Crisis of the Third Century

The Crisis of the Third Century, also known as Military Anarchy or the Imperial Crisis (AD 235–284), was a period in which the Roman Empire nearly collapsed under the combined pressures of invasion, civil war, plague, and economic depression. The crisis began with the assassination of Emperor Severus Alexander by his own troops in 235, initiating a 50-year period during which there were at least 26 claimants to the title of emperor, mostly prominent Roman army generals, who assumed imperial power over all or part of the Empire. The same number of men became accepted by the Roman Senate as emperor during this period and so became legitimate emperors.

By 268, the empire had split into three competing states: the Gallic Empire, including the Roman provinces of Gaul, Britannia and (briefly) Hispania; the Palmyrene Empire, including the eastern provinces of Syria Palaestina and Aegyptus; and the Italian-centered and independent Roman Empire, proper, between them. Later, Aurelian (270–275) reunited the empire; the crisis ended with the ascension and reforms of Diocletian in 284.

The crisis resulted in such profound changes in the empire's institutions, society, economic life and, eventually, religion, that it is increasingly seen by most historians as defining the transition between the historical periods of classical antiquity and late antiquity.[1]

Map of Ancient Rome 271 AD
The divided Empire in 271

History

Roman imperial dynasties
Crisis of the Third Century
Chronology
Barracks Emperors 235284
Gordian dynasty 238244
Valerian dynasty 253261
Gallic Emperors 260274
Illyrian Emperors 268284
Caran dynasty 282285
Britannic Emperors 286297
Succession
Preceded by
Severan dynasty
Followed by
Diocletian and the Tetrarchy

After the Roman Empire had been stabilised once again after the turmoil of the Year of the Five Emperors (193) in the reign of Septimius Severus, the later Severan dynasty lost more and more control; the army required larger and larger bribes to remain loyal.[2] Septimius Severus raised the pay of legionaries, and gave substantial donativum to the troops.[3][4] The large and ongoing increase in military expenditure caused problems for all of his successors.[5] His son Caracalla raised the annual pay and lavished many benefits on the army, in accordance with the advice of his father to keep their loyalty,[6][7][8] and considered dividing the Empire into eastern and western sectors with his brother Geta to reduce the conflict in their co-rule.[9]

The situation of the Roman Empire became dire in 235. Many Roman legions had been defeated during a previous campaign against Germanic peoples raiding across the borders, while the emperor Severus Alexander had been focused primarily on the dangers from the Sassanid Empire. Leading his troops personally, the emperor resorted to diplomacy and accepting tribute to pacify the Germanic chieftains quickly, rather than military conquest. According to Herodian this cost Severus Alexander the respect of his troops, who may have felt that more severe punishment was required for the tribes that had intruded on Rome's territory.[10] The troops assassinated Severus Alexander and proclaimed the new emperor to be Maximinus Thrax, commander of one of the legions present.

Maximinus was the first of the barracks emperors – rulers who were elevated by the troops without having any political experience, a supporting faction, distinguished ancestors, or a legitimate claim to the imperial throne. As their rule rested on military might and generalship, they operated as warlords reliant on the army to maintain power. Maximinus continued the campaigns in Germania but struggled to exert his authority over the whole empire. The Senate was displeased at having to accept a peasant as Emperor.[11] This precipitated the chaotic Year of the Six Emperors during which all of the original claimants were killed: in 238 a revolt broke out in Africa led by Gordian I and Gordian II,[12] which was soon supported by the Roman Senate,[13] but this was quickly defeated with Gordian II killed and Gordian I committing suicide. The Senate, fearing Imperial wrath,[14] raised two of their own as co-Emperors, Pupienus and Balbinus with Gordian I's grandson Gordian III as Caesar.[15] Maximinus marched on Rome but was assassinated by his Legio II Parthica, and subsequently Pupienus and Balbinus were murdered by the Praetorian Guard.

In the following years, numerous generals of the Roman army fought each other for control of the empire and neglected their duties of defending it from invasion. There were frequent raids across the Rhine and Danube frontier by foreign tribes, including the Carpians, Goths, Vandals, and Alamanni, and attacks from Sassanids in the east. Climate changes and a sea level rise disrupted the agriculture of what is now the Low Countries, forcing tribes residing in the region to migrate into Roman lands.[16] Further disruption arose in 251, when the Plague of Cyprian (possibly smallpox) broke out. This plague caused large-scale death, severely weakening the empire.[17][18] The situation was worsened in 260 when the emperor Valerian was captured in battle by the Sassanids (he later died in captivity).

Throughout the period, numerous usurpers claimed the imperial throne. In the absence of a strong central authority, the empire broke into three competing states. The Roman provinces of Gaul, Britain, and Hispania broke off to form the Gallic Empire in 260. The eastern provinces of Syria, Palestine, and Aegyptus also became independent as the Palmyrene Empire in 267. The remaining provinces, centred on Italy, stayed under a single ruler but now faced threats on every side.

An invasion of Macedonia and Greece by Goths, who had been displaced from their lands on the Black Sea, was defeated by emperor Claudius II Gothicus at the Battle of Naissus in 268 or 269. Historians see this victory as the turning point of the crisis. In its aftermath, a series of tough, energetic barracks emperors were able to reassert central authority. Further victories by Claudius Gothicus drove back the Alamanni and recovered Hispania from the Gallic Empire. He died of the plague in 270 and was succeeded by Aurelian, who had commanded the cavalry at Naissus. Aurelian reigned (270–275) through the worst of the crisis, gradually restoring the empire. He defeated the Vandals, Visigoths, Palmyrene Empire, and finally the remainder of the Gallic Empire. By late 274, the Roman Empire had been reunited into a single entity. However, Aurelian was assassinated in 275, sparking a further series of competing emperors with short reigns. The situation didn't stabilise until Diocletian, himself a barracks emperor, took power in 284.

