Favourite Emperor of the 'Crisis' and Tetrarchic Periods (235-306)

Who are your favourite emperors from the 'Crisis'/Tetrarchic periods (up to two choices)?

  • Maximinus Thrax

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Pupienus & Balbinus

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Gordian III

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Philip the Arab

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Decius

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Valerian

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Gallienus

    Votes: 2 18.2%
  • Postumus

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Odaenathus

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Zenobia

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Claudius Gothicus

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Aurelian

    Votes: 7 63.6%
  • Tacitus

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Probus

    Votes: 2 18.2%
  • Carus and/or his Sons

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Diocletian

    Votes: 6 54.5%
  • Maximian

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Carausius

    Votes: 1 9.1%
  • Constantius I

    Votes: 1 9.1%
  • Galerius

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    11
#11
Did Diocletian retire to grow cabbages? Did many of the others "retire"?
I should have included in my previous reply why I think Diocletian retired, why he made Maximian do the same and why Galerius apparently intended to retire as well. It is possible that Diocletian was trying to implement a system of succession that would allow a long-term Tetrarchy (a college of two Augusti/emperors and two Caesars/junior emperors). By abdicating, Diocletian and Maximian as Augusti fulfilled the expectation of the similarly-aged Caesars Constantius and Galerius that they would eventually become Augusti. After all, it was usually intended that the Caesar take the place of the Augustus on the Augustus' death. Abdication ensured that the Caesars would attain the promotion that they might otherwise be hoping for in vain, since all four Tetrarchs were adults. In turn, the new Augusti would receive new Caesars (Severus and Maximinus). Diocletian may have been reluctant to replace an arrangement of two Augusti and two Caesars with four Augusti because it would have weakened imperial hierarchy and set the stage for disunity.

It is also possible (and this is not mutually exclusive from the above possibility) that Diocletian wished to be alive for the succession of his heirs so that he could supervise the changing of hands and ensure its smooth operation. After all, the succession in 305 was a controversial affair. No biological sons were co-opted as Caesars. Among these sons were the adults Constantine (of Constantius) and Maxentius (of Maximian), as well as the younger sons of Constantius and Galerius' 9-year old son Candidianus. Moreover, Constantius was the senior-ranking Caesar, and would accordingly become the first-ranking Augustus with the abdication of Diocletian and Maximian, and yet the two new Caesars would be Galerius' friend Severus and Galerius' nephew Maximinus. The result would be de-facto dominance for Galerius despite the nominal seniority of Constantius. Such a controversial changing of hands would have benefited from Diocletian's supervision.

Those are the explanations put forward in scholarship that are the most convincing.
 
Feb 2011
939
Scotland
#12
I should have included in my previous reply why I think Diocletian retired, why he made Maximian do the same and why Galerius apparently intended to retire as well. It is possible that Diocletian was trying to implement a system of succession that would allow a long-term Tetrarchy (a college of two Augusti/emperors and two Caesars/junior emperors). By abdicating, Diocletian and Maximian as Augusti fulfilled the expectation of the similarly-aged Caesars Constantius and Galerius that they would eventually become Augusti. After all, it was usually intended that the Caesar take the place of the Augustus on the Augustus' death. Abdication ensured that the Caesars would attain the promotion that they might otherwise be hoping for in vain, since all four Tetrarchs were adults. In turn, the new Augusti would receive new Caesars (Severus and Maximinus). Diocletian may have been reluctant to replace an arrangement of two Augusti and two Caesars with four Augusti because it would have weakened imperial hierarchy and set the stage for disunity.

It is also possible (and this is not mutually exclusive from the above possibility) that Diocletian wished to be alive for the succession of his heirs so that he could supervise the changing of hands and ensure its smooth operation. After all, the succession in 305 was a controversial affair. No biological sons were co-opted as Caesars. Among these sons were the adults Constantine (of Constantius) and Maxentius (of Maximian), as well as the younger sons of Constantius and Galerius' 9-year old son Candidianus. Moreover, Constantius was the senior-ranking Caesar, and would accordingly become the first-ranking Augustus with the abdication of Diocletian and Maximian, and yet the two new Caesars would be Galerius' friend Severus and Galerius' nephew Maximinus. The result would be de-facto dominance for Galerius despite the nominal seniority of Constantius. Such a controversial changing of hands would have benefited from Diocletian's supervision.

