Aelia Eudoxia

Aelia Eudoxia

Infobox Monarch
name =Aelia Eudoxia
title =Roman empress

caption =
full name =
consortto =Arcadius (395 to death)
issue =5 children, including Theodosius II and Pulcheria
dynasty =
father =Bauto
mother =
date of birth =
place of birth =
date of death =death date|404|10|6|df=y
place of death =
date of burial =
place of burial =|

Aelia Eudoxia (died 6 October 404) was the Empress consort of the Eastern Roman emperor Arcadius.


She was a daughter of Flavius Bauto, a Romanised Frank who served as "magister militum" in the Western Roman army during the 380s. The identity of her father is mentioned by Philostorgius. [ [ Wendy Mayer, Aelia Eudoxia, wife of Arcadius] ] The fragmentary chronicle of John of Antioch, a 7th century monk tentatively identified with John of the Sedre, Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch from 641 to 648 [ [ Catholic Encyclopedia, "John of Antioch"] ] considers Bauto to have also fathered Arbogast. The relation is disputed by modern historians. [Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire] However Christian Settipani has included the relation in his genealogical works. [ A genealogy quoting Settipani] ] Settipani has further speculated that the maternal grandfather of Arbogast and/or Eudoxia was Mallobaudes. Considering Richomeres as their maternal uncle. [ A genealogy quoting Settipani] ] The "History of the Later Roman Empire from the Death of Theodosius I to the Death of Justinian" (1923) by J. B. Bury [ [*.html#ref8 J.B.Bury,"History of the Later Roman Empire from the Death of Theodosius I to the Death of Justinian', chapter V] ] and the historical study "Theodosian Empresses. Women and Imperial Dominion in Late Antiquity" (1982) by Kenneth Holum consider her mother to be Roman and Eudoxia to be a "semibarbara", half-barbarian. However the primary sources are silent on her maternal ancestry. [ [ Wendy Mayer, Aelia Eudoxia, wife of Arcadius] ]

Early life

Her father was last mentioned as Roman Consul with Arcadius in 385. He was already deceased in 388. [Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire] According to Zosimus, Eudoxia entered started her life in Constantinople as a household member of Promotus, magister militum of the Eastern Roman Empire. She is presumed to have been orphaned at the time of her arrival [ [ Wendy Mayer, Aelia Eudoxia, wife of Arcadius] ] Her entry into the household of Promotus may indicate a friendship of the two magisters [Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire] or a political alliance. [ [ Wendy Mayer, Aelia Eudoxia, wife of Arcadius] ]

Promotus died in 391. According to Zosimus, he was survived by his widow Marsa and two sons who were raised alongside the sons and co-emperors of Theodosius I. Said sons were Arcadius and his younger brother Honorius. Zosimus asserts that Eudoxia lived alongside one of the surviving sons in Constantinople. She is therefore assumed to have already been acquainted with Arcadius during his years as junior partner to his father. Zosimus reports that Eudoxia was educated by Pansophius. Her former tutor was promoted to bishop of Nicomedia in 402. Wendy Mayer considers Eudoxia to have been groomed as a vehicle for the ambitions of her foster family. [ [ Wendy Mayer, Aelia Eudoxia, wife of Arcadius] ]


On 17 January, 395, Theodosius I succumbed to death by oedema in Milan. Arcadius succeeded him in the Eastern Roman Empire and Honorius in the Western Roman Empire. Arcadius was effectively placed under the control of Rufinus, Praetorian prefect of the East. Rufinus reportedly intended to marry his daughter to Arcadius and establish his own relation to the Theodosian dynasty. [ [ Wendy Mayer, Aelia Eudoxia, wife of Arcadius] ] Bury considers that "once the Emperor's father-in‑law he [Rufinus] might hope to become an Emperor himself." [ [*.html#ref8 J.B.Bury,"History of the Later Roman Empire from the Death of Theodosius I to the Death of Justinian', chapter V] ]

