The Pannonian Emperors[]
The death of Julian on June 26, 363 brought an end to the domination of the imperial throne by the family of Constantine . Unfortunately, there was little opportunity for careful selection of a successor. Julian was trying to extract the massive army which he had marched deep into Persia twhen he was killed during a skirmish. Military and civilian officials gathered the day after his death to select a replacement but were reduced to bickering when partisans of Constantius II and those of Julian himself could not agree on a compromise.[] As they waited, a group of imperial guardsmen, apparently protectores domestici, put up their own man, Fl. Iovianus, an Illyrian.[] Jovian negotiated a hasty and damaging peace with the Persians wherein he surrendered the stronghold of Nisibis, and most of the Armenian marcher territories won from Persia in 298.[] To conceal these massive concessions, Jovian sent agents west to proclaim VICTORIA ROMANORUM across the empire while he completed the march back up the Tigris into Roman territory.[] Though his propaganda was widely disseminated, its effectiveness was probably limited to judge by the scorn heaped on him when he entered Antioch.[] Jovian did not have long to endure such mockery. While hastening to Constantinople to secure his claim to the throne, he was asphyxiated by a smoky brazier during a stop at Dadastana, 100 miles east of Ancyra, in February 364.[]
Among the agents who proceeded west to proclaim Jovian’s‘s appointment in Gaul was Flavius Valentinianus.[] Despite riotous reactions to the news of Julian’s death, Valentinian survived his mission and successfully reported back to Jovian in Ancyra.[] His perserverance had won for him a promotion to tribunus scutariorum along with a measure of renown. When it came time to elect Jovian’s successor, Valentinian was an obvious choice. Like Jovian, he was an Illyrian and he shared close connections with the protectores domestici who had promoted Jovian the previous summer. Unlike Jovian, however,Valentinian was elected by, not forced on the consistorium. He was proclaimed Augustus on February 26.[] Valentinian was aware that the empire was too large and dangerous to govern alone. On March 28, 364, precisely one month after his accession by Roman reckoning, Valentinian appointed his brother Flavius Valens co-emperor at the Hebdomon, the first in a long line of emperors proclaimed there.[] Themistius was present and later recounted the occasion in his Or. 6. After only two months of co-rulership, the two departed from Constantinople for their native Illyricum. Outside Naissus, in Moesia, they divided their administrative staff between them and at Sirmium they did the same with their mobile forces.[] Valens was to rule the east, from Thrace in the North and Cyrenaica in the South eastward to the Persian frontier. Valentinian ruled the west.[] They did not spend long in Sirmium. By late August 365 Valentinian had moved on toward Milan, where he resided for the following year before moving on to Trier, which remained his capital until 375.[] Similarly, Valens was back in Constantinople by December 364.[]
It is little wonder that Valentinian and Valens returned to the region around Sirmium to divide the empire. The two were born only 48 miles east of there in the town of Cibalae[] and both made an effort to shore up their administration by appointing long-time friends.[] They had grown up on an estate purchased by their father, Gratian, formerly Comes Domesticorum and Comes Rei Militaris in Africa and Britain.[] While Valentinian had enjoyed a successful military career prior to his appointment to the purple, Valens apparently had not. There is good evidence that he had spent much of his youth on the family’s estate and only joined the army in the 360s, perhaps as a Protector Domesticus.[] Christian traditions that both had been confessors under Julian are probably the fabrications of contemporary propagandists.[] Valentinian had indeed been expelled from the army under Julian, but not for religious reasons.[]
The Revolt of Procopius.[]
