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Personajes_Imperiales_12.jpg
12 - Personalities of the Empire46 viewsFlavius Victor, Arcadius, Eudoxia, Honorius, Gala Placidia, Johannes, Theodosius II, Aelia Pulcheria, Valentinianus III, Marcian, Leon I, Severus III, Zenon I and Anastasius I (pre-reform)mdelvalle
Theo1Ae3Ant.jpeg
1505b, Theodosius I, 19 January 379 - 17 January 395 A.D. (Antioch)69 viewsTheodosius I, 19 January 379 - 17 January 395 A.D. Bronze AE 3, RIC 44(b), VF, Antioch, 2.17g, 18.1mm, 180o, 9 Aug 378 - 25 Aug 383 A.D. Obverse: D N THEODOSIVS P F AVG, rosette-diademed, draped and cuirassed bust right; Reverse: CONCORDIA AVGGG, Constantinopolis enthroned facing, r. foot on prow, globe in l., scepter in r., Q and F at sides, ANTG in ex; scarce.


De Imperatoribus Romanis: An Online Encyclopedia of Roman Rulers and their Families

THEODOSIUS I (379-395 A.D.)
David Woods
University College of Cork


Origin and Early Career
Flavius Theodosius was born at Cauca in Spain in about 346 to Thermantia and Theodosius the Elder (so-called to distinguish him from his son). Theodosius the Elder was a senior military officer serving in the Western empire and rose to become the magister equitum praesentalis under the emperor Valentinian I from late 368 until his execution in early 375. As the son of a soldier, Theodosius was legally obliged to enter upon a military career. He seems to have served under his father during his expedition to Britain in 367/8, and was the dux Moesiae Primae by late 374. Unfortunately, great controversy surrounds the rest of his career until Gratian had him hailed as his imperial colleague in succession to the emperor Valens at Sirmium on 19 January 379. It is clear that he was forced to retire home to Spain only to be recalled to active service shortly thereafter, but the circumstances of his forced retirement are shrouded in mystery. His father was executed at roughly the same time, and much speculation has centred on the relationship between these events.

[For a very detailed and interesting discussion of the Foreign Policy of Theodosius and the Civil Wars that plagued his reign, please see http://www.roman-emperors.org/theo1.htm]

Family and Succession
Theodosius married twice. His first wife was the Spanish Aelia Flavia Flaccilla. She bore him Arcadius ca. 377, Honorius on 9 September 384, and Pulcheria ca. 385. Theodosius honoured her with the title of Augusta shortly after his accession, but she died in 386. In late 387 he married Galla, daughter of Valentinian I and full-sister of Valentinian II. She bore him Gratian ca. 388, Galla Placidia ca. 388/390, and died in childbirth in 394, together with her new-born son John. Of his two sons who survived infancy, he appointed Arcadius as Augustus on 19 January 383 and Honorius as Augustus on 23 January 393. His promotion of Arcadius as a full Augustus at an unusually young age points to his determination right from the start that one of his own sons should succeed him. He sought to strengthen Arcadius' position in particular by means of a series of strategic marriages whose purpose was to tie his leading "generals" irrevocably to his dynasty. Hence he married his niece and adoptive daughter Serena to his magister militum per Orientem Stilicho in 387, her elder sister Thermantia to a "general" whose name has not been preserved, and ca. 387 his nephew-in-law Nebridius to Salvina, daughter of the comes Africae Gildo. By the time of his death by illness on 17 January 395, Theodosius had promoted Stilicho from his position as one of the two comites domesticorum under his own eastern administration to that of magister peditum praesentalis in a western administration, in an entirely traditional manner, under his younger son Honorius. Although Stilicho managed to increase the power of the magister peditum praesentalis to the disadvantage of his colleague the magister equitum praesentalis and claimed that Theodosius had appointed him as guardian for both his sons, this tells us more about his cunning and ambition than it does about Theodosius' constitutional arrangements.

