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Old January 8th, 2017, 06:37 PM   #441

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I've decided to go ahead and do Tetrarchy/Constantinian figures.

Diocletian (244-312 CE)

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The man whose reign would be considered to have ended the Crisis of the Third Century was one of many barracks emperors from the Danube/Balkan region. He was born in 244, either a slave that later won his freedom (unlikely) or the son of a freedman (more likely). His whereabouts can first firmly be established in 282, when the Emperor Carus made him commander of elite cavalry force directly attached to the Imperial household. As such, he took part in Carus' Persian campaign.

After the deaths of first Carus and then his younger son Numerian on campaign, Diocletian was proclaimed Emperor in 284. This was contested by Carinius, Carus' other son, but he was defeated in battle by Diocletian, with Carinius' army betraying him. With too many outside conflicts to deal with at one time, Diocletian took the first step of forming the Tetrarchy: he appointed his second in command, Maximian (Diocletian didn't have a suitable son or brother) as Augustus of the West. Maximian dealt with uprisings and barbarian raids in that half of the Empire while Diocletian took the East for himself, constantly fighting the Persians and Goths. Diocletian stylized himself as Jupiter and Maximian Hercules. The tetrarchy was further expanded when two junior Emperors were appointed: Constantius Chlorus in the West and Galerius in the East. Both were career officers who had served under third century Emperors for some time.

The Tetrarchy 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. The four capitals established at Nicomedia, Mediolanum (present day Milan), Antioch, and Trier were closer to the empire's frontiers than the traditional capital at Rome had been. Among other reasons, constant campaigning and government/army growth demanded tax reform, and from 297 onward imperial taxation was standardized and at higher rates than before.

Ultimately, the question of succession would cause the Tetrarchy to fail. In his sixties and poor health, Diocletian retired/abdicated in 305 and forced Maximian to do the same (later events would show this was forced on Maximian). While most expected the sons of Constantius and Maximian, Constantine and Maxentius, to become the new junior Emperors, Galerius' nephew and a general named Severus II were the military officers that became the new Caesars. For the time being, Diocletian went to retire at his palace in modern day Split, Croatia, tending to his cabbage garden. He came out of retirement in 308 to deal with the civil war that had erupted in his absence, but the conference held at Carnuntun failed to resolve the crisis, as the Tetrarchy depended on being dominated by one man. Diocletian lived on to hear of the Tetrarchy's failing, the death of Maximian, and Constantine's victory of Maxentius at the Milvian Bridge. His death at the end of 312 may have been from suicide, if not his ill health.

Aside from his military and political involvement, Diocletian is perhaps best known for his presecution of Christians, the last major attempt to curb the religion. It ultimately failed, and Constantine would go on to be the first Christian Emperor. In spite of this and other failures, however, Diocletian's rule and reforms would help the Roman Empire to survive over a hundred and fifty more years after his death.
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Old January 8th, 2017, 07:22 PM   #442

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Constantius I Chlorus (250-306 CE)

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As the father of Constantine the Great, a number of legends have emerged concerning the origins of his family. The Historia Augusta, a mostly unreliable source of information, suggests that Constantius was the nephew of Claudius II Gothicus. More likely, Constantius was of more humble birth, and rose though the ranks of the Roman army. By the reign of Carus, he was governor of Dalmatia, and some say it was he who secured the reign of Diocletian against Carinus by betraying the latter.

After Diocletian set up Maximian as Augustus of the West, Constantius followed him there, becoming his Praetorian Prefect and assisting in Rhine campaigns. To strengthen his ties to Maximian, Constantius was forced to divorce his wife (or concubine) Helena to marry Theodora, a female relative of Maximian's (the exact relation is unknown). Theodora gave birth to Constantine's six half siblings. In 293, when the Tetrarchy was formed, Constantius was created as Caesar of the West.

His first task as junior Emperor was to deal with Carausius, who had declared himself Emperor in Britain and northern Gaul. By the end of 293 northern Gaul had fallen and Carausius would be assassinated. Subordinates would reconquer Britain from the usurpers. Constantius then spent several years on the frontier, fighting the Franks and Alamanni as well as restoring parts of Hadrian's Wall. In what was to become a trend in the later days of the Roman Empire, Constantius settled a group of Franks in devastated parts of Gaul to repopulated them. Thoughout this time, Constantine was kept at Diocletian's court at Nicomedia, supposedly for his education and military training (but also likely as insurance against any hostile actions taken by Constantius against Diocletian).

When Diocletian retired in 305 for health reasons, Maximian was forced to do the same. This meant that Constantius was elevated to Augustus of the West. However, Constantine was not made the new Caesar, and Constantius was in ill health as well. Constantine managed to leave the east and reunited with his father in Britain. He spent several months with his father's troops there, building a rapport and gaining their trust. Finally, when Constantius was on his deathbed, he recommended his son to his officers as his successor just before he died. Unknowingly, this was to be the opening of the civil wars that ended the Tetrarchy and made Constantine sole emperor.
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Old January 9th, 2017, 02:59 PM   #443

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Maximian (250-310 CE)

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While Diocletian and Constantine are the two most well known Emperors of the Tetrarchy era, there was a third, often overlooked Emperor who was important in the lives of both. This was Maximian. Born to a family of Illyrician shopkeepers, Maximian's upbringing was a harsh one of constant war on the Danube. Joining the army, he served under Aurelian and Probus before becoming the lifelong ally and friend of Diocletian, who became Emperor in 285. As a sign of their bond, Diocletian made Maximian his co-emperor of the West, his military brawn complimenting Diocletian's more political oriented skills.

Maximian's first order of business as Emperor was to suppress the Bagaudae, groups of peasant insurgents throughout Gaul. The next was to appoint an officer named Carausius to clear the English Channel of Saxon pirates. Carausius was accused of keeping the loot from the pirates for himself, and whether this was true or not, he declared himself Emperor, gaining the support of northern Gaul and Britain. With no fleet, Maximian instead focused his efforts on the Rhine, battling with the Burgundians, Heruli, Chaibones, and Alemanni. Carausius would not be dealt with until Constantius Chlorus was appointed as Caesar.

After a campaign against the Berber tribes in North Africa in 297, Maximian took a break from fighting, living in his palaces in Italy. In 305 Diocletian, pressuring his friend to do the same, retired from ruling. Under the new domination of Galerius, riots broke out in Rome, and Maximian's son Maxentius was made Emperor by the Praetorian Guard. Maximian came out of retirement to support him, and was crucial in causing the retaliation of Severus II to fail (many of Severus' officers and men had served under Maximian). Maximian also negotiated with Constantine, giving him his daughter Fausta in marriage to form an alliance. Father and son began to have a breakdown in their relationship when Maxentius decided to execute Severus II. In 308 Maximian attempted to take power from his son, but the soldiers sided with Maxentius, and Maximian thus fled to Constantine's court.

While Constantine was fighting the Franks in 310, Maximian attempted to launch a coup. He offered huge bribes, but Constantine's troops remained loyal. He also tried to involved Fausta in the plot, but she remained loyal to her husband. Constantine thus forced his father in law to commit suicide. Maximian's legacy would fluctuate in the next few years, with both Maxentius and Constantine trying to secure his legacy as the two fought each other.
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