Valentinian II

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Valentinian II
Augustus of the Western Roman Empire
Statue of emperor Valentinian II detail.JPG
Bust of Valentinian II.
Emperor of the Roman Empire
Reign 22 November 375 15 May 392
Predecessor Valentinian I
Successor Theodosius I
Co-emperors Valens (Eastern Emperor, 375-378)
Gratian (375-383)
Theodosius I (Eastern Emperor, 379-392)
Magnus Maximus (384-388)
Flavius Victor (384-388)
Born 371
Died(392-05-15)May 15, 392 (aged 21)
Vienne
Full name
Flavius Valentinianus
Regnal name
Imperator Caesar Flavius Valentinianus Augustus
Dynasty Valentinian
Father Valentinian I
Mother Justina

Valentinian II (Latin : Flavius Valentinianus Augustus; 371 15 May 392), was Roman Emperor from AD 375 to 392.

Contents

Early life and accession (371–375)

Flavius Valentinianus was born to Emperor Valentinian I and his second wife, Justina. He was the half-brother of Valentinian's other son, Gratian, who had shared the imperial title with his father since 367. He had three sisters: Galla, Grata and Justa. The elder Valentinian died on campaign in Pannonia in 375. Neither Gratian (then in Trier) nor his uncle Valens (emperor for the East) were consulted by the army commanders on the scene. Instead of merely acknowledging Gratian as his father's successor, Valentinian I's generals acclaimed the four-year-old Valentinian augustus on 22 November 375. The army, and its Frankish general Merobaudes, may have been uneasy about Gratian's lack of military ability, and so raised a boy who would not immediately aspire to military command. [1] [2]

Valentinian I Roman emperor

Valentinian I, also known as Valentinian the Great, was Roman emperor from 364 to 375. Upon becoming emperor he made his brother Valens his co-emperor, giving him rule of the eastern provinces while Valentinian retained the west.

Justina was the second wife of the Roman Emperor Valentinian I and the mother of Valentinian II, Galla, Grata and Justa.

Gratian Roman emperor

Gratian was Roman emperor from 367 to 383. The eldest son of Valentinian I, Gratian accompanied, during his youth, his father on several campaigns along the Rhine and Danube frontiers. Upon the death of Valentinian in 375, Gratian's brother Valentinian II was declared emperor by his father's soldiers. In 378, Gratian's generals won a decisive victory over the Lentienses, a branch of the Alamanni, at the Battle of Argentovaria. Gratian subsequently led a campaign across the Rhine, the last emperor to do so, and attacked the Lentienses, forcing the tribe to surrender. That same year, his uncle Valens was killed in the Battle of Adrianople against the Goths – making Gratian essentially ruler of the entire Roman Empire. He favoured Christianity over traditional Roman religion, refusing the divine attributes of the Emperors and removing the Altar of Victory from the Roman Senate.

Reign from Milan (375–387)

Solidus of Valentinian II Solidus of Valentinian II (YORYM 1998 853) obverse.jpg
Solidus of Valentinian II

Gratian, forced to accommodate the generals who supported his half-brother, governed the trans-alpine provinces (including Gaul, Hispania, and Britain), while Italy, part of Illyricum, and North Africa were under the rule of Valentinian. In 378, their uncle, the Emperor Valens, was killed in battle with the Goths at Adrianople, and Gratian invited the general Theodosius to be emperor in the East. As a child, Valentinian II was under the influence of his Arian mother, the Empress Justina, and the imperial court at Milan, an influence contested by the Nicene bishop of Milan, Ambrose. [3]

Gaul region of ancient Europe

Gaul was a historical region of Western Europe during the Iron Age that was inhabited by Celtic tribes, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg, Belgium, most of Switzerland, parts of Northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the west bank of the Rhine. It covered an area of 494,000 km2 (191,000 sq mi). According to the testimony of Julius Caesar, Gaul was divided into three parts: Gallia Celtica, Belgica, and Aquitania. Archaeologically, the Gauls were bearers of the La Tène culture, which extended across all of Gaul, as well as east to Raetia, Noricum, Pannonia, and southwestern Germania during the 5th to 1st centuries BC. During the 2nd and 1st centuries BC, Gaul fell under Roman rule: Gallia Cisalpina was conquered in 203 BC and Gallia Narbonensis in 123 BC. Gaul was invaded after 120 BC by the Cimbri and the Teutons, who were in turn defeated by the Romans by 103 BC. Julius Caesar finally subdued the remaining parts of Gaul in his campaigns of 58 to 51 BC.

