384 - 423 (38 years)
Has 7 ancestors but no descendants in this family tree.
||9 Sep 384
||15 Aug 423
||8 Nov 2009 |
- was declared an Augustus in 393.
Roman Emperor (393 - 395 ) and then Western Roman Emperor from 395 until his death. He was the younger son of Theodosius I and his first wife Aelia Flaccilla , and brother of the Eastern Emperor Arcadius .
The reign of Honorius was characterized by erosion of the Western Roman Empire on its territories. When Honorius died, he left an empire on the verge of collapse.
After holding the consulate at the age of two, Honorius was declared Augustus , and thus co-ruler, on 23 January 393 . When Theodosius died, in January 395 , Honorius and Arcadius divided the Empire, so that Honorius became Western Roman Emperor at the age of ten.
For the first part of his reign, Honorius depended on the military leadership of the Vandal general Stilicho . To strengthen his bonds to the young emperor, Stilicho married his daughter Maria to him. The epithalamion written for the occasion by Stilicho's court poet Claudian survives.
At first Honorius based his capital in Milan , but when the Visigoths entered Italy in 402 he moved his capital to the coastal city of Ravenna , which was protected by a ring of marshes and strong fortifications. While the new capital was easier to defend, it was poorly situated to allow Roman forces to protect central Italy from the barbarian incursions.
Honorius' reign was plagued by many threats: from the barbarians entering within the Empire borders to several usurpers.
A revolt led by Gildo , comes Africae, lasted in Northern Africa for two years (397 -398 ). A first time in 401 and a second in 405, a barbarian army led by Radagaisus invaded Italy , bringing devastation to the heart of the Empire, until Stilicho defeated them in 406.
The situation in Britain was even more problematic. The British provinces were isolated, lacking support from the Empire, and the soldiers supported the revolts of Marcus (406 - 407 ), Gratian (407), and Constantine "III" . Constantine invaded Gaul in 407, occupying Arles.
An invasion of Alans , Suevi and Vandals moved from Gaul on 31 December 406, and arrived in Hispania in 409. In 408, Stilicho had been arrested and executed by will of Honorius, probably because of a court conspiracy against the Arian general.
The year 409 also saw the usurpation of Priscus Attalus , a senator supported by the King of the Vandals Alaric I , and the revolt of Gerontius and Maximus in Hispania. To counter Priscus, Honorius tried to negotiate with Alaric, who withdrew his support for the imperial claimant in 410, but entered in Italy and sacked Rome . Gerontius, a general of Constantine, had proclaimed Maximus Emperor in Hispania against Constantine himself, but Honorius entered in the struggle between Constantine, Maximus and Gerontius sending his own general Constantius , who suppressed the revolts in 411.
Gaul was again a source of troubles for Honorius, just after Constantius troops had returned to Italy, when Jovinus revolted in northern Gaul, with the support of Alans, Burgundians and the Gallic nobility. Jovinus tried to negotiate with the invading Goths of Ataulf (412), but his proclamation of his brother Sebastianus Augustus made Ataulf seek alliance with Honorius. Honorius had Ataulf settle the matter with Jovinus, and the rebel was defeated and executed in 413.
In 414, Constantius attacked Ataulf, who once again proclaimed Priscus Attalus emperor. Ataulf was forced by Constantius to move to Hispania, and Attalus, having lost again Visigoth support, was captured and deposed.
The northeastern part of Gaul became even more zone of Frankish influence, while a treaty signed in 418 granted to the Visigoths the southwestern portion, the former Gallia Aquitania .
In the period (420-422) in which another Maximus (or perheaps the same) gained and lost power in Hispania, Honorius accepted his general Constantius (who was also husband of Honorius' sister, Galla Placidia , since 417) as co-emperor (421), and returned only emperor at the death of his colleague (422).
Honorius died of dropsy in 423, leaving no heir. In the subsequent interregnum Joannes was nominated emperor. The following year, however, the Eastern Emperor Theodosius II elected emperor his cousin Valentinian III , son of Galla Placidia and Constantius III .
The most notable event of his reign was the assault and Sack of Rome on August 24 , 410 by the Visigoths under Alaric .
The city had been under Visigothic siege since shortly after Stilicho's deposition and execution in the summer of 408. Lacking a strong general to control the by-now mostly barbarian Roman Army, Honorius could do little to attack Alaric's forces directly, and apparently adopted the only strategy he could do in the situation: wait passively to Visigoths to grow weary and spend the time marshalling what forces he could. Unfortunately, this course of action appeared to be the product of Honorius' indecisive character and he suffered much criticism for it both from contemporaries and later historians.
Whether this plan could have worked is perhaps debatable, especially since he deprived himself of several skillful officers by only promoting Catholics to the top military positions. In any case it was overtaken by events. Stricken by starvation, somebody opened Rome's defenses to Alaric and the Goths poured in. The city had not been under the control of a foreign force since an invasion of Gallic Celts some seven centuries before. The victorious Visigoths did untold damage to the city and the shock of this event reverberated from Britain to Jerusalem, and inspired Augustine to write his magnum opus, The City of God .
The year 410 also saw Honorius reply to a British plea for assistance against local barbarian incursions. Preoccupied with the Visigoths and lacking any real capabilities to assist the distant province, Honorius told the Britons to defend themselves as best they could.
There is a story (which Gibbon disbelieved) that when he heard the news that Rome had "perished", Honorius was initially shocked; thinking the news was in reference to a favorite chicken he had named "Roma", he recalled in disbelief that the bird was just recently feeding out of his hand. It was then explained to him that the Rome in question was the city.
Summarizing his account of Honorius' reign, the historian J.B. Bury wrote, "His name would be forgotten among the obscurest occupants of the Imperial throne were it not that his reign coincided with the fatal period in which it was decided that western Europe was to pass from the Roman to the Teuton." After listing the disasters of those 28 years, Bury concludes that Honorius "himself did nothing of note against the enemies who infested his realm, but personally he was extraordinarily fortunate in occupying the throne till he died a natural death and witnessing the destruction of the multitude of tyrants who rose up against him."