The Tragic Stories Behind The Shortest Reigns In Royal History
Many scientists argue that it's a sense of self that sets humans apart from animals, and according to Aeon, that's pretty much all we know about our own consciousness. It's gone from the stuff of philosophy to science, and it's kind of a double-edged sword. Sure, being self-aware is pretty cool, but it's also what makes us very aware of all our mistakes, errors, and oopsies.
It's bad enough when we screw up on what's really a small scale: In a few months, no one's going to remember that time the kitchen almost got set on fire, or the coworker who got a glimpse of "that" photo.
But what happens when these everyday tragedies are written large and clear on a national — or even international — scale? Well, there are a whole bunch of royal heads of state who had very short reigns due to unfortunate circumstances and super-poor choices. Some of their stories are, in hindsight, epic, but look at it this way: If few remember their names, what does that mean for how quickly normal little mistakes are going to be forgotten?
So, let's talk short, tragic reigns.
Today in history
1 June 2021 (MIA)
– In ternational Children’s Day
193 – The Roman emperor Didius Julianus is assassinated.
1215 – Zhongdu (now Beijing), then under the control of the Jurchen ruler Emperor Xuanzong of Jin, is captured by the Mongols under Genghis Khan, ending the Battle of Zhongdu.
1252 – Alfonso X is elected King of Castile and León.
1298 – Residents of Riga and Grand Duchy of Lithuania defeated the Livonian Order in the Battle of Turaida.
1495 – A monk, John Cor, records the first known batch of Scotch whisky.
1533 – Anne Boleyn is crowned Queen of England.
1535 – Combined forces loyal to Charles V attack and expel the Ottomans from Tunis during the Conquest of Tunis.
1648 – The Roundheads defeat the Cavaliers at the Battle of Maidstone in the Second English Civil War.
1649 – Start of the Sumuroy Revolt: Filipinos in Northern Samar led by Agustin Sumuroy revolt against Spanish colonial authorities.
1660 – Mary Dyer is hanged for defying a law banning Quakers from the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
1670 – In Dover, England, Charles II of Great Britain and Louis XIV of France sign the Secret Treaty of Dover, which will force England in to the Third Anglo-Dutch War.
1679 – The Scottish Covenanters defeat John Graham of Claverhouse at the Battle of Drumclog.
1779 – Benedict Arnold, a general in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, is court-martialed for malfeasance.
1792 – Kentucky is admitted as the 15th state of the United States.
1794 – The battle of the Glorious First of June is fought, the first naval engagement between Britain and France during the French Revolutionary Wars.
1796 – Tennessee is admitted as the 16th state of the United States.
1812 – War of 1812: U.S. President James Madison asks the Congress to declare war on the United Kingdom.
1813 – James Lawrence, the mortally-wounded commander of the USS Chesapeake, gives his final order: “Don’t give up the ship!”
1815 – Napoleon promulgates a revised Constitution after it passes a plebiscite.
1831 – James Clark Ross becomes the first European at the Magnetic North Pole.
1855 – The American adventurer William Walker conquers Nicaragua.
1857 – Charles Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du mal is published.
1861 – American Civil War: Battle of Fairfax Court House: The first land battle of the American Civil War after the Battle of Fort Sumter, producing the first Confederate combat casualty.
1862 – American Civil War: Peninsula Campaign: The Battle of Seven Pines (or the Battle of Fair Oaks) ends in conclusively, with both sides claiming victory.
1868 – The Treaty of Bosque Redondo is signed, allowing the Navajos to return to their lands in Arizona and New Mexico.
1876 – Hristo Botev, a national revolutionary of Bulgaria, is killed in Stara Planina
1879 – Napoléon Eugène, the last dynastic Bonaparte, is killed in the Anglo-Zulu War.
1890 – The United States Census Bureau begins using Herman Hollerith’s tabulating machine to count census returns.
1910 – Robert Falcon Scott’s second South Pole expedition leaves Cardiff.
1913 – The Greek–Serbian Treaty of Alliance is signed, paving the way for the Second Balkan War.
1916 – Louis Brandeis becomes the first Jew appointed to the United States Supreme Court.
