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Flavius Julius Valerius Majorianus (c. AD 420 – August 7, 461), usually known simply as Majorian, was the Western Roman Emperor
Roman Emperor
from 457 to 461. A prominent general of the Late Roman army, Majorian
Majorian
deposed Emperor Avitus
Avitus
in 457 and succeeded him. Majorian
Majorian
was the last emperor to make a concerted effort to restore the Western Roman Empire. Possessing little more than Italy, Dalmatia, and some territory in northern Gaul, Majorian
Majorian
campaigned rigorously for three years against the Empire's enemies. Majorian
Majorian
was the last of the Western Roman Emperors who was able to try to recover the Western Empire with its own forces. His successors until the fall of the Empire, in 476/480, were actually instruments in the hands of their barbarian generals, or emperors chosen and controlled by the Eastern Roman court. After defeating a Vandal attack on Italy, Majorian
Majorian
launched a campaign against the Visigothic Kingdom
Visigothic Kingdom
in southern Gaul. Defeating king Theodoric II
Theodoric II
at the Battle of Arelate, Majorian
Majorian
forced the Goths to abandon their possessions in Septimania
Septimania
and Hispania
Hispania
and return to federate status immediately. Majorian
Majorian
then attacked the Burgundian Kingdom, defeating them at the Siege of Lugdunum, expelling them from the Rhone
Rhone
valley and reducing them to federate status. In 460, Majorian
Majorian
left Gaul
Gaul
to consolidate his hold on Hispania. His generals launched a campaign against the Suebic Kingdom
Suebic Kingdom
in northwest Hispania, defeating them at the battles of Lucus Augusti and Scallabis and reducing them to federate status as well. His fleet for his campaign to restore Africa to the empire from the Vandals
Vandals
was destroyed due to treachery. Majorian
Majorian
sought to reform the imperial administration in order to make it more efficient and just. The powerful general Ricimer
Ricimer
deposed and killed Majorian, who had become unpopular with the senatorial aristocracy because of his reforms. According to historian Edward Gibbon, Majorian
Majorian
"presents the welcome discovery of a great and heroic character, such as sometimes arise, in a degenerate age, to vindicate the honour of the human species".[1]

Contents

1 Early life 2 Rise to the throne 3 Foreign affairs

3.1 Defence of Italy 3.2 Re-conquest of Gaul 3.3 Campaign of Hispania

4 Domestic policy

4.1 Fiscal policy and coinage 4.2 Natalist policies 4.3 Relationship with the senatorial aristocracy 4.4 Conservation of the monuments of Rome

5 Fall and death 6 Legacy 7 Notes 8 Sources

8.1 Primary sources 8.2 Secondary sources 8.3 Further reading

9 External links

Early life[edit]

Coin of Majorian

The life of Majorian
Majorian
and his reign are better known than those of the other Western Emperors of the same period. The most important sources are the chronicles that cover the second half of the 5th century — those of Hydatius and Marcellinus Comes, as well as the fragments of Priscus
Priscus
and John of Antioch. Besides these sources, which are useful also for the biographies of the other emperors, some peculiar sources are available that make Majorian's life known in some detail, both before and after his rise to the throne. The Gallo-Roman aristocrat and poet Sidonius Apollinaris was an acquaintance of the Emperor and composed a panegyric that is the major source for Majorian's life up to 459. As regards his policy, twelve of his laws have been preserved: the so-called Novellae Maioriani were included in the Breviarium that was compiled for the Visigothic king Alaric II
Alaric II
in 506, and help to understand the problems that pressed Majorian's government.[2] Majorian
Majorian
was probably born after 420, as in 458 he is defined as a iuvenis, a "young man". He belonged to the military aristocracy of the Roman Empire. His grandfather of the same name reached the rank of magister militum under Emperor Theodosius I
Theodosius I
and, as commander-in-chief of the Illyrian army, was present at his coronation at Sirmium
Sirmium
in 379. The daughter of the magister militum then married an officer, probably called Donninus,[3] who administered the finances of Aetius, the powerful magister militum of the West. The couple gave the name Maiorianus to their child in honour of his influential grandfather.[2]

Placidia
Placidia
was the younger daughter of Emperor Valentinian III, who planned to marry her to Majorian
Majorian
(450 ca.). As the powerful magister militum Aetius realised that this marriage would weaken his position, he sent Majorian
Majorian
away from his staff to private life, thus hindering the marriage.

It was under the same Aetius that Majorian
Majorian
started his military career.[4] He followed Aetius to Gallia, where he met under Aetius' command two officers of barbarian origin who were to play an important role in Majorian's life: the Suevic- Visigoth
Visigoth
Ricimer[5] and the Gaul Aegidius.[6] Majorian
Majorian
distinguished himself in the defence of the city of Turonensis (modern Tours) and in a battle against the Franks
Franks
of king Clodio, near Vicus Helena[7] (447 or 448). In the latter, Majorian
Majorian
fought at the head of his cavalry on a bridge, while Aetius controlled the roads leading to the battlefield:[8]

There was a narrow passage at the junction of two ways, and a road crossed both the village of Helena... and the river. [Aëtius] was posted at the cross-roads while Majorian
Majorian
warred as a mounted man close to the bridge itself... — Sidonius Apollinaris, Carmina, V.207–227. Anderson tr.

