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Late Roman Emperors
#1
Who were the best Roman Emperors (West) of Late Antiquity, 300-476 A.D.? Here is my list, not necessarily in order:

1. Diocletian
2. Constantine I (the Great)
3. Jullian the Apostate
4. Valentinian I
Marcellus Valerius Gothicus (aka Dave Dietrich)
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#2
Diocletian and Constantine would definately top my list, too, but Diocletian only ruled 5 years after 300, but 16 before 300, and hence he falls outside the period I think.
Valentinian I was also an agressive emperor, but I would like to see Maiorian (who managed to do something with very small means) in place of Julian, who in my opinion added nothing for the stability of the empire, only civil war and a costly defeat against Persia. Constantine II may have been a suspicious dictator, but that's not necessarily bad for a Late Roman emperor.
Theodosius was not bad, but his extremely weak knees with respect to the Christian church was not a good thing and added to the downfall of the 5th century, as did his new practise of accepting self-rule of barbarian armed groups inside the empire.

My list?

1 - Constantine I
2 - Valentinian I
3 - Constantine II
4 - Maiorian
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Robert Vermaat
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THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
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#3
1. Constantine
2. Valentinian I
Jona Lendering
Relevance is the enemy of history
My website
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#4
Quote:1. Constantine
2. Valentinian I
Just 2? Couldn't you find 2 more 'reasonable' ones? Big Grin
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Robert Vermaat
MODERATOR: Forum rules
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THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
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#5
Quote:
Jona Lendering:19xtc9l7 Wrote:1. Constantine
2. Valentinian I
Just 2? Couldn't you find 2 more 'reasonable' ones? Big Grin
Yup; I would have liked to add Heraclius and Justinian, but they're outside the boundaries.
Jona Lendering
Relevance is the enemy of history
My website
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#6
Quote:Yup; I would have liked to add Heraclius and Justinian, but they're outside the boundaries.
No Theodosius? :?
posted by Duncan B Campbell
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#7
Quote:No Theodosius? :?
No Theodosius.
Jona Lendering
Relevance is the enemy of history
My website
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#8
Come on, you two. :wink: I'm curious what you think of Theodosius.
David J. Cord
http://www.davidcord.com
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#9
Quote:I'm curious what you think of Theodosius.
I can do no better than to quote Gibbon:
Quote:Theodosius was chaste and temperate; he enjoyed, without excess, the sensual and social pleasures of the table; and the warmth of his amorous passions was never diverted from their lawful objects. [ :wink: ] The proud titles of imperial greatness were adorned by the tender names of a faithful husband, an indulgent father; ... His familiar friends were judiciously selected from among those persons who, in the equal intercourse of private life, had appeared before his eyes without a mask; the consciousness of personal and superior merit enabled him to despise the accidental distinction of the purple; and he proved by his conduct that he had forgotten all the injuries, while he most gratefully remembered all the favours and services, which he had received before he ascended the throne of the Roman empire.
What a splendid fellow! (And let us pass swiftly over the massacre at Thessalonica. :oops: )
posted by Duncan B Campbell
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#10
Quote:I can do no better than to quote Gibbon
For an author like you I find that a bit poor.. :wink:

Theodosius managed to stabilise the East, but only by accepting whole groups of barbarians under their own leader - quite independent and in breach of Roman pracise. Groups like these went on to contribute to the eventual downfall of the West, not a century later.
Theodosius was the first emperor who de facto submitted to the (at the time only moral) suzeranity of the Christian church. This loss of authority was also significant - one could call it the dawn of the Middle Ages, which saw the dominace of the Papacy over monarchies in the West. Regrettably, under the 'dominance' of bishop Ambroius, Theodosius also regrettably condoned antipJewish violence.
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Robert Vermaat
MODERATOR: Forum rules
FECTIO Late Roman Society
THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
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#11
Quote:Theodosius was the first emperor who de facto submitted to the (at the time only moral) suzeranity of the Christian church.
Magnus Maximus accepted a similar humiliation several years before: Sulpicius Severus, Life of Saint Martin 20.4-7. Nevertheless, Theodosius is the one who mattered.
Jona Lendering
Relevance is the enemy of history
My website
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#12
definitely not Theodosious. Not to mention the points that Robert brought up. Theodosious was also responsible in part for the destruction of the Library of Alexandria in 391, after his decree to destroy all remaining pagan temples. [url:2y8dfh3q]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Library_of_Alexandria[/url] Imagine the scientific scholarly work that was destroyed in the quest to destroy Paganism. Sad how backwards that really seems today.

Majorian might have made my list had he not failed in his efforts to retake Africa, and had the political power to deal with Ricimer, who eventually killed him.

