Constantius III

Constantius III

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Flavius Constantius commonly known as Constantius III, was Western
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....

 Roman 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...

 for seven months in 421. A prominent general and politician, he was the power behind the throne
Power behind the throne
The phrase power behind the throne refers to a person or group that informally exercises the real power of an office. In politics, it most commonly refers to a spouse, aide, or advisor of a political leader who serves as de facto leader, setting policy through influence or manipulation.The...

 for much of the 410s, and in 421 briefly became co-emperor of the Western 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....

 with Honorius
Honorius (emperor)
Honorius , was Western Roman Emperor from 395 to 423. He was the younger son of emperor Theodosius I and his first wife Aelia Flaccilla, and brother of the eastern emperor Arcadius....

.

Early life and rise to the throne


Constantius was born in Naissus (modern-day Niš
Niš
Niš is the largest city of southern Serbia and third-largest city in Serbia . According to the data from 2011, the city of Niš has a population of 177,972 inhabitants, while the city municipality has a population of 257,867. The city covers an area of about 597 km2, including the urban area,...

, Serbia
Serbia
Serbia , officially the Republic of Serbia , is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, covering the southern part of the Carpathian basin and the central part of the Balkans...

) and was probably a career soldier, who reached the rank of 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...

under Honorius
Honorius (emperor)
Honorius , was Western Roman Emperor from 395 to 423. He was the younger son of emperor Theodosius I and his first wife Aelia Flaccilla, and brother of the eastern emperor Arcadius....

.

In 411 he defeated Gerontius
Gerontius (general)
Gerontius was a general of the Western Roman Empire, who first supported the usurper Constantine III and later opposed him in favour of another usurper, Maximus of Hispania.- Usurpation of Constantine III :Gerontius probably was of Breton origin...

, the general of usurper Maximus
Maximus of Hispania
Maximus, also called Maximus Tiranus, was Roman usurper in Hispania . He had been elected by general Gerontius, who might have been his father....

, and Constantine III
Constantine III (usurper)
Flavius Claudius Constantinus, known in English as Constantine III was a Roman general who declared himself Western Roman Emperor in Britannia in 407 and established himself in Gaul. Recognised by the Emperor Honorius in 409, collapsing support and military setbacks saw him abdicate in 411...

, another usurper, in Arles
Arles
Arles is a city and commune in the south of France, in the Bouches-du-Rhône department, of which it is a subprefecture, in the former province of Provence....

. Constantine had revolted against Honorius (407), but then he had broken his relationship with general Gerontius, who had proclaimed Maximus Emperor in opposition to both Honorius and Constantine (409). Gerontius had then besieged Constantine in the city of Arles (411), but the arrival of the troops of Constantius from Italy had put him in serious trouble, being at the same time a besieger and a besieged. Gerontius was abandoned by his troops and then killed in Hispania
Hispania
Another theory holds that the name derives from Ezpanna, the Basque word for "border" or "edge", thus meaning the farthest area or place. Isidore of Sevilla considered Hispania derived from Hispalis....

. The able general having been disposed of, Constantius besieged the city for three months until the general of Constantine, Edobichus
Edobichus
Edobichus was a general of the Roman usurper Constantine III.- Life :Edobichus was a Frank. He was already an experienced soldier when in 407, after the deaths of the generals Nebiogastes and Iustinianus, the Western usurper Constantine III appointed him and Gerontius as his magistri militum...

, who had been sent across the border to find allies, did return with a large army of Franks
Franks
The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...

 and Alamanni
Alamanni
The Alamanni, Allemanni, or Alemanni were originally an alliance of Germanic tribes located around the upper Rhine river . One of the earliest references to them is the cognomen Alamannicus assumed by Roman Emperor Caracalla, who ruled the Roman Empire from 211 to 217 and claimed thereby to be...

. Before the walls of Arles, Constantius confronted and defeated Edobichus, who was later betrayed and killed by a friend. Constantine was forced to surrender to Constantius when his troops on the Rhine left him for another usurper, Jovinus
Jovinus
Jovinus was a Gallo-Roman senator and claimed to be Roman Emperor .Following the defeat of the usurper known with the name of Constantine III, Jovinus was proclaimed emperor at Mainz in 411, a puppet supported by Gundahar, king of the Burgundians, and Goar, king of the Alans...

. Constantius granted a safe conduct to Constantine, who had become an ordained priest, but later he captured and killed him.

In 412 he expelled from Italy the Visigoths under Ataulf
Ataulf
Ataulf was king of the Visigoths from 410 to 415...

. In 413 he held his first consulate
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...

