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Theodosius I ( grc-gre, Θεοδόσιος ; 11 January 347 – 17 January 395), also called Theodosius the Great, was
Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: Politica ...
from 379 to 395. During his reign, he faced and overcame a war against the
Goths The Goths ( got, 𐌲𐌿𐍄𐌸𐌹𐌿𐌳𐌰, translit=''Gutþiuda''; la, Gothi) were a Germanic people The Germanic peoples were a historical group of people living in Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe between West ...
and two civil wars, and was key in establishing the
creed of Nicaea A creed, also known as a confession, symbol, or statement of faith, is a statement of the shared beliefs of (an often religious) community in the form of a fixed formula summarizing core tenets. The earliest creed in Christianity, "Jesus is Lo ...
as the orthodoxy for
Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic religions, are a group of Semitic-originated religion Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of ...

Christianity
. Theodosius was also the last emperor to rule the entire
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of governme ...

Roman Empire
before its administration was permanently split between two separate courts, one
western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town in the US *Western Creek, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western Junction, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western world, countries that ide ...

western
, the other
eastern Eastern may refer to: Transportation *China Eastern Airlines, a current Chinese airline based in Shanghai *Eastern Air, former name of Zambia Skyways *Eastern Air Lines, a defunct American airline that operated from 1926 to 1991 *Eastern Air Lin ...

eastern
. Born in
Hispania Hispania ( ; ) was the Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened to ''Romans'', a letter in the New Testame ...

Hispania
, Theodosius was the son of a high-ranking general, under whose guidance he rose through the ranks of the army. In 374 Theodosius held an independent command in
Moesia Moesia (; Latin: ''Moesia''; el, Μοισία, Moisía) was an ancient region and later Roman province situated in the Balkans south of the Danube River. It included most of the territory of modern-day Central Serbia, Kosovo and the northern ...
, where he had some success against invading
Sarmatians The Sarmatians (; Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is appro ...
. Not long afterwards, he was forced into retirement and his father was executed under obscure circumstances, but Theodosius soon regained his position following some intrigues and executions at the emperor
Gratian Gratian (; la, Flavius Gratianus; 18 April 359 – 25 August 383) was Roman emperor, emperor of the Western Roman Empire, western part of the Roman Empire from 367 to 383. The eldest son of Valentinian I, Gratian accompanied his father on severa ...

Gratian
's court. In 379, after the eastern Roman emperor
Valens Flavius Valens (Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ) ...

Valens
perished at the
Battle of Adrianople The Battle of Adrianople (9 August 378), sometimes known as the Battle of Hadrianopolis, was fought between an Eastern Roman Empire, Eastern Roman East Roman army, army led by the Eastern Roman Emperor Valens and Goths, Gothic rebels (largely T ...
against the
Goths The Goths ( got, 𐌲𐌿𐍄𐌸𐌹𐌿𐌳𐌰, translit=''Gutþiuda''; la, Gothi) were a Germanic people The Germanic peoples were a historical group of people living in Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe between West ...
, Gratian appointed Theodosius to succeed him and take charge of the military emergency. The new emperor's resources and depleted armies were not sufficient to drive the invaders out, and, in 382, the Goths were allowed to settle south of the
Danube The Danube ( ; ) is the List of rivers of Europe#Longest rivers, second-longest river in Europe, after the Volga in Russia. It flows through much of Central Europe, Central and Southeastern Europe, from the Black Forest into the Black Sea. It ...

Danube
as autonomous allies of the Empire. In 386, Theodosius signed a treaty with the
Sasanian Empire The Sasanian () or Sassanid Empire, officially known as the Empire of Iranians (, ''Ērānshahr The Sasanian () or Sassanid Empire, officially known as the Empire of Iranians (Middle Persian Middle Persian or Pahlavi, also known by its ...

Sasanian Empire
, which partitioned the long-disputed
Kingdom of ArmeniaKingdom of Armenia may refer to: *Kingdom of Armenia (antiquity), also known as Artaxiad or Arsacid Armenia, 380 BC to AD 387/428 *Kingdom of Armenia (Middle Ages), also known as Bagratid Armenia, AD 885 to 1045 Other ancient Armenian kingdoms *Satr ...
and secured a durable peace between the two powers.Simon Hornblower, ''Who's Who in the Classical World'' (Oxford University Press, 2000), pp. 386–387 Theodosius was a strong adherent of the Christian doctrine of
consubstantiality Consubstantiality, a term derived from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Throug ...
and an opponent of
Arianism Arianism is a Christology, Christological doctrine first attributed to Arius (), a Christian presbyter in Alexandria, Alexandria, Egypt. Arian theology holds that the Son of God is not co-eternal with God the Father and is distinct from th ...
. He convened a council of bishops at Constantinople in 381 which confirmed the former as orthodoxy and the latter as a heresy. Although Theodosius interfered little in the functioning of traditional pagan cults and appointed non-Christians to high offices, he failed to prevent or punish the damaging of several Hellenistic temples of classical antiquity, such as the
Serapeum of Alexandria The Serapeum of Alexandria in the Ptolemaic Kingdom was an ancient Greek temple built by Ptolemy III Euergetes (reigned 246–222 BCE) and dedicated to Serapis, who was made the protector of Alexandria. There are also signs of Harpocrates. It ...
, by Christian zealots. During his earlier reign, Theodosius ruled the eastern provinces, while the west was overseen by the emperors Gratian and
Valentinian II Valentinian II ( la, Flavius Valentinianus; 37115 May 392) was a Roman emperor in the Western Roman Empire, western part of the Roman empire between AD 375 and 392. He was at first junior co-ruler of his brother, was then sidelined by a usurper, ...
, whose
sister A sister is a woman A woman is an adult female Female (symbol: ♀) is the sex of an organism, or a part of an organism, that produces non-mobile ovum, ova (egg cells). Barring rare medical conditions, most female mammals, including fema ...
he married. Theodosius sponsored several measures to improve his capital and main residence,
Constantinople la, Constantinopolis ota, قسطنطينيه , alternate_name = Byzantion (earlier Greek name), Nova Roma ("New Rome"), Miklagard/Miklagarth (Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Germa ...

Constantinople
, most notably his expansion of the
Forum Tauri The Forum of Theodosius ( el, φόρος Θεοδοσίου, today Beyazıt Square) was an area in Constantinople. It was originally built by Constantine I and named the ''Forum Tauri'' ("Forum (Roman), Forum of the Bull"). In 393, however, it wa ...
, which became the biggest public square known in antiquity. Theodosius marched west twice, in 388 and 394, after both Gratian and Valentinian had been killed, to defeat the two pretenders,
Magnus Maximus Magnus Maximus (; cy, Macsen Wledig ; 28 August 388) was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía t ...
and
Eugenius Flavius Eugenius (died 6 September 394) was an Roman usurper, usurper in the Western Roman Empire (392–394) against Roman Emperor, Emperor Theodosius I. While Christian himself, Eugenius capitalized on the discontent in the West caused by Theo ...
, that rose to replace them. Theodosius's final victory in September 394 made him master of the Empire; he died a few months later and was succeeded by his two sons,
Arcadius Flavius Arcadius ( grc-gre, Ἀρκάδιος, Arkádios; 1 January 377 – 1 May 408) was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of dif ...

Arcadius
in the eastern half of the empire and Honorius in the west. Theodosius was said to have been a diligent administrator, austere in his habits, merciful, and a devout Christian. For centuries after his death, Theodosius was regarded as a champion of Christian orthodoxy who decisively stamped out paganism. Modern scholars tend to see this as an interpretation of history by Christian writers more than an accurate representation of actual history. He is fairly credited with presiding over a revival in classical art that some historians have termed a "Theodosian renaissance". Although his pacification of the Goths secured peace for the Empire during his lifetime, their status as an autonomous entity within Roman borders caused problems for succeeding emperors. Theodosius has also received criticism for defending his own dynastic interests at the cost of two civil wars. His two sons proved weak and incapable rulers, and they presided over a period of foreign invasions and court intrigues which heavily weakened the Empire. The descendants of Theodosius ruled the Roman world for the next six decades, and the east–west division endured until the fall of the Western Empire in the late 5th century.


Background

Flavius Theodosius was born in
Hispania Hispania ( ; ) was the Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened to ''Romans'', a letter in the New Testame ...

Hispania
on 11 January, probably in the year 347. His father, also called
TheodosiusTheodosius ( Latinized from the Greek "Θεοδόσιος", Theodosios, "given by god") is a given name. It may take the form Teodósio, Teodosie, Teodosije etc. Emperors of ancient Rome and Byzantium *Theodosius I Theodosius I ( grc-gre, Θε ...
, was a successful and high-ranking general (''
magister equitum The , in English Master of the Horse or Master of the Cavalry, was a Roman magistrate appointed as lieutenant to a Roman dictator, dictator. His nominal function was to serve as commander of the Roman cavalry in time of war, but just as a dictato ...
'') under the western Roman emperor
Valentinian I Valentinian I ( la, Flavius Valentinianus; 32117 November 375), sometimes called Valentinian the Great, was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the History of the Roman Empire, imperial period (starting ...
, and his mother was called Thermantia. The family appear to have been minor landed aristocrats in Hispania, although it is not clear if this social status went back several generations or if Theodosius the Elder was simply awarded land there for his military service. Their roots to Hispania were nevertheless probably long-standing, since various relatives of the future emperor Theodosius are likewise attested as Spanish, and Theodosius himself was ubiquitously associated in the ancient literary sources and panegyrics with the image of fellow Spanish-born emperor
Trajan Trajan ( ; la, Caesar Nerva Trajanus; 18 September 539/11 August 117) was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the History of the Roman Empire, imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors use ...

Trajan
– though he never again visited the peninsula after becoming emperor. Very little is recorded of the upbringing of Theodosius. The 5th-century author
Theodoret Theodoret of Cyrus or Cyrrhus ( grc-gre, Θεοδώρητος Κύρρου; AD 393 –  458/466) was an influential theologian of the School of Antioch The Catechetical School of Antioch was one of the two major centers of the study of ...
claimed the future emperor grew up and was educated in his Spanish homeland, but his testimony is unreliable. One modern historian instead thinks Theodosius must have grown up among the army, participating in his father's campaigns throughout the provinces, as was customary at the time for families with a tradition of military service. One source says he received a decent education and developed a particular interest in history, which Theodosius then valued as a guide to his own conduct throughout life.


