Wednesday, 16 March 2016

The Assassination of Emperor Valentinian III

The Assassination of the Roman Emperor Valentinian III
On the 16th of March in 455, seriously, it's a real year, look it up, the Roman Emperor Valentinian III was assassinated.
Valentinian had been having some serious problems for the last few years of his reign. Many of these problems were paranoia. Other problems revolved around hedgehogs and STDs, but we're not getting into that.
Everyone was out to get him. Even that bloke selling ice-creams from the van on the corner. And especially the dude on the skateboard in the park.
And, not least with a bloke called Aetius, a Roman General, and the "Last of the Romans."
Valentinian had relied, either willingly or out of necessity, on the help of Aetius for over twenty years. The Roman General had quelled unrest in the Empire and defeated invading armies, including a resounding victory over the army of Attila The Hun.
The Roman General, Aetius, was a popular guy. And the Emperor Valentinian was a green-eyed hedgehog tickler.
Despite his depravity when it came to small spikey creatures, and his growing hatred of the popular General, Valentinian married his daughter to the son of Aetius.
Things went downhill fast.
"Infamy, Infamy, they all got it in for me."
Valentinian believed Aetius had eyes on the throne. If not for himself, certainly for his son.
On the 21st of September 454, Aetius was assassinated by Valentinian.
Now, often when it comes to Emperors having those they hate assassinated, they use professional assassins, or send their personal guards to do the dirty.
Not Valentinian.
As Aetius was reporting on the state of the Empire, reciting a boring financial statement, Emperor Valentinian jumped from his thrown. He accused Aetius of drunken depravity, and for being responsible for the Empire's tribulations.
He also accused the Roman General of plotting to take the Empire away from him, and for writing that stupid scene with the Tribble blood bringing Kirk back to life in the previous Star Trek movie.
Valentinian screamed, "Khaaaaaaaaan," and drew his sword. He then rushed at Aetius and bionked him on the top of his head, killing him where he stood.
Pleased with himself, the Emperor Valentinian boasted to anyone who would listen that he had done well to dispose of Aetius in such a way.
And anyone who would listen pretty much included everyone. As, not only was he the Emperor, he had just boinked someone in the throne room (That's not a euphemism). You'd listen as well if you'd just seen that. Keenly. Intently. Without blinking whilst trying not to piddle in your pants.
One brave counsellor famously replied,
"Whether well or not, I do not know.
But know that you have cut off your right hand with your left."
Six months later, on the 16th of March 455, Emperor Valentinian himself was assassinated in Rome.
Valentinian was in Rome, out on the Campus Martius, about to do a spot of archery practice. He was with his friend and adviser, Heraclius, no relation to Hercules.
As they dismounted their horses, Optelas and Thraustelas, both real names, who had been devout followers of the now undead zombie General Aetius, attacked the Emperor with their swords.
Optelas swiped at Valentinian's head -- a glancing blow.
Valentinian turned to see what occurrence had interrupted his tranquillity on this splendid, sunny ... what the heck is all this blood pouring from the side of my head?
Optelas then delivered the death-strike. Right in the throat. All the way through. Right up to the hilt and then he pushed his hand and arm through the slit. And then his head and shoulders. He couldn't stop there. He climbed all the way through the hole, emerging on the other side covered in honey.
At the same time, Thraustelas, compatriot of Optelas-Honey-Monster, struck down the Emperor's companion, Heraclius. He stabbed him with the pointy end.
It was rumoured at the time, that these two men were goaded into killing the Emperor and Heraclius by Petronius Maximus, as his political advancement had been dealt a crippling blow by Heraclius. Although, the Emperor had also raped Maximus' wife, Lucina. So, there's a motivation that also sounds plausible.
Onlookers, and a dude called Priscus, noted an odd situation following the death of the Emperor.
As Valentinian lay dead on the ground, a swarm of bees appeared from nowhere, circled the Emperor's body, and then landed on it and sucked up all his blood.
Now, I know what you're thinking. I made that last bit up, as these articles have "added humour." However, that was an actual account from Priscus. The Bees swarmed the Emperor's body and sucked up his blood.
Bonus Round
Petronius Maximus proclaimed himself Emperor the day after the assassination of Valentinian. He didn't last long. And he wasn't any good at being Emperor, either.
Maximus ruled for a mere eleven weeks. He was stoned to death by a Roman mob.
Immediately after his death, King Gaiseric and his Vandals took Rome and sacked it for over a fortnight.

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