The Time The Roman Empire Was Auctioned Off To The Highest Bidder

Samuel Reason | October 25th, 2018

You would have thought it would be quite difficult to buy a whole empire, sure empires have been inherited or conquered but can they actually be bought? How in the world would that even take place? Well, it has actually happened and it happened to one of the largest empires ever created: The Roman Empire.

In 193 AD on the 28th March, the Praetorian guards were able to auction off the whole empire to a wealthy senator by the name of Didius Julianus at the price of 6250 drachmas per soldier. At the time the empire was subject to turbulent times, it was the infamous year of the five emperors. Pertinax was the emperor in charge, he was a military man and decided to restore discipline to the Praetorian guards. This they were not very happy with, so 3 months into his reign they promptly murdered him. And instead of taking over the empire for themselves, they decided it would be much better just to auction it off to the highest bidder.

Didius Julianus was a wealthy merchant at the time and a successful businessman, he had heard about the auction but was not exactly interested. His entourage and close family though, convinced him that he would be perfect for the job! That he deserved to be emperor, he ran to the bidding auction and started to outbid anyone present. Ultimately his reign did not last very long at all, as one could imagine, not that many people were very happy about the way this was decided. No voting or agreement, the emperor was put in place solely by money and greed.

Not too long after, the Roman armies in Britain, Syria, and Pannonia declared war on Julian which caused an immense civil war. The Praetorian guards swiftly abandoned him and he was executed by the Roman Senate that very same year.

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