Theodosius' importance rests on the fact that he founded a dynasty which continued in power until the death of his grandson Theodosius II in 450. This ensured a continuity of policy which saw the emergence of Nicene Christianity as the orthodox belief of the vast majority of Christians throughout the middle ages. It also ensured the essential destruction of paganism and the emergence of Christianity as the religion of the state, even if the individual steps in this process can be difficult to identify. On the negative side, however, he allowed his dynastic interests and ambitions to lead him into two unnecessary and bloody civil wars which severely weakened the empire's ability to defend itself in the face of continued barbarian pressure upon its frontiers. In this manner, he put the interests of his family before those of the wider Roman population and was responsible, in many ways, for the phenomenon to which we now refer as the fall of the western Roman empire.


Copyright (C) 1998, David Woods.
Published: De Imperatoribus Romanis: An Online Encyclopedia of Roman Rulers and their Families http://www.roman-emperors.org/startup.htm. Used by permission.

There is a nice segue here, as we pick-up John Julius Norwich's summation of the reign of Theodosius, "Readers of this brief account of his career may well find themselves wondering, not so much whether he deserved the title of 'the Great' as how he ever came to acquire it in the first place. If so, however, they may also like to ask themselves another question: what would have been the fate of the Empire if, at that critical moment in its history after the battle of Adrianople, young Gratian had not called him from his Spanish estates and put the future of the East into his hands? . . . the probability is that the whole Empire of the East would have been lost, swallowed up in a revived Gothic kingdom, with effects on world history that defy speculation.

In his civil legislation he showed, again and again, a consideration for the humblest of his subjects that was rare indeed among rulers of the fourth century. What other prince would have decreed that any criminal, sentenced to execution, imprisonment or exile, must first be allowed thirty days' grace to put his affairs in order? Or that a specified part of his worldly goods must go to his children, upon whom their father's crimes must on no account be visited? Or that no farmer should be obliged to sell his produce to the State at a price lower than he would receive on the open market?

Had he earned his title? Not, perhaps, in the way that Constantine had done or as Justinian was to do. But, if not ultimately great himself, he had surely come very close to greatness; and had he reigned as long as they did his achievements might well have equalled theirs. He might even have saved the Western Empire. One thing only is certain: it would be nearly a century and a half before the Romans would look upon his like again" (Norwich, John Julius. Byzantium, the Early Centuries. London: Penguin Group, 1990. 116-7;118).

Edited by J. P. Fitzgerald, Jr.



Cleisthenes
Theod1GlrMan.jpg
1505c, Theodosius I, 379 - 395 A.D. (Constantinople)78 viewsTheodosius I (379 - 395 AD) AE3. 388-394 AD, RIC IX 27(a)3, Third Officina. Seventh Period. 20.27 mm. 4.8gm. Near VF with black and earthen patina. Constantinople. Obverse: DN THEODO-SIANVS P F AVG, pearl-diademed, draped, & cuirassed bust right; Reverse: GLORIA-ROMANORVM, Theodosius I standing, facing, holding labarum and globe, CONSB in exergue (scarcer reverse). A Spanish find.



De Imperatoribus Romanis: An Online Encyclopedia of Roman Rulers and their Families

THEODOSIUS I (379-395 A.D.)
David Woods
University College of Cork


Origin and Early Career
Flavius Theodosius was born at Cauca in Spain in about 346 to Thermantia and Theodosius the Elder (so-called to distinguish him from his son). Theodosius the Elder was a senior military officer serving in the Western empire and rose to become the magister equitum praesentalis under the emperor Valentinian I from late 368 until his execution in early 375. As the son of a soldier, Theodosius was legally obliged to enter upon a military career. He seems to have served under his father during his expedition to Britain in 367/8, and was the dux Moesiae Primae by late 374. Unfortunately, great controversy surrounds the rest of his career until Gratian had him hailed as his imperial colleague in succession to the emperor Valens at Sirmium on 19 January 379. It is clear that he was forced to retire home to Spain only to be recalled to active service shortly thereafter, but the circumstances of his forced retirement are shrouded in mystery. His father was executed at roughly the same time, and much speculation has centred on the relationship between these events.

