to pay teachers of Latin and Greek Rhetoric. Vespasian also restored and improved many cities throughout the empire. Also, he encouraged theatrical productions and put on lavish state dinner parties to help the food trade. As well, he lived a relatively simple life with simple spending for the rest of the population to follow.
In matters of a more imperial nature, Vespasian restored the senatorial and equestrian orders with well qualified candidates from Italy and other provinces. Vespasian also re-established the discipline in the army and he punished many of Vitellius men. In other matters of the army, Vespasian increased the number of legions in the east and committed many campaigns of imperial expansion as he continued the conquest of Britain started by Claudius and annexed northern Britain and pacified Wales .
Vespasians reign is also remembered for the crushing of the Jewish revolt in Palestine. Prior to becoming emperor, Vespasian had served in Palestine. Trouble stirred up again in 70 AD when a major Jewish revolt occurred. Vespasian sent his son ,Titus, to crush the revolt and ,after a long siege, the Romans led by Titus crushed Jerusalem. When the Romans entered the city, the completely leveled it. People who were not killed and treasures which were not destroyed were sent to Rome to be part of Titus's grand triumph.
Vespasian died in the year 79 AD after a reign of ten years. In his reign, he succeeded in repairing the damage caused by Nero and the civil war and made Rome more stable than it had been in a long time. Upon his death ,he was immediately deified by the senate and the succession of his son Titus was smooth and undisputed.