Around 450, the Western Roman Emperor
Roman Emperor
Valentinian III
Valentinian III
considered the possibility of marrying his daughter Placidia
Placidia
to Majorian. Valentinian had two daughters and no sons, and therefore no heir to the throne. Having Majorian
Majorian
as son-in-law would have strengthened Valentinian in the face of other powerful generals and would have solved the problem of the succession. Furthermore, as Emperor, Majorian
Majorian
could have led the army himself, freed from the dangerous bond with a powerful general, such as Valentinian had been obliged to contract with Aetius.[9] The intention of this plan was to avoid the possibility that barbarian generals like Huneric
Huneric
or Attila
Attila
should succeed to Aetius, but clashed with the plans of Aetius himself. The Roman general, in fact, planned to marry his own son Gaudentius to Placidia. He therefore opposed Valentinian's plan, and put an end to Majorian's military career, expelling him from his staff and sending him to his country estate.[9] According to the poet Sidonius Apollinaris, the cause of the fall of Majorian
Majorian
was the jealousy of Aetius' wife, who feared that Majorian could overshadow Aetius' prestige.[10] It was only in 454 that Majorian
Majorian
was able to return to public life. In that year, Valentinian III
Valentinian III
killed Aetius with his own hands but, fearing that Aetius' troops might revolt, called Majorian
Majorian
back to office to quell them.[11] In the following year, Valentinian III
Valentinian III
was killed by two former officers of Aetius' staff. There was then a fight for the succession, as no heir existed. Majorian
Majorian
played the role of the candidate for the throne of Licinia Eudoxia, Valentinian's widow, and of Ricimer, who reserved for himself a role similar to Aetius'.[12] In the end, the new Emperor was Petronius Maximus, a senator involved in Valentinian's murder, who outmanoeuvred the other candidates. To strengthen his position, he obliged Licinia to marry him and promoted Majorian
Majorian
to the rank of comes domesticorum (commander-in-chief of the imperial guard).[13] Petronius ruled only for a few weeks, as he was killed during the Vandal sack of Rome
Rome
(May 455). He was succeeded, not by Majorian, but by the Gallic-Roman noble Avitus, who had the support of the Visigoths. Both Majorian, comes domesticorum, and Ricimer, comes, initially supported Avitus, but when the Emperor lost the loyalty of the Italian aristocracy, the two generals revolted against him. First Majorian
Majorian
and Ricimer
Ricimer
killed Remistus, the magister militum entrusted by Avitus
Avitus
with the defence of the capital, Ravenna. Then Ricimer defeated Avitus' troops near Placentia, taking the Emperor himself prisoner, and obliging him to abdicate. Finally, Majorian
Majorian
caused Avitus' death, possibly starving him, in early 457.[14] Rise to the throne[edit] Avitus
Avitus
was dead and the Western throne without a pretender. It was thus for the Eastern Roman Emperor
Roman Emperor
to choose the successor, but Marcian
Marcian
could do nothing, as he died on January 27, 457. His successor on the Eastern throne was the general Leo I, who did not, however, select a colleague for the West, possibly because he intended to reign alone.[citation needed][15] On the other hand, Leo rewarded both Majorian
Majorian
and Ricimer: the former was appointed magister militum, the latter patricius and magister militum (February 28, 457).[16] While the situation was in a precarious equilibrium, a troop of 900 Alemanni
Alemanni
invaded Italy. They entered from Raetia
Raetia
and penetrated Italian territory down to Lake Maggiore. There they were intercepted and defeated by the troops of comes Burco, sent by Majorian
Majorian
to stop them:[17]

The savage Alaman had scaled the Alps and had emerged, plundering the Roman land; he had sent 900 foemen to scour for booty... By this time you were Master [of Soldiers], and you sent forth Burco with a band of followers... Fortune brought about a triumph not through numbers but through their love of you... You fought with the authority of a Master but the destiny of an Emperor — Sidonius Apollinaris, Carmina, V.373–385. Anderson tr.

This victory was celebrated as Majorian's own, and the magister militum was acclaimed Emperor by the army on April 1, six miles outside Ravenna, at a place called ad Columellas, "at the Little Columns".[16] There were actually two magistri militum to choose between, Majorian
Majorian
and Ricimer, but the barbarian origin of the latter barred him from the throne. Ricimer
Ricimer
could, however, expect to exert a great influence on the new Western Emperor, because of their relationship dating back to the time of their service under Aetius and because of his control of the army as magister militum. In his panegyric to Majorian, the poet Sidonius Apollinaris
Sidonius Apollinaris
tells that Majorian
Majorian
initially refused the election:[18]

The world trembled with alarm while you were loath to permit your victories to benefit you, and because, overly modest, you grieved because you deserved the throne and because you would not undertake to rule what you had deemed worth defending — Sidonius Apollinaris, Carmina, V.9–12. Anderson tr.

Modern historians think that it was Leo I who initially refused to recognize Majorian
Majorian
as his colleague, although the general chosen by the army must have seemed the only viable candidate to the throne. The Eastern court was not displeased with the deposition of Avitus, an Emperor chosen by the Visigoths, whereas the only other candidate, Olybrius, had a politically difficult relationship with the Vandal king Genseric
Genseric
and no influence on the army.[citation needed] Despite this, the approval by the Eastern court of Majorian's election came late, as the new Emperor was actually crowned only on December 28.[19] Leo I and Majorian
Majorian
jointly assumed the consulate for the year 458; it was customary that a new Emperor took this magistracy on the first year started as Emperor.[2] Foreign affairs[edit] Defence of Italy[edit] The first problems Majorian
Majorian
had to handle were the consolidation of his rule over Italy and the recovery of Gaul, since this province had rebelled after the deposition of the Gallo-Roman emperor Avitus. The recovery of the lost provinces of Hispania
Hispania
and Africa was a project that Majorian
Majorian
had to leave for later. In summer 458, a group of Vandals, led by the brother-in-law of Genseric, landed in Campania, at the mouth of the Liri
Liri
or the Garigliano
Garigliano
river, and started devastating and sacking the region. Majorian
Majorian
personally led the Roman army to a victory over the invaders near Sinuessa and followed the defeated Vandals, loaded with their booty, as far as their own ships, killing many of them including their commander.[20] After this event, Majorian
Majorian
understood that he had to take the initiative, if he wanted to defend the heart of his Empire, the only territory he actually controlled. So he decided to strengthen its defences. First, he issued a law, the Novella Maioriani 8 known as De reddito iure armorum ("On the Return of the Right to Bear Arms"), concerning the personal right to bear arms; in 440 Valentinian III
Valentinian III
had already promulgated a law with the same name, Novella Valentiniani 9, after another attack of the Vandals. It is probably to this time that another law is to be dated, the Novella Maioriani 12 known as De aurigis et seditiosis ("Concerning Charioteers and Seditious Persons"), to quell the disorders that sprang up during the chariot races. Both these laws are now lost.[2] He then strengthened the army, recruiting a large number of barbarian mercenaries, among whom Gepids, Ostrogoths, Rugii, Burgundians, Huns, Bastarnae, Suebi, Scythians
Scythians
and Alans.[21] Finally, he rebuilt two fleets, probably those of Miseno and Ravenna, since the Vandals
Vandals
had a strong navy:[22]

Meanwhile you built on the two shores fleets for the upper and lower sea. Down into the water falls every forest of the Apennines — Sidonius Apollinaris, Carmina, V.441–442. Anderson tr.

