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Gratian
Emperor of the Roman Empire
Bust of Gratian
Reign 4 August 367 – 17 November 375 (Augustus under his father;
17 November 375 – 25 August 383 (nominally co-Augustus in the West with Valentinian II, effectively senior emperor in the west)
Predecessor Valentinian I
Successor Magnus Maximus / Valentinian II
Spouse Flavia Maxima Constantia
Laeta
Full name
Flavius Gratianus (from birth to accession);
Flavius Gratianus Augustus (as emperor)
Father Valentinian I
Mother Marina Severa
Born 18 April/23 May 359
Sirmium (Sremska Mitrovica, Serbia)
Died 25 August 383 (aged 24)
Lyon
For other figures with this name, see Gratian (disambiguation).

Flavius Gratianus (18 April/23 May 359 – 25 August 383), known usually by the anglicised name Gratian, was a Western Roman Emperor from 375 to 383.

He favoured the Christian religion against Roman polytheism, refusing the traditional polytheistic attributes of the emperors and removing the Altar of Victory from the Roman Senate.

Contents

Life

Gratian was the son of Emperor Valentinian I[1] by Marina Severa, and was born at Sirmium[2] (now Sremska Mitrovica, Serbia) in Pannonia. He was named after his grandfather Gratian the Elder. Gratian was first married to Flavia Maxima Constantia, daughter of Constantius II. His second wife was Laeta. Both marriages remained childless. His stepmother was Empress Justina and his paternal half siblings were Emperor Valentinian II, Galla and Justa.

On 4 August 367 he received from his father the title of Augustus. On the death of Valentinian (17 November 375), the troops in Pannonia proclaimed his infant son (by a second wife Justina) emperor under the title of Valentinian II.

Gratian acquiesced in their choice; reserving for himself the administration of the Gallic provinces, he handed over Italy, Illyricum and Africa to Valentinian and his mother, who fixed their residence at Mediolanum. The division, however, was merely nominal, and the real authority remained in the hands of Gratian.

The Eastern Roman Empire was under the rule of his uncle Valens. In May, 378 Gratian completely defeated the Lentienses, the southernmost branch of the Alamanni, at the Battle of Argentovaria, near the site of the modern Colmar. Later that year, Valens met his death in the Battle of Adrianopole on 9 August. Valens refused to wait for Gratian and his army to arrive and assist in defeating the host of Goths, Alans and Huns; as a result, two-thirds of the eastern Roman army were killed as well.

In the same year, the government of the Eastern Empire devolved upon Gratian, but feeling himself unable to resist unaided the incursions of the barbarians, he promoted Theodosius I on 19 January 379 to govern that portion of the empire. Gratianus and Theodosius then cleared the Balkans of barbarians in the Gothic War (376-382).

For some years Gratian governed the empire with energy and success but gradually sank into indolence, occupying himself chiefly with the pleasures of the chase, and became a tool in the hands of the Frankish general Merobaudes and bishop St. Ambrose of Milan.

By taking into his personal service a body of Alans, and appearing in public in the dress of a Scythian warrior, after the disaster of the Battle of Adrianopole, he aroused the contempt and resentment of his Roman troops. A Roman general named Magnus Maximus took advantage of this feeling to raise the standard of revolt in Britain and invaded Gaul with a large army. Gratian, who was then in Paris, being deserted by his troops, fled to Lyon. There, through the treachery of the governor, Gratian was delivered over to one of the rebel generals, Andragathius, and assassinated on 25 August 383.

Empire and religion

The reign of Gratian forms an important epoch in ecclesiastical history, since during that period Orthodox Christianity for the first time became dominant throughout the empire.

Under the influence of Ambrosius, Gratian prohibited Pagan worship at Rome; refused to wear the insignia of the pontifex maximus as unbefitting a Christian; removed the Altar of Victory from the Senate House at Rome, despite protests of the pagan members of the Senate, and confiscated its revenues; forbade legacies of real property to the Vestals; and abolished other privileges belonging to them and to the pontiffs. Nevertheless he was still deified after his death.

Gratian also published an edict that all their subjects should profess the faith of the bishops of Rome and Alexandria (i.e., the Nicene faith). The move was mainly thrust at the various beliefs that had arisen out of Arianism, but smaller dissident sects, such as the Macedonians, were also prohibited.

