Valentinian I

Valentinian I

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Valentinian I also known as Valentinian the Great, was 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...

 from 364 to 375. Upon becoming emperor he made his brother Valens
Valens
Valens was the Eastern Roman Emperor from 364 to 378. He was given the eastern half of the empire by his brother Valentinian I after the latter's accession to the throne...

 his co-emperor, giving him rule of the eastern provinces while Valentinian retained the west.

During his reign, Valentinian fought successfully against the 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...

, Quadi
Quadi
The Quadi were a smaller Germanic tribe, about which little is definitively known. We only know the Germanic tribe the Romans called the 'Quadi' through reports of the Romans themselves...

, and Sarmatians
Sarmatians
The Iron Age Sarmatians were an Iranian people in Classical Antiquity, flourishing from about the 5th century BC to the 4th century AD....

. Most notable was his victory over the Alamanni in 367 at the Battle of Solicinium
Battle of Solicinium
The Battle of Solicinium was fought in 367 between a Roman Empire army and the Alamanni. The Roman force was led by Emperor Valentinian I, and they managed to repel the Alamanni, but suffered heavy losses during the battle....

. His brilliant general Count Theodosius
Count Theodosius
Flavius Theodosius or Theodosius the Elder was a senior military officer serving in the Western Roman Empire. He achieved the rank of Comes Britanniarum and as such, he is usually referred to as Comes Theodosius...

 defeated a revolt in Africa
Roman Africa
Roman Africa may mean:*the Roman Africa province*the history of Africa during the Roman era, see North Africa during Antiquity#Roman era...

 and the Great Conspiracy
Great Conspiracy
The Great Conspiracy is a term given to a year-long war that occurred in Roman Britain near the end of the Roman occupation of the island. The historian Ammianus Marcellinus described it as a barbarica conspiratio that capitalized on a depleted military force in the province brought about by...

, a coordinated assault on Britain
Roman Britain
Roman Britain was the part of the island of Great Britain controlled by the Roman Empire from AD 43 until ca. AD 410.The Romans referred to the imperial province as Britannia, which eventually comprised all of the island of Great Britain south of the fluid frontier with Caledonia...

 by Picts
Picts
The Picts were a group of Late Iron Age and Early Mediaeval people living in what is now eastern and northern Scotland. There is an association with the distribution of brochs, place names beginning 'Pit-', for instance Pitlochry, and Pictish stones. They are recorded from before the Roman conquest...

, Scots
Scottish people
The Scottish people , or Scots, are a nation and ethnic group native to Scotland. Historically they emerged from an amalgamation of the Picts and Gaels, incorporating neighbouring Britons to the south as well as invading Germanic peoples such as the Anglo-Saxons and the Norse.In modern use,...

, and Saxons
Saxons
The Saxons were a confederation of Germanic tribes originating on the North German plain. The Saxons earliest known area of settlement is Northern Albingia, an area approximately that of modern Holstein...

. Valentinian was also the last emperor to conduct campaigns across both the Rhine and Danube
Danube
The Danube is a river in the Central Europe and the Europe's second longest river after the Volga. It is classified as an international waterway....

 rivers. Valentinian rebuilt and improved the fortifications along the frontiers – even building fortresses in enemy territory.

Due to the successful nature of his reign and almost immediate decline of the empire after his death, he is often considered the "last great western emperor
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....

". He founded the Valentinian Dynasty
Valentinian Dynasty
The Valentinian Dynasty or Valentinianic Dynasty, consisting of four emperors, ruled the Western Roman Empire from 364 to 392 and the Eastern Roman Empire from 364 to 378.*western emperors:**Valentinian I...

, with his sons Gratian
Gratian
Gratian was Roman Emperor from 375 to 383.The eldest son of Valentinian I, during his youth Gratian accompanied his father on several campaigns along the Rhine and Danube frontiers. Upon the death of Valentinian in 375, Gratian's brother Valentinian II was declared emperor by his father's soldiers...

 and Valentinian II
Valentinian II
Flavius Valentinianus , commonly known as Valentinian II, was Roman Emperor from 375 to 392.-Early Life and Accession :...

 succeeding him in the western half of the empire.

Early life



Valentinian was born in 321 at Cibalae in southern Pannonia
Pannonia
Pannonia was an ancient province of the Roman Empire bounded north and east by the Danube, coterminous westward with Noricum and upper Italy, and southward with Dalmatia and upper Moesia....

 (present-day Croatia
Croatia
Croatia , officially the Republic of Croatia , is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic in Europe at the crossroads of the Mitteleuropa, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. The country is divided into 20 counties and the city of Zagreb. Croatia covers ...

