Bust of Gordian III, between 242 and 244
|Emperor of the Roman Empire|
|Reign||22 April – 29 July 238 |
(as Caesar to Pupienus
29 July 238 – 11 February 244 (sole, nominally, though government done by senate)
|Predecessor||Pupienus and Balbinus|
|Successor||Philip the Arab|
|Born||20 January 225|
|Died||11 February 244 19) (aged|
|Father||Unnamed Roman Senator|
Gordian III (Latin : Marcus Antonius Gordianus Pius Augustus; 20 January 225 AD – 11 February 244 AD) was Roman Emperor from 238 AD to 244 AD. At the age of 13, he became the youngest sole legal Roman emperor throughout the existence of the united Roman Empire. Gordian was the son of Antonia Gordiana and an unnamed Roman Senator who died before 238. Antonia Gordiana was the daughter of Emperor Gordian I and younger sister of Emperor Gordian II. Very little is known of his early life before his acclamation. Gordian had assumed the name of his maternal grandfather in 238 AD.
The Roman Empire was the post-Roman Republic period of the ancient Roman civilization. Ruled by emperors, it had large territorial holdings around the Mediterranean Sea in Europe, North Africa, and West Asia. From the constitutional reforms of Augustus to the military anarchy of the third century, the Empire was a principate ruled from the city of Rome. The Roman Empire was then divided between a Western Roman Empire, based in Milan and later Ravenna, and an Eastern Roman Empire, based in Nicomedia and later Constantinople, and it was ruled by multiple emperors.
Antonia Gordiana was a prominent, wealthy and noble Roman woman who lived in the troubled and unstable 3rd century. She was the daughter of Roman Emperor Gordian I; sister to Roman Emperor Gordian II and mother to Roman Emperor Gordian III. Gordiana’s mother may be the granddaughter of Greek Sophist, consul and tutor Herodes Atticus.
Gordian I was Roman Emperor for 21 days with his son Gordian II in 238, the Year of the Six Emperors. Caught up in a rebellion against the Emperor Maximinus Thrax, he was defeated by forces loyal to Maximinus, and he committed suicide after the death of his son.
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In 235, following the murder of Emperor Alexander Severus in Moguntiacum (modern Mainz), the capital of the Roman province Germania Superior, Maximinus Thrax was acclaimed Emperor. In the following years, there was a growing opposition against Maximinus in the Roman senate and amongst the majority of the population of Rome. In 238 a rebellion broke out in the Africa Province, where Gordian's grandfather and uncle, Gordian I and II, were proclaimed joint emperors. This revolt was suppressed within a month by Cappellianus, governor of Numidia and a loyal supporter of Maximinus Thrax. The elder Gordians died, but public opinion cherished their memory as peace-loving and literate men, victims of Maximinus' oppression.
Mainz is the capital and largest city of Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. The city is located on the Rhine river at its confluence with the Main river, opposite Wiesbaden on the border with Hesse. Mainz is an independent city with a population of 206,628 (2015) and forms part of the Frankfurt Rhine-Main Metropolitan Region.
The Roman provinces were the lands and people outside of Rome itself that were controlled by the Republic and later the Empire. Each province was ruled by a Roman who was appointed as governor. Although different in many ways, they were similar to the states in Australia or the United States, the regions in the United kingdom or New Zealand, or the prefectures in Japan. Canada refers to some of its territory as provinces.
Germania Superior was an imperial province of the Roman Empire. It comprised an area of today's western Switzerland, the French Jura and Alsace regions, and southwestern Germany. Important cities were Besançon (Vesontio), Strasbourg (Argentoratum), Wiesbaden, and Germania Superior's capital, Mainz (Mogontiacum). It comprised the Middle Rhine, bordering on the Limes Germanicus, and on the Alpine province of Raetia to the south-east. Although it had been occupied militarily since the reign of Augustus, Germania Superior was not made into an official province until c. 85 AD.
Meanwhile, Maximinus was on the verge of marching on Rome and the Senate elected Pupienus and Balbinus as joint emperors. These senators were not popular men and the population of Rome was still shocked by the elder Gordians' fate, so the Senate decided to take the teenage Gordian, rename him Marcus Antonius Gordianus like his grandfather, and raise him to the rank of Caesar and imperial heir. Pupienus and Balbinus defeated Maximinus, mainly due to the defection of several legions, particularly the II Parthica, who assassinated Maximinus. However, their joint reign was doomed from the start with popular riots, military discontent and an enormous fire that consumed Rome in June 238. On July 29, Pupienus and Balbinus were killed by the Praetorian Guard and Gordian proclaimed sole emperor.