Those are the explanations put forward in scholarship that are the most convincing.
Good reasoning. I feel it was an attemnpt to re-implement the method of the adoptive emperors of the second century, but allowing for Western and Eastern courts in accordance with then-current security requirements. By restricting Augusti to say 20 or 25 years, you got the benefit of experience (even after retirement) whilst the Caesars would not have to await a death, possibly growing elderly before a succession might occur. Of course, this could not negate the effect of individual ambition (in Constantine's case, allied to significant military ability).
 
Feb 2011
939
Scotland
#13
Regarding Carausius, I wonder whether minting coins for specific legions came to be regarded as overly divisive in an empire suffering from an epidemic of provincial military rebellion, thus why it ended with him. In any case, Carausius is certainly impressive, having maintained control of Britain for seven or so years despite the opposition of Maximian and Diocletian.

The exercise of comparing the troubles of the third and fifth centuries is an interesting one. In some respects the problems are similar, but there are key differences. In the third century the biggest problem is military usurpation. Emperors repeatedly fail to convince the armies of their legitimacy, and different armies competed to raise their own emperors. The failure of emperors to achieve longevity meant that no dynasty could take hold. Foreign enemies form a major part of this picture. Their aggression created anxiety among the armies and provincials. The Sassanian Persians penetrated deep into the eastern provinces, twice sacked Antioch and numerous other cities, defeated Roman armies and captured an emperor. The Goths and Heruli raided far and wide in the Balkans and the eastern Mediterranean, on and off, for two decades. The Alemanni and Iuthungi invaded Italy three times and caused anxiety in the city of Rome itself. Frankish raiders devastated parts of Gaul (Armorica suffered from the collapse of economic and social structures) and they reached Britain and Spain as well. But with that all being said, the Persians alone sought to hold territories permanently, and their ambitions in that regard were limited to Mesopotamia and Armenia. The Goths sacked cities but never sought to hold them.

Diocletian was the ruler whom Rome needed at that time. His force of personality, his use of quasi-divine self-representation (the use of adoratio, gaudy clothes, the signa Jovius and Herculius), his courting of the army (e.g. presenting his relationship to Maximian as that of a brotherhood, a relationship to which soldiers attached much value), his expansion of the bureaucracy in a manner that weakened the power of individual office-holders, his use of collegiality through the Tetrarchy and the emphasis of his propaganda on collegial unity through similarity (between the rulers) and hierarchy (with Diocletian at the top) managed to end the epidemic of military-backed usurpation as long as he was in power, and in the long term (through the power of longevity) established degrees of loyalty to the wider Tetrarchic dynasty, reflected in the form of loyalty to Constantine (and his descendants), Licinius and Maxentius.

This topic is very much on my mind since, as of this year, I have been awarded a PhD for a thesis on dynastic politics in the Tetrarchic period. I have thus thought a lot about Diocletian as a politician. He was very much an innovator, sometimes for better (as I've argued above, but note also his tax reform), sometimes for worse (e.g. the Edict of Maximum Prices, empire-wide persecution edicts and the failure of the Tetrarchy to work as a long-term solution). Above all, I think that Diocletian knew he needed to end the succession crisis. Like other emperors of preceding decades, he had killed his way to the top using a military career and military support. He had used tried-and-true methods, as unseemly as they were. But how was he to prevent himself from suffering the same fate as Aurelian, Probus, Gallienus and most other emperors of the period? How was he to hold power and prevent a bloody death? That was the real challenge of the period, and somehow Diocletian managed to find an answer, albeit an imperfect answer - the Tetrarchy could not work as a long-term solution, not least because it needed someone as influential as Diocletian at the top, and ideally a close camaradie between the two Augusti, as appears to have been the case between Maximian and Diocletian.