Re-conquest of Gaul[edit]

During his four-year reign Majorian
Majorian
reconquered most of Hispania
Hispania
and southern Gaul, meanwhile reducing the Visigoths, Burgundians
Burgundians
and Suevi to federate status.

After consolidating his position in Italy, Majorian
Majorian
concentrated on the recovery of Gaul. When news of the deposition of the Gallo-Roman emperor Avitus
Avitus
arrived in Gaul, the province refused to recognize Majorian
Majorian
as his successor. An important clue to this is an inscription found in Lugdunum
Lugdunum
(modern Lyons) and dating to 458: according to Roman custom, the inscriptions were dated reporting the name of the consuls in office, who that year were Leo I and Majorian. This inscription, instead, records only the name of Eastern Emperor, showing that Majorian
Majorian
was not recognized as lawful Emperor.[23] Another clue is the fact that, at the death of Avitus, the citizens of Lugdunum
Lugdunum
had allowed the Burgundians
Burgundians
of king Gondioc to occupy the city,[citation needed] and that they sent an envoy to Leo, and not to Majorian, to ask for a reduction of taxation.[24] Finally, there is a record of a failed usurpation in Gaul, around this time.[25] In late 458, Majorian
Majorian
entered Gaul, with an army strengthened by barbarian units.[26] The Emperor personally led the army, leaving Ricimer
Ricimer
in Italy and choosing Aegidius
Aegidius
and the magister militiae Nepotianus as collaborators. The imperial army defeated the Visigoths under king Theodoric II
Theodoric II
at the Battle of Arelate, forcing the Visigoths
Visigoths
to abandon Septimania
Septimania
and withdraw west to Aquitania. The Roman victory was decisive: under the new treaty the Visigoths
Visigoths
had to relinquish their vast conquests in Hispania
Hispania
and return to federate status. Majorian
Majorian
chose his trusted general Aegidius
Aegidius
as the new magister militum per Gallias (military commander of Gaul) and sent an envoy in Hispania, to report the victory over the Visigoths
Visigoths
and the new treaty with Theodoric II.[27] With the help of his new foederati, Majorian
Majorian
entered the Rhone
Rhone
Valley, conquering its populations "some by arms and some by diplomacy".[28] He defeated the Burgundians
Burgundians
and besieged and conquered the city of Lugdunum: the rebel city was heavily fined, while the Bagaudae were forced to join the Empire.[2] Despite the fact that the Gallo-Roman aristocracy had sided with Avitus, Majorian
Majorian
wanted a reconciliation, not a punishment. With the intercession of Majorian, magister epistolarum Petrus, Sidonius Apollinaris, the son-in-law of Avitus, was allowed to deliver a panegyric[29] in honour of the Emperor (early January 459), receiving in reward the appointment to the rank of comes spectabilis. Much more effective was, however, the granting of the tax remission that the citizens of Lugdunum
Lugdunum
had requested from Leo I.[30] Campaign of Hispania[edit]

The Roman Empire
Roman Empire
in 460 during the reign of Majorian.

In the wake of the Vandal sack of Rome
Rome
(455), the Visigoths
Visigoths
had conquered Hispania, formally in the name of the new Western Emperor Avitus, actually controlling the territory themselves. Majorian planned to reconquer Hispania
Hispania
and use it as the base for the conquest of Africa. This rich province of the Western Empire, which provided for the very important grain supply to the city of Rome, was in fact under Vandal control. According to the historian Procopius, Majorian, "who surpassed in every virtue all who have ever been emperors of the Romans", wanted to know personally the military readiness of the Vandals
Vandals
and how the local populations would react to the Roman invasion. He dyed black his fair hair, for which he was famous, and went to Genseric
Genseric
claiming to be an envoy of the Western Emperor. Genseric
Genseric
tried to impress the enemy ambassador by showing him the arms collected in the warehouses and sent him back.[31] This story is probably only a legend of Italian folklore,[32] but it is a clue to the care with which the expedition was prepared. Majorian
Majorian
collected information on the enemy and gathered a fleet of three hundred ships to support the army in the reconquest of Hispania
Hispania
and in the invasion of Africa.[2] It was probably during the preparation of this operation that Majorian sent the comes and patricius Occidentis Marcellinus to Sicily
Sicily
with an army of Huns, to take the island back from the Vandals. Marcellinus was the comes rei militaris (governor) of Illyricum, but he had become practically independent since the death of Aetius, not recognizing the imperial authority. Majorian
Majorian
convinced him to accept him as Emperor and even to collaborate with his troops in the military recovery of the Empire.[33] The campaign started with an operation against the Suebi
Suebi
in North-Western Hispania, lasting the whole of 459, led by the magister militiae Nepotianus and the Gothic comes Sunieric. Majorian
Majorian
gathered the main part of the army in Liguria, then entered Aquitaine
Aquitaine
and Novempopulania
Novempopulania
coming from Theodoric's court in Toulouse
Toulouse
(May 460). Genseric, fearing the Roman invasion, tried to negotiate a peace with Majorian, who rejected the proposal. The Vandal king then decided to devastate Mauretania, his own territory, because he thought that the Roman army would land there, and also ordered his navy to prepare incursions in the waters near the probable invasion area.[28] In the meantime, Majorian
Majorian
was conquering Hispania. While Nepotianus and Sunieric defeated the Suebi
Suebi
at Lucus Augusti (modern Lugo) and conquered Scallabis in Lusitania
Lusitania
(modern Santarém, Portugal), the Emperor passed through Caesaraugusta (Saragossa), where he performed a formal imperial adventus.[34] Finally he reached Carthaginiensis, where his fleet, docked at Portus Illicitanus (near Elche), was destroyed by traitors paid by the Vandals:[35]

While Majorian
Majorian
was campaigning in the province of Carthaginiensis
Carthaginiensis
the Vandals
Vandals
destroyed, through traitors, several ships that he was preparing for himself for a crossing against the Vandals
Vandals
from the shore of Carthaginiensis. Majorian, frustrated in this manner from his intention, returned to Italy. — Hydatius, Chronicle, 200, s.a. 460.

