Galerius (/ɡəˈlɛəriəs/; Latin: Gaius Galerius Valerius Maximianus Augustus; circa 250 – April or May 311) was Roman emperor from 305 to 311. During his reign, he campaigned, aided by Diocletian, against the Sassanid Empire, sacking their capital Ctesiphon in 299. He also campaigned across the Danube against the Carpi, defeating them in 297 and 300. Although he was a staunch opponent of Christianity, Galerius ended the Diocletianic Persecution when he issued an Edict of Toleration in Serdica in 311.
|Augustus of the Eastern Roman Empire|
Porphyry bust of Galerius
|Emperor of the Roman Empire|
|Reign||1 March or 21 May 293:4, 38:288:146:64–5 – 1 May 305 (as Caesar, under Diocletian)|
1 May 305 – late April or early May 311 (as Augustus alongside Constantius (until July 25, 306) then Severus (until spring 307) then Constantine (from ca. September 307; unrecognized by Galerius' coinage from ca. September 307 to November 308) then Licinius (from 11 November 308)):4–6
|Predecessor||Maximian and Diocletian|
|Successor||Maximinus, Constantine, and Licinius:7|
|Co-emperors||Constantius Chlorus (Western Emperor, 305–306) |
Valerius Severus (Western Emperor, 306–307)
Constantine I (Western Emperor, 306–311)
Maxentius (Western Emperor, 306–311)
Licinius (Western Emperor, 308–311)
|Born||c. 250 |
Serdica (Sofia, Bulgaria)
|Died||5 May 311 (aged around 61)|
Serdica (Sofia), Bulgaria
Valeria Maximilla, Roman Empress
Galerius was born near Serdica, in Dacia Ripensis, later named Dacia Mediterranea, though some modern scholars consider the strategic site where he later built his palace named after his mother – Felix Romuliana (Gamzigrad) – his birth and funeral place. His father was a Thracian and his mother Romula was a Dacian woman, who left Dacia because of the Carpians' attacks.:19 He originally followed his father's occupation, that of a herdsman, where he got his surname of Armentarius (Latin: armentum, herd).
He served with distinction as a soldier under Emperors Aurelian and Probus, and in 293 at the establishment of the Tetrarchy, was designated Caesar along with Constantius Chlorus, receiving in marriage Diocletian's daughter Valeria (later known as Galeria Valeria), and at the same time being entrusted with the care of the Illyrian provinces. After a few years campaigning against Sarmatians and Goths on the Danube, he received command of the legions on the eastern imperial limits. Soon after his appointment, Galerius was dispatched to Egypt to fight the rebellious cities Busiris and Coptos.
In 294, Narseh, a son of Shapur I, who had been passed over for the Sassanid succession, came into power in Persia. Narseh probably moved to eliminate Bahram III, a young man installed by a noble named Vahunam in the wake of Bahram II's death in 293.:292:69 In early 294, Narseh sent Diocletian the customary package of gifts, but within Persia, he was destroying every trace of his immediate predecessors, erasing their names from public monuments. He sought to identify himself with the warlike reigns of Ardashir (r. 226–41) and Shapur (r. 241–72), who had sacked Roman Antioch and captured Emperor Valerian.:69–70
In 295 or 296, Narseh declared war on Rome. He appears to have first invaded western Armenia, retaking the lands delivered to Tiridates in the peace of 287. He occupied the lands there until the following year.:149:292 The historian Ammianus Marcellinus, circa 320-395, is the only source detailing the initial invasion of Armenia. Southern (1999, 149) dates the invasion to 295; Barnes (1982, 17, 293) mentions an earlier, unsuccessful invasion by Narseh based on the fact that the title Persici Maximi was given to all four emperors; Odahl (2004, 59) concurs with Barnes and suggests that Saracen princes in the Syrian desert collaborated with Narseh's invasion. Narseh then moved south into Roman Mesopotamia, where he inflicted a severe defeat on Galerius, then commander of the eastern forces, in the region between Carrhae (Harran, Turkey) and Callinicum (Raqqa, Syria). Diocletian may or may not have been present at the battle,:652 but presented himself soon afterwards at Antioch, where the official version of events was made clear: Galerius was to take all the blame for the affair. In Antioch, Diocletian forced Galerius to walk a mile in advance of his imperial cart while still clad in the purple robes of an emperor.:292–3 The message conveyed was clear; the loss at Carrhae was not due to the failings of the empire's soldiers, but due to the failings of their commander, and Galerius' failures would not be accepted. Galerius' position at the head of the caravan possibly was merely the conventional organization of an imperial progression, designed to show a Caesar's deference to his Augustus.