As for how Diocletian's (and Constantine's) reforms impacted on the fifth-century troubles, that's a difficult question that I'd like to think more about. Some have actually argued that their reforms were what allowed the eastern empire to keep on chugging. I'm not sure. But the troubles of the fifth century were in some respects quite different. There was less of a succession crisis (excluding the west under Ricimer); generalissimos were content to 'reign' without seizing the emperorship; there were multiple groups of northern peoples seeking to settle within the empire and who acquired the means to force such a thing; there were Huns; the East and West were more divided, with the East financially much better off. In any case it's an interesting question.
He certainly pressed into place a solution, though whether it was the only solution is debatable.
Goldsworthy places one of the major causes of the fall of the west in the move away from the senatorial order and Diocletian seems to have moved the Roman world away from its classical antecedant into a different demographic through implementation of a revised managed economy, social system, imperial system and eventually military. Whether he actually ended usurpation through the fourth century seems unlikely, as you say it was onnly because of his own power whilst he was in place.

Im very impressed with your PhD! Congratulations, Most impressive and of course, it also shows your knowldge of sources etc will be far more comprehensive than an enthusiastic amateur like me (Im actually an accountant!). As you say, Diocletian's intention was to try to implement stability as well as guarantee his personal safety. Personally, he succeeded but Im not sure his success went much further than his own maintenance in power. The theory was great on paper but failed in practice.

Comparison of third and fifth century crises is really interesting. The Third seems to have been brought on by frontier pressure and raiding, along with the access of power of the Persians which opened up instability in the East. The west held fast and the crisis really covered the approx period 250-275. The Goths under Cniva may have intended to stay, but that isnt certain.

My personal belief is that the third century crisis brought about a great deal of raiding. The main problems were not massive invasions but endemic raiding by relatively small groups. Hence the perceived increased efforts by imperial armies to combat fairly small enemy parties in the third and fourth centuries. Diocletian's/Contsantine's reforms to the Limitanei/Comitatenses system effectively spread the majority of the Roman army along the frontiers in penny packets within small forts. The regime advertised its policy from the start- fortresses or Argentei of Diocletian and Tetrarchs, through 'camp gate' small bronzes of the fourth into the fifth. This was the regime speaking to its major constituency, the landowners, who suffered most from the raids. However, Goldsworthy also comments upon the 'invisibility' of the Roman army in the fourth/fifth centuries. Unfortunately we dont know enough about the demographics, support or feelings of the majority of citizens through the fourth century, but once external invaders hit in significant numbers following the instability injected by the Huns, the border force was simply in no position to oppose (and border protection may not have been the best training for line of battle) . There were comitatenses, but not enough of them, especially once invaders established themselves inside the empire and needed watching- which drew off more troops.

The west saw its provinces ravaged and occupied and income dwindle, till the task became impossible even if it hired barbarian troops. The East was protected from most of the impact by its geographic location, since relations with the Sassanid Persians were stable through the late fourth/fifth centuries.
 
#14
He certainly pressed into place a solution, though whether it was the only solution is debatable.
Goldsworthy places one of the major causes of the fall of the west in the move away from the senatorial order and Diocletian seems to have moved the Roman world away from its classical antecedant into a different demographic through implementation of a revised managed economy, social system, imperial system and eventually military. Whether he actually ended usurpation through the fourth century seems unlikely, as you say it was onnly because of his own power whilst he was in place.

Im very impressed with your PhD! Congratulations, Most impressive and of course, it also shows your knowldge of sources etc will be far more comprehensive than an enthusiastic amateur like me (Im actually an accountant!). As you say, Diocletian's intention was to try to implement stability as well as guarantee his personal safety. Personally, he succeeded but Im not sure his success went much further than his own maintenance in power. The theory was great on paper but failed in practice.

Comparison of third and fifth century crises is really interesting. The Third seems to have been brought on by frontier pressure and raiding, along with the access of power of the Persians which opened up instability in the East. The west held fast and the crisis really covered the approx period 250-275. The Goths under Cniva may have intended to stay, but that isnt certain.

My personal belief is that the third century crisis brought about a great deal of raiding. The main problems were not massive invasions but endemic raiding by relatively small groups. Hence the perceived increased efforts by imperial armies to combat fairly small enemy parties in the third and fourth centuries. Diocletian's/Contsantine's reforms to the Limitanei/Comitatenses system effectively spread the majority of the Roman army along the frontiers in penny packets within small forts. The regime advertised its policy from the start- fortresses or Argentei of Diocletian and Tetrarchs, through 'camp gate' small bronzes of the fourth into the fifth. This was the regime speaking to its major constituency, the landowners, who suffered most from the raids. However, Goldsworthy also comments upon the 'invisibility' of the Roman army in the fourth/fifth centuries. Unfortunately we dont know enough about the demographics, support or feelings of the majority of citizens through the fourth century, but once external invaders hit in significant numbers following the instability injected by the Huns, the border force was simply in no position to oppose (and border protection may not have been the best training for line of battle) . There were comitatenses, but not enough of them, especially once invaders established themselves inside the empire and needed watching- which drew off more troops.

