We study the effects of volatility on the probability of financial crises by constructing and using a cross-country database spanning 211 years. We find that volatility is not a significant predictor of crises whereas unexpected high and low volatilities are. Low volatility leads to banking crises and high volatility makes stock market crises more likely, while volatility in any form has little significant impact on the likelihood of currency crises. The volatility-crisis relationships become stronger when financial markets are more prominent and less regulated. We provide empirical support for the Minsky hypothesis where low-risk environments are conducive to greater buildup of risk-taking.