Galerius's army was reinforced probably in the spring of 298 by new contingents collected from the empire's Danubian holdings. Narseh did not advance from Armenia and Mesopotamia leaving Galerius to lead the offensive in 298 with an attack on northern Mesopotamia via Armenia. Diocletian may or may not have been present to assist the campaign. Narseh retreated to Armenia to fight Galerius' force, to Narseh's disadvantage; the rugged Armenian terrain was favorable to Roman infantry, but not to Sassanid cavalry. Local aid gave Galerius the advantage of surprise over the Persian forces, and, in two successive battles, Galerius secured victories over Narseh.
During the second encounter, the Battle of Satala in 298, Roman forces seized Narseh's camp, his treasury, his harem, and his wife. Narseh's wife would live out the remainder of the war in Daphne, a suburb of Antioch, serving as a constant reminder to the Persians of the Roman victory. Galerius advanced into Media and Adiabene, winning continuous victories, most prominently near Theodosiopolis (Erzurum),:151 and securing Nisibis (Nusaybin) before 1 October 298. He moved down the Tigris, taking Ctesiphon, and gazing onwards to the ruins of Babylon before returning to Roman territory via the Euphrates. No source ever specifically claims that Ctesiphon was sacked, but it is assumed to have been, primarily due to the seizure of Narseh's wife and harem.:150
Narseh had previously sent an ambassador to Galerius to plead for the return of his wife and children, but Galerius had dismissed this ambassador, reminding him of how Shapur had treated Valerian. The Romans, in any case, treated Narseh's captured family well perhaps seeking to evoke comparisons to Alexander and his beneficent conduct towards the family of Darius III. Peace negotiations began in the spring of 299, with both Diocletian and Galerius presiding. Their magister memoriae (secretary) Sicorius Probus was sent to Narseh to present terms.
The conditions of the Peace of Nisibis were heavy: Persia would give up territory to Rome, making the Tigris the boundary between the two empires. Further terms specified that Armenia was returned to Roman domination with the fort of Ziatha as its border; Caucasian Iberia would pay allegiance to Rome under a Roman appointee; Nisibis, now under Roman rule, would become the sole conduit for trade between Persia and Rome; and Rome would exercise control over the five satrapies between the Tigris and Armenia: Ingilene, Sophanene (Sophene), Arzanene (Aghdznik), Corduene, and Zabdicene (near modern Hakkâri, Turkey). These regions included the passage of the Tigris through the Anti-Taurus range; the Bitlis pass, the quickest southerly route into Persian Armenia; and access to the Tur Abdin plateau. With these territories, Rome would have an advance station north of Ctesiphon, and would be able to slow any future advance of Persian forces through the region. Under the terms of the peace, Tiridates would regain both his throne and the entirety of his ancestral claim, and Rome would secure a wide zone of cultural influence in the region. Because the empire was able to sustain such constant warfare on so many fronts, it has been taken as a sign of the essential efficacy of the Diocletianic system and the goodwill of the army towards the tetrarchic enterprise.:150
After the elevation of Constantius I and Galerius to the rank of Augustus, two new Caesars were required to take their place. The two persons whom Galerius promoted to the rank of Caesar were very much his creatures, and he hoped to enhance his authority throughout the empire with their elevation.
