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Flavius Stilicho (occasionally written as Stilico) (ca. 359 – August 22, 408) was a high-ranking general (magister militum), Patrician and Consul of the Western Roman Empire, notably of semi-barbarian birth.



Stilicho was the son of a Vandal father and a Roman mother. Despite his father's origins there is little to suggest that Stilicho considered himself anything other than a Roman, and his high rank within the empire suggests that he was probably not Arian like many Germanic Christians but rather a Nicene Christian like his patron Theodosius I, who declared Nicene Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire.

Stilicho joined the Roman army and rose through the ranks during the reign of Theodosius I, who ruled the Eastern half of the Roman Empire from Constantinople, and who was to become the last emperor to rule both the Eastern and Western halves of the Empire jointly. In 383, Theodosius sent him as an envoy to the court of the Persian king Shapur III to negotiate a peace settlement relating to the partition of Armenia. Upon his return to Constantinople at the successful conclusion of peace talks, Stilicho was promoted (to comes stabuli) and later to general (magister militum). The emperor recognized that Stilicho could be a valuable ally, and to form a blood tie with him, Theodosius married his adopted niece Serena to Stilicho. The marriage took place around the time of Stilicho's mission to Persia, and ultimately Serena gave birth to a son, who was named Eucherius, and two daughters, Maria and Thermantia.

After the death of the Western Emperor Valentinian II in 392, Stilicho helped raise the army that Theodosius would lead to victory at the Battle of the Frigidus, and was one of the Eastern leaders in that battle. One of his comrades during the campaign was the Visigothic warlord Alaric, who commanded a substantial number of Gothic auxiliaries. Alaric would go on to become Stilicho's chief adversary during his later career as the head of the Western Roman armies. Stilicho distinguished himself at the Frigidus, and Theodosius, exhausted by the campaign, saw him as a man worthy of responsibility for the future safety of the Empire. The last emperor of a united Rome appointed Stilicho guardian of his son, Honorius shortly before his death in 395.

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