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Valentinian I (364-375 A.D)

Walter E. Roberts
Emory University

A coin with the image of the Emperor Valentinian I (c)1998 Princeton Economic Institute


Valentinian was one of Rome's last great warrior emperors.[[1]] There was a power vacuum after the death of Julian, last ruler of the Neo-Flavian line. His immediate successor Jovian did not really survive long enough to leave his stamp on late Roman society. In general terms, Valentinian’s challenge was to hold together an empire that had experienced sixty years of internal unrest, something which was of major import. His provincial origins and Nicene Christianity put him at odds with the senatorial nobility in the west. Furthermore, he had to deal with the increasing regionalism of the empire, especially in Gaul, Britain, and Africa.

Early Life

Valentinian, whose full name was Flavius Valentinianus, was born in A.D. 321 at Cibalis (modern Vinkovci) in southern Pannonia.[[2]] His father Gratian was a soldier renowned for his strength and wrestling skills. Gratian had an illustrious career in the army, rising from staff officer to tribune, to comes Africae, and finally comes Britanniae. He was suspected of graft while comes Africae, but nothing was ever proven. After he retired, Constantius II (337-60) confiscated his estates because he was suspected of having been a supporter of Magnentius.[[3]] Gratian’s alleged affiliation with Magnentius apparently did not keep Valentinian or his younger brother Valens from being able to enter the military, but it may have contributed to some early trouble for Valentinian. Valentinian embarked upon a military career, and, like his father, became a victim of imperial politics. In 357 he was tribune of cavalry under Julian, Constantius II's Caesar in the west. In the intrigues surrounding Julian and Constantius, Valentinian and a colleague were accused of undermining operations, and Constantius dismissed them from the service.[[4]] Valentinian was married twice. His first wife, Severa, died some time after giving birth to Valentinian’s first son Gratian in 359, and Valentinian married Justina, by whom he had Valentinian II, and two daughters, Galla and Justa.[[5]]

When Julian died, Valentinian was recalled to military service by Jovian. Upon his accession, Jovian sent Procopius, a notarius, and Memoridus to Gaul and Illyricum to install his father-in-law Lucillianus, in retirement at Sirmium, as magister equitum et peditum. Lucillianus in turn was to journey to Milan and secure Jovian’s power in Italy and Gaul. Jovian supposedly gave Lucillianus secret instructions to handpick a select cadre of supporters.[[6]] Two of these men were Valentinian and Seniauchus.[[7]] One of this group’s missions was to displace Jovinus, Julian’s magister armorum per Gallias, with Malarichus, a retired soldier and supporter of Jovian living in Italy. In addition they were to visit as many governors and military commanders as possible and announce the successful end of the Persian campaign and Jovian's succession.[[8]] Malarichus, however, refused his commission, and Lucillianus traveled on to Rheims where he began examining the accounts of one of Julian’s officials. The official (not named in extant sources) fled to the army in Gaul and spread rumors that Julian was still alive and that Lucillianus was a rebel. In the riot that broke out, Seniauchus and Lucillianus were killed, and Valentinian barely escaped through the help of his friend Primitivus. By this time, Jovian had sent some additional soldiers who secured peace in Gaul. As a result Valentinian was promoted to command of the second Scutarii division.[[9]]

Valentinian's Accession

Jovian died on 17 February 364, apparently of natural causes, on the border between Bithynia and Galatia.[[10]] The army marched on to Nicaea, the nearest city of any consequence, and a meeting of civil and military officials was convened to choose a new emperor. The names of Aequitius, a tribune of the first Scutarii, and Januarius, a relative of Jovian’s in charge of military supplies in Illyricum, were bandied about. Both were rejected, Aequitius as too brutal, Januarius because he was too far away. The assembly finally agreed upon Valentinian, and sent messengers to inform him, as he had been left behind at Ancyra with his unit. While awaiting the arrival of Valentinian, Aequitius and Leo, another Pannonian in charge of distributing supplies to the soldiers of Dagalaifus, magister equitum, managed to keep the “fickle” (mobilitas) soldiers from choosing another emperor.[[11]]

Valentinian arrived in Nicaea on 24 February 364, the bisextile day. This day was used every four years by the Romans to balance the calendar much as we use the modern leap year day: the sixth day (counting inclusively) before the first of March was counted twice. According to Ammianus, this day was considered an ill-omened day to begin any new proceedings, so Valentinian put off his official acceptance until the day after the bisextile.[[12]] Furthermore, the prefect Salutius declared that no official business could be conducted on the repeated day. The holiday would have prevented any attempt to name another emperor before Valentinian.[[13]]

On 26 February 364, Valentinian accepted the office offered to him. 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. Furthermore, to prevent a crisis of succession if he should die prematurely, he agreed to pick a co-Augustus. According to Ammianus, the soldiers were astounded by Valentinian’s bold demeanor and his willingness to assume the imperial authority.[[14]] 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.

