Download The Later Roman Empire 285 to 476 AD

yes no Was this document useful for you?
   Thank you for your participation!

* Your assessment is very important for improving the workof artificial intelligence, which forms the content of this project

Document related concepts

Roman economy wikipedia , lookup

Early Roman army wikipedia , lookup

Culture of ancient Rome wikipedia , lookup

Late Roman army wikipedia , lookup

Roman army of the late Republic wikipedia , lookup

Roman army wikipedia , lookup

Structural history of the Roman military wikipedia , lookup

East Roman army wikipedia , lookup

Defence-in-depth (Roman military) wikipedia , lookup

Julian (emperor) wikipedia , lookup

History of the Roman Constitution wikipedia , lookup

Roman emperor wikipedia , lookup

History of the Roman Empire wikipedia , lookup

Constitution of the Late Roman Empire wikipedia , lookup

The Later Roman Empire 284 to 476 AD
 Overview of the course.
to Romulus Augustus.
What we will cover – Highlights
Who are our sources – can we rely on them?
The chronology of events and maps
Why did the Empire in the West collapse can we
identify the causes?
Third Century Crisis – The Empire in Chaos
 By the time Diocletian’s reign started in 284AD after
a long period of turmoil.
 Between the death of the Emperor Severus in 211AD
to the accession of Diocletian - a period 0f 73 years
there had been 18 emperors.
 The longest reign had lasted just 8 years. The
average reign lasted 4 years and 3 weeks – not to
mention the constant ‘would be emperors’ staking
their claim from all parts of the empire.
Third Century Crisis
 The Empire had suffered a plague (probably
smallpox) that wiped out between 15 and 30% of the
population. The army was not exempt.
 The monetary system broke down.
 The continued violence caused by barbarian raids
and civil wars made travel dangerous. Trade
became more localised and land owners became
more self-sufficient.
Third Century Crisis (2)
 Cities and Towns had to build walls and fortifications
to protect their populations. Aurelian built had a
wall built around Rome.
 In Britain, for example, walls were erected around
Verulamium (St Albans) in the mid-3rd century.
 The succession of Emperors led to state funds being
used to bribe troops to remain loyal.
 The imperial treasury became bankrupt.
Third Century Crisis
 In 260AD the Emperor Valerian who was campaigning
in the East against the Persians was captured and kept as
a prisoner never to return to the Roman Empire leaving
his son Gallienus (260 -268AD) to rule the Empire
 The reign of Gallienus saw the loss a number of Roman
provinces in the East and West of the Empire.
 Gaul, Spain and Britain separated and formed a Gallic
Empire under a usurper Postumus (260-269AD)
who was succeeded after his murder by Marius and then
by Victorinus.
The Rise of The Illyrian Emperors
 From the time of Gallienus (260 -268AD) a core of
the most senior army commanders came from the
province/region of Illyricum.
These men were career soldiers most of whom had
worked their way through the ranks .
It was from this group of soldiers that the later third
century Emperors were declared.
They proved to be able and the Empire began to recover.
The Emperor Claudius 11 drove out an invasion of Goths
but died of the plague to be succeeded by the extremely
able Aurelian.
The Beginnings of A Mobile Field Army
 Gallienus is credited with the formation of an army
that could react quickly to a barbarian breach of the
Roman frontiers.
 This army may have consisted of a large cavalry unit.
 Goldsworthy (modern historian) says that it is impossible
estimate accurately how large this army was. He states
that if the cavalry was to large it would become
 Although the cavalry could make relatively fast progress
over a few days the horses would need large amounts of
fodder and the cavalry men would need food none of
which could be carried with them.
Aurelian 270-275AD
 In 271AD Aurelian managed to drive the Vandals and
Sarmartians back across the Danube but other Germanic
tribes had managed to invade Italy.
After an initial defeat Aurelian managed to drive these
Germanic tribes out of Italy.
This invasion had led to the building of massive walls
around Rome.
In 272 AD Aurelian led his army eastwards, first
supervising the withdrawal from and the abandonment
of the province Dacia before marching further Eastward
to challenge Zenobia the Palmyrene Queen
Note Later another province was formed and named
Dacia within the Empire.
The Settlement of The Juthungi in Dacia
 Having defeated the Juthungi Aurelian allowed the
tribe to settle in Dacia which was now outside the
 The province had suffered huge depopulation and
settling the tribe in Dacia which had not really
become Romanised seemed like a very good
solution- to have a settled peaceful tribe on the
border of the Empire,
 This is interesting - as we will see later the
mishandling of the Goths caused a huge problem for
the Empire and the death of an Emperor
 After a series of military engagements Queen Zenobia
of Palmyra was defeated and the Eastern provinces she
had seized were restored to the Roman empire.
A feature of the various victories was that Aurelian
ensured that the ordinary citizens were not harmed after
the battles had been won.
In 273AD the city of Palmyra acclaimed another
Emperor – Antiochus.
Aurelian returned to Syria and quickly defeated him.
In 274AD Aurelian marched into Gaul to challenge the
Gallic Empire. The Gallic emperor Tetricus 11
surrendered restoring Spain Gaul and Britain to the
Tackling the
Debased Coinage
 The Roman coinage had become debased and the silver
coins had as little as 2% of silver in them.
 What silver there was sometimes did not find its way into
the coins but into the pockets of those running the mints.
 The supply of silver had become difficult with the
exhaustion of several major mines – however Aurelian
managed to stabilize the silver currency at a more
acceptable level
 He also manged reform the gold aureus coin to higher
value because of a more plentiful supply of gold on the
restoration of lost provinces.
Aurelian and Religion
 Aurelian promoted the cult of the cult of Sol Invictus – the
Unconquered Sun. (Feast Day 25th December)
 He believed in a single God and that all other pagan Gods were in fact
Sol Invictus taking on different forms.
 The Emperor Constantine for most of his life was also a follower of
this cult which was popular with Eastern Roman army and had also
been followed by the Emperor Egalabus 218-222AD
 There is some evidence that Aurelian wore the bejewelled gowns in the
style of the Persian kings although it has been said that Diocletian was
the first to adopt this fashion.
Aurelian Walls - Rome
Aurelian Walls
 The invasion of Germanic tribes who reached
Northern Italy terrified the citizens of Rome.
 Aurelian decided to build walls around Rome to
replace the earlier walls that now did not encompass
the whole expanded city.
 Aurelian could not afford to employ troops on this
project and it was left to local builders.
 The result was that the walls were not as expertly
built as other military walls had been, however they
would have been a sufficient barrier to keep out the
barbarian tribes as they lacked siege equipment.
Aurelian Victim of a Forgery
 Unfortunately for the Empire Aurelian - the
Restitutor Orbis – Restorer of The World -was
murdered by his own officers in 275AD following
the production of a forged death list upon which
these officers names appeared.
 A court official having made a serious blunder
thought he would be severely punished by Aurelian
drew up an execution list and forged Aurelian’s
signature and showed to the generals named on the
Post Aurelian
 There followed a quick succession of Emperors.
 Tacitus 275-276 (murdered after 6 months)
 Florianus 276 (murdered after 2 months)
 Probus 276 -282 (murdered by disaffected troops
after several successful campaigns))
 Carus 282-283 (Died after a lightning strike)
Numerian 283-284
Carinus 283-284
Numerian and Carinus sons of Carus rule as Coemperors (more of these two later)
 Diocletian
Diocletian’s – Rise to Power
 In 283AD the Emperor Numerianus died
allegedly of an eye infection but it was strongly
believed that Aper (his father-in-law) murdered
 Numerian was a young weak individual and it was
likely that he would not last long as Emperor.
 In 284AD a military assembly declared Diocles
(Diocletian) emperor.
 Diocletian immediately and personally executed
Aper with his own sword in front of the assembled
Diocletian The Man (1)
 Diocletian’s selection was the result of careful
consideration by the army commanders.
Some historians believe that Diocletian was carefully
planning to make a bid for Emperor if the
opportunity arose.
He had been the Commander of the ‘Pretectores’- an
elite legion of soldiers who protected the Emperor.
Diocletian was probably a freedman or the son of a
freedman. It is believed his father was a scribe.
He was born in Solana (Modern Solin, a suburb of
Split in Croatia).
Diocletian The Man (2)
 He was 40 years of age when he became Emperor.
 He was married - had a daughter (Valeria) – but no son.
 Diocletian was deeply tied to the ancient pagan religions.
Diocletian believed Jupiter was the master of the
Universe and the guardian of the Roman Empire.
 Diocletian had worked his way up through the ranks of
the army, learned important lessons on the way, he was
thorough and paid great attention to detail.
 He has been likened to Joseph Stalin. He was certainly
ruthless with a tendency to micro manage the Empire.
Defeat and Death Of Carinus
 Diocletian had a rival - Carinus the brother of
Numerian and his Co-Emperor .
 He was defeated in a close fought battle near modern
 Carinus was killed by one of his own officers who
held a grudge against him. It is said that Carinus had
an affair with the officers wife.
Rome and the Senate
 Rome had ceased to have the strategic importance it once
had. It was too far from where the Emperors were
required to be.
Rome was still a huge city and its rich senators still met
but had little no influence over the running of the
Diocletian seems to have made a point of snubbing Rome
and its senatorial classes.
It is said that he did not visit Rome for 20 years after he
was proclaimed Emperor. Although it is possible he
made one fleeting visit very early on.
However, Diocletian did replace the senate building in
Rome when it accidently burnt down in 285AD.
The Senate in Rome
Threats From All Sides
 Diocletian's position as Emperor was by no means secure
at the beginning of his reign.
The frontier forts had been neglected and had fallen into
Germanic tribes continued to make raids into Roman
territory plundering towns, villages and farms.
Some provinces along the Danube had suffered from
depopulation. The Romans allowed some tribes to settle
in Roman territory - in exchange for providing troops for
the army.
In the East the Persian king became bolder and more
Internal Matters
 Constant civil wars during the 3rd century crisis had
had also had an effect on the civil administration,
the strength of the army, and the Empires finances.
 Previous Emperors had rushed from one region to
another facing incursions to another without
stabilizing the regions before moving on.
 In short the Empire with all these issues that needed
to be addressed was too large for one man to govern
How to Tackle the Problems?
 Diocletian was 40 years of age when he came to
power - he had no children.
 He appointed Maximian - a trusted friend and
soldier - as his Caesar in 285 and later as his
C0- Emperor later in 286AD.
 Maximian was also made Diocletian’s legal adopted
son – although they were about the same age.
 Diocletian moved to the East to campaign on the
Danube and Maximian remained in the West to
tackle incursions on the lower Rhine.
Maximian’s Character
 Maximian was not an educated or cultured man.
 He was a blunt military man who had proved himself
on the battlefield
 His whole life's focus had been on military action
 Importantly for Diocletian Maximian had no
ambition to be a politician or to step into Diocletian’s
shoes. This changed later.
 Apparently he could be extremely cruel on occasions
but the extreme description of this side of his nature
by the Christian historian Lactinius must be a gross
Maximian – Caesar 285 AD C0-Emperor 286AD
Devine Right to Rule
 Diocletian and Maximian adopted god like titles.
Diocletian is Jovious – likened to Jupiter
Maximian is likened to Hercules
It was important for the Emperors to be seen to be
ruling by divine right. The arms of the Gods
embraced them.
Later Diocletian saw Christianity to be a serious
threat to this concept.
The Court of the Emperor
 The Emperor’s courts became opulent with the Emperors
dressed in bejewelled gowns and slippers.
 Those coming before the emperor had to prostrate
themselves before him. (there is a good description of this
in in Edward Gibbon –Growth of Court Ceremonial).
 No 0ne was allowed to sit in the presence of the Emperor to
look him directly in the eye.
 In Julius Caesar’s time the rulers stood to greet guests and
Julius Caesar was criticised by a contemporary when he
failed to do so.
Crausius – Usurper in Britain
An army commander - Crausius who had been sent to
deal with raids on Britain by Saxons and Frisians.
He was accused of stealing the plunder he retrieved from
the raiders.
Rather than returning to Gaul to answer the charges
against him set himself up as Emperor of Britain in 286 AD
but he was careful not to commit an act of aggression
against the Empire.
The fact that Crausius had declared himself an Emperor
was a major factor in Diocletian decision to swiftly elevate
Maximian to Emperor. It would not seem to be right for a
Caesar to defeat an Emperor.
 Crausius proved himself to be an efficient ruler and
minted his own coins which were of better quality
and value than those in circulation in the Empire.
 He paid his troops well and had the support of the
landowners in Britain who had suffered hard times
during the 3rd century crisis.
 He had also taken the Western Roman Navy and two
legions with him to protect his position.
 Diocletian would have seen Crausius as a serious
threat. He had lived through the period of the Gallic
Crausius - Coin
Diocletian and Maximian Meet in 287AD
 Diocletian and Maximian met in Mainz in 287AD to
discuss and agree a campaigning strategy for the
securing of the Rhine and Danube frontiers.
 Maximian had the added task of defeating Crausius.
Whilst Diocletian was facing a threat from the
Persian Empire and had to travel to the East.
Maximian’s Early Years
 Apart from being tasked with defeating Crausius in
Britain Maximian had to restore order in Gaul.
 Gaul had suffered continual Barbarian incursions
along the Rhine frontier. Local towns and the
country side had been raided and plundered. In
some areas the villas and country estates had been
 A band of outlaws known as the Baguadea also
roamed the countryside plundering farms and
Maximian Fails to Defeat Crausius
 Eventually Maximian was able to turn his attention to
tackling Crausius.
 Crausius was in a strong position as he also controlled
the port of Boulogne and had employed Frankish
mercenaries to bolster his army and navy.
 Maximian had to rebuild a navy to replace that which
had been taken by Crausius and the Rhine fleet that had
been destroyed in Barbarian raids.
 In 289AD Maximian’s rebuilt fleet set sail for Britain. It
never landed. It was said to have been destroyed in bad
weather but it also it suffered a major defeat.
Persian Treaty 287AD
 In 287AD Diocletian felt it possible to move from the
Danube to Syria with a huge army to put pressure on
the Persians.
Diocletian was open to negotiation and a peace
treaty was settled with the Persian King Vahram.
This treaty gave Diocletian some breathing space
although it was to break down later.
It was agreed Armenia was to be conceded by the
Persians and ruled by a Roman ally.
Armenia will be a bone of contention in later years
The Empire and Its Problems are Still to
 The Emperors not only had to engage themselves in
continual warfare they also had to administer their
portion of the Empire
 Emperors were expected to hear legal appeals and issue
judgements (rescripts).
 A typical case has come down to us where a woman
wanted to divorce her husband but he was obstructing
her in every way he could and was threatening take back
all her marriage gifts. Diocletian issued a rescript
giving judgement in her favour and she was allowed to
retain all he marriage gifts.
Tetrarchy Formed in 293 AD
 In 291AD ( confusion about this date) a council was
held to discuss the future governance of the empire.
 In 293AD Constantius 1 and Galerius are named
Caesars – Tetrarchy (the rule of 4).
Diocletian Emperor in the East
Maximian Emperor in the West
Galerius Caesar to Diocletian in the East
Constantius 1 Caesar in the West
The Tetrarchy
 Each Tetrarch was allowed his own body of troops –
comitatus, sacrum cubiculum. And a large body of civil
The Empire was not formally divided into 4 parts but it
operated in practice as follows;
Gaul and Britain = Constantius
Africa, Spain and Italy = Maximian
Illyricum and the Danube territories = Galerius
The East and Egypt = Diocletian
The city of Rome lacked its former importance. The
tetrarchs resided in the area where they were ruling or
fighting E.g. Trier, Nicomedia, Antioch, Thessalonica and
Role of the Caesars and the Praetorian
 The new Caesars were the servants of to their respective
Emperors. Their administrative powers were restricted.
However, all legislation was published in the name of the four
An important person within the Empire’s Government
structure was the Praetorian Prefect.
He was the most senior civil administrator in the regions
governed by the Emperors.
The Praetorian Prefect had no military responsibilities- these
the Caesars retained
The Prefect reported directly to the relevant Emperor and not
to the Caesars.
A citizen could appeal to the Prefect or to the Emperor but not
to both.
The Tetrarchy
 The tetrarchy was strengthened by the marriage of Diocletian’s
daughter (Valeria) to Galerius whilst Constantius was already
married to Maximian's daughter - Theodora.
The tetrarchy proved to be a success. Galerius was the deputy to
Diocletian and Constantius was deputy to Maximian.
The Caesars were the mobile servants of their respective
Emperors, the Praetorian Prefects (now the senior civil
administrators) were accountable to the Emperors
There is no doubt that Diocletian was the first amongst equals.
He had the last say on legislation, foreign policy, the army and
the administration of the Empire
All legislation was enacted in the name of all four Emperors.
The New Caesars
 Constantius had the nickname Chlorus (the pale). His
first wife was Helena. It is alleged that she was either a
bar maid or a stable girl who Constantius had married
when he was very young.
 The couple had a son – Constantine who was 20 years
old when his father was made Caesar.
 Helena was divorced in favour of a more suitable wife –
Theodora (Maximian’s Daughter).
 Galerius resembled Maximian in physique i.e. tall and
well-built but quicker witted and more ambitious. He
had been a herdsman before joining the army and
worked his way up through the ranks.
The Tetrarchs – Venice
The Emperors Embrace their Caesar – All Have Their Hands on Their Swords Ready to
Protect the Empire.
Britain Restored 296- AD
 Diocletian took the task of defeating Allectus away from
Maximian because Maximian had failed to make any real
progress. The task was given to Constantius.
 In 296AD Constantius defeated Allectus . Gaul and
Britain are restored to the Empire
 London was under attack by Allectus’s Frankish
Mercenaries when a Roman fleet arrived in the Thames.
They are slaughtered in the streets by the Roman troops.
 A coin was struck in Trier to celebrate the recapture of
London and the restoration of Britain to Empire. The
coin known as the ‘Trier Medallion’ was discovered in
Arras in 1922.
Re Uniting Britain with the Empire Trier
The Peace Treaty with Persia Breaks
 The Persian Empire at this time is known as the
Sassanid Empire which was the name of the royal
dynasty but for the purposes of this course it will be
called the Persian Empire.
 Nares the new King of the Persians decided to invade
and take back Armenia with a view to marching onto
seize Mesopotamia.
 Galerius was tasked with confronting the Persian
Army whilst Diocletian moved into Egypt to tackle a
Another Usurper
 Another usurper Domitus Domitianus rebelled in
Egypt and declared himself Emperor.
 Diocletian personally commanded the siege at
Alexandria and defeated of the usurper.
 Allegedly commanded his troops to ‘Kill until the blood
comes up to the knees of my horse’. The horse the fell to
its knees and the slaughter was averted. Its more likely
that Diocletian took a merciful line with the population.
 Note: Constantinius’s son Constantine (the future
Emperor) probably accompanied Diocletian on this
Galerius Suffers a Defeat at the Hands of the
Persians Version 1.
 In 297AD Galerius had had suffered defeats at the
hands of the Persians which apparently outraged
 Lactantius (a writer in Constantine’s court) states
that Diocletian, after meeting Galerius, decided to
admonish him and made him walk in front of his
litter. This is doubtful it would have sent out a very
poor message to Galerius’s troops.
Galerius’s Second Campaign 298AD
 Diocletian returned to Antioch in 298AD after
putting down the revolt in Egypt and Galerius again
returned to the Danube to increase the strength of
his army.
 Before a Persian campaign could be launched
Diocletian had to leave for Africa to put down
another revolt.
 At the Battle of Satala Galerius managed to pull of a
great victory where by he captured the Persian King’s
HQ seized his family, harem and treasury.
Galerius Dominant
 In 298AD Galerius won a major victories against the
Persians in the East.
Galerius overran several major Persian strongholds.
Narseh the Persian King was forced into making a treaty
which greatly favoured the Romans.
The Persian capital Ctesiphon which was under Roman
control was exchanged for Armenia.
The treaty held for another 40 years.
Diocletian restrained Galerius from going onto invading
the Persian Empire.
The Roman army could not afford to be overstretched
Arch of Galerius Thessalonica
Diocletian’s Currency Reforms and Edict on Prices.
 In the third century the monetary economy had completely
broken down.
The senatorial class ceased to have a role in governing the
state. The Army and its senior officers had become the
main source of power.
The 3rd Century Emperors concentrated on maintaining the
power of the army at all costs.
The wealth of the empire was slowly taxed away regardless
of the consequences to the private economy.
The currency became debased and the state authorities
began to seize what was needed rather than purchase it.
Currency Reform
 The Empire in order to finance the requirements of the
state - mainly the army - debased the currency.
By the reign of Claudius (Gothicus) 268-270 AD the
silver content of the denarius was down to just .02%.
The result was that prices skyrocketed.
The state - and particularly the army relied on the
coinage to buy supplies, unlike wealthy estate owners,
the state could not trade by swapping one produce for
Requisitioning supplies by the army had become the
norm and the burden on the citizens was unfairly
Currency Reform (2)
 Diocletian in reforming the coinage did three things
 1. The upper classes were forced to exchange their
hoards of gold in exchange for bronze.
 2. New coins of both gold and silver of a much higher
gold and silver content were put into circulation
 3. A huge amount of silver washed coins were also
put into circulation.
Currency Reform (3)
 The result of the reform was that people began to
hoard the high value coins all over again.
 The silver washed coins (nummi) , worth half the
value of the old coin by the same name, could be
used to pay debts incurred before the new coin came
into circulation. (Edict on Coinage 301AD).
 This meant that old debts were reduced by 50%.
Edict Controlling Prices and Services
 In attempt to control inflation Diocletian issued an
edict to control the prices of goods and services.
 Diocletian believed that inflation was the result of
speculation and hoarding rather than the
debasement of the currency. The death penalty was
the punishment for transgressing the Edict.
 The Edict set the maximum price that could be
charged on goods and services.
 The Edict proved to be a complete failure and
eventually repealed. Due mainly to a thriving black
Edict on Maximum Prices
Sewer cleaner - Shepherd
20 denarii
Carpenter - baker
50 denarii
Advocate for pleading one case
1000 denarii
Boots – farmworkers without hob nails 120 denarii
Cleaned rice per litre
20 denarii
Butter per pound
16 denarii
One Chicken
30 denarii
Note ;Average soldier’s annual pay was
300 denarii in 90AD and 750 denarii in
Reform of the System of Taxation
 Requisitioning to provide the state and particularly the
army with supplies had by Diocletian’s reign become the
norm. However, it had become unfair as some regions were
harder hit than others – especially in areas where the
Roman Army was active.
 The failure of the currency and regulation of prices led to a
new form of taxation based on the old requisitioning system
which had to support the state and importantly the army
 A new more equitable system was implemented. The
system was based on a census designed to calculate what
each estate, district and province and the Empire could pay.
The census was conducted every five years.
The New System of Taxation (2)
 The calculation of what people had to provide was
based on units of supply.
 Goods were compared and given a value equivalent
to other goods. For example ten chickens = twenty
loaves of bread and so on.
 So a baker would be given the number of supply
units he had to supply. This would be fairly reckoned
in the units of supply which would be, be for
example, equivalent to what a farmer had to
 This system proved to be successful.
Changes in Roman Society Following the Tax
 The new system of requisitioning placed a heavy burden on
agricultural communities and it became essential that the
manpower working the land remained stable.
 More people became tied to the land and land owners did
everything in their power to prevent people from moving
away from working on the land and were supported in this
endeavour by the government.
 Freedom of movement and choice of occupation became
more and more restricted – enforced by various laws.
 Members of certain guilds were forced to be tied to their
professions and sons had to follow their fathers into the
Reorganisation of the Empire and its
Regional Governance
 Many of the 50 provinces were subdivided into smaller
administrative areas.
20 were divided into two but others into three or four smaller
The provincial governors did not have military commands. There
now was a general move towards a separation of military and
civic governance.
Where the responsibilities were split. A new military
commander - a Dux (duke) emerged. This commander often
had the responsibility for the armies of several provinces.
These commanders did not have direct access to the provincial
finances. The Commanders were financed by the provincial civil
Reorganisation of the Empire and its
Regional Governance
 Italy was now treated like a province but was split
into to eight districts. Although senators no longer
ruled provinces these districts were usually
administered by senatorial officials – and even so
some of these came from the Equestrian Order.
 In order to better manage the increased number of
provinces Diocletian grouped the provinces together
into lager areas known as Diocese and were
overseen by Vicarius - Vicars
Reorganisation of the Empire and its
Regional Governance
 Britain for example now became a Diocese with 4 provinces
and its vicarius (vicar) was based in Londinium (London).
 The vicars were in turn responsible to one of the 4 Prefectus
Praetorio (Praetorian Prefects) who were effectively the
Emperor’s second in command.
 In the case of Britain the vicar was accountable to the
Praetorian Prefect of Gaul Trier who was Constantinius’s
 The Prefects had lost their former military role and were
now senior civil administrators.
The Reform of the Army
 Our understanding of how the reform of the army was
actually implemented is somewhat vague as we have
limited written sources.
 Archaeology helps us understand some of the reforms. The
reforms that started under Diocletian were carried on and
developed under Constantine the Great.
 Each tetrarch had his own army in his own part of the
Empire. The Comitatus, the Emperors’ bodyguard, is
thought to have given birth to the concept of a mobile field
 It was not until Constantine that the field armies were fully
Diocletian’s Expansion of the Army
 We do know that under Diocletian the army numbers were
increased. Further under Diocletian the number of legions and
other units more than doubled.
BUT it is unlikely that the numbers of troops doubled. The new
legion sizes were smaller at about a 1000 men rather the 5,500
that made up the older legions.
A legionary fort found in Jordan built at this time had
accommodation for a thousand men.
The army strength is estimated to have been between 375,000
and 400,000.
The Notia Dignitatum (written in 395 AD) lists the establishment
of the army but it does not reflect the actual number of troops.
Army Training
 Recruits were required to undertake 4 months intensive
training this was part of the enrolment process.
Those who could not stand up to this hard test were not
The training focused on endurance and skills related to
weapon handling.
A soldier had to march 20 mile a day with 60lb load and
undertake two sessions of weapon training a day.
After enrolment (branding) the recruits were dispersed
to various legions
Their training continued under the legion’s training
officer and unit commander.
Auxiliary Units
 The later Roman Army became increasingly dependant on
Barbarian soldiers.
These units were formed mostly from the Germanic tribes
who came from tribes allowed to settle within the Empire
or from captured warriors.
These units were commanded by their own Barbarian
commanders and the rank structure mirrored the legionary
command structure.
Some of these Auxiliary Commanders rose to be the most
senior army commanders.
These units were loyal to the Empire and would not shirk
from fighting against their own peoples.
Field Armies – Frontier Troops
 A mobile field army could in theory combat
attacks along the frontiers of the empire. The idea
was that the field army would not be housed in forts
along the frontier but stationed in towns and cities
some distance behind the frontiers.
 The frontier troops the Limitanei now defended
the frontiers from forts that Diocletian had restored
or added to the frontiers. They no longer ventured
out from the forts to attack the enemy. Their role
was to hold up an attack until the field army arrived.
The Army
 The field armies were regarded as higher in the army
hierarchy than the frontier troops and were paid
 However, the frontier troops were professional
soldiers and were often called on for larger
campaigns to supplement the main army.
 Under Constantine the field armies were billeted in
towns and cities in civilian dwellings. This was not
always welcomed by some citizens although the
presence of the army brought prosperity to others
 Zosimus a pagan critic of Constantine says that
Constantine took troops away from the frontiers
that had be greatly fortified by Diocletian and this
allowed the barbarians to raid the Roman territory.
 The troops were, he said, posted to the cities where –
instead of training - they indulged themselves in
shows and a life of luxury.
 And this way of running the army led to the
disastrous situation that followed in the following
The Army – supplies and logistics
 Supplying the army was a huge problem
 1000 men required 2.3 tonnes of grain a day and
about 200 pack animals to transport the grain.
 25,000 men required about 5000 tonnes of grain a
 A huge amount of fodder was also required for the
horses and pack animals.
 Soldiers had to be equipped with arms and clothing.
In the later Roman Empire the arms were
manufactured in imperial factories instead of the
forts as they had been.
Army Supply and Transport
 Over land wagons with a maximum load of 680
kilograms were used.
150 waggons required 600 oxen and 1500 drivers.
Freighter ships could carry between 70 and 140
tonnes (the equivalent of 150 waggons) and had 20
men crews.
The Army could cover between 15 and 20 miles a day
but the wagons could travel at about 2.5miles an
hour. This would slow the progress of the army.
Soldiers could if required carry food for several days
in their packs
Roman River Patrol Boat
Ox Cart – 1500 Waggons Required
Foot Soldier Late Empire
Army -Problems With Recruiting
 The Army perpetually in this era suffered from lack of
soldiers to fill gaps in the legions.
Diocletian made it compulsory for sons of soldiers to join
the Army.
Annual conscription was introduced – the burden fell on
the large estate owners and cities to provide a stipulated
number of recruits.
Conscription was very unpopular and potential recruits
even mutilated themselves to avoid it. Those who were
discovered to have mutilated themselves faced death by
burning and often their master too.
Slaves were often freed to be recruited into the army
Army – Recruiting Problems
 Finding troops for the Army continued to be a
problem throughout the 4th and 5th Centuries.
 Barbarian tribes who were allowed to settle in the
Empire were required to provide soldiers as part of
being allowed to settle.
 Barbarian soldiers began to build successful careers
and become senior officers as time went by.
Senior Rank Structure of The Field Armies
 It is difficult to state definitely what changes took
place under Diocletian or later under Constantine.
 The Commanders of the Field Armies from
Constantine onwards were directly accountable to
the Emperor.
 The Field Armies were made up of cavalry and
infantry. The infantry out-numbered the cavalry
although the cavalry was an extremely important
part of the Field Armies.
Later Roman Army Command
 Under Constantine command of the Field Armies
came under generals called ‘Comes’ (Counts)
originally Comes was used to mean companion to the
 It seems that these generals out ranked the ‘Duces’
(Dukes - introduced by Diocletian) who were
commanders of troops in the provinces.
Rank Structure of the Field Armies (2)
 Later new titles for Master Soldiers emerge –
Magister Militum and Magister Utrisque
 These men were the most senior officers in the
