Why was Diocletian so effective in everything

2. DIOCLETIAN, THE TETRARCHY AND THE CHRISTIANS (284–305) Late antiquity began with murder. The emperor numerianus died in asia minor in november 284 on his way back from a persian war. The circumstances had been strange: Numerian had allowed himself to be transported in a closed litter due to an eye disease, after a few days the smell of putrefaction was noticed and the emperor was found dead. The generals present agreed on Gaius Valerius Diocles as successor. Diocles, a senior officer of simple origin, came from Dalmatia and was now 35 to 40 years old. On November 20, the assembled army in Nikomedeia (on the Marble Sea) proclaimed him emperor. Diocles made a speech, at the end raised his sword and called on the sun god Sol as evidence that he had no part in the death of numerians and that he did not want rule - and stabbed the Praetorian prefect standing next to him aper as the culprit. That was a brutal act. As the bodyguard in command, aper would of course have had the opportunity to commit murder. But he lacked the motive because as the emperor's father-in-law he was very close to the throne anyway. As a direct beneficiary, Diocles was more likely to be questioned, and in fact he had to defend himself publicly against this accusation. The most obvious assumption, however, is that the numerian, weakened by an illness, died a natural death. But the suspicion is understandable: in those years emperors were often violently killed. It was the time of the soldier emperors, and that meant not only that soldiers became emperors, but also that soldiers made them and often soldiers made them again. After Numerian's death, the army did not consider involving the Senate and the people of Rome. The leaders made the new ruler among themselves - we do not know why Diocles 192nd Diocletian, the Tetrarchy and the Christians (284–305) prevailed - and the soldiers as a whole accepted the proposal through their proclamation. Nobody cared that there was already a ruling emperor in Carinus, the older brother of the dead man. Carinus was far away in the west, the army wanted its own emperor. Diocletian, the Tetrarchy and the Christians (284–305) 20 den, but die just as quickly in the purple. In view of this, nothing at first indicated that Diocles would be an exception. The public assassination of Apers should also be assessed against this background: not only was an annoying competitor or even confidante eliminated, the act was also intended to instill respect in the soldiers, put the Praetorians in their place and warn rivals against wrong steps. The time of the soldier emperors began around 50 years earlier. During the early and high principle, i.e. during the first two centuries after christian, the roman empire had to cope with manageable external demands. only because of that it had been able to remain stable for so long. in the third century that changed. The difference was not so much that the dangers themselves had increased, but that they were simultaneously besetting the empire. The three critical river borders of the empire were almost regularly under attack. Germanic peoples like the Franks and Alemanni pressed on the Rhine border, on the lower Danube the Goths made themselves particularly noticeable, on the Euphrates the New Persian Empire of the Sasanids began a far more aggressive foreign policy against Rome than their Parthian predecessors had ever pursued. The Roman army was already far too weak numerically to face all these threats at the same time, the rich too gigantic to allow rapid troop movements from one source of danger to the next. The enemies broke deep into Roman territory, as far as northern Italy and Greece. For centuries the subjects of Rome had not known such an insecurity that it was losing its reputation. The roman emperor has always justified his rule with his successes in war and his protection against all enemies. The stupid thing about such an ideology is that in an emergency you have to do it justice. The emperor could not leave the defeats to his commanders, he had to go to battle himself. death on the battlefield or capture put some reigns to an early end. It happened more often, however - even emperors did not fight in the forefront - that 212th Diocletian, the Tetrarchy and the Christians (284–305) the prestige of augustus was so damaged that usurpers rose up against him. That could happen in our own field camp and was connected with an attack on the life of the emperor. But it could also happen to armies far away. Then a civil war would have to decide the better claim. The rule did not “belong” to a Roman princeps, as it would later belong to a hereditary monarch of the 17th century, who despite all defeats and setbacks could safely return to his castle. The emperor's rule could be lost. He had to earn it over and over again, through performance. If he did not, the relevant socio-political groups in the empire withdrew their acceptance and looked around for a new master. The emperor had previously resided in rome, and so it was the elites (the Senate), the soldiers (especially the Praetorians) and the people of the city who received emperor status, recognition and privileges and remained loyal to him in return. The fact that there were three relevant groups at the same time gave the emperor a strong position in the system of acceptance - the term was coined by the Rostock ancient historian Egon Flaig. but now rome was in the stage, the emperor only made visits to the capital. The people had stayed behind, the senators in the field camp were no longer representatives of the leading class, but courtiers, the emperor was surrounded by the military. The legions were the only group of acceptance left; the existence of the empire and even more the fate of the emperor rested on their shoulders. The soldiers not only had a monopoly on the proclamation of an augustus, they also essentially determined his rule - whether it was to be retained or terminated. It was really a time of the soldier emperors. The population did not remain unaffected by the crisis. It suffered no less from the civil wars than from the enemy incursions. Fortifications that had been allowed to fall into disrepair for centuries were repaired, and yet murder and destruction cost the lives of one in ten imperial residents. The prices rose, at the same time the financial demands of the state grew, above all to strengthen the army and keep it in the mood for 2. Diocletian, the Tetrarchy and the Christians (284–305) 22. For a long time, researchers thought of this epoch as a time of general decline in the state, economy and society. This picture has now been put into perspective: the empire was preserved as a unified economic area, trade flows continued through the entire Mediterranean world, some regions that were far from the critical river borders even prospered, e.g. Egypt and Africa (with c, in contrast to the continent of Africa : today's tunisia and northern algeria). A distinction must therefore be made, especially in economic terms. Nevertheless: The difficulties, especially in the political-military field, were so great that, in my opinion, one can rightly speak of an empire crisis. The problems could no longer be mastered with the previous methods, around 260 the empire faced