Gordian III

Gordian III
Bust Gordianus III Louvre Ma1063.jpg
Bust of Gordian III, between 242 and 244
Emperor of the Roman Empire
Reign22 April – 29 July 238
(as Caesar to Pupienus
and Balbinus);
29 July 238 – 11 February 244 (sole, nominally, though government done by senate)
PredecessorPupienus and Balbinus
SuccessorPhilip the Arab
Born20 January 225
Died11 February 244(244-02-11) (aged 19)
Full name
Marcus Antonius Gordianus Pius (birth to accession)
Regnal name
Imperator Caesar Marcus Antonius Gordianus Pius Augustus (as emperor)
FatherUnnamed Roman Senator
MotherAntonia Gordiana

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.

Rise to power

Antoninianus of Gordian III. Inscription: IMP. CAES. M. ANT. GORDIANVS AVG.

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.

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.

Other Languages
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