Constantinople was the capital city of the Roman Empire, of the Byzantine Empire, of the brief Crusader state known as the Latin Empire, until falling to the Ottoman Empire. It was reinaugurated in 324 from ancient Byzantium as the new capital of the Roman Empire by Emperor Constantine the Great, after whom it was named, dedicated on 11 May 330; the city was located in what is now the core of modern Istanbul. From the mid-5th century to the early 13th century, Constantinople was the largest and wealthiest city in Europe; the city was famed for its architectural masterpieces, such as the Greek Orthodox cathedral of Hagia Sophia, which served as the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the sacred Imperial Palace where the Emperors lived, the Galata Tower, the Hippodrome, the Golden Gate of the Land Walls, the opulent aristocratic palaces lining the arcaded avenues and squares. The University of Constantinople was founded in the fifth century and contained numerous artistic and literary treasures before it was sacked in 1204 and 1453, including its vast Imperial Library which contained the remnants of the Library of Alexandria and had over 100,000 volumes of ancient texts.
It was instrumental in the advancement of Christianity during Roman and Byzantine times as the home of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople and as the guardian of Christendom's holiest relics such as the Crown of Thorns and the True Cross. Constantinople was famed for its complex defences; the first wall of the city was erected by Constantine I, surrounded the city on both land and sea fronts. In the 5th century, the Praetorian Prefect Anthemius under the child emperor Theodosius II undertook the construction of the Theodosian Walls, which consisted of a double wall lying about 2 kilometres to the west of the first wall and a moat with palisades in front; this formidable complex of defences was one of the most sophisticated of Antiquity. The city was built intentionally to rival Rome, it was claimed that several elevations within its walls matched the'seven hills' of Rome; because it was located between the Golden Horn and the Sea of Marmara the land area that needed defensive walls was reduced, this helped it to present an impregnable fortress enclosing magnificent palaces and towers, the result of the prosperity it achieved from being the gateway between two continents and two seas.
Although besieged on numerous occasions by various armies, the defences of Constantinople proved impregnable for nearly nine hundred years. In 1204, the armies of the Fourth Crusade took and devastated the city, its inhabitants lived several decades under Latin misrule. In 1261 the Byzantine Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos liberated the city, after the restoration under the Palaiologos dynasty, enjoyed a partial recovery. With the advent of the Ottoman Empire in 1299, the Byzantine Empire began to lose territories and the city began to lose population. By the early 15th century, the Byzantine Empire was reduced to just Constantinople and its environs, along with Morea in Greece, making it an enclave inside the Ottoman Empire. According to Pliny the Elder in his Natural History, the first known name of a settlement on the site of Constantinople was Lygos, a settlement of Thracian origin founded between the 13th and 11th centuries BC; the site, according to the founding myth of the city, was abandoned by the time Greek settlers from the city-state of Megara founded Byzantium in around 657 BC, across from the town of Chalcedon on the Asiatic side of the Bosphorus.
The origins of the name of Byzantion, more known by the Latin Byzantium, are not clear, though some suggest it is of Thraco-Illyrian origin. The founding myth of the city has it told that the settlement was named after the leader of the Megarian colonists, Byzas; the Byzantines of Constantinople themselves would maintain that the city was named in honour of two men and Antes, though this was more just a play on the word Byzantion. The city was renamed Augusta Antonina in the early 3rd century AD by the Emperor Septimius Severus, who razed the city to the ground in 196 for supporting a rival contender in the civil war and had it rebuilt in honour of his son Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, popularly known as Caracalla; the name appears to have been forgotten and abandoned, the city reverted to Byzantium/Byzantion after either the assassination of Caracalla in 217 or, at the latest, the fall of the Severan dynasty in 235. Byzantium took on the name of Kōnstantinoupolis after its refoundation under Roman emperor Constantine I, who transferred the capital of the Roman Empire to Byzantium in 330 and designated his new capital as Nova Roma'New Rome'.
