Valentinian II              375 - 392 A.D.


Valentinian II was the son of Valentinian I and became emperor when his father died. He was still only a child at the time and the Western empire was divided between him and his half-brother Gratian. However, while Gratian ruled at his will, Valentinian was too young and, instead, several behind-the-scenes characters exercised the real power on his behalf.

After Gratian's death Valentinian faced a major threat from Magnus Maximus who was gobbling up the Western empire and had no room for him in his quest. He solicited and then received help from Theodosius, the emperor of the East, who subsequently came to his aid and defeated Maximus. However, Valentinian was still unable to shake the web of control that others had over him. Theodosius lingered in Italy after the defeat of Maximus and essentially ruled the entire empire from Valentinian's own court while simultaneously relegating Valentinian to the background. When he finally left, he appointed one of his commanders, Arbogastes, as an administrative aide for Valentinian II.

This would be a thinly veiled puppet of Theodosius. Valentinian, not being the wiser, complained to Theodosius by correspondence about his situation and lack of empowerment. The complaints fell on deaf ears as this was, naturally, all part of Theodosius's plans. When he saw nothing would be done about the issue he summoned the courage to force Arbogastes to retire only to have the general tear up the resignation letter in his face. He then sneered and derided Valentinian with a comment to the effect that he wasn't taking orders from him. In a fit of anger Valentinian grabbed a sword and started for Arbogastes but was held back by guards. Two days later he was found hung in a room. Whether he committed suicide in despair over his powerlessness or was assassinated directly on account of Arbogastes is left to speculation.



Obv-DNVALINTINIANVSPFAVG Pearled diademed bust right.

Rev-SALVSREIPVBLICAE Victory advancing left carring trophy and dragging captive.

S88 4167, VM-47


Rev-GLORIAROMANORVM Emperor in boat with pheonix in left hand and staff in right hand, Victory in the stern. O in left field.

RIC IX 44a, LRBC 1832