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Valentinian I
Emperor of the Western Roman Empire
ValentinianI.PNG
Bust of Valentinian I
Reign 26 February - 28 March 364 (alone);
26 March 364 - 17 November 375 (emperor of the west, with his brother emperor in the east)
Full name Flavius Valentinianus (from birth to accession);
Flavius Valentinianus Augustus (as emperor)
Born 321
Birthplace Cibalae, Pannonia
Died 17 November 375 (aged 54)
Place of death Brigetio on the Danube (near today Komárom, Hungary)
Predecessor Jovian
Successor Valens, Gratian and Valentinian II
Consort to 1) Marina Severa
Wives
2) Justina
Offspring Gratian
Valentinian II
Galla
Grata
Justa
Dynasty Valentinian
Father Gratian the Elder

Flavius Valentinianus, known in English as Valentinian I, (321 - November 17, 375) was Roman Emperor with his brother Valens from 364 until his death. He was the last emperor to ascend the throne with de facto control over the whole of the Roman empire (later, Theodosius would be the last emperor to rule a united empire), and was the last to conduct campaigns east of the Rhine and north of the Danube. His reign was mostly spent fighting the Germanic tribes, defeating the Alamanni and Franks on many occasions. He rebuilt and improved the fortifications along the frontier, even building new fortresses in enemy territory. Due to the successful nature of his reign, and the almost immediate decline in fortunes for the empire after his death, Valentinian is often referred to as the "last great emperor".[1] He founded the Valentinian Dynasty, with his sons Gratian and Valentinian II succeeding him in the western half of the empire.

Contents

Early life

Valentinian was born in 321 at Cibalae in southern Pannonia. He and his younger brother Valens were the sons of Gratianus Major, a prominent general during the reign of western emperor Constans - the youngest son of Constantine the Great. He and his brother grew up on the family estate; often land bought by their father wherever he was stationed. He received a proper education, even showing talent in sculpture and painting during his youth. He formally entered the military around 340, and accompanied his father, the newly appointed Comes Africae, to Africa. Subsequently, he went to Britain when his father was promoted to Comes Britanniarum. After holding this post, Gratianus retired to the family estates in Cibalae, while Valentinian was probably reassigned somewhere along the upper Rhine or Danube.
In 350 however, Constans was challenged and subsequently assassinated by the agents of the usurper Magnentius, a commander in Gaul proclaimed emperor by his soldiers. Constantius II, older brother of Constans and emperor in the east, raised his cousin Gallus to the rank of Caesar - entrusting him with the defence against the Persians. He then set forth with a large army west towards Magnentius; to avenge his brother and re-establish dynastic rule over the west. In 351, the two armies met in Pannonia, the ensuing battle of Mursa Major resulted in a costly victory for Constantius, losing roughly half his army. Two years later in 353 he fought Magnentius again in southern Gaul at the battle of Mons Seleucus, defeating him again. Magnentius, now realizing the futility of continuing his revolt, committed suicide in August that year; making Constantius sole ruler of the empire. It was around this time that Constantius confiscated Gratianus' property, for supposedly showing hospitality to Magnentius when he was in Pannonia. Despite his father's fall from favor, Valentinian does not seem to have been adversely affected at this time, making it unlikely he ever fought for the usurper. It is known that Valentinian was in the region during the conflict, but what involvement he had in the war, if any, is unknown.
The civil war exacerbated the already troublesome shortage of manpower - over 70,000 Roman soldiers died during the conflict. This denuded the frontier of much needed troops, allowing the Alamanni and Franks to take advantage of the situation and cross the Rhine, taking several important settlements and fortifications. In 354, Constantius campaigned against the Alamanni achieving few successes; imperial authority in Upper Germania and eastern Gaul was rapidly deteriorating. Later the same year, Constantius recalled Gallus amid accusations of abusing his position, and had him promptly executed. In 355, feeling the crises of the empire still too much for one emperor to handle, Constantius raised his cousin Julian to the rank of Caesar. Constantius now coordinated military affairs from Mediolanum in Italy, leaving the defense of Gaul primarily to Julian and subordinate generals. Valentinian was assigned to the army of Julian for the next five years, distinguishing himself as a capable soldier and commander.