[For a very detailed and interesting discussion of the Foreign Policy of Theodosius and the Civil Wars that plagued his reign, please see http://www.roman-emperors.org/theo1.htm]

Family and Succession
Theodosius married twice. His first wife was the Spanish Aelia Flavia Flaccilla. She bore him Arcadius ca. 377, Honorius on 9 September 384, and Pulcheria ca. 385. Theodosius honoured her with the title of Augusta shortly after his accession, but she died in 386. In late 387 he married Galla, daughter of Valentinian I and full-sister of Valentinian II. She bore him Gratian ca. 388, Galla Placidia ca. 388/390, and died in childbirth in 394, together with her new-born son John. Of his two sons who survived infancy, he appointed Arcadius as Augustus on 19 January 383 and Honorius as Augustus on 23 January 393. His promotion of Arcadius as a full Augustus at an unusually young age points to his determination right from the start that one of his own sons should succeed him. He sought to strengthen Arcadius' position in particular by means of a series of strategic marriages whose purpose was to tie his leading "generals" irrevocably to his dynasty. Hence he married his niece and adoptive daughter Serena to his magister militum per Orientem Stilicho in 387, her elder sister Thermantia to a "general" whose name has not been preserved, and ca. 387 his nephew-in-law Nebridius to Salvina, daughter of the comes Africae Gildo. By the time of his death by illness on 17 January 395, Theodosius had promoted Stilicho from his position as one of the two comites domesticorum under his own eastern administration to that of magister peditum praesentalis in a western administration, in an entirely traditional manner, under his younger son Honorius. Although Stilicho managed to increase the power of the magister peditum praesentalis to the disadvantage of his colleague the magister equitum praesentalis and claimed that Theodosius had appointed him as guardian for both his sons, this tells us more about his cunning and ambition than it does about Theodosius' constitutional arrangements.

Theodosius' importance rests on the fact that he founded a dynasty which continued in power until the death of his grandson Theodosius II in 450. This ensured a continuity of policy which saw the emergence of Nicene Christianity as the orthodox belief of the vast majority of Christians throughout the middle ages. It also ensured the essential destruction of paganism and the emergence of Christianity as the religion of the state, even if the individual steps in this process can be difficult to identify. On the negative side, however, he allowed his dynastic interests and ambitions to lead him into two unnecessary and bloody civil wars which severely weakened the empire's ability to defend itself in the face of continued barbarian pressure upon its frontiers. In this manner, he put the interests of his family before those of the wider Roman population and was responsible, in many ways, for the phenomenon to which we now refer as the fall of the western Roman empire.


Copyright (C) 1998, David Woods.
Published: De Imperatoribus Romanis: An Online Encyclopedia of Roman Rulers and their Families http://www.roman-emperors.org/startup.htm. Used by permission.

There is a nice segue here, as we pick-up John Julius Norwich's summation of the reign of Theodosius, "Readers of this brief account of his career may well find themselves wondering, not so much whether he deserved the title of 'the Great' as how he ever came to acquire it in the first place. If so, however, they may also like to ask themselves another question: what would have been the fate of the Empire if, at that critical moment in its history after the battle of Adrianople, young Gratian had not called him from his Spanish estates and put the future of the East into his hands? . . . the probability is that the whole Empire of the East would have been lost, swallowed up in a revived Gothic kingdom, with effects on world history that defy speculation.

In his civil legislation he showed, again and again, a consideration for the humblest of his subjects that was rare indeed among rulers of the fourth century. What other prince would have decreed that any criminal, sentenced to execution, imprisonment or exile, must first be allowed thirty days' grace to put his affairs in order? Or that a specified part of his worldly goods must go to his children, upon whom their father's crimes must on no account be visited? Or that no farmer should be obliged to sell his produce to the State at a price lower than he would receive on the open market?

