Valentinian I, Roman Emperor

Valentinian I, Roman emperor

was the son of Comes Gratianus, and born in A.D. 321 at Cibelae in Pannonia. He succeeded Jovian on the throne in 361, and, having associated his brother Valens with himself in the empire, he assumed the government of the West. He protected the State against the incursions of the Germanic tribes, simplified and improved the internal administration of affairs, and promoted the advancement of science and general culture, thereby winning for himself an honorable place in the estimation of the world, despite the cruelties with which his life was stained. He died Nov. 17, 375. He had been reared amid Christian surroundings, and had drawn upon: him the disfavor of the emperor Julian by his unfaltering fidelity to his faith. On assuming the control of government he issued an edict of universal toleration in religious matters (see Cod. Theod. IX, 16:1, 9, ad A.D. 371), though he found it necessary to prohibit the offering of nocturnal sacrifices, as affording opportunity for political agitations, and also to forbid the practice of magic; and the execution of the Edict of Tolerafion contributed greatly towards the advancement of Christianity and the decline of paganism. The expression religio pagano run the religion of peasants occurs for the first time in a law of Valentinian of the year 368 (ibid. XVI. 2, 18). Valentinian was also tolerant towards the different parties in the Christian Church, though himself an adherent of the Nicene faith. See Ammian Marcell 6 and 30:9; Smith, Dict. of Gr. and Rom. Biog. s.v.; also Herzog, Real-Encyklop. s.v.

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