Valens: Wikis


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This article is about the Roman Emperor. For other people called Valens, see Valens
Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire
Bust of Valens or Honorius. Marble, Roman artwork, beginning of 5th century.
Reign 28 March 364 – 17 November 375 (emperor of the east, with his brother in the west;
17 November 375 – 9 August 378 (emperor in the east, with his nephews Gratian and Valentinian II acting together as emperor of the west)
Predecessor Valentinian I (alone, whole empire)
Successor Theodosius I
Spouse Albia Dominica[1]
Valentinianus Galates,
Full name
Flavius Julius Valens (from birth to accession);
Flavius Julius Valens Augustus (as emperor)
Father Gratian the Elder
Born 328
Cibalae, near Sirmium, recent town of Vinkovci in Croatia
Died 9 August 378 (aged 50)

Flavius Julius Valens (Latin: FLAVIUS IVLIVS VALENS AVGVSTVS; 328 – 9 August 378) was Roman Emperor (364-378), after he was given the Eastern part of the empire by his brother Valentinian I. Valens, sometimes known as the Last True Roman, was defeated and killed in the Battle of Adrianople, which marked the beginning of the fall of the Western Roman Empire.




Appointment to emperor

Valens and his brother Flavius Valentinianus (Valentinian) were both born 48 miles west of Sirmium (modern Sremska Mitrovica, Serbia), in the town of Cibalae (Vinkovci, Croatia) in 328 and 321, respectively. They had grown up on estates purchased by their father, Gratian the Elder, in Africa and Britain. While Valentinian had enjoyed a successful military career prior to his appointment as emperor, Valens apparently had not. He had spent much of his youth on the family's estate and only joined the army in the 360s, participating with his brother in the Persian campaign of Emperor Julian.

He restored some religious persecution, and was Arian.

In February 364, reigning Emperor Jovian, while hastening to Constantinople to secure his claim to the throne, was asphyxiated during a stop at Dadastana, 100 miles east of Ankara. Among Jovian's agents was Valentinian, a tribunus scutariorum. He was proclaimed Augustus on 26 February, 364. Valentinian felt that he needed help to govern the large and troublesome empire, and, on 28 March of the same year, appointed his brother Valens as co-emperor in the palace of Hebdomon. The two Augusti travelled together through Adrianople and Naissus to Sirmium, where they divided their personnel, and Valentinian went on to the West.[2]

Valens obtained the eastern half of the Balkan Peninsula, Greece, Egypt, Syria and Anatolia as far east as Persia. Valens was back in his capital of Constantinople by December 364.

Revolt of Procopius

Bronze coin issued by Procopius.

Valens inherited the eastern portion of an empire that had recently retreated from most of its holdings in Mesopotamia and Armenia because of a treaty that his predecessor Jovian had made with Shapur II of the Sassanid Empire. Valens's first priority after the winter of 365 was to move east in hopes of shoring up the situation. By the autumn of 365 he had reached Cappadocian Caesarea when he learned that a usurper had proclaimed himself in Constantinople. When he died, Julian had left behind one surviving relative, a maternal cousin named Procopius. Procopius had been charged with overseeing a northern division of Julian's army during the Persian expedition and had not been present with the imperial elections when Julian's successor was named. Though Jovian made accommodations to appease this potential claimant, Procopius fell increasingly under suspicion in the first year of Valens' reign.

After narrowly escaping arrest, he went into hiding and reemerged at Constantinople where he was able to convince two military units passing through the capital to proclaim him emperor on 28 September 365. Though his early reception in the city seems to have been lukewarm, Procopius won favor quickly by using propaganda to his advantage: he sealed off the city to outside reports and began spreading rumors that Valentinian had died; he began minting coinage flaunting his connections to the Constantinian dynasty; and he further exploited dynastic claims by using the widow and daughter of Constantius II to act as showpieces for his regime. This program met with some success, particularly among soldiers loyal to the Constantinians and eastern intellectuals who had already begun to feel persecuted by the Valentinians.