Had he earned his title? Not, perhaps, in the way that Constantine had done or as Justinian was to do. But, if not ultimately great himself, he had surely come very close to greatness; and had he reigned as long as they did his achievements might well have equalled theirs. He might even have saved the Western Empire. One thing only is certain: it would be nearly a century and a half before the Romans would look upon his like again" (Norwich, John Julius. Byzantium, the Early Centuries. London: Penguin Group, 1990. 116-7;118).

Edited by J. P. Fitzgerald, Jr.
Cleisthenes
coin402.JPG
516a Johannes42 viewsAfter the death of Honorius on August 15, 423, his closest male relative was Valentinian, son of Galla Placidia. Valentinian was currently at Constantinople. This power vacuum allowed Ioannes, the primicerius notariorum (chief notary) to seize power in the west. Virtually nothing is known of Ioannes himself, though he was said to have had a mild character. He was supported by the magister militum Castinus and by Aetius, son of the magister militum Gaudentius. After his acclamation at Rome, Ioannes transferred his capital to Ravenna. Ioannes' rule was accepted in Gaul, Spain and Italy, but not in Africa. Ioannes' attempts to negotiate with the eastern emperor Theodosius II were unsuccessful. He seems not to have had a firm grasp of power and this encouraged eastern intervention. In 425, Theodosius II sent an expedition under the command of Ardabur the Elder to install Valentinian as emperor in the west. Ardabur was captured, but treated well, as Ioannes still hoped to be able to negotiate with Theodosius. Ardabur, however, persuaded some of Ioannes' officials to betray him. After his capture, Ioannes was taken to Aquileia where he was mutilated, then executed. Three days after Ioannes's execution, one of his generals, Aetius, arrived in Italy with a large force of Huns. Rather than continue the war, Valentinian bought off the Huns with gold and Aetius with the office of comes.
1 commentsecoli
coin401.JPG
602a. Valentinian III31 viewsIn the early years of his reign, Valentinian was overshadowed by his mother. After his marriage in 437, moreover, much of the real authority lay in the hands of the Patrician and Master of Soldiers Aetius. Nor does Valentinian seem to have had much of an aptitude for rule. He is described as spoiled, pleasure-loving, and influenced by sorcerers and astrologers. He divided his time primarily between Rome and Ravenna. Like his mother, Valentinian was devoted to religion. He contributed to churches of St. Laurence in both Rome and Ravenna. He also oversaw the accumulation of ecclesiastical authority in the hands of the bishop of Rome as he granted ever greater authority and prestige to pope Leo the Great (440-461) in particular.

Valentinian's reign saw the continued dissolution of the western empire. By 439, nearly all of North Africa was effectively lost to the Vandals; Valentinian did attempt to neutralize that threat by betrothing his sister Placidia to the Vandal prince Huneric. In Spain, the Suevi controlled the northwest, and much of Gaul was to all intents and purposes controlled by groups of Visigoths, Burgundians, Franks, and Alans. In 454, Valentinian murdered his supreme general Aetius, presumably in an attempt to rule in his own right. But in the next year, he himself was murdered by two members of his bodyguard, ex-partisans of Aetius.

Although Valentinian was ineffectual as a ruler, his legitimate status and connection to the old ruling dynasty provided a last vestige of unity for the increasingly fragmented Roman empire. After his death, the decay of the west accelerated. The different regions of the west went their own way, and the last several western emperors, the so-called "Shadow" or "Puppet" Emperors, not only were usually overshadowed by one barbarian general or other, but also were limited primarily to Italy.
ecoli
Victoria de pie.jpg
A154-10 - Valentiniano III (425 - 455 D.C.)74 viewsAE4 Nummus 10 mm 1.0 gr.
Hijo de Gala Placidia y Constancio III, Augusto de Occidente.

Anv: "[DN VALENTINIANVS P F AVG]" - Busto con diadema de perlas, coraza y Paludamentum (capote militar) sobre ella, viendo a derecha.
Rev: "VICTOR [IA AVGG]" - Victoria avanzando a izquierda, portando una corona/guirnalda en mano derecha y hoja de palma en mano izquierda que apoya sobre su hombro izquierdo. "[RM]" en exergo, S en campo izquierdo.

