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A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography

Valentinianus Iii

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Valentinianus (3) III., emperor, 425–455, the son of Constantius III. by Galla Placidia, daughter of Theodosius the Great and consequently great-grandson of Valentinian I. For his civil history see D. of G. and R. Biogr. His reign was signalized by several laws bearing on church matters. At its very beginning (July 17, 425) there was issued at Aquileia in his name a decree ( Cod. Theod. lib. xvi. tit. v. l. 62 ), expelling all heretics and schismatics from Rome. A special provision ordered the adherents of Eulalius, elected anti-pope in 419, to be removed to the 100th milestone from the city. This law has been illustrated at great length by Gothofred, t. vi. 204. Identical laws (tit. v. 11. 63, 64) were issued for the other cities of Italy and for Africa in 425, and also edicts (lib. xvi. tit. ii. ll. 46 and 47) renewing clerical privileges and reserving clerical offenders to the tribunal of the bishops alone, a rule which he abrogated later. In tit. vii. of the same bk. is a law against apostates dated Ravenna Apr. 7, 426, depriving them of all testamentary power. On the next day a law was enacted (tit. viii. l. 28) preventing Jews from disinheriting their children who became Christians. The most interesting portion of his ecclesiastical legislation is in his Novels embodied in Ritter's appendix to Gothofred's great work (Lip. 1743, t. vi. pt. ii. pp. 105–133). Thus tit. ii p. 106, a.d. 445, treats of the Manicheans and gives particulars as to the action of pope Leo the Great against them; tit. v. p. 111, a.d. 447, of the violations of sepulchres, with severe penalties against such crimes, of which the clergy themselves were frequently guilty. Tit 12 p. 127, a.d. 452, his most celebrated law, is an anticipation of medieval legislation; it withdraws the clergy from the episcopal courts and subjects them to lay judges. Baronius ( Annals , a.d. 451) heartily abuses Valentinian for this law, and considers Attila's invasion a direct and immediate expression of Heaven's anger.


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Bibliography Information
Wace, Henry. Entry for 'Valentinianus Iii'. A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography. 1911.

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Tuesday, November 24th, 2020
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