The Crisis of the Third Century Explained


Kelly Macquire
by and
published on 22 May 2023

The Crisis of the Third Century (also known as the Imperial Crisis, 235-284 CE) was the period in the history of the Roman Empire during which it splintered into three separate political entities: the Gallic Empire, the Roman Empire, and the Palmyrene Empire. These breakaway empires, as well as the social turmoil and chaos which characterized the period, resulted from a number of factors: a shift in the paradigm of leadership following the assassination of the emperor Alexander Severus (222-235 CE) in 235 CE by his own troops, increased participation by the military in politics, lack of adherence to a clear policy of succession for emperors, inflation and economic depression caused by a devaluation of currency under the Severan Dynasty, increased pressure on the emperor to defend the provinces from invading tribes, the plague which heightened fears and destabilized communities, and larger armies which required more men and decreased the agricultural labor force.



0:00​ Introduction
1:02 The Beginning of the Crisis
3:39 Who and What are the Barracks Emperors?
6:25 The Gallic and Palmyrene Empires
10:46 The Restoration of Rome
12:37 Outro

The Crisis of the Third Century
The Barracks Emperors
Enemies of Rome in the 3rd Century
Roman Empire

Ancient Rome Playlist
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The music used in this recording is the intellectual copyright of Michael Levy, a prolific composer for the recreated lyres of antiquity, and used with the creator's permission. Michael Levy's music is available to stream at all the major digital music platforms. Find out more on:

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#history #ancientrome #romanhistory

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About the Author

Kelly Macquire
Kelly is a graduate from Monash University who has completed her BA (Honours) in Ancient History and Archaeology, focussing on iconography and status in Pylos burials. She has a passion for mythology and the Aegean Bronze Age.

Cite This Work

APA Style

Macquire, K. (2023, May 22). The Crisis of the Third Century Explained. World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from

Chicago Style

Macquire, Kelly. "The Crisis of the Third Century Explained." World History Encyclopedia. Last modified May 22, 2023.

MLA Style

Macquire, Kelly. "The Crisis of the Third Century Explained." World History Encyclopedia. World History Encyclopedia, 22 May 2023. Web. 26 May 2024.