Valens, meanwhile, faltered. When news arrived that Procopius had revolted, Valens considered abdication and perhaps even suicide. Even after he steadied his resolve to fight, Valens's efforts to forestall Procopius were hampered by the fact that most of his troops had already crossed the Cilician gates into Syria when he learned of the revolt. Even so, Valens sent two legions to march on Procopius, who easily persuaded them to desert to him. Later that year, Valens himself was nearly captured in a scramble near Chalcedon. Troubles were exacerbated by the refusal of Valentinian to do any more than protect his own territory from encroachment. The failure of imperial resistance in 365 allowed Procopius to gain control of the dioceses of Thrace and Asiana by year's end.

Only in the spring of 366 had Valens assembled enough troops to deal with Procopius effectively. Marching out from Ancyra through Pessinus, Valens proceeded into Phrygia where he defeated Procopius's general Gomoarius at the Battle of Thyatira. He then met Procopius himself at Nacoleia and convinced his troops to desert him. Procopius was executed on 27 May and his head sent to Valentinian in Trier for inspection.

War against the Goths

The Gothic people in the northern region had supported Procopius in his revolt against Valens, and Valens had learned the Goths were planning an uprising of their own. These Goths, more specifically the Tervingi, were at the time under the leadership of Athanaric and had apparently remained peaceful since their defeat under Constantine in 332. In the spring of 367, Valens crossed the Danube and marched on Athanaric's Goths. These fled into the Carpathian Mountains, and eluded Valens' advance, forcing him to return later that summer. The following spring, a Danube flood prevented Valens from crossing; instead the emperor occupied his troops with the construction of fortifications. In 369, Valens crossed again, from Noviodunum, and attacked the north-easterly Gothic tribe of Greuthungi before facing Athanaric's Tervingi and defeating them. Athanaric pled for treaty terms and Valens gladly obliged. The treaty seems to have largely cut off relations between Goths and Romans, including free trade and the exchange of troops for tribute. Valens would feel this loss of military manpower in the following years.

Conflict with the Sassanids

Among Valens' reasons for contracting a hasty and not entirely favorable peace in 369 was the deteriorating state of affairs in the East. Jovian had surrendered Rome's much disputed claim to control over Armenia in 363, and Shapur II was eager to make good on this new opportunity. The Sassanid ruler began enticing Armenian lords over to his camp and eventually forced the defection of the Arsacid Armenian king, Arsakes II, whom he quickly arrested and incarcerated. Shapur then sent an invasion force to seize Caucasian Iberia and a second to besiege Arsaces' son, Pap, in the fortress of Artogerassa, probably in 367. By the following spring, Pap had engineered his escape from the fortress and flight to Valens, whom he seems to have met at Marcianople while campaigning against the Goths.

Already in the summer following his Gothic settlement, Valens sent his general Arinthaeus to re-impose Pap on the Armenian throne. This provoked Shapur himself to invade and lay waste to Armenia. Pap, however, once again escaped and was restored a second time under escort of a much larger force in 370. The following spring, larger forces were sent under Terentius to regain Iberia and to garrison Armenia near Mount Npat. When Shapur counterattacked into Armenia in 371, his forces were bested by Valens' generals Traianus and Vadomarius at Bagavan. Valens had overstepped the 363 treaty and then successfully defended his transgression. A truce settled after the 371 victory held as a quasi-peace for the next five years while Shapur was forced to deal with a Kushan invasion on his eastern frontier.

Meanwhile, troubles broke out with the boy-king Pap, who began acting in high-handed fashion, even executing the Armenian bishop Narses and demanding control of a number of Roman cities, including Edessa. Pressed by his generals and fearing that Pap would defect to the Persians, Valens made an unsuccessful attempt to capture the prince and later had him executed inside Armenia. In his stead, Valens imposed another Arsacid, Varazdat, who ruled under the regency of the sparapet Musel Mamikonean, a friend of Rome.

None of this sat well with the Persians, who began agitating again for compliance with the 363 treaty. As the eastern frontier heated up in 375, Valens began preparations for a major expedition. Meanwhile, trouble was brewing elsewhere. In Isauria, the mountainous region of western Cilicia, a major revolt had broken out in 375 which diverted troops formerly stationed in the east. Furthermore, by 377, the Saracens under Queen Mavia had broken into revolt and devastated a swath of territory stretching from Phoenicia and Palestine as far as the Sinai. Though Valens successfully brought both uprisings under control, the opportunities for action on the eastern frontier were limited by these skirmishes closer to home.

