Aegidius (died 464 or 465) was ruler of the Kingdom of Soissons from 461–464/465 AD. Before his ascension, he became magister militum in Gaul, serving under Aetius, in 458 AD. An ardent supporter of Majorian, Aegidius rebelled against Ricimer when he deposed Majorian. Aegidius launched several campaigns against the Visigoths from northern Gaul, forming the Kingdom of Soissons from the lands he conquered. He died suddenly after a major victory against the Visigoths, and was succeeded by his son Syagrius.
|Allegiance||Western Roman Empire
Kingdom of Soissons
|Service||458–464/465 AD (Rome)
461–464/465 AD (Kingdom of Soissons)
|Rank||Magister militum per Gallias
Ruler of the Kingdom of Soissons
|Battles/wars||Battle of Arelate
Battle of Orleans
Aegidius was born in Gaul. It is believed that he came from the aristocratic Syagrii family, based upon the name of his son, Syagrius. While this evidence is not absolute, modern historians consider a connection to the family likely, by birth or marriage. Aegidius served under Aetius during the latter's time as magister militum, alongside the future emperor Majorian. Aegidius was either a founding member of Majorian and Ricimer's faction, or else he quickly joined it. After Majorian secured the throne, Aegidius was granted the title of magister militum per Gallias (Master of the Soldiers for Gaul) in 458, as a reward for his loyalty. In the same year, Aegidius led troops at the Battle of Arelate. Aegidius is credited with being the primary cause for Theodoric II's defeat.
After Ricimer assassinated Emperor Majorian and replaced him with Libius Severus, in 461, Aegidius refused to recognize his rule. Libius Severus was not recognized by the Senior Emperor Leo I. Aegidius may have pledged his allegiance directly to Leo I, in order to legitimize his independence from the Western Roman Empire, and his retention of the Gallic Legions. Aegidius threatened to invade Italy, however he never did so. Some historians have said that this was due to pressure from the Visigoths, whereas others assert that he was unable or unwilling to march to Italy, leaving Gaul exposed. It is known that during this time, Ricimer ceded Lyons to the Burgundians, and Narbonne and most of Narbonensis Prima to the Visigoths, in exchange for alliances. Ricimer probably appointed a replacement for Aegidius, despite the fact that Aegidius retained most or all of his Gallic forces. The two people most likely to have been given the title of magister militum per Gallias were the Roman general Agrippinus, or the Burgundian King Gundioc, who was Ricimer's brother-in-law. Around this time Aegidius sent embassies to the Vandal king Gaiseric, probably in an effort to form an alliance to oppose Ricimer. According to some primary sources, Childeric I was exiled at some point after 457, and the Franks then elected Aegidius to elect them. The sources go on to say that Aegidius ruled them for eight years, before Childeric was recalled and reinstated as king. This story is considered fictional by most modern historians. Another narrative given by primary sources is that Childeric formed an alliance with Aegidius, although this has slim historical evidence, and is directly opposed by archeological evidence, which supports the theory of Soissons containing the expansion of the Franks.
Aegidius recaptured Lyon from the Burgundians in 458 and repulsed an invasion by the Visigoths in 463, routing them at the Battle of Orleans. In this battle, Aegidius killed the Visigoth general Frederic, who was also the brother of Visigoth King Theodoric II. Some sources say that Aegidius' forces were bolstered by Frankish forces. Aegidius also won a minor engagement against the Visigoths near Chinon, at an unknown date. Despite these victories, he did not take the offensive against the Visigothic position in Aquitaine, possibly due to lack of resources, or due to threats from Comes Paulus, Burgundian King Gundioc, and the Western Roman generals Arbogast and Agrippinus.
Aegidius is recorded to have died suddenly, in either late 464 or late 465. Primary sources of the time say he was either assassinated or poisoned, but the person doing so, or allegedly doing so, is not given. Modern historians consider it possible that he died a natural death. After his death, he was succeeded by his son Syagrius. It is also reported that the news of his death led to an invasion by the Visigoths, which historians have tentatively located as having occurred in the Auvergne area. Syagrius is reported to have moved his seat of government to Soissons, which would later give Aegidius and Syagrius' breakaway government the historiographic name of the Kingdom of Soissons. The Franks defeated Syagrius and captured Soissons in the 480s.
Aegidius was referred to by numerous titles in primary sources, many of which were contradictory. In the Historia Francorum by Gregory of Tours, he is twice called magister militum (Master of Soldiers), although Gregory describes him as being elected rex (king) of the Franks. Even more confusingly, Gregory does not give him any title while mentioning his death.The Liber Historiae Francorum refers to him initially as rex, but later twice calls him principem Romanorum (the Roman emperor). In the 'A' version of the Liber Historiae Francorum, he is called Romanorum rex (King of the Romans) at the time of his death, while the 'B' version calls him Romanorum tirannus (Roman tyrant), implying that he was a usurper. The Chronicle of Fredegar calls him comes (count). Based on the two references from the Liber Historiae Francorum which refer to him as emperor, and the occasional usage of the title of rex to refer to an emperor, some have asserted that he was in fact an emperor, although this is based upon shaky evidence, and is considered very unlikely by most historians. Modern historians give three possibilities for his actual status: The first possibility is that he declared himself king, and was called such by both his own kingdom, and external barbarians. The second is that he was never called king within his own lifetime, but later folk or epic traditions gave him the title. The third is that he was referred to by a Roman title by his subjects, but called rex by barbarians, as it was analogous to the titles of their own rulers.
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|Ruler of the Kingdom of Soissons
|Magister militum of Gaul