King of the Romans – A Title From the Fall of Rome

Welcome to Rome Across Europe! If you’ve stopped by before, then you’ll know we’ve had some pretty good times this year.

If this is your visit, then please explore. Some of the varied articles we’re proud of are as follows: Imperium Charlemagne; Venice – An Experience Like No Other; Glevum – A Roman Town Forming a Modern City; Roman Censor – More than Simply Tracking the Population; The Nicene Creed – Written by an Emperor; The Toga – Not for Everyone; The Roman Circus – Not For Clowning Around; and Winemaking – Do As The Romans Do.

Now, though, it’s time to bring 2015 to a close. We thought it’d be nice to share something that was within our scope and range, but something we’d never even heard of before.

Today we bring to you the King of the Romans!Coat_of_Arms_of_Charles_V_Holy_Roman_Emperor,_Charles_I_as_King_of_Spain_(In_Italy)

Known in Latin as the Romanorum Rex (GermanRömisch-deutscher König) the position began with Emperor Henry II (1014–1024). The title used by the German King following his election by the princes.

The title was predominantly a claim to become Holy Roman Emperor, a title, which in contemporary views of the Middle Ages, also had a religious aspect and was dependent on the coronation by the Pope.

Originally the title referred to any elected king who had not yet been granted the Imperial Regalia and title of Emperor at the hands of the Pope. Later, it came to be used solely for the heir apparent to the Imperial throne between his election (during the lifetime of a sitting Emperor) and his succession on the Emperor’s death.Throne of Charlemagne in AachenerDomKarlsthron 1661

Contemporary sources did not refer to the territory of East Francia as Regnum Teutonicum (Romanization of Old High German diutisc, i.e. Kingdom of Germany) until the 11th Century. During that time, the king’s claim to coronation was increasingly contested by the papacy, culminating in the fierce Investiture Controversy.

Henry IVAfter the Salian heir apparent Henry IV, a 6-year old minor, had been elected to rule the Empire in 1056, Romanorum Rex became his standard title to emphasize the sacred entitlement to be crowned Emperor by the Pope. Nevertheless Pope Gregory VII insisted on using the derogatory term Teutonicorum Rex (King of the Germans) in order to imply that Henry’s authority was merely local and did not extend over the whole Empire.

In reaction to Gregory’s usage, Henry began to regularly use the title Romanorum Rex until he finally was crowned Emperor by Antipope Clement III in 1084. Henry’s successors imitated this practice, and were called Romanorum Rex before and Romanorum Imperator after their Roman coronation.

Candidates for the kingship were at first the heads of the German stem duchies. As these units broke up over time, rulers of smaller principalities and even non-German rulers came to be considered for the position.

The only requirements generally observed were that the candidate be an adult male, a Catholic Christian, and not in holy orders. Since 1147 the kings were elected by several Imperial estates, secular princes as well as Prince-Bishops, commonly in the Imperial city of Frankfurt, a custom recorded in the Schwabenspiegel code about 1275.

Karl_IV_HRROriginally all noblemen present could vote per unanimous acclamation, but later an actual franchise was narrowed to the most eminent bishops and noblemen. According to the Golden Bull of 1356 issued by Emperor Charles IV only the 7 Prince-electors had the right to participate in a majority voting as determined by the 1338 Declaration of Rhense: The Prince-Archbishops of Mainz, Trier and Cologne as well as the King of Bohemia, the Count Palatine of the Rhine, the Saxon Duke and the Margrave of Brandenburg.

After the distortions during the Investiture Controversy, Charles intended to strengthen the legal status of the Rex Romanorum beyond papal approbation. Consequently, among his successors, only Sigismund and Frederick III were still crowned Emperors in Rome.Imperial Coronation Mantle

In 1530 Charles V was the last king to receive the Imperial Crown at the hands of the Pope in Bologna. As constitutional law, the Golden Bull remained effective until the Empire’s dissolution in 1806.

After his election, the new king would proceed to be crowned as King of the Romans (Romanorum Rex), usually at Charlemagne’s throne in Aachen Cathedral by the Archbishop of Cologne. Though the ceremony was not more than a symbolic validation of the preceding election result, it was solemnly celebrated.

The details of Otto’s coronation in 936 are described by the medieval chronicler Widukind of Corvey in his Res Gestae Saxonicae. At least since the coronation of Conrad II in 1024, the kings received the Imperial Crown.

Henry VI HohenstaufenIn 1198 the Hohenstaufen candidate Philip of Swabia was crowned Rex Romanorum at Mainz Cathedral. However, he made good for another coronation in Aachen, after he had prevailed against his Welf rival rival Otto IV, as did Charles IV and King Rupert centuries later.

At some time after the ceremony, the king would, if possible, cross the Alps, and might receive coronation in Pavia or Milan with the Iron Crown of Lombardy as King of Italy. Finally, he would travel to Rome and be crowned Emperor by the Pope.

As it was rarely possible for the elected King to proceed immediately to Rome for his crowning, several years might elapse between election and coronation. Some Kings never achieved the journey to Rome at all.

As suitable title for the King between his election and his coronation as Emperor, Romanorum Rex would stress the plenitude of his authority over the Empire and his warrant to be future Emperor (Imperator futurus) while not infringing upon the Papal privilege.

Not all Kings of the Romans made this step, sometimes because of hostile relations to the current Pope, at other times because the pressure of business at home, or warfare in Germany or Italy, made it impossible for the King to make the journey. In such cases, the King might retain the title King of the Romans for his entire reign.

Arms_of_Joseph_I_as_King_of_the_Romans.svgThe title Romanorum Rex became functionally obsolete after 1508, when, after King Maximilian I failed in a good-faith attempt to journey to Rome, the Pope permitted him to use the title of Electus Romanorum Imperator (elected Emperor of the Romans). Maximilian also at this time took the new title King of the Germans or King in Germany (Germaniae RexKönig in Germanien), but the latter was never used as a primary title.

The rulers of the Empire thereafter called themselves Emperors without going to Rome or soliciting Papal approval, taking the title as soon as they were crowned in Germany or, if elected as heir to the throne, upon the death of a sitting Emperor.

The Holy Roman Empire was an elective monarchy. No person had a legal right to the succession simply because he was related to the current Emperor. However, the Emperor could, and often did, have a relative (usually a son) elected to succeed him after his death. This elected heir apparent bore the title King of the Romans.burgundy-1475

The election was in the same form as that of the senior ruler, and theoretically meant that both men were equal co-rulers of the Empire. In practice, however, the actual administration of the Empire was always managed by the Emperor, with at most certain duties delegated to the heir.

Napoléon_II_Roi_de_RomeWhen Napoleon I, Emperor of the French, had a son and heir, Napoleon II (1811–32), he revived the title as King of Rome (Roi de Rome), styling his son as such at birth. The boy was often known colloquially by this title throughout his short life. However, from 1818 onward, he was styled officially by Emperor Francis I of Austria as the Duke of Reichstadt.

We hope you enjoyed learning about the latter rulers of Rome and the Roman Empire. With all that’s going on in the world, we hope you had a blessed Christmas and a very happy New Year.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!



Beumann. Rex Romanorum, in: Lexikon des Mittelalters. Dictionary of the Middle Ages, 9 vols., Munich-Zurich, 1980-98.

Frederick II – A Bridge Between East and West

Hello and welcome to Rome Across Europe! As of late we’ve been sharing quite a bit about Holy Roman Emperors.

Some of the articles we’ve shared have been: Imperium Charlemagne; the Coronation of Flavius Iulius Valerius Maiorianus Augustus; and Charles the Bald – Coronated Today as Holy Roman Emperor.

We thought it would be a fun idea to check out another Emperor, but this time watching him. Today we take a look at Frederick II!

Born 26 December 1194, Frederick II was one of the most powerful Holy Roman Emperors of the Middle Ages and head of the House of Hohenstaufen. His political and cultural ambitions, based in Sicily and stretching through Italy to Germany, and even to Jerusalem, were enormous.

Viewing himself as a direct successor to the Roman Emperors of Antiquity, Frederick was Holy Roman Emperor from his papal coronation in 1220 until his death. He was also a claimant to the title of Romanorum Rex from 1212 and unopposed holder of that monarchy from 1215.