1918 – World War I: Western Front: Battle for Belleau Wood: Allied Forces under John J. Pershing and James Harbord engage Imperial German Forces under Wilhelm, German Crown Prince.
1921 – Tulsa race riot: Civil unrest in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
1922 – The Royal Ulster Constabulary is founded.
1929 – The 1st Conference of the Communist Parties of Latin America is held in Buenos Aires.
1939 – First flight of the German Focke-Wulf Fw 190 fighter-bomber airplane.
1941 – World War II: The Battle of Crete ends as Crete capitulates to Germany.
1941 – The Farhud, a pogrom of Iraqi Jews, takes place in Baghdad.
1943 – British Overseas Airways Corporation Flight 777 is shot down over the Bay of Biscay by German Junkers Ju 88s, killing the actor Leslie Howard and leading to speculation that its shooting down was an attempt to kill the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
1946 – Ion Antonescu, “Conducator” (leader) of Romania during World War II, is executed.
1958 – Charles de Gaulle comes out of retirement to lead France by decree for six months.
1960 – New Zealand’s first official television broadcast commences at 7.30 pm from Auckland.
1962 – Adolf Eichmann is hanged in Israel.
1962 – The Pilkington Committee on Broadcasting concludes, among other things, that the British public did not want commercial radio broadcasting.
1963 – Kenya gains in ternal self-rule (Madaraka Day).
1967 – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles is released.
1974 – Flixborough disaster: An explosion at a chemical plant kills 28 people.
1974 – The Heimlich maneuver for rescuing choking victims is published in the journal Emergency Medicine.
1978 – The first in ternational applications under the Patent Cooperation Treaty are filed.
1979 – The first black-led government of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in 90 years takes power.
1980 – Cable News Network (CNN) begins broadcasting.
1990 – George H. W. Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev sign a treaty to end chemical weapon production.
1993 – Dobrinja mortar attack: Thirteen are killed and 133 wounded when Serb mortar shells are fired at a soccer game in Dobrinja, west of Sarajevo.
1999 – American Airlines Flight 1420 slides and crashes while landing at Little Rock National Airport, killing 11 people on a flight from Dallas to Little Rock.
2001 – Nepalese royal massacre: Crown Prince Dipendra of Nepal shoots and kills several members of his family in cluding his father and mother, King Birendra of Nepal and Queen Aiswarya.
2001 – Dolphinarium massacre: A Hamas suicide bomber kills 21 at a disco in Tel Aviv.
2003 – The People’s Republic of China begins filling the reservoir behind the Three Gorges Dam.
2009 – Air France Flight 447 crashes in to the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Brazil on a flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris. All 228 passengers and crew are killed.
2009 – General Motors files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It is the fourth largest United States bankruptcy in history .
2011 – A rare tornado outbreak occurs in New England a strong EF3 tornado strikes Springfield, Massachusetts, during the event, killing four people.
2014 – A bombing at a football field in Mubi, Nigeria, kills at least 40 people.
2015 – A ship carrying 458 people capsizes on Yangtze River in China’s Hubei province, killing 400 people.
Didius Julianus was born on January 30, 133 CE. in Milan as Marcus Didius Salvius Iulianus. He was born in a wealthy equestrian family who got rich in trade. Julian did not follow in the footsteps of his ancestors and chose an official and military career. He was probably of Gallic origin (Romanized Gauls), his family was also related to the mother of Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Didius’ mother also included Salvius Julian, a famous lawyer from the times of Hadrian.
Didius grew up in the mother’s home of Marcus Aurelius. Later, thanks to the support of her and the emperor, he owed his first dignities, offices and place in the Senate. Gradually he was entrusted with more and more serious tasks. First, he was to exercise certain functions alongside the governors of Africa and Greece. He later commanded the XXII Legion of the Rhine and defeated the Khatt people. In the following years, he managed the province of Belgium, where he resisted the Chauk invasions. Thanks to these successes, he managed to conquer the consulate in 175 CE. (he held the consulate probably twice).
