dynastie théodosienne Theodosian Dynasty
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The Theodosian Dynasty

Hi to all of you ! How are you ? Two weeks ago, we saw The Valentinian Dynasty. We are therefore going to talk about the continuation of Roman history with the Theodosian Dynasty. We will see here, of whom it was composed, at what time did it exist…. Now let’s get to the heart of the matter and, above all, good reading.

Context of the Theodosian Dynasty

The Theodosian dynasty was created by Theodosius I in 379 AD in the East. Subsequently, Theodosius implanted it in the West, but he did not do so until AD 392, after the death of Valentinian II. This was the last dynasty known to the Roman Empire. It lasted however, nearly 80 years in the East and over 60 years in the West. During this one, eight emperors succeeded one another: four in the East and four in the West.

Who did the Theodosian Dynasty consist of?

This dynasty consisted of Theodosius I (19/01/379 AD – 17/01/395 AD), Magnus Maximus (25/08/383 AD – 28/08/388 AD), Arcadius ( 01/19/383 AD – 5/1/408 AD), Honorius (01/22/393 AD – 08/15/423 AD), Theodosius II (01/10/402 AD – 28/07/450 AD), of Constance III (421 AD), of Valentininian III (23 October 423 AD – 15 March 455 AD) and of Marcian (450 AD – 457 AD)

Now that we know the makeup and background surrounding the Theodosian dynasty, let’s see what happened during that time.

The History of the Theodosian Dynasty

The Theodosian dynasty therefore began in the East with the reign of Theodosius I, who gave it its name. This one came into play when he defeated Maxime. Then, in 379 AD, he became emperor, succeeding Valens. Thus, he reigns over the East. At the beginning, its goal is to consolidate its territory by strengthening the borders. As a result, he beats the Goths and signs a peace treaty with the Persians. Subsequently, he successively overthrows the usurpers Maxime and Eugene. And since Valentinian II was killed, Theodosius I becomes the sole ruler of the Empire and therefore rules East and West. Finally, the Roman Empire is reunified. Theodosius I died in AD 395 from an illness.

During his reign, different emperors also reigned. Indeed, there were Magnus Maximus (Maximus) and Valentinian II (but I already mentioned this in the last article) who became emperor. As a result, Maximus became emperor in 383 AD, following the death of Gratien, whom he had executed. Thus, he controls Gaul and as you already know he attacks Valentinian II in Rome but Theodosius I opposes the Emperor of the Gauls and kills him. And then the reign of Magnus Maximus ends.

Following the death of Theodosius I, Arcadius, his son, became Emperor of the East. For his part, Honorius the second son of Theodosius I became Emperor of the East. But let’s take a look at Arcadius first.

The latter has actually been Augustus since he was 6 years old but of course he hadn’t done any great deeds until now. And it was the same for years to come. Indeed, Arcadius was weak and therefore, the Empire was ruled by Rufin: Prefect of the Praetorium. The Visigoths subsequently invaded the Western Empire. So Arcadius wishes to make Rufin an official ruler of the Empire. However, he was murdered shortly after. So, Eutrope (a chambermaid) who competed with Eutrope replaced him and reigned like a tyrant. He will be executed shortly after, in 399 AD. Thus, Arcadius became the sole ruler of the East. He therefore leads, with his wife: Eudoxia, a religious policy aimed at combating paganism and dies in 408 AD.

At the same time as the reign of Arcadius, his brother: Honorius reigns in the West. At first, being young to rule (11 years old), Stilicone a general ruled the Western Empire. So, the latter repels various barbarian invasions and therefore protects Honorius and his place of emperor. Afterwards, Stilicone, who is no longer admired by everyone, was executed on the orders of Honorius in 408 AD. Then, the Empire is affected by great barbarian invasions and numerous usurpations in Gaul, Brittany and Spain. As a result, the Romans lost a lot of territory and even Rome, which although it was no longer the capital at that time, was still a great symbol of it. Finally, Honorius dies a few years after this, after a long reign of 30 years and then leaves a fragmented and helpless Empire.

During the reign of Honorius, Constance III will also reign but for only a few months. Indeed, Honorius names him co-emperor. So Theodosius I opposes this and tensions are created between Theodosius I and Constance III. These tensions will never succeed since Constance III dies in stride. Thus, Honorius remains the sole ruler of the West.

Following the reign of Arcadius, Theodosius II became emperor. Very young Augustus (not even a year old), he became emperor at the age of 7 after the death of his father, Arcadius. During the first years of his reign, Theodosius II was under the influence of many people around him and therefore took no decisions. Subsequently, when he reaches the age of 20, the influence of those around him, especially that of his wife: Eudoxie, is still very present.

His reign was mainly marked by difficulties in maintaining the borders. However, he won battles against the Persians which allowed them to be pushed back. Also, he concludes an agreement with the Huns in order to make peace with them. In addition, during his reign, many difficulties arose at the religious level. Indeed, violence broke out against Jews and Gentiles. But also within the followers of Nestorianism. Theodosius II died by accident in 450 AD.

Following the reign of Honorius, Valentinian III the son of Constance III reigns. He therefore rules the West. During his reign, he will ban the pagan religion, the Christian religion and non-Catholics. Also, invasions take place and thus, the Western Empire is losing territory. However, the general of Valentinian III will allow a push back of the Germanics thanks to various actions carried out over time. Subsequently, Valentinian assassinates Aetius for unknown reasons. Finally, Valentinian III will in turn be killed by relatives of Aetius.

Finally, the last emperor to have reigned under the Theodosian dynasty is Marcian. He is also often considered the first Byzantine emperor. During his reign he spent a lot of time countering the Huns. First by stopping paying the tribe put in place by Theodosius II and subsequently by sending the army directly to face the Huns. Marcian died in AD 457 of illness and so the Theodosian dynasty came to an end.


The Theodosian dynasty was therefore the last dynasty of the Roman Empire. It was an integral part of its decadence and was stereotyped by the elements leading to the loss of the Empire such as the invasions and the resulting loss of territories.

Here is this article is now finished. Hope you enjoyed it, if so please let me know in the comments space and also tell me what topic you would like me to talk about in a future post. In fact, for the next article, we will finish talking about Roman history with “The Last Emperors”. Ah yes ! Next week there will be no article again because of my studies. But don’t worry, I’ll be back in two weeks. So, see you in two weeks!

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