Roman Army (Field Marshalls).
 The development of these ranks was inconsistent
and it appears that these appointments were made to
suit specific circumstances of a specific time or
Field Armies
 A single Field Army would have been insufficient to
protect the whole empire so Field armies were
stationed in various regions where there were the
greatest risks.
 There was however, a central Field Army attached to
the Emperor and given the title Comitatenes
 The Emperors bodyguard was know as the
Protectores. This unit included the most talented
officers and was used as the legion for development
of the senior officer class.
Billeting in Towns and Cities
 Billeting caused problems for the citizens as they
were required to give up one third of their
accommodation to the troops.
 Troops could only accept food or other things if
they were freely given but this regulation was
abused. Further legislation was passed under a
number of later Emperors to control these abuses
but it seems that the abuses continued.
 We know nothing about the army administration
within the cities and towns or how the HQ
structure worked.
Field Armies
 It would appear that the track record for the Field
Armies was fairly successful in the late 4th and early
5th century.
 The later Emperor Julian , for example, used his
Field Army to great effect on the Rhine and won a
major battle at Strasbourg.
Frontier Armies
 In 325 AD an Edict was issued that made it clear that the Field
Armies ranked above the Frontier Armies and soldiers in the
Field Armies were paid more.
Nevertheless the Frontier Troops were also professional troops.
The Frontier Soldiers stationed in frontier forts had a more
stable existence.
Diocletian, during his reign, launched a large project to repair
the frontier forts and defences and this work was carried on
under Constantine.
In times of crisis the Frontier troops bolstered the numbers in
the Field Armies. As we will see this led to parts of the frontiers
on the Rhine especially to be vulnerable.
Defence of Cities and Towns
 The fortification of towns and cities should also be
considered as part of the defence structure of the
 Barbarian raids and internal bands of brigands are
a constant threat in the 4th and 5th centuries.
 The frontier defences were not impregnable and it
may be sometime before -Roman troops of the
Field Army could arrive to drive the raiders away.
Defence of Cities and Towns
 The burden of providing urban defences fell upon
the wealthy members of town and city councillors
 The rich became reluctant to become members of
these councils but became (by law) locked into
their offices.
 In the cities/towns the burden of having to provide
defences at their own cost and pay taxes became
more and more onerous as time went on.
Back to the Story- The Civil Service
 The Tetrarchy worked well and was for 20 years a solid
team effort.
 Each Emperor had his own administration and there were
many more provinces. Compared to what had gone before
the civil service has become vast. It is estimated to have
grown to 30,000 civil servants across the empire.
 The ‘civil service’ becomes structured on military lines with
ranks and an official uniform. As time went by strict rules
about the method of promotion are introduced.
 Civil Servants were allowed to take on other employment
but in the 4th century penalties are introduced for long
periods of absences.
Christianity and the Persecution
 Christians had been free from persecution for at least a
 They had built churches openly in many towns and cities. There
had been a move away from what was a religion supported
mainly by slaves and farm workers to city dwellers.
 Christians could be now found in all walks of life including the
army and the imperial administration
 Diocletian is supposed to have become concerned when
Christians in the crowd at an augury (a pagan ritual to divine
whether the omens were favourable before embarking on an
enterprise) made the sign of the cross causing it to fail - or so the
pagan priests alleged.
We All have to Make Sacrifices
 In 297Ad Diocletian required all imperial officials to
display their loyalty by making a pagan sacrifice.
Those who openly refused were executed.
However, it is thought many made sacrifices to save
themselves without giving up their religion.
In 303 AD a major persecution was ordered, Churches
were destroyed and their assets seized.
The clergy were required to hand over Church books and
manuscripts to be burnt.
Senior Church Officials were targeted and subjected to
torture and executed if they continued to resist.
Differing Levels of Enthusiasm
 Diocletian was an enthusiastic persecutor. He also
decreed in 302AD that the followers of Mani a
Persian prophet (Manchaeans) should be persecuted.
 Maximinian and Constantius were less enthusiastic
 Constantius had Christians serving in his household.
This gave rise for some historians to believe he was a
closet Christian. There is no real evidence for this.
 Galerius proved to be a very enthusiastic persecutor
until just before his death.
The End of the Persecution
 Diocletian Died in 310/311 AD and so the keenest
persecutor left the scene.
 311 AD Galerius whilst dying of cancer issued an
edict allowing freedom of worship which had the
effect of bringing the persecution to an end. The
Christians were allowed to build churches again.
 However, Maximus Daia, a committed pagan,
ignored the edict. More about this subsequent
Caesar and Emperor later.
The Start of the Collapse of the Tetrarchy
 In 303AD various monuments were set up in Rome ready
to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Tetrarchy.
 The four Emperors made their way to Rome and meet in
Northern Italy to discuss the future.
 Diocletian was determined to retire and ordered Maximian
to retire at the same time. Maximian was not pleased with
this idea. He was later forced to swear an oath that he
would stand down.
 The suggestion was that Constantius and Galerius would
become senior Emperors and two new Caesars would then
be appointed.
Planning for the Future
 For Maximian and Constantius the choice of
Caesars was clear and obvious as both had
adult sons.
 All four Emperors proceeded to Rome for
the celebration.
 Diocletian had been a keen builder of public
monuments throughout the empire and paid
for buildings in Rome. e.g. enormous public
 Diocletian did not receive the fond reception
that he was expecting. He had never visited
Rome before - a large part of the population
were Christian and had been subject to
 The unrest was made worse when a stand
collapsed and 3,000 people were killed.
 Diocletian left Rome angered by the reception
he received – he had been jeered by the crowds.
The Succession
 Diocletian having left Rome – never to return – travelled
to Nicomedia and fell ill. Rumours abounded that he was
dead but he surfaced again in 305 AD.
Galerius became dissatisfied with being a junior
emperor and travelled to Nicomedia to put pressure on
Diocletian brought his retirement forward together with
that of Maximian.
Galerius was also unhappy with the proposed Caesars i.e.
Constantine and Maximentius.
He proposed Severus and Maximinius Daia (They were
probably his relatives).
The Succession 2
 Galerius had a huge army to back up his proposal.
He struck a deal with Constantius that his son
Constantine would succeed his father as Caesar
should he die.
 In 305 after Diocletian and Maximian retired
 Constantius (West)and Galerius (East)
become the senior Augusti (Emperors)
 Severus (West) and Maximinius Daia (East)
become Caesars or junior Augusti (Emperors).
Diocletian’s Palace
Diocletian’s Palace
Constantius’s Position
 Leadbetter, in his book on Galerius, points out that
Constantius had always considered himself to be senior
to Galerius. He was older and had been regarded as
senior Caesar.
 Galerius on the other hand considered that his numerous
military victories in Persia and on the Danube made him
the Senor Emperor.
 Constantius had three other son’s apart from his
favoured and oldest son Constantine. Constantinius was
worried about their safety under the rule of Galerius
 Leadbetter believes that if Constantinius had not died
there would have been a civil war between the two men.
Rulers Post 305AD
 Constantius
 Galerius
 Severus Caesar
 Emperor
 Maximinius Daia
The Apple Cart is Upset!
 Constantine was given leave to visit his father Constantius in
Britain where he had been campaigning against the Picts in
Scotland. They met in York where Constantius - after a brief
campaign he suddenly died in 306 AD .
 Constantine was the popular choice of Constantinius’s loyal
troops and they declared Constantine Emperor.
 Galerius forced Constantine to be demoted to Caesar and
Severus was promoted to Emperor.
 Maxentius the son of the retired Emperor Maximian declared
himself Emperor with the backing of Rome the Roman Senate
and the citizens of Italy who felt that they have been demoted to
the citizens of a backwater province. They were also stood to lose
their tax exemptions if Galerius had his way.
Severus Promoted to Emperor
Maxentius Self Declared Emperor
The Position in 306 AD
 Emperors = Severus (west) and Galerius (east)
 Caesars/Junior Emperors = Constantine (west)
and Maximinius Daia (east).
 Self Declared Emperor = Maxentius who had
effective rule of Italy, Sicily, Sardinia and North
 Severus
 Galerius
 Emperor
 Emperor
 Constantine
 Caesar
 Maximinius Daia
 Caesar
Maxentius Self
declared Emperor in
The Plot Thickens!
 The self-declared Emperor Maxentius felt insecure
and invited his father, Maximian (who did not
really want to stand down), to come out of
retirement to support him as Co-Emperor. He
 They formed an alliance with Constantine to
recognise Constantine as Emperor and not Severus.
 Constantine married Maximian's daughter Fausta
aged 8 years old to cement the alliance.
 Galerius ordered Severus to crush Maxentius.
Severus Defeated and killed
 Severus marched with his army into Italy and
unsuccessfully besieged Rome.
Severus’s troops loyal Maxentius’s father- deserted him.
Severus then abdicated and was killed.
Constantine kept out of the conflict.
Galerius having advanced into Italy decided not to
continue further depose Maxentius and decided to
Diocletian was brought out of retirement to chair a
meeting that was convened to establish the new structure
for the Empire
 Constantine
 Galerius
 (de facto Emperor)
 Emperor
Maxentius Self
declared Emperor in
Supported by his father
 Maximinius Daia
 Caesar
Constantine (West)
Galerius (East)
Maximinius Daia – Caesar East
Maxentius and His Father Maximian
(Rome Italy and Africa)
Even Thicker!
 In 308AD Maximian decided to usurp his
son’s position. His attempt failed and he fled to
seek refuge with Constantine.
 In November 308AD a conference was held to thrash
out the new ruling structure for the empire.
Diocletian came out of retirement to chair the
 It was decided that a new Emperor Licinius
would be appointed in the West with Constantine as
his Caesar
 There were in 308AD six Emperors
 Galerius
 Maximinius Daia
 Maxentius
 Constantine
 Maximian (now in the Court of Constantine)
 Licinius.
 Diocletian’s Tetrarchy had fallen apart
The Position
 Licinius
 Galerius
 Constantine
 Maximinius Daia
 (Maximian at the Court
of Constantine).
 Maxentius (Rome –
Italy and Africa)
 Licinius (left)
Constantine (right)
Constantine (West)
Galerius – Eastern Emperor
Maximinius Daia – Caesar East
The Position in 308 AD
 The Emperors =
 Licinius in Pannonia
 Galerius and Maximinius Daia in the East
 Constantine in the West.
 Maximian (was in the Court of Constantine having
sought refuge from his son Maxentius)
 Maxentius carried on as before controlling Italy and
Maxentius Puts Down a Rebellion
 In 308AD Maxentius was engaged in putting down a
rebellion in North Africa by Domititus Alexander
(Vicar of Africa).
 Alexander was finally defeated and killed in 309AD.
A Last Desperate Throw of the Dice
 The old supposedly retired Emperor Maximian made
one last bid for power in 310 AD.
 Whilst his host, Constantine, was away on a
campaign he informed the court that he -Maximian
had received news that Constantine has been killed
and declared himself Emperor.
 When Constantine returned to court with his loyal
troops Maximian fled south to Marseille
 Marseille offered a good fortified city. Maximian also
had the support of a large portion of the Western
Last Throw of the Dice (2)
 Constantine had a smaller core of troops who were
very loyal to him. Maximinian defended his position
and refused to negotiate.
 What happened next is obscured by later pro
Constantine propaganda.
 After two months Maximian was dead - allegedly at
his own hand.
 It is possible Constantine had him executed
310 to 312 AD The Old Guard Die Out
 Maximian died in 310AD after a conflict with
 Galerius died painfully of cancer in 311AD. –
before he died he issued an edict allowing the
freedom of worship for all religions including
Christianity. This was ignored by Maximinius Daia.
 In 311 or 312AD Diocletian died.
 The number of Emperors had now reduced from six
to four.
The Position in 311AD
 There were four Emperors/Rulers
 Constantine ruled in the West from Trier
 Maxentius ruled Italy, North Africa and parts of
 Licinius (Ruled Lands between East and West)
 Maximinius Daia ruled the East.
312/13 AD
 Emperor
Maximinius Daia
 Eastern Emperor
Maxentius Self
declared Emperor in
 Licinius
 Emperor (ruler of land
between East and
The Rise of Constantine
 From this time on Constantine ruthlessly began his
campaign to be sole Emperor.
 In order to wage a war against Maxentius
Constantine needed an ally either Maximinius Daia
or Licinius.
 Constantine was in Gaul and so he chose Licinius
mainly because he was nearer to him in the Balkan
 Maximinius Daia had also overrun part of the
territory governed by Licinius and considered
himself to be the senior Emperor.
Time Out –Constantine- Profile
Constantine - Profile
 Born about 273AD he was the son of Constantius 1
(Chlorus) and Helena. This may have not have been an
official Roman Marriage. There was speculation that
Constantine was a bastard.
 Allegedly Helena was a bar maid or a stable girl. Despite
this she managed to make a match with a very powerful
Roman general.
 Constantius always regarded Constantine as his true heir.
 In 269AD Constantius became a Prefect and Helena was no
longer a suitable wife for the rising Constantius and she was
divorced. Constantius then married Theodora Maximinan’s
Constantine Profile (2)
 After the marriage between Constantius and Theodora.
Helena and her son Constantine were sent to the Court of
Diocletian. At some stage Helena became a Christian but
when is unclear.
 Constantine was brought up in the imperial court and had
close contact with Diocletian and accompanied him on
various travels throughout the Empire.
 Constantine gained military experience campaigning on the
Danube and against the Persians.
 Constantine was a pagan and a follower of ‘Sol Invictus’
later coins depict him as follower of this cult. Things
changed later on. OR do they really?
Back to the Story - Constantine v Maxentius
 A rivalry between Constantine and Maxentius
 Both engaged in a propaganda campaign against
each other.
 Constantine asserted he was descended from the
family of Emperor Claudius Gothicus whose patron
god was ‘Sol Invictus’ (the unconquered sun) of
whom Constantine claimed to have had a vision.
 Maxentius claimed that Constantine was the bastard
son of a concubine (Helena).
Civil War – Milvian Bridge 312 AD
 Constantine Invaded Italy – He again has a relatively small
army compared with Maxentius. 40,000 v 170,000
Maxentius had his troops in Northern Italy under general
Pompianus. Milan fell to Constantine and a further battle at
Adige was also won by Constantine.
Cities throughout Italy surrendered and opened their gates to
Verona resisted but fell after an expeditionary force managed to
breach a poorly guarded wall whilst other troops surrounded the
The decisive battle was fought at the Milvian Bridge outside
Maxentius decided to fight in the open and not to rely on Rome’s
formidable defensive walls.
The March to Rome
 Constantine contrary to normal practice refused to
take defeated troops into his army. His army were
well trained and fiercely loyal to him.
 He marched slowly towards Rome after resting his
 The decisive battle was fought at the Milvian
Bridge outside Rome.
 Maxentius decided to fight in the open and not to
rely on Rome’s formidable defensive walls. It is not
clear why he made this decision but it proved to be
a fatal mistake
Possible Reasons Maxentius Choose to Fight in the Open.
 Rome had huge walls built by Aurelian and could be
easily defended.
The Roman citizens had fallen out of love with
He had raised the Taxes to pay for his African
expedition to put down a usurper.
He also squandered tax payers money on public
buildings. These were supposed to gain him
popularity but the opposite was true
The grain reserves had run down because of the
African war the city could not survive a long siege.
Milvian Bridge 312AD
 Later Christian writers assert either Constantine had
a vision or a dream that indicated that the sign of the
cross should be painted on his soldiers shields and
he ordered that this should be done.
 A contemporaneous oration in praise of
Constantine makes no reference to the dream or
vision. There are no depiction of this sign on the
Arch of Constantine in Rome.