During this time, the city was called'Second Rome','Eastern Rome', Roma Constantinopolitana. As the city became the sole remaining capital of the Roman Empire after the fall of the West, its wealth and influence grew, the city came to have a multitude of nicknames; as the largest and wealthiest city in Europe during the 4th–13th centuries and a centre of culture and education of the Mediterranean basin, Constantinople came to be known by prestigious titles such as Basileuousa and Megalopol
Magnus Maximus was Roman Emperor in the western portion of the Empire from 383 to 388. In 383, as commander of Britain, he usurped the throne against emperor Gratian, by negotiation with emperor Theodosius I, he was made emperor in Britannia and Gaul the next year while Gratian's brother Valentinian II retained Italy, Pannonia and Africa. In 387, Maximus's ambitions led him to invade Italy, resulting in his defeat by Theodosius I at the Battle of the Save in 388. In the view of some historians, his death marked the end of direct imperial presence in Northern Gaul and Britain. Maximus was born c. 335 on the estates of Count Theodosius, to whom he was a nephew. Maximus was the brother of Marcellinus. Near contemporaries described his dignity as offended when lesser men were promoted to high positions. Maximus was a distinguished general, it is he may have been a junior officer in Britain in 368, during the quelling of the Great Conspiracy. Assigned to Britain in 380, he defeated an incursion of the Picts and Scots in 381.
The Western emperor Gratian had become unpopular because of perceived favouritism toward Alans--an Iranian speaking people who were early adopters of Christianity and migrated both east and west from their homeland--over Roman citizens. In 383 Maximus was proclaimed emperor by his troops, he went to Gaul to pursue his imperial ambitions, taking a large portion of the British garrison with him. Following his landing in Gaul, Maximus went out to meet his main opponent, emperor Gratian, whom he defeated near Paris. Gratian, after fleeing, was killed at Lyon on August 25, 383. Continuing his campaign into Italy, Maximus was stopped from overthrowing Valentinian II, only twelve, when Theodosius I, the Emperor in the East, sent Flavius Bauto with a powerful force to stop him. Negotiations followed in 384 including the intervention of Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, leading to an accord with Valentinian II and Theodosius I in which Maximus was recognized as Augustus in the West. Maximus made his capital at Augusta Treverorum in Gaul, ruled Britain, Gaul and Africa.
He issued a number of edicts reorganizing Gaul's system of provinces. Some scholars believe, he became a popular emperor. He used foederati forces such as the Alamanni to great effect, he was a stern persecutor of heretics. It was on his orders that Priscillian and six companions were executed for heresy, in this case of Priscillianism, although the actual civil charges laid by Maximus himself were for the practice of magic; these executions went ahead despite the wishes of prominent men such as St. Martin of Tours. Maximus's edict of 387 or 388, which censured Christians at Rome for burning down a Jewish synagogue, was condemned by bishop Ambrose, who said people exclaimed, ‘the emperor has become a Jew’. In 387 Maximus managed to force emperor Valentinian II out of Milan, after which he fled to Theodosius I. Theodosius and Valentinian invaded from the east, campaigned against Maximus in July–August 388, their troops being led by Richomeres and other generals. Maximus was defeated in the Battle of the Save, retreated to Aquileia.
Meanwhile, the Franks under Marcomer had taken the opportunity to invade northern Gaul, at the same time further weakening Maximus's position. Andragathius, magister equitum of Maximus and the killer of Emperor Gratian, was defeated near Siscia, while Maximus's brother, fell in battle at Poetovio. Maximus surrendered in Aquileia, although he pleaded for mercy was executed; the Senate passed a decree of Damnatio memoriae against him. However, his mother and at least two daughters were spared. Theodosius's trusted general Arbogast strangled Maximus's son, Flavius Victor, at Trier in the fall of the same year. What happened to Maximus's family after his downfall is not recorded, he is known to have had a wife, recorded as having sought spiritual counsel from St. Martin of Tours during his time at Trier, her ultimate fate, her name, have not been preserved in definitive historic records. The same is true of Maximus's mother and daughters, other than that they were spared by Theodosius I. One of Maximus's daughters may have been married to Ennodius, proconsul Africae.