Hispania Roman province

Hispania was the Roman name for the Iberian Peninsula and its provinces. Under the Republic, Hispania was divided into two provinces: Hispania Citerior and Hispania Ulterior. During the Principate, Hispania Ulterior was divided into two new provinces, Baetica and Lusitania, while Hispania Citerior was renamed Hispania Tarraconensis. Subsequently, the western part of Tarraconensis was split off, first as Hispania Nova, later renamed "Callaecia". From Diocletian's Tetrarchy onwards, the south of remaining Tarraconensis was again split off as Carthaginensis, and probably then too the Balearic Islands and all the resulting provinces formed one civil diocese under the vicarius for the Hispaniae. The name, Hispania, was also used in the period of Visigothic rule.

Roman Britain part of the island of Great Britain controlled by the Roman Empire

Roman Britain was the area of the island of Great Britain that was governed by the Roman Empire, from 43 to 410 AD. It comprised almost the whole of England and Wales and, for a short period, southern Scotland.

Justina used her influence over her young son to oppose the Nicean party which was championed by Ambrose. In 385 Ambrose refused an imperial request to hand over the Portian basilica for the celebration of Easter by the Imperial court. [4] When he was summoned to be punished to the Imperial palace, the orthodox populace rioted, and Justina's Gothic troops were prevented by the arch-bishop himself, standing in the doorway, from entering the Basilica. Justina was forced to back down. [5] Afterwards, Justina ordered legislation to rescind the penalties enacted by Gratian and Valentinian against heresy, proclaiming universal toleration. [6] When Ambrose was found, as no doubt she had intended, to have determinedly infracted the new laws, Justina again tried to have him banished, and Ambrose was forced to barricade himself, with the enthusiastic backing of the people, within the walls of the Basilica. The Imperial troops besieged him, but Ambrose held on, reinforcing the resolution of his followers by allegedly unearthing, beneath the foundations of the church, the bodies of two ancient martyrs. [7] Theodosius, the orthodox emperor of the east, interceded, forcing Justina to again relent. [8] Magnus Maximus was to use the emperor's heterodoxy against him. Valentinian also tried to restrain the despoiling of pagan temples in Rome. Buoyed by this instruction, the pagan senators, led by Aurelius Symmachus, the Prefect of Rome, petitioned in 384 for the restoration of the Altar of Victory in the Senate House, which had been removed by Gratian in 382. Valentinian, at the insistence of Ambrose, refused the request and, in so doing, rejected the traditions and rituals of pagan Rome to which Symmachus had appealed.

Magnus Maximus politician (0335-0388)

Magnus Maximus was Roman Emperor in the western portion of the Empire from 383 to 388.

Rome Capital city and comune in Italy

Rome is the capital city and a special comune of Italy. Rome also serves as the capital of the Lazio region. With 2,872,800 residents in 1,285 km2 (496.1 sq mi), it is also the country's most populated comune. It is the fourth most populous city in the European Union by population within city limits. It is the centre of the Metropolitan City of Rome, which has a population of 4,355,725 residents, thus making it the most populous metropolitan city in Italy. Rome is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, within Lazio (Latium), along the shores of the Tiber. The Vatican City is an independent country inside the city boundaries of Rome, the only existing example of a country within a city: for this reason Rome has been often defined as capital of two states.

Roman Senate A political institution in ancient Rome

The Roman Senate was a political institution in ancient Rome. It was one of the most enduring institutions in Roman history, being established in the first days of the city of Rome,. It survived the overthrow of the kings in 509 BC, the fall of the Roman Republic in the 1st century BC, the division of the Roman Empire in 395 AD, the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD, and the barbarian rule of Rome in the 5th, 6th, and 7th centuries.

In 383, Magnus Maximus, commander of the armies in Britain, declared himself Emperor and established himself in Gaul and Hispania. Gratian died while fleeing him. For a time the court of Valentinian, through the mediation of Ambrose, came to an accommodation with the usurper, and Theodosius recognized Maximus as co-emperor of the West. In 386 or 387, Maximus crossed the Alps into the Po valley and threatened Milan. Valentinian II and Justina fled to Theodosius in Thessalonica. The latter came to an agreement, cemented by his marriage to Valentinian's sister Galla, to restore the young emperor in the West. [3] In 388, Theodosius marched west and defeated Maximus. Although he was to appoint both of his sons emperor (Arcadius in 383, Honorius in 393), Theodosius remained loyal to the dynasty of Valentinian I.