Pupienus, also known as Pupienus Maximus, was Roman Emperor with Balbinus for three months in 238, during the Year of the Six Emperors. The sources for this period are scant, and thus knowledge of the emperor is limited. In most contemporary texts Pupienus is referred to by his cognomen "Maximus" rather than by his second nomen Pupienus.
Balbinus, was Roman Emperor with Pupienus for three months in 238, the Year of the Six Emperors.
Caesar is a title of imperial character. It derives from the cognomen of Julius Caesar, the Roman dictator. The change from being a familial name to a title adopted by the Roman Emperors can be dated to about AD 68/69, the so-called "Year of the Four Emperors".
Due to Gordian's age, the imperial government was surrendered to the aristocratic families, who controlled the affairs of Rome through the Senate. In 240, Sabinianus revolted in the African province, but the situation was quickly brought under control. In 241, Gordian was married to Furia Sabinia Tranquillina, daughter of the newly appointed praetorian prefect, Timesitheus. As chief of the Praetorian Guard and father in law of the Emperor, Timesitheus quickly became the de facto ruler of the Roman Empire.
Sabinianus was the leader of a revolt against Gordian III in Africa. He proclaimed himself Emperor, but after being defeated by the governor of Mauretania (240), his supporters in Carthage surrendered him to the imperial authorities.
Furia Sabinia Tranquillina was the Empress of Rome and wife of Emperor Gordian III. She was the young daughter of the Praetorian Prefect Timesitheus by an unknown wife.
Gaius Furius Sabinius Aquila Timesitheus was an officer of the Roman Imperial government in the first half of Third Century. Most likely of Oriental-Greek origins, he was a Roman citizen, probably of equestrian rank.
In the 3rd century, the Roman frontiers weakened against the Germanic tribes across the Rhine and Danube, and the Sassanid Empire across the Euphrates increased its own attacks. When the Persians under Shapur I invaded Mesopotamia, the young emperor opened the doors of the Temple of Janus for the last time in Roman history, and sent a large army to the East. The Sassanids were driven back over the Euphrates and defeated in the Battle of Resaena (243).The campaign was a success and Gordian, who had joined the army, was planning an invasion of the enemy's territory, when his father-in-law died in unclear circumstances. Without Timesitheus, the campaign, and the Emperor's security, were at risk.
The Rhine is one of the major European rivers, which has its sources in Switzerland and flows in an mostly northerly direction through Germany and The Netherlands to the North Sea. The river begins in the Swiss canton of Graubünden in the southeastern Swiss Alps, forms part of the Swiss-Liechtenstein, Swiss-Austrian, Swiss-German and then the Franco-German border, then flows through the German Rhineland and the Netherlands and eventually empties into the North Sea.
The Danube is Europe's second longest river, after the Volga. It is located in Central and Eastern Europe.
The Euphrates is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia. Originating in eastern Turkey, the Euphrates flows through Syria and Iraq to join the Tigris in the Shatt al-Arab, which empties into the Persian Gulf.
|Part of a series on Roman imperial dynasties|
|Year of the Six Emperors|
Gaius Julius Priscus and, later on, his own brother Marcus Julius Philippus, also known as Philip the Arab, stepped in at this moment as the new Praetorian Prefectsand the campaign proceeded. Around February 244, the Persians fought back fiercely to halt the Roman advance to Ctesiphon. Persian sources claim that a battle occurred (Battle of Misiche) near modern Fallujah (Iraq) and resulted in a major Roman defeat and the death of Gordian III. Roman sources do not mention this battle and suggest that Gordian died far away from Misiche, at Zaitha (Qalat es Salihiyah) in northern Mesopotamia. Modern scholarship does not unanimously accept this course of the events. One view holds that Gordian died at Zaitha, murdered by his frustrated army, while the role of Philip is unknown. Other scholars, such as Kettenhofen, Hartman and Winter have concluded that Gordian died in battle against the Sassanids.
Gaius Julius Priscus was a Roman soldier and member of the Praetorian Guard in the reign of Gordian III.
Marcus Julius Philippus, also known commonly by his nickname Philip the Arab, was Roman Emperor from February 244 to September 249. He was born in Arabia Petraea, the Roman province of Arabia, in a city situated in modern-day Syria. He went on to become a major figure in the Roman Empire. After the death of Gordian III in February 244, Philip, who had been Praetorian prefect, achieved power. He quickly negotiated peace with the Persian Sassanid Empire. During his reign, the city of Rome celebrated its millennium.
The Battle of Misiche, Mesiche (Μεσιχη), or Massice was fought between the Sasanians and the Romans in Misiche, Mesopotamia.
