|AD 1 TO AD 500|
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Visit the dedicated 2nd century history page.
3rd Century Roman History
Dioceses established during the 3rd Century: Manfredonia, Nocera de′ Pagani, Sora.
201 245th Olympiad
203 Eruption of Vesuvius.
205 246th Olympiad
206 Bulla Felix, a renowned bandit leader, roams throughout Italy with a band of over 600 men.
207 Bulla Felix is captured and executed by being thrown to wild beasts in the arena.
208 Wars begin the Britain against the barbarian Picts.
209 247th Olympiad Geta is raised to the rank of co-Augustus.
211 (Feb 4) Septimius Severus dies in York at age 64. Caracalla and Geta succeed him as co-emperors. Geta dies in late December.
212 Emperor Caracalla issues the Constitutio Antoniniana extending full Roman citizenship to nearly all free inhabitants of the Empire.
213 248th Olympiad
214 Aurelian, future Roman Emperor, is born.
217 249th Olympiad (Apr 8) Caracalla is assassinated in Cappadocia. Marcinus, a native of Mauritania, becomes emperor. He was of Moorish ancestry. (Dec 20) Pope Zephyrinus dies. St. Callixtus (Callistus) I succeeds him as Pope. He is opposed by the theologian St. Hippolytus who is often considered to be the first Antipope
218 (June 18) Macrinus is overthrown and executed in Cappadocia. Elagabalus (born Varius Avitus Bassus) becomes Emperor. His mother, Julia Soaemias, a cousin of the late Caracalla, claimed that Elagabalus was the illegitimate son of that emperor, although his father was probably Sextus Varius Marcellus, a Roman knight. Elagabalus was one of Rome’s most controversial emperors. Ascending the throne at the age of 14, he immediately set about establishing a dominant cult of his favorite god, the sun deity called Sol Invictus (the Undefeated Sun). This was a slightly Romanized version of the Semitic god El-Gabal, who was, in turn, a version of the god El. Elagabalus is remembered by history as a decadent profligate, caring only about establishing his god as the dominant deity of Rome and his own personal pleasures. How much of this is true and how much is exaggeration by his enemies remains uncertain. Silver content of the Roman denarius falls to 43%.
219 (Sept 29) Elagabalus arrives in Rome.
220 Goths raid into Anatolia and the Balkans.
221 250th Olympiad (June 26) Elagabalus adopts his cousin Alexander Severus, raising him to the rank of Caesar.
222 (Mar 11) Elagabalus is assassinated. Having issued orders for the execution of Alexander Severus, Elagabalus is attacked by members of the Praetorian Guard. His body was dragged through the streets and sewers of Rome before being thrown into the Tiber. The Senate, glad to be rid of so hated and controversial a ruler, issues a decree of damnatio memoriae in an attempt to erase Elagabalus from history. Alexander Severus, then 14 years old, is hailed as Emperor. Alexander proves to be the polar opposite of Elagabalus, and his virtues as a ruler and person were hailed by contemporaries and later historians alike. Silver content in the Roman denarius falls to 35 % St. Callixtus I dies. Listed as a martyr, a legend claims that he was thrown down a well. There is some evidence, however, that he was killed during a street battle in Rome between armed groups of Christians and pagans. He is succeeded as pope by St. Urban I. A period of volcanic activity begins on Mt. Vesuvius which lasts until 235.
225 251st Olympiad
229 252nd Olympiad
230 (July 21) St. Pontianus becomes Pope.
233 253rd Olympiad
234 (Nov 21) St. Anterus becomes Pope after St. Pontianus is exiled to Sardinia. (alt date: 236). (c) The philosopher Ammonius of Alexandria establishes Neo-Platonism.
235 (Mar 18/19) Alexander Severus is assassinated in Germany by soldiers loyal to the usurper Maximianus I Thrax. The 62 year old Maximianus seizes the throne for himself. Born in Thrace, he is the first barbarian emperor being of Gothic and Alanic ancestry. He is also the first of the militaristic “barracks emperors.” Standing over 6 feet 8 inches in height and powerfully built, he was a dedicated to the army and despised the nobility and educated classes.
236 (Jan 3) St Anterus dies. He is succeeded as pope on January 10 by St. Fabian. (alt. date: 235, 237).
237 254th Olympiad.
238 Gordianus I (age 80) and his son Gordianus II (age 46) lead a revolt against Macrinus at Carthage. They are declared co-Augusti by the Senate at Rome. Troops loyal to Macrinus march against Carthage and Gordianus II is defeated and killed in battle (April 12). Gordianus I commits suicide soon afterwards. The Senate then names two Roman patricians, Balbinus and Pupianus, as emperors (April 22). Gordianus III, the 14 year old grandson of Gordian I, is brought to Rome and made Caesar. Balbinus and Pupianus are soon murdered by the Praetorians and Gordianus III the sole Augustus on July 29. (Apr) Macrinus is assassinated by the Praetorian Guard. The silver content of the Roman denarius falls to 28%.
241 255th Olympiad
243 Diocletian, future Roman Emperor, is born.
244 (Feb 11) After successfully repelling a Persian invasion, Gordianus III is assassinated by his Praetorian Prefect Marcus Julius Philippus, better known as Philip the Arab. Philip, who then seizes the throne, was born in the village of Shahba in the Roman province of Arabia. During his reign, persecutions against the Christians were stopped, and it was later suggested by the Church Father, Eusebius, that Philip was secretly a Christian himself. Silver content of the Roman denarius falls to 0.5%.
245 256th Olympiad Plotinus, the Neo-Platonic philosopher, arrives in Rome.
248 (Apr) Rome celebrates its 1000 year anniversary. Revolts by Iotapianus in the East and Pacatianus in Moesia.
249 257th Olympiad Philip the Arab is killed in a military mutiny and Decius becomes emperor.
