25 Facts About Arcadius


Arcadius ruled the eastern half of the empire from 395, when their father died, while Honorius ruled the west.

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Arcadius was born in 377 in Hispania, the eldest son of Theodosius I and Aelia Flaccilla, and brother of Honorius, who would become the Western Roman emperor.

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Arcadius passed his early years under the tutelage of the rhetorician Themistius and Arsenius Zonaras, a monk.

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In 394 Arcadius briefly exercised independent power with the help of his advisors in Constantinople, when his father Theodosius went west to fight Arbogastes and Eugenius.

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However, when the prefect was called away to business in Antioch, Arcadius was shown a painting of Aelia Eudoxia, the daughter of the deceased Frankish magister militum per orientem, Bauto.

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Arcadius traveled eastward, ostensibly to face Alaric, leading both his own forces and the Gothic mercenaries whom Theodosius had taken west in the civil war with Eugenius.

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At Eutropius's urging, Arcadius declared Stilicho to be a hostis publicus, and came to an arrangement with Alaric, making him magister militum per Illyricum.

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At around the same time, the eastern court persuaded Gildo, the magister utriusque militiae per Africam, to transfer his allegiance from Honorius to Arcadius, causing relations between the two imperial courts to deteriorate further.

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Arcadius brought to trial two prominent military officers, Timasius and Abundantius.

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Arcadius had Arcadius introduce two administrative innovations: the running of the cursus publicus and the office in charge of manufacturing military equipment was transferred from the praetorian prefects to the magister officiorum .

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Arcadius returned to Arcadius and argued that the Ostrogoths could not be defeated, and that it would be sensible to accede to their demand.

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Arcadius viewed this proposal with displeasure, but was convinced to support it by Eudoxia, who wished to take Eutropius' place as the main influence upon the emperor.

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Arcadius therefore dismissed Eutropius and sent him into exile, before recalling him to face trial and execution during the autumn of 399.

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Arcadius joined the rebel Ostrogoths, and, in a face to face meeting with Arcadius, forced the emperor to make him magister militum praesentalis and Consul designate for 401.

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Arcadius acquiesced when Gainas asked for the dismissal of further officials, such as the urban prefect Aurelianus, as well as a place for settlement for his troops in Thrace.

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However, Arcadius refused to agree to Gainas's demand for an Arian church in Constantinople for his Gothic mercenaries, following the advice of John Chrysostom, the Archbishop of Constantinople.

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Arcadius was called back by Arcadius almost immediately, as the people started rioting over his departure, even threatening to burn the imperial palace.

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Arcadius hesitated until Easter to enforce the sentence, but Chrysostom refused to go, even after Arcadius sent in a squad of soldiers to escort him into exile.

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Arcadius attempted to heal the divisions of the past decade by trying to make peace with Stilicho in the West.

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Arcadius was of short stature, of dark complexion, thin and inactive, and the dullness of his wit was betrayed by his speech and by his sleepy, drooping eyes.

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Traditional interpretations of the reign of Arcadius have revolved around his weakness as an Emperor, and the formulation of policy by prominent individuals towards curtailing the increasing influence of barbarians in the military, which in Constantinople at this period meant the Goths.

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The gradual decline of the use of Gothic mercenaries in the eastern empire's armies that began in the reign of Arcadius was driven by recruitment issues, as the regions beyond the Danube were made inaccessible by the Huns, forcing the empire to seek recruitment in Asia Minor.

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Arcadius's reign saw the growing push towards the outright abolishment of paganism.

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The Pentelic marble portrait head of Arcadius was discovered in Istanbul close to the Forum Tauri, in June 1949, in excavating foundations for new buildings of the university at Beyazit.

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Arcadius had four children with Eudoxia: three daughters, Pulcheria, Arcadia and Marina, and one son, Theodosius, the future Emperor Theodosius II.

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