After promoting his brother Valens to the rank of tribune and putting him in charge of the royal stables on March 1, Valentinian selected Valens as co-Augustus at Constantinople on 28 March 364, though this was done over the objections of Dagalaifus.[[15]] Ammianus makes it clear, however, that Valens was clearly subordinate to his brother.[[16]] The remainder of 364 was spent dividing up administrative duties and military commands. Valentinian retained the services of Jovinus and Dagalaifus, and promoted Aequitius to comes Illyricum. In addition, he promoted Serenianus, a retired soldier and fellow Pannonian, to command of the domesticorum scholae.[[17]] Several sources mention the division of administrative spheres between the two brothers, but Ammianus is the most specific.[[18]] According to Ammianus, Valens was given the Prefecture of the Orient, governed by Salutius, while Valentinian gained control of the Prefecture of the Gauls and the Prefecture of Italy, Africa, and Illyricum. These latter three areas were put together as one administrative unit under control of the prefect Mamertinus. Valens resided in Constantinople, while Valentinian’s court was at Milan.[[19]]

Valentinian and the Army

One of the first problems that faced Valentinian was an outbreak of hostilities in Gaul with the Alamanni, a loose confederation of Germanic-speaking peoples living beyond the Rhine. According to Ammianus, the Alamanni were upset because Valentinian would not supply them with the level of tribute that previous emperors had paid them. In response to this insult and the ill treatment their envoys received at the hands of the magister officiorum Ursatius, the Alamanni invaded Gaul in 365.[[20]] At the same time Procopius began his revolt against Valens in the east. Valentinian received news of both the Alamannic trouble and Procopius' revolt on 1 November while on his way to Paris.[[21]] He had a choice to make--go east to help his brother or stay in Gaul and fight the Alamanni. He initially sent Dagalaifus to fight the Alamanni, while he himself made preparations to journey east and help Valens. After receiving counsel from his court and deputations from the leading Gallic cities begging him to stay and protect Gaul, however, he decided to remain in Gaul and fight the Alamanni.[[22]]

This move shows two things. First, that Valentinan subordinated the eastern portion of the empire to the west. In addition it shows that Valentinian was still unsure of his support in Gaul, a very important part of the west. There was no better way to win the support of the Gallic nobility than by performing the traditional imperial duty of preserving peace by defeating barbarians. This ideology is amply illustrated by the coinage issued from Gaul during this period. Valentinian issued such series as RESTITUTOR REIPUBLICAE, GLORIA ROMANORUM, and TRIUMFATOR GENT BARB from the mints at Trier, Lyon, and Arles.[[23]]

Valentinian advanced to Rheims and sent two generals, Charietto and Severianus, against the invaders. The armies of Charietto and Severianus were promptly defeated and the generals killed. Dagalaifus was then sent against the enemy in 366, but the Alamanni were so scattered about Gaul that he was ineffective. Jovinus replaced Dagalaifus late in the campaigning season, and, after several battles, he pushed the Alamanni out of Gaul. He was awarded the consulate of 367 for his efforts.[[24]]

Valentinian was distracted from launching a punitive expedition against the Alamanni at this time by problems in Britain and northern Gaul. The Alamanni, however, were not deterred by their earlier defeat at the hands of Jovinus and they returned to Gaul. The city of Mainz was attacked and plundered by an Alamannic raiding party in late 367 or early 368. Valentinian did succeed in getting Roman agents to arrange the assassination of Vithicabius, an important Alamannic leader, by his personal bodyguard, but more serious measures were called for. Valentinian was determined to bring the Alamanni under Roman power once and for all, and spent the winter of 367/8 gathering a huge army for a spring offensive. He summoned the comes Sebastianus, who was in charge of the Italian and Illyrian legions, to join Jovinus and Severus, magister peditum. Valentinian and his army, accompanied by Gratian, crossed the Main river in the spring of 368. They did not encounter any resistance until they reached Solicinium (Schwetzingen), burning any dwellings or food stores they found along the way. A tremendous battle was fought at Schwetzingen, with the Romans coming out on top, although Valentinian was nearly killed. A temporary peace was apparently reached, and Valentinian and Gratian returned to Trier for the winter.[[25]]