250 Decius orders the renewal of persecution against the Christians. St. Albina martyred at Formiae, near Naples. Eruption on Stromboli. Pope Fabianus and 7 of his deacons are captured and executed. Execution of St. Albina at Formiae, Italy. War begins between Romans and Goths.
251 Battle of Abittus. Emperor Decius is defeated and killed by the Goths. He is succeeded by Trebonianus Gallus. A plague, possibly measles, breaks out at Carthage and begins to spread throughout the western part of the Empire. It continues until about 266. At the height of the plague about 5,000 die in Rome each day. (Mar) St. Cornelius becomes Pope. He is opposed by Novatian who becomes Antipope. In October, Cornelius excommunicates the Novatians. Novatian decrees that sins committed after baptism cannot be forgiven. An estimate puts the population of Rome at c700,000. Of these, there are only about 1,600 Christians in the city. It is about this time that the executions of the sibling Saints Alphius, Philadelphus, Cyrinus, and Benedicta were said to have occurred at Lentini, Sicily. Their martyrdoms, as well as that of their companion, St. Onesimus, at Puteoli, Campania, are now considered to be fictional.
252 (Feb 1-9) Eruption of Mt Etna. Saint Agatha is martyred in Sicily by order of praetor Quintianus.(alt. date AD 251). S. Agostino becomes bishop of Capua (to 260).
253 258th Olympiad Trebonianus Gallus exiles Pope Cornelius to Centum Cellae (Civita Vecchia), where he dies in June. On June 25, St. Lucius I becomes Pope. Emperor Trebonianus Gallus dies. Aemilianus, the governor of Pannonia and Moesia, is named Augustus. He is soon overthrown and executed. Publius Licinius Valerianus (age 60) becomes the new emperor. Emperor Valerian issues a decree sentencing all Christian bishops, priests and deacons to death.
254 (May 12) Stephen I becomes Pope.
255 Thascius Caecilius Cyprianus, bishop of Carthage, writes De Mortalitate. He describes a pandemic then afflicting the Empire. The disease arose in Ethiopia passed northwards into Egypt. From there is spread throughout the rest of the Empire. The symptoms of the illness included diarrhea, vomiting, ulcerated sore throat, high fever, and gangrene. In a letter written by Bishop Cyprianus of Carthage to the Proconsul of Africa, severe climate changes are described at this time. Rain amounts lessened and temperatures during the springs and summers were lower. As a result, the autumn harvests were significantly smaller.
256 Plague continues to spread in the eastern provinces of the Empire, reaching as far as Pontus on the Black Sea. So many deaths occur in Alexandria, Egypt that many turn to Christianity for solace.
257 259th Olympiad Emperor Valerian decrees a persecution against the Christians. (Aug 30) St. Sixtus II becomes Pope. Raids by Visigoths and Ostrogoths in the Black Sea region and by Franks across the Rhine.
258 (Aug 6) Pope Sixtus II is beheaded by order of Emperor Valerian.
259 (July 22) St. Dionysius becomes Pope. (alt date: 260).
260 Emperor Valerian is defeated and captured at Edessa by King Shapur I of Persia. His son, Gallienus (age 42), becomes sole emperor. Gallienus ends the persecution of Christians begun by his father. Pope Dionysius I begins to reform the Church in Rome, appointing new leaders to replace those martyred under Valerian. S. Quinto becomes bishop of Capua (to 271).
261 260th Olympiad
262 St. Agrippina, a member of a noble Roman family, is martyred. Her body is brought to Mineo, in Sicily, by three Christian women, Bassa, Paula, and Agathonice (Agatonica). Her tomb becomes a popular place for pilgrimages. Some sources claim she was killed in 256. 263 Neo-Platonist philosopher Porphyry comes to Rome.
265 261st Olympiad 268 Emperor Gallienus besieges the rebel Aureolus at Mediolanum (mod. Milan). During the siege, Gallienus is murdered by his own soldiers. Aureolus is soon defeated and killed by Marcus Aurelius Claudius, who becomes emperor. Goths raid Greece, sacking Athens, Sparta, and Corinth. (Dec 26) Pope St. Dionysius dies of natural causes. Slave revolt in Sicily. This little-known uprising was not on the scale of those which occurred during the 2nd and 1st Centuries BC. The Historia Augusta states that it was connected with the roving bandits which plagued the island. The disturbances “were put down only with great difficulty.” 269 262nd Olympiad Romans under Emperor Claudius II defeat a large invading army of Goths in the Balkans. (Jan 5) St. Felix I becomes Pope. 270 Plotinus, Neo-Platonist philosopher, dies in Campania. Romans abandon their province of Dacia, restoring the empire’s border at the River Danube. A new province, also called Dacia, is created on the near side of the Danube and resettled by Roman refugees from the former province. (or 271). Emperor Claudius II dies of plague at Sirmium. His brother, Quintillus, succeeds him. Within a short time, however, Quintillus is deserted by the troops and commits suicide. He is succeeded by Aurelian (Lucius Domitius Aurelianus). Silver content of the Roman denarius falls to 0.02%. 271 Construction begins on the Aurelian Wall around Rome. Aurelian drives invading barbarian Alamanni from Italy. 273 263rd Olympiad Aurelian defeats Zenobia and captures Palmyra, restoring the eastern provinces to Roman control. The daily bread ration in Rome is increased to c1.5 pounds per capita. Pork fat is also included on the list of foods freely distributed to the people. 274 Aurelian defeats the Romano-Gallic Emperor Tetricus, thus restoring Gaul to direct Roman rule. Constantine I, future Roman Emperor, is born. 275 (Jan 4) St. Eutychian becomes Pope. (Jan 25)Emperor Aurelian is assassinated by his own officers on the eve of an invasion of Persia. He is succeeded by a senator named Tacitus who is forced to accept the throne. Another virulent plague ravages the Empire. The ranks of the legions are severely decimated. Diocese of Sora is established. 276 Emperor Tacitus is slain in a mutiny. He is succeeded for a short time by his brother Florianus. Florian is soon slain and is succeeded by Probus. 277 264th Olympiad 280 Syracuse is plundered by Frankish raiders. 