Saturday, November 2, 2013

My other blogs are:
My History Site Outline (with Links and Bibliography)
SECTION 1: Medieval Europe
SECTION 2: Imperial Rome
SECTION 3: The Beginnings of the Roman Empire
SECTION 4: Ancient Greek and Persians
SECTION 5: Ancient Hittites and Egyptians
(my sources so far...without specifics to prevent plagiarism
I read a lot and most of these are from
my college classes and studies, so most of the books
were picked by my professors)
Early to Late Mycenaean and Minoans, and the Near East neighbors the Mycenaean's pissed off regularly (Syrian Coasts//mostly just Bedouin), and Classical Greeks for later articles prior to Roman expansion ~300's B.C.
  • The Mycenaean World, Chadwick, John
  • The Decipherment of Linear B (Canto), Chadwick, John
  • The End of the Bronze Age, Drews, Robert
  • The Coming of the Greeks, Drews, Robert
  • Ancient Greece: From Prehistoric to Hellenistic Times (Yale Nota Bene), Martin, Thomas R.
  • The Oxford Handbook of the Bronze Age Aegean, Cline, Eric H.
Proto- to Ancient Egyptians, Sumarians//Akkadians//Bedouin, Hurrians, Hittites, and some tid-bits of early Rome and a struggling Greece
  • The Ancient Near East, Volume I: An Anthology of Texts and Pictures, Pritchard, James B.
  • The Ancient Near East, Volume II: A New Anthology of Texts and Pictures, Pritchard, James B.
  • The British Museum Concise Introduction to Ancient Egypt, James, T.G.H.
  • A History of the Ancient Near East ca. 3000 - 323 BC [Blackwell History of the Ancient World Ser.], Van de Mieroop, Marc
  • A History of the Ancient Near East: ca. 3000-323 BC (Blackwell History of the Ancient World), Van de Mieroop, Marc
  • A History of Ancient Egypt (Blackwell History of the Ancient World), Van de Mieroop, Marc
  • The Penguin Historical Atlas of Ancient Rome, Scarre, Chris
Lots of Romans from Mid to End of Roman Empire (over 1000 years!), the Byzantine Empire, and the All the Fun-loving Near Eastern Cultures!
  • Introduction to Medieval Europe, 300-1550: Age of Discretion, Bockmans, Wim and Hoppenbrouwers, Peter
  • I lost my second book that I've obtained Medieval Europe sources from for the same time period of A.D. 300 to 1550. It focused on letters between Christian leaders and politicians, the development of the Catholic Church among the barbarians, and the terrible power struggles between the Popes and Kings/Emperors throughout the ever-changing Western societies and the Byzantine Empire.
Recommended Books I've Also Read
(and liked in small doses but shed cultural lights)
  • The Epic of Gilgamesh (Penguin Classics), George, Andrew
  • The Poems of Hesiod, Frazer, R.M.
SCROLL THROUGH THE COMPLETED ARTICLES ON THE RIGHT SIDE TOO!>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Medieval Europe Part 3: Of Kings and Killers Pt. 3-- Ignition of the First Crusade

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Christians torturing Muslims and Jews by slicing open their stomachs while hanging
upside down alive
Sons of Duke Eustace II of Boulogne and Ida of Lorraine, key leaders in the First Crusade
Eustace III, Count of Boulogne
Baldwin I, 1st King of Jerusalem
Godfrey III of Boulogne, Duke of
Upper and Lower Lorraine

Of Kings and Killers Pt. 3
Ignition of the First Crusade
Medieval Europe Part 3
NEXT YEAR IN JERUSALEM!!: 3,000 Christian pilgrims were massacred in the Holy City of Jerusalem while they tried to make the long journey to the city of their messiah Jesus Christ. This was a common tradition for Catholics, and the massacre would ensure racial and religious hatred for centuries thereafter. But it hardly ended there, for the beginning of this righteous crusade was officially ignited by one of the most famous speeches ever made in A.D. 1095 by Pope Urban II (middle picture) urging virtually all of Europe and its citizens to mobilize against the Muslim Turks (Seljuk forces of Kilij Arslan) at the request of Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos, since the empire itself was in serious trouble of invasion by the Muslims. Thus began one of the darkest pages in human history. In response to this massacre of their fellow Christians and due to the energizing speech by their Pope, Christian peasants and knights from all over Europe mobilized at the call of the distant emperor in the East.
RIGHTEOUS MARCH: Over 20,000 peasants began marching under Walter Sans Avoir, Fulcher of Chartres, and Peter the Hermit, slaughtering every Jew and Muslim in Europe along with a large army under Pope Urban II. The peasant half of the army was separated from all of the knights, and although they were untrained they were quite zealous. Yet as they wound their way closer and closer to Jerusalem the peasant army was too untrained to last against the Seljuk forces. Being tricked and ambushed by Turkish spies who infiltrated the Christian camps, they were practically massacred after they were taken by surpirse by a storm of arrows from above. Quickly being routed back, they were forced to flee from the seasoned warriors who stood against them. Some of the people escaped, being rescued by the Byzantine Empire's ships. But it was far from over, as this loss led to the Siege of Jerusalem in A.D. 1099 under the Pope as the other half of the army wound its way toward its bloody destination.
Just prior to the First Crusade, tensions between Muslims and Jews in their homelands in the East were escalating greatly as the Western Catholic populations continually made pilgrimages to the Holy City of Jerusalem in honor of Christ Jesus. Yet due to the Christian's perspective that the Jews were guilty of murdering their messiah, Jesus, an outright ban on the pilgrimage soon followed as both sides racial and religious hatred escalated, and thus the Jews prevented all Christians from completing their long journey to the city. From this culmination of murder and spitefulness, the First Crusade ignited like a ball of fire. Religious leaders all over the Western kingdoms in Europe spoke out against the Jews in fiery hatred and demanded the slaughter of the Jews and Muslims all over the world for killing Jesus long ago, the recent massacring of the Christians in Jerusalem, and the blockade preventing pilgrimages. It quickly became a holy war, where not being Christian in general became reason enough to slaughter the masses. By A.D. 1099, the Jews and Muslims could have sneezed and been worthy of execution by the Christians.
BEGINNING OF THE END: Finally arriving to the Holy City of Jerusalem, the army of skilled knights led by the brothers of Boulogne (pictures above) slaughtered the people in Jerusalem. And while the stories are controversial as to whether or not the people in Jerusalem were just annihilated, sources pretty much confirm that the battle was very quick and bloody, as the men were all filled with years of boiling hatred. The First Crusade had just begun and the rest of the crusades were highly successful, and European Catholics established absolute Christian rule over the inhabitants in the East for the first time in over 400 years.
Everyone had a hand to play in this war, contrary to the many opinions which attempt to stain one side as worse than another. The Jews asked for a war when they slaughtered the 3,000 Christian pilgrims, and the Muslim Turks were begging for an ass-kicking when they kept trying to invade the Byzantine Empire. Meanwhile, the Christians stained their hands with the blood of innocents during their genocidal revenge rampage. Going to war is never acceptable, but it's sometimes necessary since not everyone wants to play nicey-nice, yet I feel sad for the Christians of this time period because in their hatred they slaughtered innocent women and children, all-the-while pillaging and burning as they went along the entire European continent murdering, and spilled their violence over into the next continent in the East. I'm fairly certain that "eye for an eye" usually leaves everyone blind, and this was no exception. While it is sad how this war turned out, heaven forbid if either of the cultures had stopped butchering each other long enough to realize that their hate simply fueled more death and hatred perpetually, but I guess that's just how hate and racism goes-- it endlessly fuels itself. Revenge is never ok since humans can never be satisfied afterward.
For shame!!! For shame!!!