dissolution. Emperor Valerian had been defeated and taken prisoner by the Persian king, secessions took place in Gaul and the Levante, and special empires were formed. the misery was most evident in the changes of the throne: in the early and high principality, an emperor had ruled for an average of ten years, between 235 and 284 it was just over two years. It used to be decades before a usurper rose up, and during the empire crisis it took less than 15 months from one uprising to the next. There were emperors whose overthrow was more likely to be heard than their proclamation. in the end, however, the empire did not fall apart. Even before 284, the government's military countermeasures began to take effect. new fortifications at the borders blocked the enemy more effectively. The cavalry, long neglected, was strengthened. newly established elite units acted independently of the infantry and could be relocated quickly. The Persians and Teutons, who liked to operate on horseback, could now be countered more effectively. And, perhaps most importantly, the Romans abandoned the idea that the social elites produced the best commanders. The senators, with fortunate exceptions, were essentially military amateurs. The Reich had been able to afford such laisser-faire for a long time, but no longer in the existential hardship of the third century. Experienced officers who belonged to the knightly rank, some of whom had served up from the crews, now also received the command. The first lasting successes began in 268. The emperor claudius ii. Gothicus (268–270) triumphed over the Alamanni and Goths, Emperor Aurelian (270–275) succeeded in stabilizing the Rhine and Danube - through victories, through treaties and through the bitter but necessary renunciation of Roman territory: Dacia (beyond the lower Danube , in today's Romania) was abandoned, the border straightened sensibly. The special empires in Gaul and Palmyra were abolished, the Roman empire was politically a unit again. However, the events surrounding Diocles ’usurpation clearly showed that the government system had not been consolidated. The conditions had become more favorable, however, and with Diocles there was now a man on the throne who knew how to use them. Military fortune distinguished him as well as a good eye for capable comrades-in-arms. Most importantly, however, he recognized what was wrong through a sharp analysis, and he looked - this is very rare in politics - not for short-term remedies, but for medium- and long-term solutions, which he then managed to implement. The new emperor was named Marcus Aurelius Gaius Valerius Diocletianus, after the antonine dynasty, of which Mark Aurel was the most important representative. He changed his name, Diocles, like someone who had been adopted into another family. The link to the great imperial family of the second century was not unusual, nor were the first measures to secure rule: Diocletian moved west and defeated his rival Carinus in the Balkans. The senate now recognized him as emperor. Diocletian wisely left the followers of Carinus in their offices. He decided not to visit rome, however, and instead waged war against the barbarians on the lower Danube. Diocletian set the first new accent in December 285. He raised Maximianus to caesar, a high officer of the Balkans from a humble background, a man like Diocletian 2. Diocletian, the Tetrarchy and the Christians (284–305) 24 himself was one. at that time a caesar was referred to as an emperor of lower rank. Diocletian assigned Maximian the task of fighting the Gaulish Bagauden, a movement of displaced peasants, citizens and deserters. The caesar prevailed without further ado - the bagauden were probably not the toughest challenge - and then excelled in battles against the Germanic peoples. In the summer of 286 he was promoted to the rank of augustus, with all the powers that Diocletian himself possessed, the only difference being that Diocletian was the older augustus who had bestowed his empire on Maximian. Some of Diocletian's predecessors had already experimented with two emperor rule: this made it easier to master the various theaters of war, and other armies and regions enjoyed their own emperor. However, the soldier emperors had always relied on relatives, so they had strived to found a dynasty. there was also a clear gradation: between augustus and caesar and / or between father and son. The largely equal Maximian was not related to Diocletian. Diocletian did not have a son, but he did have a daughter. He could have made Maximian his son-in-law. Instead, Diocletian founded a new kind of family, one in imperialism and one connected in their god-likeness: Diocletian and Maximian took on new titles, iovius and Herculius. One became Jupiter-like, the other Hercules-like. A few years later the family of godlike was expanded. on march 1, 293, Maximian elevated Constantius to Caesar in Mediolanum (Milan), a little later Diocletian did the same with Galerius in Nicomedeia. Both men were already over 40, coming from humble backgrounds in the balkans, like augusti, they had worked their way up in military service. There was no compelling external reason for the appointments, such as a military emergency. The ancient historian Frank Kolb from Tuebingen has shown that Diocletian, like Maximian's one, had prepared these proclamations well in advance. The burden of warfare was spread over several shoulders - that was Dio- 252. Diocletian, the Tetrarchy and the Christians (284–305) Kletian's main teaching from the time of the soldier emperors. But a collapsing front did not compel him to take this step; he took it in reflective deliberation, in the sense of a fundamental innovation. This created the four rule over the Roman empire, or, in a Greek word, the tetrarchy. 70 years later, the historian Aurelius Victor gave a positive verdict on the tetrarchs: “They all came from illyricum. They lacked education and morals, but they were sufficiently familiar with the hardships of peasant life and military service. for the state they were the best. ”2 And indeed, Diocletian and his colleagues succeeded in stabilizing the empire militarily within 15 years. there was a successful fight at almost all borders. The Rhine and Danube were crossed several times, Germanic peoples were contractually obliged to guard the borders in Roman services - a future-oriented cooperation - the prosperity of Augusta Treverorum (Trier), Mogontiacum (Mainz) and Colonia Agrippinensis (Cologne) testified to the success of the Roman efforts. The greatest danger in this region was the usurpation of the naval commander Carausius, who took 287 Britain and parts of the opposite coast under his power. It took Maximian and Constantius ten years to recapture the island. But when Constantius entered londinium (London) as the victor in 297, only a historical footnote remained from the United Kingdom. In no other area did the tetrarchs owe as much to the initiatives of the soldier emperors as to that of the military. The previous measures - the appointment of experienced knights to the command, expansion of fortifications, strengthening of the cavalry - were continued, not even the army strength of around 400,000 soldiers had to be increased significantly. Nevertheless, over 25 legions were reorganized, which can