Europe 425: Defeat of Joannes

Political map of Europe & the Mediterranean on 05 May 425 (Theodosian Dynasty: The West Besieged: Defeat of Joannes), showing the following events: Joannes’ African campaign; Joannes’ embassy to the Huns; Assassination of Exuperantius of Poitiers; Valentinian III Caesar; Fall of Aquileia; Capture of Joannes.

The usurpation of Joannes (423) was immediately rejected by both the Eastern Roman emperor Theodosius II and Bonifatius, commander in Africa. After some hesitancy, Theodosius decided to support Constantius III’s young son Valentinian as the new Western emperor and in early 425 the Eastern Romans invaded Italy, deposing Joannes. However, at that point, Joannes’ remaining general, Flavius Aetius, arrived in northern Italy with a force of newly recruited Huns. Unwilling to risk further bloodshed, Valentinian’s new regime agreed to grant Aetius a command in Gaul in return for sending the Huns home.

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Main Events

424 Joannes’ African campaign

When Joannes was proclaimed Western Roman emperor with the support of the magister militum Castinus in November 423, the comes Africae Bonifatius, Castinus’ rival, immediately sided with the Eastern emperor Theodosius II in denouncing Joannes as a usurper and halted the African grain shipments to Italy. In response, Castinus dispatched a force of Huns and Goths under the leadership of the Goth Sigisvult to retake Africa in 424, but this expedition failed miserably in some unrecorded manner, seriously weakening the position of Joannes. in wikipedia

424–425 Joannes’ embassy to the Huns

In late 424 the Western Roman emperor/usurper Joannes dispatched Flavius Aetius to the land of the Huns with a large sum of gold, hoping that Aetius would be able to recruit a force of Hun warriors and with them attack the rear of the Eastern Roman army as it entered Italy. Aetius—who had spent much of his youth as a hostage among the Huns and was on good terms with them—was successful in his embassy, but, not anticipating the speed of the Eastern Roman offensive, was unable to return in time to save Joannes. in wikipedia

424 Assassination of Exuperantius of Poitiers

In late 424 the Western Roman army in Gaul mutinied in Arelate (Arles) and killed both the praetorian prefect Exuperantius of Poitiers and Count Gaudentius, father of Flavius Aetius. This was another disaster for the Western emperor/usurper Joannes, who, after the failure of his African expedition, no longer had the troops available to restore order in Gaul. in wikipedia

23 Oct 424 Valentinian III Caesar

In 424 the Eastern Roman emperor Theodosius II finally accepted the late Constantius III (421) as a legitimate Western emperor, his wife—and Theodosius’ aunt—Galla Placidia as augusta, and their son Valentinian as born to the purple. With these formalities out of the way, Theodosius betrothed his two-year-old daughter Licinia Eudoxia to the five-year-old Valentinian and, in October, appointed Valentinian as caesar. The new caesar then departed for Italy with his mother and the Eastern army to reclaim his throne from the usurper Joannes. in wikipedia

425 Fall of Aquileia

In late 424 the Eastern Roman magister militum Ardabur and his son Aspar led the Eastern army to Salona, where they prepared for the invasion of Joannes’ Italy. Learning that Joannes was recruiting more forces from the Huns, the two leaders decided to preempt the Huns’ arrival by launching their assault early the following year, with Ardabur setting out across the Adriatic by fleet and Aspar advancing overland with his cavalry, followed at a slower pace by the infantry under the general Candidianus. Caught completely by surprise, the large Italian city of Aquileia fell without offering any resistance. in wikipedia

May 425 Capture of Joannes

In early 425 the fleet of the Eastern Roman magister militum Ardabur was hit by a storm while crossing the Adriatic to invade Italy and Ardabur himself fell into the hands of the Western usurper Joannes at Ravenna. Hoping to restore relations with the Eastern emperor Theodosius II, Joannes gave his important captive considerable freedom, which Ardabur exploited to plot with some of Joannes’ officers and to send a message to his son Aspar in Aquileia. Aspar quickly rode south with his cavalry and, guided through the marshes by defectors, entered Ravenna through open gates. After a short struggle, the Eastern Romans captured Joannes, who they sent back to the empress Galla Placidia in Aquileia for his inevitable execution. in wikipedia