Gordianus III

Gordianus III

August 238 – February 244
PredecessorPupienus and Balbinus
SuccessorPhilipus I “the Arab”
Born20 January 225, Rome, Italy
DiedFebruary 244 (aged 19), Zaitha


FatherJunius Balbus
MotherAntonia Gordiana

His Story

Gordian III was a Roman emperor who ruled from 238 to 244 C.E. He was born on January 20, 225 C.E. in Rome, as Marcus Antonius Gordianus. He was the grandson of Gordian I and the nephew of Gordian II, who were both proclaimed emperors in Africa in 238 C.E. but were soon killed by a rival governor.

After their deaths, the Roman Senate appointed two elderly senators, Pupienus and Balbinus, as joint emperors, but they faced opposition from the people and the Praetorian Guard in Rome, who wanted Gordian III as their ruler. The young Gordian was made caesar and heir to the throne, but soon after, Pupienus and Balbinus were murdered by the Praetorian Guard, and Gordian became the sole emperor at the age of 13.

Gordian III was the youngest sole emperor in Roman history, and he relied on his advisors to govern the empire. His mother, Antonia Gordiana, and his father-in-law, Timesitheus, who was the praetorian prefect, were his main supporters. They helped him deal with various challenges, such as the revolt of Sabinianus in Mauretania, the invasion of the Carpi in Dacia, and the threat of Maximinus Thrax, who was still alive and claimed to be the legitimate emperor.

In 242 C.E., Gordian III launched a campaign against the Sassanid Empire, which had invaded Roman territory in the east. He won some victories against the Persian king Shapur I, but he also faced difficulties due to harsh weather and supply shortages. In 243 C.E., Timesitheus died of an illness and was replaced by Philip the Arab, who was another praetorian prefect. Philip was ambitious and untrustworthy, and he conspired against Gordian III.

In early 244 C.E., Gordian III died under mysterious circumstances near Zaitha, a town in Mesopotamia. Some sources claim that he was killed by Philip or his agents, while others suggest that he died of natural causes or a wound received in battle. Philip declared himself emperor and made a peace treaty with Shapur I, which involved paying a large tribute and ceding some territory to Persia.

Gordian III’s death was not well received by the Roman Senate and the army in the east, who considered him a martyr and a victim of Philip’s treachery. They proclaimed two other generals, Pacatianus and Iotapianus, as rival emperors, but they were both defeated by Philip’s forces. Later, in 249 C.E., another general, Decius, rebelled against Philip and defeated him in battle. Decius became the new emperor and restored Gordian III’s memory and honors.

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