Jovian had surrendered much on the eastern frontier. Valens’ first priority after the winter of 364-5 seems to have been to move east in hopes of shoring up the situation. By the autumn of 365 he had reached Cappadocian Caesarea when he learned that a usurper had proclaimed himself in Constantinople.[] When he died, Julian had left behind one surviving relative, a maternal cousin named Procopius.[] Procopius had been charged with overseeing a northern division of Julian’s army during the Persian expedition and had not been present with the imperial comitia when Julian’s successor was named.[] Though Jovian made accommodations to appease this potential claimant, Procopius fell increasingly under suspicion in the first year of Valens’ reign.[] After narrowly escaping arrest, he went into hiding and reemerged at Constantinople where he was able to convince two military units passing through the capital to proclaim him emperor on 28 September, 365.[] Though his early reception in the city seems to have been lukewarm, Procopius won favor quickly by using propaganda to his advantage: he sealed off the city to outside reports and began spreading rumors that Valentinian had died.[]; he began minting coinage flaunting his connections to the Constantinian dynasty.[]; and he further exploited dynastic claims by using the widow and daughter of Constantius to act as showpieces for his regime.[] This program met with some success, particularly among soldiers loyal to the Constantinians and eastern intellectuals who had already begun to feel persecuted by the Valentinians.[]
Valens, meanwhile, faltered. When news arrived that Procopius had revolted, Valens considered abdication and perhaps even suicide.[] Even after he steadied his resolve to fight, Valens’ efforts to forestall Procopius were hampered by the fact that most of his troops had already crossed the Cilician gates into Syria when he learned of the revolt.[] Even so, Valens sent the Iovii et Victores Iuniores to march on Procopius, who easily persuaded these to desert to him.[] Later that year, Valens himself was nearly captured in a scramble near Chalcedon.[] Troubles were exacerbated by the refusal of Valentinian to do any more than protect his own territory from encroachment.[] The failure of imperial resistance in 365 allowed Procopius to gain control of the dioceses of Thracia and Asiana by year’s end.[]
Only in the spring of 366 had Valens assembled enough troops to deal with Procopius effectively. Marching out from Ancyra through Pessinus, Valens proceeded into Phrygia where he defeated Procopius’ general Gomoarius at Thyatira.[] He then met Procopius himself at Nacoleia and convinced his troops to desert.[] Procopius was executed and his head sent to Valentinian in Trier for inspection.[] His usurpation had caught the new emperor by surprise: for a pretender to gain so much ground so quickly was unusual. It attested to the power still possessed by anyone who could claim Constantinian connections. Even so, the fact that Procopius did not begin with a significant military command guaranteed that he was never able to assemble enough troops to assure success.
The First Gothic War[]
The first troops to join Procopius, the Divitenses and Tungricani Iuniores, had been passing through Constantinople en route to the Danube.[] There, Valens had learned, the Goths were planning an uprising. These Goths, more specifically the Tervingi, were at the time under the leadership of the iudex Athanaric and had apparently remained peaceful since their defeat under Constantine in 332.[] We do not know why they intended to attack the empire in 365, but when they learned of Procopius’ usurpation they sent reinforcements to aid him rather than continuing with their planned attack.[] Perhaps, then, they were uncomfortable with the shift of dynasty. Whatever their motivation, the Tervingi had given grave offense by supporting Procopius and after Valens’ victory at Nacoleia, he set about preparing an expedition against them. In the spring of 367, he crossed the Danube from Transmarisca and marched on Athanaric’s Tervingi.[] These fled into the “montes Serrorum“, apparently the Carpathians, and eluded Valens’ advance, forcing him to return unavenged later that summer.[] The following spring, a Danube flood prevented Valens from crossing[]; instead the emperor occupied his troops with the construction of fortifications.[] In 369, Valens crossed again, from Noviodunum, and attacked the north-easterly Gothic tribe of Greuthungi before facing Athanaric’s Tervingi and defeating them.[] Athanaric pled for treaty terms and Valens gladly obliged. Themistius was present to witness the arrangements, worked out on a boat in mid-river, and later recounted them for Valens in his Or. 10 of 370.[] The treaty seems to have largely cut off relations between Goths and Romans, including free trade and the exchange of troops for tribute.[] Valens would feel this loss of military manpower in the years to come.