Western Roman Empire Independently administered western provinces of the Roman Empire

In historiography, the Western Roman Empire refers to the western provinces of the Roman Empire at any time during which they were administered by a separate independent Imperial court; in particular, this term is used to describe the period from 395 to 476, where there were separate coequal courts dividing the governance of the empire in the Western and the Eastern provinces, with a distinct imperial succession in the separate courts. The terms Western Roman Empire and Eastern Roman Empire are modern descriptions that describe political entities that were de facto independent; contemporary Romans did not consider the Empire to have been split into two separate empires but viewed it as a single polity governed by two separate imperial courts as an administrative expediency. The Western Roman Empire collapsed in 476, and the Western imperial court was formally dissolved in 480. The Eastern imperial court survived until 1453.

Alps major mountain range system in Central Europe

The Alps are the highest and most extensive mountain range system that lies entirely in Europe, separating Southern from Central and Western Europe and stretching approximately 1,200 kilometres (750 mi) across eight Alpine countries : France, Switzerland, Italy, Monaco, Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany, and Slovenia. The mountains were formed over tens of millions of years as the African and Eurasian tectonic plates collided. Extreme shortening caused by the event resulted in marine sedimentary rocks rising by thrusting and folding into high mountain peaks such as Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn. Mont Blanc spans the French–Italian border, and at 4,810 m (15,781 ft) is the highest mountain in the Alps. The Alpine region area contains about a hundred peaks higher than 4,000 metres (13,000 ft).

Arcadius Roman Emperor from 395–408

Arcadius was Eastern Roman Emperor from 395 to 408. He was the eldest son of Theodosius I and his first wife Aelia Flaccilla, and brother of the Western Emperor Honorius. A weak ruler, his reign was dominated by a series of powerful ministers and by his wife, Aelia Eudoxia.

Reign from Vienne (388–392)

A solidus minted by Valentinian II. On the reverse, both Valentinian and Theodosius I are celebrated as victorious. Solidus Valentinian II trier RIC 090a.jpg
A solidus minted by Valentinian II. On the reverse, both Valentinian and Theodosius I are celebrated as victorious.

After the defeat of Maximus, Theodosius remained in Milan until 391. Valentinian took no part in Theodosius's triumphal celebrations over Maximus. Valentinian and his court were installed at Vienne in Gaul, while Theodosius appointed key administrators in the West and had coins minted, which implied his guardianship over the 17-year-old. [9] Justina had already died, and Vienne was far away from the influence of Ambrose. Theodosius's trusted general, the Frank Arbogast, was appointed magister militum for the Western provinces (bar Africa) and guardian of Valentinian. Acting in the name of Valentinian, Arbogast was actually subordinate only to Theodosius. [10] While the general campaigned successfully on the Rhine, the young emperor remained at Vienne, in contrast to his warrior father and his older brother, who had campaigned at his age. Arbogast's domination over the emperor was considerable, and the general even murdered Harmonius, a friend of Valentinian suspected of taking bribes, in the emperor's presence. [11]

Roman triumph

The Roman triumph was a civil ceremony and religious rite of ancient Rome, held to publicly celebrate and sanctify the success of a military commander who had led Roman forces to victory in the service of the state or, originally and traditionally, one who had successfully completed a foreign war.

Vienne, Isère Subprefecture and commune in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, France

Vienne is a commune in southeastern France, located 35 kilometres (22 mi) south of Lyon, on the river Rhône. It is only the fourth largest city in the Isère department, of which it is a subprefecture, but was a major center of the Roman empire.

Franks people

The Franks were a collection of Germanic peoples, whose name was first mentioned in 3rd century Roman sources, associated with tribes on the Lower and Middle Rhine, on the edge of the Roman Empire. Later the term was associated with Romanized Germanic dynasties within the collapsing Roman Empire, who eventually commanded the whole region between the rivers Loire and Rhine. They then imposed power over many other post-Roman kingdoms and Germanic peoples, and still later they were given recognition by the Catholic Church as successors to the old rulers of the Western Roman Empire.

The crisis reached a peak when Arbogast prohibited the emperor from leading the Gallic armies into Italy to oppose a barbarian threat. Valentinian, in response, formally dismissed Arbogast. The latter ignored the order, publicly tearing it up and arguing that Valentinian had not appointed him in the first place. The reality of where the power lay was openly displayed. Valentinian wrote to Theodosius and Ambrose complaining of his subordination to his general. In explicit rejection of his earlier Arianism, he invited Ambrose to come to Vienne to baptize him.