Rise to power

For the following two years Valentinian fought the Alamanni in Gaul with Julian's army, though his whereabouts, and what engagements he was present for, is uncertain. He did however play an important part in the campaigning, and shortly after Julian's decisive victory against the Alamanni at the battle of Argentoratum in 357, he was promoted to tribune of cavalry. Valentinian's command now formed an integral part of Julian's campaigning, making his actions and whereabouts easier to conjecture.
By the end of the year, Julian was able to expel the majority of Alamanni back across the Rhine, and soon after crossed the river into their territory. Valentinian undoubtedly took part in this counterattack, gaining valuable experience in the region that would be the focal point of his future campaigns. The army burned many barbarian settlements, and reduced several small Alamannic tribes in the Agri Decumates to tributary status. Julian was then able to conclude a ten month truce with the Alamanni, and returned back across the Rhine to winter quarters.
In 358, he conducted a short yet effective campaign against the Franks, who had been raiding Lower Germania for several years. Crossing the lower Rhine, the army swiftly defeated the Frankish Chamavi and Salii tribes, reducing them to tributary status as well. Later that year he crossed the Rhine again at Moguntiacum into Alamannic territory, forcing two influential kings to surrender. In 359, he traveled through the land of the tributaries, devastating the lands of the Alammanic kings who had escaped him at Argentoratum, receiving their surrender as well. Valentinian proved to be a competent cavalry commander during these trans-Rhenish forays, his robust frame and great courage sitting well with the soldiers. In the same year, his first son Gratian was born at Sirmium in Panonnia, by his first wife Marina Severa, not far from the family's home town. During the winter, Valentinian was called upon by Constantius to serve him in the east, to assist with operations against the Persians.
His involvement in the east is unknown, but he was promoted to the rank of tribune the same year in Constantius' army. Relations between Constantius and Julian had always been tense, the latter was becoming popular with the army - distributing pay ex manubiis (from the spoils of war) after each campaign. Another civil war almost broke out after Julian's famous victory in 357, when his troops hailed him Augustus - equal with Constantius - though Julian refused the acclamation. Nevertheless, their relations still deteriorated, and in 360 when Constantius demanded Julian send him contingents from the army in Gaul, the soldiers essentially forced Julian's hand.
The army declared him Augustus again, demanding he go to war against Constantius - or else they'll do so without him. Julian, now feeling the time right to assert his position, gladly accepted. During a respite in hostilities against the Persians, Constantius set out west with his army; hoping this war to be a repeat of that against Magnentius. Before he left Antioch, he dismissed Valentinian from service - he was an officer loyal to Julian that could easily undermine operations. Before the two armies could meet in Pannonia however, Constantius fell ill and died in late 361. Constantius died childless, but apparently declared Julian, the last scion of the Constantinian dynasty, his rightful successor - averting any further succession crisis.
Unlike Constantine's family Julian rejected Christianity, favoring traditional Roman polytheism. He spent his first years as emperor attempting to restore the old religions prominence. Valentinian, a Christian, was thus exiled to Thebes in Egypt for two years. Julian recalled him in 363 to serve in his upcoming Persian campaign, though Valentinian's role or contributions are unknown. Julian proceeded from Antioch in March 363 at the head of a large army - perhaps 85,000 strong. The campaign began successfully, the army reaching the Persian capital Ctesiphon virtually unopposed. The ensuing battle of Ctesiphon outside the city was a victory for Julian, driving the enemy soldiers back behind the walls. Ctesiphon itself was heavily fortified, a siege would require time and the necessary equipment - two things the Roman army lacked at this time. Julian's original plan was to defeat the Persian king Shapur II and his main army, then perhaps march upon Ctesiphon, or settle for a favorable peace. This was not the situation Julian and his army now faced. He was already outside the capital deep in enemy territory, his supply lines being continually harassed by enemy raids. Word was spreading that the Persian king was approaching fast with his main army. Now seemingly stranded, Julian decided to withdraw northwest at once. Before the army could make it back to Roman territory however, a sizable Persian force intercepted them. The resulting battle of Samarra was indecisive, but Julian was mortally wounded and died soon after.
At the news of Julian's death, the army hastily declared a commander Jovian emperor. The army still found itself beleaguered by Persian attacks, forcing Jovian to accept humiliating peace terms. The Romans were to forfeit large swathes of the eastern frontier, earning Jovian the hatred of the army. During Jovian's reign Valentinian was promoted to tribune of a Scutarii (elite infantry) regiment, and was dispatched to Ancyra. Jovian's rule would be short, only eight months, and before he could even consolidate his position in Constantinople he died en route in February 364 between Ancyra and Nicaea. His death was attributed to either poisoning or overt assassination. Jovian is remembered mostly for restoring Christianity to it's previous favored status under Constantine and his sons. After the death of Jovian, a meeting of civil and military officials was convened in Nicaea to choose a new emperor. The names of Aequitius, another tribune of Scutarii, and Januarius, a relative of Jovian in charge of military supplies in Illyricum, were proposed. Both men were rejected, Aequitius because he was considered too brutal, Januarius because he was too far away. The assembly finally agreed upon Valentinian, and sent messengers to Ancyra to inform him.

