Shortly after the death of emperor Theodosius in 395 A.D., the Roman Empire was permanently divided into Eastern and Western empires. By the fifth century A.D., the power of the Western Roman Empire had declined considerably, though the Eastern Roman Empire centered in Byzantium continued to flourish. Various problems contributed to this undermining of the West. The accessions of Arcadius and Honorius, sons of Theodosius, as emperors in the East and West, respectively, illustrate the unfortunate pattern of child heirs that had unfavorable effects for both empires. When Arcadius died in 408, he was succeeded by his seven-year-old son, Theodosius II. Reigning until 423, Honorius was succeeded by his nephew Valentinian III, who was only five. Because of their young ages, Theodosius' sons and grandsons could not rule without older advisors and supervising regents upon whom they naturally became dependent and from whom they were unable to break away after reaching maturity. As powerful individuals vied for influence and dominance at court, the general welfare was often sacrificed to private rivalries and ambitions. Moreover, it was the women of the dynasty who were the more capable and interesting characters. Holding the keys to succession through birth and inheritance, they became active players in the political arena. Compared with the East, however, the West faced a greater number of external threats along more permeable frontiers. Whereas the East could pursue war and diplomacy more effectively with their enemies on the long eastern frontier, the West was exposed to the more volatile tribal Germanic peoples on a frontier that stretched along the Rhine and Danube rivers for 1,000 miles. The East, however, only had to guard the last 500 miles of the Danube. In addition, the East had many more human and material resources with which to pursue its military and diplomatic objectives. The East also had a more deeply rooted unity in the Greek culture of the numerous Greek and Near Eastern cities that Rome had inherited from earlier Grecian empires. Latin culture had not achieved comparable penetration of the less urbanized West outside of Italy. The penetration of Germanic culture from the north had been so extensive along the permeable Rhine-Danube frontier that it was often difficult to distinguish between barbarians (speakers of German and other languages unrelated to Latin) and Romans in those regions by the fifth century anyway. One of the most outstanding features at the beginning of this period was the prominence of Germanic generals in the high command of the Roman Imperial army. The trend became significant, and several practical reasons can explain it. The foremost probably was the sheer need for military manpower that made it attractive to recruit bands of Germanic peoples for the armies, which, in turn, gave able chieftains and warlords the opportunity to gain Imperial favor and advance in rank. Second, one way to turn Germanic chieftains from potential enemies into loyal supporters was to offer them a good position in the Roman military. Third, although Theodosius had risen to power as a military leader, he was also a cultured aristocrat and preferred to emphasize the civilian role of the emperor and to rely for protection on Germanic generals whose loyalties were primarily to him, their patron. Unfortunately, the high positions achieved by Germanic officers often aroused the jealousy and hostility of high-ranking Roman military and civilian officials. Such positions also gave their Germanic holders a chance to act on both personal and tribal animosities in the arena of Imperial politics. Internal Roman rivalries and power struggles aggravated the situation. Rival factional leaders often granted Imperial titles and conceded territory to one Germanic leader or another in return for help against fellow Romans. While the Romans were thus distracted by internal conflict, other tribes seized the opportunity to cross into Roman territory unopposed. When the Romans could not dislodge them, peace was bought with further titles and territorial concessions as allies. In the midst of it all, alliances and coalitions between Roman emperors or powerful commanders and various tribes or tribal kings were made, unmade, and remade so often that it is nearly impossible to follow their course. Accordingly, all of these situations proved dangerous to the peace and safety of the West.