He also held the governorship in Dalmatia, where he defeated mountain tribes and in Lower Germania. During the reign of Emperor Commodus, he became the prefect of maintenance funds in Rome. It was then that he was accused by a fleet soldier of plotting against the emperor. However, Commodus, usually very suspicious and strict, treated Didius favourably and found him innocent, thus convicting the prosecutor. After these events, Didius settled for a short time in Milan, then to take over the governorship of Pontus and Bithynia in Asia Minor, and then Africa.
When analyzing cursus honorum by Didius Julianus, it should be emphasized that he was certainly an exemplary administrator and a good commander. He was accused, however, of excessive entrepreneurship in raising money, but also a tendency to waste it. The messages also say about Didius’s adoration for revellers and games.
At the end of 192 CE Emperor Commodus died, and in March 193 CE praetorians killed his successor – Pertynax. According to historian Cassius Dion, nearly 60-year-old Didius learned about it at the feast. The suggestive senator decided to reach for imperial purple himself. To this end, he went to the praetorian barracks, counting on their support in exchange for the promise of high pay. In the barracks, he outbid Praetorian Prefect Emilius Letus, who also wanted to buy power from his subordinates, offering each guard soldier 25,000 sesterces . On March 28, 193 CE an oath of loyalty was given to him, and he pledged to restore the demolished statues of Commodus. The Senate adopted a resolution and recognized Didius Julianus as the emperor by the will of the army, senate, and people. It should be emphasized, however, that the new emperor did not enjoy the support of the people and the senate. With time, legions in the provinces were also to oppose him.
On the outskirts of the empire, the brutal murder of the former ruler Pertynax and the arbitrariness of the praetorians when choosing a successor to the throne were widely criticized in particular. Legionaries who shed blood and sweat across the borders of Rome had enough of unpunished political games in the capital. At the turn of March and April, Emperors of Pannonia – Septimius Severus, Britain – and did a fight against Didius emperors – Clodius Albinus and Syria – Pescennius Niger. All three commanders were appointed by their soldiers. Septimius Severus, whose Danube legions were closest to Italy, was the most agile. Severus headed his legions to Rome along the way, many cities opened their gates to him, and the inhabitants cheered in his honour.
The hated Didius Julianus had many solutions. He declared Severus a public enemy, sent an assassin to kill his rival and used magic. He even ordered to kill Letus and Marcia, the perpetrators of the murder of Commodus, to please the praetorians. Finally, he gave the order to fortify the capital. The Praetorians, however, switched to Severus’ side when he promised that nothing bad would happen to them if they handed over Pertinax’s killers. Septimius Severus conquered Rome, and Didius Julianus was murdered by praetorians in the palace. Cassius Dion states that Didius said while dying: “ But what evil have I done “.
The Golden Lotto Ticket [ edit ]
It was whilst pondering in his expensive villa 'Golden Sacks' that Didius got to hear about the Praetorian Roma Lotto wheeze. One of his office slaves had picked up a ticket - so Didius dispossessed ( and disposed of) the trusting slave of the ticket as he literally owned the guy's 'ass'. Didius then made his way to the Praetorian Guards's gaudy camp where he was just in time as the soldiers were about to announce the imperial Lotto winner after they had 'disqualified' (i.e. killed) the previous occupant Pertinax.
Roll Up ! Roll Up!! Roman Empire is For Sale [ edit ]
To Didius's horror , the camp was full of Romans who owed him a lot of money . They were all holding their lotto tickets and clamouring to be the next Emperor. For Didius they just wouldn't do - so he made his audacious move:-
“Look here you Praetorian chaps. Why you wasting your time offering the imperial throne to any tramp and vagabond who comes in here when I will gladly loan you the money to let me be the next Emperor ?”
The Praetorians - who had once been the elite bodyguard of Emperor Augustus - had long ago declined into a rabble of thickies and so they thought that was a very good offer from Didius. So - without much more ado - they killed all the other Lotto ticket holders and declared Didius had the winning number and was therefore now the new 'legit' emperor.