Emperor

After arriving in Nicaea, Valentinian accepted the acclamation on 26 February 364. His position was not secure, he was after all the third name brought forward. The soldiers threatened to riot, uncertain as to where his loyalties lay. The army as a whole was divided, many Christian soldiers having served under Constantius, others were polytheists who had gained favor under Julian. Though Valentinian was Christian, he could not afford to earn the enmity of Julian's soldiers. Shortly afterwards named his brother Valens colleague with him in the empire. The two brothers, after passing through the chief cities of the neighboring district, arranged the partition of the empire at Naissus (Nissa) in Upper Moesia. As Western Roman Emperor, Valentinian took Italia, Illyricum, Hispania, Gaul, Britain and Africa, leaving to Eastern Roman Emperor Valens the eastern half of the Balkan peninsula, Greece, Aegyptus, Syria and Asia Minor as far as Persia. They were immediately confronted by the revolt of Procopius, a relative of the deceased Julian. Valens defeated his army at Thyatira in Lydia in 366, and Procopius was executed shortly afterwards.

During the short reign of Valentinian there were wars in Africa, in Germany, and in Britain, and Rome came into collision with barbarian peoples, specifically the Burgundians and the Saxons.

Valentinian's chief work was guarding the frontiers and establishing military positions. Milan was at first his headquarters for settling the affairs of northern Italy. The following year (365) Valentinian was at Paris, and then at Reims, to direct the operations of his generals against the Alamanni. These people, defeated at Scarpona (Charpeigne) and Catelauni (Châlons-en-Champagne) by Jovinus, were driven back to the German bank of the Rhine, and checked for a while by a chain of military posts and fortresses. At the close of 367, however, they suddenly crossed the Rhine, attacked Moguntiacum (Mainz) and plundered the city. Valentinian attacked them at Solicinium (Sulz am Neckar, in the Neckar valley, or Schwetzingen) with a large army, and defeated them with great slaughter. But his own losses were so considerable that Valentinian abandoned the idea of following up his success.

Later, in 371, Valentinian made peace with their king, Macrian, who from that time remained a true friend of the Romans. The next three years he spent at Trier, which he chiefly made his headquarters, organizing the defence of the Rhine frontier, and personally superintending the construction of numerous forts.

Solidus minted by Valens in ca. 376. On reverse, it shows the two brother emperors (Valens and Valentinian) holding together the orb, a symbol of power.

During his reign the coasts of Gaul were harassed by the Saxon pirates, with whom the Picts and Scots of northern Britain joined hands, and ravaged the island from the Antonine Wall to the shores of Kent. In 368 Count Theodosius was sent to drive back the invaders; in this he was completely successful, and established a new British province, called Valentia in honour of the emperor.

In Africa, Firmus raised the standard of revolt, being joined by the provincials, who had been rendered desperate by the cruelty and extortions of Comes Romanus, the military governor. The services of Theodosius were again requisitioned. He landed in Africa with a small band of veterans, and Firmus, to avoid being taken prisoner, committed suicide.

In 374, the Quadi, a Germanic tribe in what is now Moravia and Slovakia, resenting the erection of Roman forts to the north of the Danube in what they considered to be their own territory, and further exasperated by the treacherous murder of their king, Gabinius, crossed the river and laid waste the province of Pannonia. The emperor in April, 375 entered Illyricum with a powerful army. But during an audience to an embassy from the Quadi at Brigetio on the Danube (near today Komárno in Slovakia), Valentinian suffered a burst blood vessel in the skull while angrily yelling at the people gathered. This injury resulted in his death on November 17, 375.