As such, Frederick was King of Germany, of Italy, and of Burgundy. At 3-years old, he was crowned King of Sicily as a co-ruler with his mother, Constance of Hauteville, the daughter of Roger II of Sicily.

Frederick’s other royal title was King of Jerusalem by virtue of marriage and his connection with the Sixth Crusade.

Speaking 6 languages (Latin, Sicilian, German, French, Greek and Arabic), Frederick was an avid patron of science and the arts. He played a major role in promoting literature through the Sicilian School of poetry.

His Sicilian royal court in Palermo, from around 1220 to his death, saw the earliest use of a literary form of an Italo-Romance language, Sicilian. The poetry that emanated from the school had a significant influence on literature and on what was to become the modern Italian language.

Frederick was also the first king who explicitly outlawed trials by ordeal as they were considered irrational.

He was frequently at war with the Papacy, hemmed in between Frederick’s lands in northern Italy and his Kingdom of Sicily (the Regno) to the south, and thus he was excommunicated a total of 4 times and often vilified in pro-papal chronicles of the time and since.

After his death, his line quickly died out and the House of Hohenstaufen came to an end.

We hope you enjoyed seeing a quick look into the life of Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor. Come back soon to we have in store.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!


Charles the Bald – Crowned Holy Roman Emperor

Welcome to Rome Across Europe! If this is your first time with us, we like to thank you for stopping by. A hearty hello and cyber-hug go out to all of our returning fans.

This month we’ve been especially focused on sharing events that took place on this date in history. It’s been tough at times to keep this theme going, but we’re striving to continue it.

Today we bring to you the Coronation of Charles the Bald!Charles

Also known as Charles II, he was born on 13 June 823 in Frankfurt. Charles was the youngest son of Louis the Pious by his 2nd wife, Judith, and a grandson of Charlemagne.

When Charles was born, his elder brothers were already adults and had been assigned their own regna, or subkingdoms, by their father. The attempts made by Louis the Pious to assign Charles a subkingdom, initially Alemannia and then the country between the Meuse and the Pyrenees were unsuccessful.

The numerous reconciliations with the rebellious Lothair and Pepin, as well as their brother Louis the GermanKing of Bavaria, made Charles’s share in Aquitaine and Italy only temporary. However Charles’ father did not give up and made Charles the heir of the entire land which was once Gallia and would eventually be France.

At a dieta in Aachen in 837, Louis the Pious bade the nobles do homage to Charles as his heir. Pepin of Aquitaine died in AD 838, whereupon Charles at last received that kingdom, which angered Pepin’s heirs and the Aquitainian nobles.

The death of the Holy Roman Emperor in 840 led to the outbreak of war between his sons. Charles allied himself with his brother Louis the German to resist the pretensions of the new Romanorum Imperator Lothair I.

The pair of allied brothers defeated Lothair at the Battle of Fontenoy-en-Puisaye on 25 June 841. In the following year, the 2 brothers confirmed their alliance by the celebrated Oaths of Strasbourg.battle-of-fontenoy-en-puisaye-in-841

The war was brought to an end by the Treaty of Verdun in August 843. The settlement gave Charles the Bald the Kingdom of the West Franks, which he had been up until then governing and which practically corresponded with what is now France, as far as the Meuse, the Saône and the Rhône, with the addition of the Spanish March as far as the Ebro.

Louis received the eastern part of the Carolingian Empire, known then as East Francia and later as Germany. Lothair retained the imperial title and the Kingdom of Italy. He also received the central regions from Flanders through the Rhineland and Burgundy as King of Middle Francia.

The opening years of Charles’s reign as King, up to the death of Lothair I in 855, were comparatively peaceful. During these years the 3 brothers continued the system of “confraternal government”, meeting repeatedly with one another, at Koblenz (848), at Meerssen (851), and at Attigny (854).

In 858, Louis the German, invited by disaffected nobles eager to oust Charles, invaded the West Frankish kingdom. Charles was so unpopular that he was unable to summon an army, and he fled to Burgundy.

Charles was saved only by the support of the Bishops, who refused to crown Louis the German as king, and by the fidelity of the Welfs, who were related to his mother, Judith. In 860, Charles in turn tried to seize the kingdom of his nephew, Charles of Provence, but was repulsed.

On the death of his nephew Lothair II in 869, Charles tried to seize Lothair’s dominions, but by the Treaty of Mersen (870) was compelled to share them with Louis the German.Treaty of Mersen

Besides these family disputes, Charles had to struggle against repeated rebellions in Aquitaine and against the Bretons. Led by their chiefs Nomenoë and Erispoë, who defeated the king at the Battle of Ballon (845) and the Battle of Jengland (851), the Bretons were successful in obtaining a de facto independence.

Charles also fought against the Vikings, who devastated the country of the north, the valleys of the Seine and Loire, and even up to the borders of Aquitaine. Several times Charles was forced to purchase their retreat at a heavy price.

In 875, after the death of the Emperor Louis II (son of his half-brother Lothair), Charles the Bald, supported by Pope John VIII, traveled to Italy, receiving the royal crown at Pavia and the imperial insignia in Rome on 29 December. Louis the German, also a candidate for the succession of Louis II, revenged himself by invading and devastating Charles’ dominions, and Charles had to return hastily to West Francia.Carlo_calvo

After the death of Louis the German (28 August 876), Charles in his turn attempted to seize Louis’s kingdom, but was decisively beaten at Andernach on 8 October 876.

In the meantime, John VIII, menaced by the Saracens, was urging Charles to come to his defense in Italy. Charles again crossed the Alps, but this expedition was received with little enthusiasm by the nobles, and even by his regent in LombardyBoso, and they refused to join his army.

At the same time Carloman, son of Louis the German, entered northern Italy. Ill and in great distress Charles started on his way back to Gaul, but died while crossing the pass of Mont Cenis at Brides-les-Bains on 6 October 877.

According to the Annals of St-Bertin, Charles was hastily buried at the abbey of Nantua, Burgundy because the bearers were unable to withstand the stench of his decaying body. He was to have been buried in the Basilique Saint-Denis and may have been transferred there later. It was recorded that there was a memorial brass there that was melted down at the Revolution.FelixBenoistStDenis

It has been suggested that Charles’ nickname was used ironically and not descriptively; meaning he was not in fact bald, but rather that he was extremely hairy. In support of this idea is the fact that none of his enemies commented on what would be an easy target.

However, none of the voluble members of his court comments on his being hairy. The Genealogy of Frankish Kings, a text without a trace of irony from Fontanelle dating from possibly as early as 869 names him as Karolus Caluus (Charles the Bald). Certainly, by the end of the 10th Century, Richier of Reims and Adhemar of Chabannes refer to him in all seriousness as Charles the Bald.Charles_the_Bald_(823-877)

An alternative or additional interpretation is based on Charles’ initial lack of a regnum. “Bald” would in this case be a tongue-in-cheek reference to his landlessness, at an age where his brothers already had been sub-kings for some years.

King of West Francia, King of Italy and Holy Roman Emperor seems pretty solid. Ending a series of civil wars that began during the reign of his father, Charles succeeded in acquiring the western 1/3 of the Carolingian Empire.

Looking at his overall life, we’d have to say it was rather successful. We hope you enjoyed learning about Charles the Bald, look forward to having you visit again soon.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!



Bradbury, Jim. The Capetians: Kings of France 987-1328. Hambledon Continuum, 2007.

Dutton, Paul E. Charlemagne’s Mustache. Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.

Nelson, Janet. Charles the Bald. Essex, 1992.

Riche, Pierre. The Carolingians: The Family who forged Europe. University of Pennsylvania Press, 1983.

Coronation of Flavius Iulius Valerius Maiorianus Augustus

Welcome to Rome Across Europe! December has been a month in which we’ve created a new theme for our articles.

Instead of just writing about any topic that came to mind, we’ve been trying to share events that happened each day in history. This sometimes has been tricky, but for the most part we’ve been able to accomplish it all.

Staying with the theme, today we take a look at the coronation of Flavius Iulius Valerius Maiorianus Augustus (aka Majorian)!Flavius-Iulius-Valerius-Maiorianus

Fortunate for us, the life of Majorian and his reign are better known than those of the other Western Emperors of the same period. The most important sources are the chronicles that cover the latter half of the 5th Century, those of Hydatius and Marcellinus Comes, as well as the fragments of Priscus and John of Antioch.