281 265th Olympiad 282 (Autumn) Emperor Probus is killed during a mutiny. He is succeeded by Carus. 283 Emperor Carus is killed by a lightning bolt. He is succeeded by his two sons, Carinus and Numerian. (Dec 17) St. Caius (Gaius) becomes Pope. 284 Emperor Numerian dies while campaigning in the East. He is succeeded by the 39 year old Diocletian, who is proclaimed Emperor on August 29. The rule of the Empire will be divided between 2 senior Emperors, the Augusti, one in the east and the other in the west. Each senior Emperor is supported by his own junior Emperor holding the title of Caesar. Theoretically, when an Augustus dies, his Caesar is promoted into his place, and a new Caesar is then chosen. Meant to put an end to civil wars and bring about peaceful succession, the system proves to be untenable. 285 266th Olympiad 286 Maximian is chosen to be the co-Augustus for the western part of the empire. Carausius declares himself Emperor in Britain. 287 Imperial decree against the Manichees. 288 Constantius II, future emperor, is born. 289 267th Olympiad 293 268th Olympiad (Mar 1) Constantius I Chlorus and Galerius are named Caesars. 295 Eruption on Ischia. 296 Constantius I Chlorus restores Britain to Imperial control. (June 30) Marcellinus becomes Pope. It is claimed that Marcellinus belonged to a family who later became the noble Colonna family of medieval and Renaissance Rome. Marcellinus will be vilified by Christian historians for becoming and apostate and performing pagan sacrifices. Diocletian decrees that the old, virtually worthless coinage to be recalled and exchanged for a new revised system. 297 269th Olympiad 298 Christians are expelled from the Roman army. 300 It is estimated that at this time the number of Christians totals about 2 to 3% of the Roman population. S. Aristeo becomes bishop of Capua (to 303). 4th Century Dioceses established in the 4th Century: Acerenza, Bari, Brindisi, Lipara, Lucera, Teano. 301 270th Olympiad Diocletian issues an edict which forces tradesmen to remain in their trades and their descendants to follow in their footsteps. Tenants are compelled to remain on their land for life. This edict is often pointed to as the” legal” beginning of feudalism. The practice continues in southern Italy until the 19th century. Diocletian issues a decree fixing prices and wages. Pestilence in Rome and throughout Italy. 302 (c) St. Ampelius and St. Caius executed at Messina. Christians begin to purposely disrupt pagan ceremonies. At one such incident, during an imperial sacrifice at Nicomedia, Diocletian witnesses the disturbance and becomes further convinced of Christian disloyalty. 303 (Feb 23/24) Emperor Diocletian issues a decree for the general persecution of Christians. Unlike many previous persecutions, this one encompasses the whole empire and thus becomes known as the Great Persecution. Diocletian is motivated by a desire to restore the old Roman religion which he felt would unify and strengthen the empire. He believed that the practices of the Christians, which had become increasingly troublesome, were a real threat to the political peace of the empire. Surviving evidence indicates that persecution was directed principally at the Christian leaders and the most intransigent Christians. Christians were given a chance to recant and show their personal loyalty to the empire and the death penalty was exacted only as a last resort. Part of Diocletian’s decree stated that any Christian who paid appropriate homage to the Roman gods was to be freed immediately. Some Christians, however, not only refused to cooperate but purposely sought martyrdom. One example was St. Dominica who was arrested and executed for destroying pagan images in Campania. Martyrdom of St. Lucy at Syracuse. The Byzantines later build the Basilica of Santa Lucia extra Moenia on the presumed site of the execution. (c) Eruption of Vesuvius. 304 Martyrdom of Santa Lucia, the patron saint of Palermo. 305 271st Olympiad (May 1) Emperor Diocletian (age 60) abdicates and retires to his home city of Salona in Dalmatia. He compels his fellow Augustus, Maximian, to also abdicate. Galerius and Constantius I Chlorus are promoted to become the new Augusti. Severus and Maximian Daia become the new Caesars. 306 (July 23) Constantine I “the Great” becomes Caesar in the West. (July 25) Constantius I Chlorus (age 56) dies of a fever near Eboracum (York) in Britain. His troops in Britain hail his son Constantine I as Augustus. This, however, isn’t recognized by Galerius, who raises the Caesar Severus to the rank of Augustus. (Oct. 28) Maxentius, son of Maximian, is proclaimed Caesar by the Praetorians at Rome. Abellius, the vicarius of the Prefect of Rome, attempts to oppose this but is killed. Galerius and his junior Caesar, Maximin Daia, decree a new persecution of the Christians in the eastern provinces of the empire. Mt. Vesuvius erupts. 307 (Nov 11) Emperor Severus dies. Galerius replaces him with Licinius. Believing that he has greater right to become Augustus of the West, Constantine revolts, taking control of Britain and Gaul. Maximian comes out of retirement and reclaims the title of Augustus. St. Lucy is martyred at Syracuse. 308 St. Marcellus I becomes Pope. (alt date: 306). Marcellus unsuccessfully attempted to have the apostate pope Marcellinus removed from official Christian documents. He is eventually exiled from Rome by Maxentius for creating civil disturbances. (summer) L. Domitius Alexander, vicarius Africae (governor of Africa), rebels against Maxentius and cuts off grain shipments to Rome. The result is a famine in Rome which continues until AD 312. 309 272nd Olympiad Maxentius banishes his father Maximian from Rome to Gaul. Another plague (possibly anthrax) begins to spread through the empire. The pestilence would continue for five years. Pope Marcellus I is overthrown and exiled. He is replaced by St. Eusebius I. (alt date: 310). 310 St. Nympha (Ninfa) of Palermo is martyred. Pope Eusebius I and antipope Heraclius are deported to Sicily by Maxentius. Maximian forms a conspiracy against Constantine I in Gaul. When the plot is discovered, Maximian commits suicide. Constantine begins his campaign against Maxentius. 