Majorian, deprived of the fleet that was necessary for the invasion, cancelled the attack on the Vandals. He received the ambassadors of Genseric, with whom he agreed to conclude peace, which probably included the recognition of the de facto occupation of Mauretania
Mauretania
by the Vandals. On his way back to Italy, the Emperor stopped at Arelate.[36] Domestic policy[edit] Majorian's domestic policy is known thanks to some of the laws he issued, the so-called Novellae Maioriani, that were included in a collection of Roman law entitled Breviarium, requested from some Gallo-Roman jurists in 506 by the 6th-century Visigothic king Alaric II .[2][37] The preserved laws are:

Novella Maioriani 1, De ortu imperii domini Majoriani Augusti, "The Beginning of the Reign of Our Lord Majorian
Majorian
Augustus", opening speech of his reign, addressed to the Roman Senate
Roman Senate
(given in Ravenna, on January 11, 458); Novella Maioriani 2, De indulgentiis reliquorum, "On the Remission of Past-Due Accounts" (given in Ravenna, on March 11, 458, to Basilius, Praetorian prefect of Italy); Novella Maioriani 3, De defensoribus civitatum, "The Defenders of the Municipalities", on the office of defensor civitatum (given in Ravenna, on May 8, 458, also in the name of Leo I); Novella Maioriani 4, De aedificiis pubblicis, "Public Buildings", on the preservation of the monuments of Rome
Rome
(given in Ravenna, on July 11, 458, to Aemilianus, praefectus urbi of Rome, also in the name of Leo I); Novella Maioriani 5, De bonis caducis sive proscriptorum, "On Abandoned Property and That of Proscribed Persons" (given in Ravenna, on September 4, 458, to Ennodius,[38] comes privatae largitionis, also in the name of Leo I); Novella Maioriani 6, De sanctimonialibus vel viduis et de successionibus earum, "Holy Maidens, Widows, and Their Succession" (given in Ravenna, on October 26, 458, to Basilius, Praetorian prefect of Italy, also in the name of Leo I); Novella Maioriani 7, De curialibus et de agnatione vel distractione praediorum et de ceteris negotiis, "Decurions, Their Children and The Sale of Their Landed Estates" (given in Ravenna, on November 6, 458, to Basilius, Praetorian prefect of Italy, also in the name of Leo I); Novella Maioriani 8, De reddito iure armorum, "On the Return of the Right to Bear Arms", whose text is lost; Novella Maioriani 9, De adulteriis, "Adultery", confirming that the adulterers are to be put to death (given in Arelate, on April 17, 459, to Rogatianus, governor of Suburbicarian Tuscany, also in the name of Leo I); Novella Maioriani 10, about the right of the Roman senators and of the Church to keep the goods received in a will, whose text is lost; Novella Maioriani 11, De episcopali iudicio et ne quis invitus clericus ordinetur vel de ceteris negotiis, "Episcopal Courts; No Person Shall Be Ordained A Cleric Against His Will; Various Matters", (given in Arelate, on March 28, 460, to Ricimer, also in the name of Leo I); Novella Maioriani 12, De aurigis et seditiosis, "Charioteers and Seditious Persons", whose text is lost.

Fiscal policy and coinage[edit]

Tremissis
Tremissis
minted by a Visigothic king in the name of Majorian. These coins were minted in Arelate
Arelate
between 457 and 507 by the Visigoths, but they carried the portrait and the name of the Roman Emperor, corrupted in iviivs haiorianvs. Even if their style was close to the Roman originals, Visigothic coins contained less precious metal; it was probably for this reason that Majorian
Majorian
issued a law obliging the tax collectors to accept golden coins at their nominal value, with the exception of the "Gallic" coin, of lesser value.[39]

