VALENTINIAN I (Latin : Flavius Valentinianus Augustus; 3 July 321 – 17 November 375), also known as VALENTINIAN THE GREAT, was Roman emperor from 364 to 375. Upon becoming emperor he made his brother Valens his co-emperor, giving him rule of the eastern provinces while Valentinian retained the west.
During his reign, Valentinian fought successfully against the
Quadi , and
Sarmatians . Most notable was his victory over
Alamanni in 367 at the
Battle of Solicinium . His brilliant
Count Theodosius defeated a revolt in Africa and the Great
Conspiracy , a coordinated assault on
Due to the successful nature of his reign and the rapid decline of the empire after his death, he is often considered to be the "last great western emperor". He founded the Valentinian Dynasty , with his sons Gratian and Valentinian II succeeding him in the western half of the empire.
* 1 Early life * 2 Service under Constantius and Julian * 3 Rise to power
* 4 Emperor
* 4.3 Revolt in Africa and crises on the
* 4.3.1 Death
* 5 Reputation * 6 See also * 7 Notes
* 8 References
* 8.1 Primary sources * 8.2 Secondary accounts
* 9 External links
Solidus of emperor Valentinian I.
Valentinian was born in 321 at
Cibalae in southern
Gratian the Elder was promoted to
SERVICE UNDER CONSTANTIUS AND JULIAN
The conflict between Magnentius and Constantius had allowed the Alamanni and Franks to take advantage of the confusion and cross the Rhine , attacking several important settlements and fortifications. In 355, after deposing his cousin Gallus but still feeling the crises of the empire too much for one emperor to handle, Constantius raised his cousin Julian to the rank of Caesar. With the situation in Gaul rapidly deteriorating, Julian was made at least nominal commander of one of the two main armies in Gaul, Barbatio being commander of the other. Constantius devised a strategy where Julian and Barbatio would operate in a pincer movement against the Alamanni. However, a band of Alamanni slipped past Julian and Barbatio and attacked Lugdunum (Lyon ). Julian sent the tribunes Valentinian and Bainobaudes to watch the road the raiders would have to return by. However, their efforts were hindered by Barbatio and his tribune Cella . The Alamann king Chnodomarius took advantage of the situation and attacked the Romans in detail, inflicting heavy losses. Barbatio complained to Constantius and the debacle was blamed on Valentinian and Bainobaudes, who were cashiered from the army.
With his career in ruins, Valentinian returned to his new family estate in Sirmium . Two years later his first son Gratian was born by his wife Marina Severa . Valentinian's actions become uncertain around this time, but he may have been exiled for refusing to do sacrifice to Julian.
RISE TO POWER
At the news of Julian's death on a campaign against the Sassanids,
the army hastily declared a commander, Jovian , emperor. The army
still found itself beleaguered by Persian attacks, forcing Jovian to
accept humiliating peace terms. Jovian's authority within the empire
was still insecure, so he sent a notary Procopius and the tribune
Memoridus west to announce his accession. During Jovian's reign
Valentinian was promoted to tribune of a Scutarii (elite infantry)
regiment, and was dispatched to Ancyra. Jovian's rule would be short
– only eight months – and before he could even consolidate his
The army marched to Nicaea, and a meeting of civil and military officials was convened to choose a new emperor. Two names were proposed: Aequitius, a tribune of the first Scutarii, and Januarius, a relative of Jovian’s in charge of military supplies in Illyricum. Both were rejected; Aequitius as too rough and boorish, Januarius because he was too far away. As a man well qualified and at hand, the assembly finally agreed upon Valentinian and sent messengers to inform him in Ancyra.
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Valentinian accepted the acclamation on 26 February 364. As he prepared to make his accession speech the soldiers threatened to riot, apparently uncertain as to where his loyalties lay. Valentinian reassured them that the army was his greatest priority. According to Ammianus the soldiers were astounded by Valentinian’s bold demeanor and his willingness to assume the imperial authority. To further prevent a succession crisis he agreed to pick a co-Augustus. His decision to elect a fellow-emperor could also be construed as a move to appease any opposition among the civilian officials in the eastern portion of the Empire. By agreeing to appoint a co-ruler, he assured the eastern officials that someone with imperial authority would remain in the east to protect their interests.
