Europe 413: Revolt of Heraclian

Political map of Europe & the Mediterranean on 20 Apr 413 (Theodosian Dynasty: Revolt of Heraclian), showing the following events: Roman embassy to Charaton; Revolt of Heraclian; Death of Sebastianus; Siege of Valence; Battle of Utriculum.

In early 413 the Gothic king Athaulf betrayed Jovinus and, capturing him at Valentia (Valence), turned him over to Honorius. Meanwhile, taking advantage of the confusion in Gaul, Heraclian, commander in Africa, revolted and invaded Italy, only to be completely defeated north of Rome.

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According to the Annals of Ravenna, Heraclian was killed on 7 March 413. This date is contradicted by Honorius’ later death sentence on Heraclian (5 July 413) and also by the point that if the revolt had been ended this early, it would have had no major impact on the grain shipments to Rome (which usually began in March). It seems more likely to us that 7 March is the date that Heraclian’s revolt started or perhaps when he landed in Italy.

Main Events

412–413 Roman embassy to Charaton

In late 412 Olympiodorus of Thebes and his parrot sailed from Constantinople past Athens and into the Adriatic, braving heavy storms along the route, before reaching the Huns somewhere north of the Danube. There, on behalf of the emperor Theodosius II, he gave gifts to Charaton, first of the kings of the Huns, in order to resolve tensions that had arisen over the murder of an otherwise unknown man named Donatus. This may have ended a series of Hunnic raids which, in 412, had convinced the Eastern Romans to begin construction on the Theodosian Walls of Constantinople and rebuild the Danube fleet. in wikipedia

Mar 413 Revolt of Heraclian

In early 413, despite having been named Western consul for that year, the comes Africae Heraclian revolted against the Western emperor Honorius and cut the supply of African grain to Rome. Ancient historians do not give a reason for this revolt, but it is probable that Heraclian was trying to displace Flavius Constantius—who needed the grain supply to pay Athaulf’s Goths—and gain dominance over Honorius (Olympius, Heraclian’s former benefactor, had successfully mounted a similar coup against Stilicho in 408). in wikipedia

413 Death of Sebastianus

In late 412 Dardanus, Honorius’ Praetorian Prefect of Gaul, opened up negotiations with the Gothic king Athaulf, leading to a secret pact in the new year in which Athaulf agreed to attack the usurper Jovinus and return Honorius’ sister Galla Placidia in return for grain shipments (Gaul was currently in a state of severe famine). With this new alliance secured, Athaulf attacked Jovinus’ forces somewhere near Arelate (Arles) and in the ensuing clash killed Jovinus’ brothers Sebastianus and Sallustius. Panicked, Jovinus fled north to take refuge in Valentia (Valence). in wikipedia

413 Siege of Valence

In the spring of 413 the Gothic king Athaulf marched north and besieged the Gallic usurper Jovinus in Valentia (Valence), where the latter had taken refuge after the defeat of his army. Athaulf stormed the town and captured Jovinus, dispatching him in chains to Dardanus, the Praetorian Prefect of Gaul, in Narbo (Narbonne). There Jovinus was executed and his head—along with that of his brother Sebastianus—sent to the Western Roman emperor Honorius in Ravenna, signaling the end of the usurpation in Gaul. in wikipedia

413 Battle of Utriculum

In the spring of 413, after cutting the African grain supply to Rome, the rebel comes Africae Heraclian embarked from Carthage for Italy with a sizeable fleet. Landing near Rome, he marched towards the Appenines with a small army in an apparent attempt to reach Honorius in Ravenna but was routed by local troops under the command of the comes Marinus at Utriculum (probably modern Otricoli). Defeated, Heraclian commandeered a ship and fled back to Africa with his few remaining followers. in wikipedia