Majorian
Majorian
understood that he could reign effectively only with the support of the senatorial aristocracy, whom he wanted to return to its pristine political prominence. At the same time, he planned to reduce the abuses perpetrated by the senators, many of whom cultivated their local interests disregarding the imperial policies, even refusing to pay taxes and keeping for themselves the taxes they had exacted. This fiscal evasion had a cascade effect that affected the small landowners, the citizens and the local civil magistrates.[2] For example, the decurions had personally to compensate the imperial treasury for all taxes not exacted. Sometimes, oppressed by the debts accumulated in this way, the decurions abandoned their status, a problem already addressed by Emperor Julian (361–363). Majorian
Majorian
also cancelled tax arrears, knowing that fiscal policy could not be effective if taxpayers had to pay large accumulated arrears.[2] On March 11, 458, Majorian
Majorian
issued a law entitled De indulgentiis reliquorum, "On the Remission of Past-Due Accounts" (Novella Maioriani 2). This law remitted all the tax arrears of the landowners. This same law explicitly prohibited public administrators, who had a record of keeping the collected money for themselves, from collecting taxes. This task was to be reserved to the governors alone. Another law issued to reorganise the tax system was issued on September 4 of the same year, and was entitled De bonis caducis sive proscriptorum, "On Abandoned Property and That of Proscribed Persons" (Novella Maioriani 5): the comes privatae largitionis Ennodius was to admonish the provincial judges against defrauding the imperial treasure, keeping for themselves a part of the money collected.[2] The Emperor was also interested in repairing the backbone of the imperial administration. On 8 May 458, Majorian
Majorian
issued a law entitled De defensoribus civitatum, "The Defenders of the Municipalities" (Novella Maioriani 3), to re-establish the office of the defensor civitatis. This city magistrate represented the interests of the citizens in trials against the public administration, particularly in fiscal matters; this magistracy was still in existence, but actually ineffective, since it was often held by the same officials who cheated the population.[2] Another law was issued on November 6 to strengthen the magistracy of the decurions. De curialibus et de agnatione vel distractione praediorum et de ceteris negotiis, "Decurions, Their Children and The Sale of Their Landed Estates" (Novella Maioriani 7), was issued to forgive past abuses perpetrated by the decurions. This forbade them to leave their status (going into hiding or marrying slave or tenant farmers) or to alienate their own properties.[2] Majorian
Majorian
minted coins in gold, silver and bronze. Gold
Gold
coinage was minted in great quantities. On these coins the Emperor is depicted, with few exceptions, with a combat helmet, a spear, a shield and a chi-rho, looking towards right; this typology was derived from a rare type minted in Ravenna
Ravenna
for Honorius and used in great quantities only by Majorian, while it was dropped by his successors. The first series of solidi were minted probably in Ravenna, and bear at the obverse the joint portrait of Majorian
Majorian
and Leo I, thus celebrating the mutual recognition of the two Roman emperors. The mints of Ravenna
Ravenna
and Milan issued both solidi and tremisses from the beginning of Majorian's reign.[2][40] No series of semisses are attested for these two mints, probably because the semisses were typically minted by the mint of Rome
Rome
and this mint was not active under Majorian, who never visited the ancient capital of his Empire during his four years of rule. The minting of solidi is attested for the mint of Arelate
Arelate
in 458, a fact compatible with the presence of Majorian
Majorian
in Gaul
Gaul
in that year. This mint was again active in 460, when the Emperor returned from his campaign in Hispania. The Visigoths
Visigoths
minted some reproductions of his solidi, modelled after the issues of the Arelate
Arelate
mint: as Arelate
Arelate
issued only solidi, the Visigoths
Visigoths
used those designs also for the tremissis.[2][40] Silver
Silver
coinage was issued almost exclusively by the Gallic mints; it has been suggested that these series were not issued by Majorian, but by Aegidius
Aegidius
after the Emperor's death, to mark the fact that he did not recognize his successor, Libius Severus. Majorian
Majorian
also produced great quantities of nummi of great weight, mostly minted at Ravenna and Milan, and some contorniates, mostly in Rome, but probably also in Ravenna.[2][40] Natalist policies[edit] The diffusion of Christianity in the Empire caused some social changes within the aristocratic families. In several wealthy families, daughters were obliged to take religious vows and never marry, so that the family wealth would not be dispersed in dowries. Majorian
Majorian
thought that this behaviour was harmful to the State, because it reduced the number of Roman children, and because it caused the girls to start illicit affairs. On October 26, 458, the Emperor addressed a law, the Novella Maioriani 6, to the Praetorian prefect of Italy, Caecina Decius
Decius
Basilius.[41] This law, titled De sanctimonialibus vel viduis et de successionibus earum ("Holy Maidens, Widows, and Their Succession"), imposed a minimum age of 40 for taking religious vows, considering that at this age the sexual drives of the initiated would be dormant. The law also granted women who had been forced to take religious vows, and were subsequently disinherited, the same rights on the legacy of parents as their brothers and sisters.[41] In order to solve this same problem of the decline of the Roman population, in particular compared with the growth of the barbarians allocated within the imperial boundaries, Majorian
Majorian
addressed the problem of young women widowed and without children who never remarried because of the influence of the clergy, to whom they destined their goods in their will.[42] The young widows were prohibited to take religious vows.[42] By the same measure, departing in this from the policy of the Eastern Empire, Majorian
Majorian
insisted that a marriage without dowry and pre-wedding exchange of gifts (first from the bride's family to the groom, then in the opposite direction) was invalid; simultaneously ended the practice of requesting pre-wedding gifts of a value considerably higher than the dowry.[43] Relationship with the senatorial aristocracy[edit]

Avitus, the predecessor of Majorian
Majorian
on the imperial throne, had alienated the support of the Roman senatorial aristocracy by appointing members of the Gallo-Roman aristocracy, of which he was a part, to the most important offices of the imperial administration. He was overthrown by Majorian, who did not repeat the error and rotated the main offices between representatives of the two aristocracies.

When Majorian
Majorian
took power by deposing Avitus, the province of Gaul, where Avitus' power was based, did not recognize the new Emperor. When Majorian
Majorian
re-conquered the province, he chose to forgive this rebellion. The reason was that Majorian
Majorian
understood that one of the mistakes of his predecessor was to promote and trust only the senatorial aristocracy of Gaul, the region he came from, favouring it over the senatorial aristocracy of Italy.[2][38] Majorian, instead, decided to gain the favour of the wealthy and noble families of the recovered province involving them in the administration of the power, together with the Italian aristocracy that, on the other side, had supported him since the beginning. A clue of this policy is the origin of the high civil servants of his administration, in particular of the consuls, whom the Emperor appointed jointly with his Eastern colleague.[2][38] In the first year (458) Majorian
Majorian
reserved the honour for himself, as was usual for the augusti, while in the second year he appointed his former colleague and powerful magister militum, Ricimer. Then, for the year 460, he choose the Gallic senator Magnus, and for the next year the Italian senator Severinus. Magnus had been appointed Praetorian prefect of Gaul
Gaul
in 458, while the Praetorian prefect of Italy
Praetorian prefect of Italy
was Caecina Decius
Decius
Basilius, who was the patron of the Gallic senator (and poet) Sidonius Apollinaris, while the comes privatae largitionis, Ennodius, was related to a family with interests in Arelate.[2][38] Majorian
Majorian
also showed great respect towards the Roman senate, as suggested by the message he addressed to it on the eve of his coronation: he promised the senators he would not take into account the accusations of informers, which were much feared as they might be used by the Emperor to cause the fall of influential figures.[44] And the promises were followed by facts, as told by Sidonius Apollinaris, who had been anonymously accused of the authorship of a pamphlet against some influential figures: during a dinner together, Majorian defused the risky situation with a witticism.[45] Conservation of the monuments of Rome[edit] From the beginning of the 4th century, the monuments of Rome, and more generally all buildings of some value that were in a state of neglect for various reasons, were increasingly used as quarries for valuable building materials. This practice, in fact, was cheaper and more convenient than import from remote locations, which was sometimes rendered difficult or impossible by the control of the sea by the Vandals.[46] Roman officials conceded upon petition the use for construction of marble, stone and brick recovered from demolition of ancient monuments:

Hence the occasion now arises that also each and every person who is constructing a private edifice through the favoritism of the judges who are situated in the City, does not hesitate to take presumptuously and to transfer the necessary materials from the public places, although those things which belong to the splendor of the cities ought to be preserved by civic affection, even under the necessity of repair. — Novella Maioriani 4, Clyde Pharr (ed.), The Theodosian code: and Novels The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd., 2001 ISBN 1-58477-146-1, pp. 553–4.