Valentinian selected his brother
Valens as co-
CAMPAIGNS IN GAUL AND GERMANIA
The emperor depicted in the Colossus of Barletta could very well be Valentinian I.
In 365 the
Alamanni crossed the
Rhine and invaded Gaul.
Simultaneously, Procopius – the last scion of the Constantinian
dynasty – began his revolt against
Valens in the east. According to
Ammianus, Valentinian received news of both the
Procopius' revolt on 1 November while on his way to
In early 367 Valentinian was distracted from launching a punitive
expedition against the
Alamanni due to crises in Britain and northern
Alamanni promptly re-crossed the
Rhine and plundered
Moguntiacum . Valentinian succeeded in arranging the assassination of
Vithicabius, an Alamannic leader, but Valentinian was more determined
to bring the
Alamanni under Roman hegemony. Valentinian spent the
entire winter of 367 gathering a massive army for a spring offensive.
He summoned the
In 370 the Saxons renewed their attacks on northern Gaul. Nannienus, the comes in charge of the troops in northern Gaul, urged Severus to come to his aid. After several modest successes, a truce was called and the Saxons handed over to the Romans young men fit for duty in the Roman military – in exchange for free passage back to their homeland. The Romans ambushed them and destroyed the entire invading force.
Valentinian meanwhile tried to persuade the Burgundians – bitter enemies of the Alamanni – to attack Macrian , a powerful Alamannic chieftain. If the Alamanni tried to flee, Valentinian would be waiting for them with his army. Negotiations with the Burgundians broke down when Valentinian, in his usual high-handed manner, refused to meet with the Burgundian envoys and personally assure them of Roman support. Nevertheless, rumors of a Roman alliance with the Burgundians did have the effect of scattering the Alamanni through fear of an imminent attack from their enemies. This event allowed the magister equitum Theodosius to attack the Alamanni through Raetia – taking many Alamannic prisoners. These captured Alamanni were settled in the Po river valley in Italy, where they were still settled at the time Ammianus wrote his history.
Valentinian campaigned unsuccessfully for four more years to defeat Macrian who in 372 barely escaped capture by Theodosius. Meanwhile, Valentinian continued to recruit heavily from Alamanni friendly to Rome. He sent the Alamannic king Fraomarius, along with Alamannic troops commanded by Bitheridius and Hortarius, to Britain in order to replenish troops there. Valentinian’s Alamannic campaigns, however, were hampered by troubles first in Africa, and later on the Danube river. In 374 Valentinian was forced to make peace with Macrian because the Emperor's presence was needed to counter an invasion of Illyricum by the Quadi and Sarmatians.
THE GREAT CONSPIRACY
In 367, Valentinian received reports from Britain that a combined
Theodosius arrived in 368 with the Batavi ,
Heruli , Jovii and
Victores legions. Landing at
Rutupiæ , he proceeded to Londinium
restoring order to southern Britain. Later, he rallied the remaining
garrison which was originally stationed in Britain; it was apparent
the units had lost their cohesiveness when
Fullofaudes and Nectaridus
had been defeated. Theodosius sent for Civilis to be installed as the
new vicarius of the diocese and
Dulcitius as an additional general. In
369, Theodosius set about reconquering the areas north of
REVOLT IN AFRICA AND CRISES ON THE DANUBE
Silver missorium (heavily worn) believed to depict Valentinian I. The armoured and haloed emperor is flanked by infantry soldiers, he holds a labarum in one hand and an orb surmounted by a figure of Victory in the other, ca. 364-375
In 372, the rebellion of Firmus broke out in the still-devastated African provinces. This rebellion was driven by the corruption of the comes Romanus. Romanus took sides in the murderous disputes among the legitimate and illegitimate children of Nubel, a Moorish prince and leading Roman client in Africa. Resentment of Romanus' peculations and his failure to defend the province from desert nomads caused some of the provincials to revolt. Valentinian sent in Theodosius to restore imperial control. Over the following two years Theodosius uncovered Romanus' crimes, arrested him and his supporters, and defeated Firmus.