The west saw its provinces ravaged and occupied and income dwindle, till the task became impossible even if it hired barbarian troops. The East was protected from most of the impact by its geographic location, since relations with the Sassanid Persians were stable through the late fourth/fifth centuries.
Thanks for congratulations :) Diocletian's solutions to problems are interesting, and no doubt he could have picked alternative solutions, but I'm going to go ahead and defend him on a number of points.

Regarding the senate, I'm not sure how much we can really pin that on Diocletian and Constantine. The senate ceased to have real power as early as Augustus, and from Septimius Severus onward senators were gradually excluded from military commands, with Gallienus supposedly issuing an edict against senators holding military commands, and the last senatorial commander holding office in 270 (well before Diocletian). This was a gradual process that was presumably exacerbated by the need for military expertise on the frontiers (thus the use of military professionals with experience), the fact that equestrian officers had more opportunity to influence their emperor (who was now more often located in the provinces than Rome) than senators, and no doubt ultimately nepotism between equestrian emperors, equestrian officers and sub-altern officers. Thus, career soldiers like Postumus, Aurelian and Diocletian came to dominate the upper echelons of power and ultimately hold the emperorship. Diocletian and Constantine came to power in a world that had already left the Senate behind. Regardless of that, Diocletian certainly courted the Senate. His first consular nomination was Bassus, one of the most prestigious senators of his day, and we can cite other senatorial allies. The scholar Monica Hellstrom has also recently argued that Diocletian and Maximian went to considerable lengths to employ senators within their administration, using inscriptions erected in Rome by senators in support of her arguments. Admittedly, the Tetrarchs did not spend much time in Rome (likewise Constantine), although they did also contribute a great deal to public building in Rome (multiple bath complexes including the Baths of Diocletian, the Tetrarchic column monuments that used to exist in the Forum Romanum, the restoration of the Curia, etc). I can't say that Diocletian sought to restore the power of the Senate. But the decline of the Senate had already well-and-truly happened, and the idea that he neglected the Senate could do with revision. Admittedly, he did not present himself as a senatorial ruler, but a quasi-divine quasi-military ruler. But he also wasn't the first emperor to demand he be called Dominus et Deus (Domitian, Aurelian, etc). If one were to argue that the reduced importance of Rome herself was a problem, then Diocletian did play a major role, by visiting the city only once or twice during his long reign, and by treating certain provincial cities almost as if they were imperial capitals. Then again, emperors throughout the third century were spending less and less time in Rome due to its lack of strategic value. I would be interested to know more about why Goldsworthy thinks that the decline of the Senate played a major role in the fall of the West, but my main argument here is that the decline of the Senate, the transformation of the emperorship and the reduced importance of Rome were gradual processes that shouldn't be laid at the feet of one or two emperors.

