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Valentinian III

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Reigned 425-55, b. at Ravenna, 3 July, 419; d. at Rome, 16 March, 455; son of Constantius III and Galla Placidia, daughter of Theodosius, succeeded Emperor Honorius. In 437 he married his cousin Eudoxia at Constantinople. During his reign the Western Empire hastened to decay. Britain was abandoned in 446, Ætius failed to hold Gaul against the Franks, Burgundians, and Huns, while Africa was lost in 439 by Boniface, who was defeated by the Vandals under Huneric, later married to Valetinian's daughter Eudoxia. On 17 July, 425, all schismatics were ordered to leave Rome ; in the same year the immunity of the clergy from civil jurisdiction was reaffirmed, though Valentinian abrogated this privilege later in 452; on 8 April, 4236, the Jews were forbidden to disinherit their children who became Christians. Valentinian was a strong adversary of the Manichæans and in 445 declared them guilty of sacrilege, forbade them to reside in cities, and pronounced them incapable of performing any judicial acts. When appealed to by Leo I in the dispute with St. Hilary of Poitiers concerning the latter's metropolitan rights, he addressed a constitution to Ætius, Governor of Gaul, strongly supporting Leo. In it he emphasized the papal supremacy, founded on the position of St. Peter as head of the episcopacy, and pointed out the necessity of one supreme head for the spiritual kingdom, and ordered the civil authorities to bring to Rome any bishop who refused to come there when called by the pope. In 447 he issued an edict to prevent the violation of sepulchres. He was at Rome, with his wife and mother, in February, 450, for the celebration of the feast of the Chair of St. Peter, and after consultation with Pope Leo took active steps for the calling of a general Council, which met at Chalcedon in October, 451. Valentinian presented Xystus III with 2000 lbs. of silver to construct a tabernacle in the Lateran basilica , and in addition with a large golden ornament representing Christ and his Apostles, for the Confessio of St. Peter. As he grew older Valentinian displayed a vindictive, feeble, hesitating character ; his training seems to have been purposely neglected by his mother, the real ruler. On the approach of Attila he fled from Ravenna, his imperial residence, to Rome, which was saved later, as is known by Pope St. Leo. After his mother's death (450), he gave way to his passions. In 454 he caused Ætius and his friends to be murdered ; at last he was assassinated while attending the chariot races in the Via Labicana, Rome, near the tomb of St. Helena, at the instigation, it is said, of a Roman senator, Petronius Maximus, whose wife he had wronged.


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