The Battle of the Milvian Bridge 28th October 312
 Constantine marched his troops to the bridge but Maxentius
had destroyed the middle of the bridge. However, he had built
a pontoon bridge to allow his troops to retreat if required.
Constantine, out-numbered, attacked Maxentius and forced a
retreat. Maxentius had not left enough ground between his
army and the river to allow for an orderly retreat.
His troops crowded on to the pontoon bridge. Others jumped
into the river.
The pontoon bridge gave way – soldiers and horses ended up
in the river as did Maxentius.
Maxentius made for the opposite shore but his imperial
armour made him stand out and he was cut down by
Constantine's troops and thrown into the river.
Milvian Bridge 2005
 The Bridge across the Tiber
Constantine Enters Rome
 The body of Maxentius was later fished out of the
Tiber and decapitated.
 The victorious Constantine entered Rome and
Maxentius's head was carried on display through the
streets. His head was then packed up in a box and
sent to Africa as a warning against any future
uprising they might be thinking about.
 Maxentius had left a legacy of building works in
Rome but Constantine did all he could to erase his
The Senate Recognise Constantine
 The citizens of Rome wanted a greater purge of
Maxentius’s supporters than Constantine was willing
to carry out and resolutely he refused to go further.
 Constantine disbanded the Roman Praetorian Guard
still stationed in the city.
 He allowed the Senate and people to retain their old
privileges and the Senate recognised
Constantine as the senior Emperor.
 There were now three Emperors left – Constantine –
Licinius and Maximinius Daia
 Emperor
Maximinius Daia
 Eastern Emperor
 Licinius
 Emperor (ruler of land
between East and
Temple Dedicated to Maxentius’s Son
Basilica in Rome Started by Maxentius
and Completed by Constantine
Constantine Architecture For Churches
 Christians, under Diocletian’s persecution, had to
worship secretly in ‘church houses’.
Constantine deliberately put the Christian church in
a new and more powerful position.
He decided that the Roman Basilica was to be the
model for the new churches.
Bishops were given legal powers to hold law courts in
cases between Christians in the Basilicas.
Bishops were allowed to use the imperial post system
Basilica at Trier
Basilica at Trier
Trier City Gate
313 AD
 In February 313 AD Constantine formed an alliance
with Licinius.
Licinius married Constantine’s half sister Constantia
They jointly issued a letter – known as the Edict of
Milan – which allowed freedom of worship.
Key sentence = ‘Our purpose is to grant both to
Christians and to all others the freedom to follow
whichever religion they might wish’.
Christian prisoners were released and Church
properties restored.
A Polite Letter
 Following the declaration of the Senate that they
recognised Constantine as the senior Emperor
Constantine wrote a politely worded letter pointing
this fact out to Maximinius Daia and looked forward
to working with him
 Maximinius Daia was enraged by this. He regarded
himself as the senior Emperor.
 Maximinius Daia also regarded the recognition of the
Christians as a legitimate religion as tantamount to a
criminal act. His view was that Christians should be
wiped out.
Licinius v Maximinius Daia
 Constantine was now free of rivals in the West but
Licinius and Constantine had a rival in Maximinius
Daia in the East.
 Maximinius Daia continued to ruthlessly persecute
Christians and moved against Byzantium which was
garrisoned by Licinius – the garrison was defeated.
 However, Licinius was alerted and moved eastward
with an army of 30,000
 Maximinius Daia took Heraclea but with a reduced
army also of about 30,000
Licinius v Maximinius Daia
Maximinius is Defeated
 On 30th April 313AD The armies met at the Battle of
Tzirallum (near Adrianople in Turkey).
On the eve of the battle Maximinus swore oaths to Jupiter that
he would eradicate Christianity if he won the battle.
Licinius circulated a written prayer to his troops that was to
be read by the soldiers before the battle.
Maximinus was defeated – and he rode off disguised as a
slave. Half his troops deserted him.
Maximinus made another stand at Nicomedia but again was
forced to retreat to Tarsus.
Now trapped within the walls of Tarsus and with no hope
Maximinus committed suicide – there are various unreliable
accounts of his death by Christian authors. It is thought he
took poison.
 Emperor
 Emperor
Constantine v Licinius
 Licinius - after the defeat of Maximinius – declared
Maximinius a tyrant and engaged in a bloodbath.
 He murdered all M. Daia’s supporters he could find - and
their families.
 These included Maximinius’s wife Valeria (Diocletian’s
daughter), Galerius’s son, and the son of Severus and his
 It seems Constantine was determined to tolerate Licinius
for only as long as necessary to achieve his ambition to
become sole emperor.
The Appointment Of Bassianus
 Constantine proposed his brother- in-law
Bassianus as Caesar to govern a buffer state
between the two Emperors in Pannonia.
 Licinius refused to go along regarding this
appointment as a provocation by Constantine.
 Licinius employed a general named Senecio to
incite Bassianus to revolt against Constantine.
 The plot was discovered and Constantine executed
Bassianus and demanded that Senecio be handed
over for execution. Licinius refused to comply.
Constantine v Licinius
 In 314 AD Constantine marched his army against
Licinius on the pretext that he was plotting against him.
 A battle was fought in Pannonia on 8th October.
Constantine. He gained the upper hand but has to
negotiate. Both agree to share the Consulship in 315AD.
 Licinius named Valerius Valens as his co-emperor.
 A further battle was fought in Thrace and this again
ended in a negotiated settlement. Licinius had his coEmperor executed.
Ten Years of Peace and the Civil War Again
 In 324AD civil war broke out again.
 Friction was caused when Constantine entered
Licinius’s territory whilst chasing barbarian
invaders in 318AD .
 When in 321AD this happened again Licinius
complained that their treaty has been breached.
 There is also a record (which may be a distorted
account) that Licinius was suspicious of Christians
who supported Constantine rather than him.
 Constantine defeated Licinius’s navy in 323AD and
launched a full out land attack in 324 AD.
Licinius the Final Chapter
 Licinius managed to muster a huge army - said to have
been 170,000 strong but was defeated by Constantine at
Adrianople on 3rd July 324AD.
 Crispus – Constantine’s eldest son and now his Caesar
defeated Licinius’s fleet again.
 Licinius made a last stand at Chrysopolis (Sept 18th) with
his newly appointed Caesar - Martianus - and was defeated.
 Licinius surrendered and due to the pleas of Constantine’s
wife - Licinius was allowed to go into exile. BUT he was
hanged a year later after an alleged plot that entailed his
efforts to raise troops from the barbarians to fight against
What Was Happening on the Frontier and
Gaul During these Years
 Crispus was the son of Constantine by his first/wife
mistress Minervina the date of his birth is uncertain.
Constantine later married Fausta the daughter of
Maximian. There is no record of a divorce from
In 317AD Constantine and Licinius named three new
Caesars. Crispus, Licinius junior and Constantine junior.
The latter two were infants.
Crispus was trusted by his father who like his own father
regarded him regarded Crispus as his heir.
Crispus was given the Western Empire to rule from Trier.
He conducted successful military campaigns against the
Franks and Alamanni in 318, 320 and 323 AD
Time Out – Constantine and Christianity
 Constantine’s relationship with Christianity and his
actual beliefs are subject to different interpretations.
 The Christian writers had a huge influence on the
subsequent historical interpretation but nonChristian contemporary writers whose works were
discovered in the renaissance period have thrown a
different light on Constantine and his motivation for
adopting Christianity.
The Christian Church
 In the 3rd Century pagans were moving towards the
worship of a single god (Monotheism).
 Pagans were not a homogenous group. There were a
huge number of sects.
 After the end of the ‘Diocletian persecution’
Christianity grew and had the attractive advantage of
a single belief system.
 What percentage of the population was Christian is
difficult to calculate – but it is thought to have been
in excess of 10%.
Christian Church (2)
 Some suggest that Constantine’s adoption of
Christianity as the prime religion was a cynical
method of gaining control and power.
 The truth is that Constantine won control of the
empire by the ruthless use of military force.
 The adoption of Christianity had no guarantee of
success and Constantine did not force people to
become Christian – he merely supported it.
 Constantine had been a follower of a cult known as
Sole Invictus (the undefeated sun) and he may have
also followed the cult throughout his life time.
The Christian Church (3)
 Constantine built many new churches – but perhaps
not as many as attributed to him.
 St Peter’s Church was built on Vatican Hill on the
site where St Peter was executed – the site of Nero’s
Grand Circus.
 Constantine was anxious to create unity within the
Church and took action to resolve disputes between
Christian factions.
Donatist - Dispute
 Donatism was a Christian sect that grew up in the 4th Century in
North Africa.
The sect was named after a North African Bishop (Donatus
A dispute arose over the selection of Bishops following the Edict
of Milan
Under the Diocletian persecution the Governor of North Africa
had been lenient and the requirements of the persecution had
been satisfied if the Bishops handed over their holy books.
Those who handed over the books were viewed as Tradores
(Traitors) by the Donatists and they contended these traitors
should be excluded from administering formal services.
Donatist Dispute (2)
 The Donatist posed several question.
 1) Was a priest who handed over the Church books to be
regarded as a traitor? The Donatist = Yes – the Catholics
= No.
 2)Was such a priest now capable of administering
baptisms? The Donatist = No. Catholics = Yes
 3) Did the Church admit the virtuous and exclude sinners?
The Donatist = Yes. The Catholics = Sins can be forgiven.
 So there was a schism in North African Church. The
Donatist had an equal share of intellectuals on their side.
The Involvement of the Emperor
 Constantine without giving much thought to the issues
decided to involve himself to sort the problem out .
 Africa was an important supplier of grain and he could not
allow this decisive schism rumble on. Constantine made a
ruling in favour of the Catholic Church in Africa.
 Quite unexpectedly a shocked Constantine received an
appeal from the Donatists. His sole aim had been to bring
about unity and it had failed.
 In 313AD Constantine appointed Bishop Militades to hold a
council of bishops in Rome to hear the case. The Bishop
and his council found against the Donatists who appealed
yet again!
The Dispute Rumbles On
 The Donatist claim that the deliberations of the Council of
Bishops were held in secret and it had reached a verdict that
suited its members.
 Constantine ordered another Council to be convened in Arles in
314AD with a wider representation of bishops. Again the
Donatists lost.
 The Donatist refused to give up and in 317AD Constantine
ordered that their assets be confiscated. BUT he hesitated and
did not carry it through. The Catholic church persuaded the
Army in Africa to get involved but they were reluctant.
 In 321AD Constantine issued an order of tolerance of the
Donatist – the schism last until 409 AD when the Donatist were
persecuted as heretics under the Emperor Honorius.
Arian Philosophy
 Arius was a priest in Alexandria who preached that
Jesus was the son of God and therefore inferior to
God. Jesus according to Arius stood mid way
between God and life on earth. God and Jesus could
not be the same entity.
 This Arian view started to gain a following in the
East and was a threat to the developing concept of
the holy trinity.
 Arius’s teaching caused a serious crisis in the church
and it had to be resolved.
The Council of Nicaea 325A
 A Council of Bishops was summonsed to Nicaea to
discuss the Schism and the fundamental issues of
Church Doctrine.
 Not all were agreed but a creed was settled upon
which in substance remains the same to day.
 Arianism did not die out and later Emperors and
some barbarian tribes who converted to Christianity
adhered to the Arian philosophy.
 Constantine oversaw the Council but he let the
bishops debate and come to their own conclusion.
BUT he was anxious to have the matter settled.
Nicaean Creed 325AD
 ‘We
believe in one God, the father Almighty
maker of all things visible and invisible And
in one with lord Jesus Christ, the son of God
begotten the father the only begotten: that
is the essence of the father God of God, light
of light, true God of true God not made
being of one substance with the father by
whom all things were made both in heaven
and on earth……’
Nicaean Creed (2)
 True God of true God‘…….by whom all thing s were
made in heaven and on earth, who for us men and
for our salvation came down and was made flesh
and become man, suffered and rose on the third
day, ascended into heaven and is coming to judge
the living and dead. And is the holy spirit. And those
who say ‘there when he was not’ and ‘Before not’
and those who allege that the son of God is of
another substance’ or ‘created’ or ‘changeable’ or
‘alterable’ these the catholic and Apostolic Church
anathematizes. WHC Friend The Rise of Christianity
Eusebius Bishop of Caesarea
 Eusebius was a great Christian writer. His works are
a major source for our understanding of Constantine.
 He wrote a ‘Church History’ and ‘The Life of
Constantine’. His later writings contain
exaggerations and distortions and contradict some of
earlier works.
 He was present at the Council of Nicaea but gives no
detail on the various arguments put forward.
325AD The Execution of Crispus (Caesar)
 Constantine was now the sole Emperor of a vast Empire.
He no longer had to worry about rivals. He could now
afford to be far more assertive.
 His eldest son by his first marriage - Crispus was his
Caesar –a sound and a capable deputy or so it seemed.
 Constantine had him and his wife executed in 326 AD
 Tradition has it that Fausta his wife and daughter of
Maximinian and sister of Maxentius was extremely
jealous of Crispus and he thwarted the ambitions of her
own sons by Constantine.
Crispus Continued
 Crispus was most likely to succeed Constantine had her
sons Contantine11, Constantius 11 And Constans are all
too young.
 Fausta concocted a story that Crispus had attempted to
make love to her and when she had refused he had raped
her – and this led to the execution of Crispus and his wife
by a furious Constantine.
 After the execution Constantine ordered all record of
Crispus were to be deleted from all official records
 A few months later Constantine discovered the truth and
executed Fusta by locking her in an overheated steam
Crispus continued (3)
 This was the generally accepted accounts but there are others  Plotting against Constantine ? Crispus had always been
loyal and there is nothing to suggest he was plotting against his
father. He had been at his father’s side for 20 years.
 Illegitimacy? There is no evidence that that Constantine was
divorced from his first marriage to Minervina – could this mean
they had not been formally married and Crispus was illegitimate
and if so was this a reason for executing him – most unlikely
 Was their a consensual affair? Some historians believe
Fausta did have an affair with Crispus and became pregnant and
the execution was delayed until the baby was born.
Helena – St Helena
 Shortly after the death of Crispus , Helena
(Constantine’s mother) undertook a pilgrimage to
the Holy Land.
 She established churches at various places in the
Holy Land – the Church of the Nativity - the Church
on the Mount Olives, to mark Christ's ascension
 Allegedly she discovered fragments of the true cross
on her travels.
St Helena Bust and Relics Trier Cathedral
Running the Empire
 Constantine undertook a huge building project in
Byzantium and renamed the city Constantinople. Although
he did not intend it - Constantinople became the foremost
city in the Empire.
 Constantine modelled his new Eastern Capital on Rome
and filled the city statutes and grand buildings. The city
expanded to six square kilometres surrounded by huge
 Constantinople had its own senate. Wealthy senators in
Rome were encouraged to transfer to the Senate in
Running the Empire (1)
 The army reforms continued under Constantine. It
is difficult to disentangle those reforms made
under Diocletian and those made later under
 He introduced a new four yearly tax to be paid in
gold or silver by city dwellers. Torture and beating
was introduced for those who did not pay. The tax
burden shifted from the country to the cities.
 In 324AD Constantine as the sole Emperor
decided to review the legislation and imperial
orders of the recent past.
Running the Empire (2)
 He wrote an open letter to the Governors of the Eastern
provinces promoting Christianity.
People who had been compelled to restore property seized in the
years of the persecution had been compensated but now in this