First was Maximinus Daia, whose mother was Galerius' sister. An inexperienced youth with little formal education, he was invested with the purple, exalted to the dignity of Caesar, and assigned the command of Egypt and Syria. Second was Severus, Galerius' comrade in arms; he was sent to Milan to receive the possession of Italy and Africa. According to the forms of the constitution, Severus acknowledged the supremacy of the western emperor, but he was absolutely devoted to the commands of his benefactor Galerius, who, reserving to himself the intermediate countries from the confines of Italy to those of Syria, firmly established his power over three-quarters of the empire.
His hopes were dashed when his colleague Constantius died at York in 306 and the legions elevated his son Constantine to the position of Augustus. Galerius only discovered this when he received a letter from Constantine, who informed him of his father's death, modestly asserted his natural claim to the succession, and respectfully lamented that the enthusiastic violence of his troops had not allowed him to obtain the imperial purple in the regular and constitutional manner. The first emotions of Galerius were those of surprise, disappointment, and rage, and as he could seldom restrain his passions, he threatened to burn both the letter and the messenger.
Later, however, when he had time to reconsider his position, he inevitably saw that his chances of winning a war against Constantine were doubtful at best. Galerius was well aware of Constantine’s strengths – Constantine had been his guest for some time at Nicomedia – and knew that Constantius' legions were wildly devoted to his son. Therefore, without either condemning or ratifying the choice of the Roman army, Galerius accepted the son of his deceased colleague as the ruler of the provinces beyond the Alps; but he gave him only the title of Caesar, and the fourth rank among the Roman princes, whilst he conferred the vacant place of Augustus on his favourite Severus.
The ambitious spirit of Galerius was only just over this disappointment when he beheld the unexpected loss of Italy to Maxentius, who was married to his daughter Valeria Maximilla. Galerius’ need for additional revenue had persuaded him to make a very strict and rigorous examination of the property of his subjects for the purpose of a general taxation. A very minute survey was taken of their real estates and, wherever there was the slightest suspicion of concealment, torture was used to obtain a sincere declaration of their personal wealth. Italy had traditionally been exempt from any form of taxation, but Galerius ignored this precedent, and the officers of the revenue already began to number the Roman people, and to settle the proportion of the new taxes. Italy began to murmur against this indignity and Maxentius used this sentiment to declare himself emperor in Italy, to the fury of Galerius. Therefore, Galerius ordered his colleague Severus to immediately march to Rome, in the full confidence that, by his unexpected arrival, he would easily suppress the rebellion. Severus was captured after his troops deserted to their old commander Maximian, who had once again been elevated to the rank of co-emperor, this time by his son Maxentius. Severus was later executed.
The importance of the occasion needed the presence and abilities of Galerius. At the head of a powerful army collected from Illyricum and the East, he entered Italy, determined to avenge Severus and to punish the rebellious Romans. But due to the skill of Maximian, Galerius found every place hostile, fortified, and inaccessible; and though he forced his way as far as Narni, within sixty miles of Rome, his control in Italy was confined to the narrow limits of his camp.
Seeing that he was facing ever-greater difficulties, Galerius made the first advances towards reconciliation, and dispatched two officers to tempt the Romans by the offer of a conference, and the declaration of his paternal regard for Maxentius, reminding them that they would obtain much more from his willing generosity than anything that might have been obtained through a military campaign. The offers of Galerius were rejected with firmness, his friendship refused, and it was not long before he discovered that, unless he retreated, he would share Severus' fate. It was not a moment too soon; large monetary gifts from Maxentius to his soldiers had corrupted the fidelity of the Illyrian legions. When Galerius finally began his withdrawal from Italy, it was only with great difficulty that he managed to stop his veterans deserting him.
In frustration, Galerius allowed his legions to ravage the countryside as they passed northwards. Maxentius declined to make a general engagement.
With so many emperors now in existence, in 308 Galerius, together with the retired emperor Diocletian and the now active Maximian, called an imperial 'conference' at Carnuntum on the River Danube to rectify the situation and bring some order back into the imperial government. Here it was agreed that Galerius’ long-time friend and military companion Licinius, who had been entrusted by Galerius with the defense of the Danube while Galerius was in Italy, would become Augustus in the West, with Constantine as his Caesar. In the East, Galerius remained Augustus and Maximinus remained his Caesar. Maximian was to retire, and Maxentius was declared a usurper.