Philip transferred the body of the deceased emperor to Rome and arranged for his deification.Gordian's youth and good nature, along with the deaths of his grandfather and uncle and his own tragic fate at the hands of the enemy, earned him the lasting esteem of the Romans.
∞ (?) Fabia Orestilla
| Pupienus |
Junius Licinius Balbus
| Gaius Furius Sabinius Aquila Timesitheus |
Philip the Arab
| Balbinus |
|Furia Sabinia Tranquillina|| Philip II |
The 230s decade ran from January 1, 230, to December 31, 239.
The 240s decade ran from January 1, 240, to December 31, 249.
Year 244 (CCXLIV) was a leap year starting on Monday of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Armenius and Aemilianus. The denomination 244 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.
Year 238 (CCXXXVIII) was a common year starting on Monday of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Pius and Pontianus. The denomination 238 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.
Gordian II was Roman Emperor for 21 days with his father Gordian I in 238, the Year of the Six Emperors. Seeking to overthrow Emperor Maximinus Thrax, he died in battle outside Carthage. Since he died before his father, Gordian II had the shortest reign of any Roman Emperor in the whole of the Empire's history, at 21 days.
Legio secunda Parthica was a legion of the Imperial Roman army founded in AD 197 by the emperor Septimius Severus, for his campaign against the Parthian Empire, hence the cognomenParthica. The legion was still active in the beginning of the 5th century. The legion's symbol were a bull and centaur.
Thysdrus was a Carthaginian town and Roman colony near present-day El Djem, Tunisia. Under the Romans, it was the center of olive oil production in the provinces of Africa and Byzacena and was quite prosperous. The surviving amphitheater is a World Heritage Site.
The Battle of Resaena or Resaina, near present-day Ceylanpınar, Turkey, was fought in 243 AD between the forces of the Roman Empire, led by the Emperor Gordian III and the Praetorian Prefect Timesitheus against the Sassanid Empire's forces during the reign of Shapur I. The Romans were victorious.
The Year of the Six Emperors was the year AD 238, during which six people were recognised as emperors of Rome.
Lucius Valerius Claudius Acilius Priscillianus [Maximus] was a Roman senator who was appointed consul twice, once in AD 233, and again in AD 256.
Maximinus Thrax, also known as Maximinus I, was Roman Emperor from 235 to 238.
Manius Acilius Aviola was a Roman senator who served as Consul ordinarius in 239 as the colleague of Emperor Gordian III. He is considered a son of the Manius Acilius Aviola who is mentioned present as a child at the meetings of the Arval Brethren for the years 183 and 186; as well as the descendant of the homonymous consul of AD 122.
The Gordian dynasty, sometimes known as the Gordianic dynasty, was short-lived, ruling the Roman Empire from 238–244 AD. The dynasty achieved the throne in 238 AD, after Gordian I and his son Gordian II rose up against Emperor Maximinus Thrax and were proclaimed co-emperors by the Roman Senate. Gordian II was killed by the governor of Numidia, Capillianus and Gordian I killed himself shortly after, either 21 or 36 days after he was declared emperor. On 22 April 238, Pupienus and Balbinus, who were not of the Gordian dynasty, were declared co-emperors but the Senate was forced to make Gordian III a third co-emperor on 27 May 238, due to the demands of the Roman people. Maximinus attempted to invade Italy but he was killed by his own soldiers when his army became frustrated. After this, the Praetorian Guard killed Pupienus and Balbinus, leaving Gordian III as the sole emperor. Gordian III ruled until 244 AD when he was either killed after his betrayal by Philip the Arab, killed by Philip the Arab or killed at the Battle of Misiche; with his death, the dynasty was ended and Philip the Arab became emperor.
Katrin Herrmann: Gordian III. - Kaiser einer Umbruchszeit. Speyer 2013. ISBN 978-3-939526-20-9
Potter, David.S., The Roman Empire At Bay AD 180-392, Routledge, 2004, ISBN 0-203-67387-5
Pupienus and Balbinus
| Roman Emperor |
Philip the Arab
Fulvius Pius, and
Pontius Proculus Pontianus
| Consul of the Roman Empire |
with Manius Acilius Aviola
Gaius Octavius Appius Suetrius Sabinus,
and Lucius Ragonius Venustus
Gaius Octavius Appius Suetrius Sabinus,
and Lucius Ragonius Venustus
| Consul of the Roman Empire |
with Clodius Pompeianus
Gaius Vettius Gratus Atticus Sabinianus,
and Gaius Asinius Lepidus Praetextatus