letter Constantine said they will be ‘pardoned’.
He does not issue the same letter to Western Provinces. Rome
has especially rich pagan senators that he needed to keep on side
It is clear now that Christianity will be favoured over all other
religions. Constantine introduced Sunday as the Christian
Constantine started a large church building scheme as part of
Christian promotion.
Running the Empire (3) Legal Reforms
 The punishment for rape was made more severe –
burning the perpetrator to death was introduced as the
 The horrific practice of killing babies (families could not
afford to keep them) was penalised and a system of tax
relief was introduced for impoverished families.
 Crucifixion was outlawed and hanging was substituted.
 Branding slaves on the face and gladiatorial combat was
outlawed. The gladiatorial combats were reintroduced
after Constantine and were not permanently banned
until the reign of the later Emperor Honorius.
Constantine’s Later Campaigns
 In 332AD Constantine campaigned against the
Sarmantians and the Goths. The Goths suffered
huge losses due to bad weather and a lack of food.
 He started to plan to recapture Dacia (modern
Romania) Lost under the Emperor Aurelian.
 In 336AD a Persian prince invaded the Christian
state of Armenia. Constantine treated this as a holy
 A Persian peace mission was turned away in the
winter of 336/7AD because Constantine was ill.
Illness, Baptism and Death 337AD
 Constantine left Constantinople to take the healing baths at
Helenopolis (named after his mother).
 He became worse and made his way back to Constantinople
but got as far Nicomedia. His plan had been to be baptised
in the river Jordan but he was to ill and had to be baptised
in the villa where was saying. He died not long after on 22nd
 He was succeeded by his three sons by his wife Fausta.
Constantine 11 Constantius 11 and Constans.
 Dalmatius, Constantine’s nephew, had been declared
Caesar in 335AD and Hannibalianus declared the future
king of Persia
The New Dynasty
Interregnum before the slaughter
 There was a four month period where none of the
successors stepped up to be the senior Augustus. In
fact all legislation in this period was issued in the
dead Emperor’s name.
 This period was followed by a bloody purge in which
Constantinious 11 played a key role.
 ‘And close kinsmen as we were how this emperor
(Constantious11) treated us! Six of my cousins and
my father who was an uncle on my father’s side and
my eldest brother, he put to death without trial’
 (Julian - future Emperor)
Death Toll
 There is some evidence that rumours were circulating that
one of Constantine’s half brothers had attempted to poison
him and this may have been the pretext for the purge that
 The half brothers who were killed were Dalmatius
(Caesar) and Hannibalianus (future King of Persia).
 Two young boys Gallus aged 12 years ( a future Caesar)
and Julian aged 6 years (a future Emperor) were
considered too young to be a threat and were spared.
 It was also believed that the troops would only support the
sons of Constantine and were instrumental in
implementing the purge.
The Purge Explained
 Constantius 1 – 1st marriage to Helena =
Constantine 1 (The Great)
 2nd Marriage – Theodora = Daimatius (executed 377
with his sons Dalmatius and Hannbalianus)
Constantius (executed). His sons Gallus and Julian
 Constantine 1st Marriage to Minervina = Crispus
(executed 326 by Constantine)
 2nd Marriage – Fausta = Constantine 11, Constantius
11 and Constans.
The Empire in 337AD
 Christianity had not changed the ideology of the
Roman Empire.
 Where in the past Emperors had claimed a special
relationship with a particular god – now the
Emperors ruled with the sanction of the Christian
 Constantine had hoped after the Council of Nicaea
that the Church would be unified. But Arianism still
flourished and in fact Constantine had been baptised
by an Arian Bishop – Eusebius of Nicomedia  Added to this Constantius 11 favoured Arianism.
The Empire in 337AD (2)
 The Romans continued to be aggressive towards non
Roman peoples and civil wars were carried out with
extreme brutality.
 Barbarians were classed as inferior peoples and
generally looked upon with distain.
 However, the Empire became more and more reliant
on the barbarian tribes to supply troops for the
Roman Army. Some of these barbarian soldiers
progressed through the ranks to hold the most senior
commands in the army.
Civil War 340 AD
 There was serious friction between Constantine 11 and his
younger brother Constans - Constantine regarded himself
to be senior and civil war broke out in 340AD.
 Surprisingly Constantine 11 was killed in a minor
skirmish prior to the planned main battle – Constans now
found himself in control of two thirds of the Empire.
 Constantius 11 kept himself out of the war between the
two brothers and was campaigning against the Persian’s in
the East who had been provoked by Constantine 1 ‘s
intention to invade their territory.
 The Persian King Shapur 11 had made several attempts to
capture major cities in Mesopotamia.
A Usurper Ends a Decade of Peace
 A decade of internal peace followed the death of
Constantine 11.
 In 350AD a usurper - Magnentius, a general in
Gaul, declared himself Emperor.
 Constans had become decadent and lost the
support of his senior generals who abandoned him
forcing him to flee. He his tracked down by
Magnentius’s troops and executed.
 Constantius 11 refused to recognise Magnentius as
his co-emperor and three years of civil war followed.
Magnentius – After Dinner Emperor
 Apparently after dining with his fellow generals
Magnentius left the room and returned wearing a
purple gown. This met with approval and he was
declared Emperor.
 Magnentius then set about executing any
commander who did not support him and building
up a field army to meet the inevitable confrontation
with Constantius.
 In 351Ad Magnentius appointed Magnus
Decentius as his Caesar to look after the Rhine
The Illyrian Troops Waver
 The murder of Constans left the troops in Illyricum with
quandary. They were uncertain whether to follow
Constantius or Magentius.
 Constantia -Constantius’s sister -took matters into her
own hands and appointed the commander of the Illyrian
troops Vetriano Caesar.
 She wrote to her brother begging him to recognise
Vetriano which he did.
 When Constantius met up with Vetriano he made his
troops swear loyalty to him and promptly stripped
Vetriano of his title of Caesar and allowed him to retire
from the army.
The Civil War and Yet Another Usurper
 During the three years of civil war Nepotianus the son of
Constantine’s half-sister - declared himself Emperor in
Rome. He was quickly defeated and executed along with his
 Magnentius decided to the offensive and invaded northern
Italy after a number of victories he was finally halted at
 .
The Battle of Mursa September 351AD
 The action took place somewhere along the valley of the
Drava River, a Danube tributary in present day Croatia.
 Before the battle, Constantius sent Flavius Philippus, his
Praetorian prefect, to negotiate with Magnentius, requiring
that the usurper withdraw back to Gaul.
 Silvanus - Magnentius’s senior general defected to
Constantius 11 probably taking his loyal soldiers with him.
 Constantius won the Battle with huge casualties on both
The Location of Mursa
The End of Magnentius 351AD
 Magnentius was driven back into Gaul.
 Constantius and Silvanus then set about retaking
Gaul – This proves to be a lengthy affair.
 Magnentius failed to replace his field army losses with
available frontier troops commanded by his Caesar –
Decentius. Estimated to be about 20,000.
 Encouraged by Constantius the Alamanni continually
raided across the Rhine.
 In 353AD Magnentius finally realised that the game
was up and committed suicide
Silvanus is Stitched Up!
 Silvanus had been a loyal general under Constantine 1
and supported Constantius 11 against Magnentius.
However, he was the subject of a devious plot to have
Constantius 11 turn against him.
Ammianus (the historian) was a witness to the events
that unfolded.
Silvanus wrote a number of letters recommending people
for advancement – which was perfectly normal.
The letters had their content erased and substituted by
what amounted to a plot against Constantius and these
forged letters were then delivered to prominent officials
in the Empire.
Constantius is Informed of the Alleged Plot
 The Prefect of Gaul who was probably part of the
‘stich up’ had the right to have an audience with the
Emperor without the normal tedious formalities
handed some of these forged letters to Constantius.
 After investigation Constantius discovered the truth
and cleared Silvanus of all suspicion.
 Unfortunately Silvanus was not informed of the
judgement and felt that the only way to save himself
from certain execution was to seize power himself.
Silvanus’s 28 Day Reign Ends
 Constatinius sent a general called Ursicinius with orders
that Silvanus should hand his command over to Ursicinius
and return to Court.
The idea was that Ursicinius was not to let on that
Constantius knew that Silvanus had declared himself
Ursicinius realised that this ploy would not work. Instead he
pretended to defect to Silvanus.
Once involved in the command structure of Silvanus’s army
he found two units that did not support Silvanus and
employed them to raid Silvanus’s HQ and cut him to pieces.
This was followed by the murder of Silvanus’s family
Constantius 11 Appointed Gallus Caesar
 In 350AD Constantius was now heavily engaged with the
usurpation of Magnentius and made Gallus (a survivor of the
purge) his Caesar (deputy).
 Gallus was the grandson of the Western Emperor Constantius 1
and the half brother of Julian. Both escaped the purge because
of their you and additionally Gallus was ill at the time of the
purge and was not expected to survive.
 Gallus married Constantius’s sister Constantina to cement their
 Constantina may have taken the initiative and suggested the
marriage. She could see that any male children she may have
would have a claim to the throne. Constantius was childless.
Gallus not Really Trusted
 From the start Constantius was suspicious of
 Constantius made sure he kept a weather eye on
Gallus and appointed his senior officials for him
and sent him to Antioch to take control in the East.
 On the way to Antioch Gallus called into see his
half-brother Julian.
 One of the Officials appointed by Constantius was
Thalassius who was appointed to the post of
Praetorian prefect.
 Gallus started his first year as a Caesar in a
competent way. A Persian attack was defeated and a
Jewish revolt was supressed.
 A plot was discovered whereby Gallus court was
infiltrated by agents sent by Magnentius (the usurper
in Gaul).
 Gallus spurred on by his early successes and the
discovery of the plot seems to have let power go to
his head.
 Gallus spurred on by his wife engaged in executions
of anybody they disliked on trumped up charges.
Gallus Falls Out With the Senatorial Classes
 Gallus fell out with the Senatorial classes in
Antioch when he proposed to lower the grain
 The Senators were supported by Theophilus (the
Corrector from Syria).
 The Antioch ‘mob’ were angered by this rioted and
butchered Theophilus in the streets.
 The Praetorian Prefect Thalassius died of natural
causes and was replaced by Constantius with a man
named Domitianus.
 Gallus accused Domitianus and another man named
Montius Magnus of conspiring against him. These
two men were executed.
 Constantius was outraged that his appointee had
been executed - Gallus’s behaviour was now seen as a
threat to the Emperor.
The End of Gallus
 Several invitations to Constantius’s court in Milan were ignored by
On the pretext of celebrating Constantius’s recent victories Gallus
was invited to join the festivities. Gallus may have also been led to
believe he would be promoted to co-emperor.
Gallus accepted the invitation on the way to visit Constantius
Constantia died.
Further on the journey Gallus was ambushed arrested by a general
called Barbitio.
Under interrogation Gallus blamed Constantina for all his
This infuriated Constantius when it was reported to him and he
immediately ordered the execution of Gallus.
Constantius regretted this order and sent a messenger to rescind his
order but the messenger failed to reach Barbitio in time
Constantius 11
Ammianus Marcellinus - Historian
 From 353AD we have the writings of Ammianus
Marcellinus described as the last great Roman historian
and ranks alongside Livy and Tacitus.
 He chronicled a period of 25 years covering the lives of five
 As a senior officer in the Roman Army he was an eye
witness to some of the events. He was on Julian’s ill-fated
Persian Campaign.
 He gives a rather different view of the future pagan
emperor Julian (the Apostate) than those given by
contemporary Christian writers.
Barbarian Incursions
 For 60 years the Empire had been free of substantial
Barbarian incursions but now attacks were being
launched all along the western frontiers.
 Constantinius 11 repelled a number of these attacks
and regarded himself as a hero.
 He made his one and only visit to Rome and entered
the city in triumph in a golden carriage with great
 He was amazed by the city’s magnificent buildings,
culture and people.
Anti-Pagan Measures
 Constantius 11 launched a very harsh anti-pagan
campaign which included the removal of the highly
symbolic ‘Alter of Victory’ from the Senate house in
Constantius was an Arian but he tried to resolve the
lingering dispute between the followers of the creed
agreed at Nicaea and the Arians.
He introduced a concept of ‘Semi -Arianism’. This was
rejected by both sides of the Christian Schism.
He was regarded by later orthodox Christians as a
He also granted tax exemptions to the senior clergy.
The Ascendency of Julian (the Apostate)
 Julian was a survivor of the great purge which
followed the death of Constantine 1.
 He was a young son of one of Constantine’s half
brothers and was not seen as threat at the time of the
purge. He and his half brother Callas were allowed
to live.
 He was brought up as a virtual prisoner in a strict
Christian household.
 Later allowed to study in Athens and receive a
classical education.
 Julian’s later writings indicate that he was well
At sometime in his youth, probably in Athens, he
became attracted to a pagan cult.
When Gallus died (killed). Julian was summonsed to
Constantius’s court and accused of treason.
Constantius’s wife Eusebia, played a great part in
persuading her husband that the bookish Julian was
innocent and presented no threat.
Constantius needed a Caesar to deal with the
barbarian raids in Gaul and Germany
Julian Appointed Caesar 355AD
 Constantius 11 was a paranoid character and still
distrusted Julian and was very suspicious of him.
 Constantius’s wife, Eusabia, a calming influence on
him, persuaded him to appoint Julian.
 Julian then married Constantius’s sister Helena. This
was a marriage of convenience. We know from
Julian’s writing that they did not share the same bed
very often. Helena died later in childbirth.
 Julian was 23 years old, bookish, with no army
experience and had no real physical presence.
Descriptions of him are not flattering.
Constantius’s view of Julian
 It can be discerned from Julian’s own writing and from
other sources that Constantius wanted an unambitious
family member as his Caesar.
 Julian he thought would readily take advice, obey orders
and not usurp him as Emperor.
 Constantius surrounded Julian with his own appointees to
ensure that any untoward behaviour would be reported
back to him.
 Julian wrote that he felt like a schoolboy being packed off to
school. And that he was not the Commander in Gaul but a
subordinate of the commanders stationed there.
Eusabia and Julian
 Eusabia was, it seems, to attracted to Julian and he
to her.
In their respective positions there was nothing they
could sensibly do about it.
As a wedding present Julian asked for a library of
new books which Eusabia provided.
Contemporary writers also noted that there was a
jealous conflict between Julian’s wife – Helena and
Certainly – Eusabia was a supporter of Julian
throughout her life and influenced his rise to Caesar
Problems in the West
 We have a great deal of ancient source material
describing Julian’s campaigns.
 Constantius had deliberately hidden the extent of the
problems in Gaul and Julian did not get to know how
bad things were until he began his march westward.
 In particular he was ignorant of the fact that
Cologne had fallen to the Franks.
 It has been suggested that the tribes of the Franks
and the Alamanni had formed a confederation to
defeat the Romans but there is little evidence to
support this.
Problems in the West
 The frontier troop numbers had been greatly depleted by
the recent civil wars.
The Western Empire had become vulnerable to
barbarian raids which had penetrated deep into Roman
Julian’s task was to re-establish strong frontiers and to
instil fear into the barbarian raiders.
The resources available to Julian were not lavish. Despite
the rise in numbers of troops under Diocletian and
The numbers in the Field Armies were now smaller with
large number of troops being recruited from the
barbarians tribes allowed to settle within the Empire.
Barbarians in the Roman Army
 It is often suggested that the recruitment of
barbarian soldiers led to a decline in military
efficiency – but there is no hard evidence for this.