Galerius’ plan soon failed. The news of Licinius’ promotion was no sooner carried into the East, than Maximinus, who governed the provinces of Egypt and Syria, rejected his position as Caesar, and, notwithstanding the prayers as well as arguments of Galerius, exacted the equal title of Augustus. For the first, and indeed for the last time, six emperors administered the Roman world. Though the opposition of interest, and the memory of a recent war, divided the empire into two great hostile powers, their mutual fears and the fading authority of Galerius produced an apparent tranquility in the imperial government.
The last years of Galerius saw him relinquishing his aspirations towards being the supreme ruler of the empire, though he managed to retain the position of first among equals. He spent the remainder of his years enjoying himself and ordering some important public works, such as discharging into the Danube the superfluous waters of Lake Pelso, and cutting down the immense forests that encompassed it.
Christians had lived in peace during most of the rule of Diocletian. The persecutions that began with an edict of February 24, 303, were credited by Christians to Galerius' work, as he was a fierce advocate of the old ways and old gods. Christian houses of assembly were destroyed, for fear of sedition in secret gatherings.
Diocletian was not anti-Christian during the first part of his reign, and historians have claimed that Galerius decided to prod him into persecuting them by secretly burning the Imperial Palace and blaming it on Christian saboteurs. Regardless of who was at fault for the fire, Diocletian's rage was aroused and he began one of the last and greatest Christian persecutions in the history of the Roman Empire.
It was at the insistence of Galerius that the last edicts of persecution against the Christians were published, beginning on February 24, 303, and this policy of repression was maintained by him until the appearance of the general edict of toleration, issued from Nicomedia in April 311, apparently during his last bout of illness (see Edict of Toleration by Galerius). Galerius's last request, that Christians should pray for him as he suffered with a painful and fatal illness, was in vain for he died six days later.
Initially one of the leading figures in the persecutions, Galerius later admitted that the policy of trying to eradicate Christianity had failed, saying: "wherefore, for this our indulgence, they ought to pray to their God for our safety, for that of the republic, and for their own, that the republic may continue uninjured on every side, and that they may be able to live securely in their homes." Lactantius gives the text of the edict in his moralized chronicle of the bad ends to which all the persecutors came, De Mortibus Persecutorum. This marked the end of official persecution of Christians. Christianity was officially legalized in the Roman Empire two years later in 313 by Constantine and Licinius in the Edict of Milan.
Galerius was buried in his mausoleum at Gamzigrad-Romuliana, which was part of the palace he built at his birthplace, today's Zaječar in Serbia. Several lumps composed of corroded iron ring mail (lorica hamata) have been found at the site. This mail armour may have been worn by the wax ﬁgure of the emperor that was burned during the imperial funeral and apotheosis ceremony. The entire site has been inscribed into the World Heritage List in June 2007.
According to Lactantius, Galerius affirmed his Dacian identity and avowed himself the enemy of the Roman name once made emperor, even proposing that the empire should be called, not the Roman, but the Dacian Empire, much to the horror of the patricians and senators. He exhibited anti-Roman attitude as soon as he had attained the highest power, treating the Roman citizens with ruthless cruelty, like the conquerors treated the conquered, all in the name of the same treatment that the victorious Trajan had applied to the conquered Dacians, forefathers of Galerius, two centuries before.