. In 414 he began a military offensive against the Visigoths. In response, Ataulf appointed as emperor Priscus Attalus
Priscus Attalus
Priscus Attalus was twice Roman usurper , against Emperor Honorius, with Visigothic support.Priscus Attalus was a Greek from Asia whose father had moved to Italy under Valentinian I. Attalus was an important senator in Rome, who served as praefectus urbi in 409...

, who had already been a usurper against Honorius in 410. The blockade imposed by Constantius on Gallic ports was so effective that the Visigoths fled from Gaul to Hispania in 415. Also Attalus tried to flee but was captured by the forces of Constantius and sent to Ravenna. With the death of Ataulf and his successor Segeric
Segeric
Segeric was, according to Jordanes, the king who immediately followed Alaric I as ruler of the Visigoths. He ruled only a short time and then was killed by his soldiers.-References:...

, that same year Constantius signed a treaty with the new Visigothic king Wallia
Wallia
Wallia was king of the Visigoths from 415 to 419, earning a reputation as a great warrior and prudent ruler. He was elected to the throne after Athaulf and then Sigeric were assassinated in 415....

: in exchange of 600,000 bushels of wheat and the territory of the region of Aquitaine, from the Pyrenees to the Garonne, the Visigoths pledged to fight on behalf of the Romans, as allies official or vassal state of the Empire (foederati
Foederati
Foederatus is a Latin term whose definition and usage drifted in the time between the early Roman Republic and the end of the Western Roman Empire...

), the Vandals, Alans and Suebi who in 407 had crossed the Rhine River and were stationed in the provinces of Hispania. The agreement also provided for the release of 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...

, Honorius'sister, captured during the sack of Rome
Sack of Rome (410)
The Sack of Rome occurred on August 24, 410. The city was attacked by the Visigoths, led by Alaric I. At that time, Rome was no longer the capital of the Western Roman Empire, replaced in this position initially by Mediolanum and then later Ravenna. Nevertheless, the city of Rome retained a...

 in 410.

Constantius was appointed patricius and in 417, the year of his second consulate held with Honorius as colleague, he married 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...

, tying himself to the House of Theodosius. The couple had two children, Justa Grata Honoria
Justa Grata Honoria
Justa Grata Honoria, commonly referred to during her lifetime as Honoria, was the older sister of the Western Roman Emperor Valentinian III. Coins attest that she was granted the title of Augusta not long after the ascension of her brother in 426....

 (born 417/418) and the future Emperor 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....

 (born 419). In 420 he was appointed consul for the third time, with the Eastern Emperor 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...

 as colleague.

Brief reign and death


On February 8, 421, Constantius was appointed co-emperor with his ineffectual brother-in-law, Honorius
Honorius (emperor)
Honorius , was Western Roman Emperor from 395 to 423. He was the younger son of emperor Theodosius I and his first wife Aelia Flaccilla, and brother of the eastern emperor Arcadius....

, becoming the real master of the West. Curiously, he complained of loss of personal freedom implied by the new role. The elevation of Constantius, however, was not recognized by his colleague in the East, 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...

, who was the nephew of Honorius.

It is said that Constantius was organizing a military expedition to the East to have his rights recognized, when he died suddenly on September 2, 421, after just seven months as emperor, the archetype of able soldier and politician that the Western Roman Empire desperately needed at the time.

Constantius' success in rising from head of the Roman army to Imperial rank obviously influenced the actions of later holders of the patrician office, a list that includes Flavius Aëtius
Flavius Aëtius
Flavius Aëtius , dux et patricius, was a Roman general of the closing period of the Western Roman Empire. He was an able military commander and the most influential man in the Western Roman Empire for two decades . He managed policy in regard to the attacks of barbarian peoples pressing on the Empire...

 and Ricimer
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...

; however, only 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...

 ever made the same leap, and his reign was even shorter than that of Constantius.

Sources

  • Bury, John Bagnall, History of the Later Roman Empire Macmillan & Co., 1923, p. 193.
  • Burns, Thomas Samuel, Barbarians Within the Gates of Rome, Indiana University Press, 1994, ISBN 0253312884, p. 250.
  • Elton, Hugh, "Constantius III (421 A.D.)", De Imperatoribus Romanis
  • Elton, Hugh, "Constantine III (407–411 A.D.)", De Imperatoribus Romanis
  • Kulikowski, Michael, Late Roman Spain and Its Cities, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004, ISBN 0801879787, pp. 157–160
  • C.E. Stevens, "Marcus, Gratian, Constantine", Athenaeum, 35 (1957), pp. 316–47

External links