Besides these sources, which are useful also for the biographies of the other Emperors, some peculiar sources are available that make Majorian’s life known in some detail, both before and after his rise to the throne. The Gallo-Roman aristocrat and poet Sidonius Apollinaris was an acquaintance of the Emperor and composed a panegyric that is the major source for Majorian’s life up to AD 459.

Majorian was probably born after AD 420, as in 458 he is defined an iuvenis (young man). It was customary in Rome for boys at the age of 15 to undergo a ritual transitioning them into manhood.

He belonged to the military aristocracy of the Imperium Rōmānum. His grandfather of the same name reached the rank of Magister Militum under Emperor Theodosius I and, as Commander-in-Chief of the Illyrian Army, was present at his coronation at Sirmium in AD 379.

The daughter of the Magister Militum then married an officer, called Donninus, who administered the finances of Aetius, the powerful Magister Militum of the West. The couple gave the name Maiorianus to their child in honor of his influential grandfather.

It was under the same Aetius that Majorian started his military career. He followed Aetius to Gallia, where he met a pair of Aetius’ officers of barbarian origin who were to play an important role in Majorian’s life: the SuevicVisigoth Ricimer and the Gaul Aegidius.

Majorian distinguished himself in the defense of the city of Turonensis (modern Tours) and in a battle against the Franks of King Clodio, near Vicus Helena (447 or 448). In the latter, Majorian fought at the head of his Equites Romani on a bridge, while Aetius controlled the roads leading to the battlefield:

There was a narrow passage at the junction of two ways, and a road crossed both the village of Helena… and the river. [Aëtius] was posted at the cross-roads while Majorian warred as a mounted man close to the bridge itself…

— Sidonius Apollinaris, Carmina, V.207–227.Attila_in_Gaul_451CE.svg

Around AD 450, the Western Roman Emperor Valentinian III considered the possibility of marrying his daughter Placidia to Majorian. Valentinian had 2 daughters and no sons, and therefore no heir to the throne.

Having Majorian as son-in-law would have strengthened Valentinian in the face of other powerful Generals and would have solved the problem of the succession. Furthermore, as Emperor, Majorian could have led the Exercitus Romanus himself, freed from the dangerous bond with a powerful general, such as Valentinian had been obliged to contract with Aetius.

The intention of this plan was to avoid the possibility that barbarian generals like Huneric or Attila should succeed to Aetius, but clashed with the plans of Aetius himself. Aetius, in fact, planned to marry his own son Gaudentius to Placidia.

Aetius therefore opposed Valentinian’s plan, and put an end to Majorian’s military career, expelling him from his staff and sending him to his country estate. According to the poet Sidonius Apollinaris, the cause of the fall of Majorian was the jealousy of Aetius’ wife, who feared that Majorian could overshadow Aetius’ prestige.

It was only in AD 454 that Majorian was able to return to public life. In that year, Valentinian III killed Aetius with his own hands but, fearing that Aetius’ troops might revolt, called Majorian back to office to quell them.

In the following year, Valentinian III was killed by a duet of Aetius’ former officers. There was then a fight for the succession, as no heir existed. Majorian played the role of the candidate for the throne of Licinia Eudoxia, Valentinian’s widow, and of Ricimer, who reserved for himself a role similar to Aetius’.

In the end, the new Emperor was Petronius Maximus, a Senator involved in Valentinian’s murder, who outmaneuvered the other candidates. To strengthen his position, he obliged Licinia to marry him and promoted Majorian to the rank of Comes Domesticorum (Commander-in-Chief of the Imperial Guard).

Petronius ruled only for a few weeks, as he was killed during the Vandal sack of Rome (May 455). He was succeeded, not by Majorian, but by the Gallic-Roman noble Avitus, who had the support of the Visigoths.Genseric_sacking_Rome_455

Both Majorian and Ricimer initially supported Avitus, but when the Emperor lost the loyalty of the Italian aristocracy, both Generals revolted against him. First Majorian and Ricimer killed Remistus, the Magister Militum entrusted by Avitus with the defense of the capital, Ravenna.

Then Ricimer defeated Avitus’ troops near Placentia, taking the Emperor himself prisoner, and obliging him to abdicate. Finally, Majorian caused Avitus’ death, possibly starving him, in early AD 457.

Avitus was dead and the Western throne without a pretender. It was thus for the Eastern Roman Emperor to choose the successor, but Marcian could do nothing, as he died on 27 January 457. His successor on the Eastern throne was the General Leo I, who did not, however, select a colleague for the West, possibly because he intended to reign alone.

On the other hand, Leo rewarded both Majorian and Ricimer: the former was appointed Magister Militum, the latter Patricius and Magister Militum (28 February 457).

While the situation was in a precarious equilibrium, a troop of 900 Alemanni invaded Italy. They entered from Raetia and penetrated Italian territory down to Lake Maggiore. There they were intercepted and defeated by the troops of comes Burco, sent by Majorian to stop them.

MajorianThis victory was celebrated as Majorian’s own, and the Magister Militum was acclaimed Emperor by the Army on 1 April at a place called ad Columellas (at the Little Columns). There were actually 2 Magister Militum to choose between, Majorian and Ricimer, but the barbarian origin of the latter barred him from the throne.

Ricimer could, however, expect to exert a great influence on the new Western Emperor, because of their relationship dating back to the time of their service under Aetius and because of his control of the Army as Magister Militum.

In his panegyric to Majorian, the poet Sidonius Apollinaris tells that Majorian initially refused the election:

The world trembled with alarm while you were loath to permit your victories to benefit you, and because, overly modest, you grieved because you deserved the throne and because you would not undertake to rule what you had deemed worth defending

— Sidonius Apollinaris, Carmina, V.9–12.MajorianEmpire

Modern historians think that it was Leo I who initially refused to recognize Majorian as his colleague, although the General chosen by his own Legionarii must have seemed the only viable candidate to the throne. The Eastern court was not displeased with the deposition of Avitus, whereas the only other candidate, Olybrius, had a politically difficult relationship with the Vandal King Genseric and no influence on Rome’s soldiers.

Despite this, the approval by the Eastern court of Majorian’s election came late, as the new Emperor was actually crowned only on 28 December. Leo I and Majorian jointly assumed the consulate for the year 458. It was customary that a new Emperor took this magistracy on the first year started as Emperor.

Majorian’s domestic policy is known thanks to some of the laws he issued, the so-called Novellae Maioriani, that were included in a collection of Roman law entitled Breviarium, requested from some Gallo-Roman jurists in 506 by the 6th Century Visigothic King Alaric II .

The preserved laws are:

  • Novella Maioriani I: De ortu imperii domini Majoriani Augusti (The Beginning of the Reign of Our Lord Majorian Augustus). This was the opening speech of his reign, addressed to the Roman Senate (on January 11, 458);
  • Novella Maioriani II: De indulgentiis reliquorum (On the Remission of Past-Due Accounts). Stated in Ravenna, on 11 March 458, to BasiliusPraefectura Praetorio Italiae;
  • Novella Maioriani III: De defensoribus civitatum (The Defenders of the Municipalities). This was about the Office of Defensor Civitatum, given in Ravenna 8 May 458;
  • Novella Maioriani IV: De aedificiis pubblicis (Public Buildings). Given for the preservation of the monuments of Rome on 11 July 458, to AemilianusPraefectus Urbi of Rome;
  • Novella Maioriani V: De bonis caducis sive proscriptorum (On Abandoned Property and That of Proscribed Persons). Given in Ravenna on 4 September 458 to Ennodius, comes privatae largitionis (private count of bribery);
  • Novella Maioriani VI: De sanctimonialibus vel viduis et de successionibus earum (Holy Maidens, Widows, and Their Succession). Also given in Ravenna on 26 October 458 to Basilius;
  • Novella Maioriani VII: De curialibus et de agnatione vel distractione praediorum et de ceteris negotiis (Decurions, Their Children and The Sale of Their Landed Estates). Again, given in Ravenna, this time on 6 November 458 to Basilius in the name of Leo I);
  • Novella Maioriani VIII: De reddito iure armorum (On the Return of the Right to Bear Arms). The text is lost;
  • Novella Maioriani IX: De adulteriis (Adultery). This confirmed that the adulterers are to be put to death, given in Arelate on 17 April 459 to Rogatianus, Governor of Suburbicarian Tuscany. It was again in the name of Leo I;
  • Novella Maioriani X: About the right of the Roman Senators and of the Church to keep the goods received in a will (text is lost);
  • Novella Maioriani XI: De episcopali iudicio et ne quis invitus clericus ordinetur vel de ceteris negotiis (Episcopal Courts; No Person Shall Be Ordained A Cleric Against His Will; Various Matters). Given in Arelate on 28 March 460 to Ricimer in the name of Leo I;
  • Novella Maioriani XII: De aurigis et seditiosis (Charioteers and Seditious Persons). Text is lost.Impero_d'occidente,_maggioriano,_solido_in_oro_(arles),_457-461

When it comes to accomplishments of Roman leaders, there’s no comparison. We hope you enjoyed learning about the coronation and leadership of Majorian.