 The evidence suggests that barbarian soldiers were,
once recruited, very loyal to the Roman
commanders in the region in which they were
recruited and fought well.
Julian’s First Campaign 356 AD
 Julian arrived in Gaul too late in the fighting season of
355 AD to launch a campaign.
He spent the winter gathering intelligence and resources.
He also undertook a military training course and lived
like an ordinary soldier. Even eating the same army
In June 356 AD he received a report that the city of
Augustodumnum, which had neglected its fortifications,
was under attack by the Alamanni.
The Alamanni lacked the skills necessary for a successful
siege and they were being held at bay by an army
Julian came to the rescue and drove the Alamanni away.
First Campaign - Continued
 Julian then made his way to Rheims where he had
stationed his Field Army.
Julian held a council of his army commanders and it was
decided to attack groups of the Alamanni who were
nearby the very next day.
The first attack nearly ended in disaster for part of his
army. The Alamanni dodged the attack an came up at
the rear of the army.
The noise of the attack alerted another nearby legion who
came to the rescue.
Ammianus Marcellinus says that this valuable experience
made Julian ‘prudent and cautious’.
The End of the First Campaign
 Julian now marched northwards to meet the Franks but
they agreed a treaty before any conflict began and the raids
Julian then spent the winter re-establishing the frontier
system and replenishing his supplies that had become
dangerously low.
However, deserters informed the Franks that Julian had
very few troops. The Franks attacked Julian’s winter
quarters at Senonae.
The attack failed after a month long blockade of the town.
NOTE: Towns in the West were now building walls to
withstand such attacks.
Marcellus – Unfaithful Commander?
 Marcellus was stationed with his army less than 100
miles from Julian during the siege of Senonae.
Despite Julian’s plea for help Marcellus failed to
send troops.
The event is shrouded in mystery and it is not clear
why this blatant disregard of orders occurred.
It is an example of how the senior commanders
regarded the young inexperienced Julian
Julian complained to Constantius.
Campaign Leading to the Battle of Strasburg
 Constantius replaced Marcellus with the more
experienced Severus.
 Constantius 11 sent 25,000 troops to Julian which
indicates the seriousness of the level of threat in Gaul.
 A plan was formed whereby Julian would attack the
Alamanni from the north and General Barbitio would
attack from the south. Coming through Italy with his
 In the event the Alamanni attacked Lyon and Julian
drove them towards Barbitio who failed to ambush them
as was agreed.
Barbatio - A Treacherous General
 We know little of his background
 Ammianus (Ancient Historian) states Barbitio would undermine
anyone he did not like even though they had done nothing to him
According to Ammianus, Barbatio was a man of "rough manners
and vaulting ambition, who incurred general hatred by his
treacherous betrayal of Caesar Gallus".
“Having betrayed one Caesar, he soon found himself in a position
to attempt to betray another (Julian)’’.
Barbitio sent a disparaging reports back to Constantinius about
Julian’s competence
He also slandered one of Julian's trusted commanders
Valentinian (the future Emperor) forcing Valentinian into
Barbatio’s Attempt to Undermine Julian
 The late Roman army was dogged by rivalry . There was a lack of
accountability and those who could wield power could also seize
Barbitio was asked by Julian for river barges so that he could
attack the Alamanni stationed on the islands in the Rhine but
Barbitio refused to comply.
Barbitio was part of a court whispering campaign against Julian
causing the paranoid Constantius to doubt Julian’s loyalty.
Julian led a murderous attack on the Alamanni on the Rhine
killing not only warriors but women and children too.
Julian seized further supplies from the Alamanni for his army
and these supplies were used to support his future campaign for
that year.
Barbitio Suffers a Major Defeat
 The Alamanni launched a devastating surprise attack on
Barbitio and his army was routed.
Barbatio was unable to take any further part in the
campaign and returned to Constantinius’s Court where
he continued his campaign to undermine Julian.
Later Barbitio’s lies were discovered and he was
Meanwhile the Alamanni tribes formed an army of
35,000 troops.
This army was led by kings and princes of a
confederation of Alamanni tribes. (The Alamanni
strength can only be estimated).
The Barbarians
 Our knowledge of the barbarian culture and organisation
is sketchy no barbarian writing for this period has come
down to us.
The Romans regarded barbarians in a very prejudiced
low esteem.
What we know of their culture and organisation is
The Germanic tribes farmed the land living in villages
and had no towns or cities that matched those in the
Roman Empire.
The villages had populations of about 200-300 people
 The tribes near the boarder traded with the Romans who
needed grain and cattle to feed the frontier armies .
 The tribes benefited from the receipt of Roman luxury
goods as part of their trading arrangements with the
 There was a gradual movement of tribes towards the Rhine
and Danube frontiers from the 1st century AD onwards.
 By the mid 4th century the main tribes on the Rhine from
West to East are; the Frisians, Saxons, Burgundians,
Franks, Alamanni, Quadi.
The Goths
 On the Danube we find the Goths in two main
1) The Trevengi and
2) The Grethungi
Further north of the Danube were the Vandals .
Later these tribes become known as the Visigoths and
the Ostrogoths respectively.
For now they will be referred to by their original tribal
names where relevant.
The Trevengi will play the major role in the history of
the era and will be simply referred to as Goths.
 The Barbarian tribes had no standing army.
 Armies were formed as and when they were needed.
 Plundering the lands of other tribes and Roman territory
provided riches which improved the life of the tribal
aristocracy and provided the means of rewarding the
 There seems to have been a decimal system that allowed
men to join a fighting force and leaving others to tend the
 The villages were organised into cantons the
largest of these could muster up to 200 men but
the average number of warriors recruited in this
way is thought to be about 100 from each canton.
 The tribes had kings but they were generally not
hereditary kings but selected from a wider
 For Example - The Alamanni Kings did follow a
dynastic line.
 Tribal chieftains had a band of loyal followers (up to 200
men). These men were the chieftain’s personal retainers
and were armed and trained warriors. Their role was to
protect him in battle.
These warriors were rewarded with gold ,weapons and
were treated to fine feasts.
Other fighting men were armed normally with a spear
and a shield.
As time went on more swords and body armour became
Not many fighting men were mounted but this changed
in later times.
 The chieftain's retinue of loyal fighters would
surround and protect him battle.
 Loyalty was paramount and for a warrior it was
better to die than to survive his chieftain.
 The barbarian warriors formed a triangular wedges
which were known as a boar’s heads when attacking
an enemy.
 The barbarians would on occasion use a shield wall
usually on high ground to stave of an enemy attack.
It is interesting that this tactic was used at the Battle
of Hastings by King Harold over 500 years later..
Shield Wall 1066
Shield Wall
 The Tacitus had described the Germanic warriors as
being very tall with blue eyes and said their fierce looks
scared the Roman troops.
 Some of the soldiers who served with the Romans
returned to their tribes and brought back military
knowledge and skills which improved their own battle
 The Romans had been in the habit of paying the tribal
chieftains/kings a tribute as a ‘bribe’ on agreement that
they would not raid Roman territory.
 This practice plays a major part in the history of the
Roman Empire from now on.
 The raiding of other barbarian tribes was endemic .
 Roman territory was dangerous but attractive when
the frontier was seen to be vulnerable.
 A powerful chieftain could dominate a tribe but his
position was always precarious.
 Kings and chieftains were often friendly to Rome
and were supported by Rome with subsidies and
provided with military aid if needed.
 Often tribesmen joined the Roman Army and some
chieftains brought their followers with them.
Julian’s Campaign on the Western Frontiers
 Constantius provided Julian with military advisers to
accompany on his campaign and he read Julius Caesar’s
Commentaries on the Gallic Wars on his way into Gaul.
Julian took the imitative and began to attack the
Alamanni settlements (referred to earlier).
When he arrived at Argentorium near Strasbourg he was
confronted by a large army of Alamanni and
This Germanic army consisted of a confederation of
tribes led by seven Kings.
The two leading kings were Chnodomarius and his
nephew Serapio.
Battle of Strasburg – 357 AD (Argentoraum)
 The Alamanni leaders received accurate information that
Julian only had 13,000 men. 300 cavalry and 10,000 on
 This lack of troops encouraged Alamanni having easily
defeated Barbatio's larger army.
 The Alamanni sent envoys to warn Julian that unless he
retreated he would be attacked by huge Alamanni army.
 Julian delayed in making any response to this demand and
did not attack immediately. He wanted the Alamanni to
have the majority of their warriors in the field in order
inflict a massive defeat upon them.
Strasburg 357AD
 Ammianus says the Alamanni had 35,000 warriors
but this is thought to be an exaggeration.
 Being outnumbered Julian was cautious and
consulted his army commanders.
 Julian came under pressure from the majority of
his Commanders not to delay the attack.
 The decision was made to launch an immediate
The Battle of Strasburg
 Battle lines were drawn up with Severus
commanding Julian’s the left wing.
Severus halted his advance while the rest of the army
marshalled itself.
Julian took advantage of the delay to address the
troops urging them to advance steadily.
Some relatively minor events caused panic in parts of
the Roman Army. Most stood firm but some fled.
Julian rode after them and rallied them and got
them back into the fray.
Battle of Strasburg
 At one stage the Alamanni broke through the Roman
lines but ran into the Roman reserve lines. The reserves
were more than up to it and drove them back.
This turn of events led to a sudden collapse in spirit in
the Alamanni army.
There was a headlong retreat by the Alamanni but they
were obstructed by a river.
Julian worried that his soldiers would rush into the river
in the chase and drown. He rode into the fray, rounded
up his troops and restrained them.
The Romans lost only 243 men and 4 tribunes in the
Battle of Strasburg 1.
Battle of Strasburg 2
Barbarian Locations at the time of the Battle
Post Strasburg
 Julian took an interest in the method of taxation and this
caused a rift between him and the Praetorian Prefect for
Gaul - Florentinus.
 Julian ordered that the rate of taxation on the middle
classes should be lowered and the amount owed by the
upper classes should be enforced.
 Florentinus had been operating a tax exemption scheme for
the very rich.
 Florentinus complained bitterly to Constantius that Julian’s
interference contravened the concept separation of civil and
military administration.
Constantius’s Persian Problem
 King Shapur 11 of the Persians was now attacking the
Eastern frontiers of the Roman Empire.
 Shapur sent an embassy to Constantius demanding
the return of Armenia and the whole of Mesopotamia
to the Persian Empire.
 Shapur threatened that if these demands were not
conceded to he would attack the Roman Empire as
soon as the winter of 359AD was over.
 By the end of the year Shapur had made several
important gains in Mesopotamia.
Constantius Orders Julian to Send Troops
 Constantius was desperately need to strengthen his
army in the East. Six legions had been lost defending
the Eastern frontiers.
 Constantius issued a blunt order to Julian to send a
large army to him in the East.
 The order is seen as a blatant move to undermine the
popular Caesar. Julian and his commanders
probably had no real picture of what was happening
in the East.
 The army flatly refused to move to the East
Julian Declared Emperor 360AD
 Julian called a council of army commander in Paris and
tried to persuade them to obey the order.
The commanders decide that the only way to
countermand Constantius’s order is to declare Julian
joint Emperor with Constantius 11.
Julian wrote to Constantius telling informing him of
what had happened and that he had no option but to bow
to the wishes of the army
Constantius 11, incandescent with rage, ordered Julian to
remain as Caesar but Julian ignored the order.
Eusabia had died by this time - Julian had lost her
influence over Constantius and his supporter at Court
Preparation for Civil War
 Julian prepared for civil war. He divided his army into
three units in order to travel quickly eastwards to Sirmium
where they would reunite.
Constantius was able to agree a truce with Shapur in order
to deal with Julian.
However, Constantius suddenly died on his way back from
Persia to confront Julian.
Julian was still named as Constantius’s successor in his will
Julian was now the Emperor – he led Constantius’s funeral
procession in Constantinople. (A Christian funeral)
Its only after the funeral of Constantius that he made his
pagan beliefs known.
The Character of Julian the Apostate
 Julian has a complex character and has the ability to win
support and create animosity.
 He was clever and well educated which is evidenced in his
 He had little appreciation of other peoples views or feelings
 Despite his successful campaign in the West he went on to
make flawed judgements.
The Character of Julian the Apostate (2)
 Julian planned to restore the temple in Jerusalem to signify
the defeat of Christianity.
He issued an edict banning Christians from teaching.
This was not supported by the majority of Pagans who
valued Christian teaching skills.
Julian set up a commission to decide who had plotted
against him within Constantius’s court and these people
were exiled.
He also cut down the numbers of unnecessary court
officials in his own court.
Julian’s Persian Campaign (1).
 Julian desperately needed a successful campaign in
the East to establish himself as Emperor and
decides to invade Persia.
 Things get off to a bad start as the omens and other
warnings advised against such a campaign.
 His planned campaign against Persia meant that he
would come up against a very shrewd campaigner in
Shapur 11 the king of the Persians.
 A king who reigned for 70 years!
Julian’s Persian Campaign (2)
 On reaching Antioch to start his Persian campaign he
was enraged by the citizens lack of enthusiasm for him.
Julian angered the citizens of Antioch by sacrificing
almost the entire heards of cattle owned by the local
He also made a complete mess of dealing with the corn
shortage in the region. He lowered the price of grain.
The rich bought up huge quantities and sold it on at
greatly increased prices.
Julian made matters even worse by publically berating
the citizens of Antioch.
This resulted in Julian becoming the butt of insulting
King Shapur 11 of Persia
Shrewd leader who reigned for 70 years!
Julian’s Persian Campaign (3)
 Julian mustered a huge army of 83,000 soldiers (we
always have to be circumspect about troop numbers) but
it was undoubtedly a huge army.
It was the largest army formed in the 4th century.
Some of these troops had followed him from the West
despite their previous reluctance to serve in the East.
The early campaign started well and Julian advanced
deep into enemy territory defeating all resistance on the
The main problem was that there were no clear
objectives for the campaign. Was it to capture Ctesiphon
the Persian capital or to completely overrun Persia?
Julian’s Persian Campaign
 Julian choose to follow the River Euphrates rather than
the easier Tigris route on his way to his target
Ctesiphon the Persian capital.
 A quarter of his army was engaged in towing a fleet of a
thousands supply boats along the Euphrates.
 Julian decided to send a diversionary army under a
Procopius ( a relative who survived the purge) to join up
with Armenian allies to follow a more conventional route
down the Tigris into Mesopotamia.
 Shapur took the bait and sent his main army towards the
diversionary army.
Julian’s Campaign Against Shapur
Persian Campaign – Gamble in the Desert
 Julian travelled on towards Ctesiphon the Persian
capital and laid waste to the surrounding land as he
does so.
 Julian personally led high risk and foolhardy attacks
with small bands of men – mainly to impress his
 His army engineers cleared and flooded an old, dried
up and disused canal built by the Emperor Trajan
linking the Euphrates and the Tigris to give his army
easier access to Ctesiphon.
 Now things start to go very wrong!
The Persian Campaign
 Ctesiphon was extremely well fortified and the
Romans lack the adequate siege equipment to take
the capital.
 There were not enough supplies to sustain a siege
of the length necessary to take the well fortified
and supplied city.
 Julian was now deep into enemy territory . He
could not advance further or stay where he was.
