Aspar

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Flavius Ardabur Aspar (c. 400 – 471) was an Alan patrician and magister militum ("Master of soldiers") of the Eastern Roman Empire. Aspar's family exerted a great influence on the Eastern Roman Emperors for half a century, from the 420s to his death in 471, over Theodosius II, Marcian and Leo I, who, in the end, had him killed.

Contents

Biography

Son of the magister Ardaburius[1], Aspar played a crucial role in his father's expedition in 424 to defeat the western usurper, Joannes of Ravenna, and to install Galla Placidia and her son, Valentinian III, in his place. He also helped to negotiate a peace treaty with Geiseric after the Vandal invasion of Africa.

Aspar attained the consulship in 434 after campaigning in Africa.[2] However, Aspar could not become emperor because of his Arian religion. Instead, he played the role of kingmaker with his subordinate, Marcian, who became emperor by marrying Theodosius II's sister Pulcheria.

On 27 January 457 Marcian died, and the political and military characters of the Eastern court took eleven days to chose a successor. Despite the presence of a strong candidate to the purple, the magister militum and Marcian's son-in-law Anthemius, the choice was quite different. Aspar, who in this occasion was probably offered the throne by the Senate but refused,[3] could have chosen his own son Ardabur, but instead selected an obscure tribune of one of his military units, Leo I.[4]

In 470, in an episode of the struggle for power between Aspar and the Isaurian general Zeno, Aspar persuaded the emperor to appoint his second son, Julius Patricius, as caesar and give him in marriage his daughter Leontia. However, as for the clergy and people of Constantinople an Arian was not eligible to become an emperor, at the news of the appointment riots broke out in the city hippodrome, led by the head of the Sleepless Monks, Marcellus: Aspar and Leo had to promise to the bishops that Patricius would convert to Orthodoxy before becoming emperor, and only after the conversion he would have married Leontia.

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