More than a century would pass before Rome again lost military ascendancy over its external enemies. However, dozens of formerly thriving cities, especially in the Western Empire, had been ruined. Their populations were dead or dispersed and could not be rebuilt, due to the economic breakdown caused by constant warfare. The economy had been ruined by the breakdown in trading networks and the debasement of the currency. Major cities and towns, including Rome itself, had not needed fortifications for many centuries, but now surrounded themselves with thick walls.

Fundamental problems with the empire still remained. The right of imperial succession had never been clearly defined, which was a factor in the continuous civil wars as competing factions in the military, Senate, and other parties put forward their favoured candidate for emperor. The sheer size of the empire, which had been an issue since the late Roman Republic three centuries earlier, continued to make it difficult for a single ruler to effectively counter multiple threats at the same time. These continuing problems were addressed by the radical reforms of Diocletian, who broke the cycle of usurpation. He began by sharing his rule with a colleague, then formally established the Tetrarchy of four co-emperors in 293.[19] Historians regard this as the end of the crisis period, which had lasted 58 years. However the trend of civil war would continue after the abdication of Diocletian in the Civil wars of the Tetrarchy (306-324) until the rise of Constantine the Great as sole Emperor.[20] The empire survived until 476 in the West and until 1453 in the East.

Causes

The problem of succession and civil war

Unlike other countries which have clearly defined rules for succession to the throne (e.g. the British line of succession),[21] the Roman Empire had no clear process for becoming emperor. Because the empire maintained the facade of a republic for much of the Principate,[22] the ability to become emperor was never limited to one family. A combination of appeasement of the army, Senatorial consent, and general approval by the populace allowed the emperors of the Antonine dynasty to hold on to power. When Septimius Severus seized the imperial throne after battling various rival claimants, the truth of succession became obvious. Septimius Severus was not related to the Antonine emperors and only managed to secure the throne by defeating his competitors in war. This brought to light the fact that whoever controlled the armies had the ability to become emperor. For the rest of the 3rd Century, Rome would be ruled by a series of generals, coming into power through frequent civil wars which devastated the empire.[23]

Natural disasters

The first and most immediately disastrous natural disasters that the Roman Empire faced during the Third Century was the plague. The Antonine Plague that preceded the Crisis of the Third Century sapped manpower from Roman armies and proved disastrous for the Roman economy. [24] From 249 AD to 262 AD, the Cyprian Plague devastated the Roman Empire so much so that some cities, such as the city of Alexandria, experienced a 62% decline in population. These plagues greatly hindered the Roman Empire's ability to ward off barbarian invasions but also factored into problems such as famine, with many farms becoming abandoned and unproductive.[25]

A second and longer-term natural disaster that took place during the Third Century was the increased variability of weather. Drier summers meant less agricultural productivity and more extreme weather events led to agricultural instability. This could also have contributed to the increased barbarian pressure on Roman borders, as they too would have experienced the detrimental effects of climate change and sought to push inward to more productive regions of the Mediterranean.[26]

Foreign invasions

Barbarian invasions came in the wake of civil war, plague, and famine. Pressures from climate change forced various barbarian tribes to push into Roman territory. Other tribes coalesced into more formidable entities (notably the Alamanni and Franks), or were pushed out of their former territories by more dangerous peoples such as the Huns. Eventually, the frontiers would be stabilized by the Illyrian Emperors. However, barbarian migrations into the empire would continue in greater and greater numbers. Though these migrants would initially be closely monitored and assimilated, later tribes would eventually enter the Roman Empire en masse with their weapons, giving only token recognition of Roman authority. [27]

The defensive battles that Rome had to endure on the Danube since the 230s, however, paled in comparison to the threat the empire faced in the East. There, Sassanid Persia represented a far greater danger to Rome than the isolated attacks of Germanic tribes.[28] The Sassanids had in 224 and 226 overthrown the Parthian Arsacids, and the Persian King Ardashir I, who also wanted to prove his legitimacy through military successes, had already penetrated into Roman territory at the time of Severus Alexander, probably taking the strategically important cities of Nisibis and Carrhae.[29]

Economic impact

Diocletian bust
Emperor Diocletian. With his rise to power in 284, the Crisis of the Third Century ended and gave rise to the Tetrarchy

Internally, the empire faced hyperinflation caused by years of coinage devaluation.[30] This had started earlier under the Severan emperors who enlarged the army by one quarter,[31] and doubled the base pay of legionaries. As each of the short-lived emperors took power, they needed ways to raise money quickly to pay the military's "accession bonus" and the easiest way to do so was by inflating the coinage severely, a process made possible by debasing the coinage with bronze and copper.

This resulted in runaway rises in prices, and by the time Diocletian came to power, the old coinage of the Roman Empire had nearly collapsed. Some taxes were collected in kind and values often were notional, in bullion or bronze coinage. Real values continued to be figured in gold coinage, but the silver coin, the denarius, used for 300 years, was gone (1 pound of gold = 40 gold aurei = 1,000 denarii = 4,000 sestertii). This currency had almost no value by the end of the third century, and trade was carried out without retail coinage.

