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Lecture 28

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University of Toronto St. George
Glenn Wilkinson

Lecture 28 (November 25) The Third Century Crisis, Diocletian, and the First Tetrarchy 1. An Empire in Crisis 2. Valerian, the royal footstool (253-260 A.D.); Gallienus (253-268 A.D.); Aurelian (270-275 A.D.) 3. Diocletian (284-305 A.D.) and the Tetrarchy Empire in Crisis - usually the leaders were able to stabilize the crises – major crisis of leadership - series of emperors unable to take care of things – mainly military leaders, “barracks emperors” – usually non-Romans or non-nobles, therefore disliked senators - in many instances senators were barred from leading - senate previously had been gutted of true power – veneer of power and validated the emperors, along with Praetorian Guard - barracks emperors – actively ignored senate and used violence and military control - average of two years per emperor – 22 emperors in 50 years (during 3 rd century A.D.) - foreign invasion – Germanic tribes along Danube and Rhine region – began to enter Rome in large numbers - province of Dacia as the weak point on the empire’s borders - many of the tribes were able to integrate well – example of Illyricum, held up as ideal “new Roman”, Germanic barbarians but strong and brave soldiers - other “invaders” were true invaders – Maximinus Thrax attempted invasions to secure northern borders but prevented by a series of revolutions and killed during one such campaign - invasions by Goths – invasion of Thrace – one of the emperors went to quell, and was killed – first time an emperor was slain by a foreign foe - the Goths returned along with other tribe - dynasty in Persia was weakened – therefore Sasinians were able to take over – within Persian establishment was able to fix problems and presented a serious threat to Rome - one emperor began to sue for peace – Philip the Arab – Secular Games held every 110 years – held on the 1000 anniversary of Rome - this emperor was later killed and deposed - other crises – 20 year plague during mid-3 century A.D. (262 A.D. over 5000 people died every day in Rome, and in Alexandria over 2/3 of the population was killed) - population declined – leaders in local control and often attempted to seize the throne themselves - serious economic crisis – debasement of Roman coin, inflation by decreasing the amount of silver (2% precious metals per coin) - series of persecutions – different than the traditional Romans - persecutions of the Christians - pattern of barracks emperors – distracted by revolutions, etc. they were incapable of holding power and therefore causing change – too busy attempting to stay emperor to be able to act like an emperor - emeprors – Maximinus, then Philip, then Decius Valerian - barracks emperor - member of the senate - genuine power and genuine authority - famous for his persecutions against Christians - recongized that military affairs too great for one man – son Gallienus to be in the West, while he took care of the East – was later his undoing - taken captive by Shapur – “royal footstool” - son Gallienus – never went to rescue his father – problems in the West - took over the most important regions if the empire – shrank the empire – claimed areas for himself and continued to rule - other areas were given to Septimius Odeneathus – Roman protector – unclear whether he was a client or outside - control by Senobie – Palmyrene Empire - the mini-empire – Gallic Empire by Postumus - son Galliamus – to shore up his own holdings – introduced military reforms – quick mobile bases along border (as major forts) with cavalry units and other mobile forces - despite military reforms – wasn’t much of a soldier - next emperor – military man Aurelian – set about conquering and reuniting Roman Empire – abandoned Danubian province of Dacia – weak spot in northern border - closed down main mints – enforced certain silver content in coins – reduce inflation – removed senate mint - this
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