In 373, hostilities erupted with the
Quadi , a group of
Germanic-speaking people living on the upper Danube. Like the
Quadi were outraged that Valentinian was building
fortifications in their territory. They complained and sent
deputations that were ignored by the magister armorum per Illyricum
Aequitius. However, by 373 the construction of these forts was behind
schedule. Maximinus, now praetorian prefect of Gaul, arranged with
Aequitius to promote his son Marcellianus and put him in charge of
finishing the project. The protests of Quadic leaders continued to
delay the project, and in a fit of frustration Marcellianus murdered
the Quadic king Gabinius at a banquet ostensibly arranged for peaceful
negotiations. This roused the
Quadi to war; along with their allies
the Sarmatians. During the fall, they crossed the
Valentinian did not receive news of these crises until late 374. The
following spring he set out from
Without waiting for the spring he decided to continue campaigning and
moved from Savaria to
Valentinian was a
Socrates Scholasticus gives an interesting account in his Historia
Ecclesiastica of Valentinian's marriages, that has inspired some to
call this emperor polygamous . According to the text: the empress
Justina "became known to
Marina Severa , wife of the emperor
Valentinian, and had frequent dialogue with the empress, until their
intimacy at length grew to such an extent that they were accustomed to
bathe together. When Severa saw Justina in the bath she was greatly
struck with the beauty of the virgin, and spoke of her to the emperor;
saying that the daughter of Justus was so lovely a creature, and
possessed of such symmetry of form, that she herself, though a woman,
was altogether charmed with her. The emperor, treasuring this
description by his wife in his own mind, considered with himself how
he could espouse Justina, without repudiating Severa, as she had borne
him Gratian, whom he had created
* Byzantine Empire portal
* ^ In
Classical Latin , Valentinian's name would read as FLAVIVS
* ^ Philip Schaff, A Select Library of the Nicene and post Nicene
Fathers of the
* Ammianus Marcellinus. Rerum gestarum libri qui supersunt. W. Seyfarth, ed. 3 vols. Leipzig, 1978 * Consularia Constantinopolitana. T. Mommsen ed., Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Auctores Antiquissimi. Volume 9. Berlin, 1892. * Codex Theodosianus. T. Mommsen, P.M. Meyer, and P. Krüger, eds. Theodosiani libri XVI cum constitutionibus Sirmondianis et leges novellae ad Theodosianum pertinentes (2 vols.). Berlin, 1905. * Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum. Vol. 6. T. Mommsen, ed. Berlin, 1875. * Epitome de Caesaribus. F.R. Pichlmayr, ed. Leipzig, 1961. * Jerome. Chronicon. R. Helm, ed., in Malcolm Drew Donalson, A Translation of Jerome’s Chronicon with Historical Commentary. Lewiston, NY, 1996. * Orosius. Adversus paganos historiarum libri septem. Z. Zangemeister, ed. Corpus scriptorum ecclesiasticorum latinorum 5. Vienna, 1882. * Socrates. Historia Ecclesiastica. J.P. Migne ed., Patrologia Graeca 67. Paris, 1864. * Sozomen. Historia Ecclesiastica. J.P. Migne ed., Patrologia Graeca 67. Paris, 1864. * Theoderet. Historia Ecclesiastica. J.P. Migne ed., Patrologia Graeca 82. Paris, 1864. * Zosimus. Historia nova. François Paschoud, ed. and trans., Zosime: Histoire Nouvelle (3 vols.). Paris, 1971–89. * Ammian, Books 26‑30 Uchicago.edu. English summaries. Main text in Latin.
* De Imperatoribus Romanis English text. * Canduci, Alexander (2010). Triumph & Tragedy: The Rise and Fall of Rome's Immortal Emperors. Pier 9. ISBN 978-1-74196-598-8 * Edward Gibbon , The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, 1776. * M. Grant, The Roman Emperors, 1985. * This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Valentinian I.". Encyclopædia Britannica . 27 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. * (in German) Schmidt-Hofner, Sebastian. Reagieren und Gestalten: der Regierungsstil des spaetroemischen Kaisers am Beispiel der Gesetzgebung Valentinians I. Muenchen: Beck, 2008. 398 p. (Vestigia, Bd. 58). * Ernst Stein , Histoire du Bas-Empire, vol. i, chap. 4 (1959). * Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Valentinian". Catholic Encyclopedia . 16. New York: Robert Appleton Company.