Breakdown of internal trade network

One of the most profound and lasting effects of the Crisis of the Third Century was the disruption of Rome's extensive internal trade network. Ever since the Pax Romana, starting with Augustus, the empire's economy had depended in large part on trade between Mediterranean ports and across the extensive road systems to the Empire's interior. Merchants could travel from one end of the empire to the other in relative safety within a few weeks, moving agricultural goods produced in the provinces to the cities, and manufactured goods produced by the great cities of the East to the more rural provinces.

Large estates produced cash crops for export and used the resulting revenues to import food and urban manufactured goods. This resulted in a great deal of economic interdependence among the empire’s inhabitants. The historian Henry Moss describes the situation as it stood before the crisis:

Along these roads passed an ever-increasing traffic, not only of troops and officials but of traders, merchandise and even tourists. An interchange of goods between the various provinces rapidly developed, which soon reached a scale unprecedented in the previous history and not repeated until a few centuries ago. Metals mined in the uplands of Western Europe, hides, fleeces, and livestock from the pastoral districts of Britain, Spain, and the shores of the Black Sea, wine and oil from Provence and Aquitaine, timber, pitch and wax from South Russia and northern Anatolia, dried fruits from Syria, marble from the Aegean coasts, and – most important of all – grain from the wheat-growing districts of North Africa, Egypt, and the Danube Valley for the needs of the great cities; all these commodities, under the influence of a highly organized system of transport and marketing, moved freely from one corner of the Empire to the other.[32]

With the onset of the Crisis of the Third Century, however, this vast internal trade network broke down. The widespread civil unrest made it no longer safe for merchants to travel as they once had, and the financial crisis that struck made exchange very difficult with the debased currency. This produced profound changes that, in many ways, foreshadowed the very decentralized economic character of the coming Middle Ages.

Large landowners, no longer able to successfully export their crops over long distances, began producing food for subsistence and local barter. Rather than import manufactured goods from the empire's great urban areas, they began to manufacture many goods locally, often on their own estates, thus beginning the self-sufficient "house economy" that would become commonplace in later centuries, reaching its final form in the manorialism of the Middle Ages. The common, free people of the Roman cities, meanwhile, began to move out into the countryside in search of food and better protection.

Made desperate by economic necessity, many of these former city dwellers, as well as many small farmers, were forced to give up hard-earned basic civil rights in order to receive protection from large land-holders. In doing so, they became a half-free class of Roman citizen known as coloni. They were tied to the land, and in later Imperial law, their status was made hereditary. This provided an early model for serfdom, the origins of medieval feudal society and of the medieval peasantry.

However, although the burdens on the population increased, especially the lower strata of the population, this can not be generalised to the whole empire, especially since the living conditions were not uniform. Although the structural integrity of the economy suffered from the military conflicts of that time and the inflationary episode of the 270s, it did not collapse, especially because of the complex regional differences. Recent research has shown that there were regions that prospered even further, such as Egypt, Africa and Hispania. But even for Asia Minor, which was directly affected by attacks, no general decline can be observed.[33] While commerce and the economy flourished in several regions, with several provinces not affected by hostilities, other provinces experienced some serious problems, as evidenced by personal hoards in the northwestern provinces of the empire. However, there can be no talk of a general economic crisis throughout the whole of Empire.[34]

Increased localism

All the Barracks Emperors based their power on the military and on the soldiers of the field armies, not on the Praetorians in Rome. Thus, Rome lost its role as the political centre of the empire during the third century, although it remained ideologically important. In order to legitimize and secure their rule, the emperors of the third century needed above all military successes.[35]

Even the Roman cities began to change in character. The large, open cities of classical antiquity slowly gave way to the smaller, walled cities that became common in the Middle Ages. These changes were not restricted to the third century, but took place slowly over a long period, and were punctuated with many temporary reversals. In spite of extensive reforms by later emperors, however, the Roman trade network was never able to fully recover to what it had been during the Pax Romana (27 BC-AD 180). This economic decline was far more noticeable and important in the western part of the empire, which was also invaded several times during the century. Hence, the balance of power clearly shifted eastward during this period, as evidenced by the choice of Diocletian to rule from Nicomedia in Asia Minor, putting his second in command, Maximian, in Milan. This would have a considerable impact on the later development of the empire with a richer, more stable eastern empire surviving the end of Roman rule in the west.

While imperial revenues fell, imperial expenses rose sharply. More soldiers, greater proportions of cavalry, and the ruinous expense of walling in cities all added to the toll. Goods and services previously paid for by the government were now demanded in addition to monetary taxes. The steady exodus of both rich and poor from the cities and now-unprofitable professions forced Diocletian to use compulsion; most trades were made hereditary, and workers could not legally leave their jobs or travel elsewhere to seek better-paying ones.

The decline in commerce between the imperial provinces put them on a path toward increased self-sufficiency. Large landowners, who had become more self-sufficient, became less mindful of Rome’s central authority, particularly in the Western Empire, and were downright hostile toward its tax collectors. The measure of wealth at this time began to have less to do with wielding urban civil authority and more to do with controlling large agricultural estates in rural regions since this guaranteed access to the only economic resource of real value — agricultural land and the crops it produced. The common people of the empire lost economic and political status to the land-holding nobility, and the commercial middle classes waned along with their trade-derived livelihoods. The Crisis of the Third Century thus marked the beginning of a long gradual process that would transform the ancient world of Classical antiquity into the medieval one of the Early Middle Ages.