About Didius Julianus, Roman Emperor
Marcus Severus Didius Julianus var romersk keiser fra 28. mars til 1. juli 193. Etter at pretorianergarden hadde drept keiser Pertinax fordi han hadde satt ned lønningene deres, bestemte de å selge keisertronen til høystbydende. Didius Julianus vant auksjonen som fulgte og ble på dette grunnlaget utropt til keiser av Romerriket. Dette var ikke særlig populært i resten av riket. Tre generaler utropte seg selv til keisere: Clodius Albinus i Britannia, Pescennius Niger i Syria og Septimius Severus i Pannonia. Severus var nærmest Roma av de tre og marsjerte straks mot Italia. Pretorianergarden så det som meningsløst å støtte en keiser opptatt med å barrikadere sitt eget palass og gikk over til Septimius Severus. Didius Julianus ble avsatt og henrettet
Didius Iulianus (Latin: Marcus Didius Severus Iulianus Augustus 30 January 133 or 2 February 137 – 1 June 193) was Roman emperor for nine weeks during the year 193.
Iulianus ascended the throne after buying it from the Praetorian Guard, who had assassinated his predecessor Pertinax. This led to the Roman Civil War of 193. Iulianus was ousted and sentenced to death by his successor, Septimius Severus. http://ancienthistory.about.com/od/emperors/a/imperialdates.htm
Rome was originally the capital of the Roman emperor. Later, it moved to Milan, and then Ravenna (A.D. 402-476). After the fall of Romulus Augustulus, in A.D. 476, Rome continued to have an emperor for almost another millennium, but that Roman emperor ruled from the East.
(31 or) 27 B.C. - 14 A.D. Augustus 14 - 37 Tiberius 37 - 41 Caligula 41 - 54 Claudius 54 - 68 Nero Year of the 4 Emperors
(ends with Vespasian) 68 - 69 Galba 69 Otho 69 Vitellius
69 - 79 Vespasian 79 - 81 Titus 81 - 96 Domitian 5 Good Emperors
96 - 98 Nerva 98 - 117 Trajan 117 - 138 Hadrian 138 - 161 Antoninus Pius 161 - 180 Marcus Aurelius (161 - 169 Lucius Verus)
(The next cluster of emperors is not part of a specific dynasty or other common grouping, but includes 4 from the year of the 5 emperors, 193.) 177/180 - 192 Commodus 193 Pertinax 193 Didius Julianus 193 - 194 Pescennius Niger 193 - 197 Clodius Albinus
193 - 211 Septimius Severus 198/212 - 217 Caracalla 217 - 218 Macrinus 218 - 222 Elagabalus 222 - 235 Severus Alexander (More emperors without a dynastic label, although it includes the year of the 6 emperors, 238.) For more on this age of chaos, read Brian Campbell's excellent synopsis in The Romans and Their World.
235 - 238 Maximinus 238 Gordian I and II 238 Balbinus and Pupienus 238 - 244 Gordian III 244 - 249 Philip the Arab 249 - 251 Decius 251 - 253 Gallus 253 - 260 Valerian 254 - 268 Gallienus 268 - 270 Claudius Gothicus 270 - 275 Aurelian 275 - 276 Tacitus 276 - 282 Probus 282 - 285 Carus Carinus Numerian
285-ca.310 Diocletian 295 L. Domitius Domitianus 297-298 Aurelius Achilleus 303 Eugenius 285-ca.310 Maximianus Herculius 285 Amandus 285 Aelianus Iulianus 286?-297? British Emperors 286/7-293 Carausius 293-296/7 Allectus
293-306 Constantius I Chlorus Dynasty of Constantine
293-311 Galerius 305-313 Maximinus Daia 305-307 Severus II 306-312 Maxentius 308-309 L. Domitius Alexander 308-324 Licinius 314? Valens 324 Martinianus 306-337 Constantinus I 333/334 Calocaerus 337-340 Constantinus II 337-350 Constans I 337-361 Constantius II 350-353 Magnentius 350 Nepotian 350 Vetranio 355 Silvanus 361-363 Julianus 363-364 Jovianus
(More emperors without a dynastic label) 364-375 Valentinianus I 375 Firmus 364-378 Valens 365-366 Procopius 366 Marcellus 367-383 Gratian 375-392 Valentinianus II 378-395 Theodosius I 383-388 Magnus Maximus 384-388 Flavius Victor 392-394 Eugenius
[See: Table of Eastern and Western Emperors]
395-423 Honorius [Division of the Empire - Honorius' brother Arcadius ruled the East 395-408] 407-411 Constantine III usurper 421 Constantius III 423-425 Johannes 425-455 Valentinian III 455 Petronius Maximus 455-456 Avitus 457-461 Majorian 461-465 Libius Severus 467-472 Anthemius 468 Arvandus 470 Romanus 472 Olybrius 473-474 Glycerius 474-475 Julius Nepos 475-476 Romulus Augustulus
Table of Eastern and Western Emperors
Print Resources Chris Scarre: Chronicle of the Roman Emperors Adkins and Adkins: Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome
