Augustus AD 284 - 305
Caius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus (AD 245 - 311):
Father of Galleria Valeria;
Father-in-low of Galerius.
AD 284 - 285 - Augustus in opposition of Numerian
AD 285 - 286 - Augustus with Maximian as Caesar
AD 286 - 305 - with Maximian
Diocletian’s illustrious career began in 284 when the army chose him to avenge the murderers of Numerian and then hailed him as Emperor. It was certainly a huge step from a poor boy from a Dalmatian family, but Diocletian soon showed that had the acumen and resourcefulness to match the responsibility that devolved on him. His first acts were to stabilize his grip on power by co-opting Carinus’ praetorian prefect and appointing his old colleague and friend Maximian as Augustus. Secure at home, he then embarked on a six-year military campaign in the East. Returning successful in 290, in 293 he re-arranged the leadership system of the Empire in Tetrarchy, including two junior rulers, Constantius I and Galerius, as Caesars. The idea was that the junior colleagues will provide an orderly manner for replacement of the Augusti when the later died or decided to retire. And so it happened in 305, when, after only visiting Rome in 303 for the first time, Diocletian stepped down and induced the hesitant Maximian to do the same. He then went into retirement to Salona in Dalmatia and died in 316, just in time to see the collapse of the Tetrarchy, demolished by the ambitions of Constantine the Great.
Diocletian’s legacy is imposing and ambiguously evaluated. He introduced a new administrative division of the Empire, doubling the number of provinces; divided the army into stationary frontier units and more mobile provincial forces; to pay for his huge military establishments and for his extensive building program in Asia Minor he had to raise new money and attempted to do it with the only economic leverage available, a monetary reform fixing prices, which collapsed right away; reformed the tax system—all this amounting to a full-fledged totalitarian state, which Diocletian sealed with his notorious persecution of members of that new Jewish sect, Christianity, who refused to sacrifice for the imperial cult. His reforms failed, his political system shattered by his successors, all that remains now of Diocletian’s reign is him memory of persecutor and the impressive ruins of his palace in Spalatum.
Mints: Antioch, Aquileia, Carthago, Cyzicus, Heraclea, Londinium, Lugdunum, Rome, Siscia, Thessalonica, Ticinum, Treveri, Tripolis.
List all Diocletian coins in the Catalog.