Emperors

Several emperors who rose to power through acclamation of their troops attempted to create stability by appointing their descendants as Caesar, resulting in several brief dynasties. These generally failed to maintain any form of coherence beyond one generation, although there were exceptions.

Gordian dynasty

Portrait Name Birth Succession Reign Death Time in office
Gordian I Musei Capitolini MC475 Gordian I
CAESAR MARCVS ANTONIVS GORDIANVS SEMPRONIANVS AFRICANVS AVGVSTVS
c. 159 AD, Phrygia? Proclaimed emperor, whilst Pro-consul in Africa, during a revolt against Maximinus Thrax. Ruled jointly with his son Gordian II, and in opposition to Maximinus. Technically a usurper, but retrospectively legitimised by the accession of Gordian III March 22, 238 AD – April 12, 238 AD April 238 AD
Committed suicide upon hearing of the death of Gordian II
21 days
GordianusIIsest Gordian II
CAESAR MARCVS ANTONIVS GORDIANVS SEMPRONIANVS ROMANVS AFRICANVS AVGVSTVS
c. 192 AD, ? Proclaimed emperor, alongside father Gordian I, in opposition to Maximinus by act of the Senate March 22, 238 AD – April 12, 238 AD April 238 AD
Killed during the Battle of Carthage, fighting a pro-Maximinus army
21 days
Pupienus Musei Capitolini MC477 Pupienus (non-dynastic)
CAESAR MARCVS CLODIVS PVPIENVS MAXIMVS AVGVSTVS
c. 178 AD, ? Proclaimed joint emperor with Balbinus by the Senate in opposition to Maximinus; later co-emperor with Balbinus April 22, 238 AD – July 29, 238 AD July 29, 238 AD
Assassinated by the Praetorian Guard
3 months and 7 days
Balbinus Hermitage Balbinus (non-dynastic)
CAESAR DECIMVS CAELIVS CALVINVS BALBINVS PIVS AVGVSTVS
? Proclaimed joint emperor with Pupienus by the Senate after death of Gordian I and II, in opposition to Maximinus; later co-emperor with Pupienus and Gordian III April 22, 238 AD – July 29, 238 AD July 29, 238 AD
Assassinated by Praetorian Guard
3 months and 7 days
Bust Gordianus III Louvre Ma1063 Gordian III
CAESAR MARCVS ANTONIVS GORDIANVS AVGVSTVS
January 20, 225 AD, Rome Proclaimed emperor by supporters of Gordian I and II, then by the Senate; joint emperor with Pupienus and Balbinus until July 238 AD. Grandson of Gordian I April 22, 238 AD – February 11, 244 AD February 11, 244 AD
Unknown; possibly murdered on orders of Philip I
5 years, 9 months and 20 days
Bust of emperor Philippus Arabus - Hermitage Museum Philip the Arab (non-dynastic)
CAESAR MARCVS IVLIVS PHILIPPVS AVGVSTVS

with Philip II

MARCVS IVLIVS SEVERVS PHILLIPVS AVGVSTVS

c. 204 AD, Shahba, Syria Praetorian Prefect to Gordian III, took power after his death; made his son Philip II co-emperor in summer 247 AD February 244 AD – September/October 249 AD September/October 249 AD (aged 45)
Killed in the Battle of Verona by Decius
5 years

Decian dynasty

Portrait Name Birth Succession Reign Death Time in office
Emperor Traianus Decius (Mary Harrsch) Trajan Decius
CAESAR GAIVS MESSIVS QVINTVS TRAIANVS DECIVS AVGVSTVS

with Herennius Etruscus
c. 201 AD, Budalia, Pannonia Inferior Governor under Philip I; proclaimed emperor by Danubian legions then defeating & killing Philip in the Battle of Verona; made his son Herennius Etruscus co-emperor in early 251 AD September/ October 249 AD – June 251 AD June 251 AD
Both killed in the Battle of Abrittus fighting against the Goths
2 years
Sestertius Hostilian-s2771 Hostilian
CAESAR CAIVS VALENS HOSTILIANVS MESSIVS QVINTVS AVGVSTVS
Sirmium Son of Trajan Decius, accepted as heir by the Senate June 251 AD – late 251 AD September/October 251 AD
Natural causes (plague)
4–5 months
Trebonianus Gallus (non-dynastic)
CAESAR GAIVS VIBIVS TREBONIANVS GALLVS AVGVSTVS

with Volusianus

GAIVS VIBIVS VOLVSIANVS AVGVSTVS

206 AD, Italia Governor of Moesia Superior, proclaimed emperor by Danubian legions after Decius's death (and in opposition to Hostilian); made his son Volusianus co-emperor in late 251 AD. June 251 AD – August 253 AD August 253 AD (aged 47)
Assassinated by their own troops, in favour of Aemilian
2 years
Aemilian1 Aemilian (non-dynastic)
CAESAR MARCVS AEMILIVS AEMILIANVS AVGVSTVS
c. 207 or 213 AD Africa Governor of Moesia Superior, proclaimed emperor by Danubian legions after defeating the Goths; accepted as emperor after death of Gallus August 253 AD – October 253 AD September/October 253 AD (aged 40 or 46)
Assassinated by his own troops, in favour of Valerian
2 months