Medieval Europe Part 2: Of Kings and Killers Pt. 2-- Here Come the Norsemen!

My other blogs are:

Of Kings and Killers Pt. 2
Here Come the Norsemen!
Medieval Europe Part 2
WHO ARE THE NORSEMEN? : VIKINGS! Virtually everyone knows about the Vikings in some way or another (hairy, violent barbarians), but how many people realize that they only existed for a short people of time? Quite literally only centuries were they around as actual Norsemen, but after having traveled so much and for so far, many of them settled in areas of Europe and in the Picts whether the people there liked them or not. Who was going to tell them to leave anyway? (No one, that's who!) The Norsemen, which simply means "Men from the north," or "northmen" was simply a terms used to describe the ambiguous albeit general origins of the people groups using the old Norse language and lifestyle. Few cultures lived in such a manner as these men from the north, and few people could have existed for only a few short centuries yet stay as widely known as them! But why?
PERSONALITY OF THE VIKINGS: The Norsemen were brutal, violent, and sturdy men of the coldest areas of northern Europe like Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, Finland, parts of Scandinavia, and other places as well. They knew the cold well, and because of the climate and harsh living conditions they endured every day, they naturally became hardy people. They were as Pagan as any human could be, living and dying in the names of various battle gods, so to speak. Their violence is hardly stylized either by today's media, in fact the media we see about them hardly captures the true essence of their warrior nature. I would probably sum them up by saying that they were as violent as men could be without being considered madmen or insane, however, their beliefs were rather unique and few people groups could boast a religion and culture as unique and rich as the Vikings. Their beliefs in the old war gods like Odin and Thor did not help them to fit into European society since they emulated their gods. Children learned to kill at very young ages, the men drank more alcohol than fish drink water (haha, fish don't drink water), and how could any pagan culture be complete without its people screwing like mice? Battle, booze, and sex was the way of the Vikings, but they became most famous simply for being relentless raiders during a critical flux of power from the east to the west. No historian could have ever anticipated Europe taking the power reigns of the world, and in fact a common sentiment by historians is that it was far more likely for quite literally any culture in the east to conquer the world, but no, it was Europe!
And it should be considered an act of providence that they all decided to start raiding Europe when they did because Charlemagne was just crowned emperor of the West in A.D. 800 and would have probably attempted to make a dash for the east if the Vikings did not invade. Suffice it to say that these men from the north gave Charlemagne and his successors more than they could handle, and inadvertently slowed the mighty empire from its fast expansion across the rest of Europe. The problem was that they simply lived as they wanted to and not even Charlemagne and his mighty cavalry could stop them. They were surprisingly fast in their long ships and extremely deadly with their gigantic swords and axes. These men were huge to boot! Most people probably know too that the Norsemen in general were of large stock, hairy, and wild natured. They lived like wild men in forests but were far from stupid...very far, actually, although they lived very modest, simple lives (you know- kill, drink, screw).

A PERSPECTIVE ON THE TIME FRAME: It was around the A.D. 750s that the Norsemen began leaving their homes for some wild raiding, but the terror didn't truly begin in its fullest until slightly before A.D. 800, but the Viking terrorism lasted until early 11th Century A.D. The reason why the dates are somewhat unspecific is simply because they did not all leave at once and neither were they one cultural identity, but rather were a vast collection of clans living in proximity to each other and shared similar customs and gods, but were far from a single identity. Most of the clans even battled other clans over disputes, leadership, and territory. Furthermore, the sightings and records of Norsemen raids began quite slowly and didn't pick up the pace until A.D. 800 approached. By early 9th Century, coastal raids and towns being burnt to the ground were commonplace and even expected by both the military and commoners, and A.D. 1000 marked a slowdown in the raiding. Instead of raids though, historical records showed internal conflict rising dramatically between the Europeans of the area and the Vikings, as more and more of these barbaric clans simply plopping their butts down and settling where ever it suited them and whether anyone liked it or not! There were plenty of records describing burly, hairy pagans settling into areas all over Europe, often stirring up trouble. In general they were criticized and ridiculed as "uncivilized pagans," but regardless of what was said, they certainly made their presence known when they settled.
Ironically, the Vikings came at a very good time, because Charlemagne was probably one of the most evil men to ever walk the earth, and his crowning as emperor and undisputed ruler of the west fell into the "Oh snap!" category of life problems. Thankfully though, the Norsemen generally caused a wild ruckus where ever they wen. These clans of the north made Charlemagne's military seem virtually useless since it was land based, meanwhile the Vikings used their long ships to pillage and raid in quick attacks-- nothing like raiding monasteries, villages, and some good ol' wholesale slaughter women and children! This historical conflict is somewhat similar to the war between Athens and Sparta in the Great Peloponnesian War, which could be described as "The Elephant vs. The Whale," where both titanic beasts are kings in their natural elements, yet weak anywhere else. A Viking was simply unstoppable because of their long ships, and the cavalry of Charlemagne's military was unsurpassed on land. However, because the military was on the defensive, they had to try to stop the Norsemen anyway, which led to some humiliating defeats as the army desperately attempted to keep up with the invading men from the north every time they landed on the shore. But the price for losing in battle against these crazed warriors was worse than simply losing, since every time the military lost a battle the Vikings stole the weapons and armor used by Charlemagne's army, and with the impressive smithing skills of these men from the north, all the armor and weapons were replicated and outfitted on the Vikings! Insult to injury is a good phrase to use in this instance, and for at least 200 years were an unstoppable force that simply became more impressive as time went on, and where every loss by Charlemagne and his successors simply strengthened these implacable invaders.