We hope you come back soon. Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!



Gibbon, Edward. The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Chapter XXXVI “Total Extinction Of The Western Empire”.

Grubbs, Judith Evans. Women and the Law in the Roman Empire. Routledge, 2002. ISBN 0-415-15240-2.

MacGeorge, Penny. Late Roman Warlords. Oxford University Press, 2002. ISBN 0-19-925244-0.

Mathisen, Ralph W. Julius Valerius Maiorianus (18 February/28 December 457 – 2/7 August 461).

O’Flynn, John Michael. Generalissimos of the Western Roman Empire. University of Alberta, 1983. ISBN 0-88864-031-5.


John of AntiochHistoria Chronike.


Marcellinus ComesAnnales.

Feast Day of Saint John the Apostle and Evangelist

Welcome to Rome Across Europe! This December we have gotten into the trend of sharing stories of events, people, holidays, etc taking place on a specific day.

A few articles we’ve done thusly have been about the following: Berengar I of Italy – Crowning a Holy Roman Emperor (12/5); Imperium Charlemagne (12/9); Battle of Tricamarum – This Day in AD 533 (12/15); and The Death of Vitellius (12/22).

Today we celebrate the Feast Day of Saint John the Apostle and Evangelist!Simone_Cantarini_-_São_João_Batista_em_Meditação

The calendar of saints is a traditional Christian method of organizing a liturgical year by associating each day with one or more Saints and referring to the day as the feast day or feast of said saint. The word “feast” in this context does not mean “a large meal, typically a celebratory one”, but instead “an annual religious celebration, a day dedicated to a particular saint”.

The system arose from the early Christian custom of commemorating each martyr annually on the date of his or her death, or birth into heaven, a date therefore referred to in Latin as the martyr’s Dies Natalis (Day of Birth).

In the Eastern Orthodox Church, a calendar of saints is called a MenologiumMenologium may also mean a set of icons on which saints are depicted in the order of the dates of their feasts, often made in 2 panels.

Hans_Memling_039The Feast Day of Saint John in the Roman Catholic Church, which calls him “Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist”, is on 27 December. In the Tridentine Calendar he was commemorated also on each of the following days up to and including 3 January, the Octave of the 27 December feast.

This Octave was abolished by Pope Pius XII in 1955. The traditional liturgical color is white.

Until 1960, another feast day which appeared in the General Roman Calendar is that of “Saint John Before the Latin Gate” on May 6, celebrating a tradition recounted by Jerome that St John was brought to Rome during the reign of the Emperor Domitian, and was thrown in a vat of boiling oil, from which he was miraculously preserved unharmed. A church (San Giovanni a Porta Latina) dedicated to him was built near the Latin gate of Rome, the traditional site of this event.

The Orthodox Church and those Eastern Catholic Churches which follow the Byzantine Rite commemorate the “Repose of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian” on September 26. Other Christians highly revere him but do not canonize or venerate saints.

John the Apostle (HebrewYohanan Ben Zavdai; Latin and Koine GreekIoannes) was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus according to the New Testament. He was the son of Zebedee and the younger brother of James, son of Zebedee (Saint James the Greater another of the Twelve Apostles). According to Church tradition, their mother was Salome.

Christian tradition holds that John outlived the remaining Apostles and that he was the only one not to die a martyr’s death. John lived more than half a century after the martyrdom of James, who was the original Apostle to die a martyr’s death.

John_EvangelistThe Church Fathers consider him the same person as John the EvangelistJohn of Patmos and the Beloved Disciple. Zebedee and his sons fished in the Sea of Galilee. The brothers were originally disciples of John the Baptist.

Jesus then called Saint PeterSaint Andrew and these sons of Zebedee to follow him. Jesus referred to the pair as Boanerges (Sons of Thunder).

Although their nature was calm and gentle, when their patience was pushed to its limits their anger became wild and thunderous causing them to speak out like an untamed storm. A gospel story relates how the brothers wanted to call down heavenly fire on a Samaritan town, but Jesus rebuked them [Luke 9:51-6].

The tradition of many Christian denominations holds that he is the author of several books of the New Testament. Church tradition holds that John is the author of the Gospel of John and 4 other books of the New Testament – the 3 Epistles of John and the Book of Revelation.Valentin_de_boulogne,_John_and_Jesus

In the Gospel, authorship is internally credited to the “disciple whom Jesus loved” [John 20:2]. John 21:24 claims that the Gospel of John is based on the written testimony of the “Beloved Disciple”.

The authorship of some Johannine literature has been debated since about the year 200. Some doubt that the “Gospel of John” was written by an individual named “John”. Nevertheless, the notion of “John the Evangelist” exists, and is usually thought of as the same as the Apostle John.

In his Ecclesiastical HistoryEusebius says that the First Epistle of John and the Gospel of John are widely agreed upon as his. However, Eusebius mentions that the consensus is that the Second and Third Epistles of John are not his but were written by some other John.

The Gospel according to John differs considerably from the Synoptic Gospels, likely written decades earlier than John’s gospel. The Bishops of Asia Minor supposedly requested him to write his gospel to deal with the heresy of the Ebionites, who asserted that Christ did not exist before Mary.

John probably knew and undoubtedly approved of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, but these gospels spoke of Jesus primarily in the year following the imprisonment and death of John the Baptist.

Around AD 600, however, Sophronius of Jerusalem noted that “two epistles bearing his name … are considered by some to be the work of a certain John the Elder” and, while stating that Revelation was written by John of Patmos, it was “later translated by Justin Martyr and Irenaeus”, presumably in an attempt to reconcile tradition with the obvious differences in Greek style.

Today, many theological scholars continue to accept the traditional authorship. Scholars state that since John the Evangelist has been named consistently in the writings of early church fathers, “it is hard to pass by this conclusion, despite widespread reluctance to accept it by many, but by no means all, modern scholars.”Pietro_Perugino_St John at the Crucifixion

John is considered to have been exiled to Patmos, during the persecutions under Emperor Domitian. Revelation 1:9 says that the author wrote the book on Patmos: “I, John, both your brother and companion in tribulation… was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.”

Adela Yarbro Collins, a biblical scholar at Yale Divinity School, writes:

Early tradition says that John was banished to Patmos by the Roman authorities. This tradition is credible because banishment was a common punishment used during the Imperial period for a number of offenses. Among such offenses were the practices of magic and astrology. Prophecy was viewed by the Romans as belonging to the same category, whether Pagan, Jewish, or Christian. Prophecy with political implications, like that expressed by John in the book of Revelation, would have been perceived as a threat to Roman political power and order. Three of the islands in the Sporades were places where political offenders were banished.

There is no information in the Bible concerning the duration of John’s activity in Judea. According to tradition, John and the other Apostles remained some 12 years in this first field of labor. The persecution of Christians under Herod Agrippa I led to the scattering of the Apostles through the Provinciae of the Imperium Rōmānum [Ac 12:1-17].