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Roman Battles Here's Why These Are the Most Important People in Ancient History How Taxes Led to the Fall of Rome Dates of the Roman Emperors A Timeline of the 5 Eras of Ancient Roman History Age at Accession of the Roman Emperors Our Expert Recommends
Fall of Commodus Edit
Commodus' sanity began to unravel when a close advocate, Cleander, was assassinated, which put Commodus in fear for his life. [ disputed – discuss ] This triggered a series of summary executions of members of the aristocracy. He began removing himself from his identity as ruler ideologically by resuming his birth name instead of keeping the names that his father gave him when he succeeded to imperial rule. His behavior decayed further as he became more paranoid. He carried out a particularly large massacre in Rome during New Year's Eve 192 AD, so that he could become the sole consul. Three nobles, Eclectus, Marcia, and Laetus, fearing that they would be targeted, had Commodus strangled before he could do so. The assassins then named Pertinax the new Caesar. 
The identity of the person who planned the murder of Commodus is still a debated topic. Some sources name Pertinax as the mastermind of the assassination because he obtained imperial rule once Commodus was killed. However, the accusations against Pertinax appear to have come from his enemies, an effort to damage his reputation in reality, these accusers appear not to have known who masterminded the assassination. 
Pertinax gained his political clout by moving his way up the military ranks. He was proconsul of Africa, making him the first of several emperors who began their political roles in Africa.  Since most of the nobles had been murdered in the New Year's Eve massacre, Pertinax was one of the few high-ranking officials left to become the new emperor. Pertinax faced early difficulties due to the empire's crumbling financial situation, and the accusations that he was complicit in the assassination of Commodus. He may also have been accused of the murder of Cleander, Commodus' advocate, whose murder had triggered Commodus' paranoia.
Pertinax was a great contrast to Commodus. He was disciplined, but lost the favor of the Praetorian Guard when he refused to pay their donativum and began revoking privileges given to them by Commodus. When confronted by the Praetorian Guard he was unable to negotiate a peace, and was subsequently killed by the Guard.
Following the death of Pertinax, the Praetorian Guard proceeded to auction off the Purple to the highest bidder.
Didius Julianus Edit
Didius Julianus gained power as proconsul of Africa, succeeding Pertinax in that position. Julianus was not just given the position of emperor after Pertinax's death. He had competition in Pertinax's father-in-law, Sulpicianus. The only way that Julianus gained the throne was by outbidding Sulpicianus for the amount he would pay the troops, thus gaining the favour of the Praetorian Guard. Julianus was originally accused of being Pertinax's murderer. Two public figures used the public's fear to take advantage of this crisis: Pescennius Niger, the governor of Syria, and Septimius Severus. Twelve days after Pertinax's murder, Severus declared himself emperor in place of Julianus. The mobs, who regarded Julianus unfavorably, called on Pescennius Niger for assistance. However, Severus, in Pannonia, was closest to Rome, and reached the capital first with his troops. Julianus was executed on June 1 on the orders of Severus, just two months after Pertinax was killed. 
Pescennius Niger Edit
Niger began 193 as the governor of Syria. Once the mobs started calling for his help, he became a rival to Severus, since Severus believed that he should have total power and loyalty from the people of the empire. Niger ended up proclaiming himself emperor, which further angered Severus.  Niger had allies in the eastern part of the empire, so when Severus threatened him with troops, he gathered an army from his allies and fought Severus throughout the empire for two years. He eventually lost the civil war to Severus near the city of Issus. 
