History of Rome Episode 165 Reviving the Roman Name Ataulf continued with Alaric’s desire for his Goths to cement their place in the Empire, and didn’t really want to invade Ravenna. Neither did Constantius really want to push the issue either, so there was a bit of a stalemate. In a bit of inter-Goth warfare, Sarus and Ataulf fought, and Sarus was killed, and then Ataulf argued with Jovinus (who had become a puppet emperor supported by Gundahar and the Burgundians- sounds like a musical group- after the death of Constantine III). The Goths and the German tribes did not join together: instead the Goths and the Romans got together. The Goths hoped to be creating a new dynasty within the Empire. But Constantius and Honorious joined forces against the Goths, hoping to starve them into submission. The Goths went to Hispania and Ataulf was murdered in his bath, without leaving a clearcut replacement. Sigeric, Sarus’ brother quickly seized power but he was assassinated too. Wallia took over, at a time when morale among the Goth ranks was very low, and he accepted vassal status within the Empire. Britain was looking out for itself, and Rome never went back. Politically and militarily, Brittania was lost to the Empire for ever.
In Episode 166 As Long As She’s Nice to Look At There was a fear that the Empire would lose Hispania again to the Alani and the Vandals, so the Goths were offered Aquitaine in exchange for fighting the Alani and other rebels. This gave the Goths a stable source of food. Wallia died and was replaced by Theodoric. Valentinian III was born to Constantius III and his now-wife Galla Placidia. What a life she had- daughter of Theodosius I, captured by Alaric, married off to Ataulf, then forced by her brother Honorius into a marriage with Constantius III. Valentinian III was thus the heir presumptive to the Western empire, which strengthened Constantius’ position, and he was quickly elevated to Augustus. But this was opposed by the eastern Emperor Theodosius II. That’s right! there was an Eastern Empire too- we’d forgotten about them. Over in the east, the truce with the Sassanids meant that Constantinople was safe. Theodosius II was still young, and largely under the influence of the powerful Prefect Athemius (who built the Theodosian Walls). His sister Pulcheria assumed the role of Augusta and along with her sisters, immediately took a vow of virginity. Once he turned 20, Theodosius demanded that if he was to marry at all, she had to be beautiful. Aelia Eudocia obviously fitted the bill, because he married her. Meanwhile, over in the Western Empire, Honorius and Constantius were furious at Theodosius’ rejection of Constantius’ III dynastic plans and they were preparing for war, when Constantius III died.
Episode 167 Exploiting the Opportunity takes us back to the Eastern Empire where where war was briefly reignited with the Sassanids over religion. Pulcheria was anti-Pagan, while the King of the Sassanids was anti-Christian. But just in time, Honorius died, which put Valentinian III in the box seat, even though he hadn’t received any of the usual titles- very poor succession planning. The nobles placed Joannes as emperor instead, but this was opposed by the North Africans, who chose Flavius Aetius instead, who led a large force of Huns. God, this is confusing.
Democracy Sausage. I usually listen to both The Party Room (ABC) and Mark Kenny’s podcast Democracy Sausage, but I don’t very often record them here in this blog because the content is pretty ephemeral. But this episode Back in the Bubble has historian Frank Bongiorno (the newly minted president of the AHA and one of my favourite ‘young’ historians) and he’s always worth listening to.
Revisionist History For some time, Canada has had a system where additional to (and this is important) Canada’s refugee intake, they have allowed private sponsorship of refugees. (Australia has a program too, but it is not additional to our refugee intake and has been fairly heavily criticized). In this episode, I Was a Stranger and You Welcomed Me, Malcolm Gladwell looks close to home, where he asks his family about their involvement in bringing three Vietnamese refugees to Canada in the aftermath of the Vietnam War. Most of the support group were involved in local churches, and churches remain an important component of the Canadian private sponsorship scheme. Apart from this, the program considers ‘kindness’, and its opposite in the meanness and active hostility of the US (and I would argue, Australian) refugee systems.
The Real Story (BBC). Bolsonaro v Lula: The race to lead Brazil Elections are coming up for Brazil, and there’s a good chance that it will be between Jair Bolsonaro and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Bolsonaro has fashioned himself on Trump, and is already positioning himself to claim electoral fraud. Bolsonaro had a lot of support from evangelical Christians (70%) but he can’t count on this for the next election. It sounds as if he has dismantled many of the civic bodies in Brazilian society. Meanwhile, Lula couldn’t stand last election because he was convicted of fraud- a judgement that was later overturned. I know who I’m barracking for.