GaleriusBorn: 250 Died: April or May 311
Diocletian (with Maximian in the west)
| Eastern Roman Emperor
305 (Caesar from 293)–311
Served alongside: Constantius Chlorus (west), Constantine I (west), Licinius (west), and Maximinus (east)
Maximinus (with Constantine I and Licinus in the east)
| Consul of the Roman Empire
with Constantius Chlorus
Nummius Tuscus ,
Gaius Annius Anullinus
| Consul of the Roman Empire
Anicius Faustus Paulinus ,
| Consul of the Roman Empire
with Constantius Chlorus
Titus Flavius Postumius Titianus ,
Titus Flavius Postumius Titianus ,
| Consul of the Roman Empire
with Constantius Chlorus
| Consul of the Roman Empire
with Constantius Chlorus,
Flavius Valerius Severus,
Tatius Andronicus ,
| Consul of the Roman Empire
with Maximinus Daia ,
Gaius Caeionius Rufius Volusianus,
Constantine I ,
Andronikos V Palaiologos (or Andronicus V Palaeologus) (Greek: Ανδρόνικος Ε' Παλαιολόγος) (c. 1400 – c. 1407) was co-emperor of the Byzantine Empire with his father John VII Palaiologos.Arch of Galerius and Rotunda
The Arch of Galerius (Gr.: Αψίδα του Γαλερίου) or Kamara (Gr.: Καμάρα) and the Rotunda (Ροτόντα) are neighbouring early 4th-century AD monuments in the city of Thessaloniki, in the region of Central Macedonia in northern Greece.Battle of Satala (298)
The Battle of Satala was fought in 298, in Armenia, between the forces of the Roman Empire under the Tetrarch Galerius and the forces of the Sassanid Empire of Persia led by Shah Narseh (Narses). The battle was an overwhelming victory for the Roman army, with the Persian army destroyed as a fighting force.Constantine the Great
Constantine the Great (Latin: Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus; Greek: Κωνσταντῖνος ὁ Μέγας; 27 February c. 272 AD – 22 May 337 AD), also known as Constantine I, was a Roman Emperor who ruled between 306 and 337 AD. Born on the territory now known as Niš (Serbian Cyrillic: Ниш, located in Serbia), he was the son of Flavius Valerius Constantius, a Roman Army officer. His mother was Empress Helena. His father became Caesar, the deputy emperor in the west, in 293 AD. Constantine was sent east, where he rose through the ranks to become a military tribune under Emperors Diocletian and Galerius. In 305, Constantius was raised to the rank of Augustus, senior western emperor, and Constantine was recalled west to campaign under his father in Britannia (Britain). Constantine was acclaimed as emperor by the army at Eboracum (modern-day York) after his father's death in 306 AD. He emerged victorious in a series of civil wars against Emperors Maxentius and Licinius to become sole ruler of both west and east by 324 AD.
As emperor, Constantine enacted administrative, financial, social, and military reforms to strengthen the empire. He restructured the government, separating civil and military authorities. To combat inflation he introduced the solidus, a new gold coin that became the standard for Byzantine and European currencies for more than a thousand years. The Roman army was reorganised to consist of mobile field units and garrison soldiers capable of countering internal threats and barbarian invasions. Constantine pursued successful campaigns against the tribes on the Roman frontiers—the Franks, the Alamanni, the Goths, and the Sarmatians—even resettling territories abandoned by his predecessors during the Crisis of the Third Century.
Constantine was the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity. Although he lived much of his life as a pagan, and later as a catechumen, he joined the Christian faith on his deathbed, being baptised by Eusebius of Nicomedia. He played an influential role in the proclamation of the Edict of Milan in 313, which declared religious tolerance for Christianity in the Roman empire. He called the First Council of Nicaea in 325, which produced the statement of Christian belief known as the Nicene Creed. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was built on his orders at the purported site of Jesus' tomb in Jerusalem and became the holiest place in Christendom. The Papal claim to temporal power in the High Middle Ages was based on the forged Donation of Constantine. He has historically been referred to as the "First Christian Emperor", and he did heavily promote the Christian Church. Some modern scholars, however, debate his beliefs and even his comprehension of the Christian faith itself.The age of Constantine marked a distinct epoch in the history of the Roman Empire. He built a new imperial residence at Byzantium and renamed the city Constantinople (now Istanbul) after himself (the laudatory epithet of "New Rome" came later, and was never an official title). It became the capital of the Empire for more than a thousand years, with the later eastern Roman Empire now being referred to as the Byzantine Empire by historians. His more immediate political legacy was that he replaced Diocletian's tetrarchy with the principle of dynastic succession by leaving the empire to his sons. His reputation flourished during the lifetime of his children and for centuries after his reign. The medieval church upheld him as a paragon of virtue, while secular rulers invoked him as a prototype, a point of reference, and the symbol of imperial legitimacy and identity. Beginning with the Renaissance, there were more critical appraisals of his reign, due to the rediscovery of anti-Constantinian sources. Trends in modern and recent scholarship have attempted to balance the extremes of previous scholarship.Constantius Chlorus
Constantius I (Latin: Marcus Flavius Valerius Constantius Herculius Augustus; 31 March c. 250 – 25 July 306), commonly known as Constantius Chlorus (Greek: Κωνστάντιος Χλωρός, Kōnstantios Khlōrós, literally "Constantius the Pale"), was a Caesar from 293 to 305 and a Roman Emperor from 305 to 306. He was the father of Constantine the Great and founder of the Constantinian dynasty.