According to Tertullian (in The Prescription of Heretics) John was banished after being plunged into boiling oil in Rome and suffering nothing from it. It is said that all in the audience of the Colosseum were converted to Christianity upon witnessing this miracle. This event would have occurred in the late 1st Century, during the reign of the Emperor Domitian, who was known for his persecution of Christians.Martyrdom_of_Saint_John_the_Evangelist_by_Master_of_the_Winkler_Epitaph

When John was aged, he trained Polycarp who later became Bishop of Smyrna. This was important because Polycarp was able to carry John’s message to future generations.

Polycarp taught Irenaeus, passing on to him stories about John. In Against Heresies, Irenaeus relates how Polycarp told a story of John, the Disciple of the Lord, going to bath at Ephesus, and perceiving Cerinthus within, rushed out of the thermae without bathing, exclaiming, “Let us fly, lest even the bath-house fall down, because Cerinthus, the enemy of the truth, is within.”

In art, John as the presumed author of the Gospel is often depicted with an eagle, which symbolizes the height he rose to in his gospel. In Orthodox icons, he is often depicted looking up into heaven and dictating his Gospel (or the Book of Revelation) to his disciple, traditionally named Prochorus.

We hope you enjoyed learning about St John the Apostle and Evangelist, and maybe even participated in his feast. Stop by tomorrow to see what we have in store for you.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!



Culpepper, R. Alan. John, the Son of Zebedee: The Life of A Legend. Continuum International Publishing Group, 2000. ISBN 9780567087423.

Ehrman, Bart D. The New Testament: a historical introduction to early Christian writings. Oxford University Press.

Halton, Thomas Patrick. On illustrious men, Volume 100 of The Fathers of the Church. CUA Press, 1999.

Harris, Stephen L. Understanding the Bible. Palo Alto: Mayfield, 1985.

Francis J. Moloney, SDB. Reading John. Dove Press, 1995.

Kruse, Colin G. The Gospel According to John: An Introduction and Commentary. Eerdmans, 2004. ISBN 0-8028-2771-3.

Saint Sophronius of Jerusalem. The Life of the Evangelist John, The Explanation of the Holy Gospel According to JohnHouse Springs, Missouri, USA. Chrysostom Press. ISBN 1-889814-09-1.

Rasimus, Tuomas. The Legacy of John: Second-Century Reception of the Fourth Gospel. BRILL, 2010. ISBN 9789004176331.

Feast – definition of feast in English from the Oxford dictionary.

Relics and Reliquaries – Treasures of Heaven.

Calendarium Romanum. Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1969.

Saint John the Apostle. Encyclopedia Britannica.

Eusebius of Caesarea. Ecclesiastical History Book.

Foley OFM, Leonard. Saint of the Day: Lives, Lessons and Feast (revised by Pat McCloskey, OFM). American

Valens Aqueduct (#46)

Merry Christmas and welcome to Rome Across Europe! Well, yesterday was Christmas and because of that we had some celebrating to do.

We took a day off and moved the continue on the list of 52 Ancient Roman Monuments that are claimed to be a “must see” by Touropia Travel Experts. Last week we brought you #47, Baths of Caracalla.

So RAE is going through the list of monuments each week, and adding some extra information for you.

Today we bring you the Valens Aqueduct!images

The Valens Aqueduct is a Roman aqueduct which was the major water-providing system of the Eastern Roman Capital of Constantinople. Completed by Roman Emperor Valens in the late 4th Century AD, it was maintained and used by the Byzantines and later the Ottomans, and remains one of the most important landmarks of the city.

The aqueduct stands in modern-day Istanbul, in the quarter of Fatih, and spans the valley between the hills occupied today by the Istanbul University and the Fatih Mosque. The Atatürk Bulvarı Boulevard passes under its arches.valens_aqueduct

The Aqueduct of Valens had a length of 1062 yd and a maximum height of 32 yd. The aqueduct stood 207 ft above sea level with a constant slope of 1:1000.

The surviving section of the aqueduct is 1007 yd long, about 55 yd less than the original length.

Arches 1-40 and 46-51 belong to the time of Valens, arches 41-45 to Mustafa II, and those between 52 and 56 to Suleyman I. Arches 18-73 have a double order, the others a single order.slide0098_image007

Originally the structure ran perfectly straight. For some unknown reason though, during the construction of the Fatih Mosque the aqueduct was bent in that section.

The masonry is not regular, and uses a combination of ashlar blocks and bricks. The first row of arches is built with well-squared stone blocks, while the upper row is built with 4 to 7 courses of stones alternated with a bed of smaller material (opus caementitium) clamped with iron clamps.

The width of the aqueduct varies from 25.43 ft to 27.03 ft. The pillars are 12.14 ft thick, and the arches of the lower order are 13.12 ft wide. As a result of geophysical surveys performed in 2009, it is now known that pillars’ foundations are approximately 17.7 – 19.7 ft below the present-day surface.

The water comes from 2 lines from the northeast and another coming from the northwest. They all join together outside the walls, near the Adrianople Gate.

Near the east end of the aqueduct there is a distribution plant, and another lies near the Sancta Sophia. The water feeds the zone of the imperial palace.

The daily discharge in the 1950s amounted to over 3601 ft2 of water. During Byzantine times, 2 roads important for the topography of medieval Constantinople crossed under the eastern section of the aqueduct.Valens_Aqueduct_Database_image

The Roman construction of a water supply system for the city, then still called Byzantium, had begun already under Emperor Hadrian. Under Constantine I, when the city was rebuilt and increased in size, the system needed to be greatly expanded to meet the needs of the rapidly growing population.

The Valens Aqueduct, which originally got its water from the slopes of the hills between Kağıthane and the Sea of Marmara, was merely one of the terminal points of this new wide system of aqueducts and canals. The entire system would eventually reached over 155 miles in total length, the longest such system of Antiquity, that stretched throughout the hill-country of Thrace and provided the capital with water.

Once in the city, the water was stored in 3 open reservoirs and over a 100 underground cisterns, such as the Basilica Cistern, with a total capacity of over 107,639 ft2.

The exact date that construction on the aqueduct began is uncertain, but it was completed in the year AD 368 during the reign of Roman Emperor Valens, whose name it bears. It lay along the valley between the 3rd and 4th hills of Constantinople, occupied respectively at that time by the Capitolium and the Church of the Holy Apostles.

According to tradition, the aqueduct was built using the stones of the walls of Chalcedon, pulled down as punishment in AD 366 after the revolt of Procopius. The structure was inaugurated in the year 373 by the Praefectus Urbanus Clearchus, who commissioned a Nymphaeum Maius in the Forum of Theodosius, that was supplied with water from the aqueduct.

After a severe drought in AD 382, Theodosius I built a new line (the Aquaeductus Theodosiacus), which took water from the northeastern region known today as the Belgrade Forest.maxresdefault

Other works were executed under Theodosius II, who decided to distribute the water of the aqueduct exclusively to the Nymphaeum, the Baths of Zeuxippus and the Great Palace of Constantinople. The aqueduct, possibly damaged by an earthquake, was restored under Emperor Justinian I, who connected it with the Cistern of the Basilica of Illus and was repaired in 576 by Justin II, who built a separate pipe.

The aqueduct was cut by the Avars during the Siege of 626, and the water supply was reestablished only after the great drought of AD 758 by Emperor Constantine V. The Emperor had the whole water supply system repaired using a large labor force coming from the whole of Greece and Anatolia.

Other maintenance works were accomplished under Emperors Basil II (in 1019) and Romanos III Argyros.

The last Byzantine Emperor who took care of the aqueduct was Andronikos I Komnenos. Neither during the Imperium Romaniae nor during the Palaiologan period was any repair works executed.Aqueduct-Of-The-Emperor-Valens,-Near-Pyrgo,-Turkey

By this time the population of the city had shrunk to about 40,000 – 50,000 inhabitants, so that the water supply was no longer a very important issue. Nevertheless, according to Ruy Gonzáles de Clavijo, a Castilian diplomat who traveled to Constantinople en route to an embassy to Timur in 1403, the aqueduct was still functioning.

After the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, Sultan Mehmet II repaired the whole water supply, which was then used to bring water to the imperial palaces of Eski Sarayi and Topkapı Sarayi, and connected it with a new line coming from the northeast.

The great earthquake of 1509 destroyed the arches near the Mosque of Şehzade, which was erected some time later. This gave rise to the popular legend that they were cut, in order to allow a better view from the nearby mosque. The repairs to the water-supplying net continued under Beyazid II, who added a new line.