Viking long ships consisted of dozens of rowers and plenty of men to get off to raid and hop back in! Up in the north, the need to row was primary over sails since the northern winds tended to be unpredictable and the rivers would twist and wind dangerously. They had small hulls for shallow riverbeds and one sail for when the winds were just right.
CONSIGNMENT TO THE INEVITABLE: Unable to deal with these scattered seafaring clans of men from the north, Charlemagne dispersed his armies all over Europe and allowed for the creation of fiefdoms- basically miniature kingdoms, and allowed his men to be hired out as mercenaries to protect Europe in bands against them. This worked out fairly well for a desperate solution, but it took its toll on the new empire as it eventually began stretching so thin that the fiefdoms themselves had the chance to become surprisingly powerful, some even growing so large that they became the center of later medieval European cities. Much of these medieval structures have all but disintegrated, but there are a few of the very largest ones left, such as Germany's Heidelberger Schloss, but are still more or less ancient ruins virtually beyond repair.

In the end, the wild men from the north all spread across Europe and modern U.K. regions like Ireland, England and Scotland, most of whom were nomadic hunter/warrior clans that settled in certain areas. The Danes are a prime example of how the Vikings eventually came to settle all across the medieval countryside, since they themselves settled in Eastern England around A.D. 865, but only after nearly 60 years of raiding the local monasteries near places like York all the way up to what could be considered Scotland just prior to the people becoming the Scottish folk we know them as today. The Danes pretty much just plopped down in a large area between the English and the Scots, stirred up a wild ruckus of fighting and conflict with their Pagan barbarity, but eventually became integrated into the kingdom when the king promised land to them so long as they were Christianized and stop fighting all the locals.
CONCLUSION: That's pretty much how all the Norsemen settled and became integrated into their new homes across the west over the course of 200+ years of what could probably be described as terrorism. Some settled sooner than others while some went back to the north, but they all caused the veritable stretching and dissolution of the empire as it had once been, so the Norsemen who did settle outside of their homes were able to do so without the military coming after them on their own revenge spree. 200 years is a long time to wear out a local army, and by the time they were bored of pillaging and slaughtering, everyone around them were simply thankful it was over and let bygones be bygones.
I hope you liked this brief essay on the legendary Vikings! Turns out there's a lot more to them than simple drunkards and brutes! They were seafaring drunkards and brutes!

Medieval Europe Part 1: Of Kings and Killers Pt. 1-- Rise of Charlemagne and Fiefdoms

My other blogs are:

Of Kings and Killers Pt. 1
Rise of Charlemagne
Medieval Europe Part 1

RISE TO POWER: Born in A.D. 742 as Charles the Great, and known also as Carolus Magnus, Charlemagne was an infamous king best known for being one of the first emperors of Western Europe, for subduing the Saxons and Bavarians (that is, massacring thousands of them), and even for pushing his empire all the way to Spain which not even the Romans could do. He was an impressive king and an even more impressive emperor, but life was not easy for him and his empire. However, it all seemed to start fairly well for him, as he was set up as King of the Lombard's in A.D. 764 in Italy, sharing the kingdom with his brother Carolus. It was around his early years that Charlemagne was sent out to deal with the Saxons and Bavarians, and he conquered them in what was coined "The Saxon Wars," from A.D. 762 to 764. Charlemagne solidified his future as king and emperor from these wars with brilliant tactics and strategy, and when his father died in A.D. 768, Charlemagne took control over the Frankish Kingdom, thereby dramatically increasing his power and the area over which he reigned. Ironically, his brother would mysteriously die only 3 years later in A.D. 771.
Emperor Charlemagne and his Army Fighting
the Saracens in Spain A.D. 778
from The Story of Ogier

