Diocletian

Reece Period attributed: Period 14

Obverse image of a coin of Diocletian

Member of the The Tetrarchy dynasty.

Coins for this issuer were issued from 284 until 305.

Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus was born ca. 245 in Dalmatia. He came from humble origins and rose through the military to serve as commander at Moesia. Diocletian may have played some part in the deaths of Carus and Numerian; his troops proclaimed him emperor and he marched against Carinus in Rome. Carinus met him in battle and was ultimately killed, and Diocletian gained the support of his troops.

In 285, Diocletian appointed his colleague Maximian as Caesar and gave him control of the Western provinces; the emperor had no sons on whom to rely. In 286 Maximian was raised to Augustus, and propaganda tended to identify Diocletian with Jove and Maximian with Hercules.

Diocletian spent five years campaigning against the Danube tribes and unsuccessfully dealing with the upstart Carausius. Although the dual emperor system worked well, he began to worry about the succession. As a solution, Diocletian and Maximian each appointed a junior Caesar to succeed when either of the Augusti died (Constantius and Galerius.)

Diocletians reorganization of the imperial system proved his greatest contribution to the Roman empire. The Senates influence was on the decline, and the empire was divided into more orderly provinces, with stricter rules about their governance. He is also remembered for reinstating worship of the traditional Roman pantheon and persecuting Christians.

Diocletian and Maximian gave up power in 205, and Diocletian retired to Split (in modern Croatia) where he died in 311.

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Record: CORN-419779
Object type: COIN
Broadperiod: ROMAN
Description: A copper alloy nummus of Diocletian (AD 28…
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Record: PUBLIC-8A7CB2
Object type: COIN
Broadperiod: ROMAN
Description: An incomplete copper alloy Follis (AE1) of…
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Record: WAW-4E0BD7
Object type: COIN
Broadperiod: ROMAN
Description: Roman coin: copper alloy nummus of Dioclet…
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Record: YORYM-888A5A
Object type: COIN
Broadperiod: ROMAN
Description: A copper alloy Roman nummus of Diocletian …
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Information from Wikipedia

  • Preferred label: Diocletian
  • Full names:
    • Caesar Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus Augustus (as emperor)
    • Diocles (full name unknown) (from birth to accession);
    • Diocletian
  • Title: Consul of the Roman Empire
  • Predecessor: Carinus
  • Successor: Constantius Chlorus, Galerius
  • Definition: Diocletian (/ˌdaɪ.əˈkliːʃən/; Latin: Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus Augustus), born Diocles (244–312), was a Roman emperor from 284 to 305. Born to a family of low status in the Roman province of Dalmatia, Diocletian rose through the ranks of the military to become cavalry commander to the Emperor Carus. After the deaths of Carus and his son Numerian on campaign in Persia, Diocletian was proclaimed emperor. The title was also claimed by Carus' other surviving son, Carinus, but Diocletian defeated him in the Battle of the Margus. Diocletian's reign stabilized the empire and marks the end of the Crisis of the Third Century. He appointed fellow officer Maximian as Augustus, co-emperor, in 286. Diocletian delegated further on 1 March 293, appointing Galerius and Constantius as Caesars, junior co-emperors. Under this 'tetrarchy', or "rule of four", each emperor would rule over a quarter-division of the empire. Diocletian secured the empire's borders and purged it of all threats to his power. He defeated the Sarmatians and Carpi during several campaigns between 285 and 299, the Alamanni in 288, and usurpers in Egypt between 297 and 298. Galerius, aided by Diocletian, campaigned successfully against Sassanid Persia, the empire's traditional enemy. In 299 he sacked their capital, Ctesiphon. Diocletian led the subsequent negotiations and achieved a lasting and favorable peace. Diocletian separated and enlarged the empire's civil and military services and reorganized the empire's provincial divisions, establishing the largest and most bureaucratic government in the history of the empire. He established new administrative centres in Nicomedia, Mediolanum, Antioch, and Trier, closer to the empire's frontiers than the traditional capital at Rome had been. Building on third-century trends towards absolutism, he styled himself an autocrat, elevating himself above the empire's masses with imposing forms of court ceremonies and architecture. Bureaucratic and military growth, constant campaigning, and construction projects increased the state's expenditures and necessitated a comprehensive tax reform. From at least 297 on, imperial taxation was standardized, made more equitable, and levied at generally higher rates. Not all of Diocletian's plans were successful: the Edict on Maximum Prices (301), his attempt to curb inflation via price controls, was counterproductive and quickly ignored. Although effective while he ruled, Diocletian's tetrarchic system collapsed after his abdication under the competing dynastic claims of Maxentius and Constantine, sons of Maximian and Constantius respectively. The Diocletianic Persecution (303–11), the empire's last, largest, and bloodiest official persecution of Christianity, did not destroy the empire's Christian community; indeed, after 324 Christianity became the empire's preferred religion under its first Christian emperor, Constantine. In spite of these failures and challenges, Diocletian's reforms fundamentally changed the structure of Roman imperial government and helped stabilize the empire economically and militarily, enabling the empire to remain essentially intact for another hundred years despite being near the brink of collapse in Diocletian's youth. Weakened by illness, Diocletian left the imperial office on 1 May 305, and became the first Roman emperor to abdicate the position voluntarily. He lived out his retirement in his palace on the Dalmatian coast, tending to his vegetable gardens. His palace eventually became the core of the modern-day city of Split in Croatia.
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  • Other title(s):
    • List of Roman Emperors
    • Consul of the Roman Empire
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