History Coins
History Coins

Galba, Otho & Vitellius

The Civil Wars & The Flavian Dynasty

In 68AD Vindex, the governor of Gallia Lugdunensis, revolted against the unpopular Emperor Nero. Galba, in Spain, answered his call for support and rallied with troops. However, Vindex was defeated in May by the governor of Upper Germany, Rufus. Luckily for Galba, just a few weeks later Nero committed suicide and Galba was then formally accepted as Emperor by the Senate.

Galba was also seen as an unpopular leader, due to his ruthlessness and avarice, he seized the property of Roman citizens, disbanded the German legions, and did not pay the Praetorians and the soldiers who fought against Vindex.

Galba, Silver Denarius, Rome, Roma Standing, AD 68-69, RARE

Obverse: laureate head right, IMP SER GALBA CAESAR AVG P 



Reverse: ROMA RENASCES, Roma, helmeted, in military dress, standing left, holding Victory on globe in right hand and eagle-tipped sceptre in left

Grade: Fine+ RARE, toned; 17mm, 2.66g

Ref: RIC 1 229 or 230 (only one displayed on RIC)

Prov: Ex Spink -The Rymer & Trajan Collections Sale


£210 (P&P FREE to all locations) #247 


Galba, PAX Dupondius, July-August 68AD


Galba right/ Pax standing holding olive-branch and caduceus, S-C. 10.57g. Almost Very Fine.

£470 (P&P FREE to UK, other locations ask)

Otho, his supporter against Nero, had hoped to be named his successor but when Galba had other ideas, Otho wasted no time in organising a conspiracy against him through the Praetorian guard and had him assassinated.


He seized the throne in January 69 but the Rhine legions had already sided with Vitellius, not recognising either Galba or Otho previously, and the battle for the lead came to a head in April at the battle of Bedrianus. Otho was massively defeated and elected to commit suicide as a result.

Otho, Silver Denarius, Rome Mint, 69AD, Securitas #2

Obverse: Bare head of Otho facing right

Rev: Securitas standing facing holding wreath and sceptre.

3.12g, AVF for type, RARE


£700 (Available through the Hoard at their terms and conditions)  

Vitellius, Silver Denarius, Rome MInt, April-December 69AD #1

Obv: Laureate head , right

Rev: Tripod-lebes surmounted by dolphin, raven below


Ref: RIC 1 109, Fine, Scarce



£370 (P&P FREE to UK, other locations ask)

Vitellius was now undisputed ruler of the Empire and took his time returning to Rome for the title of Augustus to be bestowed, by arriving in July, this was a fatal error. The time was used productively by the legions to name Vespasian their preferred choice. In December, the again unpopular Vitellius was arrested in his palace and dragged through the streets to be mobbed. Vespasian had been quietly gathering support and with the help of his son, Titus, both militarily and personally, he took the throne.


Domitian was the last of the Flavian dynasty. He was born in AD 51, the son of Vespasian and the younger brother to Titus. He became emperor in 81 and ruled with an iron fist, he was particularly cruel to his enemies and he is known to have executed some 30 senators. This put him at odds with the Senate who considered him a tyrant, so much so that there were plots to assassinate him. One such plot succeeded and he was murdered in 96. The Senate were quick to try to obliterate him from history by 'condemning his memory to oblivion;' tearing down statues and architectural features that bore his name. So it is surprising that so many of his coins survive!

Domitian, AE As, Rome, Fides, AD 81-96, Excellent Reverse

Obverse: Laureate head, right, IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM COS XIIII CENS PER PP

Reverse: Fides standing, right, holding fruit basket and grain stalks, FIDEI PVBLICAE, S-C above grain

Grade: VF+ 

10.77g, 28mm

Ref: RIC 2 647



£190 (+P&P to UK, other locations please ask)

History Note: Towards the end of 79AD, Mount Vesuvius erupted destroying Pompeii and Herculaneum, there was also a plague during that year. 



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