) into an Illyrian
Illyrians
The Illyrians were a group of tribes who inhabited part of the western Balkans in antiquity and the south-eastern coasts of the Italian peninsula...

 family. He and his younger brother Valens
Valens
Valens was the Eastern Roman Emperor from 364 to 378. He was given the eastern half of the empire by his brother Valentinian I after the latter's accession to the throne...

 were the sons of Gratianus Major
Gratian the Elder
Gratianus Funarius, also known as Gratianus the Elder or Gratianus Major , was an Illyrian soldier of the Roman Empire who flourished in the 4th century...

, a prominent general during the reign of Constans. He and his brother grew up on the family estate where they were educated in a variety of subjects, including painting and sculpting. Valentinian entered the military in his youth and in 340 accompanied his father – the newly appointed Comes
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" +...

 Africae
– to 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...

. Subsequently, he went to Britain
Roman Britain
Roman Britain was the part of the island of Great Britain controlled by the Roman Empire from AD 43 until ca. AD 410.The Romans referred to the imperial province as Britannia, which eventually comprised all of the island of Great Britain south of the fluid frontier with Caledonia...

 when his father was promoted to Comes Britanniarum
Comes Britanniarum
Comes Britanniarum was a military post in Roman Britain, with command of the mobile field army from the mid 4th century onwards.It is listed in the Notitia Dignitatum as being one of the three commands in Britain, along with the Dux Britanniarum and Comes litoris Saxonici...

. After holding this post, Gratianus retired to the family estate in Cibalae, while Valentinian was probably reassigned somewhere along the Rhine or Danube frontier.

In 350, Constans was assassinated by agents of the usurper
Usurper
Usurper is a derogatory term used to describe either an illegitimate or controversial claimant to the power; often, but not always in a monarchy, or a person who succeeds in establishing himself as a monarch without inheriting the throne, or any other person exercising authority unconstitutionally...

 Magnentius
Magnentius
Flavius Magnus Magnentius was a usurper of the Roman Empire .-Early life and career:...

, a commander in Gaul
Gaul
Gaul was a region of Western Europe during the Iron Age and Roman era, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg and Belgium, most of Switzerland, the western part of Northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the left bank of the Rhine. The Gauls were the speakers of...

 proclaimed emperor by his soldiers. Constantius II
Constantius II
Constantius II , was Roman Emperor from 337 to 361. The second son of Constantine I and Fausta, he ascended to the throne with his brothers Constantine II and Constans upon their father's death....

, older brother of Constans and Emperor in the East, promptly set forth towards Magnentius with a large army. The following year the two emperors met in Pannonia. The ensuing Battle of Mursa Major
Battle of Mursa Major
The Battle of Mursa Major was fought in 351 between the Eastern Roman army led by Constantius II and the western forces supporting the usurper Magnentius.The action took place along the valley of the Drava River, a Danube tributary in present day Croatia....

 resulted in a costly victory for Constantius. Two years later he defeated Magnentius again in southern Gaul at the Battle of Mons Seleucus
Battle of Mons Seleucus
The Battle of Mons Seleucus was fought in 353 between the forces of the legitimate Roman emperor Constantius II of the line of Constantine I the Great and the forces of the usurper Magnentius. Constantius' forces were victorious, and Magnentius later committed suicide.It took place in today's...

. Magnentius, now realizing the futility of continuing his revolt, committed suicide in August that year; making Constantius sole ruler of the Empire. It was around this time that Constantius confiscated Gratianus' property, for supposedly showing hospitality to Magnentius when he was in Pannonia. Despite his father's fall from favor, Valentinian does not seem to have been adversely affected at this time, making it unlikely he ever fought for the usurper. It is known that Valentinian was in the region during the conflict, but what involvement he had in the war, if any, is unknown.

Service under Constantius and Julian


The civil war exacerbated the already troublesome shortage of manpower – over 70,000 Roman soldiers died during the conflict. This denuded the frontier
Limes Germanicus
The Limes Germanicus was a line of frontier fortifications that bounded the ancient Roman provinces of Germania Inferior, Germania Superior and Raetia, dividing the Roman Empire and the unsubdued Germanic tribes from the years 83 to about 260 AD...

 of much needed troops, allowing the 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...

 and 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...

 to take advantage of the situation and cross the Rhine, taking several important settlements and fortifications. In 354, Constantius campaigned against the Alamanni achieving few successes; imperial authority in Upper Germania and eastern Gaul was rapidly deteriorating. Later the same year, Constantius recalled Gallus amid accusations of abusing his position, and had him promptly executed. In 355, feeling the crises of the empire still too much for one emperor to handle, Constantius raised his cousin Julian
Julian the Apostate
Julian "the Apostate" , commonly known as Julian, or also Julian the Philosopher, was Roman Emperor from 361 to 363 and a noted philosopher and Greek writer....

 to the rank of Caesar. Constantius now coordinated military affairs from Mediolanum
Mediolanum
Mediolanum, the ancient Milan, was an important Celtic and then Roman centre of northern Italy. This article charts the history of the city from its settlement by the Insubres around 600 BC, through its conquest by the Romans and its development into a key centre of Western Christianity and capital...

 in Italy, leaving the defense of Gaul primarily to Julian and subordinate generals. Valentinian was assigned to the army of Julian for the next five years, distinguishing himself as a capable soldier and commander.