To cope with this phenomenon, Majorian
Majorian
promulgated a law, Novella Maioriani 4, De aedificiis pubblicis ("Public Buildings"), in Ravenna on July 11, 459, addressed to Aemilianus, praefectus urbi of Rome. The punishment for judges who had allowed the destruction of ancient public buildings was 50 pounds of gold, while their subordinates were whipped and had both hands amputated. Those who had removed materials from public buildings were to return it. The Senate had the power to decide whether there were extreme conditions that justified the demolition of an old building and, if it decided for the demolition, the Emperor had still the right to order that the resulting materials should be used to decorate other public buildings. Fall and death[edit]

As coin of Majorian.

Just as Avitus
Avitus
had been betrayed by Ricimer
Ricimer
and Majorian
Majorian
and by the dismissal of his German guard, so the fate of Majorian
Majorian
himself was decided by the disbandment of his army and a plot organized by Ricimer. In fact, while the Emperor was busy away from Italy, the barbarian patricius et magister militum had gathered around himself the aristocratic opposition to his former comrade with whom, just a few years earlier, he had cultivated dreams of power. Majorian's legislation had shown that he intended to intervene decisively on issues that plagued the empire, even if they countered the interests of influential aristocrats.[2][47] After spending some time at Arelate, his base at the end of the operation against the Vandals
Vandals
in Hispania,[36] Majorian
Majorian
disbanded his barbarian mercenaries and, accompanied by some guards, set off to Rome, where he intended to carry out reforms. Ricimer
Ricimer
went to meet Majorian
Majorian
with a military detachment; the magister militum met the Emperor near Tortona
Tortona
(not far from Piacenza, where Avitus
Avitus
had been killed), and had him arrested and deposed (August 3).[36] The Emperor was deprived of his dress and diadem, beaten and tortured. After five days, Majorian
Majorian
was beheaded near the river Iria (August 7, 461):[48] He was about forty years old and had reigned for four years. The city of Tortona
Tortona
now hosts, in the church of St. Matthew, a building traditionally identified as the "mausoleum of Majorian".[49] After the death of Majorian, Ricimer
Ricimer
waited for three months before placing on the imperial throne a person he believed he could manipulate. He finally chose Libius Severus, a senator of no political distinction, probably selected to please the Italian senatorial aristocracy. The new emperor was not recognized by the Eastern Emperor Leo I, nor by any of the generals who had served under Majorian; not by Aegidius
Aegidius
in Gaul, not by Marcellinus in Sicily
Sicily
and Illyria, and not by Nepotianus in Hispania.[33][50] Legacy[edit] According to historian Edward Gibbon, Majorian
Majorian
"presents the welcome discovery of a great and heroic character, such as sometimes arise, in a degenerate age, to vindicate the honour of the human species".[1] The Encyclopædia Britannica
Encyclopædia Britannica
likewise calls him "the only man to hold that office [i.e. the imperial throne] in the 5th century who had some claim to greatness."[51] Notes[edit]

