Valentinian III and the City of Rome (425–55)

Mark Humphries

in Two Romes

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780199739400
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199933006 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Late Antiquity

Valentinian III and the City of Rome (425–55)

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Late antique Rome is usually regarded as having become increasingly dominated by the church in the fifth century, particularly during the pontificate of Leo the Great. Most modern scholarship has ignored the voluminous evidence for the persistence of secular power structures (imperial and senatorial) at this time. This chapter aims to redress this imbalance by providing a comprehensive analysis of the city of Rome during the reign of Leo’s contemporary, the emperor Valentinian III. His reign saw an imperial presence at Rome unparalleled since the beginning of the fourth century, and from a range of evidence it is possible to reconstruct a different history of fifth-century Rome. Valentinian’s legislation allows us to see Rome not only as a place where the emperor resided, but also as a city where the imperial administration intervened in local politics and society. Evidence from coin issues and epigraphy adds to the picture. In sum, this chapter suggests that it is necessary to read the history of fifth-century Rome in ways that account for all major interest groups—emperor and court, senate, papacy—lest its development in this period be misinterpreted as witnessing a swift eclipse of secular power networks by ecclesiastical ones.

Keywords: Rome; emperor; church; Valentinian III; politics; Leo the Great; legislation; senate; papacy

Chapter.  10763 words. 

Subjects: Classical History

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