However Rufinus was distracted by a conflict with Stilicho, magister militum of the West. The wedding of Eudoxia to Arcadius was orchestrated by Eutropius, one of the eunuch officials serving in the Great Palace of Constantinople. The marriage took place on 27 April 395, without the knowledge or consent of Rufinus. [ [*.html#ref8 J.B.Bury,"History of the Later Roman Empire from the Death of Theodosius I to the Death of Justinian', chapter V] ] [ [ Wendy Mayer, Aelia Eudoxia, wife of Arcadius] ] For Eutropius it was an attempt to increase his own influence over the emperor and hopefully ensure the loyalty of the new empress to himself. Rufinus had been an enemy of Promotus and the surviving household of the magister militum, inncluding Eudoxia, might have been eager to undermine him. [ [ Wendy Mayer, Aelia Eudoxia, wife of Arcadius] ] Arcadius himself may have been motivated in asserting his own will over that of his regent. [ [ Geoffrey S. Nathan, "Arcadius (395-408 A.D.)"] ] Zosimus reports that Arcadius was also influenced by the extraordinary beauty of his bride but this considered doubtful by later scholars. [ [ Wendy Mayer, Aelia Eudoxia, wife of Arcadius] ] Arcadius was approximately eighteen years old and Eudoxia may be presumed to be of an equivalent age.

Empress consort

In the decade between her marriage and her death, Eudoxia gave birth to five surviving children. A contemporary source known as pseudo-Martyrius also reports two stillbirths. The writer is considered to be Cosmas, supporter of John Chrysostom who attributed both events to punishment for the two exiles of John. Zosimus alleges that her son Theodosius was widely rumored to be the result of her affair with a courtier. Zosimus' account of her life is generally hostile to Eudoxia and the accuracy of his tale is doubtful. [ [ Wendy Mayer, Aelia Eudoxia, wife of Arcadius] ]

She and Gainas, the new magister militum, are considered to have played a part in the stripping of all offices and subsequent execution of Eutropius in 399. However the extent and nature of her involvement are disputed. Nevertheless, she seems to have increased her personal influence following his demise. On 9 January, 400, Eudoxia was officially given the title of an Augusta. She was then able to wear the purple paludamentum representing imperial rank and was depicted in Roman currency Official images of her in the manner similar to a male Augustus also went in circulation. Her brother-in-law Honorius would later complain to Arcadius about them reaching his own court. [ [ Wendy Mayer, Aelia Eudoxia, wife of Arcadius] ]

The extent of her influence at matters of court and state has been a matter of debate among historians. Philostorgius considers her to be more intelligent than her husband but comments on her "barbarian arrogance". Zosimus considers her strong-willed but ultimately manipulated by eunuchs at court and the women of her environment. "Barbarians and Bishops: Army, Church, and State in the Age of Arcadius and Chrysostom" (1990) by J. W. H. G. Liebeschuetz considers her influence overestimated in primary sources while "The Cambridge Ancient History XIII. The Late Empire A.D. 337-425" (1998) reports her dominating the government between 400 and her death in 404. [ [ Wendy Mayer, Aelia Eudoxia, wife of Arcadius] ]

In 403, Simplicius, Prefect of Constantinople, erected a statue dedicated to her on a column of porphyry and a base of marble. Arcadius renamed the town of Selymbria (Silivri) "Eudoxiopolis" after her, though this name did not survive. [ [ Wendy Mayer, Aelia Eudoxia, wife of Arcadius] ]

Church policy

Her role in the ecclesiastical affairs of her time is relatively well-recorded. She became a patron to the faction of the Christian Church accepting the Nicene Creed and she is reported by Socrates of Constantinople to be financing nighttime anti-Arian processions in Constantinople. She also presided in public celebrations over the arrival of new relics of Christian martyrs to the city and joined nightly vigils over the remains by herself. She is consistently reported to act alone in religious matters and to appear alone in public. Arcadius remarkably absent from public events. [ [ Wendy Mayer, Aelia Eudoxia, wife of Arcadius] ]

An interpretation is that Eudoxia had adopted the role of patron of the Church previously belonging to the Augusti from Constantine I onwards. [ [ Wendy Mayer, Aelia Eudoxia, wife of Arcadius] ] Her role would bring her into conflict with John Chrysostom, the Patriarch of Constantinople. Their initial opposition may have been his protests over the fall from power and execution of Eutropius.

During his time as Archbishop John adamantly refused to host lavish social gatherings, which made him popular with the common people, but unpopular with wealthy citizens and the clergy. His reforms of the clergy were also unpopular with these groups. He told visiting regional preachers to return to the churches they were meant to be serving — without any payout. [David H. Farmer, "The Oxford Dictionary of the Saints," second ed. (New York:Oxford University Press, 1987) p.232.]

