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Age of Antiquity » 400 AD/CE » 425 AD/CE

Emperor Valentinian III
Galla Placidia: Regent of Rome
When: 425 - 450 AD/CE
Where: Rome, Roman Empire, Europe

Galla Placidia, sister of Emperor Honorius, was captured by the Visigoths during the sacking of Rome around 410 AD. She was treated well by her captors, and eventually married their leader, Athaulf (brother of Alaric). He died a year later, and she eventually ended up marrying Constantius, a Roman general, and Valentinian III was born.

After six months as co-emperor of Rome (with Honorius), Constantius died, and subsequent events led to the declaration of Valentinain III as the emperor of Rome. Since he was only seven at the time, Galla Placidia became regent. From 425 to 450 she was the actual ruler in the West. During her reign, Italy was not invaded, but much of the power was in the hands of various barbarian military leaders.

Aetius, a military commander of barbarian descent, was a constant challenger for rule of the empire. He had had raised an army of Huns to attempt to capture Rome. Boniface, a Roman leader, defeated him in one battle, only to be defeated by Aetius subsequently. After the death of Boniface Aetius took his wife and claimed his property.

Even after all the events, Rome pardoned Aetius, and he was leader of the West.

In 435 he made a pact with the Vandals: they were granted several territoried in the West in exchange for a periodic tribute - paid in gold.

In 437 Aetius defeated the Burgundiands, battled the Franks, and drove back the Visigoths. His greatest accomplishment was use of his German allies in the defeat of Attila the Hun during the battle of Maurica.

Emperor Valentinian III disliked Aetius, and was convinced that the general was the source of a plot against him. In a very un-emperor-like episode, Valentinian and an attendant attacked an unarmed Aetius in the palace, killing him.

This did not go unavenged. Soon after new spread of Aetius' murder, two Huns loyal to the general took advantage of the situation and assassinated the Emperor.

After her death, Galla Placidia's body was embalmed and placed upright in a tomb in Ravenna. Seated in her royal robes, visitors to the tomb could see her, via a small hole in the wall of the tomb. Several hundred years later, the tomb was burned by accident, by children playing with torches.

Some sources state the tomb may actually be a a chapel of St. Laurence, not a Mausoleum.

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History Fact of the Month
Did you know ...

The Origin of Valentine's Day?

Valentines day dates back to Roman times, when a holiday called The Feast of Lubercus was celebrated to protect shepherds and their flocks from wolves. During this time of year, goddess Juno Februata was honored by pairing boys and girls and denoting them 'partners' for a year.

Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine's Day around 497 AD, in an effort to replace pagan holidays with Christian tradition. Although the pairing ritual was banished, romance remains the distinctive attribute of this holiday.

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