In 375, Valens' older brother Valentinian, while in Pannonia had suffered a burst blood vessel in his skull, which resulted in his death on 17 November, 375. Gratian, Valentinian's son and Valens' nephew, had already been associated with his father in the imperial dignity and was joined by his half-brother Valentinian II who was elevated, on their father's death, to Augustus by the imperial troops in Pannonia.

Gothic War

Solidus minted by Valens in c. 376. On reverse, Valens and his brother Valentinian I hold together the orb, a symbol of power.

Valens' plans for an eastern campaign were never realized. A transfer of troops to the western empire in 374 had left gaps in Valens' mobile forces. In preparation for an eastern war, Valens initiated an ambitious recruitment program designed to fill those gaps. It was thus not unwelcome news when Valens learned that the Gothic tribes had been displaced from their homeland by an invasion of Huns in 375 and were seeking asylum from him. In 376, the Visigoths advanced to the far shores of the lower Danube and sent an ambassador to Valens who had set up his capital in Antioch. The Goths requested shelter and land in the Balkan peninsula. An estimated 200,000 Gothic Warriors and altogether 1,000,000 Gothic persons were along the Danube in Moesia and the ancient land of Dacia.

As Valens' advisers were quick to point out, these Goths could supply troops who would at once swell Valens' ranks and decrease his dependence on provincial troop levies — thereby increasing revenues from the recruitment tax. Among the Goths seeking asylum was a group led by the chieftain Fritigern. Fritigern had enjoyed contact with Valens in the 370s when Valens supported him in a struggle against Athanaric stemming from Athanaric's persecution of Gothic Christians. Though a number of Gothic groups apparently requested entry, Valens granted admission only to Fritigern and his followers. This did not, however, prevent others from following.

When Fritigern and his Goths undertook the crossing, Valens's mobile forces were tied down in the east, on the Persian frontier and in Isauria. This meant that only riparian units were present to oversee the Goths' settlement. The small number of imperial troops present prevented the Romans from stopping a Danube crossing by a group of Goths and later by Huns and Alans. What started out as a controlled resettlement mushroomed into a massive influx. And the situation grew worse. When the riparian commanders began abusing the Visigoths under their charge, they revolted in early 377 and defeated the Roman units in Thrace outside of Marcianople.

After joining forces with the Ostrogoths and eventually the Huns and Alans, the combined barbarian group marched widely before facing an advance force of imperial soldiers sent from both east and west. In a battle at Ad Salices, the Goths were once again victorious, winning free run of Thrace south of the Haemus. By 378, Valens himself was able to march west from his eastern base in Antioch. He withdrew all but a skeletal force — some of them Goths — from the east and moved west, reaching Constantinople by 30 May, 378. Meanwhile, Valens' councilors, Comes Richomeres, and his generals Frigerid, Sebastian, and Victor cautioned Valens and tried to persuade him to wait for Gratian's arrival with his victorious legionaries from Gaul, something that Gratian himself strenuously advocated. What happened next is an example of hubris, the impact of which was to be felt for years to come. Valens, jealous of his nephew Gratian's success, decided he wanted this victory for himself.

Battle of Adrianople and death of Valens

After a brief stay aimed at building his troop strength and gaining a toehold in Thrace, Valens moved out to Adrianople. From there, he marched against the confederated barbarian army on 9 August 378 in what would become known as the Battle of Adrianople. Although negotiations were attempted, these broke down when a Roman unit sallied forth and carried both sides into battle. The Romans held their own early on but were crushed by the surprise arrival of Visigoth cavalry which split their ranks.

The primary source for the battle is Ammianus Marcellinus.[3] Valens had left a sizeable guard with his baggage and treasures depleting his force. His right wing, cavalry, arrived at the Gothic camp sometime before the left wing arrived. It was a very hot day and the Roman cavalry was engaged without strategic support, wasting its efforts while they suffered in the heat.

Meanwhile Fritigern once again sent an emissary of peace in his continued manipulation of the situation. The resultant delay meant that the Romans present on the field began to succumb to the heat. The army's resources were further diminished when an ill timed attack by the Roman archers made it necessary to recall Valens' emissary, Comes Richomeres. The archers were beaten and retreated in humiliation.

