Nerva was an old man of sixty-two when he became emperor. It is believed that those who had led the plot to murder the emperor Domitian offered Nerva the throne. During Domitian's reign many wealthy and powerful people had been put to death by the suspicious emperor, who lived in fear that he would be murdered. When Nerva became emperor, he returned property that had been confiscated by Domitian and ruled mercifully and well, refusing even to persecute those who opposed him.
He was well liked by the people. Nerva provided land for the poor, even using some of his own money to supplement funds from the treasury. He provided help to communities that were hit by natural disasters such as floods, and repealed many harsh laws. Nerva was not well liked by the soldiers or the Praetorian Guard, many of whom had liked Domitian and suspected Nerva of having a hand in his murder. They demanded that he hand over those who had murdered Domitian, but Nerva refused. The soldiers seized the two men anyway, and put them to death. Nerva decided to adopt the popular and successful Marcus Ulpius Traianus (Trajan) as his son and heir to the throne. This seemed to satisfy the army and the Praetorian Guard. Nerva continued to rule with Trajan as his Caesar and died in A.D. 98 after a short illness.
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