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Joannes
Usurper of the Western Roman Empire
Solidus Johannes-s4283.jpg
Joannes on a solidus.
Reign 27 August 423 - May 425, against Valentinian III
Died June or July 425
Place of death Aquileia

Ioannes, known in English as Joannes, was a Roman usurper (423-425) against Valentinian III.

On the death of the Emperor Honorius (August 27, 423), Theodosius II, the remaining ruler of the House of Theodosius hesitated in announcing his uncle's death. In the interregnum, Honorius's patrician at the time of his death, Castinus, elevated Joannes as emperor.

Joannes was a primicerius notariorum or senior civil servant at the time of his elevation. Procopius praised his mildness, intelligence, and general ability. Unlike the Theodosian emperors, he tolerated all Christian sects. His control over Gaul was insecure: his pretorian prefect of that region was slain at Arles in an uprising of the soldiery there. And Comes Bonifacius, in control of the African provinces, held back the grain fleet from Rome.

Joannes had hoped that he could come to an agreement with the emperor Theodosius, but when Theodosius II elevated the young Valentinian III first to Caesar, then to co-emperor as an Augustus (undoubtedly influenced by Valentinian's mother Galla Placidia), he knew he could only expect war. Late in 424, he sent one of his younger, but promising, followers Aëtius on an embassy to the Huns to seek military help.

While Aëtius was away on his mission, the army of the Eastern Empire left Thessalonica for Italy, and soon made their base in Aquileia. Further military actions were inconclusive until the garrison of Ravenna was convinced to betray him to a force led by Aspar, the son of the Eastern commander. The fallen emperor was brought to Aquileia where first his hand was cut off, then he was paraded on an donkey in the Hippodrome to the insults of the populace, then after further insults and injuries he was decapitated in June or July of 425.

Three days after Joannes's death, Aëtius returned at the head of a substantial Hunnic army. After some skirmishing, Placidia and Aëtius came to an agreement that established the political landscape of the Western Roman Empire for the next thirty years. The Huns were paid off and sent home, while Aetius received the position of magister militum (commander-in-chief of the Roman army).

External links

  • Hugh Elton, "Ioannes", from De Imperatoribus Romanis"
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