Acuada 425 - 455 D.C.
Ceca: Roma (Off.2da.)
Rareza: R

Referencias: RIC Vol.X #2121 Pag.377 - Cohen Vol.VIII #12 var. Pag.211 - DVM #25 Pag.320 - Salgado MRBI Vol.III #9717.b Pag.322
mdelvalle
MISC_Ancona_grosso_Biaggi_34.jpg
Italian States: Ancona. Republic1 viewsBiaggi 34; CNI v. VIII, pp. 3-4, nos. 19-31, plate I/4-5

AR Grosso, struck ca. 13th-14th Century; 2.19 g., 21.77 mm. max.; 270

Obv: + (star) DE ANCONA (star), cross patte.

Rev: PP S QVI (star) (trefoil) RI ACVS (rosette) , St. Judas Cyriacus (Quiriacus) standing facing, holding crozier and raising hand in benediction.

The reverse legend refers to Saint Judas Cyriacus (Quiriacus), patron Saint of Ancona. Local tradition claims that Cyriacus/Quiriacus was a Jew of Jerusalem who had a fateful meeting with the Roman empress Helena, mother of Constantine the Great, around 327 A.D. Helena was on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem when she encountered Cyriacus, who revealed to her the location of the True Cross upon which Christ was crucified. After guiding the empress to the holy relic, Cyriacus converted to Christianity and became Bishop of Jerusalem, only to suffer martyrdom years later under Julian the Apostate. The city of Ancona is said to have received his relics, minus his head, under empress Galla Placidia, around the middle of the fifth Century (his head is in the town of Provins, France, where it was brought from Jerusalem during the crusades). He has been the citys patron Saint ever since.

During this period Ancona was an oligarchic republic, ruled by six elected Elders. In 1348, after the city was weakened by the black death and a fire, the Malatesta family took control.
Stkp
21320341.jpg
Italy, Ravenna, Mausoleum of Galla Placidia64 viewsit is describbed as "the earliest and best preserved of all mosaic monuments, and at the same time one of the most artistically perfect"

The building was formerly the oratory of the Church of the Holy Cross and now contains three sarcophagi. The largest sarcophagus was thought to contain the remains of Galla Placidia (died 450). Other is attributed to her husband, Emperor Constantius III. The last sarcophagus is attributed to Galla's son, Emperor Valentinian III, or to her brother, Emperor Honorius.
Johny SYSEL
21320354.jpg
Italy, Ravenna, Mausoleum of Galla Placidia137 viewsit is describbed as "the earliest and best preserved of all mosaic monuments, and at the same time one of the most artistically perfect"

The building was formerly the oratory of the Church of the Holy Cross and now contains three sarcophagi. The largest sarcophagus was thought to contain the remains of Galla Placidia (died 450). Other is attributed to her husband, Emperor Constantius III. The last sarcophagus is attributed to Galla's son, Emperor Valentinian III, or to her brother, Emperor Honorius.
1 commentsJohny SYSEL
21320438.jpg
Italy, Ravenna, Mausoleum of Galla Placidia139 viewsit is describbed as "the earliest and best preserved of all mosaic monuments, and at the same time one of the most artistically perfect"

The building was formerly the oratory of the Church of the Holy Cross and now contains three sarcophagi. The largest sarcophagus was thought to contain the remains of Galla Placidia (died 450). Other is attributed to her husband, Emperor Constantius III. The last sarcophagus is attributed to Galla's son, Emperor Valentinian III, or to her brother, Emperor Honorius.
1 commentsJohny SYSEL
21320330.jpg
Italy, Ravenna, Mausoleum of Galla Placidia62 viewsThe building was formerly the oratory of the Church of the Holy Cross and now contains three sarcophagi. The largest sarcophagus was thought to contain the remains of Galla Placidia (died 450). Other is attributed to her husband, Emperor Constantius III. The last sarcophagus is attributed to Galla's son, Emperor Valentinian III, or to her brother, Emperor Honorius.Johny SYSEL
TacitusRIC210.jpg
[1117] Tacitus, 25 September 275 - 12 April 276 A.D.51 viewsSilvered Antoninianus. RIC 210. Weight, Size. aVF. Minted in Antioch. Obverse: IMP C M CL TACITVS AVG, Radiate, draped and cuirassed bust right; Reverse: CLEMENTIA TEMP, Emperor standing right receiving globe from Jupiter, both holding scepters, Z below figures; XXI in exegrue. Ex Maridvnvm.