As for the long-term success/failure of Tetrarchic rule, while I agree that it failed to work as a long-term solution, the 20 years of stable rule under the Tetrarchs (who were linked to one another as a dynasty through adoption, marriage, nomenclature and fraternal metaphor) enabled future loyalty to Maxentius, Licinius and most importantly the Constantinian dynasty. One of the key problems with the third-century succession crisis was the fact that no emperor could rule long enough to establish that aura of legitimacy that encouraged loyalty to a single dynasty - the feeling that there was indeed a legitimate imperial family. The Tetrarchs seem to have achieved this. Despite the fact that in 306 the Tetrarchy descended into civil war, note that the only emperors who found any kind of success in this period were members of the 'Tetrarchic family'. Constantine was the son of Constantius, Maxentius the son of Maximian, Licinius the 'brother' of Galerius, Maximinus the nephew of Galerius, and Maximian himself when he returned to power with ease. When the dust cleared Constantine reigned supreme, and his family ruled till 363. After Julian's untimely end, the Valentinian dynasty married Constantia to Gratian to strengthen their own dynastic credentials, and the Valentinians in turn brought into being the Theodosian dynasty, also linked through ties of marriage. Ultimately, we can draw a line of familial links beginning with Diocletian and ending with Olybrius. These familial links seem to have mattered, and while the Constantinian dynasty was challenged by the usurper Magnentius, note that Magnentius did not succeed, in part because Constantius II had an officer remind Magnentius' men of the loyalty they owed Constantine's family. If we compare the problem of usurpation in the third century with usurpations in the fourth, usurpers were far less successful in the fourth. Magnentius failed, as did Magnus Maximus and Eugenius. They failed to oust the ruling dynasty/dynasties. I would thus argue that imperial leadership in the fourth century was an improvement over the fourth, and that this couldn't have happened if Diocletian and Maximian, and thus the Tetrarchs, and thus Constantius I, and thus Constantine and his family had not been given the longevity of rule to convince their subjects of their dynastic legitimacy. That longevity of rule began with twenty+ years of Dyarchic/Tetrarchic rule, followed by 30+ years of Constantine's reign. Essentially, I think that Diocletian and Maximian's personal longevity of leadership had a long-term positive domino effect. Even though usurpations still happened, they happened with less frequency and less success. I suspect this was because the subjects of the empire better recognized dynastic legitimacy than they did in the third century. The irony of all this is that Diocletian does not seem to have desired a future in which Constantine was emperor!
 
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#15
On military reforms I am less qualified to comment, although I don't personally see how the legionary arrangement of the early empire was a better arrangement. From the late second century onward, the Roman army increasingly used smaller vexillations because the legions on the borders were too large and inflexible to deal with multiple threats that began to appear. Diocletian's and Constantine's use of smaller but tougher fortifications and smaller legions seem to link to this idea of smaller, more flexible detachments, and Gallienus' introduction of a mobile reserve responded to the need for flexibility, as did Constantine's comitatenses. So these measures were solutions to an existing legionary arrangement that was apparently ill-equipped to deal with the burgeoning crises of the third century onward. After all, the early empire had no great need for flexibility, having experienced relatively few foreign threats (and not usually all at once). Again, I'm not that sure of organizational history when it comes to Roman military history (and the positives and negatives), but I'm personally not sure what the better solution would have been. I suspect, again, that we shouldn't be laying blame at the feet of Diocletian and Constantine alone anyway, since the organization of the army had been changing in that direction since the late second century (beginning perhaps with the Marcomannic threat and Verus' Parthian war?).
 
#16
Good reasoning. I feel it was an attemnpt to re-implement the method of the adoptive emperors of the second century, but allowing for Western and Eastern courts in accordance with then-current security requirements. By restricting Augusti to say 20 or 25 years, you got the benefit of experience (even after retirement) whilst the Caesars would not have to await a death, possibly growing elderly before a succession might occur. Of course, this could not negate the effect of individual ambition (in Constantine's case, allied to significant military ability).
Yes, ultimately there was no keeping down Constantine (or Maxentius!).
 
May 2011
2,724
Rural Australia
#17
He certainly pressed into place a solution, though whether it was the only solution is debatable.
Goldsworthy places one of the major causes of the fall of the west in the move away from the senatorial order and Diocletian seems to have moved the Roman world away from its classical antecedant into a different demographic through implementation of a revised managed economy, social system, imperial system and eventually military.
The way I look at it atm is that the foundation of the Diocletian reform was the geographical establishment of the military divisions (dioceses) of the empire. Taxation collection was enhanced and if I recall correctly (Joseph Peden? Economics) he was able to estimate its amount in advance. I would infer from this arrangement that the Diocletian reforms would have seen the drawing up of a kind of Domesday Book - estate by estate throughout each of the dioceses.

Whether he actually ended usurpation through the fourth century seems unlikely, as you say it was onnly because of his own power whilst he was in place.
Whether one views Constantine as a barbarian usurper or the commander of the Western Roman Army, the administrative reforms established by Diocletian and the tetrarchy became themselves instruments of the Christian Emperors. If some primitive analog of a Domesday Book was available for the eastern empire, Constantine would have been very nterested in it. It would have told him where his expected tax had come from before his own innovations in that dept.


Im very impressed with your PhD! Congratulations,

Yes congrats kid. Keep an open mind. Maybe you can try and sort out the conflict between Bullneck and Bull-Burner.