only mean that the strength of one legion has been significantly reduced. The army structure was made more flexible with units of 2,000 to 4,000 men, and this will have been an important factor in the successes of the epoch. The most important was achieved in the east. There was armenia there, as it had been for centuries, a buffer state between the 2nd Diocletian, the Tetrarchy and the Christians (284–305) 26 great powers, the cause of the dispute. The Persian king Narses tried to forcibly eliminate Roman influence in 296, and he succeeded in defeating Galerius. In the following year, however, this and the hurried Diocletian led a counter-attack, Galerius defeated Narses at Satala so devastating that, according to legend, he fled to India. In any case, it was the greatest victory in decades, the Romans made up for the humiliation of the soldiers' imperial days. narses asked for peace. armenia returned under Roman influence, and a long strip of territory was annexed at the border, which, due to its flat terrain, had hitherto made invasions into Roman territory easy. Without the successes in the war, Diocletian would not have ruled for more than twenty years. They gave him the time and the freedom for internal reforms, which were hardly less important for the consolidation of the empire and, conversely, of course made it easier to regain the military preponderance. the most important was the administrative reform. As in the early principle, the provinces were still governed by chivalrous or senatorial governors who constituted the highest military and civil authority, respectively. The soldier emperors had already broken this order here and there, but always ad hoc under military pressure. The administrative structures had become even more different.Diocletian now carried out a reform in a unified spirit, albeit not from a single cast - it was not carried out throughout the empire at the same time, but over 15 years, probably up to 300. The provinces, like the legions, were reduced in size and increased , from under 50 to around 100. For example, the two British provinces became four and the six Gaulish 15. The heartland of Italy finally lost its special status as the cradle of the empire and was itself provincialized (and incorporated into the regular tax regulations!). eight governors now stood between the emperor and italy. You and all your colleagues lost the military skills they had left, and civil and military administrations were now separated from each other. The civil tasks consisted primarily of the 272nd Diocletian, the Tetrarchy and the Christians (284–305) jurisdiction, the construction of long-distance and interurban roads and the financial supervision of the cities. In principle, however, these continued to administer themselves. A gigantic empire like the Roman one would not have been able to be kept together under premodern communication and infrastructure conditions if a large part of the tasks had not been carried out in local responsibility. The autonomy of the cities, an essential characteristic of the Greco-Roman civilization, did not disappear even now. however, the balance shifted to the disadvantage of the municipalities. The cities raised the taxes themselves, and the councils were still the main steering bodies. But the officials were no longer elected; they were appointed by the emperor - unless they were completely renounced. This disappearance is explained by the fact that there were fewer decisions to be made and the areas of competence shrank. It is fitting that the last urban mint in Alexandria closed under Diocletian. From now on there were only imperial coins. This made Diocletian's coin reform easier. During the imperial crisis there had been considerable price increases, especially after Aurelian's failed silver coin reform, which had shaken people's confidence in the stability of the monetary system: there was not as much silver in the coins as promised, there was one gap between nominal and real value. Again Diocletian did not innovate in one fell swoop, but changed gradually and building confidence, in different provinces at different times. The old coin denominations, which were discredited because of their low precious metal content, were gradually withdrawn and re-minted. The traditional gold-silver mixed system was retained, but the gold and silver content of the new coins was increased. Although it still did not completely cover the target value, the precious metal content now remained constant and was not gradually reduced. That was essential for building new trust. Tax reform was far less popular, but so is most tax reforms. The tax burden was enormous, according to the contemporary allegation that the farmers left their fields and that the land was deserted. Diocletian had to spend a lot of money on the soldiers - this is undoubtedly true - but at the same time he did not want to touch his hidden wealth. This picture of an ancient Dagobert Duck inspires less trust, but the main critic, the rhetoric teacher Laktanz, showed in his accusation that he understood his business: the tax assessors were everywhere, everything worried them, there were terrible scenes like in war and under hostile ones occupation. The fields were measured plaice by plaice, vines and trees were counted, animals of all kinds were written down, people were recorded head by head. In the communities, the urban and rural populations were brought together, all the marketplaces were full of families, everyone was there with their children and slaves, torture and beatings permeated everything, sons were put on the rack so that they could beat their parents testified that even the most loyal slaves were tortured so that they might testify against their masters, wives so that they might testify against their husbands. When all that failed, they were tortured to testify against themselves, and when pain prevailed, they were given property they didn't have. Not age, not health, was an excuse: the sick and disabled were brought in, everyone's age was estimated, years were given to small children, they were taken away from old people. Everything was full of complaints and grief.3 As with all good demagoguery, the facts are on the whole correct, but on the negative and in general they are coarse. There was usually no torture, but there was certainly no attempt at deception, and a certain amount of arbitrariness was common. What outraged Laktanz was Diocletian's attempt to increase the revenue by redefining and broadening the tax base. The most important direct tax, the real estate tax, was no longer only levied on the size of the property, but also on the number of available workers (including cattle!). This combination did not automatically increase taxes. It even seems to have contributed to tax compliance, since the workforce's productivity was also taken into account when calculating the 292. Diocletian, the Tetrarchy and the Christians (284–305) workforce. But of course the family relationships had to be determined more precisely than before ("head for head"), and this precise census sometimes made it appear as if Romans were treated as defeated according to martial law. the census was repeated every five years, and then every 15 years, and the tax liability was re-established. This act, called indictio, soon