Ennodius's grandson was Petronius Maximus, another ill-fated emperor, who ruled in Rome for only 77 days before he was stoned to death while fleeing from the Vandals on May 24, 455. Other descendants of Ennodius, thus of Maximus, included Anicius Olybrius, emperor in 472, but several consuls and bishops such as St. Magnus Felix Ennodius. We encounter an otherwise unrecorded daughter of Magnus Maximus, Sevira, on the Pillar of Eliseg, an early medieval inscribed stone in Wales which claims her marriage to Vortigern, king of the Britons. Maximus's bid for imperial power in 383 coincides with the last date for any evidence of a Roman military presence in Wales, the western Pennines, the fortress of Deva. Coins dated than 383 have been found in excavations along Hadrian's Wall, suggesting that troops were not stripped from it, as was once thought. In the De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae written c. 540, Gildas says that Maximus "deprived" Britain not only of its Roman troops, but of its "armed bands...governors and of the flower of her youth", never to return.
Having left with the tro
Valentinian III was Western Roman Emperor from 425 to 455. His reign was marked by the ongoing dismemberment of the Western Empire. Valentinian was born in the western capital of Ravenna, the only son of Galla Placidia and Flavius Constantius, his mother was the younger half-sister of the western emperor Honorius, while his father was at the time a Patrician and the power behind the throne. Through his mother, Valentinian was a descendant both of Theodosius I, his maternal grandfather, of Valentinian I, the father of his maternal grandmother, it was through his mother's side of the family that he was the nephew of Honorius and first cousin to Theodosius II, eastern emperor for most of Valentinian's life. Valentinian had a full sister, Justa Grata Honoria, born in 417 or 418, his mother had been married to Ataulf of the Visigoths, had borne a son, Theodosius, in Barcelona in 414. When Valentinian was less than two years old, Honorius appointed Constantius co-emperor, a position he would hold until his death seven months later.
As a result of all these family ties, Valentinian was the son, great-grandson and nephew of Roman Emperors. In either 421 or 423, Valentinian was given the title of Nobilissimus by Honorius, but, not recognized in the eastern court of Theodosius II. After the death of his father in 421, Valentinian followed his mother and his sister to Constantinople, when court intrigue saw Galla Placidia forced to flee from her half-brother, Emperor Honorius, the young Valentinian went to live at the court of his cousin Theodosius II. In 423, Honorius died, the usurper Joannes took power in Rome. To counter this threat to his power, Theodosius belatedly recognised Valentinian's father as Augustus and nominated the 5-year-old Valentinian Caesar of the West in October 23, 424. Theodosius betrothed him to his own daughter Licinia Eudoxia, it was only in the following year, after Joannes had been defeated in a combined naval and land campaign, that Valentinian was installed by the eastern patricius et magister officiorum Helion as Western Emperor in Rome, on October 23, 425, at the age of six.
Given his minority, the new Augustus ruled under the regency of his mother Galla Placidia, one of whose first acts was to install Felix as the Magister utriusque militiae in the west. Her regency lasted until 437, for the duration, Theodosius II gave her his full support; this period was marked by a vigorous imperial policy and an attempt to stabilize the western provinces as far as the stretched resources of the empire could manage. In 425, the court at Ravenna negotiated with the Huns who had accompanied Flavius Aëtius to Italy in support of Joannes, they agreed to leave Italy, to evacuate the province of Pannonia Valeria, returned to the empire. This allowed Felix and the imperial government to restructure the defences along the Danubian provinces in 427 and 428. In addition, there were significant victories over the Visigoths in Gaul in 426/7 and 430 and the Franks along the Rhine in 428 and 432. There were significant problems that threatened the viability of the Roman state in the west.
The Visigoths could not be dislodged. The Vandals in Hispania continued their incursions, and, in 429, they commenced their invasion of Mauretania Tingitana; the loss of these territories impacted the state's ability to function. The burden of taxation became more and more intolerable as Rome's power decreased, the loyalty of its remaining provinces was impaired in consequence. In addition, the initial period of Valentinian's reign was dominated by the struggle among the leaders of the three principal army groups of the west – Flavius Felix, the senior Magister militum praesentalis, the Magister militum per Africam and Flavius Aëtius, the Magister militum per Gallias. In 427, Felix demanded that he return to Italy. Bonifacius defeated an army sent by Felix to capture him. Weakened, Felix was unable to resist Aëtius who, with the support of Galla Placidia, replaced him as Magister militum praesentalis in 429, before having him killed in 430. Bonifacius, in the meantime, had been unable to defeat Sigisvultus, whom Galla Placidia had sent to deal with the rebel.
