In 285 AD the Roman Emperor Diocletian decided to split the empire up into two halves, the Western and Eastern Roman Empire. This article goes over the 3 reasons why the Roman Empire was split into two halves during the 3rd century AD.
There are only 3 reasons why the Roman Empire was split into the Eastern and Western Roman Empire. First, it was becoming impossible for the Emperor to guard the borders of the entire Empire. Second, over the 3rd century the eastern side of the Empire was becoming wealthy while the western was not. Third, having only one emperor reduced the overall stability of the Empire while having two allowed for a more efficiently run state.
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Without further ado, here are the 3 reasons why the Roman Empire split into the eastern and western halves.
It Was Becoming Impossible For The Emperor To Guard The Borders Of The Entire Empire
One of the main reasons why the Roman Empire split into the eastern and western halves was because it was becoming impossible for one emperor to defend its borders.
Emperor Diocletian would become the Roman emperor in 284 AD. Almost immediately he had to engage in a series of wars from modern Germany to Syria. A century of infighting amongst the Romans had allowed their enemies on the borders to get strong enough to begin raiding in large numbers.
Diocletian would spend the first two years of his reign constantly moving around and fighting in battles. Historians have evidence that as soon as Diocletian became emperor he would have to fight the Germanic tribes of the Quadi and Marcomanni.
After securing Rome’s northeastern borders Diocletian then had to immediately move to fight against the Sarmatians in the Balkan provinces in the east. For Emperor Diocletian this was proving too much for one person to administer.
Around 285 AD Emperor Diocletian promoted his friend and officer Maximian to being a co emperor and split the Empire in half. Diocletian would take the eastern half and protect it while Maximian would take the western.
While there were two emperors and Empires, it is important to note that Diocletian still controlled Maximian. In essence this made both the Western and Eastern Roman Empire under the control of one emperor.
As such one of the main reasons that the Roman Empire split into the eastern and western halves was because it was becoming too much for one Emperor to defend.
Over The 3rd Century The Eastern Half Of The Empire Was Becoming Wealthy While The Western Was Not
One of the main reasons why the Roman Empire split into the Eastern and Western Empire was because of an imbalance of economic power between the provinces.
Since the crisis of the 3rd century the eastern Roman Empire was becoming extremely wealthy. It held vital territory to trade with the east and also controlled the richest Roman province of Egypt.
This presented a problem in the Roman Empire however. Before it was split up the Empire as a whole would have to use the massive resources of the eastern Empire to defend the western. This took the form of an increasing military budget.
When Emperor Diocletian split the Roman Empire into two halves he was creating a system where the western Roman Empire would have to defend itself and pay for its own military. The Eastern Empire would use its massive revenue basis to pay for their own defense.
In many ways this decision doomed the Western Roman Empire which held out for another two centuries before falling in 476 AD. Without the economic aid from the Eastern Roman Empire’s provinces it became harder to provide for an able military.
However, the eastern Roman Empire would last for another 1,000 years up until 1453 when the Ottoman Empire captured the capital city of Constantinople.
As such one of the main reasons the Roman Empire was split into the Eastern and Western Roman Empire was because the Eastern Empire was growing in wealth while the Western Empire was not.
Having Only One Emperor Reduced The Stability Of The Empire While Having Two Increased The Efficiency Of The State
The final reason that the Roman Empire was split into the Western and Eastern Empire was because having only one emperor reduced the overall stability while having two increased the efficiency of the state.
Emperor Diocletian became emperor after a century of strife known today as the Crisis of the Third Century. During this century-long conflict the Roman Empire would see several emperors rise to power through civil wars.
On top of this Diocletian would notice that several emperors such as Aurelian and Probus would be targets of assassination due to a lack of support around them after seizing power.
Much like them Diocletian had seized power. The last thing he wanted was to lose power because he did not have enough time to cement his authority over the Roman Empire. As such he needed to increase overall stability by electing a co-emperor; his friend Maximian.
Further, in an effort to lower his overall risk he split the Empire. Now if anybody wanted to remove an emperor from power they would have to remove two emperors. For a while this increased the overall stability of the Empire.
As such one of the main reasons why the Roman Empire was split into the Eastern and Western halves is because it increased the overall stability of the Empire itself.
There you have it, an entire article dedicated to the 3 reasons why the Roman Empire split into the Eastern and Western Roman Empire.
The split of the Roman Empire in the 3rd century AD solved and created many problems. The Western Roman Empire would last for another two centuries before falling while the Eastern Roman Empire would last for another 1,000 years.
Here at The History Ace I strive to publish the best history articles on the internet. If you enjoyed this article then consider subscribing to the free newsletter and sharing around the internet.
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