During the reign of Arcadius, there were numerous developments that took place which helped elevate the political and economic situation in Eastern Rome. However, the events that took place in the life of Arcadius was associated with significant challenges. Initially, he had little power because Rufinus assumed supremacy over Arcadius. As a result, the early years of Arcadius involved many difficulties from the power struggle between him and Rufinus and eventually Eutropius. His reign is listed on the Bible Timeline Chart with World History during 395 AD.
Flavius Arcadius was the son of Aelia Flavia Flacilla and the great General Theodosius. His father was initially in charge of putting an end to the Visigoths‘ invasions which made the lives of the Balkans difficult. In fact, it was a grueling period for the Romans since the Visigoths and Ostrogoths gained considerable power as they defeated the Roman army. The death of Emperor Valens also added to the increasing problems of the empire. Theodosius’ first task appeared nearly insurmountable because of the challenges headed his way.
Theodosius was determined to give his son some legitimacy as a ruler in case he died while undertaking his campaigns. It was in 383 AD when the young Arcadius was given the title Augustus at a tender age of 5 or 6. Which was the year after, Honorius, the second son of Theodosius, was born. Honorius was only given the office of consul posterior, unlike Arcadius who had a higher political position.
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Arcadius received less independence during his early years in politics. During the late 380 AD, Theodosius assigned Tatian as the de facto emperor, and Arcadius had little power at this time. Titian soon became more powerful in the city of Constantinople, and this allowed him to gain more supremacy than the future emperors of Rome. In 392, Rufinus replaced Tatian and this new minister held greater authority. Meanwhile, Arcadius continued to be placed under the guardianship of high-ranked officials even until the death of Theodosius.
Arcadius 395 AD and Onwards
Before Arcadius formally began his rule in the eastern Roman Empire, he received an education from Themistius, who was a notable philosopher, speaker, and statesman. There were assumptions that this educator influenced Arcadius greatly in terms of the young ruler’s yearning to become an independent force. He also enacted laws that were anti-paganism and anti-heresy, thus granting him a reputation as a pious and devout Christian emperor. The emperor also sought the help of Constantinople’s religious and political leaders, which was one of his strategies in strengthening the power of the empire.
With Rufinus still possessing greater political power in the empire, Arcadius had less control of eastern Rome. In fact, Rufinus made Arcadius order the return of eastern armies; recognizing the pending dangers with regard to his power since he was a westerner currently ruling the east. There was also the tension existing between east and west as Stilicho, who was controlling Honorius’ reign in the west, took control of the eastern and western Roman armies. Stilicho also insisted in his guardianship and influence over Arcadius.
Arcadius’ early exposure in politics was a challenge, and it continued even when later in his career. Nevertheless, he exerted great efforts in banishing paganism and heresy during his rule, as well as creating stronger ties with the religious leaders and local government in Constantinople. This earned him a positive reputation.
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