Agrippinus (magister militum)

Agrippinus (magister militum)

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Agrippinus was a general of the Western Roman Empire
Western Roman Empire
The Western Roman Empire was the western half of the Roman Empire after its division by Diocletian in 285; the other half of the Roman Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire, commonly referred to today as the Byzantine Empire....

, Magister militum
Magister militum
Magister militum was a top-level military command used in the later Roman Empire, dating from the reign of Constantine. Used alone, the term referred to the senior military officer of the Empire...

 per Gallias
under emperors Valentinian III
Valentinian III
-Family:Valentinian was born in the western capital of Ravenna, the only son of Galla Placidia and Flavius Constantius. The former was the younger half-sister of the western emperor Honorius, and the latter was at the time Patrician and the power behind the throne....

, Petronius Maximus
Petronius Maximus
Flavius Petronius Maximus was Western Roman Emperor for two and a half months in 455. A wealthy senator and a prominent aristocrat, he was instrumental in the murders of the Western Roman magister militum, Flavius Aëtius, and the Western Roman Emperor Valentinian III...

, Avitus
Eparchius Avitus was Western Roman Emperor from July 8 or July 9, 455 to October 17, 456. A Gallic-Roman aristocrat, he was a senator and a high-ranking officer both in the civil and military administration, as well as Bishop of Piacenza.A representative of the Gallic-Roman aristocracy, he...

 and Libius Severus
Libius Severus
Flavius Libius Severus Serpentius was Western Roman Emperor from November 19, 461 to his death.A Roman senator from Lucania Severus was one of the last Western Emperors, emptied of any effective power , and unable to solve the many problems affecting the Empire; the sources...



Agrippinus was a native of Gaul; Ralph Mathisen points out his attested ties are concentrated in the eastern part of Lugdunensis; "writers from no other area have anything good to say about him" Mathisen adds in parentheses. He was appointed Comes
Comes , plural comites , is the Latin word for companion, either individually or as a member of a collective known as comitatus, especially the suite of a magnate, in some cases large and/or formal enough to have a specific name, such as a cohors amicorum. The word comes derives from com- "with" +...

and later Magister militum
Magister militum
Magister militum was a top-level military command used in the later Roman Empire, dating from the reign of Constantine. Used alone, the term referred to the senior military officer of the Empire...

 per Gallias
; Hydatius
Hydatius or Idacius , bishop of Aquae Flaviae in the Roman province of Gallaecia was the author of a chronicle of his own times that provides us with our best evidence for the history of the Iberian Peninsula in the 5th century.-Life:Hydatius was born around the year 400 in the...

 records that, as a comes, he received a letter from Euphronius, bishop of Autun
Autun is a commune in the Saône-et-Loire department in Burgundy in eastern France. It was founded during the early Roman Empire as Augustodunum. Autun marks the easternmost extent of the Umayyad campaign in Europe.-Early history:...

 describing a comet seen at Easter, 451. The Vita Aniani records that when he was wounded, Anianus, Bishop of Aurelianum miraculously healed him; as a show of gratitude, Agrippinus freed all his prisoners.

When Avitus was deposed by Majorian
Majorian , was the Western Roman Emperor from 457 to 461.A prominent general of the Late Roman army, Majorian deposed Emperor Avitus in 457 and succeeded him. Majorian was one of the last emperors to make a concerted effort to restore the Western Roman Empire...

 in 456, Majorian replaced Agrippinus with Aegidius
Aegidius was a Gallo-Roman warlord of northern Gaul. He had been promoted as magister militum in Gaul under Aëtius around 450. An ardent supporter of Majorian, Aegidius rebelled when Ricimer deposed Majorian, engaging in several campaigns against the Visigoths and creating a Roman rump state that...

 as comes; Aegidius then accused his predecessor of various kinds of treachery. Accompanied by Lupicinus, abbot of the monastery of St. Claude, Agrippius was sent to Rome where he was tried and sentenced to death without the possibility to appeal to the Emperor or to the Senate. According to the Vita Lupicini, Agrippinus escaped and took refuge in the church of St. Peter. Later he was pardoned by the Emperor, with the abbot Lupicinus' help, and was sent back to Gaul "exalted with honors." It is possible that Agrippinus, who was considered an enemy by Majorian, was restored in power by one of his successors, either Libius Severus or the man behind the throne, Ricimer
Flavius Ricimer was a Germanic general who achieved effective control of the remaining parts of the Western Roman Empire, during the middle of the 5th century...

, who had killed Majorian and put Severus on the throne.

As Aegidius had not recognised Severus' authority, the new Emperor appointed Agrippinus to Aegidius' office (461 or 462). Once invested with the insignia of office, Agrippinus gave the city of Narbonne
Narbonne is a commune in southern France in the Languedoc-Roussillon region. It lies from Paris in the Aude department, of which it is a sub-prefecture. Once a prosperous port, it is now located about from the shores of the Mediterranean Sea...

 to them. Hugh Elton suggests this cession was a bribe from the Emperor Severus to encourage the Visigoths to war against Agrippinus' old rival Aegidius.

Further reading

  • Jones, Arnold Hugh Martin
    Arnold Hugh Martin Jones
    Arnold Hugh Martin Jones — known as A.H.M. Jones — was a prominent 20th century British historian of classical antiquity, particularly of the later Roman Empire.-Biography:...

    , John Robert Martindale, John Morris
    John Morris (historian)
    John Robert Morris was an English historian who specialised in the study of the institutions of the Roman Empire and the history of Sub-Roman Britain...

    , "Agrippinus", Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire
    Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire
    Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire is a set of three volumes collectively describing every person attested or claimed to have lived in the Roman world from AD 260, the date of the beginning of Gallienus' sole rule, to 641, the date of the death of Heraclius, which is commonly held to mark the...

    , volume 2, Cambridge University Press, pp. 37-38.