Theodosius I

c.346-395. Roman emperor from 379 (surnamed “the Great”). A Spaniard by birth, son of Count Theodosius who between 367 and 374 delivered Britain and Africa from barbarians, he distinguished himself in a campaign against the Sarmatians in 374. Appointed co-emperor by Gratian, he was given the task of restoring order in the Eastern provinces. Mostly by careful diplomacy with the Goths he did this. He was baptized in 380, gave up the use of the title pontifex maximus, and made it illegal to depart from the Nicene faith. In 381 he outlawed heretical churches and sects (e.g., Arians), and put their property at the disposal of the orthodox, and called the (First) Council of Constantinople.* In 390, while in a fit of temper, he ordered the punishment of the citizens of Thessalonica after a riot there; 7,000 were killed. Afterward, in response to the demands of Ambrose of Milan, he publicly acknowledged his guilt.