On 15 May 392, Valentinian was found hanged in his residence in Vienne. Arbogast maintained that the emperor's death was suicide. Most sources agree, however, that Arbogast murdered him with his own hands, or paid the Praetorians. Zosimus writing in the early sixth century from Constantinople, states that Arbogast had Valentinian murdered; [12] ancient authorities being divided in their opinion. [13] [ page needed ] Ambrose's eulogy is the only contemporary Western source for Valentinian's death. [14] It is ambiguous on the question of the emperor's death, which is not surprising, as Ambrose represents him as a model of Christian virtue. Suicide, not murder, would make the bishop dissemble on this key question. [15]

The young man's body was conveyed in ceremony to Milan for burial by Ambrose, mourned by his sisters Justa and Grata. He was laid in a porphyry sarcophagus next to his brother Gratian, most probably in the Chapel of Sant'Aquilino attached to San Lorenzo. [lower-alpha 1]

At first Arbogast recognized Theodosius's son Arcadius as emperor in the West, seemingly surprised by his charge's death. [17] After three months, during which he had no communication from Theodosius, Arbogast selected an imperial official, Eugenius, as emperor. Theodosius initially tolerated this regime but, in January 393, elevated the eight-year-old Honorius as augustus to succeed Valentinian II. Civil war ensued and, in 394, Theodosius defeated Eugenius and Arbogast at the Battle of Frigidus River.

Significance

Valentinian himself seems to have exercised no real authority, and was a figurehead for various powerful interests: his mother, his co-emperors, and powerful generals. Since the Crisis of the Third Century, the empire had been ruled by powerful generals, a situation formalised by Diocletian and his collegiate system. While Constantine I and his sons had been strong military figures, they had also re-established the practice of hereditary succession, adopted by Valentinian I. The obvious flaw in these two competing requirements came in the reign of Valentinian II, a child. [18] His reign was a harbinger of the fifth century, when children or nonentities, reigning as emperors, were controlled by powerful generals and officials.

Notes

  1. The bottom of the sarcophagus may be identical to a porphyry tub (labrum) now in the Duomo of Milan. [16]

Related Research Articles

Ambrose bishop of Milan; one of the four original doctors of the Church

Aurelius Ambrosius, better known in English as Ambrose, was a bishop of Milan who became one of the most influential ecclesiastical figures of the 4th century. He was the Roman governor of Liguria and Emilia, headquartered in Milan, before being made bishop of Milan by popular acclamation in 374. Ambrose was a staunch opponent of Arianism.

Theodosius I Roman emperor

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Victor (emperor) emperor of the Western Roman Empire

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Flavius Claudius Antonius was a Roman politician under the reigns of Valentinian I, Gratian and Theodosius I. He was appointed consul in AD 382 alongside Flavius Afranius Syagrius.

References

  1. Valentinian II, Roman emperors.
  2. Curran 1998, p. 86.
  3. 1 2 Wikisource-logo.svg Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Valentinian I. s.v. Valetinian II.". Encyclopædia Britannica . 27 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 851–852.
  4. Edward Gibbon, The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire, (The Modern Library, 1932), chap. XXVII., p. 976
  5. Gibbon, p. 977
  6. Gibbon, p. 978
  7. Gibbon, p. 979
  8. Gibbon, p. 980
  9. Croke 1976, pp. 235f.
  10. Williams & Friell, p. 126.
  11. Croke 1976, p. 237.
  12. Historia nova, IV. 53 which relies heavily on the history by the pagan Eunapius
  13. Croke 1976.
  14. De obitu Valentiniani consolatio
  15. of Milan, Ambrose (2005), Political Letters and Speeches, JHWG Liebeschuetz, tr, Liverpool University Press, p. 359.
  16. Johnson, Mark J (1991), "On the Burial Places of the Valentinian Dynasty", Historia, 40 (4): 501–6.
  17. Croke 1976, p. 244.
  18. Williams & Friell, p. 42.

Bibliography

Valentinian II
Born: 371 Died: 15 May 392
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Valentinian I
Roman Emperor
371–392
Served alongside: Valens, Gratian and Theodosius (Later Theodosius I as main Emperor)
Succeeded by
Theodosius I
Political offices
Preceded by
Gratian,
Flavius Equitius
Consul of the Roman Empire
376
with Valens
Succeeded by
Gratian,
Merobaudes
Preceded by
Gratian,
Merobaudes
Consul of the Roman Empire
378
with Valens
Succeeded by
Ausonius,
Quintus Clodius Hermogenianus Olybrius
Preceded by
Honorius,
Flavius Euodius
Consul of the Roman Empire
387
with Eutropius
Succeeded by
Magnus Maximus,
Theodosius I,
Maternus Cynegius
Preceded by
Timasius,
Promotus
Consul of the Roman Empire
390
with Neoterius
Succeeded by
Eutolmius Tatianus,
Quintus Aurelius Symmachus