^ a b Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Chapter XXXVI, "Total Extinction Of The Western Empire". ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Mathisen. ^ This identification, based on a passage in the work of Priscus, is not universally accepted by the historians. See MacGeorge, p. 189, for a summary of the arguments in favour of the identification, and Arnold Hugh Martin Jones, John Robert Martindale, John Morris, "Domninus 3", Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire, Volume 2, Cambridge University Press, 1992, ISBN 0-521-20159-4, p. 373, for the arguments against it. ^ Sidonius Apollinaris, Carmina, V.198–200. ^ Sidonius Apollinaris, Carmina, V.266–268. ^ Priscus, fragment 50. ^ The exact location of Vicus Helena is unknown, but it was in Northern France, probably near modern Arras
Arras
(Jan Willem Drijvers, Helena Augusta, BRILL, ISBN 90-04-09435-0, p. 12). ^ Sidonius Apollinaris, Carmina, V.207–227. ^ a b O'Flynn, pp. 94–95. ^ Sidonius Apollinaris, Carmina, V.290–300. ^ Sidonius Apollinaris, Carmina, V.305–308. ^ Sidonius Apollinaris, Carmina, V.312–314; John of Antioch, fragment 201.6. ^ It is however possible that Majorian
Majorian
was appointed comes domesticorum by Valentinian when he was recalled back in service after Aetius' murder (Mathisen). ^ John of Antioch, fragment 202. ^ After the death of Libius Severus in 465, Leo waited two years to select a new colleague, Anthemius. ^ a b Fasti vindobonenses priores, 583. ^ Sidonius Apollinaris, Carmina, V.373–385. ^ Sidonius Apollinaris, Carmina, V.9–12. ^ Auctarium Prosperi Hauniensis, s.a. 458. ^ Sidonius Apollinaris, Carmina, V.385–440 and A. Loyen, Recherches historiques sur les panégiriques de Sidonine Apollinaire, Paris 1942, pp. 76–77 and note 5. Cited in Savino, Eliodoro, Campania tardoantica (284–604 d.C.), Edipuglia, 2005, ISBN 88-7228-257-8, p. 84. ^ Gibbon. ^ Sidonius Apollinaris, Carmina, V.441–442. ^ CIL XIII, 2363, to be compared to CIL XIII, 2359. ^ Gregory of Tours, Glory of the Confessors 62. Cited in Mathisen. ^ Sidonius Apollinaris
Sidonius Apollinaris
tells (Letters, I.11.6) that this usurpation regarded some Marcellus. The hypothesis that this Marcellus is to be identified with the semi-independent comes of Illyricum Marcellinus has been rejected, as this conspiracy was to put Avitus
Avitus
back on the throne, or to oppose a Gallo-Roman noble to Majorian. ^ Sidonius Apollinaris, Carmina, V.474–477. ^ Hydatius, 197, s.a. 459; Gregory of Tours, Historia Francorum, II.11. ^ a b Priscus, fragment 27. ^ Sidonius Apollinaris' Carmen V. ^ Sidonius Apollinaris, Carmina, V.574–585. ^ Procopius, VII.4–13. ^ MacGeorge, p. 214. ^ a b Arnold Hugh Martin Jones, The Later Roman Empire, 284–602, JHU Press, 1986, ISBN 0-8018-3353-1, p. 241. MacGeorge, however, maintains that Marcellinus' return under the Western Emperor's rule is not attested, and thinks that Marcellinus was in Sicily
Sicily
either to take part independently in the campaign against the Vandals
Vandals
or, by order of the Eastern Emperor, to put pressure on Geiseric for the restitution of Empress Eudoxia and her daughters (pp. 46–48). ^ Roger Collins, Visigothic Spain, 409–711, Blackwell Publishing, 2004, ISBN 0-631-18185-7, p. 32. ^ Chronica gallica anno 511, 634; Marius Aventicensis, s.a. 460; Hydatius, 200, s.a. 460. ^ a b c Chronica gallica anno 511. ^ Clyde Pharr, The Theodosian code and novels, and the Sirmondian constitutions, The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd., 2001, ISBN 1-58477-146-1, pp. 551–561. ^ a b c d This Ennodius was a relative of the poet and bishop Magnus Felix Ennodius (474–521). ^ Novella Maioriani 7.14, November 6, 458, cited in Mathisen. ^ a b c Vagi, David, Coinage and history of the Roman Empire, c. 82 B.C.--A.D. 480, Taylor & Francis, ISBN 1-57958-316-4, p. 567. ^ a b Novella Maioriani 6.1–3, cited in Grubbs, p. 110. ^ a b Novella Maioriani 6.5–8, cited in Grubbs, pp. 232–234. ^ Novella Maioriani 6.9–103, cited in Grubbs, p. 119. ^ Novella Maioriani 1, De ortu imperii domini Majoriani Augusti, "The Beginning of the Reign of Our Lord Majorian
Majorian
Augustus". ^ This event took place in 461, and is recorded in a letter (Letters, I.11.2–15) of Apollinaris to a friend (Mathisen). ^ Paolo Delogu, Le invasioni barbariche nel meridione dell'impero: Visigoti, Vandali, Ostrogoti, Rubettino, p. 336. ^ Hydatius, 210. ^ John of Antioch, fragment 203; Marcellinus, sa 461; Fasti vindobonenses priores, No 588. Procopius
Procopius
(VII.14–15) does not mention the Emperor's return from Hispania
Hispania
and said that Majorian
Majorian
died of dysentery: it is possible that the news has been put about by Ricimer
Ricimer
(Fik Meijer, Emperors Do not Die in Bed, Routledge, 2004, ISBN 0-415-31201-9, p. 155). Victor of Tonnena erroneously claims that Majorian
Majorian
reached Rome
Rome
and was killed there, and puts this event in 463 (Chronica, s.a. 463). ^ "Mausoleo di Maiorano (Sec. I a.C.)" Archived 2006-05-15 at the Wayback Machine., Città di Tortona. ^ O'Flynn, p. 111. ^ "Majorian". Encyclopædia Britannica. August 9, 2007. Retrieved September 21, 2017. 

Sources[edit] Primary sources[edit]

Hydatius, Chronicle John of Antioch, Historia chronike Jordanes, Getica Marcellinus Comes, Annales Priscus, History Procopius, Vandal War Sidonius Apollinaris, Carmina; Letters. Translation: Anderson, W.B., Sidonius. Poems and Letters, 2 vols. (Loeb, 1936–1965).

Secondary sources[edit]

Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Chapter XXXVI "Total Extinction Of The Western Empire". Judith Evans Grubbs, Women and the Law in the Roman Empire, Routledge, 2002, ISBN 0-415-15240-2. Penny MacGeorge, Late Roman Warlords, Oxford University Press, 2002, ISBN 0-19-925244-0. Ralph W. Mathisen, "Julius Valerius Maiorianus (18 February/28 December 457 – 2/7 August 461)", De Imperatoribus Romanis. John Michael O'Flynn, Generalissimos of the Western Roman Empire, University of Alberta, 1983, ISBN 0-88864-031-5. Fabrizio Oppedisano, L'impero d'Occidente negli anni di Maioriano, Roma : «L’Erma» di Bretschneider, 2013, ISBN 978-88-913-0285-4.

Further reading[edit]

Ralph W. Mathisen, "Resistance and Reconciliation: Majorian
Majorian
and the Gallic Aristocracy after the Fall of Avitus," Francia 7 (1979) pp. 597–627. Gerald E. Max, "Political Intrigue during the Reigns of the Western Roman Emperors Avitus
Avitus
and Majorian," Historia 28 (1979) pp. 225–237. Meyer, Helmut, "Der Regierungsantritt Kaiser Majorians," Byzantinische Zeitschrift 62 (1969) pp. 5–12. Stewart I. Oost, "Aëtius and Majorian," Classical Philology 59 (1964) pp. 23–29. Fabrizio Oppedisano, "Il generale contro l'imperatore. La politica di Maioriano e il dissidio con Ricimero," Athenaeum 97 (2009) pp. 543–561. Fabrizio Oppedisano, "Maioriano, la plebe e il defensor civitatis," RIvista di filologia e di istruzione classica 139 (2011), pp. 422–448.

