Parents: Constantius III, emperor of Rome, and Galla Placidia
Date of Birth: 2 July 419
Spouse: Licinia Eudoxia
Reign: 425 – 455
Summary: Born in Ravenna, the capital of the Western Roman Empire, Valentinian was the only son of his parents. He was born into the royal family, his mother being the half-sister of Emperor Honorius. Valentinian was also related to the Eastern Roman Emperor through his mother. His prominence rose in 421 when his father was nominated co-emperor with Honorius, a title he would hold until his death seven months later. With his father's death, Valentinian, his mother, and his sister all moved to Constantinople to live at the court of Theodosius II. Honorius died two years later but the Western throne was then usurped by Joannes. In 424, Theodosius nominated his cousin, Valentinian, to act as caesar in the West and the emperor betrothed the boy to his daughter, Licinia Eudoxia. Following Joannes' defeat in 425, Valentinian was installed as the formal Western Roman Emperor.
Valentinian was only six at the time of his coronation. His mother ruled in his stead until 433 and then Flavius Aëtius, the military leader, ruled as regent. The decentralized leadership of a child emperor did little to help the already ailing Western Empire. Africa was conquered by the Vandals by 439, Spain and Gaul fell to the Visigoths and Franks, and Sicily was constantly under threat from Africa. When Valentinian finally came of age in 437, he married his betrothed and set out to rule his shrinking empire. Aëtius remained his general and was principle in the defeat of Attila the Hun in 451. Aëtius also campaigned in Gaul and Germany. Valentinian became unpopular due to his harsh taxation policies, which were required to retain the empire but put an undue burden on those provinces still loyal to Rome. Threats to the empire finally forced the royal family to flee Ravenna and resettle in Rome, which was safer. Aëtius became a threat to the throne in 454 and Valentinian eventually had to kill the general. But this move backfired the next year when two loyalists to the general assassinated the emperor. The plot may have been inspired by Petronius Maximus, a senator whose wife was raped by the emperor. The day after the assassination, Petronius was made emperor and paid the Roman army a large sum. But he was unable to control Rome. Eleven weeks later, he was stoned to death. The Vandals arrived in the aftermath, sacking the city for two weeks before order could be restored. Valentinian was the last dynastic ruler of the Western Roman Empire, and his poor management of the realm led to its eventual demise two decades later.
Date of Death: 16 March 455
Successor: Petronius Maximus
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