Career

Theodosius is first attested accompanying his father to
Britain Britain usually refers to: * United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United ...

Britain
on his expedition in 368–369 to suppress the "
Great Conspiracy The Great Conspiracy was a year-long state of war and disorder that occurred in Roman Britain near the end of the Roman rule of the island. The historian Ammianus Marcellinus described it as a ''barbarica conspiratio'' that capitalized on a dep ...
", a concerted Celtic and Germanic invasion of the island provinces. After probably serving in his father's staff on further campaigns, Theodosius received his first independent command by 374 when he was appointed the ''
dux ''Dux'' (; plural: ''ducēs'') is Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the ...

dux
'' (commanding officer) of the province of
Moesia Prima Moesia Prima (; Latin: ''Moesia''; el, Μοισία) was a frontier Roman province, province of the late Roman Empire, situated in the central parts of present-day Serbia, along the south bank of the Danube River. Provincial capital was Viminaciu ...
in the
Danube The Danube ( ; ) is the List of rivers of Europe#Longest rivers, second-longest river in Europe, after the Volga in Russia. It flows through much of Central Europe, Central and Southeastern Europe, from the Black Forest into the Black Sea. It ...

Danube
. In the autumn of 374, he successfully repulsed an incursion of
Sarmatians The Sarmatians (; Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is appro ...
on his sector of the frontier and forced them into submission. Not long afterwards, however, under mysterious circumstances, Theodosius's father suddenly fell from imperial favor and was executed, and the future emperor felt compelled to retire to his estates in Hispania. Although these events are poorly documented, historians usually attribute this fall from grace to the machinations of a court faction led by Maximinus, a senior civilian official. According to another theory, the future emperor Theodosius lost his father, his military post, or both, in the purges of high officials that resulted from the accession of the 4-year-old emperor
Valentinian II Valentinian II ( la, Flavius Valentinianus; 37115 May 392) was a Roman emperor in the Western Roman Empire, western part of the Roman empire between AD 375 and 392. He was at first junior co-ruler of his brother, was then sidelined by a usurper, ...
in November 375. Theodosius's period away from service in Hispania, during which he was said to have received threats from those responsible for his father's death, did not last long, however, as Maximinus, the probable culprit, was himself removed from power around April 376 and then executed. The emperor
Gratian Gratian (; la, Flavius Gratianus; 18 April 359 – 25 August 383) was Roman emperor, emperor of the Western Roman Empire, western part of the Roman Empire from 367 to 383. The eldest son of Valentinian I, Gratian accompanied his father on severa ...

Gratian
immediately began replacing Maximinus and his associates with relatives of Theodosius in key government positions, indicating the family's full rehabilitation, and by 377 Theodosius himself had regained his command against the Sarmatians. Theodosius's renewed term of office seems to have gone uneventfully, until news arrived that the eastern Roman emperor,
Valens Flavius Valens (Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ) ...

Valens
, had been killed at the
Battle of Adrianople The Battle of Adrianople (9 August 378), sometimes known as the Battle of Hadrianopolis, was fought between an Eastern Roman Empire, Eastern Roman East Roman army, army led by the Eastern Roman Emperor Valens and Goths, Gothic rebels (largely T ...
in August 378 against invading
Goths The Goths ( got, 𐌲𐌿𐍄𐌸𐌹𐌿𐌳𐌰, translit=''Gutþiuda''; la, Gothi) were a Germanic people The Germanic peoples were a historical group of people living in Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe between West ...
. The disastrous defeat left much of Rome's military leadership dead, discredited, or barbarian in origin, to the result that Theodosius, notwithstanding his own modest record, became the establishment's choice to replace Valens and assume control of the crisis. With the begrudging consent of the western emperor Gratian, Theodosius was formally invested with the purple by a council of officials at
Sirmium Sirmium was a city in the Roman province of Pannonia, located on the Sava river, on the site of modern Sremska Mitrovica in northern Serbia Serbia (, ; sr, Србија, Srbija, ),, * cs, Srbsko, * ro, Serbia * rue, Сербия *germa ...

Sirmium
on 19 January 379.


Accession

After the death of his uncle
Valens Flavius Valens (Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ) ...

Valens
(), Gratian, now the senior emperor, sought a candidate to nominate as Valens's successor. On 19 January 379, Theodosius I was made joint emperor (''augustus'') over the eastern provinces at Sirmium. His wife, Aelia Flaccilla, was accordingly raised to ''
augusta Augusta may refer to: Places Australia * Augusta, Western Australia Brasil * Rua Augusta (São Paulo) Canada * Augusta, Ontario * North Augusta, Ontario * Augusta Street (Hamilton, Ontario) France * Augusta Suessionum ("Augusta of the Suessii" ...
''. The new ''augustus'''s territory spanned the Roman
praetorian prefecture of the East The praetorian prefecture of the East, or of the Orient ( la, praefectura praetorio Orientis, el, ἐπαρχότης/ὑπαρχία τῶν πραιτωρίων τῆς ἀνατολῆς) was one of four large praetorian prefecture The praetor ...
, including the
Roman diocese In the Late Roman Empire, usually dated 284 AD to 602 AD, the regional governance district known as the Roman or civil diocese was made up of a grouping of Late Roman province, provinces headed by Vicarius, vicars, who were the substit ...
of
Thrace Thrace (; el, Θράκη, Thráki; bg, Тракия, Trakiya; tr, Trakya) or Thrake is a geographical and historical region in Southeast Europe, now split among Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey, which is bounded by the Balkan Mountains to th ...
, and the additional dioceses of
Dacia Dacia (, ; ) was the land inhabited by the Dacians The Dacians (; la, Daci ; grc-gre, Δάκοι, Δάοι, Δάκαι) were a Thracians, Thracian people who were the ancient inhabitants of the cultural region of Dacia, located in the ar ...
and of
Macedonia Macedonia most commonly refers to: * North Macedonia North Macedonia, ; sq, Maqedonia e Veriut, (Macedonia until February 2019), officially the Republic of North Macedonia,, is a country in Southeast Europe. It gained independence in ...
. Theodosius the Elder, who had died in 375, was then
deified Apotheosis (, from gr, ἀποθεόω/ἀποθεῶ, label=none, link=no, lit='to deify', transliteration=apotheoo/apotheo; also called divinization and deification from ) is the glorification of a subject to divine level and most commonly, t ...
.


Reign


Early reign: 379–383

In October 379 the
Council of AntiochBeginning with three synods convened between 264 and 269 in the matter of Paul of Samosata, more than thirty councils were held in Antioch in ancient times. Most of these dealt with phases of the Arianism, Arian and of the Christology, Christologica ...
was convened. In 380, Theodosius was made
Roman consul A consul held the highest elected political office The incumbent is the current holder of an office An office is a space where an Organization, organization's employees perform Business administration, administrative Work (human acti ...
for the first time and Gratian for the fifth; in September the ''augusti'' Gratian and Theodosius met, returning the Roman diocese of Dacia to Gratian's control and that of
Macedonia Macedonia most commonly refers to: * North Macedonia North Macedonia, ; sq, Maqedonia e Veriut, (Macedonia until February 2019), officially the Republic of North Macedonia,, is a country in Southeast Europe. It gained independence in ...
to
Valentinian II Valentinian II ( la, Flavius Valentinianus; 37115 May 392) was a Roman emperor in the Western Roman Empire, western part of the Roman empire between AD 375 and 392. He was at first junior co-ruler of his brother, was then sidelined by a usurper, ...
. In autumn Theodosius fell ill, and was
baptized Baptism (from the Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is ap ...

baptized
. According to the ''Consularia Constantinopolitana'', Theodosius arrived at Constantinople and staged an '' adventus'', a ritual entry to the capital, on 24 November 380. According to the ''Consularia Constantinopolitana'',
Athanaric Athanaric or Atanaric ( la, Athanaricus; died 381) was king of several branches of the Thervingi The Thervingi, Tervingi, or Teruingi (sometimes pluralised Tervings or Thervings) were a Gothic Gothic or Gothics may refer to: People and lang ...
, king of the Gothic
Thervingi The Thervingi, Tervingi, or Teruingi (sometimes pluralised Tervings or Thervings) were a Goths, Gothic people of the plains north of the Lower Danube and west of the Dniester River in the 3rd and the 4th centuries. (In the 5th century they are ...
came to Constantinople, arrived on the 11th of January, and died there; he was buried in Constantinople on 25 January.
Zosimus Zosimus, Zosimos, or Zosimas may refer to: People * John Zosimus (Ioane-Zosime), 10th-century Georgian monk and hymnist * Pope Zosimus Pope Zosimus was the bishop of Rome from 18 March 417 to his death on 26 December 418. He was born in Meso ...
records that, in mid-May, Theodosius won a victory over the
Carpi Carpi may refer to : Places * Carpi, Emilia-Romagna, a large town in the province of Modena, central Italy * Carpi (Africa), a city and former diocese of Roman Africa, now a Latin Catholic titular bishopric People * Carpi (people), an ancie ...
and the
Sciri The Sciri, or Scirians, were a Germanic people Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples The historical Germanic peoples (from lat, Germani) are a category of ancient northern European tribes, first mentioned by Graeco-Roman authors. They ...
in summer 381. On 21 February 382, the body of Theodosius's father–in–law Valentinian the Great was finally laid to rest in the Church of the Holy Apostles. According to the ''Consularia Constantinopolitana'', a treaty of ''
foedus ''Foederati'' (, singular: ''foederatus'' ) were peoples and cities bound by a treaty A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in international law International law, also known as public international law ...
'' was reached with the Goths, and they were settled between the Danube and the
Balkan Mountains The Balkan mountain range (Bulgarian Bulgarian may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to the country of Bulgaria * Bulgarians, a South Slavic ethnic group * Bulgarian language, a Slavic language * Bulgarian alphabet * A citizen of Bulgar ...
. Theodosius I was based in Constantinople, and according to
Peter Heather Peter John Heather (born 8 June 1960) is a British historian of Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages The Early Middle Ages or Early Medieval Period, sometimes referred to as the Dark Ages, is typically regarded by historians as lasting ...
, wanted, "for his own dynastic reasons (for his two sons each eventually to inherit half of the empire), refused to appoint a recognized counterpart in the west. As a result he was faced with rumbling discontent there, as well as dangerous
usurper A usurper is an illegitimate or controversial claimant to power Power typically refers to: * Power (physics) In physics, power is the amount of energy transferred or converted per unit time. In the International System of Units, the unit of ...
s, who found plentiful support among the bureaucrats and military officers who felt they were not getting a fair share of the imperial cake."


