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date: 16 January 2019

Valens, Roman emperor, 364–78 CE

Valens, Roman emperor (364–78 ce), the younger brother of Valentinian I, who proclaimed him emperor of the eastern empire. He lacked his brother's military ability and forceful personality, but was an obedient colleague. His principal achievement was to reduce taxation by careful economy. Unlike his brother, he was a baptized Arian (see arianism) and half-heartedly persecuted the eastern Catholics. After surviving a rebellion led by Julian's kinsman Procopius (365–6), he was able to impose terms upon the Goths (369) and to intervene successfully in Armenia (from 371), thanks to the competent generals he had inherited. However, when the Goths sought refuge from the Huns in 376, they were allowed to cross the Danube and settle under Roman supervision. This policy led to disaster, for when the Goths rebelled, Valens' attempts to coerce them ended in the battle of Adrianople (9 August 378), in which he and two-thirds of his army were killed. His body was never recovered.


N. Lenski, Failure of Empire: Valens and the Roman State in the Fourth Century AD (2002).Find this resource:

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