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Theodosius I the Great

Coin of Theodosius I the Great. Valkhofmuseum, Nijmegen (Netherlands). Photo Marco Prins.
Theodosius I the Great (Valkhofmuseum, Nijmegen)
Theodosius I the Great: emperor of the Roman world (378-395).


  • 11 January 347: Flavius Theodosius 
  • 19 January 379: Flavius Theodosius Augustus
  • 17 January 395: natural death
Successor of: Valens


  1. father: Theodosius
  2. married to: Aelia Flavia Flacilla, Galla
  3. children:
    1. from Flacilla: Arcadius, Honorius, Pulcheria
    2. from Galla: Gratianus, Galla Placidia (married to the Visigothic leader Athaulf, and later to Constantius; mother of Valentinian III), Ioannes
Main deeds:
  • 378 Battle of Adrianopel; Valens defeated and killed by Visigoths; Theodosius proclaimed emperor
  • 379 Defeats Visigoths, Alans, and Huns; in the Sasanian Empire, Shapur II is succeeded by Ardašir III
  • 380 Consul (with Gratianus); Nicene creed declared orthodox; all other Christian opinions forbidden; campaign against the Visigoths; meeting with Gratianus; illness
  • 381 The Visigothic leader Athanaric visits and dies in Constantinople; the Second Ecumenical Council, at Constantinople (Church of Divine Peace) confirms the Nicene Creed; edict against the Manicheans; Theodosius defeats the Carpi
  • 382 Second edict against the Manicheans; treaty with the Visigoths; they are settled between the Danube and the Balkan range; the altar of Victoria removed from the Curia Julia; first senatorial deputation, to Gratianus
  • 383 Quinquennalia; Arcadius proclaimed co-ruler; in the west revolt of Magnus Maximus; Gratianus captured by Andragathius, an officer of Magnus; executed; in the Sasanian Empire, Ardašir III is succeeded by Shapur III
  • 384 Expulsion of heretics from Constantinople; Magnus Maximus recognized; Persian embassy in Constantinople; Theodosius meets Valentinian II in Italy; second senatorial deputation about the altar of Victoria in the Curia, to Valentinian II
  • 385 Theodosius' niece Serena marries Stilicho; pagan sacrifice and prophecy forbidden
  • 386 Death of Aelia Flavia Flacilla; the Visigoths defeated and settled in Phrygia; triumph
  • 387 Quinquennalia of Arcadius; revolt in Antioch; peace with Persia; Armenia divided; Magnus Maximus invades Italy; Valentinian flees to Theodosius in Thessalonica; Theodosius marries Galla (daughter of Valentinian I)
  • 388 Consul II (with Maternus Cynegius); Decennalia; prohibition of marriage between Jews and Christians; Magnus Maximus defeated and executed; third senatorial deputation about the altar of Victoria in the Curia, to Theodosius; in the Sasanian Empire, Shapur III is succeeded by Bahram IV
  • 388/389: Winter in Milan (with Valentinian II)
  • 389, 13 June: Theodosius, Valentinian II, and the four-year-old Honorius visit Rome
  • 390 Massacre at Thessalonica; Theodosius excommunicated by Ambrose; penance of Theodosius; Ambrose readmits Theodosius to the church
  • 391 Edict against Paganism; destruction of the Serapeum in Alexandria; war against pillagers in Macedonia
  • 392 Fourth senatorial deputation about the altar of Victoria in the Curia, to Valentinian II; Arbogast murders Valentinian II and supports the usurper Eugenius; prohibition of paganism
  • 393 Consul III (with Flavius Abundantius); Honorius made co-ruler
  • 394 Death of Galla
  • 394, 5 September: Eugenius defeated at the Frigidus; suicide of Arbogast; for the last time, the Roman empire is ruled by one man
  • 395 Honorius settles in Milan; death of Theodosius in Milan (Ambrose, "De obitu Theodosii")
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Silver disk with Theodosius I and his sons Honorius and Arcadius. Museo Nacional de Arte Romano, Mérida (Spain). Photo Jan van Vliet.
Silver disk with Theodosius I and his sons Honorius and Arcadius (Museo Nacional de Arte Romano, Mérida)

Constantinople: Forum of Theodosius; Column of Theodosius; Triumphal Arch ("Golden Gate")

Contemporary events:

  • 379 Council of Antioch
  • 379 Death of Basilius
  • 380 Gregory Nazianzus orders burning of all known copies of Sappho's poetry
  • 381 Second Ecumenical Council, at Constantinople
  • 386 Monastery of Soumela founded
  • 388 Jerome settles in Palestine
  • 389 All pagan monuments in Alexandria, including the Museum, destroyed
  • 389/390 Death of Gregory Nazianzus
  • 390 Hieronymus publishes his translation of the New Testament
  • 391 Head of John the Baptist brought to Constantinople; destruction of the Serapeum in Alexandria
  • 393 or 394 End of the Olympic Games
  • 394 Death of Gregorius of Nyssa
  • 395 Death of Ausonius
Succeeded by: Arcadius (east) and Honorius (west)

This brief article has been written to offer background information
to the real articles on Livius.Org. One day, this webpage will be
improved. A list of completed articles can be found here.

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