b. circa 390, Rome; d. 450, Rome
Aelia Galla Placidia, daughter of Emperor Theodosius I (ruled 379–395), became a key figure in Roman politics at an early age. In 410, she was kidnapped by the Visigoths, an eastern Germanic tribe, when their leader, King Alaric, attacked Rome. As a captive, she was married to Alaric’s brother and lived with him until his assassination in 415, when she was returned to Rome. There she married Constantius III, who became emperor a few years later. Her son, Valentinian III, became Western Roman Emperor (425–455) and she ruled in his name in the early years of his reign. During this time, she sponsored the building of several religious structures in Ravenna, including a chapel notable for its splendid mosaics.