As Caesar, a junior emperor, he defeated the usurper Allectus in Britain and campaigned extensively along the Rhine frontier, defeating the Alamanni and Franks. Upon becoming Augustus in 305, Constantius launched a successful punitive campaign against the Picts beyond the Antonine Wall. However, Constantius died suddenly in Eboracum (York) the following year. His death sparked the collapse of the tetrarchic system of government inaugurated by the Emperor Diocletian.Diocletian
Diocletian (; Latin: Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus Augustus), born Diocles (22 December 244 – 3 December 311), was a Roman emperor from 284 to 305. Born to a family of low status in Dalmatia, Diocletian rose through the ranks of the military to become Roman 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' 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 reigned in the Eastern Empire, and Maximian reigned in the Western Empire. Diocletian delegated further on 1 March 293, appointing Galerius and Constantius as Caesars, junior co-emperors, under himself and Maximian respectively. 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 favourable 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, Sirmium, and Trevorum, closer to the empire's frontiers than the traditional capital at Rome. 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 (303–312), the empire's last, largest, and bloodiest official persecution of Christianity, failed to eliminate Christianity in the empire; indeed, after 324, Christianity became the empire's preferred religion under Constantine. Despite 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 150 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.Diocletianic Persecution
The Diocletianic or Great Persecution was the last and most severe persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire. In 303, the Emperors Diocletian, Maximian, Galerius, and Constantius issued a series of edicts rescinding Christians' legal rights and demanding that they comply with traditional religious practices. Later edicts targeted the clergy and demanded universal sacrifice, ordering all inhabitants to sacrifice to the gods. The persecution varied in intensity across the empire—weakest in Gaul and Britain, where only the first edict was applied, and strongest in the Eastern provinces. Persecutory laws were nullified by different emperors (Galerius with the Edict of Serdica in 311) at different times, but Constantine and Licinius's Edict of Milan (313) has traditionally marked the end of the persecution.
Christians had always been subject to local discrimination in the empire, but early emperors were reluctant to issue general laws against the sect. It was not until the 250s, under the reigns of Decius and Valerian, that such laws were passed. Under this legislation, Christians were compelled to sacrifice to Roman gods or face imprisonment and execution. After Gallienus's accession in 260, these laws went into abeyance. Diocletian's assumption of power in 284 did not mark an immediate reversal of imperial inattention to Christianity, but it did herald a gradual shift in official attitudes toward religious minorities. In the first fifteen years of his rule, Diocletian purged the army of Christians, condemned Manicheans to death, and surrounded himself with public opponents of Christianity. Diocletian's preference for activist government, combined with his self-image as a restorer of past Roman glory, foreboded the most pervasive persecution in Roman history. In the winter of 302, Galerius urged Diocletian to begin a general persecution of the Christians. Diocletian was wary, and asked the oracle of Apollo for guidance. The oracle's reply was read as an endorsement of Galerius's position, and a general persecution was called on February 24, 303.
Persecutory policies varied in intensity across the empire. Where Galerius and Diocletian were avid persecutors, Constantius was unenthusiastic. Later persecutory edicts, including the calls for universal sacrifice, were not applied in his domain. His son, Constantine, on taking the imperial office in 306, restored Christians to full legal equality and returned property that had been confiscated during the persecution. In Italy in 306, the usurper Maxentius ousted Maximian's successor Severus, promising full religious toleration. Galerius ended the persecution in the East in 311, but it was resumed in Egypt, Palestine, and Asia Minor by his successor, Maximinus. Constantine and Licinius, Severus's successor, signed the Edict of Milan in 313, which offered a more comprehensive acceptance of Christianity than Galerius's edict had provided. Licinius ousted Maximinus in 313, bringing an end to persecution in the East.
