Theodosius II - Encyclopedia




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THEODOSIUS II. (401-450) succeeded his father Arcadius as emperor of the East in 408. During his minority the empire was ably ruled by the praetorian prefect Anthemius and Pulcheria, who became her brother's guardian in 414. Under his sister's care the young emperor was trained in divers accomplishments which won him the name of Calligraphes (" the Penman"), but grew up into a weak though amiable character. Through his generals Ardoburius and Aspar he waged two fairly successful wars against the Persians (421 and 441), and after the failure of one expedition (431) by means of a gigantic fleet put an end to the piracies of the Vandal Genseric. A Hunnish invasion in 408 was skilfully repelled, but from 441 the Balkan country was repeatedly overrun by the armies of Attila, whose incursions Theodosius feebly attempted to buy off with everincreasing payments of tribute. His internal administration, though not sufficiently rigorous to check abuses, was upright and thoughtful. Among its chief events may be mentioned the endowment of the university of Constantinople (425), the conciliatory council of Ephesus (434) and the publication of the Codex Theodosianus (438), a collection of imperial constitutions for the benefit of public officials, which is our chief source of information about the government of the empire in the 5th century. In 450 Theodosius died of injuries sustained through a fall from his horse.

See E. Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (ed. Bury, London, 1896), iii. pp. 3 81 -444; A. GUldenpenning, Geschichte des ostromischen Reiches enter den Kaisern Arkadius and Theodosius II. (Halle, 1885), pp. 172 sqq.; T. Mommsen and P. Meyer, Theodosii libri XVI. (Berlin, 1904-5).

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