Theodosius I

Theodosius I
Augustus
Disco o Missorium Teodosio MPLdC.jpg
Emperor of the Roman Empire
Reign19 January 379 – 15 May 392 (emperor in the East;
15 May 392 – 17 January 395 (whole empire)
PredecessorValens in the East
Gratian in the West
Valentinian II in the West
SuccessorArcadius in the East;
Honorius in the West
Co-emperorsGratian (Western Emperor, 379–383)
Valentinian II (Western Emperor, 379–392)
Magnus Maximus (Western Emperor, 384–388)
Flavius Victor (Western Emperor, 384–388)
Arcadius (383–395)
Honorius (393–395)
Born11 January 347
Coca, modern Spain
Died(395-01-17)17 January 395 (aged 48)
Mediolanum
BurialConstantinople, Eastern Roman Empire
Spouse1) Aelia Flaccilla (?–385)
2) Galla (?–394)
IssueArcadius
Honorius
Pulcheria
Galla Placidia
Full name
Flavius Theodosius
Regnal name
Imperator Caesar Flavius Theodosius Augustus
DynastyTheodosian
FatherTheodosius the Elder
MotherThermantia
ReligionNicene Christianity

Theodosius I (Latin: Flavius Theodosius Augustus;[1] Greek: Θεοδόσιος Αʹ; 11 January 347 – 17 January 395), also known as Theodosius the Great, was a Roman Emperor from AD 379 to AD 395, and the last emperor to rule over both the Eastern and the Western halves of the Roman Empire. On accepting his elevation, he campaigned against Goths and other barbarians who had invaded the Empire. His resources were not sufficient to destroy them or drive them out which had been Roman policy for centuries in dealing with invaders. By treaty, which followed his indecisive victory at the end of the Gothic War, they were established as Foederati, autonomous allies of the Empire, south of the Danube, in Illyricum, within the Empire's borders. They were given lands and allowed to remain under their own leaders, a grave departure from Roman hegemonic ways. This turn away from traditional policies was accommodationist and had grave consequences for the Western Empire from the beginning of the century, as the Romans found themselves with the impossible task of defending the borders and deal with unruly federates within. Justinian I (527-565), intent upon recovering lost regions, reversed the policy with the conquest of North Africa and Italy. Theodosius I was obliged to fight two destructive civil wars, successively defeating the usurpers Magnus Maximus in 387-388 and Eugenius 394, not without material cost to the power of the Empire.

He issued decrees that effectively made Nicene Christianity the official state church of the Roman Empire.[2][3] He neither prevented nor punished the destruction of prominent Hellenistic temples of classical antiquity, including the Temple of Apollo in Delphi and the Serapeum in Alexandria. He dissolved the Order of the Vestal Virgins in Rome. In 393, he banned the pagan rituals of the Olympics in Ancient Greece. After his death, Theodosius's young sons Arcadius and Honorius inherited the East and West halves respectively, and the Roman Empire was never again re-united, though Eastern Roman emperors after Zeno would claim the united title after Julius Nepos' death in 480 AD.

Career

Flavius Theodosius was born in Cauca, Gallaecia, Hispania (according to Hydatius and Zosimus)[4] or in Italica, Baetica, Hispania (according to Themistius, Claudius Claudianus, or Marcellinus Comes),[5] to a senior military officer, Theodosius the Elder.[6] Theodosius learned his military lessons by campaigning with his father's staff in Britannia where he went to help quell the Great Conspiracy in 368.

In about 373, he became governor of Upper Moesia and oversaw hostilities against the Sarmatians and thereafter against the Alemanni.[7] He was military commander (dux) of Moesia, a Roman province on the lower Danube, in 374, when the empire faced a formidable eruption of the Quadi and Sarmatians, the neighboring province of Illyricum being in fact briefly overrun.[8] Theodosius is reported to have defended his province with marked ability and success.[8] However, shortly thereafter, and at about the same time as the sudden disgrace and execution of his father, Theodosius retired to Hispania. The reason for his retirement, and the relationship (if any) between it and his father's death is uncertain, though probable.

The death of Valentinian I in 375 created political pandemonium. Fearing further persecution on account of his family ties, Theodosius abruptly retired to his family estates in the province of Gallaecia (present day Galicia, Spain and northern Portugal) where he adopted the life of a provincial aristocrat.

Nummus of Theodosius I

From 364 to 375, the Roman Empire was governed by two co-emperors, the brothers Valentinian I and Valens; when Valentinian died in 375, his sons, Valentinian II and Gratian, succeeded him as rulers of the Western Roman Empire. In 378, after the disastrous Battle of Adrianople where Valens was killed, Gratian invited Theodosius to take command of the Illyrian army. As Valens had no successor, Gratian's appointment of Theodosius amounted to a de facto invitation for Theodosius to become co-Augustus of the eastern half of the Empire. After Gratian was killed in a rebellion in 383, Theodosius appointed his own elder son, Arcadius, to be his co-ruler in the East. After the death in 392 of Valentinian II, whom Theodosius had supported against a variety of usurpations, Theodosius ruled as sole Emperor, appointing his younger son Honorius Augustus as his co-ruler of the West (Milan, on 23 January 393) and by defeating the usurper Eugenius on 6 September 394, at the Battle of the Frigidus (Vipava river, modern Slovenia) he restored peace.[9]

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