Temporary settlement of the Gothic Wars

The
Goths The Goths ( got, 𐌲𐌿𐍄𐌸𐌹𐌿𐌳𐌰, translit=''Gutþiuda''; la, Gothi) were a Germanic people The Germanic peoples were a historical group of people living in Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe between West ...
and their allies (
Vandals The Vandals were a Germanic peoples, Germanic people who first inhabited what is now southern Poland. They established Vandal Kingdom, Vandal kingdoms on the Iberian Peninsula, Mediterranean islands, and North Africa in the fifth century. The ...
,
Taifals The Taifals or Tayfals ( la, Taifali, Taifalae or ''Theifali''; french: Taïfales) were a people group of Germanic Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples, an ethno-linguistic group identified by their use of the Germanic languages ** List of ...
,
Bastarnae The Bastarnae (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Ro ...
and the native
Carpians The Carpi or Carpiani were an ancient people that resided in the eastern parts of modern Romania Romania ( ; ro, România ) is a country located at the crossroads of Central Europe, Central, Eastern Europe, Eastern, and Southeast Europe, S ...
) entrenched in the provinces of
Dacia Dacia (, ; ) was the land inhabited by the Dacians The Dacians (; la, Daci ; grc-gre, Δάκοι, Δάοι, Δάκαι) were a Thracians, Thracian people who were the ancient inhabitants of the cultural region of Dacia, located in the ar ...

Dacia
and eastern
Pannonia Inferior Pannonia Inferior, lit. Lower Pannonia, was a province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, firs ...

Pannonia Inferior
consumed Theodosius's attention. The Gothic crisis was so dire that his co-Emperor Gratian relinquished control of the
Illyria In classical antiquity Classical antiquity (also the classical era, classical period or classical age) is the period of cultural history History (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Gre ...

Illyria
n provinces and retired to
Trier Trier ( , ; lb, Tréier ), formerly known in English as Trèves ( ;) and Triers (see also names in other languages), is a city on the banks of the Moselle The Moselle ( , ; german: Mosel ; lb, Musel ) is a river A river i ...

Trier
in
Gaul Gaul ( la, Gallia) was a region of Western Europe Western Europe is the western region of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rat ...

Gaul
to let Theodosius operate without hindrance. It did not help that Theodosius himself was dangerously ill during many months after his elevation, being confined to his bed in Thessalonica during much of 379. Gratian suppressed the incursions into the
diocese In Ecclesiastical polity, church governance, a diocese or bishopric is the ecclesiastical district under the jurisdiction of a bishop. History In the later organization of the Roman Empire, the increasingly subdivided Roman province, prov ...
s of Illyria (
Pannonia Pannonia (, ) was a province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as ...

Pannonia
and
Dalmatia Dalmatia (; hr, Dalmacija ; it, Dalmazia; see #Name, names in other languages) is a region on the east shore of the Adriatic Sea, a narrow belt stretching from the island of Rab in the north to the Bay of Kotor in the south. The Dalmatian Hin ...
) by the Goths Alathaeus and Saphrax in 380. He succeeded in convincing both to agree to a treaty and be settled in Pannonia. Theodosius was able finally to enter
Constantinople la, Constantinopolis ota, قسطنطينيه , alternate_name = Byzantion (earlier Greek name), Nova Roma ("New Rome"), Miklagard/Miklagarth (Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Germa ...

Constantinople
in November 380, after two seasons in the field, having ultimately prevailed by offering highly favorable terms to the Gothic chiefs. His task was rendered much easier when
Athanaric Athanaric or Atanaric ( la, Athanaricus; died 381) was king of several branches of the Thervingi The Thervingi, Tervingi, or Teruingi (sometimes pluralised Tervings or Thervings) were a Gothic Gothic or Gothics may refer to: People and lang ...
, an aged and cautious leader, accepted Theodosius's invitation to a conference in the capital,
Constantinople la, Constantinopolis ota, قسطنطينيه , alternate_name = Byzantion (earlier Greek name), Nova Roma ("New Rome"), Miklagard/Miklagarth (Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Germa ...

Constantinople
, and the splendor of the imperial city reportedly awed him and his fellow-chiefs into accepting Theodosius' offers. Athanaric himself died soon after, but his followers were impressed by the honorable funeral arranged for him by Theodosius, and agreed to defending the border of the empire. The final treaties with the remaining Gothic forces, signed 3 October 382, permitted large contingents of barbarians, primarily
Thervingi The Thervingi, Tervingi, or Teruingi (sometimes pluralised Tervings or Thervings) were a Goths, Gothic people of the plains north of the Lower Danube and west of the Dniester River in the 3rd and the 4th centuries. (In the 5th century they are ...
an Goths, to settle in Thrace south of the
Danube The Danube ( ; ) is the List of rivers of Europe#Longest rivers, second-longest river in Europe, after the Volga in Russia. It flows through much of Central Europe, Central and Southeastern Europe, from the Black Forest into the Black Sea. It ...

Danube
frontier. The Goths now settled within the Empire would largely fight for the Romans as a national contingent, as opposed to being fully integrated into the Roman forces.


383–384

According to the ''
Chronicon Paschale ''Chronicon Paschale'' (the ''Paschal'' or ''Easter Chronicle''), also called ''Chronicum Alexandrinum'', ''Constantinopolitanum'' or ''Fasti Siculi'', is the conventional name of a 7th-century Greek Christian chronicle A chronicle ( la, chron ...

Chronicon Paschale
'', Theodosius celebrated his ''quinquennalia'' on 19 January 383 at Constantinople; on this occasion he raised his eldest son
Arcadius Flavius Arcadius ( grc-gre, Ἀρκάδιος, Arkádios; 1 January 377 – 1 May 408) was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of dif ...

Arcadius
to co-emperor (''augustus''). Sometime in 383, Gratian's wife Constantia died. Gratian remarried, wedding
Laeta Laeta was the second Empress consort of Gratian of the Western Roman Empire. Family The only relation of Laeta mentioned by Zosimus (historian), Zosimus was her mother Pissamena.Zosimus (historian), Zosimus, "''Historia Nova'', Book five, 1814 t ...
, whose father was a ''
consularis''Consularis'' is a Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roma ...
'' of
Roman Syria Roman Syria was an early Roman province The Roman provinces (Latin: ''provincia'', pl. ''provinciae'') were the administrative regions of Ancient Rome outside Roman Italy that were controlled by the Romans under the Roman Republic and late ...
. Early 383 saw the acclamation of
Magnus Maximus Magnus Maximus (; cy, Macsen Wledig ; 28 August 388) was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía t ...
as emperor in Britain and the appointment of
Themistius Themistius ( grc-gre, Θεμίστιος ; 317 – c. 388 AD), nicknamed Euphrades, (eloquent), was a statesman A statesman or stateswoman typically is a politician A politician is a person active in party politics A political party i ...
as ''
praefectus urbi The ''praefectus urbanus'', also called ''praefectus urbi'' or urban prefect in English, was prefect Prefect (from the Latin ''praefectus'', substantive adjectival form of ''praeficere'': "put in front", meaning in charge) is a Magistrate, m ...
'' in Constantinople. On the 25 August 383, according to the ''Consularia Constantinopolitana'', Gratian was killed at
Lugdunum Colonia Copia Claudia Augusta Lugdunum (; modern Lyon Lyon or Lyons (, , ; frp, Liyon, ; it, Lione, ) is the List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, third-largest city and second-largest urban area of France. It is located ...
(
Lyon Lyon or Lyons (, , ; frp, Liyon, ) is the third-largest city and second-largest urban area of France. It is located at the confluence of the rivers Rhône The Rhône ( , ; german: Rhone ; wae, Rotten ; it, Rodano ; frp, Rôno ; oc, ...

Lyon
) by
Andragathius{{short description, Roman army officer Andragathius was the Magister equitum of Magnus Maximus. He captured and murdered the Roman Emperor The Roman Emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the History of the Roman Empire, imperial pe ...
, the ''
magister equitum The , in English Master of the Horse or Master of the Cavalry, was a Roman magistrate appointed as lieutenant to a Roman dictator, dictator. His nominal function was to serve as commander of the Roman cavalry in time of war, but just as a dictato ...
'' of the rebel emperor during the rebellion of Magnus Maximus . Constantia's body arrived in Constantinople on 12 September that year and was buried in the Church of the Holy Apostles on 1 December. Gratian was deified as . Theodosius, unable to do much about Maximus due to ongoing military inadequacy, opened negotiations with the Persian emperor
Shapur III Shapur III ( pal, 𐭱𐭧𐭯𐭥𐭧𐭥𐭩 ), was the Sasanian The Sasanian () or Sassanid Empire, officially known as the Empire of Iranians (, ''Ērānshahr The Sasanian () or Sassanid Empire, officially known as the Empire of Ir ...
() of the
Sasanian Empire The Sasanian () or Sassanid Empire, officially known as the Empire of Iranians (, ''Ērānshahr The Sasanian () or Sassanid Empire, officially known as the Empire of Iranians (Middle Persian Middle Persian or Pahlavi, also known by its ...

Sasanian Empire
. According to the ''Consularia Constantinopolitana'', Theodosius received in Constantinople an embassy from them in 384. In an attempt to curb Maximus's ambitions, Theodosius appointed Flavius Neoterius as praetorian prefect of Italy. In the summer of 384, Theodosius met his co-emperor Valentinian II in northern Italy. Theodosius brokered a peace agreement between Valentinian and Magnus Maximus which endured for several years.


