A period of prosperity ended at about late second century AD giving way to the era of social instability and foreign invasions. In the third century AD army turned into from grantor of stability into a destructive power that ruined stability. Conflicts arouse between generals that strived to become emperors and the army groups that supported them. Turmoil in Farm and Village Life Roman agriculture was ruined by chaos and lawlessness. Peasants could no longer meet their tax quotas, and their lands were often acquired by local officials. Most of the peasants fled the countryside to join the urban poor.
Reconstruction Under Diocletian and Constantine (A. D. 284 – 337) Diocletian was the first emperor to be officially proclaimed an absolute ruler, a lord. Yet he appeared to be a skillful administrator who restored the government and bureaucratic system of Rome. He carried out political and administrative reforms, among which the most important was the division of the empire into two parts. Yet the empire was about to exhaust its degree of safety. Inflation and Taxes. Decline of Small Farms Empire’s economy has been undermined by inflation and agricultural crisis, including increasing inefficiency of slave labor.
Constantine turned the tax officials into a hereditary class contributing to the development of separatist tendencies. Because of the ruined monetary system most of the taxes were now paid in kind. Small farms declined and large households gradually turned into that what later became feudal manors. The Acceptance of Christianity The most decisive step of Constantine was official legitimization of Christianity n in 337 and its proclamation as a state religion in 380 by Theodosius. This measure faced opposition between educated Romans, however, this opposition could not prevent further spread of the new religion.
The Construction of Constantinople Constantine’s another fateful endeavor was construction of Constantinople as a new capital. In contrast to pagan Rome Constantinople became a Christian capital. From the Classical World to the Late Antiquity Legitimization of Christianity and foundation of Constantinople were major events that marked the end of classical period and the beginning of late antiquity. Roman government began to evolve into a Christian monarchy of the Middle Ages, although most of the Romans never explicitly noticed that.