Constantius III

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Flavius Constantius (died 2 September 421), commonly known as Constantius III, was Western Roman Emperor for seven months in 421. A prominent general and politician, he was the power behind the throne for much of the 410s, and in 421 briefly became co-emperor of the Western Empire with Honorius.



Early life and rise to the throne

Constantius was born in Naissus (modern-day Niš, Serbia) and was probably a career soldier, who reached the rank of magister militum under Honorius.

In 411 he defeated Gerontius, the general of usurper Maximus, and Constantine III, another usurper, in Arles. Constantine had revolted against Honorius (407), but then he had broken his relationship with general Gerontius, who had proclaimed Maximus Emperor in opposition to both Honorius and Maximus (409). Gerontius had then besieged Constantine in the city of Arles (411), but the arrival of the troops of Constantius from Italy had put him in serious trouble, being at the same time a besieger and a besieged. Gerontius was abandoned by his troops and then killed in Hispania. The able general having been disposed of, Constantius besieged the city for three months until the general of Constantine, Edobichus, who had been sent across the border to find allies, did return with a large army of Franks and Alamanni. Before the walls of Arles, Constantius confronted and defeated Edobichus, who was later betrayed and killed by a friend. Constantine was forced to surrender to Constantius when his troops on the Rhine left him for another usurper, Jovinus. Constantius granted a safe conduct to Constantine, who had become an ordained priest, but later he captured and killed him.

In 412 he expelled from Italy the Visigoths under Ataulf. In 413 he held his first consulate. In 414 he began a military offensive against the Visigoths. In response, Ataulf appointed as emperor Priscus Attalus, who had already been a usurper against Honorius in 410. The blockade imposed by Constantius on Gallic ports was so effective that the Visigoths fled from Gaul to Hispania in 415. Also Attalus tried to flee but was captured by the forces of Constantius and sent to Ravenna. With the death of Ataulf and his successor Segeric, that same year Constantius signed a treaty with the new Visigothic king Wallia: in exchange of 600000 bushels of wheat and the territory of the region of Aquitaine, from the Pyrenees to the Garonne, the Visigoths pledged to fight on behalf of the Romans, as allies official or vassal state of the empire (foederati), the Vandals, Alans and Suebi who in 407 had crossed the Rhine River and were stationed in the provinces of Hispania. The agreement also provided for the release of Galla Placidia, Honorius'sister, captured during the sack of Rome in 410.

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