Middle reign: 384–387

Theodosius's second son Honorius was born on 9 December 384 and titled '' nobilissimus puer'' (or ''nobilissimus iuvenis''). The death of Aelia Flaccilla, Theodosius's first wife and the mother of Arcadius, Honorius, and Pulcheria, occurred by 386. She died at Scotumis in
Thrace Thrace (; el, Θράκη, Thráki; bg, Тракия, Trakiya; tr, Trakya) or Thrake is a geographical and historical region in Southeast Europe, now split among Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey, which is bounded by the Balkan Mountains to th ...
and was buried at Constantinople, her funeral oration delivered by
Gregory of Nyssa Gregory of Nyssa, also known as Gregory Nyssen ( grc-gre, Γρηγόριος Νύσσης; c. 335 – c. 395), was bishop A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is gener ...

Gregory of Nyssa
. A statue of her was dedicated in the
Byzantine Senate of Theodore Philoxenus, 525 AD The Byzantine Senate or Eastern Roman Senate ( el, Σύγκλητος, ''Synklētos'', or , ''Gerousia'') was the continuation of the Roman Senate, established in the 4th century by Constantine I. It survived for cen ...
. In 384 or 385, Theodosius's niece
Serena Serena most commonly refers to: * Serena Williams (born 1981), professional tennis player Serena may also refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media * Serena (1962 film), ''Serena'' (1962 film), a British crime thriller * Serena (2014 film), ''Ser ...
was married to the ''magister militum'',
Stilicho Flavius Stilicho (; c. 359 – 22 August 408) was a military commander in the Late Roman army, Roman army who, for a time, became the most powerful man in the Western Roman Empire. He was of Vandals, Vandal origins and married to Serena (wife o ...

Stilicho
. In the beginning of 386, Theodosius's daughter
Pulcheria Aelia Pulcheria (; grc-gre, Πουλχερία; 19 January 398 or 399 – July 453) was an Eastern Roman The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eas ...
also died. That summer, more Goths were defeated, and many were settled in
Phrygia In classical antiquity Classical antiquity (also the classical era, classical period or classical age) is the period of cultural history History (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related ...
. According to the ''Consularia Constantinopolitana'', a
Roman triumph The Roman triumph (') was a civil ceremonyA civil, or registrar, ceremony is a non-religious legal marriage in Stockholm Marriage, also called matrimony or wedlock, is a culturally recognised union between people, called spouses, tha ...
over the Gothic
Greuthungi The Greuthungi (also spelled Greutungi) were a Gothic Gothic or Gothics may refer to: People and languages *Goths or Gothic people, the ethnonym of a group of East Germanic tribes **Gothic language, an extinct East Germanic language spoken by ...
was then celebrated at Constantinople. The same year, work began on the great triumphal column in the
Forum of Theodosius The Forum of Theodosius ( el, φόρος Θεοδοσίου, today Beyazıt Square) was an area in Constantinople. It was originally built by Constantine I and named the ''Forum Tauri'' ("Forum (Roman), Forum of the Bull"). In 393, however, it wa ...
in Constantinople, the
Column of Theodosius The Forum of Theodosius ( el, φόρος Θεοδοσίου, today Beyazıt Square) was an area in Constantinople. It was originally built by Constantine I and named the ''Forum Tauri'' ("Forum (Roman), Forum of the Bull"). In 393, however, it wa ...
. The ''Consularia Constantinopolitana'' records that on 19 January 387, Arcadius celebrated his ''quinquennalia'' in Constantinople. By the end of the month, there was an uprising or riot in
Antioch Antioch on the Orontes (; grc, Ἀντιόχεια ἡ ἐπὶ Ὀρόντου, ''Antiókheia hē epì Oróntou''; also Syrian Antioch) grc-koi, Ἀντιόχεια ἡ ἐπὶ Ὀρόντου; or Ἀντιόχεια ἡ ἐπὶ Δάφνῃ ...
(modern
Antakya Antakya (), historically known as Antioch (Greek: Αντιόχεια), is the capital of Hatay Province Hatay Province ( tr, Hatay ili, ,'' پارێزگای خاتای, ar, لواء إسكندرون, translit=Liwa Iskenderun, lit=District of ...

Antakya
). The
Roman–Persian Wars The Roman–Persian Wars, also known as the Roman–Iranian Wars, were a series of conflicts between states of the Greco-Roman world File:Merida Roman Theatre2.jpg, Roman Theatre of Mérida, Spain. The term "Greco-Roman world" (also "Greco ...
concluded with the signing of the
Peace of Acilisene The Peace of Acilisene was a treaty between the East Roman Empire under Theodosius I and the Sassanid Empire under Shapur III sometime between 384 and 390 (usually dated to 387). The treaty divided Greater Armenia between these two empires. Per ...
with Persia. By the terms of the agreement, the ancient
Kingdom of ArmeniaKingdom of Armenia may refer to: *Kingdom of Armenia (antiquity), also known as Artaxiad or Arsacid Armenia, 380 BC to AD 387/428 *Kingdom of Armenia (Middle Ages), also known as Bagratid Armenia, AD 885 to 1045 Other ancient Armenian kingdoms *Satr ...
was divided between the powers. By the end of the 380s, Theodosius and the court were in Milan and northern Italy had settled down to a period of prosperity. Peter Brown says gold was being made in Milan by those who owned land as well as by those who came with the court for government service. Great landowners took advantage of the court's need for food, "turning agrarian produce into gold", while repressing and misusing the poor who grew it and brought it in. According to Brown, modern scholars link the decline of the Roman empire to the avarice of the rich of this era. He quotes Paulinus of Milan as describing these men as creating a court where "everything was up for sale". In the late 380s, Ambrose, the bishop of Milan took the lead in opposing this, presenting the need for the rich to care for the poor as "a necessary consequence of the unity of all Christians". This led to a major development in the political culture of the day called the “advocacy revolution of the later Roman empire". This revolution had been fostered by the imperial government, and it encouraged appeals and denunciations of bad government from below. However, Brown adds that, "in the crucial area of taxation and the treatment of fiscal debtors, the late Roman state f the 380s and 390sremained impervious to Christianity".


Civil war: 387–388

The peace with Magnus Maximus was broken in 387, and Valentinian escaped to the east with Justina, reaching Thessalonica (
Thessaloniki Thessaloniki (; el, Θεσσαλονίκη, ), also known as Thessalonica (), Saloniki or Salonica () is the second-largest city in Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, Elláda, ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in So ...

Thessaloniki
) in summer or autumn 387 and appealing to Theodosius for aid; Valentinian II's sister Galla was then married to the eastern emperor at Thessalonica in late autumn. Theodosius may still have been in Thessalonica when he celebrated his ''decennalia'' on 19 January 388. Theodosius was consul for the second time in 388. Galla and Theodosius's first child, a son named Gratian, was born in 388 or 389. In summer 388, Theodosius recovered Italy from Magnus Maximus for Valentinian, and in June, the meeting of Christians deemed heretics was banned by Valentinian. The armies of Theodosius and Maximus fought at the
Battle of Poetovio The Battle of the Save was fought in 388 between the forces of Roman usurper Magnus Maximus and the Eastern Roman Empire. Emperor Theodosius I defeated Magnus Maximus's army in battle. Later Maximus was captured and executed at Aquileia. Backgro ...
in 388, which saw Maximus defeated. On 28 August 388 Maximus was executed. Now the ''de facto'' ruler of the Western empire as well, Theodosius celebrated his victory in Rome on June 13, 389 and stayed in
Milan Milan (, , Milanese: ; it, Milano ) is a city in northern Italy, capital of Lombardy, and the List of cities in Italy, second-most populous city proper in Italy after Rome. The city proper has a population of about 1.4 million, while its ...

Milan
until 391, installing his own loyalists in senior positions including the new ''
magister militum (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic ...
'' of the West, the Frankish general Arbogast. According to the ''Consularia Constantinopolitana'', Arbogast killed
Flavius Victor Flavius Victor (unknown – August 388AD) was a Western Roman emperor The Roman Emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different titles throughout history. Of ...
(), Magnus Maximus's young son and co-emperor, in Gaul in August/September that year. ''
Damnatio memoriae ''Damnatio memoriae'' is a modern Latin phrase meaning "condemnation of memory", indicating that a person is to be excluded from official accounts. There are and have been many routes to damnatio memoriae, including the destruction of depictions ...
'' was pronounced against them, and inscriptions naming them were erased.


Massacre and its aftermath: 388–391

The
Massacre of Thessalonica The Massacre of Thessalonica (Thessaloniki) in Greece was a massacre of local civilians by Roman troops. The best estimate of the date is 390. The most probable cause was the murder of a Roman official in an urban riot; the riot was likely cause ...
(Thessaloniki) in Greece was a massacre of local civilians by Roman troops. The best estimate of the date is April of 390. The massacre was most likely a response to an urban riot that led to the murder of a Roman official. What most scholars, such as philosopher Stanislav Doleźal, see as the most reliable of the sources is the ''Historia ecclesiastica'' written by
Sozomen Salamanes Hermias Sozomenos ( grc-gre, Σαλαμάνης Ἑρμείας Σωζομενός; la, Sozomenus; c. 400 – c. 450 AD), also known as Sozomen, was a Roman lawyer and historian of the Christian Church. Family and home He was born aroun ...
about 442; in it Sozomen supplies the identify of the murdered Roman official as Butheric, the commanding general of the field army in Illyricum (magister militum per Illyricum). According to Sozomen, a popular charioteer tried to rape a cup-bearer, (or possibly Butheric himself), and in response, Butheric arrested and jailed the charioteer.Sozomenus, ''Ecclesiastical History 7.25'' The populace demanded the chariot racer's release, and when Butheric refused, a general revolt rose up costing Butheric his life. Doležal says the name "Butheric" indicates he might have been a Goth, and that the general's ethnicity "could have been" a factor in the riot, but none of the early sources actually say so.