Around the middle of the 16th Century, Suleyman I rebuilt arches 47 up to 51 (counted from the west) near the Şehzade Mosque, and commissioned the Imperial Architect Mimar Sinan to add 2 more lines, coming from the Forest of Belgrade.

The increased flow allowed the distribution of water to the “Forty Fountains” quarter, situated along the aqueduct on the Golden Horn side, and so called after the many fountains built there under Suleyman.

Under Sultan Mustafa II, arches 41-45 were restored, respecting the ancient form. An inscription in situ, dated 1696-97, commemorates the event. His successor Ahmed III repaired again the distribution net.Aqueduct_of_Valens 19th Century

In 1912, a 55 yd-long part of the aqueduct near the Fatih Mosque was pulled down. In the same period, a new modern distribution plant at the east end was erected.Istanbul-2012-1036

We hope you enjoyed taking a look at this old water supply system. It’s engineering feats like this one, that were used and lasted for centuries, that make the Romans truly stand alone.

Come back soon to see what we have in store for you. Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!



Evans, J.A.S. The Age of Justinian: The Circumstances of Imperial Power. Routledge, 1996.

Eyice, SemaviIstanbul. Petite Guide a travers les Monuments Byzantins et Turcs (in French). Istanbul: Istanbul Matbaası, 1955.

Freely, John. Blue Guide Istanbul. W. W. Norton & Company, 2000.  ISBN 0-393-32014-6.

Gülersoy, Çelik. A Guide to Istanbul. Istanbul: Istanbul Kitaplığı, 1976.  OCLC 3849706.

Janin, RaymondConstantinople Byzantine (in French) (2 ed.). Paris: Institut Français d’Etudes Byzantines, 1964.

Mamboury, ErnestThe Tourists’ Istanbul. Istanbul: Çituri Biraderler Basımevi, 1953.

Müller-Wiener, Wolfgang. Bildlexikon zur Topographie Istanbuls: Byzantion, Konstantinupolis, Istanbul bis zum Beginn d. 17 Jh (in German). Tübingen: Wasmuth, 1977. ISBN 978-3-8030-1022-3.

52 Ancient Roman

Book 12; Thought 25

Any one activity whatever it may be, when it has ceased at its proper time, suffers no evil because it has ceased; nor he who has done this act, does he suffer any evil for this reason that the act has ceased. In like manner then the whole which consists of all the acts, which is our life, if it cease at its proper time, suffers no evil for this reason that it has ceased; nor he who has terminated this series at the proper time, has he been ill dealt with. But the proper time and the limit nature fixes, sometimes as in old age the peculiar nature of man, but always the universal nature, by the change of whose parts the whole universe continues ever young and perfect. And everything which is useful to the universal is always good and in season. Therefore the termination of life for every man is no evil, because neither is it shameful, since it is both independent of the will and not opposed to the general interest, but it is good, since it is seasonable and profitable to and congruent with the universal. For thus too he is moved by the deity who is moved in the same manner with the deity and moved towards the same things in his mind.

Siege of the Castle of St. George

Salve, Olá, hello and welcome to Rome Across Europe! Recently we’ve been sharing events that have taken place on a particular day in history.

There have been articles about the following: Berengar I of Italy – Crowning a Holy Roman Emperor (12/5); Imperium Charlemagne (12/9); Reign of Michael V Kalaphates – Becoming Byzantine Emperor (12/10); Battle of Nineveh – This Day in 627 AD (12/10); Battle of Tricamarum – This Day in AD 533 (12/15); and The Death of Vitellius (12/22).

Today we continue the trend and explore the Siege of the Castle of St. George!Castle Saint George

Before we get into the siege itself, which occurred from 8 November 1500 until 24 December 1500, we want to share how this area was impacted by Rome.

Bust_of_Gaius_Iulius_Caesar_in_NaplesRome’s foremost invasion of the Iberian Peninsula came in 219 BC. During the last days of Julius Caesar, almost the entire peninsula had been annexed to the Res Publica Romana.

The Roman conquest of what is now part of modern-day Portugal took almost 200 years. It took many lives of young soldiers and the lives of those who were sentenced to a certain death in the slavery mines when not sold as slaves to other parts of the Imperium Rōmānum.

The complete Romanization of Hispania Lusitania only took place in the Visigothic era. In 27 BC, Lusitania gained the status of Provincia.

There are still many ruins of castros (hill forts) all over modern Portugal and remains of Castro culture. Numerous Roman sites are scattered around present-day Portugal, some urban remains are quite large, like Conímbriga and Mirobriga.

Although the earliest fortifications on this hilltop date to the 2nd Century BC, archaeological excavations have identified a human presence in the Tagus valley as far back as the 6th century BC. The first fortification was, presumably, erected in 48 BC, when Lisbon was classified as a Roman municipality.

The hill in which the Castle of Saint George stands was originally used by indigenous Celtic tribes, then by PhoeniciansGreeks and Carthaginians as a defensible outpost. Later it was expropriated by by Roman, Suebic, Visigothic and Moorish peoples.

The castle of Lisbon, locally named Castelo de São Jorge (Castle of Saint George) is located right on top of the tallest of Lisbon´s Seven Hills of the historic centre of the capital city, above the old Moorish quarter. The castle is clearly visible from a long way off and it is famous for its panoramic views of the city and surrounding countryside.Castelo_de_São_Jorge_View of Lisbon

The Atlantic can be seen behind the 25 de Abril Bridge and, on clear days, both the Padrão dos Descobrimentos and the Torre de Belém are visible in the distance.

The initial period of the military stronghold’s construction is relatively unknown. The oldest parts date from the 6th Century when it was fortified by the Romans, Visigoths and the Moors, respectively, before the final conquest by D. Afonso Henriques.

During the 10th Century, the fortifications were rebuilt by Muslim Berber forces. These forces included the walls or Cerca Moura (Moorish Encirclement).

The castle’s name originated as a tribute to Saint George, who’s most popular legend revolves around his bravery to save a virgin from the claws of a dragon. The devotion to this patron saint of England was passed by crusader knights from the British Isles who accompanied D. Afonso Henriques, first King of Portugal, during the Reconquista.lisbon-castle-canon

A bronze statue of Portugal´s original king was added to the esplanade in 1947. It is a copy of a romantic work by Soares dos Reis (1887).

The Siege of the Castle of Saint George occurred from 8 November 1500 until 24 December 1500, when following a series of Venetian disasters at the hands of the Turks, the SpanishVenetian Army under Captain Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba succeeded in capturing the Turkish stronghold of Cephalonia.

Cephalonia, one of the Ionian Islands off the western coast of Greece, had been in the hands of the Italian counts palatine of the Tocco family until 1479, when it was captured by the Ottoman Empire. With the exception of a brief period of Venetian control in 1482–83, the island remained in Ottoman hands until 1500.

The Second Ottoman–Venetian War broke out in 1499, with the Ottoman attack on the Venetian port of Lepanto on the Greek mainland, which surrendered on 24 August 1499. The war continued to go badly for Venice, as the Ottomans shifted their attention to the Morea and stormed Modon on 9 August 1500, followed by the surrender thereupon of the neighboring forts Coron and Navarino.

On 17 August 1500, however, the Spanish Captain-General, Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba, offered the forces at his disposal to the aid of Venice. Aided by the Spanish fleet, the newly appointed Venetian Captain-General of the Sea, Benedetto Pesaro, landed on Cephalonia and after a siege took the island’s capital, the Castle of St. George, on 24 December.praca_nova_lisbon

Legend tells us of Martim Moniz, a Portuguese Knight of noble birth who participated in the Christian invasion lead by King Afonso Henriques in the reconquest of Lisbon, and how he became a famous figure in the Siege of Lisbon.

