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Anthemius

Anthemius was West Roman Emperor (April 12, 467 to July 11, 472). Perhaps the last individual with any ability to hold this office, Anthemius attempted to solve the two primary military challenges facing the remains of the Empire in the West: the resurgent Visigoths, under Euric, whose domain straddled the Pyrenees; and the unvanquished Vandals, under Gaiseric, in undisputed control of North Africa.

His reign began on a hopeful note. Anthemius had the backing of Leo, Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire, and had married his daughter to the chief military strongman of Italy, Ricimer. A skilled general in Illyricum, Marcellinus[?], ceased his active opposition and pledged his allegiance to the new Emperor. Anthemius also gained support from a backer far outside of the existing circle of possible supporters: one Riothamus with a Romano-British army joined with Anthemius, and the alliance attempted to encroach on Euric. However, Euric was able to defeat not only Riothamus' army and the various Roman forces, but annexed numerous Gallic cities that still remained in Roman hands.

A contemporary campaign against the Vandals fared little better, despite the fact it was supported by the still vigorous Eastern Roman Empire. While the campaign against Gaiseric initially made significant gains such as destroying the Vandalic fleet, under the leadership of the incompetent Basiliscus, it failed to build on these victories, who allowed the fleet to be destroyed by Gaiseric, and was forced back to Sicily where the far more skilled general Marcellinus was murdered.

In 470, following all of this misfortune, Anthemius fell into a serious sickness, and believing that it was caused by sorcery, extracted vengence on numerous prominent men. The Master of Soldiers, Ricimer, lost patience with Anthemius, summoned 6000 men who had been enlisted for the war against the Vandals, and began armed opposition in Milan against Anthemius in Rome. This conflict between emperor and military strongman ended five months later with Ricimer's conquest of Rome, and the capture and execution of Anthemius.

Preceded by:
Libius Severus (461 - 465)
Roman emperors
Followed by:
Olybrius (472)



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