gained such importance that during late antiquity the years were counted in fifteen units and this range, which was widespread outside of fiscal contexts, was called indictio (for example, 'in the second year of the seventh indiction'). ancient economic policy was primarily tax policy. Diocletian's reforms remained in force in some cases for centuries. That doesn't give you the worst testimony. The emperor seems to have thought about pretty much all areas of state activity and then resolutely but cautiously introduced what was recognized as correct. The tax reform was also carried out successively and took regional traditions into account. Diocletian seems to have never driven personal greed, contrary to Laktanz's insinuation. of course, that is why not everything that was recognized as correct was actually correct. An example: the coin reform did not solve a problem, it could not solve it at all, namely the value relation of the coin metals used. The 'course' between gold, silver and copper coins fluctuated. Diocletian tried to put an end to this in 301 by stating the value of the coins to one another. So far so good. on the occasion, however, the emperor doubled the value of silver, probably to increase the value of the state's silver reserves. This increase would undoubtedly have remained a nominal one, since the prices would have doubled within a very short time, so the purchasing power would have remained the same. To prevent this, Diocletian took another economic control measure, the so-called maximum price edict from the same year. As the name suggests, this decree set maximum prices for all conceivable goods and services. Half a liter of good Italian wine cost 30 denarii, 2nd Diocletian, the Tetrarchy and the Christians (284–305) 30 country wine but only eight. A day laborer in the country received 25 denarii per day including food, a bricklayer 50, a painter 75, a professional painter 150. Vets were paid per animal, hairdressers per customer, lifeguards per bathers, a clerk by line, a teacher by student and month, a lawyer after litigation. the lists include prices for transport, for clothing, fabrics, wood, ingot gold, plants, spices - and for people. A slave between the ages of 16 and 40 was worth 30,000 denars, a female slave 25,000. Older slaves and children cost less. A child under eight brought in 15,000 denarii, a woman over 60 only 10,000. But a military horse cost 36,000 denarii, a lion 150,000. The edict does not name all possible services and goods - luxury goods are largely missing - but obviously important and central ones. It is tempting to look at the ratios and consider purchasing power: a day laborer could afford two and a half liters of good wine for six days of work. In order to buy a male slave in his prime, a lawyer had to conduct 30 lawsuits, a veterinarian had to look after 5,000 animals and a sheep shearer had to shear 15,000 sheep. But caution is advised: it was a question of maximum numbers, not fixed prices, otherwise Diocletian might have forced price increases, which he did not want. Ultimately, we know very little about how real prices were structured, not in absolute figures and certainly not in terms of the ratios, not to mention fluctuations between the regions. Diocletian justified the edict in the first part with a rambling litany against merchants and stylized himself as a champion against usury and greed. in his opinion, the traders were motivated by sheer malice. There has always been such a polemic against the economy and money making, and it is also popular in contemporary Europe. But Diocletian's excitement was also specifically ancient, because his analysis of motifs was typical of the moral argumentation of antiquity. She knew of no legitimate interests that could collide with each other, but only good and bad 312. Diocletian, the Tetrarchy and the Christians (284–305) acting. The other interest in each case must therefore be morally wrong. Just as Laktanz judged Diocletian, so did Diocletian polemic against the merchants. In this black and white world, the trader could not want to earn money to get his family and himself a better life, he had to act for low motives. The emperor mentioned another, very realpolitical motive, which in turn points to the importance of the military: the soldiers should be protected from price increases. They usually had fewer assets than cash - pay, imperial donations, proceeds for booty. That is why they were particularly hard hit by sudden price increases. When a marching army came into a city, the demand rose anyway because of the large number of newcomers, and prices rose. This effect was reinforced by the revaluation of the silver. Diocletian tried to prevent this dissatisfaction on the part of the soldiers, which could lead to usurpation, by means of his highest price edict. The decree was widely publicized throughout. Failure to comply, price fixing or withdrawal of goods from the market threatened the death penalty. Still, the law failed. The goods disappeared from the displays, and prices rose even more. Some executions did nothing to change that. The maximum price edict was probably not lifted - that would have meant a considerable loss of face - but it was soon no longer heeded, and the state tolerated this after the first attempts to enforce it. The outcome is not surprising: it was a gigantic attempt at a planned economy that the modern state was able to carry out, and even then it was unsuccessful. However, the ancient state lacked the means of enforcement, the police, the soldiers, the flow of information to even begin to enforce it across the board. This reform, impressive in its cohesion, failed because of its overregulation. Here, too, Diocletian had an eye for the essentials, but he missed what was feasible among people. But his greatest reform was the creation of a new empire. The addition of the two caesars proved its worth in political 2. Diocletian, the Tetrarchy and the Christians (284–305) 32 litical day-to-day business. Constantius took care of Gaul and Great Britain and gave Maximian more time for the other regions of the West (Italy, Africa and Spain), Galerius relieved Diocletian in the East and in the Balkans. As the Persian war and the annihilation of the British special empire showed, augustus and caesar could also work together effectively. Each tetrarch had his geographical focus, but never in the sense of separate areas of government, just as there was no Jovian area in the east and one of the Hercules in the west. there was still only one roman empire. Since the appointment of the Caesars there were also conventional family ties, even in excess: Constantius and Galerius were both in-laws and adoptive sons of Maximian and Diocletian, respectively, Galerius had to divorce his first wife. This means that both were adoptive brothers of their wives, but this dynasty was a 'family' with special characteristics anyway. only the tetrarchs were staged in public, wives and other relatives, especially Maximian's son Maxentius, were excluded, they did not appear on coins or in inscriptions. According to the self-portrayal, the marriage connections were at most additional cement, the family could only be enlarged through the adoption of new Caesars - for the first time in Roman history there was a real adoptive