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Valentinian II

Emperor A. D. 375 - 392

Valentinian II was the son of Valentinian I and his wife Justina. This made him Gratian's half brother. Valentinian II was put on the throne while only a four year-old boy. Supposedly, Valentinian II was under the protection of Theodosius, but Theodosius had his hands full with the revolt of Magnus Maximus. In the meantime, Valentinian fled Italy and sought refuge in Constantinople.

After Maximus was defeated, Valentinian II returned to Italy, which he governed with the help of a Frankish General, Arbogastes. Arbogastes was harboring treachery in his heart, though, and slowly replaced all of Valentinian’s important officers and government officials with his own men who were loyal only to Arbogastes. When Valentinian attempted to take control of his empire by giving Arbogastes a letter of dismissal. Arbogastes replied sullenly that &quotMy authority does not depend upon a monarch's smile or frown." A few days later, Valentinian II was found dead in his apartments. The empire officially went into mourning for Valentinian, and the reason given by Arbogastes for his death was suicide. After Valentinian's death, Arbogastes placed a popular pagan philosopher by the name of Eugenius on the throne and asked permission from the eastern emperor Theodosius after the fact. These events did not set well with Theodosius, however, and he sent an army to deal with Arbogastes in A. D. 394. Theodosius was urged to action by the entreaties of his wife, who begged him to take revenge on Arbogastes for his evil deed. (Theodosius' wife was Valentinian II's sister.) The two armies met in the passes of the Julian Alps near the river Frigidus and Theodosius totally routed the army of Eugenius and Arbogastes in the ensuing battle on September 4th and 5th, A. D. 394. A few days later, Arbogastes committed suicide and Eugenius was captured and killed.


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