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Diocletian and Constatine: Leaders of Rome


Diocletian, Roman Emperor "Diocletian (Caius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus), one of the ablest Roman emperors, was born in the province of Dalmatia around AD 245. From a family of limited means, he rose through the military ranks to become commander of the emperor's bodyguard and was chosen by his fellow soldiers to succeed Numerian as emperor in 284. Diocletian was no ordinary soldier. Recognizing that the task of governing the Roman Empire had become too taxing for one man, he divided the empire into four administrative districts and agreed to share the management of these with three colleagues--MAXIMIAN, GALERIUS, and CONSTANTIUS I. By 298 this tetrarchy (rule of four men) had suppressed rivals within the empire and had defeated the barbarian tribes and the Persians who threatened the border provinces. A remarkable administrator, Diocletian sponsored a series of reforms to rehabilitate imperial institutions. He reorganized provincial administration, increased the size of the army and made it more mobile, imposed a uniform system of taxation, and attempted to halt inflation by reforming the coinage and issuing (301) an edict--unique in Roman history--that prescribed maximum prices and wages. Some of these measures failed, most notably his economic policies, but collectively they constituted a workable plan for survival. A less constructive measure was the great persecution of the Christians that he ordered in 303. In 305, Diocletian voluntarily retired to his magnificent palace at Salona (the modern Split in Croatia). He refused to participate in the civil war that followed. When he died in 313, the empire was in the hands of individuals less sympathetic to the principles of the tetrarchy. " (Eadie, Groilers Mutimedia95: Diocletian.)



Constantine I, Roman Emperor (Constantine the Great)

"Flavius Valerius Constantinus, better known as Constantine the Great, was the first Roman emperor to adopt Christianity. He was born at Naissus (modern Nis, Serbia) about AD 280, the son of CONSTANTIUS I, who became (293) a caesar in the tetrarchy established by DIOCLETIAN. Constantine was educated in the imperial court and seemed destined to succeed his father. In 305, Constantius became senior emperor (augustus) in the West. However, when he died at York in 306 and the British troops proclaimed Constantine augustus in his place, the Eastern emperor GALERIUS refused to recognize the claim, offering Constantine the lesser rank of caesar. "(Eadie,Groilers Multimedia95: Constantine) A civil war followed Constantine's death on May 22, 337. More than 20 years after the death of his accomplice, Diocletian. Copyright 1994 by Grolier Electronic Publishing, Inc. Copyright 1994 by Grolier Electronic Publishing, Inc.