See also

References

External links

Gratian
Born: 18 April or 23 May 359 Died: 25 August 383
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Valentinian I and Valens
Roman Emperor
375–383
with Valens (375-378)
Valentinian II (375-383)
Theodosius I (379-383)
Succeeded by
Valentinian II and Theodosius I
Political offices
Preceded by
Imp. Caesar Flavius Valentinianus Augustus,
Imp. Caesar Flavius Valens Augustus
Consul of the Roman Empire
366
with Dagalaifus
Succeeded by
Flavius Lupicinus,
Flavius Iovinus
Preceded by
Imp. Caesar Flavius Valentinianus Augustus III,
Imp. Caesar Flavius Valens Augustus III
Consul of the Roman Empire
371
with Sex. Claudius Petronius Probus
Succeeded by
Domitius Modestus,
Flavius Arintheus
Preceded by
Imp. Caesar Flavius Valentinianus Augustus IV,
Imp. Caesar Flavius Valens Augustus IV
Consul of the Roman Empire
374
with Flavius Equitius
Succeeded by
Post consulatum Gratiani Augusti III et Equiti
Preceded by
Imp. Caesar Flavius Valens Augustus V,
Imp. Caesar Flavius Valentinianus Augustus
Consul of the Roman Empire
377
with Flavius Merobaudes
Succeeded by
Imp. Caesar Flavius Valens Augustus VI,
Imp. Caesar Flavius Valentinianus Augustus II
Preceded by
Decimius Magnus Ausonius,
Q. Clodius Hermogenianus Olybrius
Consul of the Roman Empire
380
with Imp. Caesar Flavius Theodosius Augustus
Succeeded by
Flavius Syagrius,
Flavius Eucherius

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

GRATIAN (FLAVIUS GRATIANUS AUGUSTUS), Roman emperor 375-3 8 3, son of Valentinian I. by Severa, was born at Sirmium in Pannonia, on the 18th of April (or 23rd of May) 359. On the 24th of August 367 he received from his father the title of Augustus. On the death of Valentinian (17th of November 375) the troops in Pannonia proclaimed his infant son (by a second wife Justina) emperor under the title of Valentinian II. (q.v.). Gratian acquiesced in their choice; reserving for himself the administration of the Gallic provinces, he handed over Italy, Illyria and Africa to Valentinian and his mother, who fixed their residence at Milan. The division, however, was merely nominal,. and the real authority remained in the hands of Gratian. The eastern portion of the empire was under the rule of his uncle Valens. In May 378 Gratian completely defeated the Lentienses, the southernmost branch of the Alamanni, at Argentaria, near the site of the modern Colmar. When Valens met his death fighting against the Goths near Adrianople on the 9th of August in the same year, the government of the eastern empire devolved upon Gratian, but feeling himself unable to resist unaided the incursions of the barbarians, he ceded it to Theodosius (January 379) With Theodosius he cleared the Balkans of barbarians.. For some years Gratian governed the empire with energy and success, but gradually he sank into indolence, occupied himself chiefly with the pleasures of the chase, and became a tool in the hands of the Frankish general Merobaudes and bishop Ambrose. By taking into his personal service a body of Alani, and appearing in public in the dress of a Scythian warrior, he aroused the contempt and resentment of his Roman troops. A Roman named' Maximus took advantage of this feeling to raise the standard of revolt in Britain and invaded Gaul with a large army, upon which Gratian, who was then in Paris, being deserted by his troops, fled to Lyons, where, through the treachery of the governor, he was delivered over to one of the rebel generals and assassinated on. the 25th of August 383.

The reign of Gratian forms an important epoch in ecclesiastical history, since during that period orthodox Christianity for the first time became dominant throughout the empire. In dealing with pagans and heretics Gratian, who during his later years was greatly influenced by Ambrose, bishop of Milan, exhibited severity and injustice at variance with his usual character. He prohibited heathen worship at Rome; refused to wear the insignia of the pontifex maximus as unbefitting a Christian;. removed the altar of Victory from the senate-house at Rome,. in spite of the remonstrance of the pagan members of the senate, and confiscated its revenues; forbade legacies of real property to the Vestals; and abolished other privileges belonging to them and to the pontiffs. For his treatment of heretics see the church histories of the period.

Authorities

Ammianus Marcellinus xxvii. - xxxi.; Aurelius Victor, Epit. 47; Zosimus iv. vi.; Ausonius (Gratian's tutor), especially the Gratiarum actio pro consulatu; Symmachus x. epp. 2 and 61; Ambrose, De fide, prolegomena to Epistolae II, 17, 21, Consolatio de obitu Valentiniani; H. Richter, Das westriimische Reich, besonders unter den Kaisern Gratian, Valentinian II. and Maximus (1865); A. de Broglie, L'Eglise et l'empire romain au IV' siecle (4th ed., 1882); H. Schiller, Geschichte der romischen Kaiserzeit, iii., iv. 31-33; Gibbon, Decline and Fall, ch. 27; R. Gumpoltsberger, Kaiser Gratian (Vienna, 1879); T. Hodgkin, Italy and her Invaders (Oxford, 1892), vol. i.; Tillemont, Hist. des empereurs, v.; J. Wordsworth in Smith's Dictionary of Christian Biography. (J. H. F.)


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