Publius Licinius Egantius Gallienus
born AD ca. 213. Became emperor in October AD 253. Wife: Cornelia Salonina (three sons; Licinius Valerianus, Licinius Salolinus, Licinius Egnatius Marinianus). Died near Mediolanum (Milan), September AD 268. Deified AD 268.
After the disastrous capture of Valerian, the Persians swept devastatingly over Syria, even capturing Antioch, gathering spoils and captives but without thought of setting up an organized dominion.
The Roman generals Macrianus and Callistus managed to rally what was left of Roman forces to halt Sapor's advance at the battle of Corycus, forcing the Persians to retreat behind the Euphrates.
Macrianus then masterminded a rebellion, placing his two sons, Macrianus and Qietus on the throne as join eastern emperors. But these efforts of setting up an eastern empire were to be crushed by an unlikely ally of emperor Gallienus. From Palmyra, on the border of the Syrian desert, emerged prince Odenathus who should defeat Quietus at Emesa and put an end to the rebellion. Thereafter the prince of Palmyra, Odenathus, staged an effective campaign against the Persians which gained him the command of the east by the now sole emperor Gallienus. He used his powers well, harassing the Persian withdrawal all the way back to the Euphrates river.
Meanwhile Gallienus in the west had to deal with an unfailing crop of challengers to his title. The worst such rebellion being that of Postumus, who successfully managed to break away several western provinces from the empire (The Gallic Empire).
In the east Odenathus eventually died in AD 267, leaving his title of commander of the east, to his famous wife Zenobia.
Then in AD 268 a massive Gothic invasion of the Balkans took place, the barbarians attacking in such huge numbers, they overwhelmed the Roman frontier defences.
Supported by the vast fleet of the Heruli, over 300'000 Goths broke into Thrace and Macedonia.
Gallienus greatest moment arrived when he marched east, prevented the sack of Athens and defeated the great barbarian army at the great battle of Naissus, the bloodiest battle of the entire third century.
Though his plans of following up his great victory and driving the remaining Goths back over the Danube were quashed as news reached him of the rebellion of Aureolus at Mediolanum (Milan). He returned to Italy and laid siege to Milan, only to be assassinated by a conspiracy involving the praetorian prefect Heraclianus and the two future emperors Claudius Gothicus and Aurelian.
The Gallic Empire
(AD 260- 274)
For a brief time, caused by the weakened state of the empire, the western provinces managed to break away from Rome, creating their own independent state, known as the Gallic empire.
Marcus Aurelius Valerius Claudius
born 10 May AD 214 in Illyricum. Became emperor in September AD 268. Died at Sirmium, August AD 270. Deified AD 270.
Claudius Gothicus, who had been among the leaders of the conspiracy against Gallienus.
He was the choice of the army to succeed the murdered emperor and was soon after confirmed by the senate.
Claudius Gothicus would make no terms with the besieged rebel Aureolus and did not interfere when the senate sentenced him to death.
the title Gothicus in the emperor's name is attributed to have been won in his many engagements with Gothic armies and marauders as he set about the task which had been denied Gallienus, that of driving the Goths out of the Balkans after their crushing defeat at Naissus.
(The victory over the Goths at Naissus was for a long time mistakenly believed to have been achieved by Claudius Gothicus.)
Though not all should go well for Claudius Gothicus. In AD 269 Zenobia, queen of Palmyra, who had inherited the title of supreme commander of the east, broke with her alliance to Rome and began her conquest of the eastern provinces of the empire.
Was Claudius still busy with the Goths, and had he also learnt of further troubles with the Jutes (Juthungi) at the borders of Raetia, he simply could not deal with the threat arising from Palmyra.
Yet, Claudius was not to be the man to lead the Roman armies either against the Jutes, nor against Zenobia. A plague broke out in his camp to which he succumbed in AD 270, whilst making preparations for a campaign against the Jutes.
Marcus Aurelius Quintillus
Became emperor in August AD 270. Died at Aquileia, ca. September AD 270.
Quintillus was the brother of Claudius Gothicus and the story of his brief succession is mainly that of two conflicting claims of Claudius Gothicus' last will. Did he claim that his brother had made him his successor and was he the preferred choice by many in the army, then Aurelian, Claudius Gothicus' comrade in arms and highly respected general claimed he had been chosen to succeed.
For a brief time Quintillus, recognized by the senate as the rightful emperor, contested Aurelian's claim. But soon he found himself completely abandoned, as everyone turned to Aurelian more through fear than by choice, and he committed suicide.
Lucius Domitius Aurelianus
born 9 September AD 214. Became emperor in August AD 270. Wife: Ulpia Severina (one daughter; name unknown). Died at Caenophrurium in Thrace, October/November AD 275. Deified AD 275.
The threat of the empire being overrun from several directions at once was temporarily averted by Aurelian (AD 214-275), who became emperor in AD 270. In addition to evacuating the Roman garrisons in Dacia, he defeated the Alemanni, who on this, their fourth invasion of Italy, had got as far as Ariminum.
Though never since Hannibal had any foreign foe thrust so near to the heart of Italy. So threatening had the situation been that Aurelian was moved to raise a new wall of defence encircling Rome.