Gothic cavalry under the command of Althaeus and Saphrax then struck and, with what was probably the most decisive event of the battle, the Roman cavalry fled. From here, Ammianus gives two accounts of Valen's demise. In the first account, Ammianus states that Valens was "mortally wounded by an arrow, and presently breathed his last breath," (XXXI.12) His body was never found or given a proper burial. In the second account, Ammianus states the Roman infantry was abandoned, surrounded and cut to pieces. Valens was wounded and carried to a small wooden hut. The hut was surrounded by the Goths who put it to the torch, evidently unaware of the prize within. According to Ammianus, this is how Valens perished (XXXI.13.14-6).

The church historian Socrates likewise gives two accounts for the death of Valens.

Some have asserted that he was burnt to death in a village whither he had retired, which the barbarians assaulted and set on fire. But others affirm that having put off his imperial robe he ran into the midst of the main body of infantry; and that when the cavalry revolted and refused to engage, the infantry were surrounded by the barbarians, and completely destroyed in a body. Among these it is said the emperor fell, but could not be distinguished, in consequence of his not having on his imperial habit.[4]

When the battle was over, two-thirds of the eastern army lay dead. Many of their best officers had also perished. What was left of the army of Valens was led from the field under the cover of night by Comes Richomer and General Victor.

J.B. Bury, a noted historian of the period, provides specific interpretation on the significance the battle: it was "a disaster and disgrace that need not have occurred."

For Rome, the battle incapacitated the government. Emperor Gratian, nineteen years old, was overcome by the debacle, and until he appointed Theodosius I, unable to deal with the catastrophe which spread out of control.


Aqueduct of Valens in Istanbul (old Constantinople), capital of the Eastern Roman Empire.

Adrianople was the most significant event in Valens' career. The battle of Adrianople was significant for yet another reason: the evolution of warfare. Until that time, the Roman infantry was considered invincible, and the evidence for this was considerable. However, the Gothic cavalry completely changed all that. Although J.B. Bury states that records are incomplete for the 5th century, all during the 4th and 6th centuries, history shows that the cavalry took over as the principal Roman weapon of war on land.

"Valens was utterly undistinguished, still only a protector, and possessed no military ability: he betrayed his consciousness of inferiority by his nervous suspicion of plots and savage punishment of alleged traitors," writes A.H.M. Jones. But Jones admits that "he was a conscientious administrator, careful of the interests of the humble. Like his brother, he was an ernest Christian."[5] To have died in so inglorious a battle has thus come to be regarded as the nadir of an unfortunate career. This is especially true because of the profound consequences of Valens' defeat. Adrianople spelled the beginning of the end for Roman territorial integrity in the late empire and this fact was recognized even by contemporaries. Ammianus understood that it was the worst defeat in Roman history since the Battle of Cannae (31.13.19), and Rufinus called it "the beginning of evils for the Roman empire then and thereafter."

Valens is also credited with the commission of a short history of the Roman State. This work, produced by Valens' secretary Eutropius, and known with the name Breviarium ab Urbe condita, tells the story of Rome from its founding. According to some historians, Valens was motivated by the necessity of learning Roman history, that he, the royal family and their appointees might better mix with the Roman Senatorial class.[6]

Struggles with the religious nature of the empire

During his reign, Valens had to confront the theological diversity that was beginning to create division in the Empire. Julian (361–363), had tried to revive the pagan religions. His reactionary attempt took advantage of the dissensions between the different factions among the Christians and a largely Pagan rank and file military. However, in spite of broad support, his actions were often viewed as excessive, and before he died in a campaign against the Persians, he was often treated with disdain. His death was considered a sign from God.

Like the brothers Constantius II and Constans, Valens and Valentinian I held divergent theological views. Valens was an Arian and Valentinian I upheld the Nicene Creed. When Valens died however, the cause of Arianism in the Roman East was to come to an end. His successor Theodosius I would endorse the Nicene Creed.


