Honorius, Roman Emperor
HONORIUS, ROMAN EMPEROR
Honorius was Emperor in the West, 395 to 423; b. Constantinople, Sept. 9, 384; d. Ravenna, Aug. 15, 423. As a child Flavius Honorius accompanied his father theo dosius i to Rome for his triumphal entry in 389, and was in Milan in 394 when he was proclaimed co-Emperor for the West. There with his brother Arcadius he witnessed the influence exercised by St. ambrose (d. 397) on both his father and Stilicho, the Vandal general who controlled the Roman military forces in Italy. Nothing is known of Honorius's formal education, but he seems never to have achieved the knowledge, energy, or resolution required of an efficient ruler. He succeeded Theodosius I as Emperor of the West (Jan. 17, 395) under the guidance of St. Ambrose and the guardianship of Stilicho, whose daughter Maria he married in 398. He journeyed to Ravenna, Brescia, Verona, Padua, and Altinum c. 399. During his early years the military and political difficulties of his reign were handled mainly by Stilicho.
One crisis followed another. Under Alaric, the Visigoths revolted, spreading death and desolation through Thrace and Macedonia and on the border of Italy until in 403 at Verona Alaric was defeated by Stilicho, but allowed to escape. In 405 Stilicho defeated the Ostrogoths and other tribes, but the defenses of the Rhine were weakened, so the Vandals, Suevians, and Alans were able to cross into Gaul. Constantine, a general in Britain, revolted, came to Gaul, and with the aid of his son Constans, who took control of Spain, ruled a strip of land from the Channel to the Mediterranean. Stilicho was accused of incompetence and treasonable plans and was put to death (408).
Alaric again invaded Italy. He besieged Rome three times. Finally in 410 he entered the city and allowed his followers to burn, pillage, and slay for three days, but neither the destruction nor the slayings were wholesale. Alaric carried off Galla Placidia, the sister of Honorius, and rich booty; however, he died at Cosenza on his way to Africa.
Constantius, Stilicho's successor as general, defeated Constantine at Arles (411). He also put down the revolt of Heraclian in Africa. Ataulf, the new leader of the Visigoths, supported Rome and ended the revolt of Jovinus in Gaul. He married Galla Placidia, but was forced down into Spain where he was assassinated. Wallia, a Gothic leader, finally came to terms with Rome. In return for the supply of corn, he agreed to return Galla Placidia and make war on the enemies of the empire who had been ravaging Spain. In pursuit of this policy he subjected the Alans, and in two years virtually wiped out the Siling Vandals. In 422 the Hasding Vandals and the Suevians went to Baetica, and the Visigoths got a permanent
home in Aquitania Secunda. Constantius married Galla Placidia and became coruler with Honorius.
Honorius issued laws to alleviate the burden of taxation in Italy and to attract cultivators to the waste lands. He said that whatever had been laid down by his predecessors in regard to the Church would continue. When the civil jurisdiction of bishops was found to interfere with their pastoral duties it was required that both litigants should agree to use the bishops' services, before he was approached. In 395 the laws against pagans and heretics were reaffirmed: no one was allowed to enter the temples to sacrifice, and pagan priests lost their last immunities. However, Honorius endeavored to safeguard the decorations of the public monuments and to save the temples for public use.
As a result of acts of terrorism by the Donatists, a decree of suppression, the first of many such decrees, was put out against them in 405. In similar circumstances Honorius proceeded against the Pelagians. After Telemachus had paid with his life for his protest against the sanguinary combats, they were abolished. In the double election of Pope boniface i (418–422) and Eulalius, the government at first favored the latter, but later it was arranged that a synod should decide between them, and until then neither was to sojourn in Rome. But Eulalius returned and so disturbed the peace that Boniface was recognized. When Honorius was asked to keep the peace in the event of another double election, he answered that he would recognize only a morally unanimous choice.
Upon receiving an appeal from the exiled john chrysostom, Honorius urged Pope Innocent I to hold the synod in which it was decided that a council should be held at Thessalonica to judge his case. But when Honorius sent a delegation to the Eastern Emperor Arcadius with this decision, the Eastern envoys were arrested and the Western envoys were deported. In 421 Theodosius II issued an edict supporting the authority of the bishops of Illyricum as dependent on the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Pope Boniface objected and Honorius obtained its revocation. He was buried in Ravenna, where he had maintained his official residence since 404.
Bibliography: g. bÖing, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d, new ed. Freiburg 1957–65) 5:478. e. stein, Histoire du Bas-Empire, tr. j. r. palanque, 2 v. in 3 (Paris 1949–59) 1:218–311. a. fliche and v. martin eds., Histoire de l'église depuis les origines jusqu'à nos jours (Paris 1935–) v.4. w. gwatkin et al., Cambridge Medieval History, 8 v. (London-New York 1911–36) v.1. e. demougeot, De l'unité à la division de l'Empire romain (Paris 1951). f. lot, The End of the Ancient World and the Beginnings of the Middle Ages, tr. P. and m. leon (New York 1931; Torchbk 1961). o. seeck, Paulys Realenzyklopädie der klassischen Altertumswissenschaft, ed. g. wissowa et al. 8.2 (1913) 2277–91.
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