Seeing how the Romans were never capable of truly conquering Western Europe's Germanic groups, they had instead opted for a "can't beat 'em, join 'em" philosophy, allowing the Germans and Celts to simply join Rome with some impressive rewards such as great pay and citizenship with benefits. However, Charlemagne was actually able to conquer just about everyone around him with brutality, and adopting his dearly deceased father's policy of Christianization of Pagan cultures, he also forcibly Christianized everyone he conquered.
Charlemagne was great at killing too. It was pretty much all he did, and he had the most impressive cavalry army outfitted with chainmail, which was invented for him and his rampages. As seen throughout history, humans learn how to kill and destroy in better and more efficient ways but still have learned so little about creating, fixing or saving life. Charlemagne is the pinnacle of this lesson humanity has not learned yet, since he was one of the first conquerors who spread a religion focused around saving life ironically during his murderous campaigns, even inventing new ways to slaughter while on horseback and better armor for his soldiers, called chainmaille.
REIGN OF BLOOD: Charlemagne's reign was one of blood and oppression, since many of these cultural groups often rebelled or put up a stiff "fight to the death" resistance. It's sad because Charlemagne also forced those cultures that he conquered to become Christian or face some stiff penalties, including execution. The problem with this is that forcing Christianity is not possible, since the human heart cannot be forced into anything. A person cannot kill an idea or philosophy, and more often than not, killing people for such philosophies only creates martyrs and victimizes the group, making the survivors bitter and more resistant. With such stiff governmental and religious oppression, Charlemagne was forced to deal with rebellions all over the empire after his brother and father died, but nevertheless, Charlemagne ascended to the throne as undisputed emperor and reigned in blood and war. Charlemagne was a conqueror and little else. If you browse around other blogs and history sites it'll become clear that many people have "most evil men" lists for historical people that are renowned for truly evil reigns of power. Obviously, Charlemagne is near the top of these lists on the majority of them since he was no different than Hitler or other awful power mongers, with the exception that he did not persecute a single culture or religion, he persecuted and slaughtered everyone.
Pope Leo III
CROWNING AS EVIL EMPEROR: In an ironic twist, around A.D. 800 Charlemagne would be crowned as emperor by Pope Leo III, however he desperately attempted to crown himself. The reason for this is that the person who invests someone with power is someone more powerful than the person being crowned. This means that if Charlemagne were crowned by the Pope, that the Pope would be more powerful that himself! By allowing Pope Leo III to crown him, he inexorably gave Pope Leo III more power than Charlemagne had. This is ironic because it was from Charlemagne that the papacy ever gained so much power to begin with due to his "conquer and Christianize" campaigns. As Charlemagne conquered new areas he set up new churches and expanded the power and scope of the papacy. Charlemagne himself gave the popes their rise to power through his bloody rampage across Europe, and he resented them bitterly for his own ignorance. And yet, in another ironic twist, after Charlemagne's death in A.D. 814, his awful legacy of conquering and Christianizing would be taken up by the church itself, and Charlemagne's oppressive tactics would pave the way to the tragic Crusades and wholesale slaughter of innocent peoples.
RISE OF THE NORSEMEN AND BIRTH OF FIEFDOMS: What a sad era in human history, where even the church itself whose job was to spread the gospels and salvation would actually become an oppressive and murderous power mongering regime of intolerance and death. This shift in power from emperor to Pope led to countless power struggles between popes and other popes, between popes and emperors, and led to complete civil unrest, civil wars, rebellions, and tainting the name of Christ.
I don't care what anyone says-- the Vikings did
not wear winged or horned helms in battle!
The only purpose a helm like that would
serve is as a handhold for an enemy
to slit your throat (yes, not good!)
And yet, for all the combined power of the pope and Charlemagne himself, no one could stop the rise of the men of the north! It was because of the quick pillage and flee tactics of the Norsemen that Charlemagne realized he could never mobilize his army fast enough to capture or even prevent the attacks of the Norsemen dotting the coasts as they sailed from harbor to harbor burning, pillaging, and slaughtering. For centuries this went on until the birth of the city came to be and some mild relaxation came to Europe. Until then though, fiefdoms arose all over Europe. A fiefdom was a miniature kingdom usually run by a rich land owner with enough money for a tiny army of either trained mercenaries or were hired out by Charlemagne's own military men. These fiefdoms were like highly clustered villages, and rather than having a castle with a king, there was a mansion with a powerful landowner who rented out his land to other commoners. Everything was like a kingdom, except smaller. And just like a kingdom, the way a fiefdom worked was essentially the same. In exchange for being allowed to live on the land, the common people basically gave taxes to the land owner and maintained his land, and the people got protection from the Norsemen.
FIEFDOMS BECOME KINGDOMS: These fiefdoms stripped Charlemagne and his future empire of tremendous amounts of power as some fiefdoms became so large and powerful that they become actual kingdoms. The advantage of a fiefdom was that if the Norsemen or anyone else attempted to attack an area, the military would be right there in the area already and could repel attacks immediately. The fiefdoms that failed to protect the area simply died to a man or the common folk would just leave to another, more powerful fiefdom. This allowed other nearby fiefdoms to rise in even more power as other fiefdoms rose and fell. These fiefdoms caused a dramatic shift in power from the empire and papacy to common folk, essentially stripping the power of the empire to such a degree that some larger fiefdoms became completely autonomous of the empire.

Imperial Rome Part 3: 3rd Emperor Caligula- The Man Who Lost His Mind

My other blogs are:

3rd Emperor Caligula
The Man Who Lost His Mind
Imperial Rome Part 3
GENERAL BACKGROUND: Gaius (Caligula) Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus... Yes, later in his life that whole thing became his name. Romans liked long names and fancy titles attached to them. His original name was Gaius Germanicus, and in the fashion of all Roman dictators, he just had to add the Julius Caesar Augustus to nail down the head. Being born in the Julio-Claudian dynasty (Nero's family!), it is understandable that he went insane. After all, wouldn't you feel like you had ants in your pants if one of your relatives celebrated at parties by hanging Christians by their feet on fire for candlelight? That whole family just had issues, and Octavian was the first fruit loop, although he never really went insane.
BIRTH AND ADOPTION: Born in A.D. 12, Gaius Germanicus, nicknamed Caligula in his youth, was the adopted son of his "father" Tiberius, the Augustus of the Roman Empire after Octavian died because Tiberius' real son Julius Caesar Drusus was generally not favored by him. Generally speaking, Augustus Tiberius seemed to do well with the Roman public and the senate, but like all Roman emperors, didn't always get along with the stodgy senate of old men and stiff rules. The senate never seemed to be anything more than a noose around all the emperors' throats throughout Roman history, even going so far as to assassinate emperors they didn't like or had conflicts with (Julius Caesar being the prime example). This made it important not to aggravate them too much, because although they were old and stodgy politicians, they knew how to deal with sassy emperors!
TIBERIUS AND CALIGULA-- B.F.F. !!! : Playing it safe for the early years, Tiberius (the new Roman Princeps) kept the senate fat and happy, however, Caligula used this time to show his own abilities while his adoptive father reigned. A great example of Caligula's youthful zeal and ability was when there was an uprising in the soldiers in Germania and Pannonia. When the soldiers' bonuses did not come in as promised, they all mutinied. Germanicus and Drusus were sent to quell the little rebellion by force, however, little Caligula had a better idea, and instead rallied the legions that rebelled, promising all riches from the Rhine all the way to the Elba if they stamped out the Germans there. And they did! Parts of Germania became occupied just before A.D. 17 and Caligula was celebrated for his obvious abilities and good leadership, and in A.D. 18 he was granted power over the eastern parts of the Roman Empire.
Tiberius on his deathbed about to be smothered by his new best friend Naevius
Tiberius became caught up in a little power struggle against Sejanus who attempted to covertly wrest power from Tiberius in his absence, to which Tiberius had him executed. This was a no-no, for the Romans simply never responded in such ways as to kill each other. This tarnished Tiberius' reputation with the public to such an extent that in A.D. 37 Naevius Sutorius Macro along with the Roman senate decided that Tiberius deserved to die. While he was in bed recovering, he was smothered. No one mourned his death, and some even celebrated his passing. In accordance with traditions, Caligula rose to the throne in A.D. 37 to reign as Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus.
This picture about sums up
Caligula's reign
Literally reigning for only 4 years, Caligula was said by countless sources to have suddenly realized the true scope of his authority after being made emperor, and he endlessly pushed the limits of that authority, testing the senate and all the things he was capable of doing in his new position. Conspiracy plots, assassinations, and cover ups were so commonplace with Caligula that the vast majority of sources label him as insane for just about every little thing he did. However, what made him become considered as unanimously insane in most historians' eyes was his outlandish behavior. He committed incest with his sisters regularly and was sexually perverse even by Roman standards, he lived extravagantly, was excessively cruel and murdered people on a whim, he tried to make his horse a consul, and he was generally seen as crazed or feverish in his actions, perhaps similar to Julius Caesar being seen as hyperactive (it is said he was ADHD or something). Call him what you will, there is so little evidence capable of explaining why Caligula was painted as a madman-- although the paranoia and locking himself away in a fortress in fear of assassination probably didn't help his case much...and then there's the incest and wanting to make his horse a consul...did I mention to outlandish cruelty, murder, and paranoia? I didn't? Ok, well, he was constantly paranoid with wild conspiracies of assassination plots from the senate since he broke all traditions and basically laughed in their faces. BUT aside from that, I couldn't imagine why he was labeled as insane...
Caligula was a fruit loop almost from beginning to end. He discovered within 2 years of his reign just how powerful he was, and then he spent his remaining 2 years abusing his power in the fullest. In A.D. 41, Caligula was the first Roman emperor to ever be assassinated in a conspiracy involving the Praetorian Guard, the senate, and the imperial court. Not even the plotters against Julius Caesar boasted such a unanimous will to end one man's life, as only the senate was involved in Julius' death. It seems that not a single soul wasn't in on Caligula's murder plot, though. Regardless of the wild opinions and the unbiased journals of historians of his time-- whatever Caligula did must have been awful, for his assassination involved the courts, the senate, and the Imagine our president being plotted against by the U.S. military generals, the supreme court and by the vice president, and then when he is killed the entire country celebrates. I really can't imagine this ever happening in America, but these incidents happened several times each century throughout Roman history. For your convenience, below I have made a comprehensive list of all insane, tyrannical or evil rulers in Roman history from its humble beginnings on Palatine Hill to the end:

1) ALL

It's a big list, but I think I got the main ones down for ya.

Imperial Rome Part 2: Ostrogoths and Visigoths- The Ancient Germans and an Expanding Rome

My other blogs are:
Ostrogoths and Visigoths
The Ancient Germans and a Troubled Rome
Imperial Rome Part 2
The Goths of 5th and 6th centuries A.D. We've all heard of them, no doubt. They must surely have been brutal warriors indeed to have troubled Rome so much over centuries, however it was not originally this way and nor were the Goths inherently troublesome, for it was actually the Huns who initiated the great wave of Ostrogothic and Visigothic migrations. These ancient Germans began streaming in massive numbers across the lands of the Ukraine into Europe, settling north of the Danube as they were pushed farther and farther away from continual troubles with the Huns. Eventually the Gothic kingdom in the Ukraine was destroyed, and so the Goths settled down, obviously taking a breather, becoming the new neighbors of a very troubled Roman Empire. At this point in time, Imperial Rome is not doing so hot, as the Vandals from Carthage continually raid Rome from its southern coasts, as the Romans at this point were still not terribly fond of ships-- they always seemed to crash and down. It's a damn good thing these frustrated Germans came to push on Roman borders! That's just what the Romans wanted! However, contrary to some distorted historical opinion, the Goths really were fine in Western Europe for some time, in fact it wasn't until Attila the Hun succeeded to the throne in A.D. 434 that the Goths were finally getting pushed completely out of the Ukraine and forced even further into Europe. Attila the Hun was terrorizing the Balkans north of This newfound frustration and desperation to survive, coupled with an already troubled and overly defensive Rome, and some close borders between the two, sparked troubles between the Goths and Rome.
King Clovis A.D. 496, the first ever Christian
barbarian king. This is important because
barbarians follow the rules and religion of the
king, which meant that because of Clovis,
all barbarians became Christians, marking the true
rise of Christianity where even wild barbarians
worship a God of love and forgiveness. Sorry Thor!
SACKING OF ROME AND VISIGOTHIC DOMESTICATION: In A.D. 410, the Visigoths, one of the frustrated Gothic tribes pushed away by Attila's rampage in the Balkans, began to show how much trouble they could be by sacking Rome and ravaging the entire city. The angry Visigoths took anything worthwhile and left shortly after. The Romans moved back in, however, in A.D. 455 Rome was sacked for the second time, this time by the Vandals who had been taking pot shots at Rome for years from their base at Carthage on the tip of Africa. With the new troubles of Imperial Rome, this time actually marks the true beginning of the Goths, who soon united under the barbarian king Clovis in western Europe, the first ever barbarian Christian king, which is important to note because a barbarian king was expected to guide all those under him. By being a Christian king, it meant that all barbarians must follow his lead, effectively changing the entire religion of every Goth. The thing is, Christianity had a tendency to make people calmer and less...genocidal...and so the wild ways of the Visigoths began to slow down and consolidate, and as a side note, paved the way a few centuries later for the Goths to become more Germanesque, so to speak, around the time of Charlemagne. But that is not for a while, and right now they are still a vast collection of barbaric tribes.
Attila the Hun
END OF ATTILA THE HUN'S RAMPAGE: But this was not the end of Attila yet, as records show he was bribed to march across Europe in exchange for marriage to the beautiful Honoria of the Franks, but met stiff Roman resistance. For 15 years he had terrorized the Balkans and pushed the Goths out of their homeland yet he could not make it quite across the Rhine into Austrasia and Neustria, which correspond roughly to the Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg) in northern France. Attila’s raid across the Rhine into Gaul was halted, though not defeated, by a Roman army which actually consisted of Franks, Burgundians, Visigoths, Sarmatians, Saxons, Bretons, and Alans under a general, Aetius, who had been raised among the Huns and habitually hired Hunnish mercenaries. Yes, the Visigoths are fighting for Rome, this is because of King Clovis and the new Visigothic way of life, and because Imperial Rome made citizenship via military servitude possible for the Visigoths, many more of them were coming to terms with the western Empire's more civilized way of life.
But not all Christians are civilized! After all, Rome was not having a good century, for the western Imperial Rome had managed to tame many of the Visigothic tribes and even include them into the Roman military and fend off Attila the Hun, by this point Rome was already sacked twice in less than 50 years and the Visigoths were swarming Roman areas, all wanting to become part of Rome and wanting more privileges, but were denied. As you probably already guessed, it still gets worse for those poor Romans, as the last western Emperor of Rome named Romulus Augustulus was deposed in A.D. 476 by a clever Ostrogothic solider named Odaocer, who with much support from many of the eastern (Ostro)Goths and Roman senate, deposed Romulus by leading a revolt of of Herulians, Rugians, and Scirians, marking the end of the Roman Empire in the west. This was possible because Romulus had been declared Western Emperor by his father, the rebellious general of the army in Italy, less than a year before, but had been unable to gain allegiance or recognition beyond central Italy, With the backing of the Roman Senate, Odoacer thenceforth ruled Italy autonomously. But even this was short lived, as the troublesome Theodoric later showed himself a clever nuisance, vexing the borders of the eastern Roman Empire to become king of Italy, and where by turning one troublesome nominal vassal against another, he set the stage to invade Italy successfully and ate up the peninsula between A.D. 489, through A.D. 493, effectively becoming king of a humbled Imperial Rome.
Totila, Ostrogothic King of the East
in the Byzantine Empire region
END OF OSTROGOTHS AND END OF BARBARIAN ROME: Decades later, Ostrogothic King Totila, related to Theodoric, set out against the conquest of the western half of the Roman Empire between A.D. 541-552. the Romans in Italy did not fall even though virtually the entire peninsula around them seemed to be conquered over that decade. Appealing to diplomacy since force seemed useless, Totila reminded the Imperial Roman senate that he was rightful king, as Theodoric was pushed out and he was current king of the Ostrogoth's. The senate would hear none of his ambitious whining. His military luck ran out however, for in A.D. 552 with most of the western half of the Roman Empire still ruled by the Ostrogoths, the eastern half of the Roman empire known as the Byzantine Empire felt her sister Italy had dealt with enough Gothic troubles and stepped in with steel toed boots.