Sources

There are no contemporaneous accounts. Church historians
Sozomen Salamanes Hermias Sozomenos ( grc-gre, Σαλαμάνης Ἑρμείας Σωζομενός; la, Sozomenus; c. 400 – c. 450 AD), also known as Sozomen, was a Roman lawyer and historian of the Christian Church. Family and home He was born aroun ...
, Theodoret the bishop of Cyrrhus,
Socrates of Constantinople Socrates of Constantinople ( grc-gre, Σωκράτης ὁ Σχολαστικός; 380 – after 439), also known as Socrates Scholasticus, was a 5th-century Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Gree ...
and Rufinus wrote the earliest accounts during the fifth century. These are moral accounts emphasizing imperial piety and ecclesial action rather than historical and political details. Further difficulty is created by these events moving into legend in art and literature almost immediately. Doležal explains that yet another problem is created by aspects of these accounts contradicting one another to the point of being mutually exclusive. Nonetheless, most classicists accept at least the basic account of the massacre, although they continue to dispute when it happened, who was responsible for it, what motivated it, and what impact it had on subsequent events.


Theodosius' role

Theodosius was not in Thessalonica when the massacre occurred. The court was in Milan. Several scholars, such as historian G. W. Bowersock and authors Stephen Williams and Gerard Friell, think that Theodosius ordered the massacre in an excess of "volcanic anger". McLynn also puts all the blame on the Emperor as does the less dependable fifth century historian, Theodoret. Other scholars, such as historians Mark Hebblewhite and N. Q. King, do not agree. Peter Brown, points to the empire's established process of decision making, which required the emperor "to listen to his ministers" before acting. There is some indication in the sources Theodosius did listen to his counselors but received bad or misleading advice. J. F. Matthews argues that the Emperor first tried to punish the city by selective executions. Peter Brown concurs: "As it was, what was probably planned as a selective killing ... got out of hand". Doleźal says Sozomen is very specific in saying that in response to the riot, the soldiers made random arrests in the hippodrome to perform a few public executions as a demonstration of imperial disfavor, but the citizenry objected. Doleźal suggests, "The soldiers, realizing that they were surrounded by angry citizens, perhaps panicked ... and ...forcibly cleared the hippodrome at the cost of several thousands of lives of local inhabitants". McLynn says Theodosius was “unable to impose discipline upon the faraway troops" and covered that failure by taking responsibility for the massacre on himself, declaring he had given the order then countermanded it too late to stop it.
Ambrose Ambrose of Milan (born Aurelius Ambrosius; c. 340 – 397), venerated as Saint Ambrose, ; lmo, Sant Ambroeus . was the Bishop of Milan The Archdiocese of Milan ( it, Arcidiocesi di Milano; la, Archidioecesis Mediolanensis) is a metropolitan ...

Ambrose
, the bishop of Milan and one of Theodosius' many counselors, was away from court. After being informed of events concerning Thessalonica, he wrote Theodosius a letter offering what McLynn calls a different way for the emperor to "save face" and restore his public image. Ambrose urges a semi-public demonstration of penitence, telling the emperor he will not give Theodosius communion until this is done.
Wolf Liebeschuetz John Hugo Wolfgang Gideon Liebeschuetz (born 22 June 1927) is a German-born British historian who specializes in late antiquity. Early life John Hugo Wolfgang Gideon Liebeschuetz was born in Hamburg on 22 June 1927, the son of historian Hans Lie ...
says "Theodosius duly complied and came to church without his imperial robes, until Christmas, when Ambrose openly admitted him to communion". Washburn says the image of the mitered prelate braced in the door of the cathedral in Milan blocking Theodosius from entering is a product of the imagination of Theodoret who wrote of the events of 390 "using his own ideology to fill the gaps in the historical record". Peter Brown also says there was no dramatic encounter at the church door. McLynn states that "the encounter at the church door has long been known as a pious fiction". Wolfe Liebeschuetz says Ambrose advocated a course of action which avoided the kind of public humiliation Theodoret describes, and that is the course Theodosius chose.


Aftermath

According to the early twentieth century historian
Henry Smith Williams Henry Smith Williams (1863-1943) was a medical doctor, lawyer, and author of a number of books on medicine, history, and science. Work In the introductory ''the Author'' of his book ''iarchive:DrugAddictsAreHumanBeingsTheStoryOfOurBillion-dollarDr ...

Henry Smith Williams
, history's assessment of Theodosius' character has been stained by the massacre of Thessalonica for centuries. Williams describes Theodosius as a virtuous-minded, courageous man, who was vigorous in pursuit of any important goal, but through contrasting the "inhuman massacre of the people of Thessalonica" with "the generous pardon of the citizens of Antioch" after civil war, Williams also concludes Theodosius was "hasty and choleric". It is only modern scholarship that has begun disputing Theodosius' responsibility for those events. From the time
Edward Gibbon Edward Gibbon (; 8 May 173716 January 1794) was an English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval En ...

Edward Gibbon
wrote his ''Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire'', Ambrose' action after the fact has been cited as an example of the church's dominance over the state in Antiquity. Alan Cameron says "the assumption is so widespread it would be superfluous to cite authorities. But there is not a shred of evidence for Ambrose exerting any such influence over Theodosius". Brown says Ambrose was just one among many advisors, and Cameron says there is no evidence Theodosius favored him above anyone else. By the time of the Thessalonican affair, Ambrose, an aristocrat and former governor, had been a bishop for 16 years, and during his episcopate, had seen the death of three emperors before Theodosius. These produced significant political storms, yet Ambrose held his place using what McLynn calls his "considerable qualities considerable luck" to survive. Theodosius was in his 40s, had been emperor for 11 years, had temporarily settled the Gothic wars, and won a civil war. As a Latin speaking Nicene western leader of the Greek largely Arian East, Boniface Ramsey says he had already left an indelible mark on history. McLynn asserts that the relationship between Theodosius and Ambrose transformed into myth within a generation of their deaths. He also observes that the documents revealing the relationship between these two formidable men do not show the personal friendship the legends portray. Instead, those documents read more as negotiations between the institutions the men represent: the Roman state and the Italian Church.


Second civil war: 392–394

In 391, Theodosius left his trusted general Arbogast, who had served in the Balkans after Adrianople, to be ''magister militum'' for the Western emperor Valentinian II, while Theodosius attempted to rule the entire empire from Constantinople. On 15 May 392, Valentinian II died at Vienna in Gaul (
Vienne Vienne () is a landlocked department Department may refer to: * Departmentalization, division of a larger organization into parts with specific responsibility Government and military *Department (country subdivision), a geographical and admin ...

Vienne
), either by suicide or as part of a plot by Arbogast. Valentinian had quarrelled publicly with Arbogast, and was found hanged in his room. Arbogast announced that this had been a suicide. Stephen Williams asserts that Valentinian's death left Arbogast in "an untenable position". He had to carry on governing without the ability to issue edicts and rescripts from a legitimate acclaimed emperor. Arbogast was unable to assume the role of emperor himself because of his non-Roman background. Instead, on 22 August 392, Arbogast had Valentinian's master of correspondence,
Eugenius Flavius Eugenius (died 6 September 394) was an Roman usurper, usurper in the Western Roman Empire (392–394) against Roman Emperor, Emperor Theodosius I. While Christian himself, Eugenius capitalized on the discontent in the West caused by Theo ...
, proclaimed emperor in the West at Lugdunum. At least two embassies went to Theodosius to explain events, one of them Christian in make-up, but they received ambivalent replies, and were sent home without achieving their goals. Theodosius raised his second son Honorius to emperor on 23 January 393, implying the illegality of Eugenius' rule. Williams and Friell say that by the spring of 393, the split was complete, and "in April Arbogast and Eugenius at last moved into Italy without resistance".
FlavianusFlavianus—the adjectival form of the name Flavius in Latin—may refer to: * M. Pompeius Silvanus Staberius Flavianus, a 1st-century Roman consul * L. Septimius Flavianus Flavillianus, a 3rd-century Roman athlete * Faustus Flavianus, fully Marcus ...
, the praetorian prefect of Italy whom Theodosius had appointed, defected to their side. Through early 394, both sides prepared for war. Theodosius gathered a large army, including the Goths whom he had settled in the
eastern empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn ...
as ''
foederati ''Foederati'' (, singular: ''foederatus'' ) were peoples and cities bound by a treaty A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in international law International law, also known as public international law ...
'', and
Caucasian Caucasian may refer to: Anthropology *Anything from the Caucasus region **Peoples of the Caucasus, humans from the Caucasus region **Languages of the Caucasus, languages spoken in the Caucasus region ** ''Caucasian Exarchate'' (1917–1920), an ...
and
Saracen file:Erhard Reuwich Sarazenen 1486.png, upright 1.5, Late 15th century German woodcut depicting Saracens Saracens () were primarily Arab Muslims, but also Turkish people, Turks, Persian people, Persians or other Muslims as referred to by Christian ...
auxilia The lat, Auxilia (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of t ...
ries, and marched against Eugenius. The battle began on 5 September 394, with Theodosius' full frontal assault on Eugenius's forces. Thousands of Goths died, and in Theodosius's camp, the loss of the day decreased morale. It is said by
Theodoret Theodoret of Cyrus or Cyrrhus ( grc-gre, Θεοδώρητος Κύρρου; AD 393 –  458/466) was an influential theologian of the School of Antioch The Catechetical School of Antioch was one of the two major centers of the study of ...
that Theodosius was visited by two "heavenly riders all in white" who gave him courage. The next day, the extremely bloody battle began again and Theodosius's forces were aided by a natural phenomenon known as the Bora, which can produce hurricane-strength winds. The Bora blew directly against the forces of Eugenius and disrupted the line. Eugenius's camp was stormed; Eugenius was captured and soon after executed. According to Socrates Scholasticus, Theodosius defeated Eugenius at the
Battle of the Frigidus The Battle of the Frigidus, also called the Battle of the Frigid River, was fought between 5 and 6 September 394 between the army of the Roman emperor Theodosius the Great and the army of the rebel ''Augustus (title), augustus'' Eugenius (), in ...
(the Vipava) on 6 September 394. On 8 September, Arbogast killed himself. According to Socrates, on 1 January 395, Honorius arrived in Mediolanum and a victory celebration was held there. Zosimus records that, at the end of April 394, Theodosius's wife Galla had died while he was away at war. A number of Christian sources report that Eugenius cultivated the support of the pagan senators by promising to restore the altar of Victory and provide public funds for the maintenance of cults if they would support him and if he won the coming war against Theodosius. Cameron notes that the ultimate source for this is Ambrose's biographer
Paulinus the DeaconPaulinus the Deacon, also Paulinus of Milan was the notary of Ambrose of Milan, and his biographer. His work is the only life of Ambrose based on a contemporary account, and was written at the request of Augustine of Hippo; it is dated to 422. Again ...
, whom he argues fabricated the entire narrative and deserves no credence. Historian Michele Renee Salzman explains that "two newly relevant texts — John Chrysostom's Homily 6, ''adversus Catharos'' (PG 63: 491-92) and the ''Consultationes Zacchei et Apollonii'', re-dated to the 390s, reinforces the view that religion was not the key ideological element in the events at the time". According to Maijastina Kahlos, Finnish historian and Docent of Latin language and Roman literature at the University of Helsinki, the notion of pagan aristocrats united in a "heroic and cultured resistance" who rose up against the ruthless advance of Christianity in a final battle near Frigidus in 394 is a romantic myth.