During 369, Valentinian ordered new defensive works to be constructed and old structures refurbished along the length of the Rhine’s left bank. In an even bolder move, he ordered the construction of a fortress across the Rhine, in the mountains near Heidelberg. The Alamanni sent envoys to protest, but they were dismissed out of hand. As a result, the Alamanni attacked while the fortress was still under construction, destroyed it, and killed all the soldiers guarding it.[[26]]

In 370, the Saxons renewed their attacks on northern Gaul. Nannienus, the comes in charge of the troops in northern Gaul, had to ask Severus to come to his aid. After several battles, a truce was called and the Saxons gave the Romans many young men fit for duty in the Roman military in exchange for free passage back to their homeland. The Romans, however, treacherously ambushed the Saxons, killing them all.[[27]] At this same time, Valentinian was contemplating another attack against the Alamanni. His target was Macrianus, another powerful Alamannic chieftain. Rather than directly attack Macrianus, he tried to persuade the Burgundians to attack: they were another Germanic-speaking people, and bitter enemies of the Alamanni. If the Alamanni tried to flee, Valentinian would be waiting for them with his army. Negotiations, however, 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 in the suggested attack. Nevertheless, the proposed alliance with the Burgundians did have the effect of scattering the Alamanni through fear of an imminent attack from their enemies. This event allowed Theodosius, magister equitum, to attack via Raetia and take many Alamannic prisoners. These captured Alamanni were settled in the Po river valley, where they still flourished at the time Ammianus wrote his history.[[28]]

Valentinian campaigned unsuccessfully for four more years to defeat Macrianus. In 372 Macrianus barely escaped capture by Theodosius. In the meantime, Valentinian continued to recruit heavily from those Alamanni friendly to the Roman cause. He sent the Alamannic king Fraomarius, along with Alamannic troops commanded by Bitheridius and Hortarius, to Britain in order to replenish troops there.[[29]] Valentinian’s Alamannic campaigns, however, were hampered by troubles first in Africa, and later on the Danube. In 374 Valentinian was forced to make peace with Macrianus because the emperor's presence was needed to counter an invasion of Illyricum by the Quadi and Sarmatians.[[30]]

Military Problems in Britain, Gaul, and on the Danube

In 367, Valentinian received reports that a combined force of Picts, Attacotti and Scots had killed Nectaridus (comes maritimi tractus) and overcome the dux Fullofaudes in Britain. As a consequence, Britain was in a state of anarchy. At the same time, Frankish and Saxon forces were harrying the coastal areas of northern Gaul. Valentinian, alarmed by these reports, set out for Britain, sending Severus (comes domesticorum) ahead of him to investigate. Severus was not able to correct the situation and returned to the continent, meeting Valentinian at Amiens. 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, however, recovered and appointed his son Gratian as co-Augustus to forestall any such conflicts in the future. Ammianus remarks that such an action was unprecedented.[[31]]

Jovinus quickly returned, saying that he needed more men to take care of the situation. Beginning in 368 Valentinian, however, was intent on pressing his successes against the Alamanni with a campaign into their territory. Therefore, he assigned the comes Theodosius the task of recovering Britain while Severus and Jovinus were to accompany the emperor on his campaign.[[32]] Theodosius arrived in 368 with the Batavi, Heruli, Jovii and Victores legions, landing at Richborough, and proceeded to London. His initial expeditions restored order to southern Britain. Later he rallied the remaining troops which had originally been stationed in Britain. It was apparent that the units had lost their cohesiveness when Nectaridius and Fullofaudes had been defeated. At this time, Theodosius sent for Civilis to be installed as the new vicarius of the diocese, and Dulcitius, an additional general.[[33]]

In 369, Theodosius, relying on the tactics of stealth and ambush, set about reconquering the areas north of London. During this period, he put down the revolt of Valentinus, the brother-in-law of Maximinus, at that time a vicarius. Valentinus had been exiled to Britain for crimes that Ammianus does not specify and was apparently fomenting a rebellion against the imperial government. Theodosius learned of these plans through spies and quashed the revolt before it got off the ground. After this, Theodosius restored destroyed fortifications and even recovered a lost province which was renamed Valentia.[[34]] After his return in 369, Valentinian promoted Theodosius to magister equitum in place of Jovinus.[[35]]

Revolt of Firmus

In 372, the rebellion of Firmus broke out in the African provinces. This rebellion was driven by the corruption of the comes Romanus. When he 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 failure to defend the territory caused some of the provincials to revolt. Valentinian was forced to send in Theodosius to restore imperial control. Over the next two years Theodosius uncovered Romanus' crimes, arrested him and his cronies, and defeated Firmus. [[36]]

