top of page

Roman Coin


"Desert Patina"

Valentinian II

Nov 17, 375 - May 15, 392 AD

Ob: DNVALENTINIANVSPFAVG Diademed, draped and cuirassed bust right.

Re: SALVSREIPVBLICAE Victory advancing left, holding trophy and dragging captive.


- Valentinian II


Valentinian II was a Roman emperor in the western part of the Roman empire between AD 375 and 392. He was at first junior co-ruler of his brother, was then sidelined by a usurper, and only after 388 sole ruler, albeit with limited de facto powers.


A son of emperor Valentinian I and empress Justina, he was raised to the imperial office at the age of 4 by military commanders upon his father's death. Until 383, Valentinian II remained a junior partner to his older half-brother Gratian in ruling the Western empire, while the East was governed by his uncle Valens until 378 and Theodosius I from 379. When Gratian was killed by the usurper emperor Magnus Maximus in 383, the court of Valentinian in Milan became the center of Italy where several religious debates took place. In 383, Maximus invaded Italy, spurring Valentinian and his family to escape to Thessalonica where they successfully sought Theodosius' aid. Theodosius defeated Maximus in battle and re-installed Valentinian in the West. However, Valentinian soon found himself struggling to break free from the control of general Arbogast. In 392, Valentinian was discovered hanged in his room under unknown circumstances.


On 15 May 392, Valentinian was found hanged in his residence in Vienne. Arbogast maintained that the emperor's death was suicide. Many sources believe, however, that Arbogast murdered him with his own hands, or paid the Praetorians. Zosimus writing in the early sixth century from Constantinople, states that Arbogast had Valentinian murdered; ancient authorities are divided in their opinion. Some modern scholars lean toward suicide. Ambrose's eulogy is the only contemporary Western source for Valentinian's death. It is ambiguous on the question of the emperor's death, which is not surprising, as Ambrose represents him as a model of Christian virtue. Suicide, not murder, would make the bishop dissemble on this key question.


The young man's body was conveyed in ceremony to Milan for burial by Ambrose, mourned by his sisters Justa and Grata. He was laid in a porphyry sarcophagus next to his brother Gratian, most probably in the Chapel of Sant'Aquilino attached to San Lorenzo. He was deified with the consecratio: Divae Memoriae Valentinianus, lit. 'the Divine Memory of Valentinian'.


At first Arbogast recognized Theodosius's son Arcadius as emperor in the West, seemingly surprised by his charge's death. After three months, during which he had no communication from Theodosius, Arbogast selected an imperial official, Eugenius, as emperor. Theodosius initially tolerated this regime but, in January 393, elevated the eight-year-old Honorius as augustus to succeed Valentinian II. Civil war ensued and, in 394, Theodosius defeated Eugenius and Arbogast at the Battle of the Frigidus.

Roman Coin AE4 "Desert Patina" Valentinian II 375 - 392 AD

SKU: Roman Coin - RC9

    Related Products