Valerian dynasty

Portrait Name Birth Succession Reign Death Time in office
Aureus Valerian-RIC 0034-transparent Valerian
CAESAR PVBLIVS LICINIVS VALERIANVS AVGVSTVS
c. 195 AD Governor of Noricum and Raetia, proclaimed emperor by Rhine legions after death of Gallus; accepted as emperor after death of Aemilian October 253 AD – 260 AD After 260 AD
Captured in Battle of Edessa against Persians, died in captivity
7 years
Gallienus Gallienus
CAESAR PVBLIVS LICINIVS EGNATIVS GALLIENVS AVGVSTVS

with Saloninus
218 AD Son of Valerian, made co-emperor in 253 AD; his son Saloninus is very briefly co-emperor in c. July 260 before assassination by Postumus October 253 AD – September 268 AD September 268 AD
Murdered at Aquileia by his own commanders
15 years

Claudius II

Portrait Name Birth Succession Reign Death Time in office
Santa Giulia 4 Claudius II
CAESAR MARCVS AVRELIVS CLAVDIVS AVGVSTVS
May 10, 210 AD, Sirmium Victorious general at Battle of Naissus, seized power after Gallienus's death September 268 AD – January 270 AD January 270 AD (aged 60)
Natural causes (plague)
1 year, 4 months
Aureus Quintillus (obverse)
Quintillus
CAESAR MARCVS AVRELIVS CLAVDIVS QVINTILLVS AVGVSTVS
c.210 AD, Sirmium Brother of Claudius II, seized power after his death January 270 AD – September(?) 270 AD 270 AD (aged around 60)
Unclear; possibly suicide or murder
Unknown
Aurelian (non-dynastic)
CAESAR LVCIVS DOMITIVS AVRELIANVS AVGVSTVS
September 9, 214 AD/215 AD, Sirmium Proclaimed emperor by Danubian legions after Claudius II's death, in opposition to Quintillus September(?) 270 AD – September 275 AD September 275 AD (aged 60–61)
Assassinated by Praetorian Guard
5 years

Tacitus

Portrait Name Birth Succession Reign Death Time in office
EmpereurTacite Tacitus
CAESAR MARCVS CLAVDIVS TACITVS AVGVSTVS
c. 200, Interamna Nahars, Italia Elected by the Senate to replace Aurelian, after a short interregnum September 25, 275 AD – June 276 AD June 276 AD (aged 76)
Natural causes (possibly assassinated)
9 months
Florianus
CAESAR MARCVS ANNIVS FLORIANVS AVGVSTVS
? Brother of Tacitus, elected by the army in the west to replace him June 276 AD – September? 276 AD September? 276 AD (aged ?)
Assassinated by his own troops, in favour of Probus
3 months
Probus Musei Capitolini MC493 Probus (non-dynastic)
CAESAR MARCVS AVRELIVS PROBVS AVGVSTVS
232 AD, Sirmium Governor of the eastern provinces, proclaimed emperor by Danubian legions in opposition to Florian September? 276 AD – September/ October 282 AD September/ October 282 AD (aged 50)
Assassinated by his own troops, in favour of Carus
6 years

Caran dynasty

Portrait Name Birth Succession Reign Death Time in office
Antoninianus of Carus Carus
CAESAR MARCVS AVRELIVS CARVS AVGVSTVS
c. 230 AD, Narbo, Gallia Narbonensis Praetorian Prefect to Probus; seized power either before or after Probus was murdered; made his son Carinus co-emperor in early 283 AD September/ October 282 AD – late July/ early August 283 AD Late July/early August 283 AD
Natural causes? (Possibly killed by lightning)
10–11 months
NumerianusAntoninianus Numerian
CAESAR MARCVS AVRELIVS NVMERIVS NVMERIANVS AVGVSTVS
? Son of Carus, succeeded him jointly with his brother Carinus Late July/early August 283 AD – 284 AD? 284 AD
Unclear; possibly assassinated
1 year
Montemartini - Carino 1030439 Carinus
CAESAR MARCVS AVRELIVS CARINVS AVGVSTVS
? Son of Carus, ruled shortly with him and then with his brother Numerian Early 283 AD – 285 AD 285 AD
Died in battle against Diocletian?
2 years