For the following two years Valentinian fought the Alamanni in Gaul with Julian's army, though his whereabouts, and what engagements he was present for, is uncertain. However, he probably fought for Julian at the decisive victory against the Alamanni in 357 at the Battle of Argentoratum - as Valentinian was subsequently promoted to tribune of cavalry
Military tribune
A military tribune was an officer of the Roman army who ranked below the legate and above the centurion...

. Valentinian's command now formed an integral part of Julian's campaigning, making his actions and whereabouts easier to conjecture.

By the end of the year, Julian was able to expel the majority of Alamanni back across the Rhine, and soon after crossed the river into their territory. Valentinian undoubtedly took part in this counterattack, gaining valuable experience in the region that would be the focal point of his future campaigns. The army burned many barbarian settlements, and reduced several small Alamannic tribes in the Agri Decumates
Agri Decumates
The agri decumates or decumates agri were a region of the Roman Empire's province of Germania superior , covering the Black Forest area between the Main river and the sources of Danube and Rhine rivers, presently in Southwestern Germany...

to tributary status. Julian was then able to conclude a ten month truce with the Alamanni, and returned across the Rhine to winter quarters.

In 358, Julian conducted a decisive campaign against the Franks, who had been raiding Lower Germania for several years. Crossing the lower Rhine, the army swiftly defeated the Frankish Chamavi
Chamavi
The Chamavi were a Germanic tribe of Late Antiquity and the European Dark Age. They first appear under that name in the 1st century AD Germania of Tacitus as a Germanic tribe that, for most of their history, existed along the North bank of the Lower Rhine in the region today called Hamaland after...

 and Salii
Salian Franks
The Salian Franks or Salii were a subgroup of the early Franks who originally had been living north of the limes in the area above the Rhine. The Merovingian kings responsible for the conquest of Gaul were Salians. From the 3rd century on, the Salian Franks appear in the historical records as...

 tribes, reducing them to tributary status as well. Later that year he crossed the Rhine again at Moguntiacum into Alamannic territory, forcing two influential kings to surrender. In 359, he traveled through the land of the tributaries, devastating the lands of the Alammanic kings who had escaped him at Argentoratum, receiving their surrender as well. Valentinian proved to be a competent cavalry commander during these trans-Rhenish forays, his robust frame and great courage sitting well with the soldiers. In the same year, his first son Gratian
Gratian
Gratian was Roman Emperor from 375 to 383.The eldest son of Valentinian I, during his youth Gratian accompanied his father on several campaigns along the Rhine and Danube frontiers. Upon the death of Valentinian in 375, Gratian's brother Valentinian II was declared emperor by his father's soldiers...

 was born at Sirmium
Sirmium
Sirmium was a city in ancient Roman Pannonia. Firstly mentioned in the 4th century BC and originally inhabited by the Illyrians and Celts, it was conquered by the Romans in the 1st century BC and subsequently became the capital of the Roman province of Lower Pannonia. In 294 AD, Sirmium was...

 in Panonnia, by his first wife Marina Severa
Marina Severa
Marina Severa was the Empress of Rome and first wife of Emperor Valentinian I. She was the mother of later Emperor Gratian.-Name:Her full name is not actually known. Marina Severa is a combination of the two names given in primary sources...

, not far from the family's home town. During the winter, Valentinian was called upon by Constantius to serve him in the east, to assist with operations against the Persians.

His involvement in the east is unknown, but he was promoted to the rank of tribune
Military tribune
A military tribune was an officer of the Roman army who ranked below the legate and above the centurion...

 the same year in Constantius' army. Relations between Constantius and Julian had always been tense, the latter was becoming popular with the army – distributing pay ex manubiis (from the spoils of war) after each campaign. Another civil war almost broke out after Julian's famous victory in 357, when his troops hailed him Augustus
Augustus (honorific)
Augustus , Latin for "majestic," "the increaser," or "venerable", was an Ancient Roman title, which was first held by Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus , and subsequently came to be considered one of the titles of what are now known as the Roman Emperors...

 – equal with Constantius – though Julian refused the acclamation. Nevertheless, their relations still deteriorated, and in 360 when Constantius demanded Julian send him contingents from the army in Gaul, the soldiers essentially forced Julian's hand.

