Pontius Pilate (d. AD 37[?]) was governor, from AD 26 until 36, of the Roman Empire's Judaea Province in what is now Israel. He is best known as the man who, according to the canonicalChristian Gospels, presided over the trial of Jesus and ordered his crucifixion, instigating the Passion. When Jesus refused to offer a defense, Pilate symbolically washed his hands to state that he was not responsible for any miscarriage of justice. Pilate's biography beyond his rule of Judaea is unknown, but has been supplied by tradition. Such stories include the detail that his wife's name was Claudia Procula, competing legends of his birthplace, and his conversion to Christianity and execution by order of Caligula. Pilate was recognized as a saint by the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in the sixth century.
Characters in numerous Harry Turtledovetimelines with a Point of Divergence after AD 30 make reference to Pontius Pilate, usually in metaphors relating to the hand-washing statement. These references rarely have any impact on the plot or offer insight to the setting.
General Pontius Pilate was sent with his legion to put down a Jewish uprising against the Roman Empire. The insurrection was led by a Chieftain who called himself the "Son of God". Both the Son and his right-hand man the Rock were captured after a fierce but short battle, and brought before the general. After the Son "forgave" Pilate, Pilate ordered both men crucified, with the Rock placed upside down. Pilate then calmly asked for a wash basin, as his hands were dirty.