311 (Apr 30) Emperor Galerius ends the Great Persecution against the Christians with the Edict of Serdica (Edict of Toleration). Maximin Daia refuses to agree to the edict and the persecution continues in Egypt and the East. (May) Maxentius drives Galerius out of Italy. (May 5) Emperor Galerius dies. His domain is divided between Maximin Daia and Licinius. Maximin Daia and Maxentius form a secret alliance. (July 2) St. Miltiades becomes pope. 312 (Oct) While marching on Rome, Constantine sees a “vision” in the sky which he interprets as a sign of favor from the Christian God. He instructs his soldiers to paint the Christian Chi-Rho monogram on their shields as an acknowledgement of this. (Oct 28) Battle of the Milvian Bridge. Constantine wins a decisive victory over the army of Maxentius. As Maxentius attempts to retreat across the bridge it collapses and the emperor drowns in the river Tiber. 313 273rd Olympiad (Mar 1) Constantine and Licinius meet at Milan and issue a joint edict legalizing Christianity (Edict of Milan). The edict, which is meant to give Romans free choice in the religion they wish to follow, is quickly turned into a tool for the Christians to begin the eradication of all other religions in the empire. Among the statutes, property confiscated from the Christians is to be returned. It is estimated that at this time Christians comprise between 1/20 and 1/5 of the empire’s population. Synod held in Rome by Pope St. Miltiades. Nineteen prelates attend including the bishops of Beneventum and Capua. At this time, bishops are given the authority to act as judges in cases concerning Christians. About this time Constantine gives Fausta’s palace at Rome to Pope Miltiades as a papal residence. Emperor Maximinus II Daia dies at Tarsus. Proterio becomes bishop of Capua. 314 (Jan 11) Pope St. Miltiades dies. Sylvester I becomes pope on January 31. (Oct 8) Battle of Cibalae. Constantine I defeats Licinius. Licinius loses control of all of the Balkans except Thrace. Constantine convenes the Council of Arles to condemn Donatism. Death of Maximian Daia 315 Constantine visits Rome where he refuses to fulfill the role of Pontifex Maximus. 316 Diocletian dies. 317 274th Olympiad 318 Constantine issues a decree outlawing the use of magic for committing murder. Constantine grants special privileges to high Christian clergy at the expense of pagans (Cod. Theod. I. xxvii.1). 319 (Feb 1) Constantine suppresses soothsayers (Theod. Cod. 9.16.1). (Oct. 21) Christian clerics are declared exempt from public service (Theod. Code 16.2.). 321 275th Olympiad Constantine I proclaims Sunday is as a public holiday, declaring it as an official day of rest. Constantine I grants special privileges to lower Christian clergy. Valentinian I, future emperor, born. 322 Constantine I begins a new campaign against Licinius on the lower Danube. 323 (July 3) Crispus, son of Constantine I, defeats Licinius fleet in a naval battle on the Danube at Adrianople. (Sept 18) Constantine I defeats Licinius at Chrysopolis. Licinius abdicates after this defeat leaving Constantine as the sole Augustus. Constantine I grants more special privileges to the lower Christian clergy. 324 Constantine I chooses Byzantium, a Greek city on the European side of the Bosporus, as the site of his new capital of Constantinople. (Feb) Licinius is assassinated by order of Constantine I. Constantine annuls all of the acts of Licinius. Constantine I issues a decree for the convening of the Council of Nicaea. Work begins on the first basilica of St. Peter’s at Rome. 325 276th Olympiad (May-Aug) Constantine convenes the Council of Nicaea to regularize the tenets of Christianity. Among other things the Council condemns Arianism, establishes the formula for determining Easter, and issues the Nicaean Creed. Nearly all of the 318 bishops who participated in the council were from the eastern part of the empire. The doctrine of Arianism claimed that Jesus was a created being, and thus inferior to God the Father. Orthodox doctrine, however, put God the Father and God the Son on equal footing and of identical substance. 326 Constantine visits Rome. He confiscates pagan temples and turns them over to the Christians who convert them into churches. He also confiscates the Palladium, one of pagan Rome’s most sacred images, and later buries it in his new capital of Constantinople. (c) Calepodius becomes bishop of Naples (to c347). 328 (Nov 4) The site for the city of Constantinople is laid out and consecrated. 329 277th Olympiad Valens, future emperor, is born. 330 (May 11) Constantine dedicates his new capital city of Constantinople (former Byzantium). Constantine dedicates the first Basilica of St. Peter. It is situated on Vatican Hill in Rome on the traditional site of St. Peter’s burial. Reorganization of the empire into prefectures, dioceses, and provinces. 332 Julian, future emperor, is born. 333 278th Olympiad 335 Constantine orders the closing of several pagan temples. Among these are those dedicated to the god of medicine Asklepios, which had provided medical treatment to the public. 336 St. Mark (Marcus) becomes pope. First basilica of St. Peter’s in Rome is completed. 337 279th Olympiad (May 22) Constantine I dies after being baptized by the Arian bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia. The Roman Empire is now divided by his successors into a number of different jurisdictions: Constantine II: Gaul, Britannia and Hispania; Constantius II: Eastern Provinces; Constans I: Italia, Africa and Illyricum. Constantine II and Constans I support the Orthodox-Nicaean doctrine while Constantius II is an Arian. According to a tradition, a ship carrying several Roman patrician families bound for Constantinople is wrecked along the Campanian coast. Coming ashore at a remote location, the survivors are struck by the beauty of the place and decide to change their plans and settle there. This new center will grow to become the famous maritime power of Amalfi. (see AD 533). St. Julius I becomes Pope. Vincenzo becomes bishop of Capua. 