Bonifacius, entered into an agreement with the Vandals to come to his aid and, in return, they would divide the African provinces between themselves. Concerned by this turn of events and determined to hold onto the African provinces at all costs, the court at Ravenna sought reconciliation with Bonifacius, who agreed in 430 to affirm his allegiance to Valentinian III and stop the Vandal king Gaiseric. In 431, Bonifacius was fled to Italy, abandoning western North Africa; the imperial court, Galla Placidia, worried about the power being wielded by Aëtius, stripped him of his command and gave it to Bonifacius. In the civil war that followed, Bonifacius defeated Aëtius at the Battle of Ravenna, but died of his wounds. Aëtius fled to the Huns and, with their help, was able to persuade the court to reinstate him to his old position of Magister militum praesentalis in 434; as a consequence, in 435, Valentinian was forced to conclude a peace with Gaiseric, whereby the Vandals kept all their possessions
Gratian was Roman emperor from 367 to 383. The eldest son of Valentinian I, Gratian accompanied, during his youth, his father on several campaigns along the Rhine and Danube frontiers. Upon the death of Valentinian in 375, Gratian's brother Valentinian II was declared emperor by his father's soldiers. In 378, Gratian's generals won a decisive victory over the Lentienses, a branch of the Alamanni, at the Battle of Argentovaria. Gratian subsequently led a campaign across the Rhine, the last emperor to do so, attacked the Lentienses, forcing the tribe to surrender; that same year, his uncle Valens was killed in the Battle of Adrianople against the Goths – making Gratian ruler of the entire Roman Empire. He favoured Christianity over traditional Roman religion, refusing the divine attributes of the Emperors and removing the Altar of Victory from the Roman Senate. Gratian was the son of Emperor Valentinian I by Marina Severa, was born at Sirmium in Pannonia, he was named after his grandfather Gratian the Elder.
Gratian was first married to Flavia Maxima Constantia, daughter of Constantius II. His second wife was Laeta. Both marriages remained childless, his stepmother was Empress Justina and his paternal half siblings were Emperor Valentinian II, Galla and Justa. On 24 August 367 he received from his father the title of Augustus. On the death of Valentinian, the troops in Pannonia, impelled by the generals Aequitius and Maximinus, two of Valentinian's more unscrupulous ministers, proclaimed his infant son emperor under the title of Valentinian II. Gratian prudently acquiesced in their choice; the division, was nominal, the real authority in those provinces remained in the hands of Gratian. Gratian, with the aid of his capable generals Mallobaudes, a king of the Franks, Naniemus defeated the Lentienses, the southernmost branch of the Alamanni, in May 378 at the Battle of Argentovaria. Next, Gratian led a campaign across the Upper Rhine into the territory of the Lentienses. After initial trouble facing the Lentienses on high ground, Gratian blockaded the enemy instead and received their surrender.
The Lentienses were forced to supply young men to be levied into the Roman army, while the remainder were allowed to return home. That year, Valens met his death in the Battle of Adrianople against a coalition of hostile Gothic and Hunnic tribes who had rebelled after being settled in Thrace by the eastern emperor. Valens refused to wait for Gratian, who had promised to march to his aid as soon as the Alemanni threat was contained. By the time Gratian arrived in the east to assume the rule of Valens' former possessions, the Gothic war had spiraled out of control. Hearing that the Germans were planning a new invasion in Gaul now that Gratian had departed from the province, convinced that one emperor alone was incapable of repelling the inundation of foes on several different fronts, the young emperor resorted to the by-now customary expedient of division of power, promoting Theodosius I on 19 January 379 to govern the east with the rank of co-equal Augustus. During the ensuing four years Theodosius would take advantage of the internecine discord and disorder of the Goths to destroy the more intractable of the barbarians and settle the rest by a peaceful treaty in the provinces of Thrace and Asia Minor.
For some years Gratian governed the Empire with energy and success, earning the esteem of the army and people by his personal courage and justice, but at length, being deprived by death of some of his abler counselors, the promising young emperor degenerated into indolence and careless unconcern with public affairs, occupied himself chiefly with the pleasures of the chase. He alienated the army and German auxiliaries by his favoritism towards a body of Scythian archers whom he made his body-guard and companions in the hunt, he became a tool in the hands of the Frankish general Merobaudes and bishop St. Ambrose of Milan. By appearing in public in the dress of a Scythian warrior, after the disaster of the Battle of Adrianople, he exasperated his army. One of his generals, Magnus Maximus, took advantage of this feeling to raise the standard of revolt in Britain and invaded Gaul with a large army. From Paris, having been deserted by his troops, fled to Lyon. There, through the treachery of the governor, Gratian was delivered over to one of the rebel generals and assassinated on 25 August 383.
