Aetius in Wikipedia
Flavius Aetius, or simply Aetius (c. 396–454), dux et patricius, was a Roman general of the closing period of the Western Roman
Empire. He was an able military commander and the most influential man in the Western Roman Empire for two decades (433-454). He
managed policy in regard to the attacks of barbarian peoples pressing on the Empire. Notably, he gathered a large and mostly
barbarian army to win the Battle of the Catalaunian Plains, ending the famous Hunnic invasion of Attila in 451.
Along with his rival Count Boniface, he has often been called "the last of the Romans". Edward Gibbon refers to him as "the man
universally celebrated as the terror of Barbarians and the support of the Republic" for his victory at the Catalaunian Plains.
Aetius was born at Durostorum in Moesia Inferior (modern Silistra, Bulgaria), around 390. His father was Flavius Gaudentius, a Roman
soldier of Scythian origin; his mother, whose name is unknown, was a wealthy and aristocratic woman of Italian stock. Before
425 he married the daughter of Carpilio, who gave him a son, also named Carpilio. Later he married Pelagia, widow of
Bonifacius, from whom he had a son, Gaudentius. It is possible that he had also a daughter, wife of the Thraustila who avenged
Aetius' death by killing Valentinian III.
Early years, service under Joannes and first Gallic campaigns
As a boy, Aetius was at the service of the imperial court, enrolled in the military unit of the tribuni praetoriani partis
militaris. Between 405 and 408 he was kept as hostage at the court of the king of the Goths, Alaric I; in 408 Alaric asked to have
back Aetius as hostage, but this time he was refused, as Aetius was sent as a hostage at the court of the king of the Huns,
Rugila. Gibbon and some other historians maintain that Aetius's upbringing among vigorous and warlike peoples such as the Huns
gave him a martial vigour lacking in Rome itself at that period.
In 423, the Western Emperor Honorius died. The most influential man in the West, Castinus, chose as his successor Joannes, a high
ranking officer. Joannes was not part of the Theodosian dynasty and he did not receive the recognition of the eastern court. The
Eastern Emperor Theodosius II organized a military expedition westward, led by Aspar, to put his cousin, the young Valentinian III
(who was a nephew of Honorius), on the Western throne. Aetius entered the service of the usurper as cura palatii and was sent by
Joannes to ask the Huns for help. Joannes lacked a strong army and fortified himself in his capital, Ravenna, where with his other
senior ministers he was captured and killed (June or July 425). Shortly afterwards, Aetius returned in Italy with a large force of
Huns to find that power in the West was in the hands of Valentinian and his mother Galla Placidia. After fighting against Aspar's
army, Aetius managed to compromise with Galla Placidia; he sent back his Huns and obtained the rank of comes et magister militum per
Gallias, commander in chief of the Roman troops in Gaul.
That same year, or in 426, he defeated the Visigoths, who were besieging Arelate, and obliged them to return to Aquitaine. In 428 he
was successful against the Franks, recovering some territory they had occupied along the Rhine. In 429 he was elevated to the
rank of magister militum; this was probably the iunior of the two offices of magister militum praesentalis, as the senior is known to
have been the patrician Flavius Felix, the most influential man in those years, supporter of Galla Placidia. However, in May 430,
Aetius accused Felix of plotting against him and had him and his wife killed. Once Felix was dead, Aetius was probably the most
prominent among the magistri militum, even if he had not yet been granted the title of patrician. That same year he defeated the
Juthungi in Raetia and destroyed a Visigothic group near Arelate, capturing their leader, Anaolsus. In 431 he defeated the Nori in
Noricum; returning to Gaul, he received Hydatius, bishop of Aquae Flaviae, who complained about the attacks of the Suebi. In 432
Aetius again defeated the Franks, making peace with them, and he sent back Hydatius to the Suebi in Iberia ...