  1. ^ a b Lendering, Jona, "Valens",
  2. ^ Noel Emmanuel Lenski, Failure of Empire: Valens and the Roman State in the Fourth Century A.D., University of California Press, 2002
  3. ^ Historiae, 31.12-13.
  4. ^ The Ecclesiastical History, VI.38,
  5. ^ Jones, Arnold Hugh Martin, The Later Roman Empire, 284-602: A Social, Economic and Administrative Survey (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University, 1986), p. 139.
  6. ^ Eutropius, Breviarium, ed. H. W. Bird, Liverpool University Press, 1993, p. xix.


External links

Born: 328 Died: 9 August 378
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Roman Emperor
with Valentinian I, Gratian, and Valentinian II
Succeeded by
Theodosius I

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

VALENS, East Roman emperor from 364 to 378, owed his elevation in the thirty-sixth year of his age to his brother Valentinian, who chose him to be his associate in the empire, of which a formal division into East and West was now once for all definitively arranged (see Valentinian I.). Valens had been attached to Julian's bodyguard, but he did not inherit the military ability of his father, Gratian of Pannonia, who had risen from the ranks to a high position. A revolt headed by Procopius in the second year of his reign, and backed up by the public opinion of Constantinople and the sympathy of the Gothic princes and chiefs on the Danube, seemed so alarming to him that he thought of negotiation; but in the following year the revolt collapsed before the firmness of his ministers and generals. In the year 366 Valens at one stroke reduced the taxes of the empire by one-fourth, a very popular measure, though one of questionable policy in the face of the threatening attitude of the Goths on the lower Danube. Before venturing on a campaign against them, Valens received baptism from Eudoxus, the bishop of Constantinople and the leader of the Arian party. After some small successes over the Goths, won by his generals (367-9), Valens concluded a peace with them, which lasted six years, on a general understanding that the Danube was to be the boundary between Goths and Romans. On his return to Constantinople in 369-70 Valens began to persecute his orthodox and Catholic subjects, but he lacked the energy to carry out his edicts rigorously.

In the years 371 to 377 Valens was in Asia Minor, most of the time at the Syrian Antioch. Though anxious to avoid an Eastern war, because of danger nearer home from the restlessness of the Goths, he was compelled to take the field against Shapur II. who had invaded and occupied Armenia. It seems that Valens 1 crossed the Euphrates in 373, and in Mesopotamia his troops drove back the king of Persia to the farther bank of the Tigris. But the Roman success was by no means decisive, and no definite understanding as to boundaries was come to with Persia. Valens returned to Antioch, wherein the winter of 373-4 he instituted a persecution of magicians and other people whom he foolishly believed to imperil his life. Between 374 and 377 we read of grievous complaints of injustice and extortion perpetrated under legal forms, the result probably of the recent panic, and pointing to an increasing weakness and timidity at headquarters. Although preparations were made for following up the war with Persia and securing the frontier, a truce was patched up, rather to the disadvantage of the empire, Armenia and the adjacent country being half conquered and annexed by Shapur. The armies of Rome, in fact, were wanted in another quarter. The Huns, of whom we now hear for the first time, were beginning in 376 to press the Goths from the north, and the latter asked leave of the emperor to cross the Danube into Roman territory. This they were allowed to do, on the condition that they came unarmed, and their children were transported to Asia as hostages. The conditions, however, were not observed by the imperial generals, who for their own profit forced the new settlers to buy food at famine prices. Accordingly, the enraged Goths, under their chief Fritigern, streamed across the Balkans into Thrace and the country round Adrianople, plundering, burning and slaughtering as they went. They were driven back for a time, but returned in the spring of 378 in greater force, with a contingent of Huns and Alans; and again, after some repulses, they penetrated to the neighbourhood of Adrianople. Valens, who had now returned to Constantinople, left the capital in May 378 with a strong and well-officered army. Without awaiting the arrival of his nephew Gratian, emperor of the West, who had just won a great victory over one of the barbarous tribes 'Alum. Marc. xxix. the narrative is brief and not very clear.

of Germany in Alsace, Valens attacked the enemy at once, although his troops had to go into action heated and fatigued by a long march on a sultry August day. The battle, which was fought on confined ground in a valley, was decided by a cavalry charge of the Alans and Sarmatian s, which threw the Roman infantry into confusion and hemmed it in so closely that the men could scarcely draw their swords. The slaughter, which continued till the complete destruction of the Roman army, was one of the greatest recorded in antiquity. Valens either perished on the field, or, as some said, in a cottage fired by the enemy. From the battle of Adrianople the Goths permanently established themselves south of the Danube.

