HONORIUS: INHERITOR OF THE WEST
Honorius, was the first emperor of the Western Roman Empire. On the death of Theodosius I, the Roman Empire was divided; Arcadius, the elder son, received the East, and Honorius, the younger son, received the west. This division proved to be a permanent one. The General Stilicho, as guardian of Honorius, at first controlled the government of the west and defended the empire against the Visigoths.
Honorius married Stilicho’s daughter, but in 408, influenced by a malicious favorite, Honorius ordered the execution of his general. Alaric I King of the Visigoths, invaded Italy again in 409 and installed a puppet ruler at Rome, while Honorius remained at Ravenna. Negotiations broke down and in 410 Alaric stormed and sacked Rome.
Alaric’s death left Ataulf in command of the Visigoths, who then left Italy to invade Gaul. In 412, Honorius reluctantly made peace with Ataulf, whom he, just as reluctantly, accepted as husband for his sister Galla Placidia. His General Constantius, taking advantage of Honorius weakness, soon came to actually perform the actual tasks of ruling the empire. He married the widowed Galla Placidia, and in 421 Honorius was obliged to accept Constantius as Joint Emperor.
Constantius died in the same year. Honorius died two years later; and two years later, his nephew became emperor as Valentinian III. The weaknesses of the reign of Honorius marked an important stage in the decline of the Western Roman Empire.