Death

Theodosius suffered from a disease involving severe
edema Edema, also spelled oedema, and also known as fluid retention, dropsy, hydropsy and swelling, is the build-up of fluid in the body's tissue Tissue may refer to: Biology * Tissue (biology), an ensemble of similar cells that together carry out a ...

edema
, in
Milan Milan (, , Milanese: ; it, Milano ) is a city in northern Italy, capital of Lombardy, and the List of cities in Italy, second-most populous city proper in Italy after Rome. The city proper has a population of about 1.4 million, while its ...

Milan
. Theodosius died in Mediolanum on 17 January 395. His funeral was held there on 25 February. Ambrose delivered a
panegyric A panegyric ( or ) is a formal public speech, or (in later use) written verse, delivered in high praise of a person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason, morality, consciousness ...
titled ''De obitu Theodosii'' in the presence
Stilicho Flavius Stilicho (; c. 359 – 22 August 408) was a military commander in the Late Roman army, Roman army who, for a time, became the most powerful man in the Western Roman Empire. He was of Vandals, Vandal origins and married to Serena (wife o ...

Stilicho
and Honorius in which Ambrose praised the suppression of paganism by Theodosius. On 8 November 395, his body was transferred to Constantinople, where according to the ''Chronicon Paschale'' he was buried in the
Church of the Holy Apostles The Church of the Holy Apostles ( el, , ''Agioi Apostoloi''; tr, Havariyyun Kilisesi), also known as the ''Imperial Polyándreion'' (imperial cemetery), was a Greek Eastern Orthodox The Eastern Orthodox Church, also called the Ortho ...

Church of the Holy Apostles
. He was deified . He was interred in a porphyry sarcophagus that was described in the 10th century by
Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus (; 17 May 905 – 9 November 959) was the fourth Byzantine emperor, Emperor of the Macedonian dynasty of the Byzantine Empire, reigning from 6 June 913 to 9 November 959. He was the son of Emperor Leo VI and his f ...
in his work ''
De Ceremoniis The ''De Ceremoniis'' (fully ''De cerimoniis aulae Byzantinae'') is the conventional Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in th ...
''.


Art patronage

According to art historian
David Wright David Allen Wright (born December 20, 1982) is an American former professional baseball Baseball is a bat-and-ball games, bat-and-ball game played between two opposing teams who take turns batting (baseball), batting and fielding. The ...

David Wright
, art of the era around the year 400 reflects optimism amongst the traditional polytheists. This is likely connected to what Ine Jacobs calls a renaissance of classical styles of art in the Theodosian period (AD 379- 45) often referred to in modern scholarship as the ''Theodosian renaissance''. The ''Forum Tauri'' in Constantinople was renamed and redecorated as the
Forum of Theodosius The Forum of Theodosius ( el, φόρος Θεοδοσίου, today Beyazıt Square) was an area in Constantinople. It was originally built by Constantine I and named the ''Forum Tauri'' ("Forum (Roman), Forum of the Bull"). In 393, however, it wa ...
, including a
column A column or pillar in architecture upright=1.45, alt=Plan d'exécution du second étage de l'hôtel de Brionne (dessin) De Cotte 2503c – Gallica 2011 (adjusted), Plan of the second floor (attic storey) of the Hôtel de Brionne in Par ...
and a
triumphal arch A triumphal arch is a free-standing monumental structure in the shape of an arch An arch is a vertical curved structure that Span (architecture), spans an elevated space and may or may not support the weight above it, or in case of a horizon ...

triumphal arch
in his honour. The ''missorium'' of Theodosius, the city of Aprodisias' statue of the emperor, the base of the
obelisk of Theodosius The Obelisk of Theodosius ( tr, Dikilitaş) is the Ancient Egyptian obelisk of Pharaoh Thutmose III re-erected in the Hippodrome of Constantinople, Hippodrome of Constantinople (known today as ''At Meydanı'' or ''Sultanahmet Meydanı'', in the mo ...

obelisk of Theodosius
, the columns of Theodosius and Arcadius, and the dyptich of Probus were all commissioned by the court and reflect a similar renaissance of classicism. According to Armin Wirsching, two obelisks were shipped by the Romans from
Karnak The Karnak Temple Complex, commonly known as Karnak (, which was originally derived from ar, خورنق ''Khurnaq'' "fortified village"), comprises a vast mix of decayed temples A temple (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical lan ...

Karnak
to
Alexandria Alexandria ( or ; ar, الإسكندرية ; arz, اسكندرية ; Coptic language, Coptic: Rakodī; el, Αλεξάνδρεια ''Alexandria'') is the List of cities and towns in Egypt, third-largest city in Egypt after Cairo and Giza, ...

Alexandria
in 13/12 BC. In 357, Constantius II had one (that became known as the Lateran obelisk) shipped to Rome. Wirsching says the Romans had previously watched and learned from the Egyptians how to transport such large heavy objects, so they constructed "a special sea‐going version of the Nile vessels ... – a double‐ship with three hulls". In 390, Theodosius oversaw the removal of the other to Constantinople.Linda Safran says that relocating the obelisk was motivated by Theodosius' victory over "the tyrants" (most likely Maximus Magnus and his son Victor). It is now known as the obelisk of Theodosius and still stands in the
Hippodrome of Constantinople Sultanahmet Square ( tr, Sultanahmet Meydanı), or the Hippodrome of Constantinople ( el, Ἱππόδρομος τῆς Κωνσταντινουπόλεως, Hippódromos tēs Kōnstantinoupóleōs, la, Circus Maximus Constantinopolitanus, tr ...
, the long
Roman circus The Roman circus (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of ...
that was, at one time, the centre of Constantinople's public life. Re-erecting the monolith was a challenge for the technology that had been honed in the construction of
siege engine A siege engine is a device that is designed to break or circumvent heavy castle doors, thick city wall A defensive wall is a fortification A fortification is a military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a h ...
s. The obelisk's white marble base is entirely covered with
bas-relief Relief is a sculptural technique in which the sculpted elements remain attached to a solid background of the same material. The term ''relief Relief is a sculptural technique where the sculpted elements remain attached to a solid background o ...
s documenting Theodosius' imperial household and the engineering feat of removing the obelisk to Constantinople. Theodosius and the imperial family are separated from the nobles among the spectators in the imperial box, with a cover over them as a mark of their status. From the perspective of style, it has served as "the key monument in identifying a so-called Theodosian court style, which is usually described as a "renaissance" of earlier Roman classicism".


Religious policy


Arianism and orthodoxy

John Kaye says the Arian controversy, concerning the nature of the divine trinity, and its accompanying struggles for political influence, started in Alexandria before the reign of
Constantine the Great Constantine I ( la, Flavius Valerius Constantinus; ; 27 February 22 May 337), also known as Constantine the Great, was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ...

Constantine the Great
between bishop
Arius Arius (; grc-koi, Ἄρειος, ; 250 or 256–336) was a Cyrenaic The Cyrenaics or Kyrenaics ( grc, Κυρηναϊκοί; ''Kyrēnaïkoí'') were a sensual hedonist Hedonism refers to a family of theories, all of which have in common th ...

Arius
of Alexandria, and bishop
Alexander of Constantinople Alexander of Constantinople ( grc-gre, Ἀλέξανδρος; c. 237/240 – c. 340) was a bishop A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position ...

Alexander of Constantinople
. Arius had asserted that God the Father had created the Son. This would make the Son a lesser being, because, even though the Son would have been created before anything else, he would not be eternal himself; he'd had a beginning. Father and Son were, therefore, similar but not of the same essence. This
Christology In Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings of Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth. It is the Major reli ...
, which was contrary to traditional orthodoxy, quickly spread through Egypt and Libya and the other Roman provinces. Bishops engaged in "wordy warfare," and the people divided into parties, sometimes demonstrating in the streets in support of one side or the other. Constantine had tried to settle the issues at the Council of Nicaea, but as
Arnold Hugh Martin Jones Arnold Hugh Martin Jones FBAFBA may refer to: * Federation of British Artists * Federal Bar Association * Fellow of the British Academy * Filsports Basketball Association * First Baptist Academy (Houston, Texas), United States * First Baptist Ac ...
states: "The rules laid down at Nicaea were not universally accepted". After the
Nicene Creed The original Nicene Creed (; grc-gre, Σύμβολον τῆς Νικαίας; la, Symbolum Nicaenum) was first adopted at the First Council of Nicaea, which opened on 19 June 325.''Readings in the History of Christian Theology'' by William Ca ...
was formulated in 325, the church reacted strongly against the word " ''homoousios''" in the Creed and various councils formulated various other creeds that were intended to replace the Nicene Creed; in particular, to find alternatives for "homoousios." Although these creeds also denounced Arius' Christology, they are known as Arian Creeds because they opposed the Nicene Creed. During this time, was at the center of the controversy and became the "champion of orthodoxy" after Alexander died. To Athanasius, Arius' interpretation of Jesus' nature (
Homoiousian Homoiousios ( el, ὁμοιούσιος from , ''hómoios'', "similar" and , ''ousía'', "essence, being") is a Christian theological term, coined in the 4th century by a distinctive group of Christian theologians who held the belief that God ...
) could not explain how Jesus could accomplish the redemption of humankind which is the foundational principle of Christianity. "According to Athanasius, God had to become human so that humans could become divine ... That led him to conclude that the divine nature in Jesus was identical to that of the Father, and that Father and Son have the same substance" (''
homoousios Homoousion (; , from , ''homós'', "same" and , '' ousía'', "being" or "essence") is a Christian theological term, most notably used in the Nicene Creed The Nicene Creed (; grc-gre, Σύμβολον τῆς Νικαίας; la, Symbolum Nic ...
''). Athanasius' teaching was a major influence in the West, especially on Theodosius I. On 28 February 380, Theodosius issued the
Edict of Thessalonica The Edict of Thessalonica (also known as ''Cunctos populos''), issued on 27 February AD 380 by three reigning Roman emperors The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βα ...
, a decree addressed to the city of
Constantinople la, Constantinopolis ota, قسطنطينيه , alternate_name = Byzantion (earlier Greek name), Nova Roma ("New Rome"), Miklagard/Miklagarth (Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Germa ...