In 373 trouble erupted with the Quadi, a group of Germanic-speaking people living on the 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. It seems, however, that by 373 the construction of these forts was behind schedule. Maximinus, now praetorian prefect of Gaul, arranged with Aequitius to promote his son Marcellianus to the rank of dux per Valeriam 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 harvest, they broke across the Danube and began ravaging the province of Valeria. The marauders could not penetrate the fortified cities, but they heavily damaged the unprotected countryside. Two legions, the Pannonica and Moesiaca, were sent in, but they failed to coordinate their efforts and were routed by the Sarmatians. At the same time, another group of Sarmatians invaded Moesia, but they were driven back by the dux MoesiaeTheodosius the younger, future emperor and son of the magister equitum.[[37]]

Valentinian did not receive news of these disasters until mid-to-late 374. In the spring of 375 he set out from Trier and came to Carnuntum, 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, accompanied by Sebastianus and Merobaudes, spent the summer months preparing for the campaign and finally crossed into Quadic territory at Aquincum (Budapest). After generally pillaging the Quadic lands and carrying out acts of terrorism, he retired to Savaria (Szombathely) to winter quarters. For unknown reasons, he decided to continue campaigning and moved from Savaria to Brigetio (Komarom-Szony).[[38]] It was here that he received a deputation from the Quadi on November 17. In return for supplying fresh recruits to the Roman army, the Quadi were to be allowed to leave in peace. Before the envoys left, however, they were granted an audience with Valentinian. The envoys insisted that the conflict was caused by the building of Roman forts in their lands, and that 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 at any time. The attitude of the envoys so enraged Valentinian that he suffered a stroke that ended his life.[[39]]

Roman Society under Valentinian

Ammianus and Zosimus as well as modern scholars praise Valentinian for his military accomplishments.[[40]] He is generally credited with keeping the Roman empire from crumbling away by “. . . reversing the generally waning confidence in the army and imperial defense . . ..”[[41]] Several other aspects of Valentinian's reign also set the course of Roman history for the next century. Valentinian deliberately polarized Roman society, subordinating the civilian population to the military. The military order took over the old prestige of the senatorial nobility. The imperial court, which was becoming more and more of a military court, became a vehicle for social mobility. There were new ideas of nobility, which was increasingly provincial in character. By this it is meant that the imperial court, not the Senate, was the seat of nobility, and most of these new nobles came from the provinces. With the erosion of the old nobility, the stage was set for the ascendancy of Christianity. At the same time, the empire was becoming more and more of a bureaucracy, with the emperor delegating authority to a chain of officials. These officials did not always perform their job well and, as a result, the provincial populations became increasingly alienated from the imperial government. They were crushed under the increasing burden of taxation, and often the emperor, through his delegates, failed to provide the security for which the provincials' tribute was paying.[[42]]

Valentinian, Christianity, and Legislation

Unlike his brother Valens, Valentinian refused to become embroiled in the religious controversies of the time. Ammianus praised Valentinian for his religious neutrality.[[43]] Valentinian refused to get involved in the Arian controversy of the east, dismissing a deputation of eastern Nicene bishops who appealed to him to control Valens.[[44]] Valentinian did, however, take a harsh stand against two of the heretical movements that had grown during the past century in the west. In 372 he forbade gatherings of Manichees in the city of Rome. Such assemblies were to result in the death of the leaders, the exile of the others, and confiscation of the property of all involved.[[45]] In addition he officially condemned Donatist bishops in Africa in 373.[[46]]

The ecclesiastical sources for this period generally have a favorable opinion of Valentinian. Jerome speaks in glowing terms, saying “Valentinian was an excellent emperor in most cases and similar in character to Aurelian, save only that certain people interpreted his excessive strictness and parsimony as cruelty and greed.”[[47]] Socrates and Orosius took the story of his dismissal from the military by Constantius II and turned him into a martyr of sorts. According to Sozomen, Valentinian was dismissed from the military by Julian, instead of Constantius II, for refusing to perform a pagan ritual at a pagan shrine.[[48]] Less accurately, Theoderet, Sozomen, and Socrates praised Valentinian for installing Ambrose as bishop of Milan. Ambrose’s predecessor, Auxentius, had been an Arian.[[49]]

Valentinian, however, was not uniformly friendly towards Christianity. For example, he ordered Symmachus, praefectus urbi of Rome in 365, to put to death and confiscate the property of any Christians who became custodians of temples.[[50]] It seems, however, that much of his legislation concerning Christians was driven by fiscal motives, rather than any real concern with religious doctrine. Any Manichees caught under the law contributed their property to the fisc, and the condemnation of the Donatists could really be seen as a condemnation of those who inhibited the collection of taxes from the African provinces. In other examples, Valentinian addressed a law to Damasus, Pope of Rome in 370, which forbade ecclesiastics to marry widows or female wards of the state. The purpose of this law was to stop churchmen from obtaining the wealth of such women through inheritance.[[51]] On the other hand, Valentinian appears to have given Christians special privileges. For example, in 370 he upheld a law of Constantius II that exempted professed Nicene Christians in the African provinces from obligatory municipal duties.[[52]] Similarly, a law was passed in 371 that those in the city of Rome who could prove that they were ecclesiastics before the accession of Valentinian were exempt from municipal services.[[53]]