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Brown, P, The World of Late Antiquity, London 1971, p. 22.
  2. ^ Potter, David Stone (2004). The Roman Empire at Bay, AD 180–395 Routledge history of the ancient world. Psychology Press. p. 85, 167. ISBN 978-0415100588.
  3. ^ Septimius Severus:Legionary Denarius
  4. ^ Kenneth W. Harl, Coinage in the Roman Economy, 300 B.C. to A.D. 700, Part 700, p.216
  5. ^ R.J. van der Spek, Lukas De Blois (2008), An Introduction to the Ancient World, page 272 Archived 2017-07-30 at the Wayback Machine, Routledge
  6. ^ Grant, Michael (1996). The Severans: the Changed Roman Empire. Psychology Press. p. 42.
  7. ^ Dunstan, William, E. (2011). Ancient Rome. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield. p. 405. ISBN 978-0-7425-6832-7.
  8. ^ Boatwright, Mary Taliaferro; Gargola, Daniel J; Talbert, Richard J. A. (2004). The Romans, from village to empire. Oxford University Press. p. 413. ISBN 978-0-19-511875-9.
  9. ^ Goldsworthy, Adrian (2009). How Rome Fell: death of a superpower. New Haven: Yale University Press. p. 70. ISBN 978-0-300-16426-8.
  10. ^ " Herodian says "in their opinion, Alexander showed no honourable intention to pursue the war and preferred a life of ease, when he should have marched out to punish the Germans for their previous insolence" (Herodian vi.7.10).
  11. ^ Southern, Pat The Roman Empire from Severus to Constantine, Routledge, 2001, p. 64
  12. ^ Southern, Pat The Roman Empire from Severus to Constantine, Routledge, 2001, p. 66
  13. ^ Joannes Zonaras, Compendium of History extract: Zonaras: Alexander Severus to Diocletian: 222–284 12:16
  14. ^ Southern, Pat The Roman Empire from Severus to Constantine, Routledge, 2001, p. 67
  15. ^ Meckler, Michael L., Maximinus Thrax (235–238 A.D.), De Imperatoribus Romanis (1997)
  16. ^ Southern, Pat (2011-02-17). "Third Century Crisis of the Roman Empire". BBC History, 17 February 2011. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/romans/thirdcenturycrisis_article_01.shtml.
  17. ^ Zosimus (1814) [translation originally printed]. The New History, Book 1. (scanned and published online by Roger Pearse). London: Green and Chaplin. pp. 16, 21, 31. Retrieved 2016-04-22.
  18. ^ The power of plagues by Irwin W. Sherman
  19. ^ Kolb, Frank (1987). Diocletian und die Erste Tetrarchie. Improvisation oder Experiment in der Organisation monarchischer Herrschaft?, Berlin: de Gruyter. ISBN 978-3-11-010934-4
  20. ^ , Ramsay. Constantine. New York: Dial Press, 1969. ISBN 0-7099-4685-6
  21. ^ Emma.Goodey (2016-03-17). "Succession". The Royal Family. Archived from the original on 2016-05-13. Retrieved 2018-10-19.
  22. ^ "Res Publica Restituta?  Republic and Princeps in the Early Roman Empire – Armstrong Undergraduate Journal of History". www.armstrong.edu. Retrieved 2018-10-19.
  23. ^ Freedman, Paul (Fall 2011). "The Crisis of the Third Century and the Diocletianic Reforms". Yale University. Archived from the original on 2017-12-08. Retrieved 2018-10-19.
  24. ^ Sabbatani, S.; Fiorino, S. (December 2009). "[The Antonine Plague and the decline of the Roman Empire]". Le Infezioni in Medicina: Rivista Periodica di Eziologia, Epidemiologia, Diagnostica, Clinica e Terapia Delle Patologie Infettive. 17 (4): 261–275. ISSN 1124-9390. PMID 20046111.
  25. ^ Harper, Kyle (2017-11-01). "Solving the Mystery of an Ancient Roman Plague". The Atlantic. Archived from the original on 2018-01-21. Retrieved 2018-10-20.
  26. ^ "Was the Roman Empire a victim of climate change? | Need to Know | PBS". www.pbs.org. Archived from the original on 2018-10-20. Retrieved 2018-10-20.
  27. ^ Nigel., Rodgers, (2006). Roman Empire. Dodge, Hazel. London: Lorenz Books. ISBN 978-0754816027. OCLC 62177842.
  28. ^ Josef Wiesehöfer: Das Reich der Sāsāniden, in Klaus Peter Johne, Udo Hartmann, Thomas Gerhardt, Die Zeit der Soldatenkaiser: Krise und Transformation des Römischen Reiches im 3. Jahrhundert n. Chr. (235–284) 2008, p. 531ff.
  29. ^ Erich Kettenhofen: Die Eroberung von Nisibis und Karrhai durch die Sāsāniden in der Zeit Kaiser Maximins, 235/236 AD. In: Iranica Antiqua 30 (1995), pp. 159–177
  30. ^ "This infographic shows how currency debasement contributed to the fall of Rome". Business Insider. Archived from the original on 2017-10-11. Retrieved 2017-10-20.
  31. ^ Flichy, Thomas. Financial crises and renewal of empires. Lulu.com. ISBN 9781291097337.
  32. ^ H. St. L. B. Moss, The Birth of the Middle Ages, p. 1.
  33. ^ Ruffing, Kai (2006). Wirtschaftliche Prosperität im 3. Jahrhundert: Die Städte Ägyptens als Paradigma, in Johne (Hrsg.), Deleto pane Imperio Romano. Franz Steiner Verlag. p. 223. ISBN 978-3515089418.
  34. ^ Hekster, Olivier (2008). Rome and its Empire, AD 193–284. Edinburgh University Press. p. 31. ISBN 978-0748629923.
  35. ^ Johne, Klaus-Peter; Hartmann, Udo; Gerhardt, Thomas (2008). Die Zeit der Soldatenkaiser: Krise und Transformation des Römischen Reiches im 3. Jahrhundert n. Chr. (235–284). Rome: Akademie Verlag. p. 1026. ISBN 978-3050045290.

Bibliography

  • Olivier Hekster, Rome and its Empire, AD 193–284 (Edinburgh 2008) ISBN 978 0 7486 2303 7
  • Klaus-Peter Johne (ed.), Die Zeit der Soldatenkaiser (Akademie Verlag, Berlin 2008).
  • Alaric Watson, Aurelian and the Third Century (Taylor & Francis, 2004) ISBN 0-415-30187-4
  • John F. White, Restorer of the World: The Roman Emperor Aurelian (Spellmount, 2004) ISBN 1-86227-250-6
  • H. St. L. B. Moss, The Birth of the Middle Ages (Clarendon Press, 1935, reprint Oxford University Press, January 2000) ISBN 0-19-500260-1
  • Ferdinand Lot, End of the Ancient World and the Beginnings of the Middle Ages (Harper Torchbooks Printing, New York, 1961. First English printing by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1931).

