Gratian was the son of the Roman emperor Valentinian I and his wife Severa. He was given the rank of Augustus by his father in A. d. 367 when he was still a young boy. He was only fifteen years old in 375 when his father died and he became sole emperor in the West. A few days later, he proclaimed his four-year old brother Valentinian co-emperor with him.
After Valens' disastrous defeat by the Goths at Adrianople in 378, Gratian asked Theodosius to become emperor in the East. Though Theodosius' father, also named Theodosius, had been executed after having fallen out of favor in Valentinian I's court, Theodosius accepted the job with a forgiving heart and immediately began to put his wide military talents to good use strengthening the East.
In 383, the British troops rebelled and, led by Magnus Maximus, invaded Gaul. Gratian was not adequately prepared to meet this threat and his soldiers deserted him as well. Gratian had never been very popular with the army because he preferred hunting and sports to leading men into battle. Unable to make good his escape, Gratian was murdered by troops of Magnus Maximus in Lugdunum (Lyons) on August 25th, A. D. 383.
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