The Historia

Seeking Veracity

Historical Excerpts on the 4th & 5th Century  Arbogast  Family Origins


THE DEATH OF GRATIAN - August 25, 383

"The radiant hopes which men had formed of Gratian were not fulfilled; his private life remained blameless, and he was still liberal and humane, but affairs of state failed to interest him and he devoted his days to sport and exercise.  His love for the chase became a passion, and he would take part in person in the wild-beast hunts of the amphitheatre.  Emergencies which, in the words of a contemporary, would have taxed the statesmanship of a Marcus Aurelius were disregarded by the Emperor;  he alienated Roman sentiment by his devotion to his German troops, and although he might court popularity amongst the soldiers by permitting them to lay aside breastplate and helm and to carry the spiculum in in place of the weighty pilum, yet the favours shewn to the Alans outweighed all else and jealousy awoke disaffection amongst the legionaries.  The malcontents were not long in finding a leader.  Magnus Clemens Maximus, a Spaniard who claimed kinship with Theodosius and had served with him in Britain, won a victory over the Picts and Scots.  In spite of his protests the Roman army in Britain hailed him as Augustus (early in 383?) and leaving the island defenseless he immediately crossed the Channel, determined to strike the first blow.  From the mouth of the Rhine where he was welcomed by the troops Maximus marched to Paris, and here he met Gratian.  For five days the armies skirmished, and then Gratian saw his forces melting away, and at length with 300 horsemen fled headlong for the Alps;  nowhere could he find a refuge, for the cities of Gaul closed their gates at his approach.  The accounts of his death are varied and inconsistent, but it would seem that Andragathius was sent by Maximus hot-foot after the fugitive;  at Lugdunum by a bridge over the Rhone Gratian was captured by means of a stratagem and was murdered within the city walls.  Assured of his life by a solemn oath and thus lulled into a false security, he was treacherously stabbed by his host while sitting at a banquet (25 August 383).  The murderer (who was perhaps Andragathius himself) was highly rewarded by Maximus. - 18,  p.  238

Immediately on the death of Gratian, Valentinian II begins his rule in Italy while his mother, Justina and Bishop Ambrose as sort of regents fight over power through the young boy emperor.  During this time, Bauto seems to be in Italy, and Arbogast is still with the Eastern legions.


"In the West Ambrose once more traveled to Gaul at Valentinian's request upon a diplomatic mission probably at the end of 385 or in 386.  He sought the consent of Maximus to the burial of Gratian's corpse in Italian soil, but permission was refused.  Maximus was heard to regret that he had not invaded Italy on Gratian's death:  Ambrose and Bauto, he muttered, had foiled his schemes.  When the bishop returned to Milan he was convinced that the peace could not endure." - 18,  p.  240


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