Byzantine Empire /
Byname: Theodosius the Great
(347-395) Byzantine emperor 379-395. He included the west in 394, making him emperor of a united empire the last half year of his life.
He became the last emperor to rule a united empire. With his death, and the making of his two sons, Arcadius and Honorius, rulers of each their part of the empire, no future periods of unity would ever occur. From this, the decline of the western part came, while the potent Byzantine Empire in the east would rise to prominence. Yet, briefly during the reign of Zeno, almost a century later, in theory the empire was again united.
His reign was one of stability, but he also imposed strict regulations on religious practices.
Theodosius strongly fought for the state understanding of Christianity, as this had been defined at the Council of Nicaea. He had Arians and Macedonianists persecuted, and he made it increasingly difficult to practice traditional Roman religions.
It is often alleged that the division between the secular ruler and religious leaders was defined by Theodosius. This relates to the episode in 390, when Bishop Ambrose had the emperor forced to repent for brutal acts. There is, however, no evidence suggesting that this episode clearly brought forth such a change of such a sort.
Thedosius did much for the building of Constantinople. He is attributed the Forum Tauri which was the largest public square known in antiquity.
347 January 11: Born in Cauca, Gallaecia (modern Spain), as son of a Roman general.
368-369: Participates with his father on a campaign against the Picts and Scots in Britain.
370: Again joins his father in a campaign, this time against the Alemanni in Gaul.
Around 375: His father is executed for political intrigues, and Theodosius retreats to his native Spain.
378: Is appointed ruler of the east by the western Roman emperor, Gratian.
379 January 19: Crowned emperor.
380 February 28: Independently, Theodosius issues an edict stating that being a Catholic Christian demands the belief in the co-substantiality of God, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This is the first time the term "Catholic Christian" is used in a document.
November 26: Expels Bishop Demophilus of Constantinople, an opponent of the Nicene creed.
381: Calls for a second general council at Constantinople to clarify the state favoured understanding of Christianity. The council gave the emperor much influence over matters of faith in the church.
382 October 3: Agreement defining a favourable peace with the Goths, thereby ending the Gothic War, which had begun in 377, and caused the death of Emperor Valens.
383 January: Arcadius, his 6-year old son, is made co-emperor.
Gratian is murdered, and the usurper Maximus becomes western emperor, but not over Italy, where Valentian 2 ruled.
388: Maximus invades Italy, and Valentian flees.
388: Theodosius sends troops to Italy to restore the power of Valentian. After about half a year long war, Maximus is killed.
390: Orders the massacre of 7,000 rebels in Thessaloniki (modern Greece), as a revenge of the murder of one of his generals. Bishop Ambrose of Milan threatens Theodosius with excommunication, forcing Theodosius to repent.
391: Issues restrictions on the cult of traditional Roman religions, prohibiting blood sacrifice.
November: Moves his court back to Constantinople.
392 May 15: Western emperor Valentian is murdered by General Arbogast, who makes Eugenius new emperor. Eugenius begins a program of reviving traditional Roman religions.
393: Oversees the Olympic Games, whereafter he ends the tradition.
November 8: The worship of traditional Roman gods is outlawed.
394 September 6: Theodosius defeats Arbogast and Eugenius, and takes full control of the western parts of the empire.
395 January 17: Dies in Mediolanium (modern Milan, Italy). He is succeeded by his sons, Arcadius in the east, and Honorius in the west.