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Roman Emperor - Nerva

Updated on October 31, 2009

Marcus Cocceius Nerva, born in Narnia, Italy, Roman Emperor from AD 96-98, born at Narnia, Umbria, 30 A.D.

Apart from a praetorship and his consulships in 71 and again in 90, little is known about Nerva before the Senate saluted him as emperor after Domitian's assassination on Sept. 18, 96. The Senate had suffered an eclipse under Domitian and chose Nerva in the hope that he would restore the Senate's power.

On the assassination of Domitian, Nerva was declared emperor by the praetorian guards, and his administration at once restored order to the state. The class of informers was suppressed; and Nerva swore that he would put no senator to death, a promise he faithfully observed, even in face of a conspiracy against his life.

After the 15 years of Domitian's despotic reign, Nerva's 16 months of mild rule helped to raise Roman morale. He recalled exiles, supĀ­pressed informers, abolished several oppressive taxes, encouraged public works, and distributed farmlands to and increased relief for impoverished Romans and Italians. Only a short Suevian war, unrest among the soldiers on the frontiers, and insubordination of the Praetorian Guard disturbed the peace. Aged and childless, Nerva adopted Trajan as his son in 97. He died in Rome on January 25, 98.

Nerva introduced state loans for farmers, family allowances, and allotments of land to poor citizens in his sixteen month reign.

Faced in 97 with a crisis of confidence, Nerva appeased the army by adopting as his successor Trajan.

Nerva died in 98 A.D.

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