340 Constantine II is defeated and killed in battle at Aquileia against his brother Constans I. Constantine’s provinces are then attached to Constans’ portion of the Empire. Constans I outlaws paganism (Cod. Theod. XVI.10.2). 341 280th Olympiad Constantius II issues an edict forbidding pagan sacrifices and authorizes the closing of pagan temples (Cod. Theod. XVI.10.2). Many of the temples are looted and destroyed while others are converted into Christian churches. At this time the great majority of the empire’s population is still pagan. 345 281st Olympiad. 346 St. Amasius becomes bishop of Teano in Campania. He had fled from Greece to escape persecution from the Arians. Eruption of Vesuvius and associated earthquake. Abellinum (Avellino) suffers damage. A grand villa there, dating from c129 BC, is abandoned. Alife (CE) is also damaged. Constantius II renews his anti-pagan decrees. There is a further ban on sacrifices, making it a capital crime. More temples are closed. (Cod. Theod. XVI.10.3 and XVI.10.4). Theodosius I, future emperor, is born in Spain. 347 Earliest mention of a bishop of Bari. Gervasius is listed among the participants at the Council of Sardica. (c) Fortunatus I becomes bishop of Naples (to c359). 348 Rome celebrates its 1100th anniversary. 349 282nd Olympiad. Revolt of Count Magnentius. 350 Constans I is killed. Constantius II is now sole emperor over the entire Roman Empire. Constantius II renews his anti-pagan decrees. Festival of the Nativity (Christmas) is celebrated at Rome for the first time in Rome. 352 St. Aproculus (Proculus), bishop of Brundisium, dies at Ardea while returning from Rome. Liberius becomes pope. 353 283rd Olympiad. Constantius II renews his anti-pagan decrees. 355 Felix II becomes antipope. An Arian, he has the support of Constantius II. 356 Constantius II renews his anti-pagan decrees. 357 284th Olympiad. 359 (c) Maximus becomes bishop of Naples (to c368). 360 Huns begin their invasion of Europe. (c) About this time codex-style books (bound leafs) begin to replace scrolls. 361 Earthquake in Sicily. Italy is beleaguered by a succession of natural disasters including famine, floods and earthquakes. The disasters continue until 364. Plague is also endemic, continuing until 394. 285th Olympiad. Constantius II dies. He is succeeded by his cousin Julian. Julian is usually labeled “the Apostate” because he renounced Christianity in favor of paganism. Upon ascending the imperial throne, he began to restore paganism and announced universal toleration. 362 Julian continues his religious reforms further angering the Christians. He grants permission to the Jews to rebuild their temple in Jerusalem; forbids Christians from teaching liberal arts and sciences; orders all the various Christian sects to stop persecuting each other; recalls most of the bishops who had been exiled and restores them to their sees; ends special privileges granted to Christians; and restores to the Donatist sect of Africa the churches and properties that had been taken from them. Drought, famine, and pestilence strike Sicily. 363 (May 29) Julian is killed while campaigning against the Persians. There is strong circumstantial evidence that he was assassinated in the midst of battle by one of his own soldiers in the pay of Christian bishops. He is succeeded by Jovian, a Catholic. Jovian restores special privileges to Christians. He does continue a number of Julian’s policies by continuing to recall bishops who had been exiled, forbidding all religious persecutions, and decreeing universal toleration. 364 (Feb 17) Jovian dies by accidental suffocation. He is succeeded, on February 28, by Valentinian I. He soon associates his brother Valens on the imperial throne. They divide the empire with Valentinian ruling the west and Valens the east. The two brothers have many important differences. Valens is an Arian, given to cruelty and avarice, and a persecutor of Catholics and pagans alike. Valentinian, although given to occasional bouts of anger, is a Catholic who believes in freedom of religion and speech. Unlike his brother, he forbids the desecration of pagan temples. Both brothers shared a hatred of scholars and cultural refinements. L. Aurelius Avianus Symmachus serves as Urban Prefect of Rome. St. Cyprian, bishop of Brundisium, dies. 365 286th Olympiad. St. Patricia establishes a branch of the nuns of the Order of St. Basil at Naples. Q. Aurelius Symmachus serves as corrector (governor) of Lucania and Bruttium. 366 Pope Liberius dies and is succeeded by St. Damasus I becomes pope. Liberius’s followers, however, choose their own candidate, Ursinus, who becomes antipope. The two factions begin a violent, often deadly contest in Rome for the Papacy. 369 287th Olympiad. 373 288th Olympiad. 374 Earthquake at Rhegium. St. Ambrose becomes bishop of Milan. During his term, he becomes the most influential Christian prelate of the last part of the 4th Century. 375 (Nov 17) Valentinian I dies from a burst blood vessel. He is succeeded in the western empire by his two sons Gratian and Valentinian II. The two divide the western provinces with Gratian controlling Gaul, Britain and Hispania, and the much younger Valentinian II ruling Italy, Illyria, and Africa. Despite this division, Gratian is the de facto ruler over the western empire. Gratian becomes the first Roman emperor to refuse the pagan title of Pontifex Maximus. Under the religious influence of Bishop Ambrose, Gratian adopts a strong anti-pagan policy. Earthquake at Beneventum. 376 Q. Aurelius Symmachus serves as consul suffect and Praetorian Prefect in Italy. 377 289th Olympiad. 378 Valens is defeated and killed by the Goths at the battle of Adrianople. It is one of the greatest defeats to be suffered by the Roman army. Some historian’s mark the beginning of the “fall” of the Roman empire to this battle. Theodosius I “the Great” succeeds Valens as emperor in the east. A Catholic, Theodosius begins a policy of persecution against all other sects and religions. 379 Beginning of period of volcanic activity on Vesuvius (to 395). 380 (Feb 27) Theodosius I declares Christianity to be the only official religion of the Empire. 