Crisis of the Third Century


The Crisis of the Third Century, spanning roughly from 235 to 284 AD, marked one of the most tumultuous and perilous periods in the history of the Roman Empire. It was characterized by a series of complex and interrelated challenges that pushed the empire to the brink of collapse.

The crisis began with the assassination of Emperor Alexander Severus in 235 AD, leading to a chaotic succession of short-lived and often incompetent rulers. External threats, such as invasions by barbarian tribes and Persian forces, further destabilized the empire’s borders.

Economic woes, rampant inflation, and currency devaluation eroded the empire’s financial stability. Plague and food shortages contributed to a declining population.

To maintain control, the government centralized power and expanded the military. The result was an era of frequent usurpations, civil wars, and regional fragmentation. Diocletian’s ascension to power in 284 AD marked the end of this crisis, as he implemented sweeping reforms, including the division of the empire into the Eastern and Western Roman Empires, setting the stage for the Byzantine Empire’s emergence in the East.

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