Theodosius I, a towering figure in the history of the late Roman Empire and the early Church, was the last Roman emperor to rule a unified empire of East and West. His reign from 379 to 395 represents a turning point in the policies and fortunes of the late Roman Empire. In this fascinating biography, Stephen Williams and Gerard Friell examine Theodosius's life and character, placing the military, religious, and political struggles of his reign in the context of the troubled times of the empire.
Drawing on literary, archaeological, and numismatic evidence, the authors describe how Theodosius was summoned to the throne after the disastrous Roman defeat by the Goths at Adrianople and was called upon to rebuild the armies and put the shattered state back together. They show how Theodosius instituted a new policy toward the barbarians, in which diplomacy played a larger role than military might at a time of increasing frontier dangers and acute manpower shortages, and how a series of political misfortunes led to the separation of the Eastern and Western empires despite his efforts. They also discuss Theodosius's importance in the Christian Church. Baptized in 380, Theodosius established the Apostolic Catholic Church as the only State religion; unlike Constantine and the other Christian emperors, he suppressed both heresy and paganism and enforced orthodoxy by law.
By fully exploring these various facets of Theodosius's life and reign, Williams and Friell present a new and absorbing picture of this important emperor.