Reputation

A.H.M. Jones writes that though he was "less of a boor" than his chief rival for election to the imperial throne, "he was of a violent and brutal temper, and not only uncultivated himself, but hostile to cultivated persons", as Ammianus tells us, 'he hated the well-dressed and educated and wealthy and well-born'. He was, however, an able soldier and a conscientious administrator, and took an interest in the welfare of the humbler classes, from which his father had risen. Unfortunately his good intentions were often frustrated by a bad choice of ministers, and an obstinate belief in their merits despite all evidence to the contrary."[2] According to the Encyclopædia Britannica 1911, he was a founder of schools, and provided medical attendance for the poor of Rome, by appointing a physician for each of the fourteen districts of the city.

Valentinian was a Christian but permitted liberal religious freedom to all his subjects, proscribing only some forms of rituals such as particular types of sacrifices, and banning the practice of magic. Against all abuses, both civil and ecclesiastical (excepting, of course, his own excesses), Valentinian steadily set his face, even against the increasing wealth and worldliness of the clergy. His chief flaw was his temper, which at times was frightful, and showed itself in its full fierceness in the punishment of persons accused of witchcraft, some kinds of fortune-telling or magical practices."[3]

Notes

  1. ^ Diana Bowder, ed., "Valentinian I," Who was Who in the Roman World (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1984), p. 555. Bibl. J. F. Matthews, Western Aristocracies.
  2. ^ A.H.M. Jones, The Later Roman Empire, 284-602: A Social, Economic and Administrative Survey (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University, 1986), p. 139.
  3. ^ Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume I, Chap. XXV (Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., 1952), p. 388.

References

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Primary sources

Secondary accounts

  • De Imperatoribus Romanis English text.
  • Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, 1776.
  • M. Grant, The Roman Emperors, 1985.
  • This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.
  • Schmidt-Hofner, Sebastian. Reagieren und Gestalten: der Regierungsstil des spaetroemischen Kaisers am Beispiel der Gesetzgebung Valentinians I. Muenchen: Beck, 2008. 398 p. (Vestigia, Bd. 58).
  • E. Stein, Histoire du Bas-Empire, vol. i, chap. 4 (1959).

External links

Valentinian I
Born: 321 Died: 17 November 375
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Jovian
Roman Emperor
364–375
Served alongside: Valens
Succeeded by
Valens, Gratian and Valentinian II

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

VALENTINIAN I., Roman emperor of the West from A.D. 364 to 375, was born at Cibalis, in Pannonia. He had been an officer of the guard under Julian and Jovian, and had risen high in the imperial service. Of robust frame and distinguished appearance, he possessed great courage and military capacity. He was chosen emperor in his forty-third year by the officers of the army at Nicaea in Bithynia in 364, and shortly afterwards named his brother Valens colleague with him in the empire. The two brothers, after passing through the chief cities of the neighbouring district, arranged the partition '' Until nearly the close of the 19th century the custom of sending "valentines" - i.e. anonymous love-tokens, written or otherwise - on St Valentine's day was fairly general. They gradually lost their original significance, and the custom, where it survives, has become completely vulgarized.