The army declared him Augustus again, demanding he go to war against Constantius – or else they'll do so without him. Julian, now feeling the time right to assert his position, gladly accepted. During a respite in hostilities against the Persians, Constantius set out west with his army; hoping this war to be a repeat of that against Magnentius. Before he left Antioch
Antioch
Antioch on the Orontes was an ancient city on the eastern side of the Orontes River. It is near the modern city of Antakya, Turkey.Founded near the end of the 4th century BC by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals, Antioch eventually rivaled Alexandria as the chief city of the...

, he dismissed Valentinian from service – he was an officer loyal to Julian that could easily undermine operations. Before the two armies could meet in Pannonia however, Constantius fell ill and died in late 361. Constantius died childless, but apparently declared Julian, the last scion of the Constantinian dynasty
Constantinian dynasty
The Constantinian dynasty is an informal name for the ruling family of the Roman Empire from Constantius Chlorus to the death of Julian in 363. It is named after its most famous member, Constantine the Great who became the sole ruler of the empire in 324...

, his rightful successor – averting any further succession crisis.

Unlike Constantine's family Julian rejected Christianity, favouring traditional Roman polytheism. He spent his first years as emperor attempting to restore the old religion's prominence. Valentinian, a Christian, was thus exiled to Thebes
Thebes, Egypt
Thebes is the Greek name for a city in Ancient Egypt located about 800 km south of the Mediterranean, on the east bank of the river Nile within the modern city of Luxor. The Theban Necropolis is situated nearby on the west bank of the Nile.-History:...

 in Egypt for two years. Julian recalled him in 363 to serve in his upcoming Persian campaign, though Valentinian's role or contributions are unknown. Julian proceeded from Antioch in March 363 at the head of a large army – perhaps 85,000 strong. The campaign began successfully, the army reaching the Persian capital Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon, the imperial capital of the Parthian Arsacids and of the Persian Sassanids, was one of the great cities of ancient Mesopotamia.The ruins of the city are located on the east bank of the Tigris, across the river from the Hellenistic city of Seleucia...

 virtually unopposed. The ensuing Battle of Ctesiphon
Battle of Ctesiphon (363)
The Battle of Ctesiphon took place on May 29, 363 between the armies of Roman Emperor Julian and the Sassanid King Shapur II outside the walls of the Persian capital Ctesiphon...

 outside the city was a victory for Julian, driving the enemy soldiers back behind the walls. Ctesiphon itself was heavily fortified, a siege would require time and the necessary equipment – two things the Roman army lacked at this time. Julian's original plan was to defeat the Persian king Shapur II
Shapur II
Shapur II the Great was the ninth King of the Persian Sassanid Empire from 309 to 379 and son of Hormizd II. During his long reign, the Sassanid Empire saw its first golden era since the reign of Shapur I...

 and his main army, then perhaps march upon Ctesiphon, or settle for a favorable peace. This was not the situation Julian and his army now faced. He was already outside the capital deep in enemy territory, his supply lines being continually harassed by enemy raids. Word was spreading that the Persian king was approaching fast with his main army. Now seemingly stranded, Julian decided to withdraw northwest at once. Before the army could make it back to Roman territory however, a sizable Persian force intercepted them. The resulting Battle of Samarra
Battle of Samarra
The Battle of Samarra took place 26 June 363, after the invasion of Sassanid Persia by the Roman Emperor Julian. A major skirmish, the fighting was indecisive but Julian was killed in the battle...

 was indecisive, but Julian was mortally wounded and died soon after.

At the news of Julian's death, the army hastily declared a commander, Jovian, emperor. The army still found itself beleaguered by Persian attacks, forcing Jovian to accept humiliating peace terms. The Romans were to forfeit large swathes of the eastern frontier, earning Jovian the hatred of the army. 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 position in 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:...

 he died en route between Ancyra and Nicaea. His death was attributed to either poisoning or assassination. Jovian is remembered mostly for restoring Christianity to its previous favored status under Constantine and his sons.

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.

Emperor



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-Augustus at Constantinople on 28 March 364. This was done over the objections of Dagalaifus, the magister equitum. Ammianus makes it clear that Valens was subordinate to his brother. The remainder of 364 was spent delegating administrative duties and military commands. Valentinian retained the services of Dagalaifus and promoted Aequitius to Comes Illyricum. Valens was given the Prefecture of Oriens, governed by prefect
Prefect
Prefect is a magisterial title of varying definition....

 Salutius
Salutius
Saturninius Secundus Salutius was a career Roman official who was a native of Gaul. He was a quaestor when he became a member of Julian's staff, while the latter was Caesar in Gaul. Salutius was well versed in Greek philosophy and rhetoric and won the respect of Julian. It was probably through his...

. Valentinian gained control of Italy
Praetorian prefecture of Italy
The praetorian prefecture of Italy ) was one of four large Praetorian prefectures into which the Late Roman Empire was divided. It comprised the Italian peninsula, the Western Balkans, the Danubian provinces and parts of North Africa...

