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Third Century Chaos Diocletian and the New Empire
“The murder of Severus Alexander in A.D. 235 ushered in fifty years of unprecedented crisis . . . The frontiers were under repeated attack. The office of emperor became a political football tossed back and forth.” W-H-Y, 384
Third Century Chaos
A.D. 235–284: 50 years, 18 emperors! Maximinus Thrax [A.D. 235-238]
Derided as a common peasant, actually a strong soldiers’ emperor Doubled soldiers’ pay, extracted ever higher taxes
Gordian I and Gordian II [A.D. 238]
Maximinus’ demands caused a revolt among African landlords, proconsul of Africa and his son declared emperors Never came to, or ruled from, Rome Governor of Numidia put them down
Pupienus and Balbinus [A.D. 238]
Senate appoints co-emperors Italy rallies, Maximinus killed by his own troops when he invades Italy Praetorians assassinate Pupienus and Balbinus
Gordian III [A.D. 238–244]
The praetorian prefect, Philip the Arab, eventually kills Gordian and becomes emperor himself [A.D. 244–249],
12/10/2007 36. Third Century Chaos; Diocletian & the New Empire (updated) 2
Third Century Chaos; Diocletian & the New Empire (updated)
Diocletian & the New Empire (updated) 4 –36.D. Diocletian & the New Empire (updated) 3 Valerianus. he drove the invading Goths back across the Danube His troops proclaimed him emperor After defeating Philip the Arab. rock relief. . the Sassanids Valerian himself is captured! Persians overrun Syria and Asia Minor Expelled only by the quick action of a Roman general and the surprise attack of Odenathus. Third Century Chaos. 249–251] Philip had sent him to put down a revolt of the Danube legions After successfully restoring order. AD 260. he spent most of his reign again fighting the Goths Finally killed in a disastrous battle near the Black Sea Most infamous for launching the first systematic persecution of Christians in the empire . in the province of Fars. Persians Plague ravishes troops and civilians alike The surrender of the emperor Valerian to the Persian king Shapur.D. Decius’ censor. 253-260] Valerian. The Persian triumph The old Parthian Empire was replaced by a native Persian dynasty. [A. but in vain All borders attacked: Franks. . 12/10/2007 36. Goths. the only responsible official left Also the last of the Republican nobility Senate liked Disciplined the army. a desert sheik from Palmyra 12/10/2007 36. Diocletian & the New Empire (updated) –2 .–12/10/2007 Decius [A. Third Century Chaos. Iran. Third Century Chaos.
Third Century Chaos. restores order on the northern frontiers Drove the Alemanni and the Franks out of Gaul and the Rhineland Marcomanni broke through Danube frontier and pushed into Italy Time spent by Gallienus repelling the Marcomanni led the Rhine legions to rebel. Local areas feel neglected and unprotected Choose their own Augusti The emperor needed on the border but he cannot be on all of them! Augustus title Had been used since M. Diocletian & the New Empire (updated) 5 “Thirty Tyrants” Well. . Third Century Chaos.D.–12/10/2007 The Aftermath to Valerian Valerian’s son. Aurelius to guarantee successor Needed to command? Postumus’ “Gallic Empire” Zenobia. the Augustus Gallienus [A. 253–268]. including Egypt and much of Asia Minor 12/10/2007 36. overruns the East. Diocletian & the New Empire (updated) 6 –36. . new emphasis on cavalry Forward bases more important than Rome Extremities left to local dynasties so that central empire could be preserved Odenathus virtually independent in East 12/10/2007 36. at least nine . Diocletian & the New Empire (updated) –3 . widow of Palmyra’s Odenathus. proclaiming Postumus as emperor to face the Franks Reforms – and desperate actions – of Gallienus All legions commanded by equestrians Helped reduce possibility of senatorial usurpers Military made more mobile. Third Century Chaos.
skillful general Nicknamed “hand on steel” (Manus ad Ferrum) Retired from Dacia.–12/10/2007 A Divided Empire Aurelian. Third Century Chaos. Third Century Chaos. Diocletian & the New Empire (updated) 8 –36.D. Diocletian & the New Empire (updated) –4 . [A. stabilized Danube frontier against Goths Built wall around Rome Even central Italy no longer safe! Defeated Postumus and his successors Defeated Zenobia. 270–275] Tough. Palmyra’s queen Autocracy and Monotheism Solar theology focused on Sol Invictus “Sunday” a feriae Murdered 12/10/2007 36.
