As the Roman Empire expanded from Great Britain, in the west, to the Euphrates River, in the east, many complex problems arose. In the thick of this expansion, the government was growing corrupt, there was social and economic turmoil as a result of massive slavery, and invasions from the Germans were all tearing away at the stability of the empire. In the midst of this confusion, a new religion was on the upswing. Christianity appeared to be the harmony in the chaos of Rome, converting the majority of the Roman population by the fall of the empire.
Nero was one of the worst rulers that Rome ever saw. He was the successor of Caligula, also one of the worst rulers, and ruled from 54-69 CE, taking the throne at the age of 16. He is famously accused of starting a week-long fire in his tenth year of rule that destroyed most of Rome and killed thousands.
Nero blamed this on the Christians and subsequently slaughtered them by the hundreds.
The historian Tacitus writes: "Besides being put to death they were made to serve as objects of amusement; they were covered with wild beasts' skins and torn to death by dogs. Some were crucified, others set on fire to serve to illuminate the night when daylight failed, fastened on crosses, and, when daylight failed, covered by inflammable matter, were set on fire to serve as torches during the night. Or tied to stakes in Nero's gardens while he drove around in his chariot, naked, indulging himself in his midnight revels, gloating over the dying agonies of his victims. The Roman Christians, accused by Nero of setting the city on fire, were massacred in a spectacular fashion on the Vatican Hill."
Nero and Caligula weren't the only problem with Roman authority. In...