, Gaul, Africa
Praetorian prefecture of Africa
The praetorian prefecture of Africa was a major administrative division of the Eastern Roman Empire, established after the reconquest of northwestern Africa from the Vandals in 533-534 by emperor Justinian I...

, and Illyricum. Valens resided in Constantinople, while Valentinian’s court was at Milan.

Campaigns in Gaul and Germania



In 365 the 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...

 crossed the Rhine and invaded Gaul. Simultaneously, Procopius
Procopius (usurper)
Procopius was a Roman usurper against Valens, and member of the Constantinian dynasty.- Life :According to Ammianus Marcellinus, Procopius was a native and spent his youth in Cilicia, probably in Corycus. On his mother's side, Procopius was related, a maternal cousin, to Emperor Julian, since...

 – the last scion of the Constantinian dynasty
Constantinian dynasty
The Constantinian dynasty is an informal name for the ruling family of the Roman Empire from Constantius Chlorus to the death of Julian in 363. It is named after its most famous member, Constantine the Great who became the sole ruler of the empire in 324...

 – began his revolt against Valens in the east. According to Ammianus, Valentinian received news of both the Alamanni and Procopius' revolt on 1 November while on his way to Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

. He initially sent Dagalaifus to fight the Alamanni while he himself made preparations to march east and help Valens. After receiving counsel from his court and deputations from the leading Gallic cities begging him to stay and protect Gaul, he decided to remain in Gaul and fight the Alamanni.
Valentinian advanced to Durocortorum and sent two generals, Charietto and Severianus, against the invaders. Both generals were promptly defeated and killed. In 366, Dagalaifus was sent against the Alamanni but he was also ineffective. Late in the campaigning season Dagalaifus was replaced by Jovinus, a general from the court of Valentinian. After several battles Jovinus pushed the Alamanni out of Gaul and was awarded the consulate the following year for his efforts.

In early 367 Valentinian was distracted from launching a punitive expedition against the Alamanni due to crises in Britain and northern Gaul. The 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 Comes Italiae Sebastianus, with the Italian and Illyrian legions, to join Jovinus and Severus, the magister peditum. In the spring of 368 Valentinian, his eight year old son Gratian and the army crossed the Rhine and Main river
Main river
Main rivers are a statutory type of watercourse in England and Wales, usually larger streams and rivers, but also include some smaller watercourses. A main river is defined as a watercourse marked as such on a main river map, and can include any structure or appliance for controlling or regulating...

 into Alamannic territory. They did not encounter any resistance initially – burning any dwellings or food stores they found along the way. Finally, Valentinian fought the Alamanni in the Battle of Solicinium
Battle of Solicinium
The Battle of Solicinium was fought in 367 between a Roman Empire army and the Alamanni. The Roman force was led by Emperor Valentinian I, and they managed to repel the Alamanni, but suffered heavy losses during the battle....

; the Romans were victorious but suffered heavy casualties. A temporary peace was reached and Valentinian returned to Trier
Trier
Trier, historically called in English Treves is a city in Germany on the banks of the Moselle. It is the oldest city in Germany, founded in or before 16 BC....

 for the winter. During 369, Valentinian ordered new defensive works to be constructed and old structures refurbished along the length of the Rhine’s west bank. Boldly, he ordered the construction of a fortress across the Rhine in the mountains near modern Heidelberg
Heidelberg
-Early history:Between 600,000 and 200,000 years ago, "Heidelberg Man" died at nearby Mauer. His jaw bone was discovered in 1907; with scientific dating, his remains were determined to be the earliest evidence of human life in Europe. In the 5th century BC, a Celtic fortress of refuge and place of...

. The Alamanni sent envoys to protest, but they were dismissed. The Alamanni attacked the fortress while it was still under construction and destroyed it.

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 gave the Romans young men fit for duty in the Roman military – in exchange for free passage back to their homeland. The Romans – preferring to be rid of many Saxon enemies now rather than later – treacherously ambushed them and killed them all.

Valentinian meanwhile tried to persuade the Burgundians
Burgundians
The Burgundians were an East Germanic tribe which may have emigrated from mainland Scandinavia to the island of Bornholm, whose old form in Old Norse still was Burgundarholmr , and from there to mainland Europe...

 – bitter enemies of the Alamanni – to attack Macrian
Macrian
Macrian or Makrian was the king of the Bucinobantes, an Alemannic tribe, in the late fourth century and the brother of Hariobaud. Macrian tried to confederate all the north Germanic and Alemannic tribes together against Rome....

, 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
Count Theodosius
Flavius Theodosius or Theodosius the Elder was a senior military officer serving in the Western Roman Empire. He achieved the rank of Comes Britanniarum and as such, he is usually referred to as Comes Theodosius...

 to attack the Alamanni through Raetia – taking many Alamannic prisoners. These captured Alamanni were settled in the Po river
Po River
The Po |Ligurian]]: Bodincus or Bodencus) is a river that flows either or – considering the length of the Maira, a right bank tributary – eastward across northern Italy, from a spring seeping from a stony hillside at Pian del Re, a flat place at the head of the Val Po under the northwest face...

