previous next



A Roman emperor (A.D. 364- 375), was the son of Gratianus, and was born A.D. 321, at Cibalis in Pannonia. His first wife was Valeria Severa, by whom he became the father of the emperor Gratianus. He held important military commands under Julian and Jovian; and on the death of the latter, in February, 364, Valentinian was elected emperor by the troops at Nicaea. A few weeks after his elevation Valentinian, by the desire of the soldiers, associated in the empire his brother Valens, and assigned to him the East, while he himself undertook the government of the West. Valentinian was a Catholic, though his brother Valens was an Arian; but he did not persecute either Arians or heathens. He possessed good abilities, prudence, and vigour of character. He had a capacity for military matters, and was a vigilant, impartial, and laborious administrator. The greater part of Valentinian's reign was occupied by the wars against the Alemanni and the other barbarians on the Roman frontier, in which his operations were attended with success. He not only drove the Alemanni out of Gaul, but on more than one occasion crossed the Rhine, and carried the war into the enemy's country. His usual residence was Treviri (Trèves). In 375 he went to Carnuntum on the Danube, in order to repel the Quadi and Sarmatians, who had invaded Pannonia. After an indecisive campaign he took up his winter-quarters at Bregetio. In this place, while giving an audience to the deputies of the Quadi, and speaking with great heat, he fell down in a fit and expired suddenly, on the 17th of November (Amm. Marc. xxviii.-xxx.; Zosim. iv. 17).


A Roman emperor (A.D. 375-392), younger son of the preceding, proclaimed Augustus by the army after his father's death, though he was then only four or five years of age. His elder brother Gratianus, who had been proclaimed Augustus during the lifetime of their father, assented to the choice of the army, and a division of the West was made between the two brothers. Valentinian had Italy, Illyricum, and Africa; Gratian had the Gauls, Spain, and Britain. In 383 Gratian was defeated and slain by Maximus, who left Valentinian a precarious authority out of fear for Theodosius, the emperor of the East; but in 387 Valentinian was expelled from Italy by Maximus, and fled for refuge to Theodosius. In 388 Theodosius defeated Maximus, and restored Valentinian to his authority as emperor of the West. Theodosius returned to Constantinople in 391; and in the following year (392 A.D.) Valentinian was murdered by the general Arbogastes, who raised Eugenius to the throne. Valentinian perished on the 15th of May, being only a few months above twenty years of age. His funeral oration was pronounced by St. Ambrose.


Roman emperor A.D. 426-455, was born 419, and was the son of Constantius III. by Placidia, the sister of Honorius and the daughter of Theodosius I. He was declared Augustus in 425 by Theodosius II., and was placed over the West, but as he was only six years of age the government was intrusted to his mother Placidia. During his long reign the Empire was repeatedly exposed to the invasions of the barbarians; and it was only the military abilities of Aëtius which saved the Empire from ruin. In 429 the Vandals under Genseric crossed over into Africa, which they conquered, and of which they continued in possession till the reign of Justinian. The weakness of the Empire during this reign was shown also by the fact that the Britons (from whose country the Roman troops had been withdrawn forty years before), finding it vain to apply to Rome for aid against the incursions of the Picts, invited the Jutes under Hengest and Horsa to help them, in 449. The Goths likewise established themselves in Gaul; but Aëtius finally made peace with them (439 A.D.), and with their assistance gained a great victory over Attila and the vast army of the Huns at Châlons in 451. (See Attila.) The power and influence of Aëtius excited the jealousy and fears of Valentinian, who murdered his faithful general in 454. (See Aëtius.) In the following year the emperor himself was slain by Petronius Maximus, whose wife he had violated.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: