Theodosius I

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Theodosius I

or

Theodosius the Great,

346?–395, Roman emperor of the East (379–95) and emperor of the West (394–95), son of TheodosiusTheodosius,
d. 376, Roman general under Valentinian I. He defeated (368–69) the Picts and Scots in Britain and the Alemanni in Gaul (369). He suppressed (372–74) a Berber uprising in N Africa, but was executed at Carthage by Valentinian's successor Gratian on unknown
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, the general of Valentinian I. He became (375) military governor of Moesia, but following the execution (376) of his father he retired to Spain. He remained there until Emperor GratianGratian
, 359–83, Roman emperor of the West (375–83). At the death of his father, Valentinian I, he accepted the army's election of his brother, Valentinian II, as his colleague.
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 chose him to rule the East after the defeat and death (378) of Valens in the battle of Adrianople. Theodosius, whom Gratian made co-augustus in 379, took up arms against the VisigothsVisigoths
(West Goths), division of the Goths, one of the most important groups of Germans. Having settled in the region W of the Black Sea in the 3d cent. A.D., the Goths soon split into two divisions, the Ostrogoths and the Visigoths.
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, who were plundering the Balkan Peninsula. By 381 he had achieved an advantageous peace, permitting the Ostrogoths to settle in Pannonia and the Visigoths in N Thrace. In return he secured their services as soldiers, and soon Gothic influence predominated in the army. In 383, Gratian was murdered; Theodosius was forced to recognize the usurper, MaximusMaximus, Magnus Clemens,
d. 388, Roman emperor of the West (383–388). After his followers murdered Gratian, he was recognized as ruler of Britain, Gaul, and Spain by Theodosius I.
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, as emperor in the West outside Italy, where Gratian's brother and legal successor, Valentinian IIValentinian II,
371?–392, Roman emperor of the West (375–92), son of Valentinian I. Upon the death of his father, he was proclaimed emperor with his brother Gratian as coregent. After the death (378) of Valens, Gratian made Theodosius I ruler in the East.
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, held authority. When Maximus seized Italy, Theodosius attacked him, put him to death (388), and restored Valentinian. But Valentinian's Frankish general, Arbogast, assumed the power in Gaul, and in 392, Valentinian, who had sought to recover Gaul, was strangled, perhaps on the order of Arbogast, who installed the puppet emperor Eugenius. Theodosius again went to Italy. In 394 he met a large army commanded by Arbogast and Eugenius and consisting mostly of pagan barbarians. Defeated on the first day of battle, he refused to retreat, and on the following day, with the battle cry "Where is the God of Theodosius," won a resounding victory. Eugenius and Arbogast were slain. Having previously named his son Arcadius as his coemperor in the East, he now proclaimed his younger son, Honorius, as his coemperor in the West. Theodosius died the following year, and the Roman Empire remained divided into West and East. The reign of Theodosius is most notable for its prominence in the history of the Christian Church. Baptized in 380, Theodosius soon afterward issued an edict condemning ArianismArianism
, Christian heresy founded by Arius in the 4th cent. It was one of the most widespread and divisive heresies in the history of Christianity. As a priest in Alexandria, Arius taught (c.
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 and making belief in the Trinity the test of orthodoxy; subsequent edicts practically extinguished Arianism and paganism within the empire. Under his direction the First Council of Constantinople (see Constantinople, First Council ofConstantinople, First Council of,
381, second ecumenical council. It was convened by Theodosius I, then emperor of the East and a recent convert, to confirm the victory over Arianism.
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) was convened. The most eminent church figure of his reign was Saint AmbroseAmbrose, Saint
, 340?–397, bishop of Milan, Doctor of the Church, b. Trier, of Christian parents. Educated at Rome, he became (c.372) governor of Liguria and Aemilia—with the capital at Milan.
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, bishop of Milan. When Theodosius ordered a massacre in Salonica to punish the citizens for a rebellion against the garrison, he had to humble himself in the cathedral of Milan before Ambrose lifted his excommunication.

Bibliography

See study by N. Q. King (1960).

Theodosius I

called the Great. ?346--395 ad, Roman emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire (379--95) and of the Western Roman Empire (392--95)