The Persian Struggle[]
Among Valens’ reasons for contracting a hasty and not entirely favorable peace in 369 was the deteriorating state of affairs in the East. Jovian had surrendered Rome’s much disputed claim to control over Armenia in 363 and Sapor was eager to make good on this new opportunity. The Persian shahshahan began enticing Armenian lords (naxarars) over to his camp and eventually forced the defection of the Arsacid Armenian king, Arsaces (Arshak), whom he quickly arrested and incarcerated in the Prison of Oblivion.[] Sapor then sent an invasion force to seize Iberia and a second to besiege Arsaces’ son, Pap, in the fortress of Artogerassa, probably in 367.[] By the following spring, Pap had engineered his escape from the fortress and flight to Valens, whom he seems to have met at Marcianople while campaigning against the Goths.[] Valens made arrangements for Pap’s return. Already in the summer following his Gothic settlement, Valens sent his general Arinthaeus to reimpose Pap on the Armenian throne.[] This provoked Sapor himself to invade and lay waste to Armenia.[] Pap, however, once again escaped and was restored a second time under escort of a much larger force in 370.[] The following spring, larger forces were sent under Terentius to regain Iberia and to garrison Armenia near Mt. Npat.[] When Sapor counterattacked into Armenia in 371, his forces were worsted by Valens’ generals Traianus and Vadomarius at Bagavan.[] Valens had overstepped the 363 treaty and then successfully defended his transgression. A truce settled after the 371 victory held as a quasi-peace for the next five years while Sapor was forced to deal with a Kushan invasion on his eastern frontier.[]
Meanwhile, troubles broke out with the boy king Pap, who began acting in high-handed fashion, even executing the Armenian bishop Narses and demanding control of a number of Roman cities, including Edessa.[] Pressed by his generals and fearing that Pap would defect to the Persians, Valens made an unsuccessful attempt to capture the prince and later had him executed inside Armenia.[] In his stead, Valens imposed another Arsacid, Varazdat, who ruled under the regency of the sparapet Musel Mamikonean, a friend of Rome.[]
None of this sat well with the Persians, who began agitating again for compliance with the 363 treaty.[] As the eastern frontier heated up c. 375, Valens began preparations for a major expedition.[] Meanwhile, trouble was brewing elsewhere. In Isauria, the mountainous region of western Cilicia, a major revolt had broken out in 375 which diverted troops formerly stationed in the east.[] Furthermore, by 377, the Saracens under Queen Mavia had broken into revolt and devastated a swath of territory stretching from Phoenicia and Palestine as far as the Sinai.[] Though Valens successfully brought both uprisings under control, the opportunities for action on the eastern frontier were limited by these skirmishes closer to home.
Valens’ plans for an eastern campaign were never realized. A transfer of troops to the western empire in 374 had left gaps in Valens’ mobile forces.[] In preparation for an eastern war, Valens initiated an ambitious recruitment program designed to fill those gaps.[] It was thus not unwelcome news when Valens learned that the Gothic Tervingi and Greuthungi had been displaced from their homeland by an invasion of Huns in 375 and were seeking asylum from him.[] As Valens’ advisers were quick to point out, these Goths could supply troops who would at once swell Valens’ ranks and decrease his dependence on provincial troop levies–thereby increasing revenues from the recruitment tax.[] Among the Goths seeking asylum was a group led by the chieftain (reiks) Fritigern.[] Fritigern had enjoyed contact with Valens in the 370s when Valens supported him in a struggle against the iudex Athanaric stemming from Athanaric’s persecution of Gothic Christians.] Though a number of Gothic groups apparently requested entry, Valens granted admission only to Fritigern and his followers. This did not, however, prevent others from following suit.