The reign of Gratian forms an important epoch in ecclesiastical history, since during that period Nicene Christianity for the first time became dominant throughout the empire. Gratian published an edict that all their subjects should profess the faith of the bishops of Rome and Alexandria; the move was thrust at the various beliefs that had arisen out of Arianism, but smaller dissident sects, such as the Macedonians, were prohibited. Gratian, under the influence of his chief advisor, the Bishop of Milan, took active steps to repress pagan worship; this brought to an end a period of widespread, if unofficial, religious tolerance that had
Western Roman Empire
In historiography, the Western Roman Empire refers to the western provinces of the Roman Empire at any time during which they were administered by a separate independent Imperial court. The terms Western Roman Empire and Eastern Roman Empire are modern descriptions that describe political entities that were de facto independent; the Western Roman Empire collapsed in 476, the Western imperial court was formally dissolved in 480. The Eastern imperial court survived until 1453. Though the Empire had seen periods with more than one Emperor ruling jointly before, the view that it was impossible for a single emperor to govern the entire Empire was institutionalised to reforms to Roman law by emperor Diocletian following the disastrous civil wars and disintegrations of the Crisis of the Third Century, he introduced the system of the tetrarchy in 286, with two separate senior emperors titled Augustus, one in the East and one in the West, each with an appointed Caesar. Though the tetrarchic system would collapse in a matter of years, the East–West administrative division would endure in one form or another over the coming centuries.
As such, the Western Roman Empire would exist intermittently in several periods between the 3rd and 5th centuries. Some emperors, such as Constantine I and Theodosius I, governed as the sole Augustus across the Roman Empire. On the death of Theodosius I in 395, he divided the empire between his two sons, with Honorius as his successor in the West, governing from Mediolanum, Arcadius as his successor in the East, governing from Constantinople. In 476, after the Battle of Ravenna, the Roman Army in the West suffered defeat at the hands of Odoacer and his Germanic foederati. Odoacer became the first King of Italy. In 480, following the assassination of the previous Western emperor Julius Nepos, the Eastern emperor Zeno dissolved the Western court and proclaimed himself the sole emperor of the Roman Empire; the date of 476 was popularized by the 18th century British historian Edward Gibbon as a demarcating event for the end of the Western Empire and is sometimes used to mark the transition from Antiquity to the Middle Ages.
Odoacer's Italy, other barbarian kingdoms, would maintain a pretence of Roman continuity through the continued use of the old Roman administrative systems and nominal subservience to the Eastern Roman court. In the 6th century, emperor Justinian I re-imposed direct Imperial rule on large parts of the former Western Roman Empire, including the prosperous regions of North Africa, the ancient Roman heartland of Italy and parts of Hispania. Political instability in the Eastern heartlands, combined with foreign invasions and religious differences, made efforts to retain control of these territories difficult and they were lost for good. Though the Eastern Empire retained territories in the south of Italy until the eleventh century, the influence that the Empire had over Western Europe had diminished significantly; the papal coronation of the Frankish King Charlemagne as Roman Emperor in 800 marked a new imperial line that would evolve into the Holy Roman Empire, which presented a revival of the Imperial title in Western Europe but was in no meaningful sense an extension of Roman traditions or institutions.
The Great Schism of 1054 between the churches of Rome and Constantinople further diminished any authority the Emperor in Constantinople could hope to exert in the west. As the Roman Republic expanded, it reached a point where the central government in Rome could not rule the distant provinces. Communications and transportation were problematic given the vast extent of the Empire. News of invasion, natural disasters, or epidemic outbreak was carried by ship or mounted postal service requiring much time to reach Rome and for Rome's orders to be returned and acted upon. Therefore, provincial governors had de facto autonomy in the name of the Roman Republic. Governors had several duties, including the command of armies, handling the taxes of the province and serving as the province's chief judges. Prior to the establishment of the Empire, the territories of the Roman Republic had been divided in 43 BC among the members of the Second Triumvirate: Mark Antony and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus. Antony received the provinces in the East: Achaea and Epirus, Bithynia and Asia, Syria and Cyrenaica.