Revenues lost by these measures had to be made up from other sources, and Valentinian sought them from the senatorial order. In a law promulgated on 18 October 365 in Paris and reaching Carthage on 18 January 366, Valentinian ordered Dracontius, vicarius Africae, to send out men to collect taxes from those African estates which were owned by Roman senators.[[54]] This law was in keeping with Valentinian’s general hostility to the senatorial order.

Initially, it seemed that Valentinian actively sought to pacify the pagan aristocracy at Rome by retaining the title pontifex maximus and by passing legislation confirming toleration of the pagan practice of divination.[[55]] In 371, however, he sanctioned a purge of the nobility by the praefectus annonae Maximinus, whom he temporarily elevated to the office of urban prefect for this purpose. Members of the aristocracy were brought before Maximinus and Valentinian’s old friend Leo on charges such as using magic, using poison, and adultery.[[56]] Punishments ranged from exile to death. Ammianus cites many such cases, including those of the senators Cethegus, killed for adultery, and Paphius and Cornelius, prosecuted and executed for using poison.[[57]] The scale of Maximinus’ prosecutions was such that even children were tried. One Alypius, whom Ammianus describes as nobilis adulescens, was exiled for an offense Ammianus does not specify (and thus implies was trumped up), while Lollianus, son of the ex-prefect Lampadius, was sentenced to exile for writing a book concerning the destructive use of magic (noxiarum artium). Lampadius appealed to Valentinian, who turned the case over to Phalangius, governor of Baetica, who sentenced Lollianus to death.[[57]]

Ammianus makes it clear that actions such as these were part of a systematic plan by Valentinian to erode the power and prestige of the senatorial aristocracy. It was at the request of Maximinus that Valentinian abrogated the right of persons of senatorial rank to appeal cases to the emperor, a right that had already been strictly curtailed during the reign of Ampelius, Maximinus’ predecessor as urban prefect. He did this by treating as treasonous such acts as adultery, use of magic, and poisoning. He also empowered Maximinus to use torture to extract confessions from the accused.[[59]] As with Lollianus, the appeals that were heard often resulted in a harsher punishment than the original sentence.

Several pieces of extant legislation seem to confirm Ammianus’ allegations that Valentinian was eroding senatorial prestige. In a law of 364, Valentinian decreed that the equites now ranked in prestige only behind the senatorial order. In addition, these equites were exempt from the more onerous forms of compulsory service and senatorial taxes.[[60]] Furthermore, a second law issued in 367 gave members of the imperial court the same privileges as senators. This law also established that discharged comites and tribunes could become senators.[[61]]

In July of 372, Valentinian sent several pieces of legislation to Ampelius, praefectus urbi of Rome, putting members of the imperial court and the military on equal footing with those who occupied places in the civil administration. First, magistri peditum and magistri equitum were to be of equal social prestige to praetorian prefects. In addition, quaestors, magistri officiorum, the comes sacrarum largitionum, the comes rerum privatarum, comites rei militaris, and magistri equitum outranked proconsular governors. Finally, any member of the imperial court outranked vicarii.[[62]]

Ammianus also observes that Valentinian’s main goal was to raise the prestige of the military. Zosimus confirms this by stating that Valentinian promoted many officers, and modified the system of tax collection so that the army got its supplies more quickly. Valentinian issued several laws expressly intended to make the collection of taxes easier. In 367, Valentinian instructed Probus that tax payments in kind could now be made in three installments per annum or all at once.[[63]] In addition, Valentinian raised the standard exactions. This increase in taxation alienated the provincials.