De Imperatoribus Romanis, An Online Encyclopedia of Roman Emperors

Tacitus (275-276 A.D.)

Robin Mc Mahon
New York University

Full name, Marcus Claudius Tacitus; name as Emperor, Imperator Caesar Marcus Claudius Tacitus Pius Felix Invictus Augustus. We have no reliable information on the earlier career of the Emperor Tacitus. All that is known with any degree of certainty is that in 273 he was consul along with Julius Placidianus. All the statements in the Historia Augusta regarding Tacitus' earlier career, including the claim he was related to the historian Tacitus, have been rejected by historians as fictitious. The most reliable sources for Tacitus' reign, Zosimus and Zonaras, state that he was chosen Emperor by the army following the assassination of Aurelian in the fall of 275, most likely in November. At the time of his elevation he was in Interamna (modern Terni, about 60 miles north of Rome). From there he made his way to Rome where he was confirmed as Emperor by the Senate. Tradition has it that he was 75 years old at the time, but there is no way to confirm this.

As Emperor, Tacitus first had Aurelian deified, then seized and executed many individuals involved in plotting Aurelian's murder. Tacitus then turned his attention to the defense of the Empire. Although the Franks, Alamanni, and Longiones posed threats in the north, Tacitus determined that the greater danger lay in the East. Aurelian had enlisted the aid of several barbarian tribes, including the Heruli and Maeotidae (referred to as Scythians in the sources), for a projected invasion of Parthia. Aurelian's murder cancelled these plans. Feeling cheated of their opportunity for plunder, the tribes attacked the Roman provinces in Asia Minor, overrunning Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia and Cilicia, and caused terrible destruction. Tacitus appointed his half-brother Florian Praetorian Prefect. They campaigned in the East against the invaders, winning Tacitus the title Gothicus Maximus.

Tacitus, however, did not long enjoy his victory: on his way back to Europe, he died. Zosimus and Zonaras preserve the report that Tacitus had appointed a relative of his, Maximinus, as governor of Syria. Maximinus was murdered; then the assassins, fearing Tacitus's reaction, murdered him. It was alleged that some of them had also had a hand in murdering Aurelian. The Historia Augusta more eccentrically reports that Tacitus became ill with a fever and started showing signs of megalomania: but as the month September Tacitus allegedly wanted named after himself dates his accession incorrectly, the story appears to be a fabrication. Tacitus died some time in June of 276. His memory was neither condemned nor deified.

Tacitus held the consulship at least twice, first in 273 and again in 276. There is numismatic evidence of a third consulship but there is no record of a third in any of the fasti, that is, the lists of consuls. Because of the paucity of the sources and the brevity of his reign, little can be said of his policies. It is unlikely that the military would choose as Emperor anyone like the contemplative, abstemious civilian the Historia Augusta portrays. A hint may be given by the fact that Tacitus's colleague in the consulship of 273, Julius Placidianus, commanded an army corps in Narbonensis and later went on to be a Praetorian Perfect. Nevertheless, some numismatic and epigraphic evidence suggests that Tacitus sought to strike a milder tone than his predecessor. Prominent among his coin legends is Clementia Temporum [the reverse type in my collection]. Unlike both Aurelian and Tacitus' successor, Probus, Tacitus did not take the title, deus et dominus natus ["born god and master"]. He also issued no Sol Invictus coins honoring Aurelian's favorite deity. Some of his coins revive the SC (senatus consulto) marking senatorial authority for the issue, which had been missing in previous reigns. Tacitus also used the Genius Senatus, inscriptions which had disappeared under Valerian. Further, in some inscriptions he is styled auctor verae libertatis ["originator of true liberty"], and on coins restitutor rei publicae ["restorer of the state"].