empire. The 'family' consisted of two lines, the Jovians with Diocletian and Galerius and the Herculi with Maximian and Constantius. both branches were derived equally from Jupiter. The Jovians had at most a priority of honor, which, however, was difficult to separate from the factually superior authority of Diocletian. On the other hand, the Herculier Constantius was mentioned in official texts before the Jovier Galerius. The caesars possessed most of the powers of the augusti, in particular the right to independent warfare and legislation. They were not helpers, but subordinate rulers. They only lacked certain names of honor, they were not allowed to use the title imperator, and they were not granted aeternitas, but only perpe- 332. Diocletian, the Tetrarchy and the Christians (284–305) tuitas (both means eternity, but aeternitas has a religious one resonance - more on that in a moment). Most importantly, however, the caesars were the designated successors of their augusti from the start. Outwardly, despite the division into Jovier and Herculier or Augusti and Caesars, the unity and the unity of the rulers was emphasized. The victory of one was the victory of all, with the caesars the days of the accession to power were aligned, with the augusti the counting of the years of reign: Maximian celebrated his rising for the same year as Diocletian, although he became caesar a year later and augustus a year and a half later . The four rulers were also celebrated as a unit in the fine arts, panegyric and coinage. This can still be seen today on the Galerius Arch, erected between 300 and 305 in Thessaloniki. It was aimed at the victory over the Persians and perhaps also in Britain (half of the monument is lost). The depiction of the battles concludes with a relief that symbolically gathers all the tetrarchs. The deeds are their common victory. The augusti sit in the middle, enthroned on the celestial sphere (the one on the left, Diocletian, originally carried a long staff to emphasize it further), the caesars - who Galerius, who Constantius is, cannot be said and probably should not be able to be said at all - stand next to them and stretch their hands to help kneeling, subjugated female figures, perhaps mesopotamia and britannia. On the far right rests the personification of the fertile earth, on the far left the sea gods. The entire world is subject to the four rulers. The tightening of court ceremonies also belongs in the area of ​​emphasizing the tetrarchy. Diocletian was not the one who abolished the free manners of the principle in favor of foreign, Persian servant customs, as some sources accuse him. Research has long since seen that the ruler's distancing basically began with Augustus. The tetrarchy marked only one station in this process, but, as kolb has again shown, a very important one: Diocletian systematized and unified what was already his thing, and he wrote 2. Diocletian, the Tetrarchy and the Christians (284-305) 34 before what had previously been done voluntarily or only in exceptional cases, such as kneeling in front of the emperor when he was greeted and kissing his robe at chest height. But that was not unreasonable, it represented a privilege that only the top of the elite held. lower ranks had to be content with a kneeling without touch. The emperor wore splendidly decorated robes, purple was now the emperor's color. everything that had to do with the emperor was called sacred, the letter as well as the bedroom. The throne room was covered with curtains, there was sublime silence around the emperor, everything that he touched could only be touched by the servants with covered hands. You shouldn't imagine the whole thing too exalted, if only because there were so many different residences. Concentrating all resources on the development of a single city did not make sense.The palaces were therefore not Versailles, but rather resembled a high mediaeval court in their splendor. Why did Diocletian put so much effort into creating and exalting the tetrarchy? A multiple empire would undoubtedly have been easier to obtain. In this way, however, he succeeded in stabilizing the political system not only through military successes, but also by exaggerating the empire. The tetrarchs formed a special family that was detached from the usual social relationships. They were withdrawn from human influence, especially that of the soldiers, at least according to the idea. In this perspective, usurpation seemed like sacrilege. For the transcendence, that is, the embedding of the emperorship in otherworldly substantive contexts, the tetrarch relief on the Galerius Arch in Thessaloniki 352. Diocletian, the Tetrarchy and the Christians (284–305) the closeness to the gods was decisive. The tetrarchical concept was sacredly charged, if only by the nickname: the emperors were not gods, but god-like. Earlier rulers, such as Aurelian, had said this. The tetrarchs, however, claimed to be part of the abilities of the leading gods Jupiter and Hercules, right from birth. The accession to power did not give them these skills, it only revealed them. The Jovians and Hercules saw themselves as sons of the gods, as eternal, god-begotten and creators of gods (the successors). The Galerius Arch shows how far this claim could go. The figures on both sides of the tetrarchs partly represent embodiments of properties (Virtus and Fortuna), but mostly high and highest gods. To the left of the tetrarchs are Sarapis and Isis, to the right Jupiter and Mars. They all stand while the augusti sit, Jupiter is even covered by the (right) caesar standing next to him! The emperors are not only relieved into divine spheres, they are the focus there themselves. This self-stylization went beyond traditional pagan norms - all the more it had to rub itself against the ideas of another religious community that only accepted one God: Christianity. The originally Jewish sect had long since spread across the entire Mediterranean region by the third century, and had gained a solid foothold in the Greek east in particular, with centers in Asia Minor, Syria and Palestina. The west was less christianized; in addition to rome, the province of africa should be mentioned in particular (see map on p. 64). But everywhere the Christians were in the minority. The parishes were run by bishops, together with priests and deacons: so there was already a priesthood of its own, which was taken care of from the expenses of the parish. The parish elected its bishop. The congregations of a region or a province were in constant contact with one another - which made it easier for Christians to find accommodation - but there was no hierarchical structure among the congregations, even if episcopal seats such as Jerusalem, Antiocheia, Alexandria and Rome thanks to 2 Diocletian, the Tetrarchy and the Christians (284–305) 36 of the apostolic tradition had greater prestige and resources. Instead, the Christians coordinated in ad hoc regional meetings called synods (Greek for meeting). There the bishops tried to settle organizational and theological disputes, although not always successfully - the synods did not have the power to enforce. Christianity was lived above all in one's own town, in one's own community. The believers supported each other, the rich gave alms to the poor. Such a habitus, as