The Reforms of Diocletian and Constantine
The decline of the Roman empire can be attributed to many factors, but most notably however was the lack of efficient rulers. Despite the seemingly impossible task of rebuilding the empire, two emperors were able to overcome the odds. Both Diocletian (245-311) and Constantine (272-337) made reforms that enabled the Roman empire to survive for many years to come.
Diocletian was the emperor who initiated the revival of the Roman empire. He ruled from 284-305. It was the idea of “a single emperor ruling from Rome no longer had the ability to hold the whole empire together” (Shotter 387) that led to the division of the empire into east and west.
The cultural differences of the east and west is one reason as to why a single ruler was inefficient. Where the western half of the empire had strong ties to the traditional roman values, the east was greatly influenced by Greek traditions.
These cultural differences also prevented the creation of a uniform economic and political system, while “the western provinces were drawn together into a virtually common political, social, and economic system linked together by the use of Roman coin.” (Shotter 388) The east refused to accept the western way of life “because their traditions allowed for a greater level of independence with the system” (Shotter 388). These divisions made it very difficult to have a unified empire.
The inability of a single ruler to unite the empire led to the creation of the tetrarchy in 293. Because “it was clearly impossible for one man to carry out all these duties effectively in territories of the old size” (Williams 105) Diocletian appointed two separate rulers (Augustus) to rule the east and west. However the size of the empire made this an inefficient method and Diocletian eventually appointed two junior emperors (Caesars) to rule alongside each Augustus.
To further improve government efficien...