Constantinople
, determining that only Christians who believed in the
consubstantiality Consubstantiality, a term derived from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Throug ...
of
God the Father God the Father is a title given to God In monotheism, monotheistic thought, God is conceived of as the supreme being, creator deity, creator, and principal object of Faith#Religious views, faith.Richard Swinburne, Swinburne, R.G. "God" ...

God the Father
,
Son A son is a male Male (symbol: ♂) is the sex of an organism that produces the gamete (sex cell) known as sperm, which fuses with the larger female gamete, or ovum, in the process of fertilization. A male organism cannot sexual reproduction ...
and
Holy Spirit In Abrahamic religions, the Holy Spirit is an aspect or agent of God in Abrahamic religions, God, by means of which God communicates with people or acts on them. In Judaism, it refers to the divine force, quality, and influence of God over the ...

Holy Spirit
could style themselves "
catholic The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian ...
" and have their own places of worship officially recognized as "churches"; deviants were labeled heretics and described as "out of their minds and insane". Recent scholarship has tended to reject former views that the edict was a key step in establishing Christianity as the official religion of the Empire, since it was aimed exclusively at Constantinople and seems to have gone largely unnoticed by contemporaries outside the capital. Nonetheless, the edict is the first known secular Roman law to positively define a religious orthodoxy. Errington and McLynn attribute Theodosius's zeal to his falling under the influence of a Nicene lobby during his stay at Thessalonica. According to Robinson Thornton, Theodosius began taking steps to repress Arianism immediately after his baptism in 380. On 26 November 380, two days after he had arrived in Constantinople, Theodosius expelled the Homoian bishop,
Demophilus of Constantinople Demophilus (Δημόφιλος; died 386) was a bishop of Veria, Berea and an archbishop of Constantinople from 370 until he was expelled in 380. Biography Born of good family in Thessalonica, he was elected by the Arianism, Arians to the bishop ...
, and appointed Meletius patriarch of Antioch, and
Gregory of Nazianzus Gregory of Nazianzus ( el, Γρηγόριος ὁ Ναζιανζηνός, ''Grēgorios ho Nazianzēnos''; c. 329''Liturgy of the Hours'' Volume I, Proper of Saints, 2 January. – 25 January 390), also known as Gregory the Theologian or Greg ...

Gregory of Nazianzus
, one of the
Cappadocian Fathers (Fresco Fresco (plural ''frescos'' or ''frescoes'') is a technique of Mural, mural painting executed upon freshly laid ("wet") lime plaster. Water is used as the vehicle for the dry-powder pigment to merge with the plaster, and with the setting ...
from
Cappadocia Cappadocia (; also ''Capadocia''; grc, label=Ancient Ancient history is the aggregate of past events
(today in Turkey), patriarch of Constantinople. Theodosius had just been baptized, by bishop Ascholius of Thessalonica, during a severe illness. In May 381, Theodosius summoned a new ecumenical council at Constantinople to repair the schism between East and West on the basis of Nicene orthodoxy. The council went on to define orthodoxy, including the Third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, as equal to the Father and 'proceeding' from Him. The council also "condemned the Apollonarian and Macedonian heresies, clarified jurisdictions of the bishops according to the civil boundaries of dioceses, and ruled that Constantinople was second in precedence to Rome."


Policy towards paganism

Theodosius seems to have adopted a cautious policy toward traditional non-Christian cults, reiterating his Christian predecessors' bans on animal sacrifice, divination, and apostasy, while allowing other pagan practices to be performed publicly and temples to remain open. He also voiced his support for the preservation of temple buildings, but nonetheless failed to prevent the damaging of many holy sites, images and objects of piety by Christian zealots, some including even his own officials.Ramsay MacMullen (1984) ''Christianizing the Roman Empire A.D. 100–400'', Yale University Press, p.90. Theodosius also turned pagan holidays into workdays, but the festivals associated with them continued. A number of laws against paganism were issued towards the end of his reign, in 391 and 392, but historians have tended to downplay their practical effects and even the emperor's direct role in them. Modern scholars think there is little if any evidence Theodosius pursued an active and sustained policy against the traditional cults. There is evidence that Theodosius took care to prevent the empire's still substantial pagan population from feeling ill-disposed toward his rule. Following the death in 388 of his praetorian prefect,
Cynegius Cynegius ( gr, Κυνήγιος, ''Kunegios''), as he is known in the Greek text of Mark the Deacon's ''Life of Porphyry'', or Ğeniḡos (from Greek Γενικός, ''Genikos''), as he is known in the Georgian language, Georgian, was a Christians, ...
, who had vandalized a number of pagan shrines in the eastern provinces, Theodosius replaced him with a moderate pagan who subsequently moved to protect the temples.Trombley, Frank R. Hellenic Religion and Christianization, C.370-529. Netherlands, Brill Academic Publishers, 2001. During his first official tour of Italy (389–391), the emperor won over the influential pagan lobby in the Roman Senate by appointing its foremost members to important administrative posts. Theodosius also nominated the last pair of pagan consuls in Roman history ( Tatianus and Symmachus) in 391.


Temple destruction

Contemporary archaeology has found that the area with the most destruction against temples by Christians took place in the territory around Constantinople in the diocese of Orientis (the East) under Theodosius' prefect, Maternus Cynegius where archaeological digs have discovered several destroyed temples. Theodosius officially supported temple preservation, but Garth Fowden says Cynegius did not limit himself to Theodosius' official policy, but instead, commissioned temple destruction on a wide scale, even employing the military under his command for this purpose. Christopher Haas also says Cynegius oversaw temple closings, the prohibition of sacrifices, and the destruction of temples in Osrhoene, Carrhae, and Beroea, while Marcellus of Apamea took advantage of the situation to destroy the temple of Zeus in his own town. Earlier scholars believed Cynegius' actions were just part of a tide of violence against temples that continued throughout the 390s. Grindle, Gilbert (1892) ''The Destruction of Paganism in the Roman Empire'', pp.29-30.Gibbon, Edward ''The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'', ch28
Catholic Encyclopedia The ''Catholic Encyclopedia: An International Work of Reference on the Constitution, Doctrine, Discipline, and History of the Catholic Church'' (also referred to as the ''Old Catholic Encyclopedia'' and the ''Original Catholic Encyclopedia'') i ...
(1912) article on ''Theophilus'', New Advent Web Site.
However, recent archaeological discoveries have undermined this view. The archaeological evidence for the violent destructive of temples in the fourth and early fifth centuries around the entire Mediterranean is limited to a handful of sites. Temple destruction is attested to in 43 cases in the written sources, but only 4 of them were confirmed by archaeological evidence. Trombley and MacMullen say part of what creates this discrepancy are details in the historical sources that are commonly ambiguous and unclear. For example, Malalas claimed Constantine destroyed all the temples, then he said Theodisius did, then he said Constantine converted them all to churches. There is no evidence of any desire on the part of the emperor to institute a systematic destruction of temples anywhere in the Theodosian Code, and no evidence in the archaeological record that extensive temple destruction ever took place.R. MacMullen, ''Christianizing The Roman Empire A.D.100–400'', Yale University Press, 1984,


Theodosian decrees

According to ''
The Cambridge Ancient History ''The Cambridge Ancient History'' is a multi-volume work of ancient history Ancient history is the aggregate of past events
'', the
Theodosian Law Code The ''Codex Theodosianus'' (Eng. Theodosian Code) was a compilation of the laws Law is a system A system is a group of interacting Interaction is a kind of action that occurs as two or more objects have an effect upon one another. ...

