Constantius III is one of those historical characters who briefly parked his bum on the Imperial throne and then died with months of achieving his much sought after success. He had married an imperial princess and had fathered two physically healthy children (even if they were turn out to be morally loose and cruel). Constantius had become co-emperor in the West with a useless twerp and it seemed certain to outsiders that he would be sharing that with no one except himself. And then he died or perhaps was murdered.
He grew up somewhere along Rome's Danube frontier and so was always likely to have become a military man. Constantius is so obscure that there is no record of whose his parents were or if he had any siblings. But he seems to have been capable enough as a soldier and for that reason he became a military advisor to the Roman emperor Honorius in around about 410 AD. This was the year Alaric the Goth sacked Rome and ran off with gold, silver and an imperial princess, Honorius's sister Galla Placidia. Honorius liked Galla, more than anyone else except his collection of pedigree chickens which he kept round the back of the imperial palace in Ravenna. Honorius preferred living there to Rome where his interest in chicken breeding had no takers.
Though Alaric died in 410, his Visigoth successor kept hold of Galla and eventually headed to Southern Gaul. The Roman Empire in the West had already fallen into chaos with various pretenders claiming the imperial throne. The British had already cut their ties with the Romans and embarked on a short lived career as an independent tribal nation of 'global trading Celts'. That was before at least until the Anglo-Saxons turned up.
Constantius tracked down the main imperial rival to Honorius, a soldier who was calling himself Constantine III. Constantius cornered 'the traitor' and convinced him to surrender. He said his boss had the perfect job for Constantine but he would have to go to Ravenna for the interview. Constantine headed off and was killed when Honorius withdrew the offer.
With rival Roman generals removed, next step was to locate the Visigoths. Galla responded to promises of escape by returning all correspondence unopened. She enjoyed living the Goth lifestyle, the clothes and the terrible music. Her husband Ataulf suggested instead that Constantius help him to replace Honorius and create the first cultural cross-over - a Romano-Goth world. Constantius declined and proceeded to look for Ataulf who decided Gaul was getting too hot for him and hopped over into Spain. There he died, stabbed in the bath by an attendant who was trying to close the place for a long siesta.
Ataulf's successor had no use for Galla Placidia and put her up for sale on Roman Empire eBay. Honorius bid five wagons of gold and won his sister's freedom. Constantius was instructed to collect the prize and return home. Galla had been happy with her Goth husband and produced a son who had died young. When she was introduced to Constantius, it was a mutual loathing but this was an era when politics triumphed over everything.
When Constantius and Galla arrived in Ravenna, Honorius insisted the couple get married el pronto. The emperor had no heir and felt confident that Galla was a suitable replacement, if only to prevent the branch of the family that resided in Constantinople claiming ownership of everything that wasn't nailed down. The couple complied. In a short order, they produced a girl who was named Justa Grata Honoria (she later tried to become Mrs Attila the Hun) and a boy, later to become emperor Valentinian III and another expert on depravity and duplicity.
Throne and deathEdit
Now that he was the brother-in-law to the emperor, Constantius was anxious to become an emperor himself. He was aware that the capricious Honorius could take that all away as he had done before with Stilicho. So pushing his advantage and constant badgering, in 421 Constantius and Galla Placidia became emperor and empress of Rome. This news didn't go down well in Constantinople where emperor Theodosius II objected he hadn't been consulted by his cousin and if he had been, it would have been a thumbs down. Constantius was furious and talked vaguely of going there to punch Theodosius for the insult. But then barely a co-rulership of six months, Constantius died. Fingers were pointed at various people - including Galla Placidia - but nothing was proved.
Constantius is said to have died in Ravenna and was interred in a fancy mausoleum. His wife joined him there 30 years later but the tombs are now empty. Perhaps Constantius has slipped off to another dimension where he becomes the all-conquering hero or dies in the mud.
Honorius (in the West)