Moniz adduced an attack at one point of the Siege of São Jorge’s Castle and sacrificed himself by pinching his own body in the doorway. This avoided the full closing of the door and thus allowed the possible capture of the castle.Martim Moniz

He was killed in this occurrence. The entrance of the castle, where Moniz’s selfless act occurred, was honored by Afonso Henriques with the name Gate of Martim Moniz (Porta de Martim Moniz) to remember his heroic act.lisbon-castle-entrance

The Spanish commander and his fleet returned to Sicily after that, but Pesaro went on to recover Santa Maura (Lefkada) as well in August 1502. When a peace treaty was concluded in Constantinople in December 1502, Cephalonia remained in Venetian hands, but Santa Maura was returned to Ottoman rule in 1503.Siege_of_Lisbon_-_Muslim_surrender

The castle was classified as national monument in 1910 and reflects values of the memory and antiquity which attested the importance of the unique history, archaeology and architecture in the context of the national cultural heritage.

In the inside of the castle we find the Interpretation Centre of Olisipónia, a multimedia system showing the history of Lisbon, a journey from the earliest time till the 20th Century. Lisbon, before Olisipo (City of Ulysses), according to a famous legend in which the presence of the Greek navigator gave the city its name, tells the story of the Phoenicians, Romans and Muslims, of achievements and discoveries.lisbon-castle-interior

In the Tower of Ulysses (Torre de Ulisses) is the Periscope or Dark Room installed where the Royal Treasure used to be. The Periscope, an optical mechanism invented by Leonardo da Vinci in the 16th century, allows the visitor to have a 360-degree view of the city in real time. It is the only existing Periscope in Portugal.lisbon-castle-walkway

Still inside the walls are a lot of beautiful promenades, gardens, houses, a church and many viewpoints, which deserve a closer and more careful look. Today the Gallery of the Castle receives different exhibitions related to the Portuguese history and culture.castelo-sao-jorge

The surrounding neighborhoods, born on the slopes of the castle, still breathe history in their picturesque architecture showing its deep attachment to this musical style and its unique culture.Castle-Of-Sao-Jorge

Castle São Jorge is open 9am – 9pm Mar-Oct, 9am-6pm Nov-Feb. The Gallery and Olisipónia are from time to time closed to the public.

Torre de Ulisses – Dark Room is open to the public 10am – 5pm, all the year round. There is an entrance fee: 5.00 EUR, with concessions available.St George Castle

We hope you enjoyed today’s adventure and discovering the castle itself in more depth. Maybe we even inspired you to visit, or explore this event further.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!



Freely, John. The Ionian Islands: Corfu, Cephalonia, Ithaka and Beyond. 2008. ISBN 1-84511-696-8.

Setton, Kenneth M. The Papacy and the Levant (1204–1571), Volume II: The Fifteenth Century. DIANE Publishing, 1978. ISBN 0-87169-127-2.

Rohrbacher, David. “Orosius,” in The Historians of Late Antiquity. Routledge, 2002.

Saint George Castle, Lisbon.

Engineering Secrets of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople

Welcome to Rome Across Europe! We carry on this month’s unplanned theme of sharing events that happened on this day in history.

Now we toss in a curveball, we’re doing it via video. Today we are taking a look at Hagia Sophia in Constantinople!

The reason we are sharing this momument is it was this day in 562 that the Sancta Sophia reopened with a rebuilt dome after a series of earthquakes caused the original to collapse.

Hagia Sophia, from the Greek “Holy Wisdom” is a former Christian patriarchal basilica (church), later an imperial mosque, and now a museum (Ayasofya Müzesi) in Istanbul, Turkey.

From the date of its construction in AD 537 until 1453, it served as a Greek Orthodox cathedral and seat of the Patriarch of Constantinople, except between 1204 and 1261, when it was converted to a Roman Catholic cathedral under the Imperium Romaniae.

Famous in particular for its massive dome, it is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture and is said to have “changed the history of architecture”.

It remained the world’s largest cathedral for nearly a millennium, until Seville Cathedral was completed in 1520. The current building was originally constructed as a church between 532 and 537 on the orders of the Byzantine EmperorJustinian I.

It was the third Church of the Holy Wisdom to occupy the site, the previous pair having both been destroyed by rioters. It was designed by the Greek geometers Isidore of Miletus and Anthemius of Tralles.

The building was a mosque from 29 May 1453 until 1931. It was then secularized and opened as a museum on 1 February 1935.

We hope you enjoyed today’s visit and look forward to having you back soon. Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

The Death of Vitellius

Welcome to Rome Across Europe! The Roman Empire was a thing of beauty and strength, but it was also quite deadly.

If you were a person of power, riches or influence, then you constantly had to watch yourself. You probably had others watching over you, like bodyguards, as well.

Having said that, we take a look at a person who rose to power to become Emperor of Rome and died on this day in AD 69. Today we investigate the life of Aulus Vitellius Germanicus Augustus, aka Vitellius!Pseudo-Vitellius

Aulus Vitellius was born in September of 14 AD. There is some conflict as to the exact date.

He was the son of Lucius Vitellius Veteris, a 3-time Consul, Censor and former Rector Provinciae of Syria, and a noble woman Sextilia. Vitellius had a lone sibling, a brother, Lucius Vitellius the Younger.

Historian Suetonius, in De Vita Caesarum, recorded a pair of different accounts of the origins of the Gens Vitellia. The original account made them descendants of the past rulers of Latium, while the other described their origins as lowly.

Suetonius makes the sensible remark that both accounts might have been made by either flatterers or enemies of Vitellius. What is worth noting is that both statements were in circulation before Vitellius became Emperor.

Although accused of high treason, not uncommon in the Empire in those days, Lucius was still awarded a public funeral and a statue at Rosha. Vitellius spent most of his youth on the Isle of Capri with the self-imposed exile Emperor Tiberius.

Later on, he would win the favor of 3 different Emperors: Caligula (because of his chariot racing), Claudius (for his dice playing), and lastly Nero (who appreciated both of those talents).3 of 4

At many public events, Vitellius often persuaded Nero to sing and play the lute. This was something Nero rarely declined.

Vitellius rose rapidly through various public offices eventually becoming Minister of Public Works and Governor-General of Africa. He would marry twice.

Before the year AD 40, he married a woman named Petronia, daughter of Publius Petronius or Gaius Petronius Pontius Nigrinus, by whom he had a son Aulus Vitellius Petronianus. Vitellius’s son would be the universal heir of his mother and grandfather, and was poisoned in AD 69 in order to inherit his fortune.

The next marriage, around AD 50, was to a woman named Galeria Fundana. She was perhaps the granddaughter of Gaius Galerius, Aegyptus Praefectus in AD 23.

They had a pair of children, a son called Aulus Vitellius Germanicus (Novis) the Younger, and a daughter, Vitellia, who married the Legatus Decimus Valerius Asiaticus.

Suetonius also recorded that when Vitellius was born his horoscope so horrified his parents that his father tried to prevent Aulus from becoming a Consul. He would be Consul in AD 48, and assumed Proconsul of Africa in either AD 60 or 61, in which capacity he is said to have acquitted himself with credit.

Throughout his public career, Vitellius was noted for 2 vices, gluttony and gambling. Both would play a vital role in his future.

Vitellius was a man of some learning and knowledge of government but little military skill or experience. At the end of AD 68, Emperor Galba, to the general astonishment, selected Vitellius to command the Army of Germania Inferior.detail-germania-inferior

The Emperor felt Vitellius’s vices would keep him from being a threat to his own power.

It was in this position that Vitellius made himself popular with his subalterns and with the soldiers by outrageous prodigality and excessive good nature, which soon proved fatal to order and discipline.

Suetonius wrote, “…. a glutton was the sort of rival whom he [meaning Galba] feared least, and that, he expected Vitellius to cram his belly with the fruits of the province.”

The armed forces of Lower Germany, however, had a different view of the new Governor-General. They welcomed him with open arms.

The soldiers had little affection for Galba, even refusing to recognize him as the new Emperor, and Galba had little love for them. Lower Germany had not participated in Galba’s overthrow of Nero, thereby not benefitting from the financial gain that followed.

Galba no longer felt any loyalty to those who had put him on the throne. He would meet his death, however, at the hands of the Praetoriani.

Upon Galba’s death, many favored placing Vitellius on the throne. However, Otho, former Governor of Lusitania, was named Emperor probably due to his role in Galba’s assassination.Empire 68-69

Vitellius owed his elevation to the throne to Caecina and Fabius Valens, commanders of a duo of Legions on the Rhine. Through these 2 men, a military revolution was speedily accomplished.

