Aspar

Aspar

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Flavius Ardabur Aspar was an Alan
Alans
The Alans, or the Alani, occasionally termed Alauni or Halani, were a group of Sarmatian tribes, nomadic pastoralists of the 1st millennium AD who spoke an Eastern Iranian language which derived from Scytho-Sarmatian and which in turn evolved into modern Ossetian.-Name:The various forms of Alan —...

 patrician and 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...

 ("Master of soldiers") of the Eastern Roman Empire. Aspar's family exerted a great influence on the Eastern Roman Emperors for half a century, from the 420s to his death in 471, over Theodosius II
Theodosius II
Theodosius II , commonly surnamed Theodosius the Younger, or Theodosius the Calligrapher, was Byzantine Emperor from 408 to 450. He is mostly known for promulgating the Theodosian law code, and for the construction of the Theodosian Walls of Constantinople...

, Marcian
Marcian
Marcian was Byzantine Emperor from 450 to 457. Marcian's rule marked a recovery of the Eastern Empire, which the Emperor protected from external menaces and reformed economically and financially...

 and Leo I
Leo I (emperor)
Leo I was Byzantine Emperor from 457 to 474. A native of Dacia Aureliana near historic Thrace, he was known as Leo the Thracian ....

, who, in the end, had him killed.

Alans were an Iranic people and the name of Aspar (originally Aspwar or Aspidar) in Iranian languages means "Horse-master" and "Horse-rider".

Biography


Son of the magister Ardaburius, Aspar played a crucial role in his father's expedition in 424 to defeat the western usurper
Roman usurper
Usurpers are individuals or groups of individuals who obtain and maintain the power or rights of another by force and without legal authority. Usurpation was endemic during roman imperial era, especially from the crisis of the third century onwards, when political instability became the rule.The...

, Joannes
Joannes
Ioannes, known in English as Joannes, was a Roman usurper against Valentinian III.On the death of the Emperor Honorius , Theodosius II, the remaining ruler of the House of Theodosius hesitated in announcing his uncle's death...

 of Ravenna
Ravenna
Ravenna is the capital city of the Province of Ravenna in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy and the second largest comune in Italy by land area, although, at , it is little more than half the size of the largest comune, Rome...

, and to install Galla Placidia
Galla Placidia
Aelia Galla Placidia , daughter of the Roman Emperor Theodosius I, was the Regent for Emperor Valentinian III from 423 until his majority in 437, and a major force in Roman politics for most of her life...

 and her son, 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....

, in his place. He also helped to negotiate a peace treaty with Geiseric after the Vandal invasion of Africa
Africa Province
The Roman province of Africa was established after the Romans defeated Carthage in the Third Punic War. It roughly comprised the territory of present-day northern Tunisia, and the small Mediterranean coast of modern-day western Libya along the Syrtis Minor...

.

Aspar attained the consul
Roman consul
A consul served in the highest elected political office of the Roman Republic.Each year, two consuls were elected together, to serve for a one-year term. Each consul was given veto power over his colleague and the officials would alternate each month...

ship in 434 after campaigning in Africa. However, Aspar could not become emperor
Roman Emperor
The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman State during the imperial period . The Romans had no single term for the office although at any given time, a given title was associated with the emperor...

 because of his Arian
Arianism
Arianism is the theological teaching attributed to Arius , a Christian presbyter from Alexandria, Egypt, concerning the relationship of the entities of the Trinity and the precise nature of the Son of God as being a subordinate entity to God the Father...

 religion. Instead, he played the role of kingmaker with his subordinate, Marcian
Marcian
Marcian was Byzantine Emperor from 450 to 457. Marcian's rule marked a recovery of the Eastern Empire, which the Emperor protected from external menaces and reformed economically and financially...

, who became emperor by marrying Theodosius II
Theodosius II
Theodosius II , commonly surnamed Theodosius the Younger, or Theodosius the Calligrapher, was Byzantine Emperor from 408 to 450. He is mostly known for promulgating the Theodosian law code, and for the construction of the Theodosian Walls of Constantinople...

's sister Pulcheria
Pulcheria
Aelia Pulcheria was the daughter of Eastern Roman Emperor Arcadius and Empress Aelia Eudoxia. She was the second child born to Arcadius and Eudoxia. Her oldest sister was Flaccilla born in 397, but is assumed she had died young. Her younger siblings were Theodosius II, the future emperor and...

