Gratian

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Flavius Gratianus (18 April/23 May 359 – 25 August 383), commonly known as Gratian, was Roman Emperor from 375 to 383. The eldest son of Valentinian I, during his youth Gratian accompanied his father on several campaigns along the Rhine and Danube frontiers. Upon the death of Valentinian in 375, Gratian's brother Valentinian II was declared emperor by his father's soldiers. Gratian gained a decisive victory over the Alamanni in 378 at the Battle of Argentovaria. That same year, his uncle Valens was killed in the Battle of Adrianople against the Goths - making Gratian essentially ruler of the entire empire. He favoured the Christian religion against Roman polytheism, refusing the traditional polytheistic attributes of the emperors and removing the Altar of Victory from the Roman Senate.

Contents

Life

Gratian was the son of Emperor Valentinian I[1] by Marina Severa, and was born at Sirmium[2] (now Sremska Mitrovica, Serbia) in Pannonia. He was named after his grandfather Gratian the Elder. Gratian was first married to Flavia Maxima Constantia, daughter of Constantius II. His second wife was Laeta. Both marriages remained childless. His stepmother was Empress Justina and his paternal half siblings were Emperor Valentinian II, Galla and Justa.

On 4 August 367 he received from his father the title of Augustus. On the death of Valentinian (17 November 375), the troops in Pannonia proclaimed his infant son (by a second wife Justina) emperor under the title of Valentinian II.

Gratian acquiesced in their choice; reserving for himself the administration of the Gallic provinces, he handed over Italy, Illyricum and Africa to Valentinian and his mother, who fixed their residence at Mediolanum. The division, however, was merely nominal, and the real authority remained in the hands of Gratian.

The Eastern Roman Empire was under the rule of his uncle Valens. In May, 378 Gratian completely defeated the Lentienses, the southernmost branch of the Alamanni, at the Battle of Argentovaria, near the site of the modern Colmar. Later that year, Valens met his death in the Battle of Adrianopole on 9 August. Valens refused to wait for Gratian and his army to arrive and assist in defeating the host of Goths, Alans and Huns; as a result, two-thirds of the eastern Roman army were killed as well.

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