Parents: Theodosius I, emperor of Rome, and Aelia Flaccilla
Date of Birth: 9 September 384
Spouse(s): (1) Maria, daughter of Stilicho and Serena, then (2) Thermantia, daughter of Stilicho and Serena
Predecessor: Theodosius I
Reign: 393 – 423
Summary: The Western Roman Empire was approaching collapse when Honorius entered the world. He was the second son of Theodosius I, the emperor in the east, and became a consul at the age of two. In 393, he was proclaimed co-emperor alongside his father when Valentinian II died and Eugenius, a usurper, was deposed. Little time was awarded for imperial training to Honorius and he became sole emperor in the west when his father died in 395. His elder brother, Arcadius, gained the eastern throne. Theodosius had appointed Stilicho, a half-Vandal Roman general, as regent for Honorius. Upon Theodosius' death, Stilicho married Honorius to his own daughter, Maria, to solidify the pact of regency between them. The reign of Honorius would be dominated by external forces controlling him, with Stilicho and the Roman papacy taking center stage. In 401, at the age of seventeen, Honorius oversaw the moving of the Roman court from Mediolanum to Ravenna to protect it from Visigothic incursions in the north of Italy. The location was well-protected but hard to base attacks out of. It remained the Roman capital in the west through Ostrogothic times. From the start of his reign while still a minor, the Western Empire was besieged by barbarian attacks. Immediately after suppressing a revolt in North Africa, Stilicho hurried to Italy to hold off a Visigoth invasion around 402. While Stilicho fought against incursions into Italy, barbarians invaded Gaul in the northwest.
Even as Honorius reached his maturity, his reign was threatened by usurpers. Britain, which was cut-off from Roman aide, especially was prone to imperial claimants, with Marcus, Gratian, and Constantine III all claiming imperial titles in quick succession. Constantine invaded Gaul in 407 soon after Gratian's death leaving his son, Constans, to rule in Britain. By 410, Britain was formally abandoned by Rome and told to look after itself, initiating its dark ages. Meanwhile, Hispania and Italy were both under constant bombardment by Alans, Suevi, Vandals, and Visigoths. Maria died in 407 and Honorius married her sister, Thermantia, the next year. Later that year, Arcadius, Honorius' brother, died in Constantinople. The Western emperor sought to go East to see the accession of his nephew, Theodosius II, but Stilicho insisted on going instead. While away, a court minister, Olympius, convinced Honorius that Stilicho was plotting with barbarians against Rome. When Stilicho returned, he was arrested and executed for treason. Hundreds of court officials and their families were executed for being loyal to Stilicho, and those that were not executed fled to the army of Alaric the Visigoth. Alaric returned in 409 and attempted to install Priscus Attalus on the throne, but soldiers sent from Constantinople blocked Alaric, but not before the Visigothic king sacked Rome. In Hispania, a new usurper, Maximus, invaded Gaul and Honorius found a new general, Constantius, who defeated first Maximus and then Constantine III in 411. But even as these revolts were suppressed, Jovinus revolted in northern Gaul and was not suppressed for two years. In 414, Honorius entered Rome in a triumphal ceremony, hauling the former pretender Priscus Attalus before him and the banishing him to the island of Lipara. Honorius then went about reorganizing Gaul, granting self-rule as quasi-independent states. This signaled the virtual loss of Gaul to the barbarians. In 421, Honorius recongized Constantius as co-emperor but was denied the title by Theodosius in the East and died the next year while planning an invasion of the East. Honorius died in 423 without any children. Joannes, a Roman nobleman, was installed as interim emperor until the return of Valentinian III, the nephew of Honorius, the next year.
Date of Death: 15 August 423
Successor: Valentinian III
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