381 290th Olympiad. Synod/Council of Constantinople grants the Bishop of Rome precedence over all other prelates in the Church. It is also decided that Jesus possessed a true human soul. 382 Pope Damasus I instructs St. Jerome to revise and merge the various Latin Bibles. 383 (Aug 15 or 25) Gratian is assassinated by Andragathius, a general of the usurper Magnus Maximus. 384 Q. Aurelius Symmachus serves as Urban Prefect of Rome. While serving in this office, he displayed great modesty and reserve, refusing the traditional honor of using a chariot of silver or the title of “Magnificence.” Beginning of the Roman military withdrawal from Britain. Jerome presents Pope Damasus with new Latin Gospels to replace the lost original ones. St. Siricius becomes pope. He is critical of the recent gospel revisions done by Jerome. 385 291st Olympiad. 388 Theodosius orders the Christians to restore a Jewish synagogue which they had destroyed. He is forced to retract this order when he is threatened by Bishop Ambrose. 389 292nd Olympiad. 390 After an insurrection in Thessalonika, Theodosius orders his soldiers to attack the civilian population there. The massacre claims about 7,000 lives. Ambrose punishes Theodosius with excommunication lasting 8 months. 391 Theodosius issues two edicts this year and another in 392 making Christianity the official religion of the Empire. Paganism is proscribed. Despite these decrees, the ancient beliefs followed by people in southern Italy and Sicily persisted for centuries after. Many local saint cults derived directly from the earlier pagan roots. Pagan rituals, especially those connected with agriculture and fertility, were given thin Christian veneers and have survived to modern times. Present-day beliefs in a variety of ancient superstitions, such as that of mal occhio (the evil eye), and witchcraft all are pagan in origin. A synod convenes at Capua to decide the conflicting claims of Flavian and Evagrius to the important see of Antioch. The bishops also consider whether to lay an accusation upon Bonosus, bishop of Sardica in Illyria. He was the founder of the heretic sect of the Bonosiani who believed that Jesus was the natural child of Joseph and Mary. The synod refused to give a ruling on the question. The synod also confirms that any Christians lapsed back into paganism could not be rebaptized or reordained. 392 Valentinian II is assassinated by the general Arbogast. He is succeeded by the usurper Eugenius who reestablishes all rights to pagans and forbids persecution. 393 293rd Olympiad. This is the last official time that the ancient Olympic Games are held. Abundantius, consul of Rome. 394 Eugenius is defeated and killed by Theodosius at the battle of the river Frigidus. Theodosius reinstates religious intolerance. He issues new bans on pagan rituals and closes the Olympic Games. He becomes the last emperor to rule solely over the entire Roman Empire. The Christian Roman Emperor Theodosius I bans the Delphic Pythian Games because of their pagan origins. 395 (Jan 11 or 17) Theodosius I dies. With his death the Roman Empire is permanently split into eastern and western parts. Theodosius’ elder son, Arcadius, rules in the East, while his younger son, Honorius, becomes Emperor in the West. Italy and Sicily are under western Roman jurisdiction. Both emperors follow a strict Catholic doctrine. Campanian farmlands are turning to swampland during this period. Depopulation and social instability has led to the abandonment of an estimated 330,000 acres. This has caused much of the once-fertile land to turn to swampland, perfect breeding ground for malaria-carrying mosquitoes. 396 Visigoths under Alaric plunder Athens. 399 St. Anastasius I becomes pope. 5th Century Dioceses established in the 5th Century: Alife, Calvi, Cassano all′Jonio, Conversano, Gerace, Isernia, Messina, Penne, Potenza, Rieti, Sessa Aurunca, Sorrento, Telese / Cerreto Sannita, Teramo. 401 (Fall) Stilicho campaigns against the invading Vandals and Alans in Rhaetia. (Nov) First Visigoth invasion under Alaric into Italy. St. Innocent I becomes pope. He decrees that Roman doctrine of Christianity is the legitimate one. 402 (Jan 1) Arcadius elevates his son Theodosius to the rank of Augustus. (Feb) Alaric marches on Milan and besieges the city. The growing threat of barbarian attack on northern Italy leads to a decision to move the capital of the Western Roman Empire to Ravenna. 404 (Jan 1) The last-known gladiatorial contest takes place in Rome. Abolition of gladiatorial games. This was the result of the martyrdom of St. Telemachus (or Almachus). According to Christian sources, Telemachus had become so disturbed over witnessing a gladiatorial contest in the Colosseum at Rome that he rushed into the arena to separate to two combatants. This disruption infuriated the mob of spectators who set upon and killed Telemachus. Emperor Honorius was so distressed by the incident that he banned the games permanently. 408 (May 1) Arcadius, the Eastern Roman Emperor dies at the age of 31. (Aug 22) Stilicho, commander of the Western Roman armies, is assassinated. Alaric, King of the Visigoths, takes advantage of the death of Stilicho to invade Italy and besieges Rome. The city capitulates and pays a huge ransom to Visigoths who then temporarily withdraw. Famine and plague in Rome. 409 Visigoths under Alaric capture Ostia and then besiege Rome for a second time. When the city surrenders unconditionally, Alaric raises a senator, Attalus, to be a puppet emperor in opposition to Honorius who remained at Ravenna. 