Europe 423: Usurpation of Joannes

Political map of Europe & the Mediterranean on 20 Nov 423 (Theodosian Dynasty: The West Besieged: Joannes), showing the following events: Exile of Galla Placidia; Death of Honorius; Usurpation of Joannes.

Following the Roman defeat at Tarraco (422), the Western Roman emperor Honorius fell out with his sister Galla Placidia, prompting her to flee with her children to Constantinople in early 423. As a result, when Honorius died in August, he had no available heirs, leaving the Western government to turn to the Eastern emperor Theodosius II to decide the succession. This interregnum lasted until November, when, with the West apparently no longer willing to wait for Theodosius, the civil servant Joannes was proclaimed emperor at Rome with the tacit support of the generalissimo Castinus.

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Main Events

423 Exile of Galla Placidia

By late 422 the relationship between Galla Placidia and her brother, the Western emperor Honorius, was deteriorating, possibly partly fueled by accusations that Placidia had helped engineer the Roman defeat at Tarraco earlier that year. Street fighting soon broke out between her supporters—many of them Goths that had made up Placidia’s bodyguard ever since her days as Athaulf’s queen—and his, leading to her exile from Ravenna to Rome. This proved to not be far enough and in early 423 she fled with her children, Honoria and Valentinian, to seek refuge at the court of her nephew Theodosius II in Constantinople. in wikipedia

15 Aug 423 Death of Honorius

In August 423 the Western Roman emperor Honorius died, at age 38, of edema (dropsy). Having no children and with his sister Galla Placidia in exile in Constantinople with her unrecognized son Valentinian, he left the Western Empire without an heir. As a result, the Eastern emperor Theodosius II became sole official ruler of the Roman Empire and was left with the task of deciding the Western succession. To secure against any usurpation in the West while these deliberations were underway, Theodosius immediately dispatched a military force to Salona, in the Western diocese of Illyricum. in wikipedia

20 Nov 423 Usurpation of Joannes

In November 423, three months after the death of the Western Roman emperor Honorius and with the Eastern emperor Theodosius II still undecided as to the succession, the primicerius notarium (chief civil servant) Joannes was proclaimed emperor at Rome. Joannes was tacitly supported by the magister militum Castinus—who was probably involved in the initial coup—as well as the officer Flavius Aetius and Aetius’ father Gaudentius. The new emperor immediately sent an embassy to Constantinople to obtain the recognition of Theodosius, but the Eastern emperor had the ambassadors arrested upon their arrival. Meanwhile, Joannes’ position was further undermined when Bonifatius, governor of Africa, rejected his authority and sided with the Eastern Empire. in wikipedia