See Ammianus Marcellinus, bks. 26-31; E. Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (ed. Bury, London, 1896), chs. 25-26; W. Judeich in Deutsche Zeitschrift fur Geschichtswissenschaft (1891), pp. I-21.

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Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010
(Redirected to Flavius Valens article)

From BibleWiki

Emperor of the East, b. in Pannonia (now Hungary) c. 328; d. near Adrianople, in Thrace, August, 378. Little is known of his origin, which, in spite of the Roman gentile name adopted by him in common with his brother, Valentinian, the Emperor of the West, was most probably barbarian. His elevation to the throne in 364 was due to Valentinian's favour. Valens, however, soon displayed some degree of warlike ability, as well as a barbarous cruelty, in dealing with Procopius, who, alleging as his title a bequest of the Emperor Julian, seized the throne. Having defeated and captured Procopius, Valens caused his rival's legs to be bound to two bent saplings, which were then released, so that the victim's body was torn asunder. A pagan at the time of his elevation, this emperor was baptized, about the year 367, by Eudoxius, the Arian Patriarch of Constantinople. His necessary ignorance of the fundamentals of Christianity, while, in the circumstances, not blameworthy, does not excuse his persecution of the Eastern Catholics from about the year 369 until the end of his reign. The most infamous example of this was in the case of Sts. Urbanus, Theodorus, and other ecclesiastics, to the number of eighty, whose martyrdom is commemorated on 5 September. This company of bishops and priests, having come to Constantinople, in 370, to plead for freedom of Catholic worship, were, by the emperor's orders, embarked on a vessel which then sailed for the coast of Bithynia; on nearing that coast, the crew, still acting upon the imperial instructions, set fire to the ship and abandoned it, leaving St. Urbanus and his companions to perish.

With this ferocity, Valens also evinced the crudely superstitious instincts of the savage. On a journey through Cappadocia, he visited, at Caesarea, St. Basil the Great (q. v.), whom he intended to drive into exile as a conspicuous foe of Arianism; but, the emperor's son falling sick, the bishop was called upon to restore him to health. This Basil agreed to attempt, on condition that the child should be baptized as a Catholic. In the event, an Arian performed the rite, the child died, and the saint escaped the threatened exile. In 347, at Antioch, there was a curious anticipation of modern "spirit rapping": a spirit, asked to spell the name of him who should succeed Valens, was supposed to have rapped out the Greek letters THETA-ETA-OMICRON-DELTA which begin the name Theodorus. The lives of Theodorus, an official of the imperial Court, and of those who had prepared this manifestation were forfeited, though the spirit may have meant to indicate Theodosius.

Throughout his reign, Valens had to defend his frontiers against formidable enemies. From 367 to 369 the Goths battled with the imperial forces, until an agreement was reached, fixing the Danube as the southern boundary of their settlements. Frequent incursions of the Isaurians demanded attention. In 373 Sapor (Shapur) II, King of Persia, having invaded Armenia, was driven back beyond the Tigris. The Huns and Alans were meanwhile pressing upon the rear of the Goths north of the Danube. In 376 the latter obtained permission to settle south of the river as peaceable colonists, unarmed; but when the imperial commissioners abused their authority to plunder the strangers, these turned in exasperation to make common cause with their fellow-barbarians from whom they had but recently fled. Huns, Alans, and Goths under Fridigern were surprised and defeated in 378 by Sebastian, the imperial general, and Valens himself hastened from his capital to complete the conquest before his nephew Gratian, who had succeeded Valentinian, could reach the enemy. As the emperor was leaving Constantinople, a monk openly prophesied his speedy death. Valens caused the prophet of evil to be imprisoned pending his return from Thrace. But the emperor never returned. Defeated by the barbarians near Adrianople, he took refuge in a country house and there perished in the conflagration with which the Goths or their allies unwittingly avenged the death of St. Urbanus and his companions.


Portions of this entry are taken from The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1907.
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