The persecution failed to check the rise of the Church. By 324, Constantine was sole ruler of the empire, and Christianity had become his favored religion. Although the persecution resulted in death, torture, imprisonment, or dislocation for many Christians, the majority of the empire's Christians avoided punishment. The persecution did, however, cause many churches to split between those who had complied with imperial authority (the traditores), and those who had remained "pure". Certain schisms, like those of the Donatists in North Africa and the Meletians in Egypt, persisted long after the persecutions. The Donatists would not be reconciled to the Church until after 411. Some historians consider that, in the centuries that followed the persecutory era, Christians created a "cult of the martyrs", and exaggerated its barbarity. Such Christian accounts were criticized during the Enlightenment and afterwards, most notably by Edward Gibbon. Modern historians, such as G. E. M. de Ste. Croix, have attempted to determine whether Christian sources exaggerated the scope of the Diocletianic persecution.Edict of Milan
The Edict of Milan (Latin: Edictum Mediolanense) was the February 313 AD agreement to treat Christians benevolently within the Roman Empire. Western Roman Emperor Constantine I and Emperor Licinius, who controlled the Balkans, met in Mediolanum (modern-day Milan) and, among other things, agreed to change policies towards Christians following the Edict of Toleration issued by Emperor Galerius two years earlier in Serdica. The Edict of Milan gave Christianity a legal status, but did not make Christianity the State church of the Roman Empire; this took place under Emperor Theodosius I in 380 AD with the Edict of Thessalonica.
The document is found in Lactantius' De Mortibus Persecutorum and in Eusebius of Caesarea's History of the Church with marked divergences between the two. Whether or not there was a formal 'Edict of Milan' is debated by some.The version found in Lactantius is not in the form of an edict. It is a letter from Licinius to the governors of the provinces in the Eastern Empire he had just conquered by defeating Maximinus later in the same year and issued in Nicomedia.Edict of Serdica
The Edict of Serdica, also called Edict of Toleration by Galerius, was issued in 311 in Serdica (today Sofia, Bulgaria) by the Roman emperor Galerius, officially ending the Diocletianic persecution of Christianity in the East.The Edict implicitly granted Christianity the status of "religio licita", a worship recognized and accepted by the Roman Empire. It was the first edict legalizing Christianity, preceding the Edict of Milan by two years.Gamzigrad
Gamzigrad (Гамзиград, pronounced [ɡǎmziɡraːd]) is an archaeological site, spa resort and UNESCO World Heritage Site of Serbia, located south of the Danube river, near the city of Zaječar. It is the location of the ancient Roman complex of palaces and temples Felix Romuliana, built by Emperor Galerius in Dacia Ripensis. The main area covers 10 acres (40,000 m2).Licinius
Licinius I (; Latin: Gaius Valerius Licinianus Licinius Augustus; c. 263 – 325) was a Roman emperor from 308 to 324. For most of his reign he was the colleague and rival of Constantine I, with whom he co-authored the Edict of Milan that granted official toleration to Christians in the Roman Empire. He was finally defeated at the Battle of Chrysopolis, and was later executed on the orders of Constantine I.Marcus Aurelius Marius
Marcus Aurelius Marius was emperor of the Gallic Empire in 269 following the assassination of Postumus.Maxentius
For the saint of the same name see Saint MaxentiusMaxentius (Latin: Marcus Aurelius Valerius Maxentius Augustus; c. 278 – 28 October 312) was Roman Emperor from 306 to 312. He was the son of former Emperor Maximian and the son-in-law of Emperor Galerius. The latter part of his reign was preoccupied with civil war, allying with Maximinus II against Licinius and Constantine. The latter defeated him at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge in 312, where Maxentius, with his army in flight, purportedly perished by drowning in the Tiber river.Maximian
Maximian (Latin: Marcus Aurelius Valerius Maximianus Herculius Augustus; c. 250 – c. July 310) was Roman Emperor from 286 to 305. He was Caesar from 285 to 286, then Augustus from 286 to 305. He shared the latter title with his co-emperor and superior, Diocletian, whose political brain complemented Maximian's military brawn. Maximian established his residence at Trier but spent most of his time on campaign. In late 285, he suppressed rebels in Gaul known as the Bagaudae. From 285 to 288, he fought against Germanic tribes along the Rhine frontier. Together with Diocletian, he launched a scorched earth campaign deep into Alamannic territory in 288, temporarily relieving the Rhine provinces from the threat of Germanic invasion.
