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Augustus  AD 96 - 98 (18 September AD 96 - 25 January 98)

Marcus Cocceius Nerva.
Adoptive father of Trajan.

Marcus Cocceius Nerva was a respected lawyer and an early fried of Nero, who admired his poetry. After Nero's death, he went on to make a public career, served as consul, probably with something bigger in mind. He shared the consulship with Domitian when the latter was assassinated and might have been implicated in the murder for the next morning saw Nerva at the helm of the empire. To quell the dissatisfaction of the soldiers who resented the loss of Domitian, he adopted a policy of generous reforms, annulling taxes, building grain reserves, repairing aqueducts, courting the army with cash distributions (for which special coins were struck) and distributing land-grants. But discontent in the ranks remained and with it disrespect for the emperor. When the praetorians requested that their two former prefects, responsible for Domitian's murder be handed over and broke into the palace to seize them and Nerva attempted to block their way, he was forcibly brushed aside and the men captured and put to death. Nerva himself then had to thank the praetorians publicly for their vigilante action. Aged, disappointed, and too tired to keep on fighting for building a name for himself Nerva selected, in September 97, the governor of Upper Germany, Marcus Ulpius Trajanus, as his successor. Four months later, in January 98, he passed away, having failed to stand up to the army, but putting in practice a new policy of imperial succession that was to bear a steady fruit for the next century.

Mints: Rome

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