Further reading

Bagaudae

In the later Roman Empire, bagaudae (also spelled bacaudae) were groups of peasant insurgents who arose during the Crisis of the Third Century, and persisted until the very end of the western Empire, particularly in the less-Romanised areas of Gallia and Hispania, where they were "exposed to the depredations of the late Roman state, and the great landowners and clerics who were its servants".The invasions, military anarchy and disorders of the third century provided a chaotic and ongoing degradation of the regional power structure within a declining Empire into which the bagaudae achieved some temporary and scattered successes, under the leadership of members of the underclass as well as former members of local ruling elites.

Balbinus

Balbinus (Latin: Decimus Caelius Calvinus Balbinus Pius Augustus; c. 178 – 29 July 238), was Roman Emperor with Pupienus for three months in 238, the Year of the Six Emperors.

Battle of Fano

The Battle of Fano - also known as the Battle of Fanum Fortunae - was fought in 271 between the Roman Empire and the Juthungi. The Romans were led by Emperor Aurelian, and they were victorious.

Battle of Lake Benacus

The Battle of Lake Benacus was fought along the banks of Lake Garda in northern Italy, which was known to the Romans as Benacus, in 268 or early 269 AD, between the army under the command of the Roman Emperor Claudius II and the Germanic tribes of the Alamanni and Juthungi.

Battle of Naissus

The Battle of Naissus (268 or 269 AD) was the defeat of a Gothic coalition by the Roman Empire under Emperor Gallienus (or Claudius II) near Naissus (Niš in present-day Serbia). The events around the invasion and the battle are an important part of the history of the Crisis of the Third Century.

The result was a great Roman victory which, combined with the effective pursuit of the invaders in the aftermath of the battle and the energetic efforts of the Emperor Aurelian, largely removed the threat from Germanic tribes in the Balkan frontier for the following decades.

Florianus

Florianus (Latin: Marcus Annius Florianus Augustus; died 276), also known as Florian, was Roman Emperor in 276, from July to September. He was the maternal half-brother of Tacitus, who was proclaimed emperor in late 275, after the unexpected death of Emperor Aurelian. After Tacitus died in July 276, allegedly assassinated as a consequence of a military plot, Florianus proclaimed himself emperor, with the recognition of the Roman Senate and much of the empire. However, Florianus soon had to deal with the revolt of Probus, who rose up shortly after Florianus ascended the throne, with the backing of the provinces of Egypt, Syria, Palestine, and Phoenicia. Probus took advantage of the terrain of the Cilician Gates, and the hot climate of the area, which Florianus' army was unaccustomed to, to chip away at their morale. Because of this, in September 276, Florianus' army rose up against him and killed him.

Gallic Empire

The Gallic Empire (Latin: Imperium Galliarum) or the Gallic Roman Empire are names used in modern historiography for a breakaway part of the Roman Empire that functioned de facto as a separate state from 260 to 274. It originated during the Crisis of the Third Century, when a series of Roman military leaders and aristocrats declared themselves emperors and took control of Gaul and adjacent provinces without attempting to conquer Italy or otherwise seize the central Roman administrative apparatus.It was established by Postumus in 260 in the wake of barbarian invasions and instability in Rome, and at its height included the territories of Germania, Gaul, Britannia, and (for a time) Hispania. After Postumus' assassination in 268 it lost much of its territory, but continued under a number of emperors and usurpers. It was retaken by Roman emperor Aurelian after the Battle of Châlons in 274.

Gordian III

Gordian III (Latin: Marcus Antonius Gordianus Pius Augustus; 20 January 225 AD – 11 February 244 AD) was Roman Emperor from 238 AD to 244 AD. At the age of 13, he became the youngest sole legal Roman emperor throughout the existence of the united Roman Empire. Gordian was the son of Antonia Gordiana and an unnamed Roman Senator who died before 238. Antonia Gordiana was the daughter of Emperor Gordian I and younger sister of Emperor Gordian II. Very little is known of his early life before his acclamation. Gordian had assumed the name of his maternal grandfather in 238 AD.

Hostilian

Hostilian (Latin: Gaius Valens Hostilianus Messius Quintus Augustus, November 251) was Roman emperor from July to November 251. Hostilian was born to Decius and Herennia Etruscilla at an unknown date and elevated to Caesar in May 251 by Decius, the same month as his older brother, Herennius Etruscus, was raised to co-emperor. After Decius and Herennius Etruscus were killed at the Battle of Abritus, an ambush by the Goths, Trebonianus Gallus was proclaimed emperor by the legions. Almost immediately, he elevated Hostilian to co-emperor and his son, Volusianus, to Caesar. Hostilian died in November 251, either due to plague or being murdered by Trebonianus Gallus.

Maximinus Thrax

Maximinus Thrax (Latin: Gaius Julius Verus Maximinus Augustus; c. 173 – May 238), also known as Maximinus I, was Roman Emperor from 235 to 238.

A Thraco-Roman of low birth, Maximinus was the commander of the Legio IV Italica when Severus Alexander was assassinated by his own troops in 235. The Praetorian Guard then elected Maximinus emperor.

