Vitellius was Roman Emperor for eight months, from 16 April to 22 December AD69. Vitellius was proclaimed emperor following the succession of the previous emperors Galba and Otho. His claim to the throne was challenged by legions stationed in the eastern provinces. War ensued, leading to a defeat for Vitellius at the Second Battle of Bedriacum in northern Italy. Once he realised his support was wavering, Vitellius prepared to abdicate in favor of Vespasian but was executed in Rome by Vespasians soldiers on 22 December 69 and he was the son of Lucius Vitellius Veteris and his wife Sextilia, and had one brother, Lucius Vitellius the Younger. Suetonius recorded two different accounts of the origins of the Vitellia, one making them descendants of past rulers of Latium, Suetonius makes the sensible remark that both accounts might have been made by either flatterers or enemies of Vitellius—except that both were in circulation before Vitellius became emperor. Suetonius also recorded that when Vitellius was born his horoscope so horrified his parents that his father tried to prevent Aulus from becoming a consul. He married secondly, around the year 50, a woman named Galeria Fundana, perhaps the granddaughter of Gaius Galerius, Prefect of Egypt in 23. They had two children, a son called Aulus Vitellius Germanicus or Novis, the Younger, and a daughter, Vitellia, who married the Legatus Decimus Valerius Asiaticus. He was Consul in 48, and assumed Proconsul of Africa in either 60 or 61 and he owed his elevation to the throne to Caecina and Fabius Valens, commanders of two legions on the Rhine. More accurately, he was proclaimed Emperor of the armies of Germania Inferior and Superior, the armies of Gaul, Brittania and Raetia sided with them shortly afterwards. By the time that they marched on Rome, however, it was Otho, and not Galba, in fact, he was never acknowledged as Emperor by the entire Roman world, though at Rome the Senate accepted him and decreed to him the usual Imperial honours. He advanced into Italy at the head of a licentious and rough soldiery, to reward his victorious legionaries, Vitellius disbanded the existing Praetorian Guard and installed his own men instead. For these banquets, he had himself invited over to a different nobles house for each one, other writers, namely Tacitus and Cassius Dio, disagree with some of Suetonius assertions, even though their own accounts of Vitellius are scarcely positive ones. Despite his short reign he made two important contributions to Roman government which outlasted him and he also expanded the offices of the Imperial Administration beyond the imperial pool of Freedmen allowing those of the Equites to take up positions in the Imperial Civil Service. Vitellius also banned astrologers from Rome and Italy on 1 October,69, some astrologers responded to his decree by anonymously publishing a decree of their own, Decreed by all astrologers in blessing on our State Vitellius will be no more on the appointed date. In response, Vitellius executed any astrologers he came across, in July 69, Vitellius learned that the armies of the eastern provinces had proclaimed a rival emperor, their commander, Titus Flavius Vespasianus. As soon as it was known that the armies of the East, Dalmatia, Tacitus Histories state that Vitellius awaited Vespasians army at Mevania
Pseudo-bust of Emperor Vitellius, Louvre
Vitellius' denarius, minted in 69 AD during the Year of the Four Emperors.