RISE OF THE BYZANTINE EMPPRE: The eastern empire in Byzantium being led by Justinian I under renovatio imperii, or "restoration of the Empire," fought against the Ostrogothic King Totila and his talented rebels, but with the excellent help of skilled commander Narses for Justinian, Ostrogothic King Totila was defeated at the Battle of Taginae by the Byzantines. Followng Justinian I's ambitious renovatio imperii to the letter, Narses immediately moved on to secure the entire western half of the Roman Empire, pushing out the rest of the Gothic troublemakers, effectively reviving the mighty empire by freeing it of its barbarian kings, and uniting both the Eastern and Western halves of the Roman Empire under Justinian I, marking the Beginning of the gigantic Byzantine Empire.
Phew, did you catch all that? Looks like western Rome survived after all, but under new management from Justinian. Good God in heaven that was a doozy to write. Could you imagine having all those kings, wars, and radical shifts of government every couple decades? Imagine having a new president, new rules, new officers, and all new faces (foreign rulers no less) every few decades switching everything and warring in gruesome, long battles. I really cannot picture what that is like!
Up next is the Rise of Charlemagne in...
"Medieval Europe Part 1: Of Kings and Popes-- Rise of Charlemagne, Fiefdoms, and the Norseme

Imperial Rome Part 1: Emperor Nero- The Man Who Fiddled While Rome Burned

My other blogs are:

Emperor Nero
The Man Who Fiddled While Rome Burned
Imperial Rome Part 1
Julia Agrippina Minor,
Nero's infamous mother
The most narcissistic emperor to ever reign was born in A.D. 37. Known fully as Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, he reigned as Roman Emperor from A.D. 54 to 68, and was the last of five Roman emperors, most of whom brought complete misery and devastation to the Romans people. Yet Nero was so much more than an emperor, as he did nothing worth noting to make a good mark on history, but instead he cared only for fame and craved attention from the people, and his history is one of the most disturbing anyone could ever read, perhaps more disturbing than Adolph Hitler in more primitive ways. Nero's is the tale of a child torn away from family and home, to be raised by a mother in isolation, as she was exiled by her brother Emperor Caligula in A.D. 39, simply losing his favor. Ironically, Nero was both the least likely successor to the throne and was the successor after all, thanks to his dear old mommy Julia Agrippina the Minor/Younger. She was best known for being commanding, violent, manipulative, ambitious, domineering, and is recorded by writer Pliny the Elder for having murdered her brother Emperor Claudius by poisoning to remove their exile and allow her son Nero the chance to ascend to the throne.
It is still debated as to how the little duo may have ascended to the throne, but they did, and Claudius was definitely murdered somehow by Agrippina. Regardless of how, Agrippina caused Nero to take the throne. He as Emperor and she as Empress close to A.D. 50, and where Nero was only 17 at the time, he was the youngest Roman emperor to ascend to power. As any good story goes, the mother and son did not get along as the son naturally absorbed power into himself after discovering his continual manipulation by his power hungry mother. he eventually severed the relationship altogether when he started to realize that Agrippina was pulling his strings in an attempt to take the throne herself by achieving fame through Nero's role as emperor. Nero was not particularly intelligent, but he realized by advice of his group of friends how his mother was attempting to dethrone him. Over time, Nero became progressively more powerful at the expense of his mother, even freeing himself of his advisers and eliminating rivals to the throne.
The shipwreck of
LIKE MOTHER LIKE SON: By this point in his life, Nero's stepbrother Britannicus, son of Agrippina, was blood related to the previous Emperor Claudius who was originally murdered by Agrippina. Through Britannicus, Agrippina planned to set him up as legitimate emperor when he came of age at 17, two years down the road, however he suddenly died the day before his official day of adulthood, but you saw this one coming! This marks the official murderous power struggle between Nero and Agrippina, betwixt beloved son and mother, as they both continually made plans to assassinate the other in overly clever ways that failed. Some record that there were dozens of murder attempts in a short period of time by each of them. For example, during the Festival of Minerva in March of A.D. 59 Nero invited his dear mother for dinner on a fine cruise, however he arranged a shipwreck to drown her so he would not be implicated in a direct murder. During this "accident," Agrippina simply swam to the shore and survived. This may seem silly, but very few Romans liked the water and even fewer knew how to swim. In a typical feminine way, Agrippina continually tried poisoning Nero but somehow he always seemed to evade those specially prepared foods, though it is not known if it was by blind luck or intelligence. 

