Magnus Maximus Posted August 15, 2022 · Member Share Posted August 15, 2022 (edited) Hello all, As someone who has been collecting coins from the late Roman period for some time, I had always been missing a nice siliqua of Valentinian II. Valentinian II is no more than a footnote in the late Roman world. However, I believe him to be a harbinger of further things to come to the Western Roman Empire. Flavius Valentinianus was born in 371 to Emperor Valentinian I and his second wife, Justina. Valentinian II was the half-brother of Emperor Gratian. Valentinian II was only four years old when his father died in 375. With the death of Valentinian I, generals and court officials in Mediolanum declared the 4-year-old a full Augustus without consulting Gratian or Valens. However, Gratian took the usurpation well and came to a power-sharing agreement with his younger half-brother. After the disastrous Battle of Adrianople occurred that led to the death of Valens(Valentinian II's uncle), along with the field army of Thrace, the courts of Gratian and Valentinian II were left to pick up the pieces. After realizing that the task of clearing out the Goths from Thrace was too much, Gratian then appointed Theodosius I as his eastern colleague. In 380, all three Augusti issued the Edict of Thessalonica, which in essence outlawed Arianism. In AD 383, Magnus Maximus, a Hispano-Roman general in charge of a significant Roman garrison in Britain, revolted. Maximus's army quickly crossed the English Channel into Gaul and skirmished with the forces loyal to Gratian. After a few days of light skirmishes, most of Gratian's troops defected to Maximus. Gratian was caught by Maximus's magister militum near Lyon and swiftly executed. The events leading to Gratian's downfall had so quickly transpired that the court of Valentinian II was caught completely off guard. Forces that remained loyal to Valentinian II are reported to have blocked the alpine passes into Italy. At the same time, messengers were sent to Constantinople for reinforcements from Theodosius I. By late 383, St Ambrose of Milian is said to have helped broker a truce between Maximus and Valentinian, where Maximus would be recognized as an official Imperial colleague, and would rule over Hispania, Gaul, Britania, and parts of north Africa. In exchange for Maximus's elevation to the purple, Valentinian II would be secure "ruling" Italy, most of north Africa, Raetia, and Pannonia. The peace of Ambrose would hold for nearly four years before Maximus invaded Italy in 387. Valentinian II and his court fled to Constantinople to meet with Theodosius I to garner support to defeat Maximus. Theodosius I was initially reluctant to support Valentinian due to his support for Arian Christianity and Maximus's formidable forces. Only after Valentinian converted to Nicene Christianity and Theodosius wed his sister, Galla, did Theodosius march against Maximus. After the defeat of Maximus in late 388, Valentinian II was reinstalled as Augustus of the Western Roman Empire, but with a catch! Theodosius I had left Valentinian II under the care and direction of his Romanized Frank, Arbogast. In addition, Theodosius I appointed all high-ranking positions in the western court. In a move to isolate Valentinian II from Ambrose and the Roman senate, Theodosius had Valentinian set up his court at Vienne, Gaul. At 17, Valentinian II held no real power, despite his effort to try to break free of Arbogast. It is recorded that Arborgast personally killed one of Valentinian's friends in front of him. The final breaking point between the two men came when Valentinian II gave the generalissimo a dismissal letter, to which he tore it up and laughed in the Emperor's face. Valentinian II wrote to Ambrose in 392, saying his death was imminent and that he was fearful. Valentinian II would later be found hung in his bed chamber on 15 May, 392. He was 21 years old. As I said earlier, Valentinian II is significant in the fact that he is a harbinger of what was to come for the Roman Empire: a weak child Emperor under the thumb of a strong barbarian generalissimo. Valentinian's life truly is a tragedy as he was only four years old when his father died, 12 when his brother died, and 17 when his mother died. In addition, though he was technically a full Augustus from 375 to 392, he never had any real power and was either a political hostage or pawn to another Emperor. Valentinian's death is still unsolved to this day, as historians are split between suicide or murder by Arbogast. I tend to support the suicide hypothesis as the young man was isolated from any friends or family he had, was writing to Ambrose of Milian in a rather depressed manner, and was living in the shadow of his father and half-brother. On a lighter note, I have purchased my first siliqua of Valentinian II! The coin was struck at Trier between 375 and 379, while Valentinian II was between 4 and 8 years old. Valentinian II, 375-392. Siliqua (Silver, 19 mm, 2.00 g, 6 h), Treveri, 375-378. D N VALENTINIANVS IVN P F AVG Pearl-diademed, draped and cuirassed bust of Valentinian II to right. Rev. VICTOR-IA AVGGG / TRPS Victory advancing left, holding palm frond in her right hand and trophy over her left shoulder. RIC 43. RSC 40†a. Nicely toned. Struck from slightly worn dies, otherwise, very fine. Edited August 18, 2022 by Magnus Maximus 15 1 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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