These lands had been conquered by Alexander the Great. The whole region the major cities, had been assimilated into Greek culture, Greek serving as the lingua franca. Octavian obtained the Roman provinces of the West: Italia, Gallia Belgica, Hispania; these lands included Greek and Carthaginian colonies in the coastal areas, though Celtic tribes such as Gauls and Celtiberians were culturally dominant. Lepidus received the minor province of Africa. Octavian soon took Africa while adding Sicilia to his holdings. Upon the defeat of Mark Antony, a victorious Octavian controlled a united Roman Em
Marina Severa was the Empress of Rome and first wife of Emperor Valentinian I. She was the mother of Emperor Gratian, her full name is unknown. Marina Severa is a combination of the two names given in primary sources. Socrates of Constantinople calls her "Severa" while John Malalas, the Chronicon Paschale and John of Nikiû name her "Marina". Marina Severa married Valentinian, their son, Gratian was born in 359 at Sirmium in Pannonia. Valentinian was chosen emperor in 364, he divorced his wife around 370 to marry widow of usurper Magnentius. According to Socrates of Constantinople: "Justina being thus bereft of her father, still continued a virgin; some time after she became known to Severa, wife of the emperor Valentinian, had frequent intercourse with the empress, until their intimacy at length grew to such an extent that they were accustomed to bathe together. When Severa saw Justina in the bath she was struck with the beauty of the virgin, spoke of her to the emperor; the emperor, treasuring this description by his wife in his own mind, considered with himself how he could espouse Justina, without repudiating Severa, as she had borne him Gratian, whom he had created Augustus a little while before.
He accordingly framed a law, caused it to be published throughout all the cities, by which any man was permitted to have two lawful wives." This account was dismissed by historians whose interpretation of it was an unlikely legalization of bigamy. However Timothy Barnes and others consider this decision to only allow various Romans to divorce and remarry; the controversy being. Barnes considers that Valentinian was willing to go forth with the legal reformation in pursuit of dynastic legitimacy that would secure his presence on the throne. John Malalas, the Chronicon Paschale and John of Nikiû report Severa to have been banished because of involvement in an illegal transaction. Barnes considers this story to be an attempt to justify the divorce of Valentinian I without blaming the emperor. According to the account of John of Nikiû: "For this just and equitable emperor hated oppression and judged with the voice of justice and practised equity; this great emperor did not spare the empress Marina.
Now she had bought a garden from a nursery woman and had not paid her the price which it was equitably worth, because the valuers had valued out of regard to the empress and so had inclined to do her a favour. And when the pious Valentinian was apprised of what his wife had done, he sent Godfearing men to value that garden and he bound them by a solemn oath to value it justly and equitably, and when the valuers came to that garden, they found that she had been guilty of a grave injustice and had given the woman but a small portion of the price. And when the emperor heard, he was wroth with the empress removed her from his presence and drove her from the palace and took to wife a woman named Justina, with whom he lived all the rest of his days; as for his first wife, he drove and exiled her from the city, gave back the garden to the woman who had sold it." When Valentinian died in 375, he was buried in the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople, next to his first wife. Charles, Robert H..
The Chronicle of John, Bishop of Nikiu: Translated from Zotenberg's Ethiopic Text. Merchantville, NJ: Evolution Publishing. Section about her in "Ammianus Marcellinus and the Representation of Historical Reality" by Timothy David Barnes
Jovian was Roman Emperor from 363 to 364. Upon the death of emperor Julian the Apostate during his campaign against the Sassanid Empire, Jovian was hastily declared emperor by his soldiers, he sought peace with the Persians on humiliating terms and reestablished Christianity as the state church. His reign lasted only eight months. Jovian was born at Singidunum in 331 AD, the son of Varronianus, the commander of Constantius II's imperial bodyguards, he joined the guards and by 363 had risen to the same command that his father had once held. In this capacity, Jovian accompanied the Emperor Julian on the Mesopotamian campaign of the same year against Shapur II, the Sassanid king. After the Battle of Samarra, a small but decisive engagement, the Roman army was forced to retreat from the numerically superior Persian force. Julian, mortally wounded during the retreat, died on 26 June 363; the next day, after the aged Saturninius Secundus Salutius, praetorian prefect of the Orient, had declined the purple, the choice of the army fell upon Jovian.
