Magnus Maximus

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Magnus Maximus (ca. 335 – August 28, 388), also known as Maximianus and Macsen Wledig in Welsh, was Western Roman Emperor from 383 to 388. As commander of Britain, he usurped the throne from emperor Gratian in 383. However, through negotiation with Theodosius I the following year he was made emperor in Britannia and Gaul - while Gratian's brother Valentinian II retained Italy, Pannonia, Hispania, and Africa. Nevertheless Maximus' ambitions led him to invade Italy in 387, leading to his defeat by Theodosius at the Battle of the Save in 388. His defeat marked the end of real imperial activity in northern Gaul and Britain.[1]



Maximus was a distinguished general who served under Theodosius the Elder. He served with him in Africa in 373 and on the Danube in 376. It is likely he also may have been a junior officer in Britain during the quelling of the Great Conspiracy in 368. Assigned to Britain in 380, he defeated an incursion of the Picts and Scots in 381. Maximus was proclaimed emperor by his troops in 383. He went to Gaul to pursue his imperial ambitions taking a large number of British troops with him.

Following his conquest of Gaul, Maximus went out to meet his main opponent, Gratian, whom he defeated near Paris. Gratian, after fleeing, was killed at Lyon on August 25, 383. Continuing his campaign into Italy Maximus was stopped from overthrowing Valentinian II, who was aged only twelve, when Theodosius I, the Eastern Roman Emperor, sent Flavius Bauto with a powerful force to stop him. Negotiations followed in 384 including the intervention of Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, leading to an accord with Valentinian II and Theodosius I in which Maximus was recognized as an Augustus in the west.

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