 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 though in 372 he 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 force of Picts
Picts
The Picts were a group of Late Iron Age and Early Mediaeval people living in what is now eastern and northern Scotland. There is an association with the distribution of brochs, place names beginning 'Pit-', for instance Pitlochry, and Pictish stones. They are recorded from before the Roman conquest...

, Attacotti
Attacotti
Attacotti refers to a people who despoiled Roman Britain between 364 and 368, along with Scotti, Picts, Saxons, Roman military deserters, and the indigenous Britons themselves. The marauders were defeated by Count Theodosius in 368...

 and Scots
Scoti
Scoti or Scotti was the generic name used by the Romans to describe those who sailed from Ireland to conduct raids on Roman Britain. It was thus synonymous with the modern term Gaels...

 had killed the Comes litoris Saxonici Nectaridus
Nectaridus
Nectaridus was a possible early Count of the Saxon Shore, a military leader in Roman Britain in the later fourth century AD.His command may have been an ad hoc creation, possibly during the reign of Valentinian I or Julian during the early 360s in response to growing pirate raiding...

 and Dux Britanniarum
Dux Britanniarum
Dux Britanniarum was a military post in Roman Britain, probably created by Diocletian or Constantine I during the late third or early fourth century....

Fullofaudes
Fullofaudes
Fullofaudes was a Dux Britanniarum, a military leader in Roman Britain in the later fourth century.He was either killed or besieged by the barbarian invaders during the Great Conspiracy and replaced by Dulcitius when Count Theodosius came in Britain in 369 to restore order.He was probably defeated...

. At the same time, Frankish and Saxon forces were raiding the coastal areas of northern Gaul. The empire was in the midst of the Great Conspiracy
Great Conspiracy
The Great Conspiracy is a term given to a year-long war that occurred in Roman Britain near the end of the Roman occupation of the island. The historian Ammianus Marcellinus described it as a barbarica conspiratio that capitalized on a depleted military force in the province brought about by...

 – and was in danger of losing control of Britain altogether. Valentinian set out for Britain, sending Comes domesticorum Severus ahead of him to investigate. Severus was not able to correct the situation and returned to Gaul, meeting Valentinian at Samarobriva
Samarobriva
Samarobriva was the name of Amiens during the Gallo-Roman era.-Origin of the name:Its Gallo-Roman name was Samarobriva, meaning in the prior local language « Bridge on the Somme »....

. Valentinian then sent Jovinus to Britain and promoted Severus to magister peditum. It was at this time that Valentinian fell ill and a battle for succession broke out between Severus, a representative of the army, and Rusticus Julianus, magister memoriae and a representative of the Gallic nobility. Valentinian soon recovered however and appointed his son Gratian as his co-Augustus in the west. Ammianus remarks that such an action was unprecedented. Jovinus quickly returned saying that he needed more men to take care of the situation. In 368 Valentinian appointed Theodosius as the new Comes Britanniarum
Comes Britanniarum
Comes Britanniarum was a military post in Roman Britain, with command of the mobile field army from the mid 4th century onwards.It is listed in the Notitia Dignitatum as being one of the three commands in Britain, along with the Dux Britanniarum and Comes litoris Saxonici...

with instructions to return Britain to Roman rule. Meanwhile, Severus and Jovinus were to accompany the emperor on his campaign against the Alamanni.

Theodosius arrived in 368 with the Batavi, Heruli
Heruli
The Heruli were an East Germanic tribe who are famous for their naval exploits. Migrating from Northern Europe to the Black Sea in the third century They were part of the...

, Jovii and Victores legions. Landing at Rutupiæ, he proceeded to Londinium
Londinium
The city of London was established by the Romans around AD 43. It served as a major imperial commercial centre until its abandonment during the 5th century.-Origins and language:...

 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
Civilis (vicarius)
Civilis is all that is known of the name of a vicarius of Roman Britain around AD 368. Dulcitius was appointed Dux Britanniarum at the same time under Count Theodosius' reforms....

 to be installed as the new vicarius
Vicarius
Vicarius is a Latin word, meaning substitute or deputy. It is the root and origin of the English word "vicar" and cognate to the Persian word most familiar in the variant vizier....

 of the diocese
Diocese
A diocese is the district or see under the supervision of a bishop. It is divided into parishes.An archdiocese is more significant than a diocese. An archdiocese is presided over by an archbishop whose see may have or had importance due to size or historical significance...

 and Dulcitius
Dulcitius
Dulcitius was a Dux Britanniarum, a military leader in Roman Britain in the later fourth century AD. He is praised by Ammianus for his military abilities....

 as an additional general.
In 369, Theodosius set about reconquering the areas north of London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

; putting down the revolt of Valentinus
Valentinus (rebel)
Valentinus was a Roman figure of the later fourth century AD.In 369 AD he committed an unrecorded but very serious crime. His brother in law, Maximinus was close to the emperor Valentinian I and was able to have Valentinus' sentence commuted from execution to exile and he was sent to Roman...