The African provinces illustrate this effect of Valentinian’s tax policies. When Romanus, as the military representative of the imperial government, came to power in 363, he began exploiting the provincials in the African diocese. When they refused to meet his exorbitant demands, he left them to the vagaries of such peoples as the Austoriani. In addition, when Valentinian sent Palladius, a tribune and notarius, to investigate, Romanus split the stolen tax revenue with him to prevent Palladius from reporting his misconduct to Valentinian.[[64]] As a result of Romanus’ actions, the provincials balked at paying any taxes. The fact that Valentinian had to resend the law directly to Dracontius, the vicarius of Africa in 367, confirms that the government was having a hard time in collecting its tribute.[[65]] Valentinian was very distressed by the situation, dispatching the notarius Neoterius, the protector domesticus Masaucio, and Gaudentius, a tribune of the Scutarii, to Africa in 365.[[66]] Theodosius took steps to ameliorate the situation upon his arrival, declaring that the provincials did not have to supply his army. He would take any supplies he needed from the supporters of Firmus.[[67]]

In addition, when Valentinian came to Pannonia in 375, the provincials took the opportunity to complain bitterly about the oppression they had suffered under Probus, praetorian prefect for the region. According to Ammianus, the taxation was so onerous in Pannonia that many of the leading nobles fled, were imprisoned for debt, or killed themselves.[[68]] There may have been similar unrest in Gaul, for Ammianus reported that there was an outbreak of civil unrest among the provincials there in 369, although he gives no details.[[69]] Scholars such as Raymond Van Dam see such provincial outbreaks as signs that the imperial system was devolving to the local level.[[70]]

Assessment of Valentinian's Reign

Valentinian's reign affords valuable insights into late Roman society, civilian as well as military. First, there was a growing fracture between the eastern and western portions of the empire. Valentinian was the last emperor to really concentrate his resources on the west. Valens was clearly in an inferior position in the partnership. Second, there was a growing polarization of society, both Christian versus pagan, and civil versus military. Finally there was a growing regionalism in the west, driven by heavy taxation and the inability of Valentinian to fully exercise military authority in all areas of the west. All of these trends would continue over the next century, profoundly reshaping the Roman empire and western Europe.

Selected Bibliography

I. 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.

II. Secondary Sources

Alföldi, Andreas. A Conflict of Ideas in the Late Roman Empire: The Clash between the Senate and Valentinian I. Translated by Harold Mattingly. Oxford, 1952.

Blockley, R.C. “The Date of the ‘Barbarian Conspiracy.’” Britannia 11 (1980): 223-5.

Burns, Thomas S. Barbarians within the Gates of Rome: A Study of Roman Military Policy and the Barbarians, ca. 375-425 A.D. Bloomington, 1994.

Hind, J.G.F. “The British ‘Provinces’ of Valentia and Orcades.” Historia 24 (1975): 101-11.

Jones, A.H.M. The Later Roman Empire 284-602: A Social, Economic, and Administrative Survey. 3 Volumes. Oxford, 1964.

________. “The Social Background of the Struggle Between Paganism and Christianity.” In The Conflict Between Paganism and Christianity in the Fourth Century, ed. Arnaldo Momigliano, 17-37. Oxford, 1963.

________., J.R. Martindale, and J. Morris, eds. The Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire, Volume I A.D. 260-395. Cambridge, 1971.

Matthews, John F. The Roman Empire of Ammianus. London, 1989.

________. "Symmachus and the magister militum Theodosius." Historia 20 (1971): 122-8.

________. "Mauretania in Ammianus and the Notitia." In Aspects of the "Notitia Dignitatum", eds. R. Goodburn and P. Bartholomew, 157-86. Oxford, 1976.

________. Western Aristocracies and Imperial Court, A.D. 364-425. Oxford, 1975.

Momigliano, Arnaldo, ed. The Conflict Between Paganism and Christianity in the Fourth Century. Oxford, 1963.

Nagl, A. "Valentinianus I." RE 14: 2158ff.

Napoli, Joëlle. “Ultimes fortifications du limes.” In L’armée romaine et les barbares du IIIe au VIIe siècle, eds. Françoise Vallet and Michel Kazanski, 67-76. Paris, 1993.

Oldenstein, Jürgen. “La fortification d’Alzey et la defense de la frontière romaine le long du Rhine au IVe et au Ve siècles.” In L’armée romaine et les barbares du IIIe au VIIe siècle, eds. Françoise Vallet and Michel Kazanski, 125-33. Paris, 1993.

Pearce, J.W.E. The Roman Imperial Coinage: Vol. 9 Valentinian I to Theodosius I. Harold Mattingly, C.H.V. Sutherland, and R.A.G. Carson eds. London, 1972.

Stein, Ernest. Histoire du bas-empire. Translated by Jean-Remy Palanque. Amsterdam, 1968.

Thompson, E.A. “Ammianus Marcellinus and Britain.” Nottingham Medieval Studies 34 (1990): 1-15.

Tomlin, Roger. “The Date of the ‘Barbarian Conspiracy.’” Britannia 5 (1974): 303-9.

Van Dam, Raymond. Leadership and Community in Late Antique Gaul. Berkeley, 1985.