At about the same time, Theophilus, the Patriarch of Alexandria, wanted to bring Constantinople under his sway and opposed John's appointment to Constantinople. Being an opponent of Origen's teachings, he accused John of being too partial to the teachings of that theologian. Theophilus had disciplined four Egyptian monks (known as "the tall brothers") over their support of Origen's teachings. They fled to and were welcomed by John. John made another enemy in Aelia Eudoxia, the wife of the eastern Emperor Arcadius, who assumed (perhaps with justification) that his denunciations of extravagance in feminine dress were aimed at herself. [Robert Wilken, "John Chrysostom" in "Encyclopedia of Early Christianity," ed. Everett Ferguson (New York:Garland Publishing, 1997).]

Depending on one's outlook, John was either tactless or fearless when denouncing offences in high places. An alliance was soon formed against him by Eudoxia, Theophilus and others of his enemies. They held a synod in 403 (the Synod of the Oak) to charge John, in which his connection to Origen was used against him. It resulted in his deposition and banishment. He was called back by Arcadius almost immediately, as the people became "tumultuous" over his departure. [cite book|author=Socrates Scholasticus |editor=Schaff, Philip and Wace, Henry (trs., eds.) |others=Zenos, A. C. (rev., notes) |title=Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Volume II: Socrates and Sozomenus Ecclesiastical Histories |url= |accessdate=2007-03-29 |chapter=Book VI, Chapter XVI: Sedition on Account of John Chrysostom’s Banishment |chapterurl= |authorlink=Socrates of Constantinople |pages=p. 149 |publisher=Hendrickson Publishers |location=Peabody |ISBN=1-56563-118-8 |edition=reprint |year=1995 |origyear=1890] There was also an earthquake the night of his arrest, which Eudoxia took for a sign of God's anger, prompting her to ask Arcadius for John's reinstatement.cite web |url= |title=St John Chrysostom the Archbishop of Constantinople |accessdate=2007-03-29 |publisher=Orthodox Church in America]

Peace was short-lived. A silver statue of Eudoxia was erected near his cathedral. John denounced the dedication ceremonies. He spoke against her in harsh terms: "Again Herodias raves; again she is troubled; she dances again; and again desires to receive John’s head in a charger," [Socrates Scholasticus, op cit [ "Chapter XVIII: Of Eudoxia's Silver Statue"] , p. 150.] an allusion to the events surrounding the death of John the Baptist. Herodias was a member of the Herodian Dynasty. In the Gospels of Mark and Matthew, Herodias plays a major role in the execution of John the Baptist execution, using the dance of her daughter Salome before Herod Antipas and his party guests to ask for the head of the Baptist as a reward.

Once again John was banished, this time to the Caucasus in Armenia. ["John Chrysostom" in "The Oxford Dictionary of Church History," ed. Jerald C. Brauer (Philadelphia:Westminster Press, 1971).] Eudoxia would not survive long. Her seventh and last pregnancy ended in either a miscarriage or, according to pseudo-Martyrius, a second stillbirth. She was left bleeding and died of an infection shortly after. Pseudo-Martyrius celebrates her death and considers her a second Jezebel [ [ Wendy Mayer, Aelia Eudoxia, wife of Arcadius] ] . The reference being to a Queen consort of the Kingdom of Israel whose conflict with Elijah, a prophet, was described in the Books of Kings.


Eudoxia and Arcadius had five known children. The main source about their births and deaths is the chronicle of Ammianus Marcellinus:

*Flacilla (born 17 June, 397). Her birth was recorded by Ammianus Marcellinus. She predeaceased her father. Only sibling not mentioned alive at his death in 408.
*Pulcheria (19 January, 399 - 453). Married Marcian.
*Arcadia (3 April, 400 - 444).
*Theodosius II (10 April, 401 - 28 July, 450).
*Marina (12 February, 403 - 449).


External links

* [ Her profile, along with her husband, in "Medieval Lands" by Charles Cawley]
* [ An article about her by Wendy Mayer]
* [ A genealogical profile of her]
* [,M1 -Profile of her father Bauto at the Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire]
* [,M1- - Profile of her alleged sibling Arbogastes at the Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire]

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