, the brother-in-law of a vicarius
Vicarius
Vicarius is a Latin word, meaning substitute or deputy. It is the root and origin of the English word "vicar" and cognate to the Persian word most familiar in the variant vizier....

 Maximinus
Maximinus (Praetorian Prefect)
Maximinus was a Roman barrister and Praetorian Prefect of the later fourth century AD.-Origins:Maximinus was born in Sopianae, Pannonia. His family was of Carpic origin. Maximinus' father was an accountant in the provincial government office of Pannonia Valeria.Maximinus studied law, and practiced...

. Subsequently, Theodosius restored the rest of Britain to the empire and rebuilt many fortifications – renaming northern Britain 'Valentia
Valentia (Roman Britain)
Valentia was the name of a consular northern province of Roman Britain.-History:Count Theodosius set up Valentia in 369 AD as part of his reorganisation of Britain following the Great Conspiracy, and probably named it after the reigning emperors, Valentinian and Valens.Ammianus tells of how the...

'. After his return in 369, Valentinian promoted Theodosius to magister equitum in place of Jovinus.

Revolt in Africa and crises on the Danube


In 372, the rebellion of Firmus
Firmus (4th century usurper)
Firmus was a Roman usurper under Valentinian I.Firmus was the son of the Moorish prince Nubel, a powerful Roman military officer, as well as a wealthy Christian...

 broke out in the 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
Quadi
The Quadi were a smaller Germanic tribe, about which little is definitively known. We only know the Germanic tribe the Romans called the 'Quadi' through reports of the Romans themselves...

, a group of Germanic-speaking people living on the upper Danube. Like the Alamanni, 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 Danube and began ravaging the province of Pannonia Valeria
Pannonia Valeria
The Pannonia Valeria or simply Valeria was one of the provinces of the Roman Empire. It was formed in the year 296, during the reign of emperor Diocletian. The capital of the province was Sopianae . Pannonia Valeria included parts of present-day Hungary and Croatia.-External links:*...

. The marauders could not penetrate the fortified cities, but they heavily damaged the unprotected countryside. Two legions were sent in but failed to coordinate and were routed by the Sarmatians. Meanwhile, another group of Sarmatians invaded Moesia
Moesia
Moesia was an ancient region and later Roman province situated in the Balkans, along the south bank of the Danube River. It included territories of modern-day Southern Serbia , Northern Republic of Macedonia, Northern Bulgaria, Romanian Dobrudja, Southern Moldova, and Budjak .-History:In ancient...

, but were driven back by the son of Theodosius, Dux Moesiae and later emperor Theodosius
Theodosius I
Theodosius I , also known as Theodosius the Great, was Roman Emperor from 379 to 395. Theodosius was the last emperor to rule over both the eastern and the western halves of the Roman Empire. During his reign, the Goths secured control of Illyricum after the Gothic War, establishing their homeland...

.

Valentinian did not receive news of these crises until late 374. The following spring he set out from Trier and arrived at Carnuntum
Carnuntum
Carnuntum was a Roman army camp on the Danube in the Noricum province and after the 1st century the capital of the Upper Pannonia province...

, which was deserted. There he was met by Sarmatian envoys who begged forgiveness for their actions. Valentinian replied that he would investigate what had happened and act accordingly. Valentinian ignored Marcellianus’ treacherous actions and decided to punish the Quadi. He was accompanied by Sebastianus and Merobaudes
Merobaudes (general)
- Biography :Merobaudes was an official of Roman Emperor Julian . He was entrusted with the transportation of the corpse of the Emperor when Julian died during his military campaign against the Sasanids....

, and spent the summer months preparing for the campaign. In the fall he crossed the Danube at Aquincum
Aquincum
The ancient city of Aquincum was situated on the North-Eastern borders of the Pannonia province within the Roman Empire. The ruins of the city can be found today in Budapest, the capital city of Hungary...

 into Quadi territory. After pillaging Quadi lands without opposition, he retired to Savaria
Savaria
Savaria may refer to :-* Szombathely - a city in Hungary* Sarvaiya - a Rajput clan of India* Saawariya - a known Bollywood film....

 to winter quarters.

In the spring he decided to continue campaigning and moved from Savaria to Brigetio
Szöny
-History:In the year 97, the Roman legion Legio I Adiutrix campaigned in the area. The town was known as Brigetio to the Romans. The town has one of the earliest records of conjoined twins - Helen and Judith....