Historiography

Tacitus largely fell out of the ancient historiographical record. The best sources are Zosimus and Zonaras. The Historia Augusta creates its own fiction of Tacitus out of forged documents, bogus names and faulty chronology. Tacitus deserved better than oblivion or fabrication, having halted potentially serious raiding in the East.

Two problems emerge from the evidence for Tacitus's short reign. The first is the six-month interregnum said to have intervened between the death of Aurelian and Tacitus' accession. The years 260-285 have been the subject of close chronological scrutiny, and it has been shown that, although there might have been a brief interval between emperors (something not uncommon), amounting to a few weeks, anything longer is not possible. The error appears to have originated in the Latin historians, who confused the duration of Tacitus' and Florian's reign with the brief period between the reigns of Aurelian and Tacitus.

The second question is whether or not the edict of the Emperor Gallienus, which had excluded senators from military commands and any other dealings with the military, was set aside during the reigns of Tacitus and Florian. Aurelius Victor reports that Gallienus, acting largely through fear of revolts and usurpation, replaced the senators in military offices with Equites. Several passages in the Historia Augusta claim that these edicts were suspended for the duration of the reigns of Tacitus and Florian. The overwhelming consensus among historians, however, is that the passages in the Historia Augusta are unhistorical: no credible evidence suggests that Gallienus' edicts were even temporarily set aside.

Copyright (C) 2000, Robin Mc Mahon. Used by permission.
http://www.roman-emperors.org/tacitus.htm

Tacitus was an elderly senator in the reign of Aurelian, and after the latter's death was selected as Augustus by the senate. After personally leading his army in a successful campaign against a Gothic invasion, the emperor, aged around 75, died (Joseph Sermarini, FORVM;
http://www.forumancientcoins.com/catalog/roman-and-greek-coins.asp?vpar=747&pos=0#Recovery%20of%20the%20Empire%20Coins).


Edited by J. P. Fitzgerald, Jr.




Cleisthenes
TheodosiusRIC83b.jpg
[1601a] Theodosius I, 19 January 379 - 17 January 395 A.D. 67 viewsBronze AE 2, RIC 83(b), EF, Constantinople mint, 4.389g, 22.1mm, 180o, 25 Aug 383 - 28 Aug 388 A.D.; Obverse: D N THEODO-SIVS P F AVG, pearl-diademed, draped and cuirassed bust right; Reverse: VIRTVS E-XERCITI, Emperor standing right holding standard and globe, foot on captive, cross in left field, CONSA in exergue. Ex FORVM.


De Imperatoribus Romanis: An Online Encyclopedia of Roman Rulers and their Families

THEODOSIUS I (379-395 A.D.)
David Woods
University College of Cork


Origin and Early Career
Flavius Theodosius was born at Cauca in Spain in about 346 to Thermantia and Theodosius the Elder (so-called to distinguish him from his son). Theodosius the Elder was a senior military officer serving in the Western empire and rose to become the magister equitum praesentalis under the emperor Valentinian I from late 368 until his execution in early 375. As the son of a soldier, Theodosius was legally obliged to enter upon a military career. He seems to have served under his father during his expedition to Britain in 367/8, and was the dux Moesiae Primae by late 374. Unfortunately, great controversy surrounds the rest of his career until Gratian had him hailed as his imperial colleague in succession to the emperor Valens at Sirmium on 19 January 379. It is clear that he was forced to retire home to Spain only to be recalled to active service shortly thereafter, but the circumstances of his forced retirement are shrouded in mystery. His father was executed at roughly the same time, and much speculation has centred on the relationship between these events.