His election caused considerable surprise: Ammianus Marcellinus suggests that he was wrongly identified with another Jovianus, chief notary, whose name had been put forward, or that during the acclamations the soldiers mistook the name Jovianus for Julianus, imagined that the latter had recovered from his illness. An easy gaiety and indulgent disposition was the chief recommendation of the new emperor. Jovian, a Christian, reestablished Christianity as the state church, ending the brief revival of paganism under his predecessor. Upon arriving at Antioch, he revoked the edicts of Julian against Christians; the Labarum of Constantine the Great again became the standard of the army. He issued an edict of toleration, to the effect that, while the exercise of magical rites would be punished, his subjects should enjoy full liberty of conscience. In 363, however, he issued an edict ordering the Library of Antioch to be burnt down, another on 11 September subjecting those who worshiped ancestral gods to the death penalty.
He extended the same punishment on 23 December to participation in any pagan ceremony. Jovian entertained a great regard for Athanasius, whom he reinstated on the archiepiscopal throne, desiring him to draw up a statement of the orthodox faith. However, Jovian did not display the single-minded zeal of his Flavian predecessors in the cause of either heresy or orthodoxy, but was content to recommend moderation to the contending factions in the ongoing Arian controversy. In Syriac literature, Jovian became the hero of a Christian romance. In part due to his influence, Christianity remained the dominant religion of both the Western and Eastern Roman Empires, until the Fall of Constantinople to the Turks in 1453. On the morning of his accession, Jovian resumed the retreat begun by Julian. Though harassed by the Persians, the army succeeded in reaching the city of Dura on the banks of the Tigris. There the army came to a halt; when the attempt to bridge the river failed, he was forced to sue for a peace treaty on humiliating terms.
According to Edward Gibbon, there were just sufficient provisions in the camp to last the army until the friendly province of Corduene, 100 miles to the north, if its movements were prompt and decisive. But Jovian delayed, the supplies ran out while he was engaged in the negotiations, forcing him to comply with Shapur II's harsh terms. In exchange for an unhindered retreat to his own territory, he agreed to withdraw from the five Roman provinces east of the Tigris, conquered by Galerius in 298, that Diocletian had annexed, to allow the Persians to occupy the fortresses of Nisibis, Castra Maurorum and Singara; the Romans surrendered their interests in the Kingdom of Armenia to the Persians. The Christian king of Armenia, Arsaces II, was to stay neutral in future conflicts between the two empires and was forced to cede part of his kingdom to Shapur; the treaty was seen as a disgrace and Jovian lost popularity. The clamors and insults of the citizenry of Antioch, who were without security on an exposed frontier, impelled him to hasten his departure from that city.
After arriving at Antioch, Jovian decided to rush to Constantinople to consolidate his political position there, he delayed only to conduct the funeral of Julian, honorably interred at Tarsus. While en route from there to the capital, after having received the allegiance of the western representatives at Tyana, Jovian was found dead in bed in his tent at Dadastana, halfway between Ancyra and Nicaea, his death was attributed to either a surfeit of mushrooms and wine, or the poisonous carbon monoxide fumes of a charcoal warming fire. However, the historian Ammianus Marcellinus, a near-contemporary, suggests his death was suspicious and was strangely uninvestigated. Gibbon, declines to credit the suspicion. Jovian was buried in the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople, along with his Christian predecessors. List of Byzantine emperors Banchich, Thomas, "Jovian", De Imperatoribus Romanis. Ammianus Marcellinus, xxv. 5–10 J. P. de la Bleterie, Histoire de Jovien Gibbon and Fall, chapters xxiv. xxv.
Gibbon, Edward, 1737–1794. The history of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. V. 2, pp. 517 – 529. G. Hoffmann, Julianus der Abtrünnige, 1880 J. Wordsworth in Smith and Wace's Dictionary of Christian Biography H. Schiller, Geschichte der römischen Kaiserzeit, volume ii. A. de Broglie, L'Église et l'empire romain au IVe siècle