Nero was the roman emperor who ruled roman empire between 54 AD and 68 AD. He was the son of Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus and Agrippina the younger.
He mother Agrippina the younger had strong influence on Nero.
Background of Agrippina the younger – Mother of Nero
Agrippina was the daughter of very popular general and politician Germanicus.
In 9 AD, Roman Emperor Augustus forced his successor Tiberius to adopt Germanicus as his son and heir. In 14 AD, Emperor Augustus died and Tiberius became emperor.
So, Agrippina’s father Germanicus became next in line to become emperor.
Before he can become emperor, Germanicus died suddenly in Antioch in 19 AD.
In 28 AD, Emperor Tiberius arranged for Agrippina to marry her cousin Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus in a lavish wedding.
In 37 AD, Emperor Tiberius died and Agrippina’s only surviving brother, Caligula, became the new emperor.
As Agrippina was one of the three sisters of Emperor Caligula, she gained influence.
On December 15, AD 37, in the early morning, in Antium, Agrippina gave birth to a son Nero.
Nero was Agrippina’s only natural child.
In 39 AD, Agrippina and her sister got involved in a plot to kill Caligula. Her brother, Emperor Caligula exiled her to Pontine Islands.
Around this time Agrippina’s husband and Nero’s father died. Nero was disinherited from his father’s properties and he was sent to live with his paternal aunt.
In 41 AD, Caligula was murdered by his own troops and Agrippina’s uncle Claudius became emperor.
Emperor Claudius lifted the exiles of Agrippina and she reunited with her son Nero. Emperor Claudius also gave back Nero his father’s confiscated properties.
Soon Agrippina married Crispus, a wealthy and powerful man. However few years later, Crispus also died, making Nero and his Mother extremely rich.
In 49 AD, Claudius was looking for wife and some powerful senator recommended Agrippina as it will end the feud between the Julian and Claudian branches of royal family. They got married in 49 AD.
As soon as she became empress, she started to completely dominate Emperor Claudius. Emperor Claudius even named a Roman colony after and called it the colony Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensis , today known as Cologne.
Soon Agrippina brainwashed Emperor Claudius into disinheriting his own son Britannicus and adopting Nero as his successor.
However, soon Emperor Claudius realized his mistake and rebuilt his relationship with his son and started grooming him for the Throne.
This made Agrippina angry and she poisoned Emperor Claudius in 54 AD with deadly mushrooms at a banquet.
She kept the news of emperor death secret and sealed the gate of Royal Palace. Later she introduced her son Nero first to the soldiers and then to the senators as emperor.
Thus Nero became Emperor.
Relationship between Emperor Nero and his Mother
Nero was 16 years old when he became emperor. His mother was the real power behind the throne. She holds the court with the emperor by her side.
She acts as a co-emperor and forced royal mint to make coins with her image on the coins. She demanded royal troops called Praetorian Guard pledge their loyalty to her.
However, within one year after Nero became emperor, Agrippina started losing influence over his son.
Emperor Nero started an affair with women named Claudia Acte. Agrippina feared that this affair might reduce her influence over Emperor Nero, so she had a violent argument with Nero.
After this argument Emperor Nero became disillusioned with her mother and started to see her as a threat.
One day when Emperor Nero was meeting Armenian ambassadors, Agrippina decided to participate in the meeting but Nero’s advisors prevented her from attending it.
This started the power play between Emperor Nero and his Mother.
Clash Between Nero and Agrippina
Soon, Agrippina started supporting Britannicus (her stepson) in an attempt to make him emperor, or at least threaten Nero.
This angered Emperor Nero and he planned to get rid of Britannicus. Finally, in February 55 AD, he poisoned Britannicus during his own banquet.
However, Agrippina did not give up and kept a watchful eye on his son. Fearing conspiracy against him, Emperor Nero forced her out of imperial palace. She was shifted to imperial residence away from imperial palace.
In spite of this, Agrippina was still very influential. Once Nero even threaten her that he will abdicate the throne if she did not stop her interference in running the empire.
Gradually, Emperor deprived his mother of various honors and removed her royal bodyguard.
Finally, Emperor Nero started removing people from his government who were close to his mother. This act of Emperor Nero finally broke the power of his mother.
By 56 AD, she lost all her power and influence over Emperor Nero. However, Nero sometimes made short visit to his mother’s residence to see Agrippina.
Over next few years, Emperor Nero had an affair with married noble women, Poppaea Sabina. This affair was made public by Agrippina, which earned her the wrath of his son.
In 58 AD, some people accused Agippina and senators sympathetic to her of planning a coup to overthrow Emperor Nero.
Finally, Emperor Nero decided to get rid of his mother.
Death of Agrippina the Younger
At first, Nero considered poisoning or stabbing her. But he feared that these methods will arouse suspicion and he might be blamed for the death of his mother.
So, he planned to kill her by sinking her boat and drowning her. This event might look like accident and will not affect the popularity of Emperor Nero.
Soon Nero built a self sinking boat. One day, when Agrippina decided to go on the boat ride, the ceiling of the boat collapsed. However, fall of ceiling failed break or sink the boat.
Soon, oarsmen took matter in their hand and sank the boat. However, Agrippina knew how to swim and she swam to shore. She was greeted by group of people who were her admirer and saved her.
Nero, realizing that his plan has failed, sent three assassins to kill her. They killed Agrippina and made it look like suicide.
Nero made it look like that he has uncovered a conspiracy hatched by his mother to overthrow him and his mother committed suicide out of shame.
At her funeral, Emperor Nero acted as if he is in shock and scared. Many army commanders and powerful senators believed in Nero’s lie and sent him letter of congratulations as he survived his mother’s plot.
Later Nero believed that ghost of his mother haunt him after her death
He sometimes felt guilty about his mother’s death and he would have nightmares about his mother.
Once he even saw his mother’s ghost and asked renowned Persian magicians to scare her away.