Here is quote intended to inspire you:


"But I have good reason to distrust any historian who has nothing new to say or who produces novelties, either in facts or in interpretations, which I discover to be unreliable. Historians are supposed to be discoverers of truths. No doubt they must turn their research into some sort of story before being called historians. But their stories must be true stories. [...] History is no epic, history is no novel, history is no propaganda because in these literary genres control of the evidence is optional, not compulsory.

~ Arnaldo Momigliano, The rhetoric of history, Comparative Criticism, p. 260 [My formatting]
 
#18
The way I look at it atm is that the foundation of the Diocletian reform was the geographical establishment of the military divisions (dioceses) of the empire. Taxation collection was enhanced and if I recall correctly (Joseph Peden? Economics) he was able to estimate its amount in advance. I would infer from this arrangement that the Diocletian reforms would have seen the drawing up of a kind of Domesday Book - estate by estate throughout each of the dioceses.



Whether one views Constantine as a barbarian usurper or the commander of the Western Roman Army, the administrative reforms established by Diocletian and the tetrarchy became themselves instruments of the Christian Emperors. If some primitive analog of a Domesday Book was available for the eastern empire, Constantine would have been very nterested in it. It would have told him where his expected tax had come from before his own innovations in that dept.





Yes congrats kid. Keep an open mind. Maybe you can try and sort out the conflict between Bullneck and Bull-Burner.

Here is quote intended to inspire you:


"But I have good reason to distrust any historian who has nothing new to say or who produces novelties, either in facts or in interpretations, which I discover to be unreliable. Historians are supposed to be discoverers of truths. No doubt they must turn their research into some sort of story before being called historians. But their stories must be true stories. [...] History is no epic, history is no novel, history is no propaganda because in these literary genres control of the evidence is optional, not compulsory.

~ Arnaldo Momigliano, The rhetoric of history, Comparative Criticism, p. 260 [My formatting]
Thanks! It's a great quote.

The administrative changes made by Diocletian (except the Tetrarchy itself) were indeed preserved by the Christian emperors, including the expanded bureaucracy, the eleven dioceses (eventually thirteen) and the use of smaller provinces (the number of provinces had quadrupled in number). Diocletian's reign also saw the production of two major law codes: the Hermogenian and Gregorian codes. I think these were the first codes of their kind, and the imperial administration would use these codes until they were incorporated into the Justinian Code over 200 years later. As for taxes, Diocletian employed a regular five-yearly census. An Egyptian papyrus preserves the announcement of the first census and its rules in Egypt in 297 (called the Edict of Optatus), and other texts preserve evidence for these censuses being carried out into the reign of Constantine. They were based on land-units and the number of people in a household, and ostensibly they were to prevent people being unfairly taxed at arbitrary times through arbitrary criteria. In effect, the introduction of these reforms would have resulted in a more reliable stream of taxes to the government and regularly-updated economic/demographic records. There is a great little book about Diocletian's economic reforms called simply The Economic Reforms of Diocletian by James Ermatinger. It looks at the numismatic, currency and tax reforms, as well as the failure that was the Maximum Prices Edict (Romans of course had a weaker understanding of economics).
 
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May 2011
2,724
Rural Australia
#19
You are welcome. I am an amateur historian and A.M. has been my guide.

BTW the reference somewhere or other that I made to Peden is sourced from here:
Inflation and the Fall of the Roman Empire | Joseph R. Peden
This was an interesting article.

The administrative changes made by Diocletian (except the Tetrarchy itself) were indeed preserved by the Christian emperors, including the expanded bureaucracy, the eleven dioceses (eventually thirteen) and the use of smaller provinces (the number of provinces had quadrupled in number). Diocletian's reign also saw the production of two major law codes: the Hermogenian and Gregorian codes. I think these were the first codes of their kind, and the imperial administration would use these codes until they were incorporated into the Justinian Code over 200 years later.
That's interesting. Is it safe to assume that these codes were produced in codex form? If so, it would seem that Diocletian's rule saw the beginning of an official movement to manufacture codex manuscripts.