it went back to the moral norm of mercy, was something new compared to the social commitment that wealthy individuals had always shown for their community. This was something special for which the donor could expect public recognition, and it was by no means only aimed at those in need. The solidarity practice of the Christians partly went beyond their own congregation (“love of enemies”), and that caused astonishment and interest among the Gentiles too. Christianity became attractive, the parishes grew especially during the soldiers' emperors, when the catastrophes and political upheavals made people look for a strong community. of course, christianity had been a problematic religion for the empire from the start. The Greco-Roman religion and its rituals were primarily not a matter of personal belief. They were inextricably linked with the public actions of the community and ensured them of their cohesion and their identity. A monotheistic religion, which considered acts of worship for other gods than their own and only one to be a sacrilege and whose followers therefore did not want to participate, stood in sharp contrast to the everyday life of ancient communities. The christian religion was never allowed, but with a few exceptions it was not properly persecuted. Those who quietly practiced their christianity, evaded the officials and avoided all contexts in which the imperial and other pagan cults were practiced, remained unmolested - this was the positive side a conception of religion that valued public, community activity more highly than individual conviction. Admittedly, their lack of willingness to integrate did not exactly make the Christians more popular; from the very beginning they had to fight off the rumors whispered about orgies and crimes. By the middle of the third century, especially in the east, Christians had become so numerous that they were perceived as a relevant group and as a change from earlier. While some found Christ, others wondered what had actually been done wrong and why the mostly glorious, but at least more peaceful past seemed irretrievably lost. Such a train of thought quickly led to the christians: according to the Roman conception, the prosperity of the empire rested on harmony with the gods, which was established and maintained through correct and regular worship. This suggested that the deficit of the present had to do with inadequate cultivation of traditional cults, and this was a direction of attack against the christians. the state took massive action against the christians twice in those years. The emperor Decius ordered all residents of the empire to make sacrifices to the gods. Those who refused should be executed. Decius wanted to stabilize the empire and his own rule by appeasing the gods. According to pagan logic, it was not absurd that he should use force for this, because it did not matter how the individual stood inwardly towards the divine, as long as he performed the rites correctly. The ordinance of sacrifice was not aimed directly at the christians, but it was christians in particular who resisted. Depending on the severity of the governors in charge, some were arrested and more or less successfully put under pressure, others were let go, and still others were executed. From then on, martyrdom gradually became the standard of perfect Christianity. Far more Christians, however, simply obeyed the sacrifice order, and so the question soon arose as to how one should deal with the lapsi, the fallen, who had bowed to the pressure and then wanted to be part of the church again. 2. Diocletian, the Tetrarchy and the Christians (284–305) 38 Emperor Valerian issued two edicts in 257 and 258, now expressly against the Christians. Worship services and the visit to cemeteries were forbidden, the priests were threatened with banishment if they refused to sacrifice for the gods of the state, and then death after the second decree. So the blow was initially not aimed at the laity or being a Christian per se, but rather for the church as an institution: the management staff was deliberately pursued, communication and coordination were prevented. In the second edict, however, Valerian stipulated that all senators and knights who turned out to be Christians should lose their status and property; if they persisted, they suffered death. evidently christianity had already penetrated the ruling classes of the empire so far that it was believed that drastic measures had to be taken to get rid of it. Vain. Many christians died and a number of bishops were executed. But that was not a sign of defeat, but an assertion. According to the new martyrdom ideology, the dead came particularly close to God's grace; by dying they often strengthened their communities in faith more than they had been able to do in life. The state no longer succeeded in suppressing Christianity, and so Valerian's son Gallienus ended the persecution in 260 and allowed Christians to practice their religion. Those arrested have been released, and the property may have been restituted. Over the next few decades, the Christians were largely unmolested, the congregations grew and the structures strengthened. The precarious role of Christians in the army shows that the majority society had by no means made peace with this religion. Christians did not refuse military service as a matter of principle, they accepted the existing socio-political order. But here, too, the victim became the crucial point. Cult worship of the emperor was common in the legions, and since there were more and more christian soldiers, more and more people refused to do this. We know of wishes to quit the service or, in the case of recruits, not to take it up at all. The 392nd Diocletian, the Tetrarchy and the Christians (284–305) mass movement, which threatened the military power of the empire, did not arise, however. in fact, the trigger for the great persecution of christians under Diocletian was different. Diocletian made a sacrifice in his favorite residence, nikomedeia, and asked the gods about the future. Some of the courtiers who had to help with the sacrifice secretly made the sign of the cross, and since this gesture drove away the gods or, in the Christian perspective, the demons, the viscera failed - not once, but several times. Eventually, the showers discovered that the presence of wrongdoers was interfering with ordinances. Thereupon Diocletian ordered the usual test of confession: the helpers had to sacrifice, and beyond that all members of the court and the army. Those who refused were flogged or expelled from the army. This procedure was still measured and does not seem to have been directed explicitly against the christians. But after lengthy consultation with Galerius and high officials, with reference to an oracle by Apollo - "he replied as expected from an enemy of the divine religion" 4 - an edict was promulgated on February 24, 303 aimed at the annihilation of Christianity . The deeper reason for this approach is clear: the extensive coincidence of the religious and the political in the tetrarchical ideology made christianity a necessary political creed. for Jovier and Herculier, Jesus had to be a competitor, not only in a religious sense but also in that of political loyalty. In addition, Diocletian was certainly also