Valentinian (Roman Emperor)

Valentinian was the name of three Roman Emperors.

VALENTINIAN I., Flavius, Roman Emperor of the West, born in Pannonia in 321; died there Nov. 17, 375 A. D. He was the son of Gratianus, a soldier in the Roman army, and under his father received early military training. Julian recognized in him a military leader of great courage and capacity, but his contempt for paganism caused the emperor to banish him in 362. He was restored to favor the following year and given command of an army in the East, where he became highly distinguished, and on the death of Jovian, in 364, was chosen emperor by the army stationed at Nicaea. One of his first important acts was to name his brother Valens as Emperor of the East, while he governed Italy, Spain, Gaul, Germany, and Northwestern Africa. His reign of eleven years was wise and able, but there were a number of incursions from Germany, chiefly by the Saxons, Burgundians, and Alemanni. He not only defended the Roman possessions, but made notable improvements, encouraged industries, and reformed the civil service. He died from an attack of apoplexy while treating with ambassadors from Germany. His daughter Galla became the wife of Theodosius I. and his two sons, Valentinian and Gratianus, succeeded him in the government.

VALENTINIAN II., Flavius, Roman Emperor of the West, born in 371; died in 392. He was but four years of age at the death of his father, Valentinian I., while his elder brother Gratianus was seventeen years old. The two succeeded their father in the government, with their residence at Milan. Gratianus retained the Trans-Alpine provinces, while Valentinian received Italy and parts of Africa and Illyricum, the latter being assisted by his mother, Justina. Gratianus died in 383 and his army in Britain rallied to the support of Maximus, who, in 387, invaded Italy. Valentinian and his mother fled to Thessalonica, where they found a friend in Theodosius, the husband of Galla and the Emperor of the East. Theodosius sent a large army into Italy, which defeated Maximus in a decisive battle, thus restoring Valentinian to the throne. Though a liberal sovereign, he was slain by Arbogastes, a Frank commander in the army, four years after his restoration.

VALENTINIAN III., Placidius, Roman Emperor of the West, born in 419 ; slain March 16, 455. He was the son of Constantius III. and of Placida, the daughter of Theodosius and Galla, and in 425 was declared Emperor of the West by Theodosius II. In the first part of his reign he was assisted by his mother. His government of thirty years was both weak and corrupt, witnessing a rapid decadence of Roman power. In this period occurred the great barbaric invasions under Attila and Genseric, which were long staid with a powerful hand by the Roman general Aetius. The Vandals under Genseric conquered Africa, but Attila was finally defeated by Aetius, though the jealousy of Valentinian caused him to kill the latter in 454. The faithful friends of Aetius joined Maximus in opposition to Valentinian, and he was slain while attending games in the Campus Martins. His death witnessed the extinction of the family of Theodosius.

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