Theodosian Law Code
is a set of laws, originally dated from Constantine to Theodosius I, that were gathered together, organized by theme, and reissued throughout the empire between 389 and 391. Jill Harries and Ian S. Wood explain that, in their original forms, these laws were created by different emperors and governors to resolve the issues of a particular place at a particular time. They were not intended as general laws.Harries, J. and Wood, I. (eds) 1993. The Theodosian Code: studies in the Imperial law of late antiquity. London. Local politics and culture had produced divergent attitudes, and as a result, these laws present a series of conflicting opinions: for example, some laws called for the complete destruction of the temples and others for their preservation. French historian of Antiquity, , observes that ''
Ammianus Marcellinus Ammianus Marcellinus (born , died 400) was a Roman soldier This is a list of Roman army units and bureaucrats. *''Accensus'' – Light infantry men in the armies of the early Roman Republic, made up of the poorest men of the army. *''Actuarius' ...
'' says this legal complexity produced corruption, forgery of rescripts, falsified appeals, and costly judicial delays.Philippe Fleury. Les textes techniques de l’Antiquité. Sources, études et perspectives. Euphrosyne. Revista de filologia clássica, 1990, pp.359-394. ffhal-01609488f The Theodosian Law Code has long been one of the principal historical sources for the study of Late Antiquity.Lepelley, C. 1992. "The survival and fall of the classical city in Late Roman Africa". In J. Rich (ed.) The City in Late Antiquity. London and New York, pp. 50-76. Gibbon described the Theodosian decrees, in his ''Memoires'', as a work of history rather than jurisprudence. Brown says the language of these laws is uniformly vehement, and penalties are harsh and frequently horrifying, leading some historians, such as Ramsay MacMullen, to see them as a 'declaration of war' on traditional religious practices.Brown, Peter. "Christianization and religious conflict". The Cambridge Ancient History 13 (1998): 337–425. It is a common belief the laws marked a turning point in the decline of paganism. Yet, many contemporary scholars such as Lepelly, Brown and Cameron, question the use of the Code, a legal document, not an actual historical work, for understanding history. One of many problems with using the Theodosian Code as a record of history is described by archaeologists Luke Lavan and Michael Mulryan. They explain that the Code can be seen to document "Christian ambition" but not historic reality.Lepelley, C. 1992. "The survival and fall of the classical city in Late Roman Africa". In J. Rich (ed.) The City in Late Antiquity. London and New York, pp. 50–76. The overtly violent fourth century that one would expect to find from taking the laws at face value is not supported by archaeological evidence from around the Mediterranean.


End of paganism

R. Malcolm Errington writes that reconstructing the religious policies of Theodosius I is more complex than earlier historians realized. The picture of Theodosius as "the most pious emperor", who presided over the end of paganism through the aggressive application of law and coercion – a view which Errington says "has dominated the European historical tradition almost to this day" – was first written by Theodoret who, in Errington's view, had a habit of ignoring facts and cherry picking a "few concrete legislative items". In the centuries following his death, Theodosius gained a reputation as the champion of orthodoxy and the vanquisher of paganism, but modern historians see this as more of a later interpretation of history by Christian writers rather than actual history. Cameron explains that, since Theodosius's predecessors
Constantine Constantine most often refers to: * Constantine the Great Constantine I ( la, Flavius Valerius Constantinus; ; 27 February 22 May 337), also known as Constantine the Great, was a Roman emperor from 306 to 337. Born in Naissus, Dacia Mediterra ...

Constantine
, , and
Valens Flavius Valens (Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ) ...

Valens
had all been
semi-Arian Semi-Arianism was a position regarding the relationship between God the Father God the Father is a title given to God in various religions, most prominently in Christianity. In mainstream trinity, trinitarian Christianity, God the Father is ...
s, it fell to the orthodox Theodosius to receive from Christian literary tradition most of the credit for the final triumph of Christianity. Numerous literary sources, both Christian and even pagan, attributed to Theodosius – probably mistakenly, possibly intentionally – initiatives such as the withdrawal of state funding to pagan cults (this measure belongs to
Gratian Gratian (; la, Flavius Gratianus; 18 April 359 – 25 August 383) was Roman emperor, emperor of the Western Roman Empire, western part of the Roman Empire from 367 to 383. The eldest son of Valentinian I, Gratian accompanied his father on severa ...

Gratian
) and the demolition of temples (for which there is no primary evidence in the law codes or archaeology). An increase in the variety and abundance of sources has brought about the reinterpretation of religion of this era. According to Salzman: "Although the debate on the death of paganism continues, scholars ...by and large, concur that the once dominant notion of overt pagan-Christian religious conflict cannot fully explain the texts and artifacts or the social, religious, and political realities of Late Antique Rome".Pagans and Christians in Late Antique Rome: Conflict, Competition, and Coexistence in the Fourth Century. United Kingdom, Cambridge University Press, 2016. Scholars agree that Theodosius gathered copious legislation on religious subjects, and that he continued the practices of his predecessors, prohibiting sacrifices with the intent of divining the future in December of 380, issuing a decree against heretics on 10 January 381, and an edict against
Manichaeism Manichaeism (; in New Persian New Persian ( fa, فارسی نو), also known as Modern Persian () and Dari (), is the final stage of the Persian language Persian (), also known by its endonym An endonym (from Greek Greek may refer to ...
in May of that same year. Theodosius convened the
First Council of Constantinople The First Council of Constantinople ( la, Concilium Constantinopolitanum; grc-gre, Σύνοδος τῆς Κωνσταντινουπόλεως) was a council of Christian bishops convened in Constantinople la, Constantinopolis ota, قس ...
, the second
ecumenical council An ecumenical council (or oecumenical council; also general council) is a conference of ecclesiastical dignitaries and theological experts convened to discuss and settle matters of Church doctrine and practice in which those entitled to vote a ...
after Constantine's
First Council of Nicaea The First Council of Nicaea (; grc, Νίκαια ) was a council of Christian bishops convened in the Bithynia Bithynia (; Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialec ...
in 325; and the Constantinopolitan council which ended on 9 July. What is important about this, according to Errington, is how much this 'copious legislation' was applied and used, which would show how dependable it is as a reflection of actual history. Brown asserts that Christians still comprised a minority of the overall population, and local authorities were still mostly pagan and lax in imposing anti-pagan laws; even Christian bishops frequently obstructed their application. Harries and Wood say, "The contents of the Code provide details from the canvas but are an unreliable guide, in isolation, to the character of the picture as a whole".Harries, J. and Wood, I. (eds) 1993. The Theodosian Code: studies in the Imperial law of late antiquity. London. Previously undervalued similarities in language, society, religion, and the arts, as well as current archaeological research, indicate paganism slowly declined, and that it was not forcefully overthrown by Theodosius I in the fourth century.''The Oxford Handbook of Late Antiquity''. United Kingdom, Oxford University Press, 2015. Maijastina Kahlos writes that the fourth century Roman empire contained a wide variety of religions, cults, sects, beliefs and practices and they all generally co-existed without incident. Coexistence did occasionally lead to violence, but such outbreaks were relatively infrequent and localized. Jan N. Bremmer says that "religious violence in Late Antiquity is mostly restricted to violent rhetoric: 'in Antiquity, not all religious violence was that religious, and not all religious violence was that violent'". The Christian church believed that victory over "false gods" had begun with Jesus and was completed through the conversion of Constantine; it was a victory that took place in heaven, rather than on earth, since Christians were only about 15–18% of the empire's population in the early 300s. Michele R. Salzman indicates that, as a result of this "triumphalism," paganism was seen as vanquished, and heresy was therefore a higher priority than paganism for Christians in the fourth and fifth centuries. Lavan says Christian writers gave the narrative of victory high visibility, but that it does not necessarily correlate to actual conversion rates. There are many signs that a healthy paganism continued into the fifth century, and in some places, into the sixth and beyond.Boin, Douglas. A Social and Cultural History of Late Antiquity. United Kingdom, Wiley, 2018. According to Brown, Christians objected to anything that called the triumphal narrative into question, and that included the mistreatment of non-Christians. Archaeology indicates that in most regions away from the imperial court, the end of paganism was both gradual and untraumatic. The ''Oxford Handbook of Late Antiquity'' says that "Torture and murder were not the inevitable result of the rise of Christianity." Instead, there was fluidity in the boundaries between the communities and "coexistence with a competitive spirit." Brown says that "In most areas, polytheists were not molested, and, apart from a few ugly incidents of local violence, Jewish communities also enjoyed a century of stable, even privileged, existence." While conceding that Theodosius's reign may have been a watershed in the decline of the old religions, Cameron downplays the role of the emperor's 'copious legislation' as limited in effect, and writes that Theodosius did 'certainly not' ban paganism. In his 2020 biography of Theodosius, Mark Hebblewhite concludes that Theodosius never saw or advertised himself as a destroyer of the old cults; rather, the emperor's efforts to promote Christianity were cautious, 'targeted, tactical, and nuanced', and intended to prevent political instability and religious discord.


See also

* Battle of Frigidus *
De Fide Catolica There are a number of documents titled ''De fide Catholica'' concerning the Catholic faith. Among them are: * The edict "Edict of Thessalonica, De fide catholica"Edictum de fide catholicaissued by Emperor Theodosius I, Theodosius on 27 February 38 ...
*
Galla Placidia Galla Placidia (388–89 / 392–93 – 27 November 450), daughter of the Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαί ...

Galla Placidia
, daughter of Theodosius *
List of Byzantine emperors This is a list of the Byzantine emperors from the foundation of Constantinople la, Constantinopolis ota, قسطنطينيه , alternate_name = Byzantion (earlier Greek name), Nova Roma ("New Rome"), Miklagard/Miklagarth (Old Norse ...
* Roman emperors family tree * Saint Fana *
Serena Serena most commonly refers to: * Serena Williams (born 1981), professional tennis player Serena may also refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media * Serena (1962 film), ''Serena'' (1962 film), a British crime thriller * Serena (2014 film), ''Ser ...
, niece of Theodosius and wife of
Flavius Stilicho Flavius Stilicho or Stilico (; c. 359 – 22 August 408) was a military commander in the Roman army The Roman army (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European langua ...

Flavius Stilicho
*
Zosimus Zosimus, Zosimos, or Zosimas may refer to: People * John Zosimus (Ioane-Zosime), 10th-century Georgian monk and hymnist * Pope Zosimus Pope Zosimus was the bishop of Rome from 18 March 417 to his death on 26 December 418. He was born in Meso ...
, pagan historian from the time of Anastasius I


Notes


Citations


References

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Further reading

* Brown, Peter, ''The Rise of Western Christendom'', 2003, pp. 73–74 * King, N.Q. ''The Emperor Theodosius and the Establishment of Christianity.'' London, 1961. * *


External links

* * Thi
list of Roman laws of the fourth century
shows laws passed by Theodosius I relating to Christianity. {{DEFAULTSORT:Theodosius 01 347 births 395 deaths 4th-century Christians 4th-century Roman emperors 4th-century Roman consuls Ancient Romans in Britain Burials at the Church of the Holy Apostles Christian royal saints Deified Roman emperors Eastern Orthodox royal saints Flavii Gothic War (376–382) Imperial Roman consuls People excommunicated by Christian churches Persecution of pagans in the late Roman Empire Romans from Hispania Theodosian dynasty