The emperor Flavius Claudius Julianus govern from 360 to 26 June 363, when he was executed fighting against the Persians. Despite his short rule, his emperorship was essential in the development of the history of the later Roman Empire. Julian was the last direct descendant of the Constantinian line to climb to the throne, and it is one of the history’s great irony that he was the last non-Christian emperor. He saw himself as the restorer of the traditional values of Roman society. Certainly much of this was rhetoric, meant to protect Julian against charges that he was a usurper. Julian thought that he was the one emperor who could recover what was viewed as the lost glory of the Roman Empire. To achieve this objective he courted select groups of social elites to get across his message of restoration. This was the way that emperors perform in the fourth century. By choosing whom to include in the sharing of power, they wanted to shape society.
Constantius II realized a vital truth the empire was too big to be ruled efficiently by one man. (Ammianus, 15.8.17 Julian was pressed into service as Caesar, or subordinate emperor, because a majestic presence was needed in the west, in particular in the Gallic provinces. Julian, due to the emperor’s earlier removals, was the only practical candidate of the imperial family left who could act as Caesar. Constantius enjoined Julian with the task of restoring order along the Rhine frontier. A few days after he was made Caesar, Julian was married to Constantius’ sister Helena in order to fortify the alliance between the two men. (Philostorgius. 4.2)
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