Europe 383: Revolt of Magnus Maximus
In 383 the Roman legions in Britain revolted and proclaimed their commander Magnus Maximus as emperor. Stripping the island of its forces, Maximus crossed into Gaul, where he defeated and then killed the western emperor Gratian.
382? Repulsion of the Sciri▲
Sometime after the death of Athanaric (381) and possibly after the Roman–Gothic Treaty (October 382), Theodosius defeated a mixed force of Sciri, Carpo-Dacians, and Huns, and drove them back across the Danube. This victory concluded fighting in Thrace, allowing farmers to return their lands after some five years. It also marks the last mention of either the Carpi or the Dacians in the historical record.
16 Jan 383 Elevation of Arcadius▲
In January 383 the eastern Roman emperor Theodosius I made his eldest son, the five-year-old Arcadius, an Augustus and co-ruler, as well as consul for the year. Although these moves went unrecognized by the western—and senior—emperor Gratian, by the end of the year he was dead, leaving Theodosius as the main authority in the Empire and Arcadius’ elevation unchallenged.
Jun–Jul 383 Alemannic campaign of 383▲
In 383 trouble erupted between the Romans and a group of Alemanni (presumably the Lentienses subtribe and perhaps their allies). Gratian marched from Mediolanum (Milan) to Raetia to deal with the situation, but during the campaign learned of Magnus Maximus’ seizure of power in Britain. Considering the threat from Maximus to be more important, Gratian brought an end to the conflict with the Alemanni and raced west with his field army.
Jul 383 Revolt of Magnus Maximus▲
By the early 380s discontent was brewing among the troops of the western Roman army, allegedly over Gratian’s preferential treatment of a force of Alans that he had recently recruited. At the same time Magnus Maximus, commanding officer in Britain and an experienced general, was apparently angered that not only had his relative Theodosius had been appointed eastern emperor instead of him, but that he had decided not to share power with him. Needing little encouragement, the British legions rose up in the summer of 383 and proclaimed Maximus as emperor.
383 Macsen Wledig▲
When he left Britain for the continent in 383, Magnus Maximus took most of the island’s troops and senior administrators with him. This appears to have ended the Roman military presence in Wales, Cornwall, and other parts of western Britain, where later legends credit Maximus (Macsen Wledig in Welsh) with the establishment of local dynasties and the appointment of Coel Hen (“King Cole”) as governor in Eboracum (York). However, he does not seem to have abandoned Hadrian’s Wall, where there is some evidence of Roman garrisons for the next two decades.
383?–420? Coel Hen▲
According to legend, Magnus Maximus appointed Coel Hen to govern northern Britain from Eboracum (York) in c. 383. Welsh tradition holds that Coel became ruler of a “great northern realm”, Yr Hen Ogledd (“The Old North”), and was the progenitor of several kingly lines. His long alleged reign, which ended as late as c. 420, has also been associated with an apparent period of power for the Gododdin/Votadini, who intervened in Wales against the Scoti in c. 401.
Aug 383 Battle of Paris▲
Upon being declared emperor, Magnus Maximus crossed into northern Gaul, where he was welcomed by the Rhine legions (July 383). Determined to suppress the uprising, Gratian intercepted the usurper near Lutetia (Paris) in August but, after five days of indecisive skirmishing, his Mauri cavalry deserted him, followed by most of the rest of his troops. Left with only three hundred loyal cavalry, Gratian fled for the Alps.
383 Second Tanukhid Revolt▲
Although the Tanukhid Arabs had provided troops to support Valens in the Gothic War of 376–382, the new emperor, Theodosius I, began favoring the Goths with positions within the Roman establishment as soon as the war was over. Feeling betrayed, the Tanukhids revolted in 383, but were quickly crushed by local Roman forces. This brought an effective end to the Tanukhid Kingdom, which was supplanted by the Salihids, Rome’s new primary Arab ally in the Limes Arabicus.
25 Aug 383 Death of Gratian▲
After the Battle of Paris (383), Magnus Maximus dispatched his magister equitum, the ethnic Goth Andragathius, to hunt down the fleeing Gratian. Andragathius caught the 24-year-old emperor at Lugdunum (Lyon) and promptly slew him, cementing Maximus’ rule in Gaul and leaving the 12-year-old Valentinian II as the sole legitimate emperor in the West.