External links[edit] Media related to Majorian
Majorian
at Wikimedia Commons

Regnal titles

Preceded by Avitus Western Roman Emperor 457–461 Succeeded by Libius Severus

Preceded by Flavius Constantinus, Flavius Rufus Consul of the Roman Empire 458 with Flavius Valerius Leo Augustus Succeeded by Flavius Ricimerus, Flavius Iulius Patricius

v t e

Roman and Byzantine emperors

Principate 27 BC – 235 AD

Augustus Tiberius Caligula Claudius Nero Galba Otho Vitellius Vespasian Titus Domitian Nerva Trajan Hadrian Antoninus Pius Marcus Aurelius
Marcus Aurelius
and Lucius Verus Commodus Pertinax Didius Julianus (Pescennius Niger) (Clodius Albinus) Septimius Severus Caracalla
Caracalla
with Geta Macrinus
Macrinus
with Diadumenian Elagabalus Severus Alexander

Crisis 235–284

Maximinus Thrax Gordian I
Gordian I
and Gordian II Pupienus
Pupienus
and Balbinus Gordian III Philip the Arab
Philip the Arab
with Philip II Decius
Decius
with Herennius Etruscus Hostilian Trebonianus Gallus
Trebonianus Gallus
with Volusianus Aemilianus Valerian Gallienus
Gallienus
with Saloninus and Valerian II Claudius
Claudius
Gothicus Quintillus Aurelian Tacitus Florian Probus Carus Carinus
Carinus
and Numerian

Gallic Emperors: Postumus (Laelianus) Marius Victorinus (Domitianus II) Tetricus I
Tetricus I
with Tetricus II
Tetricus II
as Caesar

Dominate 284–395

Diocletian
Diocletian
(whole empire) Diocletian
Diocletian
(East) and Maximian
Maximian
(West) Diocletian
Diocletian
(East) and Maximian
Maximian
(West) with Galerius
Galerius
(East) and Constantius Chlorus
Constantius Chlorus
(West) as Caesares Galerius
Galerius
(East) and Constantius Chlorus
Constantius Chlorus
(West) with Severus (West) and Maximinus II (East) as Caesares Galerius
Galerius
(East) and Severus (West) with Constantine the Great
Constantine the Great
(West) and Maximinus II (East) as Caesares Galerius
Galerius
(East) and Maxentius
Maxentius
(West) with Constantine the Great
Constantine the Great
(West) and Maximinus II (East) as Caesares Galerius
Galerius
(East) and Licinius
Licinius
I (West) with Constantine the Great (West) and Maximinus II (East) as Caesares Maxentius
Maxentius
(alone) Licinius
Licinius
I (West) and Maximinus II (East) with Constantine the Great (Self-proclaimed Augustus) and Valerius Valens Licinius
Licinius
I (East) and Constantine the Great
Constantine the Great
(West) with Licinius
Licinius
II, Constantine II, and Crispus
Crispus
as Caesares (Martinian) Constantine the Great
Constantine the Great
(whole empire) with son Crispus
Crispus
as Caesar Constantine II Constans
Constans
I Magnentius
Magnentius
with Decentius as Caesar Constantius II
Constantius II
with Vetranio Julian Jovian Valentinian the Great Valens Gratian Valentinian II Magnus Maximus
Magnus Maximus
with Victor Theodosius the Great (Eugenius)

Western Empire 395–480

Honorius Constantine III with son Constans
Constans
II) Constantius III Joannes Valentinian III Petronius Maximus
Petronius Maximus
with Palladius Avitus Majorian Libius Severus Anthemius Olybrius Glycerius Julius Nepos Romulus Augustulus

Eastern/ Byzantine Empire 395–1204

Arcadius Theodosius II Pulcheria Marcian Leo I the Thracian Leo II Zeno (first reign) Basiliscus
Basiliscus
with son Marcus as co-emperor Zeno (second reign) Anastasius I Dicorus Justin I Justinian the Great Justin II Tiberius
Tiberius
II Constantine Maurice with son Theodosius as co-emperor Phocas Heraclius Constantine III Heraklonas Constans
Constans
II Constantine IV
Constantine IV
with brothers Heraclius
Heraclius
and Tiberius
Tiberius
and then Justinian II as co-emperors Justinian II
Justinian II
(first reign) Leontios Tiberios III Justinian II
Justinian II
(second reign) with son Tiberius
Tiberius
as co-emperor Philippikos Anastasios II Theodosius III Leo III the Isaurian Constantine V Artabasdos Leo IV the Khazar Constantine VI Irene Nikephoros I Staurakios Michael I Rangabe
Michael I Rangabe
with son Theophylact as co-emperor Leo V the Armenian
Leo V the Armenian
with Symbatios-Constantine as junior emperor Michael II
Michael II
the Amorian Theophilos Michael III Basil I
Basil I
the Macedonian Leo VI the Wise Alexander Constantine VII
Constantine VII
Porphyrogennetos Romanos I Lekapenos
Romanos I Lekapenos
with sons Christopher, Stephen and Constantine as junior co-emperors Romanos II Nikephoros II Phokas John I Tzimiskes Basil II Constantine VIII Zoë (first reign) and Romanos III Argyros Zoë (first reign) and Michael IV the Paphlagonian Michael V Kalaphates Zoë (second reign) with Theodora Zoë (second reign) and Constantine IX Monomachos Constantine IX Monomachos
Constantine IX Monomachos
(sole emperor) Theodora Michael VI Bringas Isaac I Komnenos Constantine X Doukas Romanos IV Diogenes Michael VII Doukas
Michael VII Doukas
with brothers Andronikos and Konstantios and son Constantine Nikephoros III Botaneiates Alexios I Komnenos John II Komnenos
John II Komnenos
with Alexios Komnenos as co-emperor Manuel I Komnenos Alexios II Komnenos Andronikos I Komnenos Isaac II Angelos Alexios III Angelos Alexios IV Angelos Nicholas Kanabos (chosen by the Senate) Alexios V Doukas

Empire of Nicaea 1204–1261

Constantine Laskaris Theodore I Laskaris John III Doukas Vatatzes Theodore II Laskaris John IV Laskaris

Eastern/ Byzantine Empire 1261–1453

Michael VIII Palaiologos Andronikos II Palaiologos
Andronikos II Palaiologos
with Michael IX Palaiologos
Michael IX Palaiologos
as co-emperor Andronikos III Palaiologos John V Palaiologos John VI Kantakouzenos
John VI Kantakouzenos
with John V Palaiologos
John V Palaiologos
and Matthew Kantakouzenos as co-emperors John V Palaiologos Andronikos IV Palaiologos John VII Palaiologos Andronikos V Palaiologos Manuel II Palaiologos John VIII Palaiologos Constantine XI Palaiologos

Italics indicates a co-emperor, while underlining indicates an usurper.

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 121585248 LCCN: nb2010016588 ISNI: 0000 0001 3947 4172 GND: 118990543 SUDOC: 08465337X BNF:

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