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The Anicii and related families

"From the reign of Diocletian to the final extinction of the Western empire, that name [Anicii] shone with a lustre which was not eclipsed, in the public estimation, by the majesty of the Imperial purple." Gibbon

The gens Anicii, was by the time of the later Empire, the most august family within the Roman world. They claimed Republican origins to affirm their antiquity, they were intermarried with all highest families of the Roman nobility, they had branches of the family throughout the Empire, and their wealth was proverbial. Beyond political prominence, they represented one of the first senatorial families to adopt Christianity and contributed Church leaders, philosophers, and patrons of the arts, throughout the Empire. Though they were most prominent in the West, they survived the fall of the Western Empire, continuing on in Constantinople.

But who were the Anicii? Perhaps the most famous members of this family, who are still remembered today, were Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius (475-524) who was the leading philosopher of his age; and the Western "shadow" Emperor, Anicius Olybrius (d. 472). But this family was already at the zenith of its power when these two people made their entries into history. Who were they? Where did they come from? How did they become the most prominent family in the Roman world? What else did they contribute to their world?

Many years ago I discovered that the most enjoyable way, in my opinion, to learn the history of a given age and place, was by following the actions of the leading families. Through the leading families one often finds not only the accepted leaders, but also the leading dissidents, one gets a picture of the minor battles that had to be fought to reach the conclusions they did. For example, when studying Norman England, one gets a much clearer picture of the times by not only reading the conventional histories and royal actions, but also the histories of the nobility, who actually ran much more of England than the Crown did. In this way, one gets a more thorough picture of the events that led to the actions reported in the conventional histories, such as the Norman conquest of Wales.

It is this desire to study history through the medium of the nobility which has aroused my interest in the Anicii. This family, even if Republican links cannot be confirmed, was still old enough to see the conversion of the Roman world from paganism to Christianity, to see the Western Empire disintegrate and the Eastern Empire consolidate. What I wish to do is reconstruct the history of this family, not merely a genealogical chart, nor a synopsis of its leading members actions, but a complete and comprehensive history.

The reason I have chosen to put this research on the Internet is because I am actively seeking those with information to share on this topic. I encourage anyone who has something valid to contribute or intelligently takes issue with anything on this site to contact me with their thoughts. However, be warned that I am a stickler for source information. If you see something wrong and want me to correct it, bear in mind I will not even consider it unless you can cite your sources. I have found far too many historically incorrect or blatantly fabricated genealogies on the Internet to allow myself to be hoodwinked by those who cannot give their sources.

I have decided to format this site on an individual basis. Each person will be given a page, and I intend to give as much information as possible on these pages. However, it should noted that I may not have discovered much, or even any, information for many of the people listed; this is one of the drawbacks to ancient and early medieval history. Unlike some other sites on the Internet that are formatted in a similar fashion, I cannot claim that every person listed can be genealogically connected to the whole. Genealogical information will be given when possible, but as this is an ongoing project and inevitably a great deal of information will have been lost, I cannot draw up a complete stemma for this family. It should also be noted that many of the people listed are not actual members of the Anicii family, but are related to it. As new information is being constantly added, I am including a "last update" date at the end of each page.

There are also a number of links provided in this site to other sites of interest. Among these, two sites are repeatedly referred to and I would like to acknowledge them briefly. The first is the DIR site which is an online encyclopedia of Roman Emperors composed of a number of generally excellent essays on particular Emperors. As my area of interest is more refined than general history, whenever possible I will provide a DIR link for any Emperor I mention. The second is the Imperium site which is primarily concerned with the genealogical connections of the early barbarian dynasties and others. As I am familiar with this subject, I can confirm that most of the information provided is correct and as many of these genealogical links are too far removed from the subject of my study, I will refer those interested in genealogical connections to this site.

One may enter the site in either of two ways; through the historical synopsis or through the directory. I also make my Bibliography available to anyone interested.

Bear in mind that this is an on going project, which means that new information will be contributed frequently. Feel free to send me any questions, comments, or criticisms via e-mail.

Page last updated: 9-19-98

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