The man he appointed to police the Channel shores, Carausius, rebelled in 286, causing the secession of Britain and northwestern Gaul. Maximian failed to oust Carausius, and his invasion fleet was destroyed by storms in 289 or 290. Maximian's subordinate, Constantius, campaigned against Carausius' successor, Allectus, while Maximian held the Rhine frontier. The rebel leader was ousted in 296, and Maximian moved south to combat piracy near Hispania and Berber incursions in Mauretania. When these campaigns concluded in 298, he departed for Italy, where he lived in comfort until 305. At Diocletian's behest, Maximian abdicated on May 1, 305, gave the Augustan office to Constantius, and retired to southern Italy.
In late 306, Maximian took the title of Augustus again and aided his son Maxentius' rebellion in Italy. In April 307, he attempted to depose his son, but failed and fled to the court of Constantius' successor, Constantine (Maximian's step-grandson and son-in-law), in Trier. At the Council of Carnuntum in November 308, Diocletian and his successor, Galerius, forced Maximian to renounce his imperial claim again. In early 310, Maximian attempted to seize Constantine's title while the emperor was on campaign on the Rhine. Few supported him, and he was captured by Constantine in Marseille. Maximian killed himself in mid-310 on Constantine's orders. During Constantine's war with Maxentius, Maximian's image was purged from all public places. However, after Constantine ousted and killed Maxentius, Maximian's image was rehabilitated, and he was deified.Maximinus II
Maximinus II (Latin: Gaius Valerius Galerius Maximinus Daia Augustus; 20 November c. 270 – July or August 313), also known as Maximinus Daia or Maximinus Daza, was Roman Emperor from 308 to 313. He became embroiled in the Civil wars of the Tetrarchy between rival claimants for control of the empire, in which he was defeated by Licinius. A committed pagan, he engaged in one of the last persecutions of Christians.Tetrarchy
The term "tetrarchy" (from the Greek: τετραρχία, tetrarchia, "leadership of four [people]") describes any form of government where power is divided among four individuals, but in modern usage usually refers to the system instituted by Roman Emperor Diocletian in 293, marking the end of the Crisis of the Third Century and the recovery of the Roman Empire. This tetrarchy lasted until c. 313, when mutually destructive conflict eliminated most of the claimants to power, leaving Constantine in control of the western half of the empire, and Licinius in control of the eastern half.Tetricus II
Caius Pius Esuvius Tetricus (also seen as Gaius Pius Esuvius Tetricus but better known in English as Tetricus II) was the son of Tetricus I, Emperor of the Gallic Empire (270-274).
In 273, he was raised to the rank of Caesar, with the title of princeps iuventutis, and in January 274 he started his first consulship, together with his father. After the defeat and deposition of his father in the autumn of 274, he appeared as a prisoner in Aurelian's triumph, but the emperor spared their lives. According to some sources, he had also kept his senatorial rank.Theodosius III
Theodosios III or Theodosius III (Greek: Θεοδόσιος Γ΄) was Byzantine Emperor from 715 to 25 March 717.Valerius Severus
Valerius Severus (Latin: Flavius Valerius Severus Augustus; died September 307), also Severus II, was a Western Roman Emperor from 306 to 307. After failing to besiege Rome, he fled to Ravenna. It is thought that he was killed there or executed near Rome.