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Anthemius on a gold coin

Procopius Anthemius (c. 420 - July 11, 472) was a Western Roman Emperor (April 12, 467 to July 11, 472).

One of the "shadow emperors" of the 5th century, he was perhaps the last individual with any ability to hold the office. Anthemius attempted to solve the two primary military challenges facing the remains of the Western Roman Empire: the resurgent Visigoths, under Euric, whose domain straddled the Pyrenees; and the unvanquished Vandals, under Gaiseric, in undisputed control of North Africa.

Anthemius was of the gens Procopia. 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, who allowed the fleet to be destroyed by Gaiseric, it failed to build on these victories, 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, exacted vengeance 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.

Sources for Anthemius' life are richer than for most fifth century Western Emperors, partly because of his origin in Constantinople, where the tradition of court histories was kept alive, and partly because of the details that can be extracted from a panegyric delivered January 1 468 by the Gallo-Roman poet Sidonius Apollinaris.

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Preceded by
Libius Severus
Western Roman Emperor
Succeeded by

Anthemius was also a suburb of Constantinople on the Asiatic side of the Bosphorus.

There was also an Anthemius of Tralles who was an architect of Hagia Sophia.

de:Anthemius it:Antemio nl:Anthemius van Rome pl:Antemiusz sv:Anthemius


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