|Augustus||19 January 379 – 17 January 395|
Valentinian II (379–392)
Magnus Maximus (384–388)
|Born||11 January 347|
Cauca (Coca, Spain)
|Died||17 January 395 (aged 48)|
Mediolanum (Milan, Italy)
Theodosius I (Greek: Θεοδόσιος; 11 January 347 – 17 January 395), also called Theodosius the Great, was Roman emperor from 379 to 395. He is best known for making Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire and great architecture projects in Constantinople.
After a military career and a governorship under his father Theodosius the Elder – a comes rei militaris – he became magister equitum and was then elevated to the imperial rank of augustus by the emperor Gratian (r. 367–383). He replaced the latter's uncle and senior augustus Valens (r. 364–378), who had been killed in the Battle of Adrianople. He was the first emperor of the Theodosian dynasty (r. 379–457), and married into the ruling Valentinianic dynasty (r. 364–455). On accepting his elevation, he campaigned with limited success against Goths and other barbarians who had invaded the Empire. He was not able to destroy them or drive them out, as had been Roman policy for centuries in dealing with invaders. The Gothic War ended with the Goths established as autonomous allies of the Empire, within the Empire's borders, south of the Danube. They were given lands and allowed to remain under their own leaders, not assimilated as had been normal Roman practice.
He issued decrees that effectively made Nicene Christianity the official state religion of the Roman Empire, including the Edict of Thessalonica. He dissolved the order of the Vestal Virgins in Rome's Temple of Vesta. In 393, he banned the pagan rituals of the Olympic Games. His decrees made Nicene Christianity the state church of the Roman Empire and punished Roman paganism, Hellenistic religion, and Arianism. He neither prevented nor punished the destruction of prominent Hellenistic temples of classical antiquity, including the Temple of Apollo in Delphi and the Serapeum in Alexandria. At his capital Constantinople he commissioned the honorific Column of Theodosius, the Theodosian Walls, and the Golden Gate, among the greatest surviving works of ancient Roman architecture. His management of the empire was marked by heavy tax exactions, and by a court in which "everything was for sale".
Theodosius married Gratian's half-sister Galla, daughter of Valentinian the Great (r. 364–375), and defeated the rebellion of Magnus Maximus (r. 383–388) on behalf of his new brother-in-law, Valentinian II (r. 375–392). This victory came at heavy cost to the strength of the Empire. When Valentinian II died, Theodosius became the senior emperor, having already made his eldest son Arcadius his co-augustus. Theodosius then defeated the usurper Eugenius (r. 392–394), in another destructive civil war. He died a few months later, without having consolidated control of his armies or of his Gothic allies. After his death, Theodosius's young and incapable sons were the two augusti. Arcadius (r. 383–408) inherited the eastern empire and reigned from Constantinople, and Honorius (r. 393–423) the western empire. The two courts spent much of their effort in attacking each other or in vicious internal power struggles. The administrative division endured until the fall of the western Roman empire in the late 5th century.
Theodosius is considered a saint by the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox churches, and his feast day is on January 17.