410 The Visigoths under Alaric attack Rome for a third time and sack the city (Aug 10-16, 24). They then continue into southern Italy with the ultimate intention of capturing some ships and invading Sicily and Africa. The Visigoths capture and sack Capua and Nola during their march but are repulsed at Neapolis (Naples). Continuing into Bruttium, Alaric reached Rhegium where it seemed he would soon see his plans fulfilled. Those plans, however, were soon thwarted when a violent storm arose and destroyed his fleet. Heading north again, Alaric became sick with malaria and died at Consentia (mod. Cosenza) in December. His followers diverted the river Basentus (mod. Busento) and buried him in the riverbed along with a lavish treasure. Returning the river to its original course all trace of the grave was hidden. Those slaves who dug the grave were then killed to keep the site secret. The site has never been found to this day. (Dec) Consentia (mod. Cosenza) is besieged by the Visigoths but is saved when the death of Alaric causes the attackers to withdraw. As a result of the Visigothic siege and sacking of Rome, the city suffers from famine and plague. The Visigoths elected Athaulf, Alaric’s Ostrogoth brother-in-law as their new chief. After several more months of plundering Italy, especially the area of Etruria, he led them north out of Italy (AD 412) to resettle in southern Gaul. St. Paulinus, a former Roman senator, becomes bishop of Nola. S. Rufino becomes bishop of Capua (to 420). Pope Innocent I decrees that all western churches were to follow the doctrines and practices of the Church of Rome. 415 Murder of Hypatia by Christian mob in Alexandria. 416 Visigoths invade Spain. (c) John I becomes bishop of Naples (to c432). 417 (Mar 12) Pope Innocent I dies. He is succeeded by St. Zosimus on Mar 18, 417. (c) Mt Etna erupts. 418 Franks invade Gaul. (Dec 27) Pope St. Zosimus dies. He is succeeded by St. Boniface I on Dec 28 Eulalius becomes antipope. 422 (Sept 4) Pope St. Boniface I dies. He is succeeded (Sept 10) by St. Celestine I, a native of Campania, becomes Pope. Celestine was the pope who sent St. Patrick back to Ireland to work on converting that island. 423 (Aug 15) Emperor Honorius dies. 425 (Oct 23) Valentinian III becomes Western Roman Emperor. 429 Angles, Saxons, and Jutes begin their invasion of southern Britain. 431 Death of St. Paulinus, bishop of Nola. Council of Ephesus decrees Mary to be the Mother of God. 432 (Apr 6) Pope St. Celestine I dies. He is succeeded by Sixtus III. 437 Vandals raid Sicily. 439 (Oct) Gaiseric (Genseric), king of the Vandals, captures Carthage and makes it his capital. Having crossed into North Africa from Spain in 429, the Vandals penetrated the lands of the Western Empire further than any other of Germanic barbarian tribes. The establishment of their kingdom at Carthage not only put them in an ideal position to control the main grain supply of the Empire but gave them a base to strike out everywhere in the western Mediterranean. 440 A Vandal fleet under Gaiseric (Genseric) from North Africa attacks and plunders Sicily. Palermo is besieged. (Aug 18) Pope Sixtus III dies. He is succeeded by (Sept 29) Leo I “the Great” on Sept. 29. 441 Emperor Theodosius II prepares an expedition against the Vandals then ravishing Sicily. The expedition is cancelled when the troops are needed to repeal an invasion of the Persians in the east. 442 Earthquake hits central Italy, damaging the Colosseum. 443 Priscus, an exile from North Africa, becomes bishop of Capua. 444 An allied Vandal-Goth force conquers Sicily from the Romans. 447 Pope Leo I forbids Sicilian bishops from performing baptism on the Festival of Epiphany. Pestilence grips most of the provinces of the empire. 450 Basilica of S. Costanzo founded on Capri by Basilian monks. The effect of the political, social, and economic factors in Italy has caused the population of Rome to shrink to about 500,000. In the time of Augustus (c 5 BC) the city’s population numbered about 1,000,000. Vandals exile St. Mamilianus, bishop of Panormus (Palermo), on the island of Monte Cristo, off the coast of Tuscany. Pestilence in Rome. (to 467). 451 The Synod of Calcedon confirms the decision of the Synod of Constantinople of AD 381, granting the Bishop of Rome (the Pope) the highest authority in the Church. The Synod declares that Jesus is a single being with both human and divine natures. Heretical Nestorian Christians deny that Mary is “Mother of God.” Paganism remains popular throughout much of the Roman empire. Valentinian III and Marcian issue an edict forbidding all persons to enter pagan temples for purposes of worship, under penalty of confiscation of their property. 452 (June 8) Huns under Attila invade northern Italy. He sacks several cities including Aquileia, Patavium (Padua), Verona, Brixia (Brescia), Bergomum (Bergamo), and Mediolanum (Milan). The survivors of Aquileia flee into the marshes where they found a new city, Venice. Attila continues southward towards Rome. He is met enroute by Pope Leo I who convinces him to spare the city. Attila then retreats northward out of Italy. 453 Attila dies. Vandals under Genseric pillage Nola. 454 Faustus becomes bishop of Rhegium. The Monophysite Eutyches of Constantinople states that Jesus had only one, divine nature. 455 (Mar. 16) Valentinian III is assassinated. (June 2) Rome falls to the Vandals under Gaiseric (Genseric) and is sacked for 2 weeks. Naples and Nola also fall victim to Vandal raiders. 456 Capua is sacked by the Vandals under Gaiseric (Genseric). The town is soon rebuilt. Romans defeat the Vandals near Agrigentum. Scilla, on the toe of Italy, is attacked and sacked by the Vandals. 457 Leo I (different from the contemporary pope of the same name) become Eastern Roman Emperor. 458 Emperor Majorian drives Vandal raiders out of Campania. 461 (Aug 2) Emperor Majorian is forced to abdicate by Ricimer. His death, five days later, may have been the result of dysentery, although there is good reason to suspect the he was assassinated. When news of his death reaches the Vandal king Gaiseric, he breaks his treaty with the Romans and launches new raids against Italy and Sicily. (Nov 10) Pope Leo I dies. He is succeeded, on Nov. 19, by the Sardinian St. Hilarius. 464 The Romans under General Marcellinus drive the Vandals out of Sicily. 465 Diocese of Aquino is established. Felice (Felix) is appointed bishop of Sipontum. 