Nero murders his own mother,
staging it as a suicide
MATRICIDE AND DOMESTIC MURDERS: Many murder attempts later, their assassination attempts became more direct and obvious. Nero found his mother at last and seized the opportunity to execute her and framed it as a suicide. It was such a disturbing sight to see their emperor do such a horrid thing that no one said anything and Nero was not held accountable, as they knew Nero would assuredly kill any who stood against him. Close to this time period, Nero began to realize his true power. In his short life he had a couple wives, Octavia and Poppae Sabina. While being married to Octavia, it was around A.D. 58 that Nero developed a passion for Poppae, known to be a lady of great beauty, but she was married to a Governor named Marcus Otho. Nero became more confident that he could get away with divorcing Octavia, although this was highly uncommon, and she was exiled to Compania. Soon after she was imprisoned in A.D. 62 and Nero took Poppae for his wife. Not long after, however, Nero trumped-up some bogus charges of adultery onto Octavia and had her executed. Believe it or not, it was not long after this as well that Nero grew tired of Poppae, for in A.D. 65 Nero had a temper tantrum while Poppae was pregnant and kicked her in her stomach until she died. Immediately and suspiciously, he married Statila Messalina the following year, but then took up with their new boy Sporus because he resembled Poppaea in appearance.
Poppae, Nero's pregnant wife, was killed by Nero himself in a temper tantrum, where he kicked her repeatedly, killing his unborn child and wife. Nero is the fat sack of crap on the left.
Great fire of Rome
CHRISTIAN PERSECUTION AND GREAT FIRE OF ROME: Nero was well known for his mother's brutality and violence, and was ever more known for his dislike of the Christians living in Rome. He was absolutely evil in every way, and this sickness seemed to be directed toward the Christians for many debatable reasons. Regardless of the reasoning, Nero was most famously known for capturing Christians, covering their bodies in tar, hanging them by their ankles and lighting them on fire to be burned alive slowly, using their lit, screaming to death bodies as candlelight at his wild parties. Truly he was a sick man, for it was his direct fault that the Great Fire of Rome occurred, nearly burning down the entire city. Nero decided that he wanted to build a new "mall" or Coliseum of sorts in his name with a giant statue in his honor, there wasn't enough room in the city and the senate refused to dislocate the poor people in the old quarter for such a petty structure. Displeased with the senate's refusal, Nero set fire to some buildings in the old quarter, which blazed so out of control that the entire city was nearly destroyed in the process, and the old quarter was definitely burned down. With all those people displaced and homeless, Nero began his building construction.
Poor chubby Nero, life is so hard being the absolute tyrannical emperor of an gigantic empire
NERO THE FRUITLOOP: Nero became depressed however, and was starved for attention, as virtually his entire family was assassinated at some point, his wives killed by himself in temper tantrums, and the people of Rome hating him to a very high degree for his selfishness and tyrrany. Nero set out to win the hearts of the people in his boredom. It is said that in his new building residing where the old quarter was, he had a stage built and attempted to become a "rock" singer of sorts but was terrible. The guards and Nero's friends forced the crowds to show up and threatened them to pretend to enjoy his awful music, but this did not work out well at all. Growing more concerned for Nero, his friends gradually drifted away as Nero became quite obese in his depression. In this part of his life, Nero dealt extremely harshly to the senators and his friends as he thought he was a god. He humiliated the senators publicly and also committed incest with his sisters and may have had a homosexual relationship with his son born from his wife Statila.
END OF THE MOST EVIL EMPEROR IN HUMAN HISTORY: Nero was not loved by anyone in Rome. The peoples under governor Gaius Julius Vindex had rebelled in A.D. 68 against Nero's outlandish ta policies, but although Vindex was defeated at the Battle of Vesontio, it sent ripples of dissension among the people and the Germans against Nero, and so he fled when everyone, both friend and foe, abandoned him suspiciously in June A.D. 69. Leaving Rome as if to dramatically commit suicide in some sort of cry for attention, he planned to throw himself in the Tiber or at least pretend to, as he clearly lost his nerve or never had any real intention to do so. Prior to returning he realized no one cared he was gone, and during this brief absence the senate actually labeled him as an enemy of Rome who was to be put to death by beating. Nero did not return to Rome, naturally, instead planned to run away. Unable to fully separate himself from his lust for power, he tarried too long and ran out of time to flee. He and his 4 trusty guards knew time was up. , Wishing to die but lacking the courage, he ordered the guards to set an example and commit suicide with him, but they refused. Instead, he ordered his 4 trusty guards to dig his grave near a villa outside Rome, and lacking the nerve to do it himself and hearing a contingent of Roman officers approaching to collect him for his public execution, he ordered his guard Epaphroditos to stab him to death. He was killed by his guard and left for dead.
Nero stabbed by his trusty guard and abandoned for dead outside a villa near Rome
Nero died on that day, but regrettably that piece of trash died quickly and relatively painlessly compared to those he tortured and brutally beat to death, however the empire still celebrated his death and tore down his ugly statues. In typical Roman style, the joy was short-lived, and numerous civil wars broke out shortly thereafter as powerful aristocrats made petty attempts to seize the empty throne as there was no legitimate heir, since Nero assassinated them all. They the empire into chaos yet again. Does Rome ever learn its lesson? Read more to find out!
To find out more on Rome and how it decayed rapidly after Nero's death, read my upcoming article called "Imperial Rome Part 2: Ostrogoths and Visigoths- The Ancient Germans and an Expanding Rome" detailing the rise of the ancient Germans and pretty much how they rampaged across Rome.
Thanks for reading!!

The Ancient Republic of Rome Part 3: Iulius Caesar and Pompey the Great

My other blogs are:
The First Triumvirate
Gaius Iulius Caesar
Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus
General Marcus Licinius Crassus
The Ancient Republic of Rome Part 3
Iulius Caesar, or better known in English with the "J," as Julius Caesar, was born in 100 B.C. in the Republic of Rome, not long before the Roman Republic would become the true Roman Empire, in the sense where an emperor would rule the "empire." Iulius Caesar was legendary even without discussing his rise in political power, as his campaigns to spread the empire as far as Britain are enough to demonstrate his mark in history. Politically speaking, he actually paved the way to the end of the Roman Republic, where the senate ruled in a patrician-based democracy, whereas the more democratic Roman Empire would allow for more plebeian interaction in the government, and the emperor himself would act almost as a president to speak for the smaller people. This, as anyone can tell, obviously did not make the power-mongering patricians shout for joy, as Iulius attempted quite dashingly to wrest control from the senate, empowering himself as the beloved emperor of the people, and then stretch Rome across the entire Earth in his visionary conquest, not entirely unlike Alexander the Great's own conquest for Greek Empire in the 330s B.C.

