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Aelia Flaccilla

Aelia Flaccilla
Roman Empress
Issue Arcadius, Honorius, Pulcheria
Full name
Aelia Flavia Flaccilla Augusta
Dynasty Theodosian
Born 31 March 356
Died early 386

Aelia Flavia Flaccilla (died 386), was a Roman empress and first wife of the Roman Emperor Theodosius I. She was of Hispanian Roman descent. During her marriage to Theodosius, she gave birth to two sons — future Emperors Arcadius and Honorius — and a daughter, Aelia Pulcheria. She was titled Augusta, as her coinage shows.


  • Family 1
  • Marriage 2
  • Empress 3
  • Sainthood 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


According to Laus Serenae ("In Praise of Serena"), a poem by Claudian, both Serena and Flaccilla were from Hispania.[1]

A passage of Themistius (Oratio XVI, De Saturnino) has been interpreted as identifying Flavius Claudius Antonius, Praetorian prefect of Gaul from 376 to 377 and Roman consul in 382, to be her father. However the relation is considered doubtful.[2] In 1967, John Robert Martindale, later one of several article writers in the Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire, suggested that the passage actually identifies Antonius as the brother-in-law of Theodosius. However the passage is vague enough to allow Flavius Afranius Syagrius, co-consul of Antonius in 382, to be the brother-in-law in question.[3]

The only kin clearly identified in primary sources was her nephew Nebridius, son of an unnamed sister. He married Salvina, a daughter of Gildo. Their marriage was mentioned by Jerome in his correspondence with Salvina. They had a son and a daughter.[4]


In about 375–376, Flaccilla married [6]

Their first son Arcadius was born prior to the elevation of his parents on the throne. Their second son Honorius was born on 9 September 384. Their daughter Pulcheria has been suggested to have been born prior to the elevation of her parents to the throne due to another passage of Laus Serenae. She predeceased her parents as mentioned in the writings of Gregory of Nyssa.[2]

A younger Gratian - mentioned alongside the imperial children by [5]


Valens, emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire was killed in the Battle of Adrianople (9 August 378). He was survived by his wife Albia Dominica and his daughters Anastasia and Carosa. He had however survived his only son, Valentinianus Galates. His nephew Gratian, Emperor of the Western Roman Empire, was his heir and assumed control of the Eastern Empire with his younger half-brother Valentinian II as his nominal co-ruler.

On 19 January, Gratian declared Theodosius, [6] At this point Flacilla became the Empress consort.

She was a fervent supporter of the [5]


She died early in 386. Her death is mentioned by (among others) Joannes Zonaras. According to the Chronicon Paschale, the Palatium Flaccillianum of Constantinople was named in her honor. A statue of her was placed within the Byzantine Senate.[7]


Aelia Flaccilla
Feast 14 September

She is commemorated as a saint by the [5][8]


  1. ^ Claudian, "Laus Serenae", 1922 translation
  2. ^ a b Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology
  3. ^ Christian Settipani, Flavius Afranius Syagrius
  4. ^ Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, article "Gildo"
  5. ^ a b c d e Roman Catholic Encyclopedia (1909), article "Ælia Flaccilla" by J.P. Kirsch
  6. ^ a b David Woods, "Theodosius I (379-395 A.D.)"
  7. ^ Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire, vol. 2
  8. ^ Orthodox Saints commemorated in September

External links

  • Aelia Flaccilla - Catholic Encyclopedia article
  • Her profile in the Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire
  • Her entry in the Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology
Royal titles
Preceded by
Albia Dominica
In the Eastern Roman Empire
Roman Empress consort
with Flavia Maxima Constantia (379–383)
Laeta (383)
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Flavia Maxima Constantia
In the Western Roman Empire

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