468 (Feb 28) Pope St. Hilarius dies. St. Simplicius becomes pope. A Roman expedition is launched in an attempt to retake North Africa from to Vandals. The Roman fleet is intercepted by the Vandals off Cape Bon (mod. Tunisia). The Vandals agreed to a Roman proposal to meet peacefully and negotiate a peace treaty. While these negotiations were taking place, however, the Vandals launched a treacherous surprise attack, sailing fire ships into the midst of the Roman fleet. The surviving Roman ships withdrew and their expedition ended in failure. Romans under the command of General Marcellinus recover Sardinia from the Vandals. The Roman general Marcellinus, while fighting the Vandals in Sicily, is assassinated by one of his own officers, probably in the pay of Ricimer. Upon his death, the Vandals regained the upper-hand and dominated Sicily until 476. When he learned of the assassination of Marcellinus, Gaiseric uttered the saying that “the Romans had cut off their right hand with their left” (Damascius, Vita Isidore) 472 (Aug. 18) Ricimer, general and Patrician, dies of a fever. (Nov 5-6) Mt. Vesuvius erupts. Ash from this eruption falls as far away as Constantinople. Famine and pestilence in Rome. 473 Pestilence continues in Rome. 474 Zeno becomes Eastern Roman Emperor. 476 Usual date given for the end of the Western Roman Empire. Italy and Sicily become parts of the Heruli Confederation. (Aug 28/Sept 4) Romulus Augustus, last Western Roman Emperor, abdicates. Although Romulus’s abdication (Sept 4, 476) is usually marked as the end of the Western Roman Empire, Julius Nepos, who was recognized as the “true” emperor, continued to rule in Dalmatia until his assassination on May 9, 480. This date should be considered the true terminus of the western Empire. The Roman Empire, however, did not “fall” at this time, its eastern half continuing for nearly another thousand years. The ouster of Romulus Augustus left Odoacer the de facto master of Italy but he could not consider his claim legitimate until it was acknowledged by Zeno, the Eastern Roman Emperor. There was, in fact, still a rightful claimant to the Western Roman throne. Julius Nepos had reigned in the west for only two months before being ousted by Orestes, the father of Romulus Augustus. Now he lived in exile in Dalmatia, still claiming the west as his own, a claim supported by Zeno. Odoacer, however, disregarded Julius Nepos, choosing to deal with Zeno himself. Recognizing that his barbarian status prevented him from claiming the title of Emperor, he still hoped for that Zeno would acknowledge him as King of Italy. Seeking this role, he sent the Eastern Emperor the Imperial insignia formerly belonging to Romulus Augustus, telling Zeno that they were no longer needed in the west. He acknowledged Zeno as his lord and asked to be legitimized as a king. Odoacer was only partially successful in his venture. While Zeno acknowledged his control over Italy, he granted Odoacer the lesser title of Patrician. Although frustrated over this, Odoacer chose to use the title of “king” nonetheless. He gained a certain legitimacy when the Roman Senate, little more than a shadow of its former self, gave Odoacer their support. The 16-year old Romulus Augustus was allowed to live after his abdication. He was sent to reside at a sumptuous villa on the Bay of Naples with an annual pension of 6,000 solidi. Cassiodorus suggests that Romulus was still living comfortably for at least another 30 years or so. His ultimate fate is unknown. Vandal king Gaiseric concludes a treaty with the Eastern Roman Emperor Zeno. By this action the Vandals are recognized as controlling not only their kingdom in North Africa but all of the principal islands of the Western Mediterranean: Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica, and the Balearics. Gaiseric soon turned control of Sicily over to Odoacer, with the exception of the port city of Lilybaeum (mod. Marsala). 480 St. Benedict of Nursia, the founder of the Benedictine monastery of Montecassino, is born. Massive earthquake is felt throughout Italy and the Balkans. Damage is reported from Rome to Constantinople. 483 St. Felix III (II) becomes pope. 484 Acacian, or “Great”, Schism begins between the Eastern and Western Churches. The Acacian heresy is a doctrine which held that Jesus was not of divine parentage. The schism lasts until 519. Faustus, bishop of Rhegium, dies. 488 Theodoric the Great, king of the Ostrogoths, invades Italy from the north. He marches under the auspices of the Eastern Romans emperor Zeno on a mission to overthrow Odoacer in Italy. Theodoric defeats Odoacer and captures Milan. 489 Theodoric defeats Odoacer at Verona. 490 Unable to defeat Theodoric, Odoacer falls back to Ravenna. Cassiodorus, historian, statesman and monk, is born at Scylletium, Bruttium (mod. Squillace). 491 Anastasius I becomes Eastern Roman Emperor. Phontinus, deacon of Thessalonika, convinces the Emperor Anastasius I to support the Acacian heresy 492 St. Gelasius I becomes pope. He becomes the first pope to use “Vicar of Christ” as a separate title. 493 (Mar 3/Mar 15) Odoacer (Odovacar) defeated by the Ostrogoth King Theodoric. Odoacer surrenders Ravenna and then accepts an invitation from Theodoric to dine with him. Odoacer accepts and is assassinated. The Heruli Confederation is destroyed by the Ostrogoths. Italy and Sicily become parts of the new Ostrogoth Kingdom. Theodoric, an Arian, practices religious toleration, especially towards the Catholics and Jews. 496 Anastasius II becomes pope. 498 St. Symmachus becomes pope. 499 Earliest mention of an archbishop (Justus) of Acerenza. (c) Diocese established at Alife [CE]. A bishop of Alive is mentioned as an attendee at the Roman Synod of 499, under Pope Symmachus. Gaudentius is the earliest confirmable bishop of Salerno. Concordius is the first recoded bishop of Acerra. 500 (c) A basilica dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel is dedicated on Monte Gargano. (c) Theodoric abolishes the oppressive duty on papyrus. Cassiodorus congratulates “the whole world on the repeal of the impost on an article so essentially necessary to the human race.” (c) Incense is introduced into the Christian church serves. The population of Rome continues to decline, dropping to only 100,000 by the turn of the century. In the Eastern Roman Empire, free of most of the problems which plague the west, the population increases. Constantinople’s population numbers about 500,000.