Caecina and Fabius Valens refused to renew their vows of allegiance to Emperor Galba on 1 January 69, and subsequently hailed Vitellius Emperor at Cologne. More accurately, Vitellius was proclaimed Emperor of the Armies of Germania Inferior and Superior.

The armies of Gallia, Britannia and Raetia sided with them shortly afterwards. By the time that they marched on Rome, however, it was Otho not Galba, whom they had to confront.

According to Suetonius, many in the Army of Germania Inferior took an oath to support Vitellius, preferring him over Otho because he had “granted every favor asked of him”.

Upon ascending to the throne, Otho too felt there was little need to fear Vitellius. The thought process was that the Governor-General’s quarrel had been with Galba, and he was dead.

According to Suetonius, Vitellius, however, felt otherwise. When Vitellius heard of Galba’s death, he divided the Army into 2 separate divisions. One division went to Gallia and the other went to meet Otho north of Rome.

According to Tacitus, “For most Romans the choice between Otho and Vitellius seemed to be simply one of two evils. It was the armies that decided, and the armies of Germany … were too much for Otho’s Praetorians and Army of Italy.”

Despite appeals from Otho, the pair of armies met at the First Battle of Bedriacum on 16 April 69 AD. It was on this day that Otho committed suicide.First Battle of Bedriacum

Although not present at the battle, Vitellius was immediately declared the new Emperor and word was rushed to him in Gallia.

When learning of this news, a joyous Vitellius set out for Rome. His voyage was seen by many as an endless decadent feast, not merely by him, but so, too, by his Army.

The new Emperor and his entourage entered Rome in brash triumph against the end of June. However, things remained peaceful.

Prior to his assumption to the governorship of Germania, Vitellius has accumulated enormous debt. Gambling does come with some consequences.

vitellius_klHis position as Emperor provided him an opportunity to rid himself of this massive debt. Suetonius said, “All the money-lenders, tax collectors and dealers who had ever dunned him at Rome, or demanded prompt payment for goods and services on the road, it is doubtful whether he showed mercy in a single instance.”

Many in Rome considered the new Emperor to be cruel. Suetonius said he would kill or torture at “the slightest pretext.”

Historian Cassius Dio wrote in his Roman History, “Vitellius, addicted as he was to luxury and licentiousness, no longer cared for anything else either human or divine … Now, when he was in a position of so great authority, his wantonness only increased, and he was squandering money most of the day and night alike.”

There were few executions and arrests. Vitellius even kept many of Otho’s officials in his administration, even granting amnesty to Otho’s brother Salvius Titianus, who had been a leading figure in the previous government.

As word of his diminished popularity among many in the Army reached him, Vitellius became more generous in both public and private, hoping to maintain the loyalty of the troops. Suetonius wrote, “As things began to look bad for him, he began to show mercy.”

He also expanded the offices of the Imperial Administration beyond the imperial pool of Freedmen allowing those of the Eques to take up positions in the Imperial Civil Service.

Vitellius also banned astrologers from Rome and Italy in 1 October 69. Some astrologers responded to his decree by anonymously publishing a decree of their own: “Decreed by all astrologers in blessing on our State Vitellius will be no more on the appointed date.” In response, Vitellius executed any astrologers he came across.

All appeared as it should be as couriers arrived reporting the allegiance of the eastern armies. The Legions having fought for Otho at Cremona also seemed to be accepting the new rule.

Vitellius rewarded his German Legions by disbanding the Praetorian Guard as well as the urban cohorts of the city of Rome and offering the positions to them. This was generally seen as an undignified affair, but then Vitellius was only on the throne due to the Germans.

He knew that just as they had the power to make him Emperor, they could turn on him, too. Hence he had little choice but to try and please them.

But such pampering of allies was not what truly made Vitellius unpopular. It was his extravagance and his triumphalism.

Vitellius quickly gained a reputation as a glutton. He was said to eat 3 or 4 heavy meals a day, usually followed by a drinks party, to which he had himself invited to a different house each time.bust

He was only able to consume this much by frequent bouts of self-induced vomiting. He was a very tall man, with a ‘vast belly’. One of his thighs was permanently damaged from being run over by Caligula’s chariot, when he had been in a chariot race with that Emperor.

Many who had earlier supported Vitellius began to swear allegiance to Titus Flavius Vespasianus (Vespasian), Governor of Judea. When an attempted treaty failed, Vitellius had hoped to save himself from a sure death, the armies of the two met at the Second Battle of Bedriacum.

Had the initial signs of his taking power indicated he might enjoy a peaceful, unpopular reign, things changed very quickly. Around the middle of July news already arrived that the armed forces of the eastern provinces had now rejected him.

On 1 July they set up a rival Emperor in Palestine, Vespasian, a battle-hardened General who enjoyed widespread sympathies among the Army.

Vespasian’s plan was to hold Egypt while his colleague Mucianus, Governor of Syria, led an invasion force to Italy. But things moved faster than either Vitellius or Vespasian had anticipated.

vitelliusIn fact, he was never acknowledged as Emperor by the entire Roman world, though at Rome the Senate accepted him and decreed to him the usual Imperial honors. He advanced into Italy at the head of a licentious and rough soldiery, and Rome became the scene of riot and massacre, gladiatorial shows and extravagant feasting. To reward his victorious Legionaries, Vitellius disbanded the existing Praetorian Guard and installed his own men instead.

Antonius Primus, commander of the Legio VI Victrix in Pannonia, and Cornelius Fuscus, Imperial Procurator in Illyricum, declared their allegiance to Vespasian and led the Danube Legions on an assault Italy. Their force comprised only 5 Legions (about 30,000 men) and was only half of what Vitellius had in Italy.

The Second Battle of Cremona began on 24 October AD 69 and ended the next day in utter defeat for the side of Vitellius. For 4 days the victorious troops of Primus and Fuscus looted and burned the city of Cremona.

Vitellius’s men were soundly defeated, and the soon-to-be dethroned Emperor tried to escape Rome in disguise.

On the entrance of Vespasian’s troops into Rome, Vitellius was dragged out of a hiding-place in a door-keeper’s lodge, driven to the fatal Scalae Gemoniae, and there struck down. “Yet I was once your Emperor,” were the last words of Vitellius.Gemonian Stairs

His body was then thrown into the Tiber. Cassius Dio’s account is that Vitellius was beheaded and his head paraded around Rome, and his wife attended to his burial. His brother and son were also killed.

This all went down on 20 December 69 AD. Immediately, Vespasian was named the new Roman Emperor.

Vitellius was 56-years old and had ruled for only 8 months upon his untimely demise, yet he lives on in popular culture.

Vitellius is shown in the painting Decadence of the Romans by Thomas Couture. He is also a character in Kate Quinn’s novel Daughters of Rome (2011), set in AD 68–79.Los_Romanos_de_la_Decadencia_THOMAS_COUTURE

He is also a prominent character in Simon Scarrow‘s Eagle series, where he is introduced as a rival to Vespasian and an adversary to the main characters, Macro and Cato, during the invasion of Britannia.

Vitellius is a character in M.C. Scott’s novel Rome, The Art of War (2013). Although Emperor in the novel, his brother Lucius is portrayed as being the more powerful and skilled in intrigue and ruthlessness.

He is also introduced in chapter XX of Henry Venmore-Rowland’s novel The Last Caesar (2012), as the newly-appointed Governor of Lower Germania at the beginning of AD 69.

SilverPigsLindsey Davis‘ novel, The Silver Pigs, notes a pea dish was named after him.

In a year of civil war known as the Year of the Four Emperors, Vitellius was the 3rd to quickly be hailed and then fall just as fast. Looking back, sometimes it seems that rushing to power, no matter how much support you feel you have, is not the correct action to take.

We hope you enjoyed today’s look at Emperor Aulus Vitellius Germanicus Augustus. Come back soon to see what we have in store.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!



Aulus Vitellius

Wasson, Donald L. Vitellius.

Suetonius. The Lives of the Twelve Caesars: The Life of Vitellius.

Barton, Tamsyn. Ancient Astrology.

Quinn, Kate. Daughters of RomeHeadline Review, 2011.

Venmore-Rowland, Henry. The Last Caesar. Bantam Press, 2012.