On this day in 454, Valentinian III, Emperor of the West, had his orders to murder Flavius Aetius, Roman Supreme Army Commander, carried out. Valentinian feared a really successful general would overthrow him. Aetius is often called the “last of the Romans,” and was the only Roman who ever defeated Attila, at the Battle of the Catalaunian Plains (or Chalon or Chalons), which is only counted a victory because the Huns abandoned the field and ultimately the whole of Gaul. It was a general slaughter on both sides. Gibbons credited a Roman at the time saying to Valentinian after the murder: "I am ignorant, sir, of your motives or provocations; I only know that you have acted like a man who has cut off his right hand with his left." Aetius was avenged within 6 months when Valentinian was assassinated with no nearby soldier lifting a finger to save him. Such a waste of talent. Rough times for the Western Romans were just beginning.
Labels: Aetius; Valentinian