275–276] [Floridanus. 284–305) 12/10/2007 36.D. 293 Diocletian devised a new way for commanding the army (and running the empire): the Tetrarchy Purposes Strengthen imperial control of the army Forestall would-be emperors and usurpers Provide for orderly succession Fourfold Division Two Augusti. Diocletian & the New Empire (updated) 10 –36. 283–284] Murdered. 283–285] [Numerianus. Third Century Chaos. Diocletian selects Galerius and Maximian choses Constantius Each Caesar adopted as heir and marries an Augustus’ daughter Moving court Forward capitals as bases: Constantius (Trier/London). like many others. Diocletian (Nicomedia) 12/10/2007 36. A. 276–282] [Carus. by his praetorian prefect (also his father-in-law) But the troops instead turned to a Danubian officer named Diocles He became emperor as C. Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus (Diocletian. Third Century Chaos. A. Diocletian & the New Empire (updated) 9 Diocletian and the Tetrarchy.D. Maximian (Milan).–12/10/2007 “Ephemeral” Emperors [Tacitus. Third Century Chaos. 282–283] [Carinus. Diocletian (Iovius) and Maximian (Herculius) Two Caesares. Diocletian & the New Empire (updated) –5 . 276] [Probus. Galerius (Sofia).
Diocletian & the New Empire (updated) –6 . Third Century Chaos. each under a praeses Senate looses all authority except in Rome Republican magistrates diminished Consuls become titles without power. Third Century Chaos. Diocletian & the New Empire (updated) 12 –36. Third Century Chaos.–12/10/2007 Administrative Innovations Four Prefectures Emperor (Augustus or Caesar) for military Praetorian prefect for judicial and administrative duties Twelve Dioceses (3 per prefecture) Each under a vicarius Numerous small provinces. just give names to the year Praefectus Urbi now presides over Senate as emperor’s representative 1 praetor and 1 quaestor remain to give games (tribunes and aediles disappeared at the time of Severus Alexander) 12/10/2007 36. Diocletian & the New Empire (updated) 11 The Empire Under Diocletian 12/10/2007 36.
000 However. Third Century Chaos. Diocletian & the New Empire (updated) –7 . Diocletian & the New Empire (updated) 14 –36. these were spread out. frontier garrisons Stationed in strongly constructed forts and guard posts both on frontiers and along roads and supply routes Commanded by a dux (duke) or comes (count) Comitatenses palatini or “Palatine Companions” Highly mobile yet heavily armored field armies Always commanded by an emperor Even more money needed to support the military Earlier emperors had repeatedly increased their pay! 12/10/2007 36. cities decline Diocletian’s Edict on Prices Government sets wages and prices. death penalty in most cases of noncompliance On the way to Medieval manorialism Taxes paid in kind Coloni (free tenants) tied to land. become effectively serfs Occupations made hereditary 12/10/2007 36. Third Century Chaos.000 troops for a total of about 500. Third Century Chaos. Diocletian & the New Empire (updated) 13 Economic and Social Reforms Problems Declining tax base Horrible inflation Peasants flee estates Municipal aristocracy avoid offices (and their liturgies).–12/10/2007 Military Reforms Increased the size of the Roman military Added some 100. often in small detachments Limitanei.
forced to surrender holy books and implements A. 301 persecution of the Christians Probably at Galerius Caesar’s instigation Aimed particularly at Christians in the imperial bureaucracy and army Clergy targeted. . Diocletian & the New Empire (updated) 15 –36. Dalmatia Forces Maximian to abdicate as well Tetrarchy succession plan goes into effect .D.D. Third Century Chaos. Diocletian & the New Empire (updated) –8 .–12/10/2007 Diocletian’s later years Diocletian does not trust Maximian’s son. Diocletian visits Rome for the first time to celebrate his Vicennalia (20 year anniversary of rule) Retires in A. 303. . Third Century Chaos. 12/10/2007 36. Maxentius No one’s sons get advanced Diocletian’s A. 305 to a specially prepared palace in Split.D.
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