. Once he arrived on November 17, he received a deputation from the Quadi. In return for supplying fresh recruits to the Roman army, the Quadi were to be allowed to leave in peace. However, before the envoys left they were granted an audience with Valentinian. The envoys insisted that the conflict was caused by the building of Roman forts in their lands; furthermore individual bands of Quadi were not necessarily bound to the rule of the chiefs who had made treaties with the Romans – and thus might attack the Romans at any time. The attitude of the envoys so enraged Valentinian that he suffered a stroke that ended his life.

Reputation


A.H.M. Jones writes that though he was "less of a boor" than his chief rival for election to the imperial throne, "he was of a violent and brutal temper, and not only uncultivated himself, but hostile to cultivated persons", as Ammianus
Ammianus Marcellinus
Ammianus Marcellinus was a fourth-century Roman historian. He wrote the penultimate major historical account surviving from Antiquity...

 tells us, 'he hated the well-dressed and educated and wealthy and well-born'. He was, however, an able soldier and a conscientious administrator, and took an interest in the welfare of the humbler classes, from which his father had risen. Unfortunately his good intentions were often frustrated by a bad choice of ministers, and an obstinate belief in their merits despite all evidence to the contrary." According to the Encyclopædia Britannica 1911
Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition
The Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition is a 29-volume reference work, an edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica. It was developed during the encyclopaedia's transition from a British to an American publication. Some of its articles were written by the best-known scholars of the time...

, he was a founder of schools, and provided medical attendance for the poor of Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

, by appointing a physician for each of the fourteen districts of the city.

Valentinian was a Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 but permitted liberal religious freedom to all his subjects, proscribing only some forms of rituals such as particular types of sacrifices, and banning the practice of magic. Against all abuses, both civil and ecclesiastical (excepting, of course, his own excesses), Valentinian steadily set his face, even against the increasing wealth and worldliness of the clergy. His chief flaw was his temper, which at times was frightful, and showed itself in its full fierceness in the punishment of persons accused of witchcraft, some kinds of fortune-telling or magical practices."

Socrates Scholasticus
Socrates Scholasticus
Socrates of Constantinople, also known as Socrates Scholasticus, not to be confused with the Greek philosopher Socrates, was a Greek Christian church historian, a contemporary of Sozomen and Theodoret, who used his work; he was born at Constantinople c. 380: the date of his death is unknown...

 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: Justina (empress) "became known to Marina Severa
Marina Severa
Marina Severa was the Empress of Rome and first wife of Emperor Valentinian I. She was the mother of later Emperor Gratian.-Name:Her full name is not actually known. Marina Severa is a combination of the two names given in primary sources...

, wife of the emperor Valentinian, and had frequent intercourse 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 Augustus a little while before. He accordingly framed a law, and caused it to be published throughout all the cities, by which any man was permitted to have two lawful wives. The law was promulgated and he married Justina, by whom he had Valentinian the younger." (Book IV, chapt. 31.)
This story is only known to Socrates. There is no trace of any edict allowing polygamy in the laws passed by Valentinian I, his predecessors or his successors. This practice is unknown in all other sources of Classical Antiquity. Valentinian I may have divorced Severa according to Roman Law, which allowed for divorce (see Women in Ancient Rome). But since divorce was not acknowledged by Christians, Socrates contemptuously describes him as a bigamist. It is also possible that Socrates, who was a Novatianist attempted to accuse Justina, who was an Arianist, of fornication, a common aspersion against other cults. Gibbon maintains that the marriages of Valentinian were conducted successively. According to the Antique sources of John Malalas
John Malalas
John Malalas or Ioannes Malalas was a Greek chronicler from Antioch. Malalas is probably a Syriac word for "rhetor", "orator"; it is first applied to him by John of Damascus .-Life:Malalas was educated in Antioch, and probably was a jurist there, but moved to...

, the Chronicon Paschale
Chronicon Paschale
Chronicon Paschale is the conventional name of a 7th-century Greek Christian chronicle of the world...

 and John of Nikiu
John of Nikiû
John of Nikiû was an Egyptian Coptic bishop of Nikiû/Pashati in the Nile Delta and appointed general administrator of the monasteries of Upper Egypt in 696...

 the empress Severa was banished by Valentinian I for conducting an illegal transaction, before he consorted with Justina. Barnes believes this story to be an attempt to justify the divorce of Valentinian I without accusing the emperor.

Primary sources

  • 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 English summaries. Main text in Latin.

Secondary accounts

  • De Imperatoribus Romanis English text.
  • Edward Gibbon
    Edward Gibbon
    Edward Gibbon was an English historian and Member of Parliament...

    , The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, 1776.
  • M. Grant, The Roman Emperors, 1985. 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).
  • E. Stein, Histoire du Bas-Empire, vol. i, chap. 4 (1959).

External links