Ancient history


Flavius ​​Aetius (sometimes Frenchified as Aetius) was a senator and generalissimo of the Roman legions who obtained the titles of "Patrice" and "comes et magister utriusque militiae" ("count and master of the two militias" in Latin) in 443.

It has been said of him that he was "the last of the Romans" because of his victories or alliances to the advantage of Rome (and personal) against the barbarians of the 5th century, shortly before Romulus Augustulus, last emperor of the West not be filed in 476.

He was born in Dorostolus in Moesia (Macedonia) at the end of the 4th century. Son of Gaudentius, a barbarian military leader in the pay of the Roman Empire, raised to the title of master of the militia (magister militum), then count of Africa.

During his youth in the palace guards, he was sent as a hostage to the court of Alaric I, king of the Visigoths, then to that of Ruga, king of the Huns, where he became a friend of the young Attila. The latter were in turn the main rivals and allies of the Roman Empire. Upon his return, he was bestowed with full honors.

As they attack the Eastern Roman Empire, Aetius uses them as auxiliaries against the Germans who threaten Roman Gaul. At the same time, he knew how to use the favors of the "anti-barbarian" party which had triumphed in Rome and had brought about the fall of the Roman-vandal general Stilicho.

In 426 he became prefect of the praetorium of Gaul.

He repelled the Eastern Franks beyond the Rhine, defeated the bagaudes of Armorica, defeated the Salian Franks of King Merovingian Clodion le Chevelu at Hélesmes. This last barbarian leader concluded a treaty with the general in 428. This treaty (fœdus) made them "federates" fighting for Rome, and authorized them to settle in the Empire, in this case near the imperial tax office of Tournai. These were the origins of the future Frankish kingdom of Clovis I.

In 428 he was appointed Magister militum per Gallias by Galla Placidia, then in 429 generalissimo alongside Felix.

In 432 he became consul for the first time.

His rivalry with the Roman general Boniface, like himself a senator and favorite of Empress Galla Placidia (mother of Emperor Valentinian III), led him to plot, which eventually drew the Vandals to Africa.

True master of the Empire from 433, Aetius also defeated the Burgundians of King Gondicaire who had entered Gaul and forced them, or rather negotiated their installation in Sapaudia (the future Savoy, precisely the territories between the Alps and the Jura).

He also fought the Franks and the Visigoths.

In 435, Galla Placidia granted him the title of patrician.

In 437 he became consul for the second time.

Finally, he charged Goar, king of the Alans, who were established on the Loire, to watch over the Armoricans. Thus, he contributed through his policy to draw some of the striking features of the French territory in the High Middle Ages.

Aetius was consul for the third time in the year 446. It was around 447 that he granted Clodion, leader of the Franks, federated status as well as an autonomous territory, within the Empire, around Tournai. , that Clodion and his descendants (Mérovée, Childéric I and Clovis) will be responsible for protecting against the other Barbarians.

But the notoriety of Aetius is above all due to what historiography has annoyingly called the "battle of the Catalaunian Fields".

When Attila invaded Gaul in 451, it was Aetius who brought together Burgundians, Saxons, Alans, Franks and Visigoths, and defeated the Huns at the Catalaunian Fields in 451. This battle actually took place at a place called campus mauriacus near Troyes and marked the end of the invasion of the Huns, led by Attila in Gaul. Aetius commanded the Roman-Barbarian coalition there alongside the King of the Visigoths Theodoric I and Burgundians, Alains, Saxons and Franks who were his allies.

Triumphant, he was ultimately a victim of the jealousies that his victories had brought him in Rome and of the fears of the reigning imperial family regarding his ambitions and ability to become Roman Emperor by coup. He was stabbed to death by order of Emperor Valentinian III in 454.

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