Warmington, B.H. “The Career of Romanus, Comes Africae.” Byzantinische Zeitschrift 49 (1956): 55-64.


[[1]]For a survey of the primary source for Valentinian I, see A.H.M. Jones, J.R. Martindale, and J. Morris, The Prospography of the Later Roman Empire, Volume 1 A.D. 260-395 (Cambridge, 1971), s.v. “Flavius Valentinianus 7 [hereafter cited as PLRE 1]; and Karl Mittelhaus and Konrat Ziegler, eds. Paulys Realencyclopädie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft, 2nd ed. Volume 14 (Munich, 1948), s.v. “Valentinianus 1,” by Assunta Nagl.

[[2]]For the date see Ammianus Marcellinus, Rerum gestarum libri qui supersunt, 30.6.6, ed. W. Seyfarth, 3 vols. (Leipzig, 1978); Socrates, Historia Ecclesiastica, 4.31, in Patrologia Graeca 67, ed. J.P. Migne (Paris 1864); and Sozomen, Historia Ecclesiastica, 6.31, in Patrologia Graeca 67, ed. J.P. Migne (Paris 1864). For the place see Ammianus 30.7.2; Zosimus, 3.36.2; Socrates 4.1; Jerome, Chronicon, Olympiad 285.4, ed. R. Helm in Malcolm Drew Donalson, A Translation of Jerome’s Chronicon with Historical Commentary (Lewiston, NY, 1996), 112; and Epitome de caesaribus, 45.2, ed. F.R. Pichlmayr (Leipzig, 1961).

[[3]]Ammianus 30.7.1-3.

[[4]]Ibid., 16.11.6-7.

[[5]]PLRE 1 s.v. “Marina Severa 2;” “Justina;” “Justa 1;” and “Galla 2.”

[[6]]Ammianus 25.8.8-10.

[[7]]Ibid., 25.10.6.

[[8]]Ibid., 25.8.11-12.

[[9]]Ibid., 25.10.6-9. Zosimus 3.35.1-2 relates basically the same story, but says that Valentinian’s party was sent to Pannonia in order to inform the army there of Julian’s death. The Batavi legion in Pannonia regarded Jovian as a usurper and attacked the envoys. Valentinian only escaped death by running away.

[[10]]Ammianus 25.10.13; Consularia Constantinopolitana, 364.2, T. Mommsen ed., in Monumenta Germaniae Historica Auctores Antiquissimi, Volume 9 (Berlin, 1892); and PLRE I, s.v. “Fl. Jovianus 3.”

[[11]]Ammianus 26.1.3-6.

[[12]]Ibid., 26.1.7-14.

[[13]]Ibid., 26.2.1.

[[14]]Ibid., 26.2.2-11.

[[15]]Ibid., 26.4.1-2.

[[16]]Ibid., 24.6.3; 26.5.1.

[[17]]Ibid., 26.5.2-3.

[[18]]Ibid., 26.5.5; Zosimus 4.3.1; and Theoderet, Historia Ecclesiastica, 5.5, in Patrologia Graeca 82, ed. J.P. Migne (Paris 1864).

[[19]]Ammianus 26.5.4-5.

[[20]]Ibid., 26.5.7.

[[21]]Ibid., 26.5.8. Three laws actually put Valentinian in Paris between Oct. 18 and Dec. 12. Codex Theodosianus, 8.1.11; 10.19.3; 11.1.13, 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).

[[22]]Ammianus 26.8-13.

[[23]]J.W.E. Pearce, Roman Imperial Coinage: Vol. 9 Valentinian I to Theodosius I, eds. Harold Mattingly, C.H.V. Sutherland, and R.A.G. Carson (London, 1972), 13-21; 34-47; 54-67.

[[24]]Ammianus 27.7.1-5; 27.2.1-11.

[[25]]Ibid., 27.10.1-16.

[[26]]Ibid., 28.2.1-9. For a discussion of the archaeological evidence which supports the literary accounts of Valentinian’s program see Joëlle Napoli, “Ultimes fortifications du limes,” in L’armée romaine et les barbares du IIIe au VIIe siècle, eds. Françoise Vallet and Michel Kazanski (Paris, 1993), 67-76; and Jürgen Oldenstein, “La fortification d’Alzey et la défense de la frontière romaine le long du Rhine au IVe et au Ve siècles,” in ibid., 125-33.

[[27]]Ammianus 28.5.1-7.

[[28]]Ibid., 28.5.8-14.

[[29]]Ibid., 29.4.1-7.

[[30]]Ibid., 30.3.1-6.

