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Reforms of Diocletian

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Autor:   •  March 16, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,245 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,069 Views

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"Discuss the reforms of Diocletian. What were they, why did he think they were necessary, what impact long and short range." Be sure to include comments regarding dominate, tetrarchy (not year of 4 emperors), edict of Prices (Bailkey Lim) and Xp (Christians). Diocletian affects greatly the modern world. End of antiquity was around 9th century.

Diocletian brought an end to the period popularly known to historians as the "Crisis of the Third Century" (235вЂ"284). He established an autocratic government and was responsible for laying the groundwork for the second phase of the Roman Empire, which is known variously as the "Dominate" (as opposed to the Principate instituted by Augustus), the "Tetrarchy", or simply the "Later Roman Empire". Diocletian's reforms fundamentally changed the structure of imperial government and helped stabilize the empire economically and militarily, enabling it to remain essentially intact for another hundred years.

splitting the Empire into two in order to be more manageable, creating a new system of Imperial succession, ruling as an autocrat and stripping away any remaining faÐ"§ade of republicanism, and economic reforms aimed at the problem of hyperinflation.

These arrangements, while awkward at times and followed more closely by some emperors than others, worked for the first two centuries of the empire's existence. However, starting with the reign of Septimius Severus, rulers began to strip away or simply ignore many of the republican conventions, and reigned more as dictators than constitutional monarchs. This process undermined the office's foundations and legitimacy. Diocletian recognized that the title had to be based on something more than simply military force, in order to be more recognized and stable. So he sought to build a new basis for imperial legitimacy in the state religion, with himself as semi-divine monarch and high priest.

Diocletian chose a new title for himself, calling himself Dominus et deus, or "Lord and God" (hence "Dominate"). He would actually sit on a throne. He was not to be seen in public, and if an audience was required, he had elaborate ceremonies in which the visitor would be required to lie on the ground prostrate and never to look at the emperor, allowed perhaps to kiss the bottom of his robe. In this way he created a remote, mysterious, theocratic and autocratic office.


Diocletian's experiences during his first nine years of running around the empire putting out fires brought him to the conclusion that the empire was simply too big for a single Emperor to ruleвЂ"that it was not feasible to address barbarian invasions along the Rhine and Egyptian problems at the same time, along with the internal problems the empire was experiencing. His radical solution was to split the Empire in two, drawing a line straight down the middle of the map with the axis just east of Rome into eastern and western halves. While this division did not last in the short term, it set the precedent for the permanent division of the empire after 395.

The question of imperial succession had never been solved in the Roman system; there was no clear principle of succession, which often led to civil wars. In order to solve the problem of succession, and to answer the question of who would be Emperor of the newly divided East and West, Diocletian created what has become known as the system of "Tetrarchy", or "rule of four", whereby a senior emperor would rule in the East and another senior emperor would rule the West, and each would have a junior emperor. Among the many titles traditionally bestowed on Roman emperors, the most important was that of Augustus and therefore only the two senior emperors took this title, with the junior emperors receiving the lesser title of Caesar. Diocletian intended that when the senior emperor retired or died, the Caesar would take his place and choose a new junior emperor Caesar, thus solving the problem of succession.

While improving the ability of the two emperors to rule the empire, the division of power further marginalized the Senate, which remained in Rome. Considering that during the half-century preceding Diocletian's ascension the empire had been in a nearly constant state of civil war, it is remarkable that the Tetrarchy did not immediately fall apart due to the greed of any of the four emperors. In 305, Diocletian retired and Maximian was persuaded to do the same. The two Caesars became the senior emperors as designed, but when it came time to choose new Caesars, the military and Senate intervened and brought forward their own candidates.

In 306, Constantine started a civil war in the west, which he won in 312. He took the eastern half from Licinius by 324 and ruled the entire empire until his death in 337. Power


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