Theodosius I
Emperor,  379 - 395, 
"What confidence must have been reposed in [Theodosius'] integrity, since Gratian could trust that a pious son would forgive, for the sake of the republic, the murder of his father! What expectations must have been formed of his abilities to encourage the hope that a single man could save, and restore, the empire of the East!"
Gibbon  Decline & Fall 

Proclaimed emperor of the east by Gratian, the son and successor of Valentinian I, in 379 after Valens' death at Adrianople, Theodosius was to prove himself a wise choice. Having seen the failure of Valens' aggressive policy towards the Goths, Theodosius decided to work with them rather than against them. They were given lands to settle, political autonomy and exempted from Imperial taxation; in return they were to serve the empire as paid troops. In the west, on the other hand, the barbarian influx continued unabated.

Born on 11th January, 347 in Cauca in Gallacia (northwest Spain), Theodosius was the son of the Spanish general, Theodosius the Elder. His father was imperial commander in Britain, where Theodosius served with him, under Valentinian I and won great victories, though he was eventually arrested on the orders of Gratian and executed in Carthage on now obscure charges. He was baptized a Christian just before his death. His son is said to have been a gracious man with blond hair and an eagle-like nose. He was also known for his clemency, and Zosimus mentions his extreme weakness for beautiful women. He was married twice; first to Aelia Flaccilla, who bore him two boys, Arcadius and Honorius, and a girl, Pulcheria, and secondly to Galla, with whom he had another daughter, Galla Placidia (the future mother of Valentinian III)


Æ size 2 of Constantinople, 383-393, officina A.
Obv.  DNTHEODO SIVSPFAVG;  Diademed, draped and cuirassed bust right.
Rev.  VIRTVSE XERCIT;  Theodosius standing right, left foot on kneeling captive, holding labarum and globe; to left, cross; in ex., CONSA.
Esty 31T, Sear 4184
RIC gives the date range for this type as 383-388, whilst DOC says 386-393.

It was Theodosius who finally declared Christianity the state religion. In doing so, he assured the primacy of Constantinople and the east and declared irrelevant the old, still pagan, aristocracy of old Rome, thus gaining their enmity. Beginning in 391, Theodosius proclaimed a series of laws harshly proscribing pagan practices, including the banning of the Olympic games in 384.

Having made peace with the Persians and placated the Goths, Theodosius was able to turn his attention to the west where the twelve year old emperor Valentinian II had been driven from his capital of Milan by the usurper Magnus Maximus. Theodosius marched east, defeated the rebels and spent the three years 388 to 391 in Italy restoring order. The only man with more authority in the west was the Bishop of Milan, Ambrose, later to become the patron saint of that city. Ambrose compelled even the emperor to commit penance, bare-headed and in sackcloth, after the massacre of seven thousand citizens in Thessalonica in 390. This episode marks the first time a spiritual authority dared declare precedence over the temporal ruler of the Empire.

Theodosius fell ill on a later visit to Milan. During the games held to celebrate the arrival in the west of his son Honorius, the emperor collapsed in his box. He died the following night, 17th January, 395, and his body was laid in state in a purple bier in the palace. The text of the oration Ambrose gave at his memorial service in Milan cathedral still exists. The fifty year old Theodosius was succeeded by his sons, Arcadius and Honorius, proclaimed emperors of the east and west respectively.


Constantinople
Æ size 2 of Constantinople, 383-393, officina A.
Obv.  DNTHEODO SIVSPFAVG;  Diademed, draped and cuirassed bust right.
Rev.  VIRTVSE XERCIT;  Theodosius standing right, left foot on kneeling captive, holding labarum and globe; to left, cross; in ex., CONSA.
Esty 31T, Sear 4184
RIC gives the date range for this type as 383-388, whilst DOC says 386-393.
Æ size 3 of Constantinople, 379-383, 17mm.
Obv.  DNTHEODO SIVSPFAVG;  Diademed, draped and cuirassed bust right.
Rev.  CONCOR DIAAVGGG;  Constantinopolis seated facing, holding globe and spear; in ex., CONS(.)
Esty 16T, Sear 4185
Cyzicus
Æ size 4 of Cyzicus, 378-388, officina Γ.
Obv.  DNTHEODO SIVS(PF)AVG;  His Diademed, draped and cuirassed bust right.
Rev.  VOT / X / MVLT / X X;  Inscription in laurel wreath; in ex., SMKΓ.
Esty 26T, Sear 4187
RIC dates this type as 378-388, whilst DOC emphasizes 387.
Unknown
Æ size 4 of unknown mint, 379-395.
Obv.  DNTHEODO SIVS(PF)AVG;  His Diademed, draped and cuirassed bust right.
Rev.  VIC(TOR I)AAVGGG;  Victory advancing left.
Esty 12T, Sear cf 4179 (AR ½ siliqua)
Last modified on 06 Apr 2014