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Honorius

Honorius, 384–423, Roman emperor of the West (395–423). On the death (395) of Theodosius I, the Roman Empire was divided; Arcadius, the elder son, received the East, and Honorius, the younger son, received the West. This division proved to be a permanent one. The general Stilicho, as guardian of Honorius, at first controlled the government of the West and defended the empire against the Visigoths. Honorius married (398) Stilicho's daughter, but in 408, influenced by a malicious favorite, Honorius ordered the execution of his general. Alaric I, king of the Visigoths, invaded Italy again in 409 and installed a puppet ruler at Rome, while Honorius remained at Ravenna. Negotiations with Alaric were mishandled by Honorius; infuriated, Alaric stormed and sacked Rome in 410. Alaric's death left Ataulf in command of the Visigoths, who then left Italy to invade Gaul. In 412, Honorius made peace with Ataulf, whom he reluctantly accepted (414) as husband for his sister Galla Placidia. A rival emperor, Constantine, was defeated (411) by Honorius' general Constantius, who soon exercised the actual power and who married (417) the widowed Galla Placidia. In 421, Honorius was obliged to accept Constantius as joint emperor (see Constantius III), but Constantius died in the same year. Honorius died two years later; after a usurper was put down by forces from the East, the son of Galla Placidia and Constantius became (425) emperor as Valentinian III. The weak reign of Honorius marked an important stage in the decline of the Western Empire.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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