A Spaniard by birth, a soldier by profession Trajan (Marcus Ulpius Trajanus) was adopted as a successor to the Emperor Nerva and ruled between 98-117 A.D. Trajan's empire building skills were universally acclaimed and he soon achieved the title Optimus Princeps, which appears on his coins and monuments. The commemorative column records the military achievements of his Dacian campaigns in the spiral relief frieze, giving it great documentary value for historians.
Towards the end of the 18th century reduced copies of Trajan's Column became increasingly sought after. The most famous copy is the two metre high example executed by Luigi Valadier in marble, granite, lapis-lazuli, gilt bronze and silver-gilt, completed in 1780 and currently in the Schatzkammer of the Residenz in Munich. See Haskell and Penny, Taste and the Antique, Yale 1998. p.47. and fig.26. Later the column would inspire Napoleon to commemorate the victories of La Grande Armée with a full scale copy in the Place Vendôme, Paris.