[[31]]Ibid., 27.8.1-5; 27.6.1-16. For the problems of chronology with these events see Roger Tomlin, “The Date of the ‘Barbarian Conspiracy’,” Britannia 5 (1974): 304-5; and R.C. Blockley, “The Date of the ‘Barbarian Conspiracy’,” Britannia 11 (1980): 223-4.

[[32]]Ammianus, 27.8.3; 27.10.6.

[[33]]Ibid., 27.8.6-10.

[[34]]Ibid., 28.3.1-9; see J.G.F. Hind, “The British ‘Provinces’ of Valentia and Orcades,” Historia 24 (1975): 101-11; and E.A. Thompson, “Ammianus Marcellinus and Britain,” Nottingham Medieval Studies 34 (1990): 1-15.

[[35]]Ammianus 28.3.9.

[[36]]Ibid., 29.5.1-55; for details of the campaign see John F. Matthews, "Mauretania in Ammianus and the Notitia," in Aspects of the "Notitia Dignitatum", eds. R. Goodburn and P. Bartholomew (Oxford, 1976), 157-86.

[[37]]Ammianus 29.6.1-16.

[[38]]Ibid., 30.5.1-15.

[[39]]Ibid., 30.6.1-6.

[[40]]Ibid., 29.4.1; Zosimus 4.3.4-5; Thomas S. Burns, Barbarians within the Gates of Rome: A Study of Roman Military Policy and the Barbarians, ca. 375-425 A.D. (Bloomington, 1994): 1-42; Ernest Stein, Histoire du bas-empire, trans. Jean-Remy Palanque (Amsterdam, 1968), 181-3.

[[41]]Burns, Barbarians within the Gates, 294, n.4.

[[42]]John F. Matthews, Western Aristocracies and Imperial Court A.D. 364-425 (Oxford, 1975), 30-55; idem, The Roman Empire of Ammianus (London, 1989), 284-6; A.H.M. Jones, The Later Roman Empire 284-602: A Social, Economic, and Administrative Survey, Volume 1 (Norman, 1964), 138-54; and A.H.M. Jones, “The Social Background of the Struggle between Paganism and Christianity,” in The Conflict Between Paganism and Christianity in the Fourth Century, ed. Arnaldo Momigliano (Oxford, 1963), 17-37. For a contrary view see Andreas Alföldi, A Conflict of Ideas in the Late Roman Empire: The Clash Between the Senate and Valentinian I, trans. Harold Mattingly (Oxford, 1952).

[[43]]Ammianus 30.9.5.

[[44]]Sozomen 6.7.

[[45]]CTh 16.5.3.

[[46]]Ibid. 16.6.1.

[[47]]Jerome, Chronicon, Olympiad 286.1, ed. R. Helm, in Malcolm Drew Donalson, A Translation of Jerome’s Chronicon with Historical Commentary (Lewiston, NY, 1996), 113.

[[48]]Sozomen 6.6; Orosius, 7.32, states that Valentinian voluntarily went into exile.

[[49]]Socrates 4.30; Sozomen 6.24; and Theoderet 5.6.

[[50]]CTh 16.1.1.

[[51]]Ibid., 16.2.20.

[[52]]Ibid., 16.2.18.

[[53]]Ibid., 16.2.21.

[[54]]Ibid., 11.1.13.

[[55]]CIL, 6.1175; CTh 9.16.5.

[[56]]Ammianus 28.1.10-12.

[[57]]Ibid., 28.1.16; 28.1.29.

[[58]]Ibid., 28.1.16; 28.1.26.

[[59]]Ibid., 28.1.11; CTh 9.16.10.

[[60]]Ibid., 6.37.1.

[[61]]Ibid., 6.35.7.

[[62]]Ibid., 6.7.1; 6.9.1; 6.11.1; 6.14.1; and 6.22.4.

[[63]]Ibid., 11.1.15.

[[64]]Ammianus 28.6.1-18.

[[65]]CTh 11.1.16.

[[66]]Ammianus 26.5.13.

[[67]]Ibid., 29.5.10. For the social implications of Firmus’ revolt see B.H. Warmington, “The Career of Romanus, Comes Africae,” Byzantinische Zeitschrift 49 (1956): 55-64; and John F. Matthews, “Symmachus and the magister militum Theodosius,” Historia 20 (1971): 122-8.

[[68]]Ammianus 30.5.5-10.

[[69]]Ibid., 28.2.10.

[[70]]Raymond Van Dam, Leadership and Community in Late Antique Gaul (Berkeley, 1985), 7-24.

Copyright (C) 1998, Walter E. Roberts. This file may be copied on the condition that the entire contents, including the header and this copyright notice, remain intact.

Comments to: Walter E. Roberts

Updated: 10 August 2001

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