02. The Crisis of the Third Century and the Diocletianic Reforms

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The Early Middle Ages, 284–1000 (HIST 210)

Professor Freedman outlines the problems facing the Roman Empire in the third century. The Persian Sassanid dynasty in the East and various Germanic tribes in the West threatened the Empire as never before. Internally, the Empire struggled with the problem of succession, an economy wracked by inflation, and the decline of the local elite which had once held it together. Having considered these issues, Professor Freedman then moves on to the reforms enacted under Diocletian to stabilize the Empire. He attempted to solve the problem of succession by setting up a system of joint rule called the Tetrarchy, to stabilize the economy through tax reform, and to protect the frontiers through militarization. Although many of his policies failed–some within his lifetime–Diocletian nevertheless saved the Roman Empire from collapse.

00:00 – Chapter 1. Introduction and Logistics
01:35 – Chapter 2. Third Century Crisis and Barbarian Invasions
10:10 – Chapter 3. The Problem of Succession
17:36 – Chapter 4. The Problem of Inflation
22:48 – Chapter 5. The Ruin of The Local Elite
26:08 – Chapter 6. Diocletian and his Reforms

Complete course materials are available at the Yale Online website: online.yale.edu

This course was recorded in Fall 2011.