Europe 395: Division of the Roman Empire
On 17 January 395, shortly after reuniting the Roman Empire by defeating Arbogast, Theodosius I died. The empire fell to his two sons Arcadius and Honorius, but as they were still young, real power resided in the hands of their guardians, the Eastern prefect Rufinus and the Western general Stilicho. This effectively split the empire into two halves, even though officially unity would continue.
8 Sep 394 Death of Arbogast▲
Following his defeat at the Frigidus, Arbogast fled to the mountains where, unable to shake his pursuers, he killed himself with his own sword two days later. With no opposition remaining in the West, Theodosius I marched on to Mediolanum and restored relations with the Roman Senate, pardoning them for their support of Eugenius. This briefly reunited the Roman Empire under Theodosius’ rule; the last time the entire classical empire would be ruled by just one emperor.
394–395 Hunnic cross-Danube raid▲
Taking advantage of an unusually cold winter and the deployment of much of the Eastern Roman army to Italy, the Huns crossed the frozen Danube in 394–395 to mount their first major raid on the Roman Empire. Facing little opposition, the Hunnic offensive fell particularly hard on the farms and families of the Gothic foederati, who had been settled in the region by the Treaty of 382.
17 Jan 395 Division of the Roman Empire▲
Possibly because of the strains of the war with Arbogast and Eugenius, Theodosius I fell ill towards the end of 394, dying in Mediolanum (Milan) on 17 January 395. He was succeeded in the West by his ten-year-old son Honorius and in the East by his teenage son Arcadius, at that time in Constantinople and under the influence of the prefect Rufinus. However, the most powerful person in the Empire was now Honorius’ guardian Stilicho, who had not only been Theodosius’ magister militum praesentalis, but was married to the late emperor’s niece Serena and currently held command over both the Western and Eastern armies in Italy. Stilicho claimed that he had also been given guardianship of Arcadius, but this was rejected in the East, causing tension between the two regimes.
17 Jan 395–15 Aug 423 Reign of Honorius▲
In January 395 the death of Theodosius I left his ten-year-old son Honorius, an Augustus since 393, as sole emperor in the western half of the Roman Empire. Dominated by his guardian, and later father-in-law, Stilicho until 408, Honorius proved an inept ruler, whose reign saw the first sack of Rome in almost 800 years. He nonetheless survived until 423, when he died of edema at the age of 38, leaving no heir.
17 Jan 395–1 May 408 Reign of Arcadius▲
Theodosius I’s death in January 395 left his eldest son Arcadius, an Augustus since 383, as both senior Augustus in the Roman Empire and emperor of the eastern half of the empire at the age of 16 or 17. Even so, Arcadius proved a weak ruler, whose reign was dominated by a series of power ministers and, from 400–404, his wife Aelia Eudoxia. In 408 he died and was succeeded by his young son Theodosius.