personally convinced of the need to preserve the old religion. Against this background, however, it is necessary to explain why the emperor persecuted the Christians so late, after almost twenty years of reign. The tetrarchical ideology had long since developed. The only report that can be used for the genesis of the edict is problematic because it comes from Laktanz. He was not only a master of the Latin language, but also a Christian. Even the title The Deaths of the Persecutors makes it clear that this work is not a balanced representation of 2. Diocletian, the Tetrarchy and the Christians (284–305) 40. Exactly as Laktanz describes, the victim cannot have failed. The narrative function of showing the superiority of the christian god over demons is abundantly clear. Laktanz was then a rhetoric teacher in nikomedeia, appointed by Diocletian himself. We do not know when Laktanz converted to christianity and whether he resigned from office in the course of the beginning persecution - later he stayed with Constantin in the west - at least he probably lived in nikomedeia in 303. His report shows that he had a good knowledge of what was going on at court, probably firsthand, and despite his partiality in the process, it is reasonably plausible: an incident may well have occurred with the victim that cast a bad light on the Christians. It became clear to Diocletian that the followers of Jesus that he had previously ignored were already in his personal environment. It was then this direct experience of the spread of Christianity that made the latent unease become a decisive act. The core of the edict was, of course, the compulsion to make sacrifices again, but this time it affected all Christians, and continued refusal was the result of death. At that time, Valerian had only turned against officials and Christians in the elite; ordinary Christians were not bothered. but now being a christian has been declared a capital crime. The edict also called for the churches and meeting buildings to be torn down and the scriptures to be burned. The infrastructure was to be destroyed and the core of religion hit. The persecution began with the demolition of the church in Nicomedeia, which Diocletian and Galerius allegedly watched from the palace. An atmosphere of hysteria and suspicion prevailed, two small fires in the palace were pushed towards the christians. General statements about the implementation in the Reich are difficult in view of the extensive silence of the pagan sources, but the breadth of Christian tradition shows how bad the persecution was felt. It was undoubtedly the most serious crisis for the church since it was founded. Over time and with sustained resistance, the 412th Diocletian, Tetrarchy, and Christians (284–305) severity of persecution grew. the authorities in the east of the empire and in italy took the most brutal action - most of the Christians lived there. In the thinly christianized northwest with Gaul, Germania and Great Britain there was little to follow. Laktanz and Eusebios von Kaisareia, the author of the first church history, interpreted this, probably wrongly, in such a way that the responsible tetrarch Constantius (Constantine's father!) Was deliberately lenient. Otherwise, however, the rule was: "The entire earth was tormented, with the exception of Gaul the three animals raged in the most cruel ways from east to west." 5 The persecution continued beyond the abdication of Diocletian and Maximian, so for Laktanz Galerius was the real persecutor of Christ . in the west it was actually discontinued later (more on this below), but in the east it continued unabated until it was ended in april 311 by a joint edict of the emperors, which had been formulated by Galerius, the oldest augustus at the time. once again sharp reproaches were made against the christians, against their folly, against their deviations from the institutions of their ancestors, against their formation of a special community, in short: their turning away from the roman way of life and from the community of empire. Galerius, however, had to admit that most Christians persisted in their resistance despite the many punishments. The imperial mildness - so the sudden rhetorical turnaround - now demands forgiveness, the persecuted are allowed to be Christians again and to set up meeting places, provided they do not violate public order. At the end Galerius expressed the expectation that the Christians "pray to their God for our salvation, that of the state and their own, so that the state may remain unscathed in every respect and they can live safely in their homes" .6 Even if this last turn contains a certain threat, Galerius offered a real compromise here: the christians did not have to worship the emperor, they should pray to their god for the emperor. Galerius thus opened up the opportunity to strike a balance between the pagan state and the Christian church after years of persecution. In view of the polarization caused by the persecutions, it is unclear whether this possibility would have been a success. 2. Diocletian, the Tetrarchy and the Christians (284–305) 42 it was not used in any case. Instead, the state soon became Christian itself. This is how the last and most brutal suppression of Christians failed. Diocletian and Galerius had, probably out of ignorance, underestimated the resistance of their opponents. Thanks to their orientation to the hereafter and their high esteem for martyrdom, the Christians saw persecution as a test of faith that many were almost looking for. In any case, there were martyrs and confessors (witnesses of faith who had survived) in large numbers. The christians had reached a critical mass, despite the apostasy of many, the churches could no longer be broken up. Success would only have been possible through the physical annihilation of Christians. Such a mass murder was ruled out: not because it was unthinkable (unfortunately not!), But because the premodern authorities lacked the means to track down and punish Christians across the board.In addition, the Christians were not an easily recognizable population group and did not look different from the outside, which made the search difficult. Overall, christianity held its own brilliantly, and the trials strengthened the cohesion of the communities. Diocletian was still alive when Galerius stopped the persecution. He can only have perceived the measure as a defeat. What he did not yet know was that he would go down in posterity primarily as a vicious persecutor of Christians. His reputation was ruined after the victory of Christianity, and being a second Diocletian was the worst reproach one could make an emperor. It stayed that way as long as christianity was the dominant force that shaped culture, that is, into the 18th century. Only since then have more balanced judgments been possible. From the more humanitarian perspective of today's West, Diocletian can still easily be accused of brutal persecution. But by the modern standard, most of the protagonists of antiquity should be condemned. Diocletian did not invent the persecution of christians, and after their final triumph, the christians themselves were not more careless with those of other faiths. Only meticulousness and uncompromisingness emphasize this persecution, features that other reforms of Diocletian