Latter years and Conclusion
Theodosius and his Court left Milan not long after the events of Thessalonica and so did Valentinian II. The young Emperor died in 392 away from the Capital and his place was soon claimed by the usurper Eugenius. Ambrose was conscious of his relationship with Theodosius so he fled at the news that Eugenius was marching towards the Capital ‘avoiding the presence of the one who was contaminated with sacrilege’. What is more remarkable is how Ambrose justified his position in two letters to Theodosius and then pleaded for mercy on Eugenius’ followers.
Ambrose’s influence over the Empire and over the Church was great. Gratian, Valentinian II and Theodosius bowed to his caveats and exhortations whilst the Church followed his lead, which very often eclipsed Rome itself (e.g. at council of Capua). The Fourth century marked at turning point for Christianity in the West as it transformed in ‘Roman Christianity’ by increasingly becoming part of the Empire and setting the scene for the Middle Ages Christendom. The bishop of Milan played a key role in change. Ambrose turned his back from the ancient traditions and used the power of the State to affirm the Gospel. Refusal to his pleas would have meant excommunication, ‘so all was done as [he] wished’.
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