.

On 27 January 457 Marcian died, and the political and military characters of the Eastern court took eleven days to chose a successor. Despite the presence of a strong candidate to the purple, the magister militum and Marcian's son-in-law Anthemius
Anthemius
Procopius Anthemius was Western Roman Emperor from 467 to 472. Perhaps the last capable Western Roman Emperor, Anthemius attempted to solve the two primary military challenges facing the remains of the Western Roman Empire: the resurgent Visigoths, under Euric, whose domain straddled the Pyrenees;...

, the choice was quite different. Aspar, who in this occasion was probably offered the throne by the Senate but refused, could have chosen his own son Ardabur, but instead selected an obscure tribune of one of his military units, Leo I
Leo I (emperor)
Leo I was Byzantine Emperor from 457 to 474. A native of Dacia Aureliana near historic Thrace, he was known as Leo the Thracian ....

.

In 470, in an episode of the struggle for power between Aspar and the Isaurian general Zeno
Zeno (emperor)
Zeno , originally named Tarasis, was Byzantine Emperor from 474 to 475 and again from 476 to 491. Domestic revolts and religious dissension plagued his reign, which nevertheless succeeded to some extent in foreign issues...

, Aspar persuaded the emperor to appoint his second son, Julius Patricius
Julius Patricius
Julius Patricius was a politician of the Eastern Roman Empire of barbarian origin, who rose to the rank of caesar under Emperor Leo I.- Biography :...

, as caesar
Caesar (title)
Caesar is a title of imperial character. It derives from the cognomen of Julius Caesar, the Roman dictator...

and give him in marriage his daughter Leontia
Leontia (daughter of Leo I)
Leontia was the daughter of the Eastern Roman Emperor Leo I.- Biography :Leontia was the daughter of Emperor Leo I and his wife Verina; she was younger sister of Ariadne, but, unlike her, she could claim to be porphyrogenita, "born in the purple", because she was born during the first year of...

. However, as for the clergy and people of Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

 an Arian was not eligible to become an emperor, at the news of the appointment riots broke out in the city hippodrome
Hippodrome of Constantinople
The Hippodrome of Constantinople was a circus that was the sporting and social centre of Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire. Today it is a square named Sultanahmet Meydanı in the Turkish city of Istanbul, with only a few fragments of the original structure surviving...

, led by the head of the Sleepless Monks, Marcellus: Aspar and Leo had to promise to the bishops that Patricius would convert to Orthodoxy before becoming emperor, and only after the conversion he would have married Leontia.

In 471 an imperial conspiracy caused the death of Aspar and of his elder son Ardabur
Ardabur
Ardabur was the son of Flavius Ardabur Aspar, Master of Horse and Magister Militum of the Eastern Roman Empire in the fifth century. Ardabur apparently often served under his famous father during his campaigns. In 466 Ardabur was accused of a treasonous plot, probably by his father's political...

: it is possible that Patricius died on this occasion, although some sources report that he recovered from his wounds.

Aspar was the teacher of Theodoric the Great
Theodoric the Great
Theodoric the Great was king of the Ostrogoths , ruler of Italy , regent of the Visigoths , and a viceroy of the Eastern Roman Empire...

, who later became king
Monarch
A monarch is the person who heads a monarchy. This is a form of government in which a state or polity is ruled or controlled by an individual who typically inherits the throne by birth and occasionally rules for life or until abdication...

 of the Ostrogoths. Aspar had another son, Ermanaric
Ermanaric
Ermanaric was a Greuthungian Gothic King who before the Hunnic invasion evidently ruled an enormous area north of the Black Sea. Contemporary historian Ammianus Marcellinus recounts him as a "most warlike man" who "ruled over extensively wide and fertile regions"...

, with the sister of Theodoric Strabo
Theodoric Strabo
Theodoric Strabo was an Ostrogoth chieftain who was involved in the politics of the Byzantine Empire during the reigns of Byzantine Emperors Leo I, Zeno and Basiliscus...

. Aspar's wife was an Ostrogoth, as the Ostrogoth King Theodoric was her nephew. A cistern attributed to him still exists today in Istanbul
Istanbul
Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...

.

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