Clodius Albinus Edit
Albinus came into contention for the imperial office in 193, when he was asked to become emperor after the death of Commodus, but rejected the proposition. However, he did eventually gain the title of Caesar because Severus needed assistance in controlling the empire while he was fighting Niger, so that he could completely focus on the civil war. Severus and Albinus were considered enemies at the time, but a treaty was signed between the two, which gave Albinus more power and the title of Caesar. Some sources say that this treaty was only honorary and only benefited Severus, who only won because of Albinus' support, while not actually giving away any of his power as emperor.  Albinus controlled Britain, and this treaty would have given him power over Gaul and Spain. Most sources do not mention a formal treaty, but they do say that a more informal agreement existed between the two men, so that Severus could concentrate on Niger. Albinus continued in this role as "Caesar" for three more years before a civil war broke out between Severus and him, resulting in Severus becoming the sole emperor. 
Europe 193: Year of Five Emperors
Commodus’ successor Pertinax reigned for only three months before being assassinated by the Praetorian Guard, who objected to his curtailing of their authority. The Guard sold the position of Emperor to Didius Julianus, but his rule was quickly challenged by Pescennius Niger in Syria, Septimius Severus in Pannonia, and Clodius Albinus in Britain.
1 Jan–28 Mar 193 Principate of Pertinax▲
Following the death of Commodus, the respected governor and general Pertinax was proclaimed emperor in the Praetorian Camp on 1 January 193. Pertinax quickly moved to roll back Commodus’ excesses and push through reforms, invoking the ire of the corrupt Praetorians. On 28 March two hundred soldiers of the Praetorian Guard swarmed his palace, cutting down Pertinax when he came out to reason with them. in wikipedia
28 Mar–1 Jun 193 Principate of Didius Julianus▲
On 28 March 193—the same day they assassinated Pertinax—the Praetorian Guard announced that the position of Emperor would be sold to the highest bidder. After several hours of bidding, Didius Julianus, former proconsul of Africa, won the title by offering 25,000 sesterces to each Praetorian. This corrupt path of accession provoked popular outrage in Rome and civil war in the Empire. Unable to stop Septimius Severus’ invasion of Italy, Julianus was denounced by the Senate and killed by a soldier in his palace on 1 June. in wikipedia
9–19 Apr 193 Pescennius Niger▲
Soon after Didius Julianus became Emperor, a short-lived popular uprising broke out in Rome, with the mob seizing control of the Circus Maximus and calling for Pescennius Niger and the Syrian legions to take the throne. Emboldened, Niger proclaimed himself Emperor in April 193, receiving the support of the eastern provinces, and accepting embassies from Parthia and other countries across the continent of Asia. However, rather than marching on Rome immediately, he remained in Antioch and did not even order Egypt to cut the Roman grain supply. in wikipedia
11 Apr 193 Septimius Severus▲
Following the accession of Didius Julianus as Emperor and receiving news of Pescennius Niger’s counter-claim, Septimius Severus, governor of both the Pannonian provinces, announced his desire to avenge the death of the emperor Pertinax. Rallying both the Danube legions and the Roman clients in Germania to his cause, Severus was proclaimed Emperor in Carnuntum in April 193. in wikipedia
193 Clodius Albinus▲
At the time of the assassination of Commodus (December 192), Clodius Albinus was governor of Britain. As the Roman Empire descended into civil war in spring 193, the three legions in Britain backed Albinus rather than supporting any of the contenders on the continent. Nonetheless, Albinus, perhaps cautious due to his much smaller army, did not proclaim himself Emperor until 196. in wikipedia
Reconstruction of image of Didius Julianus
Reconstruction of the image of Didius Julianus, the emperor who ruled Rome for three months in 193 CE at the age of 60.
At the end of 192 CE, Emperor Commodus died, and in March 193 CE the praetorians killed his successor – Pertinax. According to historian Cassius Dio, nearly 60-year-old Didius learned about it at a feast. The drunken senator decided to reach for the imperial purple himself. To this end, he went to the praetorian barracks, counting on their support in exchange for a promise of high pay. In the barracks he outbid the praetorian prefect Emilius Letus, who also wanted to buy power from his subordinates, offering each soldier 25,000 sesterces .
Eventually, Julianus was so hated that he was murdered by the praetorians in the palace, and Rome was captured by Septimius Severus.
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