 The decision was taken to retreat along the Tigris.
 The route along the Euphrates has been devastated
by Julian and there would have been insufficient
resources to live off the land on the return journey.
 The story that has come down to us is that Persians
pretending to be deserters told Julian there would
be plenty for his army if he were to retreat along
the Tigris.
Julian’s Persian Campaign
Julian’s Demise
 Julian decided that the supply boats had t0 be burnt.
 Shapur, now aware of the fact that Julian’s was now
moving up the Tigris, adopted a scorched earth
policy in front of Julian’s retreating army.
 Shapur was not drawn into a set piece battle but
harassed Julian’s retreating column.
 Julian, in a rash moment, rushed out of his tent to
lead troops in a skirmish but in his rush he does not
put on his breast plate.
 He was struck by a spear and later died of this
Jovian 363 t0 364
 Julian had no heir and it is thought even though he was
wounded Julian was not expected to die. He did not
therefore name a successor before he unexpectedly died.
 The army generals quickly held a counsel and named one of
their number Jovian as emperor after offering it to Salutus
an ageing prefect who turned it down.
 There seems to have been some confusion as to which of
two Jovians that some of the generals had voted for.
 Later the Jovian who was selected held a dinner party to
which the other Jovian was invited. He was run through by
a centurion.
 Jovian was born in what is now modern Belgrade.
 He was the son of the commander of the emperor’s body
guard. This was the same position held by Jovian when he
became emperor.
Jovian restored Christianity to its former status.
NOTE Christianity was not made the official state religion
until the reign of Theodosius 1 circa 392AD
Jovian issued an edict allowing full liberty of individual
conscience in matters of region.
But later issued edicts ordering; the burning of the library
at Antioch, introducing the death penalty for the worship of
ancestral gods and banned pagan ceremonies.
 Jovian made, what was viewed at the time, a humiliating
peace treaty with Shapur in order to save his army in
which he conceded;
a) Five Roman provinces east of the Tigris which had
been conquered by Galerius in 298AD
b) The fortress at Nibis which had been won and held at
the cost of the lives many Roman soldiers over many
c) The fortresses at Castra, Nignum and Sangria are also
d) These concessions were seen as a disgrace and are the
cause of conflict in the East for years to come.
In Defence of Jovian
 Did Jovian really have a choice?
 As he saw it – his army was short of supplies and
surrounded - the diversionary army had not re-joined the
main body of troops and his troops were exhausted.
 Marcellinus was very critical of Jovian but he was biased as
Julian (who got the army into this mess) was his hero.
 What Jovian did not appreciate was that Shapur’s army was
not as strong as he thought it to be.
 If Shapur had really been that strong he could have forced
a lot more concessions from Jovian. E.g. He could have
forced the Romans to give up the whole of Mesopotamia.
Jovian Dies
 Jovian was anxious to get to Constantinople to
consolidate his position having been declared Emperor in
the middle of the desert.
He was also unpopular having conceded so much to the
On a temporary haul on his way back he was found dead
in his tent. He had apparently died from the fumes given
off from the brazier keeping his tent warm. (or did he??)
The generals are anxious to have a new emperor in place
quickly and were unwilling to wait for any nominee to
travel across the Empire.
It had to be someone within a few days travel of the army
Valentinian 1 - Chosen
 Valentinian is with Army unit 7 days away and was
declared Emperor on 25th February 364AD
Valentinian 1
 Careful analysis by historians discovered that
Valentinian fell out of favour twice in his career as
a soldier.
 1) When he was subject of the plotting by Barbatio
against Julian but was reinstated when the truth
was established.
 2) Valentinian purportedly gave up Christianity as
a show of loyalty to Julian. Julian became
suspicious of his loyalty to him and dismissed him.
Valentinian 1
 Valentinian had by this time worked his way back
into favour of Julian and had re-joined the army.
 By the time of Julian’s death he was well regarded
by the leading army commanders.
 It is interesting that although Valentinian was a
staunch Christian Julian brought him back from
 Religious difference do not seem to be taken to
extremes by Julian he appears to have been more
concerned with a persons loyalty and merit.
 Valentinian was chosen by a council of both military
and civil officers. He was in Ancyra and it took seven
days for him to catch up with the army.
 He made a speech to the disgruntled troops who
demanded that there should be a second emperor.
 He promised that there would be - as soon as a
trusted and loyal candidate could be found.
 It would have been obvious to Valentinian that
continued campaigning was required in the east and
that the western frontiers and provinces would need
separate governance.
Valentinian 1 (The Great)
 Valentinian called a council of senior army officers
and civil servants to decide on a co-emperor.
He wanted his brother Valens to be his co-emperor.
Valentinian persuaded the council that this was the
best course of action.
Valens would help form a family dynasty and he
obviously trusted him.
It was a risky choice because Valens lacked military
Valentinian 1 (The Great)
 Born 321 AD in Croatia son of an army commander
 Brought up on family estates with his brother
 He appears to have been a likeable and calm
person. However on occasions he would display
had a fierce almost uncontrollable temper which
led to fits of rage.
 He had little time for pompous, well off studious
types. He preferred practical and knowledgeable
 He also showed concern for less well off citizens.
Valens (Background)
 Valens was born in 328AD in Croatia and spent most
of his adult life running the family estates.
He was an Arian- Christian.
He joined the army at the beginning of Julian’s ill
fated expedition and had very limited military
experience. He was described as knock-kneed, with
a pot belly and a bad eye.
Despite all this he acquitted himself well until his
disastrous end.
But that’s for much later.
Valentinian and Valens
 The brothers inherited a financial mess.
 Julian’s expedition had cost a fortune and Jovian
had promised the soldiers donations to ensure he
had their loyalty.
 Valens and Valentinian made matters worse by
promising even more donations.
 The estimated cost of these donations is - 80,000
pounds of gold and 100,000 pounds of silver. The
Empire simply could not provide this.
Governance of The Empire
 The two emperors embarked on a tour of their home
lands in the Balkans and the Danube frontier.
 They appointed trusted countrymen to senior
positions within their respective royal courts.
 When the two emperors reach Naissus (Nis) it was
decided that Valens would rule in the East from
Constantinople and Valentinian would rule in
the West from Milan.
East and West
 It has been said that the Alamanni were invading
and devastating Gaul and this was why Valentinian
the senior emperor took the West.
 But this in 346AD is a greatly exaggerated view of
the position.
 A better view is that Valentinian had a much more
experience of warfare on the Rhine and Danube than
his inexperienced brother Valens.
East and West - c. 364AD
East and West
 The split of the Empire into East and West was a
major milestone in the history of the Roman empire
although it was not seen as such at the time.
 The army was carefully split on East and West lines.
 There had been a minor revolt when Julian ordered
troops to support his campaign in the East.
Valentinian was careful not cause unrest in the army
 Likewise army commanders were carefully chosen.
Lupicinius was made Master of Cavalry in the East
and Juvinus was made Master of the Cavalry in the
The Alamanni
 Whilst holding court at Milan Valentinian received
various delegations.
The Alamanni leaders came to Valentian’s court. The
Alamanni tribes were only strong when they banded
Their purpose was to seek the customary tributes that
were paid to them over the years (A bribe to keep them
from raiding Roman territory).
The receipt of the rewards helped maintain the status of
the chieftains in their own clans.
Valentinian refused to see them and was outraged by the
practice and the chieftains were sent away without being
granted an audience - empty handed.
The Alamanni Attack
 The Alamanni attacked across the Rhine in July 365AD in
revenge for Valentinian’s treatment of them.
The first attempt to put the Alamanni down failed and
senior Roman commanders were wounded and killed.
In August 365AD Valentinian received the distressing news
about the failed campaign against the Alamanni. AND
His brother has been killed by a usurper called Procopius
who had declared himself emperor in Constantinople.
Soon afterwards he learned his brother was still alive.
He decided under pressure from his commanders to stay in
the West and tackle the Alamanni.
 Procopius was Julian’s cousin and the only living
survivor of the purge under Constantinius11 . He claims
Julian had nominated him as his successor. But cannot
provide a document or a witness to support this.
 Valens had put his father in law Petronius in charge of
tax collection at Constantinople. He was cruel and greedy.
The population were mightily disgruntled.
 Valens had moved Eastwards with his army to tackle
Shapur who was making incursions into Roman territory
and was trying to exert his influence over the King of
Armenia who under the treaty with Jovian was supposed to
be neutral.
 At some stage after Valentinian 1 became emperor
and attempt was made to arrest Procopius but he
managed to escape.
 Procopius turned up in Constantinople knowing the
discontent of the people and with nothing to lose
decides to make a bid for the throne.
 Valens sent two legions northward to tackle a Gothic threat.
 As they passed through Constantinople they were won over
by Procopius.
 Eugenius ( a eunuch) had been sacked from Valens court.
Was extremely rich and decided to become Procopius’s
financial backer.
 Procopius sent a message to the Goths that they were
honour bound to support him as the last of the
Constantinian dynasty – the Goths having agreed an earlier
treaty with Constantine 1.
 The Goths saw nothing but gain from a Roman civil war
and started to prepare for it.
Valens’ Response
 Valens did not have the full picture and had no idea that his
two legions deserted him.
Procopius had managed to seize territory north of
Constantinople and was expanding his territory
Valens leaves nothing to chance and sends to Antioch for
more troops and in the mean time he sends two fairly small
units ahead of him hoping to snatch a quick victory.
This proves disastrous Procopius persuades these units to
join him!
However , despite the sizeable army Procopius now had,
this was the high water mark. From now on it was all down
hill for him.
The Downfall of Procopius
 Valens waited for new troops to arrive under his master
soldier Lupicinus. The whole army was put under the
command of another senior commander called
 The first success for Valens was he managed to get the
Procopius’s troops commanded by Hypercheus to desert
to his side.
 Procopius had become arrogant and had made an enemy
of Arbito a much respected general who served
Constantine. Arbito refused to join Procopius
 Arbito joined Valens and this proved to be a huge moral
boost for the troops.
Procopius – The End 366AD
 Valens then won several battles against Procopius and the
tide began to turn in his favour.
Equitus a general serving Valentinian in Thrace decided to
attack Procopius’s new territory to the North of
Constantinople with success.
The final battle took place on 26th May 366AD - as the
battle started Procopius’s general (Agilo) changed sides.
Procopius fled to a nearby wood but was captured by two of
his own troops who hoped to be rewarded by Valens.
Alas they were executed along with Procopius.
Valens followed up this victory with savage reprisals.
The Court and the Trouble with Long Distance Governance
 Julian had dismissed a large number of civil servant surrounding
his court but under Valentinian the numbers grew again.
 Emperors were dependent on accurate information – they
needed to know what was going on in the Empire. Much was
based on trust placed on those appointed to high office
throughout the Empire..
 Two types of agents carried out investigations on the Emperor's
behalf 1, Agents in Rebus and 2. senior clerks known as Notari.
 BUT we are dealing with human beings and at huge distances all
was not always as it seemed. As we will see from an episode in
far off Africa.
Long Distance Communication
The African Story
 Romanus was the dishonest and devious Comes
(Count) of the province of Africa.
The city of Lepcis Magna was under frequent attack
from a local tribe – the Austoriani. The citizens asked
Romanus for protection from this tribe.
Romanus demanded 4000 camels for his assistance.
The citizens of Lepcis were outraged and complained to
Valentinian who was a thousand miles away in Trier.
Romanus had substantial support at Court and
Valentinian could not decide who was in the right.
The African Story
 Valentinian sent a tribune named Paulus to pay the
army in Africa and use the trip to make enquiries
and report back on the situation to him.
 Romanus threatened Paulus with an allegation of
fraud in respect of the soldiers pay if he did not
report back favourably to Valentinian.
 The result was that Romanus got away with his
 For now that is – but we will return to Romanus
Corruption in General
 Officials at every level in the state bureaucracy
supplemented their modest income by taking bribes
or by obtaining favours.
 Taking a court action against another involved
paying bribes at each stage otherwise the case got
 Rules were broken or bent but all was hidden from
the emperor and his officials.
Back in the West 366AD - Recap
 It will be remembered that Valentinian had decided not to
go to his brother’s aid and stay to deal with the Alamanni
 The Alamanni had raided across the Rhine and defeated the
Roman general Charietto. The Alamanni had then
returned to the homelands north of the Rhine.
 Charietto Valentinian’s commander in charge of the
campaign was replaced by Jovinus who re-equipped and
trained the soldiers.
 In 366AD Jovinus isolated and routed a main division of
the Alamanni army. This proves to a great boost to the
army and several victories follow.
The West
 In 366AD Jovinus fights and wins a major battle at
Chalon sur Marne and the Alamanni are driven out
of Roman territory.
 In 367AD Valentinian and Valens agree that attacks
will be launched across the Rhine against the
Alamanni in the West and against the Goths in the
 BUT news arrives that Britain has been invaded by
bands of Picts from the North, Saxons and Franks in
the South.
 The Island was in chaos!
Chaos in Britain
 Hadrian’s Wall had been breached – dissatisfied
troops may have let the invaders in.
 Soldiers had deserted their legions.
 A general - Severus was sent to sort out the
problem and requested more troops but failed to
regain control even with more troops.
 Then Jovinus (the recent successful commander)
was sent to Britain and finds a situation far worse
than he expected. Jovinus was required back in Gaul
and Theodosius (father of the future Emperor) was
then sent to replace Jovinus..
Theodosius (The Elder) Sorts it Out
 Theodosius was of Spanish origin and a very able
commander was appointed to lead a campaign in
Britain and restore order.
 Before acting he carries out a fact finding mission
and discovered that the army had been split into
three commands.
 The split in leadership which was poor had caused
utter confusion when the attacks happened. Soldiers
rather than suffer defeat under their incompetent
commanders deserted. Some had joined the
Theodosius Sorts it Out (2)
 Theodosius realised that the invaders had no overall
strategy but were simply pillaging the countryside in
relatively small bands.
 In similar fashion Theodosius created a large number of
efficient mobile fighting units to track down and defeat
these bands of invaders.
 He promised the troops a pardon if they re-join the army –
which they do - now there was a respected commander in
 The campaign was very successful and much of the stolen
property was recovered and the troops are well rewarded.
367AD Valentinian Falls Ill
 Valentinian becomes seriously ill in 367AD and his
troops fear he will not recover.
 The troops acclaim Gratian, Valentinian’s infant
son from his first marriage, as emperor in order to
ensure the Valentinian dynasty.
 However, Valentinian makes a full recovery.
 Gratian remains in office as junior emperor.
369 -371AD
The Goths Threaten the East
 The nature of Gothic society is poorly understood.
 There were two major confederations of Goths. The
 The Greuthungi occupied the area from the river
Dniester eastwards to river Don and northward to
Kiev. They were farmers and had a substantial
cavalry having access to horses from the steppes
The Goths Continued
 The Trevingi occupied the region north of Thrace.
 They organised themselves in groups of villages each village