He became the legend when he arose with the First Triumvirate in 60 B.C. with Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, known as Pompey the Great, and General Marcus Licinius Crassus, a man legendary for his greed and the first wealthiest man on Earth, where his amassed money is said to be comparable to $ (hundreds of billions of dollars). In this three-part political team, Iulius was the political brains and the leader of the three where he amassed popularity with the Roman plebeians to overthrow the power of the Roman senate. Pompeius was the man to spread the war and glory to all the people outside of Rome, and Crassus funded it all. In fact, Crassus, who was so wealthy he literally paid for the entire military and political campaigning for Iulius, was merely told that he would be rewarded with fame, glory, and a say in the goings-on of the future Roman Empire, no doubt ruled by Iulius Caesar. Reason simply being that Crassus had virtually no political power nor any fame due to his plebeian birth, and his status as a general was nothing compared to Iulius and Pompeius' military careers by even this point.
At this time, Iulius was known as a proconsul, but he had every motive to change that! And so the union of the three men was born. Because fame and glory was earned in the Roman Republic primarily by grand military conquests, a tradition set by some of the first generals at the beginning of Rome, Iulius marched out for the conquest of Gaul held by the Celtic tribes that settled there after the Roman defeat at the Battle of Allia around 390-387 B.C. At this time, Gaul was a Celtic territory occupying just about all of western Europe, such as France, Belgium, England, and more. This meant great fame for Iulius, as the previous Roman attempts to throw out the Celts failed quite miserably, but he would not. Grand battles ensued for years, close to a decade, and by 51 B.C. Iulius conquered Gaul. He even built a bridge to cross the Rhine during this time and showed the neighboring Germanic tribes known as the Teutones, Cimbri, and Ambrones, that the large river could not protect any of them from Roman retaliation. Up until this point, the Germanic tribes on the eastern side of the Rhine had been attacking Rome in unpredictable waves. Small tribes they were, but they wore Rome down over the decades, as Rome would later attempt to occupy the entire border to protect themselves, and fail. Iulius was conducting the first ever invasion of Britain when bad luck would strike his glorious triumvirate in the ribs.
Although Iulius was victorious in all he did, Crassus, the wealthy general who was funding the entire campaign and the triumvirate itself, was killed in 53 B.C during an arrogant attempt to win more prestige for himself by marching across the Euphrates to conquer Parthia. The Parthians were one of the several ancient Persian tribes that existed prior to the beginning of the Persian entrance into Mesopotamia and the Iranian plateau around 2000 B.C. The Parthians were best known for chopping off the heads of men they thought were greedy and pouring molten gold into them, leaving their golden heads on pikes as warnings to the disgusting civilizations that might attempt to invade. To say that Crassus was defeated would be a monstrous understatement, as the Parthian's highly skilled cavalry mowed Crassus' mercenary infantry down like grass. There was no real battle, as Crassus' army served only to irritate these legendary warriors.
The Rubicon River
With this, Iulius knew he would soon run out of money for his own 40,000 Roman troops, and so he took a hiatus from his conquest of Britain and began his journey back to Rome by around 51-50 B.C. However, as Crassus was dead, more bad luck would have to come to him, because the saying "when it rains, it pours" seems to be true for most people more often than not. The Roman senate was certainly scared by Iulius' massive popularity, and they knew their power would be completely washed away if Caesar returned to Rome alive from so many victorious campaigns. For to say the Roman plebeians loved Caesar would be yet another understatement. The entire purpose of the triumvirate was to win the plebeians' hearts with popularity, as they consisted of over 99% of the Roman population and did not have any sort of fondness for the corrupt patricians, as they simply earned their political power and wealth by birth.
Being manipulated, Pompey the Great, who in his own right was a legendary general, was pushed by the senate to defect from the triumvirate he entered and defend the Roman senate, no doubt for "very good reasons." Iulius was absolutely brilliant, and some say he may have had some sort of attention disorder, like ADD, as he is always described as a highly energetic personality, always hopping from one task to another with great haste. Following Caesar took people a lot of adjustment. That may have been part of the reason why he immediately chose to literally march across the Rubicon in 49 B.C.! Almost instantaneously a civil war broke out, as his act was no less than pure insurrection. But Iulius Caesar would have it no other way, as he spent 10 years of his life earning glory to rule, why would he simply give up after all of that? The senate was not thinking properly, or perhaps they simply felt too comfortable up there in the senate, because they did not expect Caesar to be so bold.
Immediately Pompey set out against him, and in several glorious battles, Pompey the Great vs. Iulius Caesar conqueror of Gaul, Pompey and Caesar fought bitterly from Rome all the way to Greece and met in the final Battle of Pharsalus in 49 B.C., where Caesar won the civil war. Pompey survived and fled with some trust comrades, also taking his wife and son to Egypt, where Caesar already had his assassins waiting to strike. Pompey was publicly stabbed to death by Illas, Septimius and Salvius.
Assassination of Caesar by the senate
Caesar, being the popular man, assumed total control of the entire Roman Republic and immediately began making changes all around, where his right to do so was allotted to him as he had cleverly announced himself as "dictator in perpetuity," meaning emperor forever. Many changes were made to reform Rome, and his vision granted him total power over the entire world, but just like Alexander, his life ended abruptly. In 44 B.C., the Roman senate finally grew fed up of this would-be emperor, and every one of them stabbed him, bloodying all of their hands equally. This resulted in a series of civil wars which would ironically lead to Caesar's vision of a real empire ruled by an emperor anyway. Irony is always fun! In this case, the consequences of Caesar's assassination and of the following civil wars led to a true empire ruled by an emperor, marking the official end of the Roman Republic!
.....And so Imperial Rome was born!
Up next:
Imperial Rome Part 1: Emperor Nero- The Man Who Fiddled While Rome Burned