Theodosius I, also known as Theodosius the Great, was Roman Emperor from AD 379 to AD 395. Theodosius was the last emperor to rule over both the eastern and the western halves of the Roman Empire.
In 393, he banned the pagan rituals of the Olympics in Ancient Greece. After his death, Theodosius' young sons Arcadius and Honorius inherited the east and west halves respectively, and the Roman Empire was never again re-united, though Eastern Roman emperors after Zeno would claim the united title after Julius Nepos' death in 480 AD.
Early life[edit | edit source]
Theodosius was born in Cauca, Gallaecia, Hispania, to a senior military officer, Theodosius the Elder. Theodosius learned his military lessons by campaigning with his father's staff in Britannia where he went to help quell the Great Conspiracy in 368.
In about 373, he became governor of Upper Moesia and oversaw hostilities against the Sarmatians and thereafter against the Alemanni. He was military commander of Moesia, a Roman province on the lower Danube, in 374. However, shortly thereafter, and at about the same time as the sudden disgrace and execution of his father, Theodosius retired to Hispania. It is possible that he was dismissed from his command by the emperor Valentinian I after the loss of two of Theodosius' legions to the Sarmatians in late 374.
The death of Valentinian I in 375 created political pandemonium.
From 364 to 375, the Roman Empire was governed by two co-emperors, the brothers Valentinian I and Valens; when Valentinian died in 375, his sons, Valentinian II and Gratian, succeeded him as rulers of the Western Roman Empire. In 378, after the disastrous Battle of Adrianoplewhere Valens was killed, Gratian invited Theodosius to take command of the Illyrian army.
As Valens had no successor, Gratian's appointment of Theodosius amounted to a de facto invitation for Theodosius to become co-Augustus of the East Roman Empire. After Gratian was killed in a rebellion in 383, Theodosius appointed his own elder son, Arcadius, to be his co-ruler in the East. After the death in 392 of Valentinian II, whom Theodosius had supported against a variety of usurpations, Theodosius ruled as sole Emperor, appointing his younger son Honorius Augustus as his co-ruler of the West and by defeating the usurper Eugenius on 6 September 394, at the Battle of the Frigidus he restored peace.
Death and Legacy[edit | edit source]
Theodosius died, after suffering from a disease involving severe edema, in Milan on 17 January 395.Theodosius was buried in Constantinople on 8 November 395.
Theodosius' army rapidly dissolved after his death, with Gothic contingents raiding as far as Constantinople. As his heir in the East he left Arcadius, who was about eighteen years old, and in the West Honorius, who was ten. Neither ever showed any sign of fitness to rule, and their reigns were marked by a series of disasters. As their guardians Theodosius left Stilicho, who ruled in the name of Honorius in the Western Empire, and Flavius Rufinus who was the actual power behind the throne in the East.