In the year 238 (which came to be known as the Year of the Six Emperors), a senatorial revolt broke out, leading to the successive proclamation of Gordian I, Gordian II, Pupienus, Balbinus and Gordian III as emperors in opposition to Maximinus. Maximinus advanced on Rome to put down the revolt, but was halted at Aquileia, where he was assassinated by disaffected elements of the Legio II Parthica.

Maximinus is described by several ancient sources, though none are contemporary except Herodian's Roman History. He was a so-called barracks emperor of the 3rd century; his rule is often considered to mark the beginning of the Crisis of the Third Century. Maximinus was the first emperor who hailed neither from the senatorial class nor from the equestrian class.

Pacatianus

Tiberius Claudius Marinus Pacatianus (died c. 248) was a usurper in the Danube area of the Roman Empire during the time of Philip the Arab.

He is known from coins, and from mentions in Zosimus and Zonaras, who say that he was an officer in one of the Danube legions. According to Zosimus, the revolts of Pacatianus in Moesia (he probably controlled Viminacium) and Iotapianus in Syria prompted Philip to make an offer to the Roman Senate to step down, but the senator Decius (who was sent by Philip to deal with the rebellion), correctly predicted that Pacatianus would soon be killed by his own men before his own arrival.

Palmyrene Empire

The Palmyrene Empire was a splinter state centered at Palmyra which broke away from the Roman Empire during the Crisis of the Third Century. It encompassed the Roman provinces of Syria Palaestina, Arabia Petraea, Egypt and large parts of Asia Minor.

Zenobia ruled the Palmyrene Empire as regent for her son Vaballathus, who had become King of Palmyra in 267. In 270 Zenobia managed to conquer most of the Roman east in a relatively short period, and tried to maintain relations with Rome. In 271 she claimed the imperial title for herself and for her son and fought a short war with the Roman emperor Aurelian, who conquered Palmyra and captured the self-proclaimed Empress. A year later the Palmyrenes rebelled, which led Aurelian to destroy Palmyra. The Palmyrene Empire is hailed in Syria and plays an important role as an icon in Syrian nationalism.

Plague of Cyprian

The Plague of Cyprian is the name given to a pandemic that afflicted the Roman Empire from about AD 249 to 262. The plague is thought to have caused widespread manpower shortages for food production and the Roman army, severely weakening the empire during the Crisis of the Third Century. Its modern name commemorates St. Cyprian, bishop of Carthage, an early Christian writer who witnessed and described the plague. The agent of the plague is highly speculative due to sparse sourcing, but suspects include smallpox, pandemic influenza and viral hemorrhagic fever (filoviruses) like the Ebola virus.

Quintillus

Quintillus (Latin: Marcus Aurelius Claudius Quintillus Augustus; Died April 270) was Roman Emperor for a few months in 270.

Sabinianus

Sabinianus was the leader of a revolt against Gordian III in Africa. He proclaimed himself Emperor, but after being defeated by the governor of Mauretania (240), his supporters in Carthage surrendered him to the imperial authorities.

Saloninus

Publius Licinius Cornelius Saloninus Valerianus (c. 242 – 260) was Roman Emperor in 260.

Severus Alexander

Severus Alexander (; Latin: Marcus Aurelius Severus Alexander Augustus; c.208 - 19 March 235) was Roman Emperor from 222 to 235 and the last emperor of the Severan dynasty. He succeeded his cousin Elagabalus upon the latter's assassination in 222. His own assassination marked the epoch event for the Crisis of the Third Century—nearly 50 years of civil wars, foreign invasion, and collapse of the monetary economy, though this last part is now disputed.

Alexander was the heir to his cousin, the 18-year-old Emperor who had been murdered along with his mother Julia Soaemias, by his own guards, who, as a mark of contempt, had their remains cast into the Tiber river. He and his cousin were both grandsons of the influential and powerful Julia Maesa, who had arranged for Elagabalus' acclamation as emperor by the famous Third Gallic Legion. It was the rumor of Alexander's death that triggered the assassination of Elagabalus and his mother. His 13-year reign was the longest reign of a sole emperor since Antoninus Pius. He was also the second-youngest ever sole legal Roman Emperor during the existence of the united empire, the youngest being Gordian III.

As emperor, Alexander's peacetime reign was prosperous. However, Rome was militarily confronted with the rising Sassanid Empire and growing incursions from the tribes of Germania. He managed to check the threat of the Sassanids. But when campaigning against Germanic tribes, Alexander attempted to bring peace by engaging in diplomacy and bribery. This alienated many in the Roman Army and led to a conspiracy to assassinate and replace him.

Siege of Philippopolis (250)

The Siege of Philippopolis was fought in about 250 between Rome and the Goths during the invasions of 249–253 at the Thracian city of Philippopolis, modern Plovdiv, Bulgaria. It was part of the long-running series of Gothic Wars.

The Goths were led by King Cniva who had crossed the Danube in 249 or 250 with two armies. His army attacked Novae and Nicopolis ad Istrum unsuccessfully before defeating the army of Emperor Decius at Augusta Traiana and moving on to Philippopolis.Decius had been on his way to relieve Philippopolis with a reinforced army, but arrived too late.

After a long siege, Cniva was victorious after the city was betrayed by a citizen. The king subsequently allied himself with the governor of Thrace, Titus Julius Priscus, to take on the Roman Emperor Decius again at Abritus.

Trebonianus Gallus

Trebonianus Gallus (Latin: Gaius Vibius Afinius Trebonianus Gallus Augustus; 206 – August 253), also known as Gallus, was Roman Emperor from June 251 to August 253, in a joint rule with his son Volusianus.

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