As for taxes, Diocletian employed a regular five-yearly census. An Egyptian papyrus preserves the announcement of the first census and its rules in Egypt in 297 (called the Edict of Optatus), and other texts preserve evidence for these censuses being carried out into the reign of Constantine. They were based on land-units and the number of people in a household, and ostensibly they were to prevent people being unfairly taxed at arbitrary times through arbitrary criteria. In effect, the introduction of these reforms would have resulted in a more reliable stream of taxes to the government and regularly-updated economic/demographic records.
Thanks. I imagine there would have been some form of corresponding increase in the tax collection class of people as well.

There is a great little book about Diocletian's economic reforms called simply The Economic Reforms of Diocletian by James Ermatinger. It looks at the numismatic, currency and tax reforms, as well as the failure that was the Maximum Prices Edict (Romans of course had a weaker understanding of economics).
Thanks again.
 
#20
You are welcome. I am an amateur historian and A.M. has been my guide.

BTW the reference somewhere or other that I made to Peden is sourced from here:
Inflation and the Fall of the Roman Empire | Joseph R. Peden
This was an interesting article.



That's interesting. Is it safe to assume that these codes were produced in codex form? If so, it would seem that Diocletian's rule saw the beginning of an official movement to manufacture codex manuscripts.




Thanks. I imagine there would have been some form of corresponding increase in the tax collection class of people as well.



Thanks again.
Apologies for the lengthy delay in replying! I've been away from this forum for the past two weeks. Momigliano is indeed one of the greats.

Thanks for the link to Peden's article. It's an interesting one, although it curiously doesn't mention Aurelian. This is perhaps going to be controversial (considering the fact that Aurelian and Diocletian are tying at the top of the poll, and Aurelian is certainly a much-loved emperor [I was among those who voted for him]), but it has been argued that Aurelian was to no small degree responsible for the hyperinflation that seems to have occurred from the 270s to the early fourth century. Based on papyri in Egypt, there appears to have been around 1000% inflation in 274! David Potter (The Roman Empire at Bay) argues that Aurelian is to blame, since in 274 he sought to replace the Denarius with his new Antoninianus. Although it was a better quality coin, it is theorized very plausibly that the impact of replacing the Denarius, a coin that had been the standard currency since the third century BC when Rome first adopted coinage, caused a devastating loss of confidence in coinage even worse than what had been caused by debasing coins in the preceding decades. Potter also suspects that, since inflation was yet to become the serious problem that it was under Diocletian, Aurelian sought to replace the Denarius merely because it meant shafting from circulation coins with the portraits of his predecessors; i.e. it was an act of self-promotion to celebrate his having reunited the empire. I do not know much about economic issues in the Roman world, but it's an interesting idea. I love Aurelian in part because of his military achievements, which secured the borders and reunified the empire. Militarily he was an absolute badass. But if Potter's argument is true then he really messed up on the economic front.

Regarding Diocletian's administrative reforms, I perhaps should have pointed out that there is some evidence that his expansion of the bureacracy and creation of smaller provinces was building on existing trends during the third century. The evidence for the 'Crisis' period is very problematic, but the growing consensus is that the creation of new provinces, the increased bureacratization of the empire, the increasingly authoritarian image of emperorship and the increasingly gaudy imperial get-up were emergency-influenced developments that began in the 'Crisis' period, were developed under Diocletian and continued to be developed under Constantine. For example, ancient authors are divided on whether Aurelian or Diocletian was the first to wear colourful, bejewelled clothes with a bejewelled diadem and shoes. Regardless, this would become the standard clothes of late Roman/Byzantine emperors.

I imagine the law codes were indeed codices, in which case I think you're right! I don't know of any previous emperors ordering the production of codices. I must admit we don't actually know that Diocletian ordered the palatine secretaries Gregorius and Hermogenianus to produce their respective codes, but the principal scholar on this topic, Simon Corcoran (The Empire of the Tetrarchs), thinks it likely that he did.

"I imagine there would have been some form of corresponding increase in the tax collection class of people as well." I suspect you're right. Incidentally, I have since learned that the five-year census was eventually replaced with a 15-year census, so the system must have stuck around for some time. Timothy E. Gregory in A History of Byzantium also makes the interesting point that people were taxed on potential economic output rather than actual economic output (based on things like quality of land, number of animals for meat, number of draught animals, number of adult men, number of adult women, number of children, etc). This should have meant that farmers were encouraged to produce more in accordance with output potential so that they could meet taxes while still have produce with which to live/make profit.
 

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