of the empire at Naissus (Nissa) in Upper Moesia. As emperor of the West, Valentinian took Italy, Illyricum. Spain, the Gauls, Britain and Africa, leaving to Valens the eastern half of the Balkan Peninsula, Greece, Egypt, Syria and Asia Minor as far as Persia. During the short reign of Valentinian there were wars in Africa, in Germany and in Britain, and Rome came into collision with barbarian peoples of whom we now hear for the first time - Burgundians, Saxons, Alamanni. The emperor's chief work was guarding the frontiers and establishing military positions. Milan was at first his headquarters for settling the affairs of northern Italy; next year (365) he was at Paris, and then at Reims, to direct the operations of his generals against the Alamanni. This people, defeated at Scarpona (Charpeigne) and Catelauni (Chalons-sur-Marne) by Jovinus, were driven back to the German bank of the Rhine, and checked for a while by a chain of military posts and fortresses. At the close of 367, however, they suddenly crossed the Rhine, attacked Moguntiacum (Mainz) and plundered the city. Valentinian attacked them at Solicinium (Sulz in the Neckar valley or Schwetzingen) with a large army, and defeated them with great slaughter, but his own losses were so considerable that he abandoned the idea of following up his success. Later, in 374, he made peace with their king, Macrianus, who from that time remained a true friend of the Romans. The next three years he spent at Trier, which he chiefly made his headquarters, organizing the defence of the Rhine frontier, and personally superintending the construction of numerous forts. During his reign the coasts of Gaul were harassed by the Saxon pirates, with whom the Picts and Scots of northern Britain joined hands, and ravaged the island from the wall of Antoninus to the shores of Kent. In 368 Theodosius was sent to drive back the invaders; in this he was completely successful, and established a new British province, called Valentia, in honour of the emperor. In Africa the Moorish prince, Firmus, raised the standard of revolt, being joined by the provincials, who had been rendered desperate by the cruelty and extortions of Count Romanus, the military governor. The services of Theodosius were again requisitioned. He landed in Africa with a small band of veterans, and Firmus, to avoid being taken prisoner, committed suicide. In 374 the Quadi, a German tribe in what is now Moravia and Hungary, resenting the erection of Roman forts to the north of the Danube in what they considered to be their own territory, and further exasperated by the treacherous murder of their king, Gabinius, crossed the river and laid waste the province of Pannonia. The emperor in April of the following year entered Illyricum with a powerful army, but during an audience to an embassy from the Quadi at Brigetio on the Danube (near Pressburg) died in a fit of apoplexy. His general administration seems to have been thoroughly honest and able, in some respects beneficent. If he was hard and exacting in the matter of taxes, he spent them in the defence and improvement of his dominions, not in idle show or luxury. Though himself a plain and almost illiterate soldier, he was a founder of schools, and he also provided medical attendance for the poor of Rome, by appointing a physician for each of the fourteen districts of the city. He was an orthodox Catholic, but he permitted absolute religious freedom to all his subjects. Against all abuses, both civil and ecclesiastical, he steadily set his face, even against the increasing wealth and worldliness of the clergy. The great blot on his memory is his cruelty, which at times was frightful, and showed itself in its full fierceness in the punishment of persons accused of witchcraft, soothsaying or magical practices.

See Ammianus Marcellinus xxv. - xxx.; Gibbon, Decline and Fall, chap. 25; T. Hodgkin, Italy and her Invaders, bk. i. chap. 3; H. Schiller, Geschichte der romischen Kaiserzeit (Gotha, 1883-87), bk. iii. chap. iv. 27-30; H. Richter, Das westromische Reich (Berlin, 1865), pp. 240-68.

After his death, his son, Valentinian Ii., an infant of four years of age, with his half-brother Gratian a lad of about seventeen, became the emperors of the West. They made Milan their home; and the empire was nominally divided between them, Gratian taking the trans-Alpine provinces, whilst Italy, Illyricum in part, and Africa were to be under the rule of Valentinian, or rather of his mother, Justina. Justina was an Arian, and the imperial court at Milan pitted itself against the Catholics, under the famous Ambrose, bishop of that city. But so great was his popularity that the court was decidedly worsted in the contest, and the emperor's authority maLerially shaken. In 387 Magnus Maximus, who had commanded a Roman army in Britain, and had in 383 (the year of Gratian's death) made himself master of the northern provinces, crossed the Alps into the valley of the Po and threatened Milan. The emperor and his mother fled to Theodosius, the emperor of the East and husband of Galla, Valentinian's sister. Valentinian was restored in 388 by Theodosius, through whose influence he was converted to Orthodox Catholicism. Four years later he was murdered at Vienne in Gaul, probably at the instigation of his Frankish general Arbogast, with whom he had quarrelled.

See Gibbon, Decline and Fall, chap. 27; Schiller, Geschichte der romischen Kaiserzeit, bk. iii. vol. iv. pp. 32, 33; L. Ranke, Weltgeschichte, bk. iv. vol. i. chap. 6; and especially H. Richter, Das westromische Reich unter den Kaisern Gratian, Valentinian II. and Maximus (Berlin, 18 6 5), pp. 5776 5 0, where full references to authorities are given.


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