Saturday, February 14, 2015
Monarch Profile: Emperor Claudius II
During his reign, much of the Roman Empire that had fallen away was reclaimed but about as much was also lost. As Roman fortunes rose in the west, they fell in the east. Gaul had broken away previously and tried to set up a rival power under its own line of Gallic emperors and Claudius II sent Roman forces to reclaim at least southern Gaul east of the Rhone River. Hispania (Spain) had fallen to the Goths but had finally shaken off their rule and pledged loyalty to Rome once again, which was certainly a great benefit and left Claudius II well placed to launch a more ambitious campaign to restore Roman rule to the whole of Gaul. However, he was then preoccupied by the Gothic invasion and even more alarming was the news from the east where the famous Queen Zenobia had come to power (in what is now Syria) and advanced as far as Ankara in Turkey. The following year her forces conquered Egypt, cutting Rome off from its most vital source of grain. Obviously, that was a situation that left little time for dreams of Gallic conquest. The first priority of the Emperor was to secure Italy and defeat Zenobia so as to prevent food shortages in Rome that would be ruinous. However, before any of that could be done, Claudius II had departed this life.
One other incident occurred that makes Emperor Claudius II rather noteworthy and that concerned some trouble of a religious sort. Persecution of Christians was rather intermittent in the Roman Empire, with periods of fierce persecution being followed by long periods when anti-Christian laws were relaxed or left un-enforced. Some of these laws were being enforced in the reign of Claudius II and there was a certain Roman priest who came to the attention of the authorities. He had become well known for administering the sacraments in violation of the law, particularly it seems for secretly marrying Christian couples. He was arrested but still carried on converting people to Christianity. Severely beaten and stoned, the priest did not die and was brought before Emperor Claudius II. Rather than beg for his life, he tried to convert the Emperor to Christianity! That did not happen and due to his persistence he was ordered to be beheaded. While awaiting execution he converted the blind daughter of the governor of his prison to Christianity and while praying for her, her blindness was healed. The grateful girl would remain faithful to his memory for the rest of her life, long after the priest was martyred on February 14, 269, cherishing a last, small note he had written to her, which the healing power of Christ enabled her to read, which ended with the words, “from your Valentine”.
A happy St Valentine’s Day to all from The Mad Monarchist