Northern Africa 424: Joannes and Africa

Political map of Northern Africa on 18 Apr 424 (Africa and Rome Divided: Joannes and Africa), showing the following events: Roman treaty with the Blemmyes; Death of Honorius; Usurpation of Joannes; Joannes’ African campaign.

In November 423, after the Western Roman emperor Honorius died without available heirs, the civil servant Joannes was proclaimed emperor at Rome with the tacit support of the generalissimo Castinus. The usurpation was immediately rejected by both the Eastern Roman emperor Theodosius II and Bonifatius, commander in Africa. The following year Joannes attempted to retake Africa, but the campaign ended in fiasco, seriously undermining the position of the new emperor.

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Main Events

423 Roman treaty with the Blemmyes

In about 423 the Blemmyes of Nubia became Roman allies for the first time. As the other major Nubian power, the Kingdom of Nobatia, were long-standing friends of the Empire, this helped stabilize a region that had been plagued by endless warfare since before Diocletian’s withdrawal from the region in 298. in wikipedia

15 Aug 423 Death of Honorius

In August 423 the Western Roman emperor Honorius died, at age 38, of edema (dropsy). Having no children and with his sister Galla Placidia in exile in Constantinople with her unrecognized son Valentinian, he left the Western Empire without an heir. As a result, the Eastern emperor Theodosius II became sole official ruler of the Roman Empire and was left with the task of deciding the Western succession. To secure against any usurpation in the West while these deliberations were underway, Theodosius immediately dispatched a military force to Salona, in the Western diocese of Illyricum. in wikipedia

20 Nov 423 Usurpation of Joannes

In November 423, three months after the death of the Western Roman emperor Honorius and with the Eastern emperor Theodosius II still undecided as to the succession, the primicerius notarium (chief civil servant) Joannes was proclaimed emperor at Rome. Joannes was tacitly supported by the magister militum Castinus—who was probably involved in the initial coup—as well as the officer Flavius Aetius and Aetius’ father Gaudentius. The new emperor immediately sent an embassy to Constantinople to obtain the recognition of Theodosius, but the Eastern emperor had the ambassadors arrested upon their arrival. Meanwhile, Joannes’ position was further undermined when Bonifatius, governor of Africa, rejected his authority and sided with the Eastern Empire. in wikipedia

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