also carry and thus prove that it was a real Diocletian measure and not a Galerius' project. For the historical judgment, failure weighs more heavily. Diocletian looks like a man of yesterday who did not recognize the signs of the times. In fact, he overestimated the possibilities of state control, a mistake that also weighed on the maximum price edict. But Diocletian could not have known in 303 that Christianity would soon become the dominant, indeed the state religion, any more than any other Roman. Diocletian himself may have considered the failure of the persecution of christians to be a minor flaw on his balance sheet. The dissolution of his system of government, the tetrarchy, will have worried him much more. In order to be able to classify this rapid process correctly, I have to start at the end of Diocletian's active time, in the year 305. on May 1st, Maximian in Mediolanum and Diocletian in Nikomedeia renounced their emperors, each before the army. They held an abdication speech and elevated Constantius and Galerius to Augustus, Severus and Maximinus Daia to Caesar. Maximian and Diocletian threw their own purple cloak on the new Caesar, left the army and withdrew from politics. In the future, they traded as senior Augusti, Maximian in Rome, Diocletian in his old seat in Spalatum (Split). Severus and Daia, Galerius ’nephew, both came from illyria, were of simple origin and in the end were high officers. The previous selection criteria for Kaiser were therefore retained. Why did Diocletian abdicate? Voluntary renunciation of power is a rarity in politics, no different in democracy than in autocracy. The last Roman ruler to voluntarily renounce power was Sulla, almost 400 years ago. Maximian had already wanted it differently from Diocletian. only under pressure did he abdicate, and he should return to the political stage as soon as the opportunity arose. 2. Diocletian, the Tetrarchy and the Christians (284–305) 44 ancient and modern times puzzled over Diocletian's motives. There was hardly any despair at the unsuccessful persecution of Christians that made the emperor resign - the persecution was still in full swing - nor was it weakness after a long illness or surrender to Galerius, who was striving for power: Diocletian lived for many years, and compared to Galerius he effortlessly asserts his authority before and after (!) the abdication. Again, based on some contemporary evidence, kolb has suggested the most convincing explanation. He referred to the building history of Diocletian's ancient seat in Spalatum. The huge palace, which still dominates the old town of Split today, was built from 300 at the latest, so it was intended as an imperial residence even then. However, since it was far away from the major military roads, it was difficult to use for an active emperor, who was also always a traveling emperor. This only leads to the conclusion that this palace was intended for retirement from the start. As so often, Diocletian planned carefully in advance. He abdicated in May 305 of his own free will. Only in this sovereign decision did the novelty of the tetrarchy really become visible. It followed a ten-year rhythm: the augusti ruled ten years longer than the caesars, and after a total of twenty years they abdicated. The caesars moved up to augusti and in turn adopted new caesars. after a further ten years the augusti would abdicate and the caesars would move up, etc. So the best always ruled over the empire, every ten years the ruling college was rejuvenated so that the caesars would not become dissatisfied and would have a secure perspective for the ascent to the highest position. The objection has been made that the numbers are incorrect. Diocletian ruled for a few months longer than twenty years, Maximian a few months less, the Caesars had ruled since 293. However, exact chronology was not important, but approximate accuracy, the fiction of simultaneity and similitude. it too was an expression of the unity of the tetrarchy. Maximian had celebrated his tenth and twentieth anniversary of reign in the same year as Diocletian, un- 452. Diocletian, the Tetrarchy and the Christians (284–305) respected the chronology. in fact, Galerius would later have abdicated after his twentieth anniversary in reign if his death had not preceded him. Prudence and planning in most of his measures indicate that Diocletian's greatest work, the tetrarchy, was not created under the pressure of circumstances. The Kaiser may not have already designed it on the drawing board, but he developed it consciously in the essential stages of its creation. In my opinion, with the exception of augustus, Diocletian ranks far above all other emperors in terms of long-term conception, including the vast majority of politicians of other times. with Diocletian the historically improbable became reality: the implementation of a far-sighted political draft. But the tetrarchy only survived the abdication of its creator by a few years. Longevity is not everything, it does not allow current circumstances to be taken into account, and it often ignores people's short-term needs. The tetrarchy worked because of Diocletian's authority over his colleagues and because of his self-restraint: who else could have enforced his will in the entire Mediterranean world for twenty years - and then easily resigned for a higher purpose? The tetrarchical system demanded too much of the people, it needed a Diocletian who soon no longer existed. The successors, Constantine at the head, were made of different cloth; they shattered the tetrarchy without paying any attention to Diocletian's central theme. They returned to dynastic politics, to the passing of the throne from father to son within a natural family. Diocletian wanted to end this once and for all in order to keep unsuitable men off the throne, but thereby underestimated the importance of consanguinity for people. Perhaps the reason for Diocletian's blindness in this regard was that he himself had no son to succeed him on the throne. The tetrarchy was a brilliant move, but an unsuitable one. Diocletian was too fond of the system, he had turned too many screws 2. Diocletian, the Tetrarchy and the Christians (284–305) 46. more than once he succumbed to the mania for political feasibility. But the same zeal also spawned extremely well-thought-out reforms. The provincial and administrative reforms were successful and were expanded by Constantin, the imperial representation developed in the way he had prescribed, the reorganization of taxes and coins remained decisive for the entire late antiquity. His eye for capable people and his military skills gave him a reign of over twenty years. No emperor had ruled that long in 150 years. with all the achievements of the predecessors - it was Diocletian who ended the imperial crisis and stabilized the political system. And from the tetrarchy there was at least one central idea that the gigantic empire could not be ruled by one emperor alone. Diocletian pushed open the door to a new age, without him the following centuries would have looked different. The reason why he himself did not quite cross the threshold was that he opposed the new power of christianity with all his might. So Diocletian stayed at the entrance while the new religion shaped an entire epoch, his epoch.