Posted by: ken98 | February 23, 2010

Of Sheep, Treason, and Spanish Emperors

Day 165 – Ken here (T)(2-23-2010)
(DEF I, v.2, ch.25, pp.1070-1080)

The Story
 
Emperor Gratian gives the East to the future Theodosius the Great

  • Valens is dead at Hadrianopolis (8-9-378)
  • Gratian (19 years old) goes back and forth, trying to decide on a successor to Valens
  • Theodosius (who is to be one of the great emperors of the Later Empire)(later called the Great) is chosen (1-19-379)
  • He was an extremely unlikely choice – his father (theodosius the Elder, a great general) had just been executed for treason in N. Africa (thru court intrigue, not thru guilt – Gibbon of course blames the eunuchs) – although Theod the Elder had had great victories in Gaul, Africa – and condemned by Gratian himself prior
  • On his father’s execution, Theodosius junior is sent into retirement/exile in Spain. The Theodosius’ family come from the same region of Spain as Trajan and Hadrian (2 other famous, well-loved Spanish emperors)
  • The great problem with history associated with Theodosius is twofold: 1) he was a great favorite of the (later) Catholic church and so the shoddy and piece-meal historical record is very evident – we have records only from church historians for this period.
  •  
    Theodosius’s War against the Goths (379-382)

  • Theodosius comes to power in a situation much like the U.S. after 911 – everyone is shell-shocked by Valens death and the huge 43,000 man loss at Adrianople in Aug 378
  • Rather than risk open warfare, he gradually builds up the army’s confidence in slow stages by digging in and driving the Goths out of the Balkans with harassing sorties and brief encounters designed to coax the Goths out and move them up North
  • Theodosius fixes his headquarters at Thessalonica – and tho he gets no resounding victories, manages not to lose his armies, and manages to slow and stop the advance of the Goths around the Balkans and Constantinople – where the Goths had been pretty much free to roam – due to the un-manning of the Roman populace after the great defeat at Adrianople
  •  
    Gibbon bids a final farewell to Ammianus and Useful History

  • From here on out, unreliable church historians, sermons and letters recount much of Roman history – at least for the next a hundred years or so
  • Castle of Coca in Spain.  Coca (1300 years earlier) had been the birthplace of the wealthy family of Theodosius.  What you see before you is the famous mudejar castle of Coca - a bad castle for defense, a gorgeous castle for a Spanish noble in the Siglo De Oro (Golden Century) of Spain (1500's) when gold flowed into Spain like water and the phrase castles in Spain was thought up to signify the fabulous use of enormous wealth to build a place of pleasure and art

    Castle of Coca in Spain. Coca (1300 years earlier) had been the birthplace of the wealthy family of Theodosius. What you see before you is the famous mudejar castle of Coca - a bad castle for defense, a gorgeous castle for a Spanish noble in the Siglo De Oro (Golden Century) of Spain (1500's) when gold flowed into Spain like water and the phrase castles in Spain was thought up to signify the fabulous use of enormous wealth to build a place of pleasure and art


     
    Theodosius’s birthplace – Caucha, Spain – or Coca – and Castles In Spain
    Theodosius came from a wealthy family in the north-central part of Spain where he grew up on huge estates and was raised by a father who eventually hit the highest peaks of fortune in the Roman Empire – only to fall to court intrigue, gossip, and treasonous accusations. Theodosius the Elder’s sin was being too successful in the barbarian wars – Valentinian was led to distrust him – and he as a general was killed peremptorily by the North African Military Governor.

    Another view of the fabulous Castle of Coca in Spain - the 1st cannonball would have absolutely destroyed this red-brick confection to a pile of rubble - but as a work of art - it definitely rocks.  I've actually walked its ramparts and run my hand along its brick walls and towers

    Another view of the fabulous Castle of Coca in Spain - the 1st cannonball would have absolutely destroyed this red-brick confection to a pile of rubble - but as a work of art - it definitely rocks. I've actually walked its ramparts and run my hand along its brick walls and towers

    His son was sent into exile back to Caucha in Spain where he lived until he received the unlikely summons from the very emperor who signed his father’s death warrant – Gratian – to take up the vacant Roman throne in the East, and continue the fight against the Goths.

    Modern view of the town of Coca in Spain, home of the Theodosius's family estates

    Modern view of the town of Coca in Spain, home of the Theodosius's family estates

     

     
     
     

    Last Word…

    The Beautiful Sheep of Segovia
    There is something reassuringly down-to-earth and mercantile to an Englishman, no matter where in the world you find him, and under what circumstances. The wool-growing industry of England fueled the English Renaissance, and paved the way (financially) (and with the advent of machine-driven textile mills) for the eventual Industrial Revolution in England. England was the first country in the world to experience an Industrial Revolution and thus is the mother-culture of much of the modern world. Wool was king in England, and any good Englishman appreciated fine product when he saw it. Gibbon definitely did.

    He refers of course, to the Merino sheep, and Merino wool of Castile.

    His time was almost equally divided between the town and country; the spirit which had animated his public conduct was shown in the active and affectionate performance of every social duty; and the diligence of the soldier was profitably converted to the improvement of his ample patrimony, which lay between Valladolid and Segovia, in the midst of a fruitful district, still famous for a most exquisite breed of sheep.[112]

    Note 112
    M. d’Anville (Geographie Ancienne, tom. i. p. 25) has fixed the situation of Caucha, or Coca, in the old province of Gallicia, where Zosimus and Idatius have placed the birth or patrimony of Theodosius.

    (DEF I, v.2, ch.26, p.1072, fn 112)

    Merino sheep of Castile Spain.  These sheep come from the region of Theodosius's birth - and also merit a reference by Gibbon in his description of Theodosius's upbringing.  I don't know if the breed is as ancient as Roman Spain, but it sure caught Gibbon's notice in 1780's Europe

    Merino sheep of Castile Spain. These sheep come from the region of Theodosius's birth - and also merit a reference by Gibbon in his description of Theodosius's upbringing. I don't know if the breed is as ancient as Roman Spain, but it sure caught Gibbon's notice in 1780's Europe

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