1.) Constantine I
2.) Valentinian I
3.) Anthemius- Although largely unsuccessful in his attempt to take over for Majorian, he was the last Western emperor to go on the offensive to try and regain territory. He was also involved in the tragically failed expedition for the retaking of Africa in 461 that ultimately bankrupt the Eastern Empire. He also ruled the longest out of the last few....
Markus Aurelius Montanvs
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#13
Quote:
Vortigern Studies:1oum0p7l Wrote:Theodosius was the first emperor who de facto submitted to the (at the time only moral) suzeranity of the Christian church.
Magnus Maximus accepted a similar humiliation several years before: Sulpicius Severus, Life of Saint Martin 20.4-7.
Did he? Maybe it was a sign of the times.. But I think that Theodosius went a lot further in his deference to Ambrose (who was not even the bishop of Rome).

Magnus Maximus was the first emperor (well, usurper, a small techniclity :mrgreen: ) who executed the Priscillianist Christians (in 385?) on the grounds of heresy (well, the sentence was witchcraft, a technicalty) despite the protestations ot St Martin of Tours. Martin did manage to stop an order from Maximus to his commanders to root out the heresy, but surely not on the grounds of the supremacy of the church over the state.
I've read Severus' account (printed below), but his words don't seem to indicate that Martin had any real power over Maximus, just influence?
Maximus in 387 or 388 punished Christians for burning down a synagoge in Rome (despite St. Ambrose' protestations).
So how did defer Maximus to the wishes of the Catholic church?

Sulpicius Severus, Life of Saint Martin XX.1-7
1. And here to insert some smaller matters among things so great (although such is the nature of our times in which all things have fallen into decay and corruption, it is almost a pre-eminent virtue for priestly firmness not to have yielded to royal flattery), when a number of bishops from various parts had assembled to the Emperor Maximus, a man of fierce character, and at that time elated with the victory he had won in the civil wars, and when the disgraceful flattery of all around the emperor was generally remarked, while the priestly dignity had, with degenerate submissiveness, taken a second place to the royal retinue, in Martin alone, apostolic authority continued to assert itself.
2. For even if he had to make suit to the sovereign for some things, he commanded rather than entreated him; and although often invited, he kept away from his entertainments, saying that he could not take a place at the table of one who, out of two emperors, had deprived one of his kingdom, and the other of his life.
3. At last, when Maximus maintained that he had not of his own accord assumed the sovereignty, but that he had simply defended by arms the necessary requirements of the empire, regard to which had been imposed upon him by the soldiers, according to the Divine appointment, and that the favor of God did not seem wanting to him who, by an event seemingly so incredible, had secured the victory, adding to that the statement that none of his adversaries had been slain except in the open field of battle, at length, Martin, overcome either by his reasoning or his entreaties, came to the royal banquet.
4. The king was wonderfully pleased because he had gained this point.
5. Moreover, there were guests present who had been invited as if to a festival; men of the highest and most illustrious rank—the prefect, who was also consul, named Evodius, one of the most righteous men that ever lived; two courtiers possessed of the greatest power, the brother and uncle of the king, while between these two, the presbyter of Martin had taken his place; but he himself occupied a seat which was set quite close to the king.
6. About the middle of the banquet, according to custom, one of the servants presented a goblet to the king.
7. He orders it rather to be given to the very holy bishop, expecting and hoping that he should then receive the cup from his right hand.
8. But Martin, when he had drunk, handed the goblet to his own presbyter, as thinking no one worthier to drink next to himself, and holding that it would not be right for him to prefer either the king himself, or those who were next the king, to the presbyter.
9. And the emperor, as well as all those who were then present, admired this conduct so much, that this very thing, by which they had been undervalued, gave them pleasure.
10. The report then ran through the whole palace that Martin had done, at the king's dinner, what no bishop had dared to do at the banquets of the lowest judges.
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Robert Vermaat
MODERATOR: Forum rules
FECTIO Late Roman Society
THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
(Maurikios-Strategikon, book VIII.2: Maxim 12)
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#14
Quote:So how did defer Maximus to the wishes of the Catholic church?
Let's say that he courted the Church to a level where he accepted more humiliation than earlier rulers would have done.
Jona Lendering
Relevance is the enemy of history
My website
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#15
Quote:
D B Campbell:1kapomfe Wrote:I can do no better than to quote Gibbon
For an author like you I find that a bit poor.. :wink:
My tongue was slightly in my cheek when I quoted Gibbon's fulsome praise. But only slightly. Theodosius was a victim of his times. The empire had just suffered its greatest calamity at Adrianople. His predecessor Valens had mismanaged the Goths. Finances were stretched. And yet the empire survived. (I know little about his devout Catholicism, so I cannot comment on that aspect.)
posted by Duncan B Campbell
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