Diocletian and Constantine

Length: 7 Pages 1874 Words

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 t Continue...

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When Constantine defeated Licinius, he became the sole ruler of the empire. Constantine's economic policy made him unpopular with his people. Diocletian was able to modify this unfair taxation system, by making it an annual occurrence. While such strict economic policy may not have been popular, it did protect the rights of the tax payers. "Mothers sold their children and fathers prostituted their daughters (Scarre 217), to pay this tax. This 'Edictum de Pretiis' was very detailed and threatened death to those who exceeded them or withheld their goods from the market. However the size of the empire made this an inefficient method and Diocletian eventually appointed two junior emperors (Caesars) to rule alongside each Augustus. The aim of the reorganisation of the military was to make rebellion and insurrection impossible. The council was successful for both the church and for Constantine. Although Diocletian's economic reform portrays him as a crusader for equality, his religious attitudes prove him to be otherwise. Since the area was too large for any one person to efficiently rule over, and Constantine reluctance to give up any power forced him to make changes to the tetrarch form of ruling. The city's location on the Bosporus allowed traders from Asia minor, and the eastern and western parts of the Roman empire to come together. The first edict Diocletian issued ordered that all soldiers and administrators had to sacrifice to the gods and those who refused were forced to quit. Later that year another edict was issued which imprisoned the entire Christian clergy. The last anti-Christian edict was by far the most severe, it "commanded all Christians, clergy, and laity alike to offer sacrifices on pain of death.


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Byzantine Empire & Art
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Perspectives of Roman History
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