had a Magnate who attended a council that made decisions
for all their people.
 In times of crisis a iudex (Latin for Judge) was elected to
lead their army in war.
 The Trevingi had been accustomed to trade with Rome and
had made a treaty with Constantine (still in place) part of
which was to supply troops for the Roman army.
 The Goths were beginning to convert to Christianity – but
to Arian Christianity.
Romantic Version of the Conversion by Ulfilas
The Goths
Gothic Warrior Late Roman Empire
Gothic Campaign 366-7
 Valens was desperate to have a glorious military victory and
plans a campaign against the Goths.
He starts with a building campaign to strengthen the
frontier along the Danube.
The Goths get wind of the intended attack and retreat to the
Carpathian Mountains abandoning their farms
Valens scours the country side trying to find some Goths to
defeat but this proves fruitless.
The retreat was devastating for the Goths as they have no
food and they suffer a severe famine.
369AD Valens Engineers a Victory
 Valens was determined to have a major victory of some kind.
 A pontoon bridge was built across the Danube and his army
attacked the Goths in Romania and defeats the Gothic King
 Athanaric sues for peace and offers a treaty but the terms are not
good enough for Valens. The negotiations take place on an island
in the River Danube – a face saving exercise for both sides.
 Valens needs terms that make the defeat of the Goths appear like
a huge triumph. The terms actually were not good for either side.
 The Goths were over taxed and the Romans were deprived of
recruits for the army.
King Pap
 A complex story
Shapur 11 Causes Problems in the East
 Shapur who had adopted a policy of bribery backed up with
force was starting to make inroads on the eastern boarder
of the Roman Empire.
Shapur attacked neutral Armenia after many of the
Armenian lords defected to him.
In the end the Armenian king (Arshak) abandoned his
alliance to Rome.
Shapur invited Arshak to a feast where his eyes are gauged
out! Shapur then puts his own puppet King on the thrown
The Armenian Lords flee and support the heir to the throne
a prince known as ‘Pap’.
King Pap and Armenia
 This is a complex story and much might be lost in
this brief précis.
 Under the treaty between Jovian and Shapur 11 0f
363AD it was agreed that Armenia would remain
neutral. BUT both sides tried to influence the neutral
government of Armenia.
 Valens installed King Pap as his client King after
Shapur’s first attempt to install his own man.
 Shapur then sent an army into Iberia and another
army to besiege Pap. Pap escapes to the Imperial
Court of Valens.
King Pap – Armenia (Cont.)
 Valens sent his general with a large force to reinstate
Pap. However, Shapur again sends forces into
Armenia and Pap fled again.
 Valens now sends a much lager force into Armenia
and Shapur was defeated at the Battle of Bavagan
a treaty was agreed and Pap was reinstated once
 Pap began a persecution of the orthodox Christians
and executes Nerses the Bishop of Armenia.
Valens suspects Pap will change allegiance to
King Pap (cont,)
 Valens sent a general to Armenia to meet and win
over Pap then arrest him. The first attempt fails as
Pap had become suspicious about the reason for the
meeting .
 Another more subtle general was sent with the same
objective and this time Pap accepts an invitation to a
banquet where – surprise, surprise – he was brutally
 Pap was replaced by another client king and all was
well- for time being.
Valentinian Becomes Seriously Ill
 In 364 AD Valentinian became seriously ill. It was
suspected that he would not recover.
 It was decided that his infant son Gratian would
be declared Valentinian’s co-emperor.
 This was done to ensure that the new dynasty
 Valentinian survived but did not depose his son or
alter his rank to Caesar.
368AD Valentinian Campaigns Across the Rhine
 Jovianus won an important battle at Chalons-sur-Marne
in 366AD 6000 Alamanni are killed in the battle and the
resulting chase. Jovianus is rewarded by being made
Consul the following year.
 Valentinian having driven the Alamanni back to their
homelands wanted to drive home Roman superiority and
started to lay Alamanni territory to waste.
 The campaign ends in a battle at Solcinium. This was
the last major victory by a Roman army North of the
Rhine. The losses on both sides were considerable. The
scale of the victory was greatly exaggerated by the
Religious Strife in Rome
 In 366AD there was an election campaign for Pope
between Damasus and Viventius.
The followers of each candidate engaged in riots in
the streets of Rome and many were killed.
The Prefect of the City proved unable to quell the
riots and sat back to await the outcome.
Damasus won declared himself Pope and threw his
opponent out of the city declaring him to be an ‘antipope’.
Valentinian seems not to have paid much attention
to this event.
Building Campaign on the Rhine
 Valentinian launched a building campaign along the Rhine
frontier building bridges and new watch towers to combat
The building campaign continued for a decade.
In 369AD as a result of building a fort in Alamanni territory
The Alamanni chiefs sought an audience with Valentinian
but they were refused.
The Alamanni under their leader Marcionus attacked the
fort and drove the Romans out.
Valentinian then sought to engage the Burgundians as allies
knowing their animosity towards the Alamanni. He
promised support them once the Burgundians attack.
A Decade of Building
The Burgundian v Alamanni
 Valentinian sought to engage the Burgundians as allies in
an attack on the Alamanni.
 The Burgundians sought a meeting with Valentinian. They
wanted something in writing before launching the attack. as usual Valentinian refused to meet them.
 The Burgundians backed out of the deal. However, the
Alamanni got wind of the possible Roman/Burgundian
attack and scattered.
 Theodosius (Mr Fix It) was sent over the Rhine to attack
the Alamanni. He inflicted losses on them and took
numerous prisoners. These captured people were settled in
the Po Valley in Northern Italy.
370AD – A bit of Scandal at Valentinian’s Court.
 Valentinian’s first wife Marina had befriended
Justina the widow of the usurper Magnentius (who
died 350AD). They bathed in the nude together.
 Marina foolishly described the beauty of Justina’s
body to Valentinian who was intrigued and when he
found out just how beautiful she was he fell for her.
 He wanted to marry Justina but did not want to
divorce Marina. The story goes that he passed
legislation to allow him to have two wives. No record
of this legislation has been found.
Justina’s Children
Justina bore Valentinian four children.
A son Valentinian 11 (future emperor)
three daughters one of whom Galla later marries and
becomes the second wife of the future Emperor Theodosius
 Galla and Theodosius 1 have daughter Galla Placidia who in
turn becomes regent and rules the empire. – But this all in the
 Valentinian had a son from his first marriage to Marina -
Gratian who became his co-emperor in 364AD .
Sorcery Trial in Rome 370AD
 Valentinian ordered an investigation in Rome after a man called
Chilo accused three men of trying to poison him. One of these
men was a soothsayer.
Valentinian had suspected sorcery when he fell ill in 364AD.
A man called Maxminus was appointed as investigator and
found that the suspected senators had been leading a decadent
life (in strong contrast to Valentinian’s court) and had meddled
in sorcery.
This led to senators being executed and some sent in exile.
Marcellinus- says this was a vicious biased attack by Valentinian
on pagan members of the senate. But this ignores the fact that
many pagan senators were found not guilty.
Firmus Revolts In Africa 372 AD
 It will be remembered that Romanus the African Dux had
managed to escape being prosecuted for his corrupt dealings in
Africa several years before 372AD. He had continued extorting
money for giving protection.
Firmus, a Moor who had joined the Roman Army, decided
enough was enough and led a revolt against Romanus.
Theodosius was sent to Africa and arrested Romanus.
Firmus then tried to make peace with Theodosius but he had
revolted and had to be regarded as a traitor. This led to a war in
In the end Firmus was betrayed by one of his own men and
committed suicide before he could be captured.
Building Campaign in Quadi Territory
 As with the Alamanni Valentinian decided to build a fort in
Quadi territory which causes outrage amongst the Quadi.
A general named Marcellinus was sent to progress what
had become a drawn out building project.
Marcellinus invited Cabinius a king of the Quadi for a
banquet and executed him. He thought this would send the
appropriate message to the Quadi people.
The Quadi invade Pannonia and kill the Romans working
on the fort in their territory
The Quadi also capture Constantina (daughter of
Constantius 11)
The Quadi 375 AD
 The Quadi occupy the region to the East of the
 Valentinian faced with fighting both the Alamanni
and the Quadi decided to agree a treaty with the
Alamanni and then moved eastwards from his base
in Trier.
 This was the last time that Trier will be used as a
permanent base for a Roman emperor.
 Valentinian leads a number of unsuccessful
incursions into Quadi territory before the end of the
fighting season occurs.
Temper - Temper
 The Quadi sued for peace and agreed to supply
troops for the Roman Army as part of the deal.
A peace treaty was agreed on 15th November 375AD
The Quadi envoys seek an audience with Valentinian
and this against his normal practice it was granted.
The Quadi maintain that they were not really
responsible for the attacks on the Romans and it had
been bands of brigands purporting to be Quadi.
Valentinian flew into a violent rage and became
abusive when suddenly he suffered a seizure and
Gratian and Valentinian 11 375AD
 The Army Commanders were concerned about the
possibility usurpers seizing power as Gratian Valentian’s
co-emperor and son was only sixteen years old.
 The generals invite Valentinian 11 –(Gratian’s infant
brother) to be co–emperor in order to reinforce the
 This was not done with Gratian’s consent and we do not
know how he viewed this appointment.
 There were a number of high ranking courtiers and army
officers were unwilling to serve Valentinian 11 as his
mother (Justina – Valentinian’s widow) was an Arian
 Merobaudes had overseen the transport of Julian’s
corpse to Tarsus. (now reburied in Istanbul).
 Merobaudes was a Frank who had risen under
Valentinian 1 to the rank of Master Soldier and was
influential in the elevation of Valentinian 11 to
 It was felt that Gratian who had campaigned with his
father showed no military talents at all.
The Regime Change in the West
 In reality the Western Empire was at this time was being run by
senior Commanders. Gratian was 16 years old and Valentinian
11 was 4 years old.
The Western Empire was split into two parts ;
1) The Court of Gratian ruling Gaul, Britain and Spain
2) The Court of Valentinian 11 ruling Illyricum, Africa and
Theodosius (the elder) - the general that had provided such
great service was arrested and executed. Probably as he had
the support of the troops and could have seized power himself.
Theodosius has a son (a future emperor) who discretely retires to
his family estates and escapes his own execution.
The Influence of Justina
 Gratian is Valentinian’s son by his first marriage and
Valentinian 11 is the son of his second wife Justina.
She uses here influence at court as the mother of the
infant Emperor to impose her Arian form of Christianity.
She is opposed by Bishop Ambrose (his appointment was
supported by Gratian).
Ambrose refuses to hand over the Basilica in Milan for
Arian worship in contravention of an imperial order.
Ambrose and his supporter lock themselves in the
Basilica – eventually the unpopular order is rescinded.
New Emperors in the West
 Gratian and Valentinian 11
Uprising in Isauria and Shapur 375AD
 Valens had to act quickly to react an uprising in Isauria
(Western Turkey)
The cause is not known but it was speedily put down.
Shapur 11 had now won a Persio-Kushan war on his frontiers and
now demanded Valens either gives up Iberia or Armenia. Valens
refused to do either.
Shapur 11 sent envoys to negotiate seeking favourable terms.
Valens demanded that Shapur should give up all claims to
Armenia or face all out war.
However, Valens had a severe troop shortage and caused
resentment with a new harsh recruitment campaign.
Valens was now also involved in the persecution (perhaps too
strong a word) of orthodox Christians trying to oppose Arian
Goths Seek Asylum
 After the treaty with Valens in 370AD a civil war broke out
between the Tervingi tribes.
Firtigen an Arian Christian was supported by Valens in his
civil war against Athanaric.
The War ended in a stalemate but in acknowledgement of
Valens's support Firtigen converted all his followers to
Arian Christianity.
The Huns, not yet united, attacked the Goths in their home
lands forcing them to move Westward.
A large number of Trevingi Goths (about 90,000) arrive
on the Danube. They send envoys to Valens asking for
The Unwritten Rules for Settlement
 1) Entry to the empire had to be carefully supervised
by overwhelming force.
2) The tribes had to be split up and settled in
different parts of the Empire.
3) There had to be a clear understanding of the
conditions upon which they were allowed to settle.
4) The settlers had to give up their arms,
(Ammianus Marcellinus is unclear as to whether the
Goths were disarmed).
These rules were not applied to the Goths.
Valens Allows the Goths to Cross into Roman
 After a long period whilst the envoys travelled to and
from the Court of Valens . The Tervingi Goths were
allowed to cross the Rhine into Roman territory with
a view that they should settle in Thrace.
 Valens was desperate for troops in the East and part
of the agreement was that the Goths would supply
men for the army in return for being allowed to settle
in Roman territory.
 Valens had greatly underestimated the numbers
seeking asylum and the whole project was
disastrously handled.
The Goths
 The other Gothic tribe the Greuthungi were
refused permission to enter Roman territory but
nevertheless they forced their way across the
 The Danube frontier had been denuded of troops
who had been withdrawn to deal with the Tervingi
crossing the Rhine.
 Two generals Lupicinus and Maximus are the
two officers blamed by Ammianus (the historian) for
the mishandling of the migration of the Tervingi.
The Mishandling of the Migration.
 The Tervingi were desperately short of food. This
was not solely an army but a whole tribe of people .
They had run out of food waiting for the response
from Valens.
 Crossing the Rhine had been difficult as it was in
flood and many Tervingi had died in crossing the
 Lupicinus and Maximus sought to make profit from
the Goths by charging exorbitant prices for food,
accepting bribes and even took slaves for money or
in exchange for food.
The Mishandling of the Migration
 There must have been reserves of food stored in
walled cities along the frontiers for the army but for
some reason these were not used – either as a
deliberate tactic or just plain bad management.
 Things were becoming very tense and Lupicinius
decided to march the Trevingi to Marcianopolis
where he had his headquarters.
 The Goths were not allowed into the city and the
Romans were beginning to lose control of the
situation outside the city where the Goths were
Marcianopolis (Devnya Bulgaria)
The Mishandling of the Migration
 Under the pretence of trying to find solutions and improve
relationships – guess what?
 Lupicinius invited the Chieftains including King Fritigern
to a banquet. His intention was to kill them. It is very
unlikely due to the time lag that he was acting under orders
from Valens.
 Word of the plan got out to the Gothic warriors outside the
city and the Goths began fighting their Roman guards
 Fritigern managed to talk his way out of his potential
execution on the understanding that he would stop the
fighting which was escalating into a full scale battle.
The Romans Attack the Goths and Lose
 Lupicinus gathered what troops he could and
marched towards the Gothic camp some miles
outside the city.
The Goths managed to ambush the Roman column
and routed the Roman army.
The Goths seized swords and armour from the dead
Lupicinus managed to escape from the battle field
Fritigern’s band of Goths was reinforced when a
large group of Greuthungi joined him.
 A group of Goths who had settled near the city of
Adrianople (Hadrianople) were attacked by the city
magistrate and a makeshift army made up of workers
from the local arms factory.
 The Goths win the battle and help themselves to the
arms stored in the factory. They then travel to join
up with Fritigern’s army of warriors who are now
much better armed.
 The numbers of Goths are further expanded by
deserting Gothic slaves.
The Goths Become a Serious Problem
 The Goths now wander the countryside plundering
as they go. They are by now a huge travelling group
and need to keep moving to find supplies.
 The Goths are not raiders by nature but they have no
home land to return to. The Goths really needed a
treaty with the Empire and a place to settle.
 From the Roman point of view a war with the Goths
would not be easy to win.
 Valens makes peace with the Persians and returns to
Constantinople. His plan was to deal with the Goths
in 378AD