When Fritigern and his Goths undertook the crossing, Valens’ mobile forces were tied down in the east, on the Persian frontier and in Isauria. This meant that only riparian units under Lupicinus and Maximus were present to oversee the Tervingi resettlement.[] The small number of imperial troops present prevented the Romans from stopping a Danube crossing by a group of Gothic Greuthungi and later by Huns and Alans.[] What started out as a controlled resettlement mushroomed into a massive influx. And the situation grew worse. When the riparian commanders began abusing the Tervingi under their charge, these revolted in early 377 and defeated the Roman units in Thrace outside of Marcianople.[] After joining forces with the Greuthungi and eventually the Huns and Alans, the combined barbarian group marauded widely before facing an advance force of comitatenses sent from both east and west. In a battle at Ad Salices, the Goths were once again victorious, winning free run of Thrace south of the Haemus.[] By 378, Valens himself was able to march west from his eastern base in Antioch. He withdrew all but a skeletal force–some of them Goths–from the east and moved west, reaching Constantinople by May 30, 378.[] After a brief stay aimed at building his troop strength and gaining a toehold in Thrace, Valens moved out to Adrianople. From there, he marched against the confederated barbarian army on August 9, 378.[] Although negotiations were attempted, these broke down when a Roman unit sallied forth and carried both sides into battle. The Romans held their own early on but were crushed by the surprise arrival of Greuthungi cavalry which split their ranks.[] Valens was wounded in battle but escaped to a nearby farmstead where he was burned to death in a tower by Gothic marauders.[] When the battle was over, two-thirds of the eastern army lay dead.[]
Adrianople was the most significant event in Valens’ career. Though he displayed some talent as an administrator, Valens’ persecutions of Nicene Christians[] and pagan philosophers,[] his halting efforts at military achievement and his obtuse personality rendered him a less than glorious emperor. To have died in so inglorious a battle has thus come to be regarded as the nadir of an unfortunate career. This is especially true because of the profound consequences of Valens’ defeat. Adrianople spelled the beginning of the end for Roman territorial integrity in the late empire and this fact was recognized even by contemporaries.[] Ammianus understood that it was the worst defeat in Roman history since Cannae and Rufinus called it “the beginning of evils for the Roman empire then and thereafter.”[]
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[] Amm. Marc., 25.5.4; 8. Cf. Eutrop. 10.17; Sozom., Hist. Eccl. 6.3.1; Theod., Hist. Eccl., 4.1.2-3. On Jovian’s election by a military clique, see Lenski (1995a) 3-13 with reference to Them. Or. 9.124d-125a; Symm. Or. 1.8; contra Von Haehling (1977) and Wirth (1984).
[] Eutrop. 10.18; Amm. Marc., 25.10.12-13; Sozom., Hist. Eccl. 6.6.1; Soc., Hist. Eccl. 3.26; Philostorg., Hist. Eccl 8.8; Jerome, Chron. s.a. 364; Oros. 7.31.3; Jord. Rom. 306; Soc., Hist. Eccl. 3.26; John Chrysostom In epist. ad Philip. 4 hom. 15.5; John of Antioch fr. 181.
[] Amm. Marc., 26.4.3; Soc., Hist. Eccl. 4.1; Cons.Consp. s.a. 364. On the Hebdomon and imperial elections, G. Dagron Naisance d’une capitale: Constantinople et ses institutions de 330 à 451 (Paris, 1974) 87-8; 100-1.
[] Ambrose De obit. Val. 55; Ep. 21.3; Ruf. Hist. Eccl. 2.2; Soc., Hist. Eccl. 3.13.3-4; ibid., 4.1; Sozom., Hist. Eccl. 6.6; Oros. 7.32.2; Philostorg., Hist. Eccl. 7.7; Theod., Hist. Eccl. 3.16.1-4.
[] On the resemblances between Procopius REPARATI-O FEL TEMP (e.g. RIC IX 192-3; 215; 240; 251) issues and Constantius II’s FEL TEMP-REPARATIO see Matthews (1989) 200-1; Austin (1972a) 193; Wiebe (1995) 73-81.
[] On Constantine’s Gothic war and treaty in 332: Anon. Val. 6.31, 34; Euseb. VC 1.8; 4.5-6; Aur. Vict. 41.13; Eutrop. 10.7; Jerome Chron. s.a. 332; Cons. Conspl. s.a. 332; Brockmeier (1987); Wolfram (1988) 61-2; Heather (1991) 107-15.
[] Amm. Marc., 27.5.4; Them., Or. 8, delivered to Valens on March 28, 368, helps explain some of Valens’ frustrations in the campaign. See the translation and notes at Heather and Matthews (1991) 26-36.
[]On the events surrounding Adrianople, see Judeich (1891); Runkel (1903); Köhler (1925) 48-70; Klein (1956) Austin (1972b) Burns (1973); Wolfram (1977); Heather (1991) 142-7; Wanke (1990) 111-230.
[]Amm. Marc., 31.2.1; Zos. 4.20.3-5; Eunap. fr. 42B; 59B; Ambrose, Exp. Evan. Sec. Lucam 10.10; Cons. Conspl. s.a. 376; Jerome Chron. s.a. 377; Soc., Hist. Eccl. 4.34; Sozom., Hist. Eccl. 6.37.2-4; Philostorg., Hist. Eccl. 9.17; Jord. Get. 121-30; cf. Maenchen-Helfen (1973) 18-27.