[For a very detailed and interesting discussion of the Foreign Policy of Theodosius and the Civil Wars that plagued his reign, please see http://www.roman-emperors.org/theo1.htm]

Family and Succession
Theodosius married twice. His first wife was the Spanish Aelia Flavia Flaccilla. She bore him Arcadius ca. 377, Honorius on 9 September 384, and Pulcheria ca. 385. Theodosius honoured her with the title of Augusta shortly after his accession, but she died in 386. In late 387 he married Galla, daughter of Valentinian I and full-sister of Valentinian II. She bore him Gratian ca. 388, Galla Placidia ca. 388/390, and died in childbirth in 394, together with her new-born son John. Of his two sons who survived infancy, he appointed Arcadius as Augustus on 19 January 383 and Honorius as Augustus on 23 January 393. His promotion of Arcadius as a full Augustus at an unusually young age points to his determination right from the start that one of his own sons should succeed him. He sought to strengthen Arcadius' position in particular by means of a series of strategic marriages whose purpose was to tie his leading "generals" irrevocably to his dynasty. Hence he married his niece and adoptive daughter Serena to his magister militum per Orientem Stilicho in 387, her elder sister Thermantia to a "general" whose name has not been preserved, and ca. 387 his nephew-in-law Nebridius to Salvina, daughter of the comes Africae Gildo. By the time of his death by illness on 17 January 395, Theodosius had promoted Stilicho from his position as one of the two comites domesticorum under his own eastern administration to that of magister peditum praesentalis in a western administration, in an entirely traditional manner, under his younger son Honorius. Although Stilicho managed to increase the power of the magister peditum praesentalis to the disadvantage of his colleague the magister equitum praesentalis and claimed that Theodosius had appointed him as guardian for both his sons, this tells us more about his cunning and ambition than it does about Theodosius' constitutional arrangements.

Theodosius' importance rests on the fact that he founded a dynasty which continued in power until the death of his grandson Theodosius II in 450. This ensured a continuity of policy which saw the emergence of Nicene Christianity as the orthodox belief of the vast majority of Christians throughout the middle ages. It also ensured the essential destruction of paganism and the emergence of Christianity as the religion of the state, even if the individual steps in this process can be difficult to identify. On the negative side, however, he allowed his dynastic interests and ambitions to lead him into two unnecessary and bloody civil wars which severely weakened the empire's ability to defend itself in the face of continued barbarian pressure upon its frontiers. In this manner, he put the interests of his family before those of the wider Roman population and was responsible, in many ways, for the phenomenon to which we now refer as the fall of the western Roman empire.


Copyright (C) 1998, David Woods.
Published: De Imperatoribus Romanis: An Online Encyclopedia of Roman Rulers and their Families http://www.roman-emperors.org/startup.htm. Used by permission.

There is a nice segue here, as we pick-up John Julius Norwich's summation of the reign of Theodosius, "Readers of this brief account of his career may well find themselves wondering, not so much whether he deserved the title of 'the Great' as how he ever came to acquire it in the first place. If so, however, they may also like to ask themselves another question: what would have been the fate of the Empire if, at that critical moment in its history after the battle of Adrianople, young Gratian had not called him from his Spanish estates and put the future of the East into his hands? . . . the probability is that the whole Empire of the East would have been lost, swallowed up in a revived Gothic kingdom, with effects on world history that defy speculation.

In his civil legislation he showed, again and again, a consideration for the humblest of his subjects that was rare indeed among rulers of the fourth century. What other prince would have decreed that any criminal, sentenced to execution, imprisonment or exile, must first be allowed thirty days' grace to put his affairs in order? Or that a specified part of his worldly goods must go to his children, upon whom their father's crimes must on no account be visited? Or that no farmer should be obliged to sell his produce to the State at a price lower than he would receive on the open market?

Had he earned his title? Not, perhaps, in the way that Constantine had done or as Justinian was to do. But, if not ultimately great himself, he had surely come very close to greatness; and had he reigned as long as they did his achievements might well have equalled theirs. He might even have saved the Western Empire. One thing only is certain: it would be nearly a century and a half before the Romans would look upon his like again" (Norwich, John Julius. Byzantium, the Early Centuries. London: Penguin Group, 1990. 116-7;118).

Edited by J. P. Fitzgerald, Jr.
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