The overthrow of the Alemanni, following the treaties with the Goths, seemed to promise a long period of security on the Rhine and Danube frontiers. Though there remained beyond the borders of the empire the insolent Persian king, still unpunished for the devastation he had wrought and the humiliation he had inflicted. But before that matter could be taken in hand, there was still the task of reuniting the empire itself, which had had several provinces torn from it by Postumus during his revolt against Gallienus.
Tetricus, by now the fourth successor to Postumus, was still ruling these renegade provinces known as the Gallic Empire.
though in truth this self-styled Gallic emperor was only anxious to be relieved from a situation where he was anything but master. It would have cost him his life at the hands of the soldiery to openly submit to Aurelian. And yet the battle of Châlons is believed by many to have been little more than a token show of defiance, in which Tetricus quite gladly saw his troops defeated in order to be able to relinquish his position.
Then Aurelian's attention turned to the east of the empire.
In the east Zenobia, following Odenathus, not only claimed for herself the command of the east, as bestowed on her late husband, but was in fact recognized throughout the east and in Egypt, which owed to Palmyra their preservation from the Persians.
The abilities first of Odenathus and then of Zenobia, aided by the wisdom of the philosopher Longinus, had given protection and restored order and prosperity without aid from Rome.
Dispatching his lieutenant Probus to Egypt to take control there, Aurelian himself led the imperial troops against Palmyra.
Zenobia offered valiant but vain resistance. Palmyra itself was besieged and captured. Zenobia herself was taken prisoner at her attempt to flee. along with Tetricus the captive queen was displayed in the magnificent triumph in Rome which celebrated the victories of Aurelian and the restoration of the empire.
The pride of Rome and the emperor being satisfied, the emperor displayed mercy by granting the fallen monarchs their lives.
It now finally remained to deal with Persia. A great expedition to that end was organized and under way, when Aurelian fell victim to a conspiracy.
He was murdered (AD 275) still in the fifth year of his reign, which had been a succession of triumphs. His murderers were not to be rebels but people among his staff who feared deserved or undeserved punishment.
Marcus Claudius Tacitus
born AD ca 200 in the Danube Region. Consul AD 203. Became emperor Oct./Nov. AD 275. Died in Tyana in Cappadocia, July AD 276.
Tacitus was the immediate successor of Aurelian. With barbarian invasions befalling the empire on many fronts, Tacitus decided that it was the east which required most urgent attention and led his armies into Asia Minor (Turkey), where he alongside his brother Florian, defeated a large Gothic invasion force in spring AD 276. Though already by July of AD 276 Tacitus was dead, either due to natural causes or by assassination.
Marcus Annius Florianus
Became emperor July AD 276. Died at Tarsus, September AD 276.
Forian acceded to the throne immediately after his brother's death, though within only two or three weeks Aurelian's lieutenant Pobus, challenged his rule and soon after their armies marched on each other. Though Florian's troops eventually mutinied, killed their leader and declared allegiance to Probus.
Marcus Aurelius Equitius Probus
born on 19 August AD 232 at Sirmium. Consul AD 277, 278, 279, 281, 282. Became emperor in July AD 276. Died near Sirmium, September AD 282. Deified AD 282.
After the murder of Florian the senate found itself with no other alternative than to recognize Probus in AD 276.
Though matters should not be easy for the new emperor. the Persian king Sapor had died and the campaign against the Persians was abandoned. If the Goths were quieted, the Germans along the Rhine and the Raetian were growing increasingly active.
Probus, a most distinguished soldier, spent the six years of his reign in vigorous campaigns carried far across the Rhine, enlisting from the barbarians themselves large bodies of auxiliary troops in the service of Rome.
But no series of successes could disguise the fundamental dangers of the situation. While the emperor was constantly personally engaged on campaigns on one frontier, he could not give his attention to other regions of the great empire.
In the east the commander Saturninus was forced into revolt by his own troops. It collapsed before the advance of the imperial forces, as did one or two others still more futile.
The trouble was that such risings were possible even when the emperor was a soldier and statesman as able as Probus.
Still more worrying was that a leader so applauded by soldiers and civilians should suddenly be slain in a mutiny led by the praetorian prefect Carus (AD 282).
Marcus Aurelius Numerius Carus
born AD ca. 224 at Narbo in Gaul. Consul AD 283. Became emperor in September AD 282. Died near Ctesiphon, July/August AD 283.
Carus, though advanced in years, was an able and experienced soldier. Leaving his elder son Carinus to rule the west, he himself too up the project of the Persian war. On the way eastward, marching through Illyricum, he inflicted a heavy defeat on a horde of Sarmatians, continued during the winter his advance through Thrace and Asia Minor (Turkey), and in AD 283 conducted a triumphant campaign in Mesopotamia and even beyond the Tigris.
Though he soon after met his death in mysterious circumstances, reports saying his tent was struck by lighting during a storm.
Carinus and Numerian
Marcus Aurelius Carinus
born AD ca. 250. Consul AD 283. Became emperor in spring AD 283. Wives: (1) Magnia Urbica (one son; Nigrinianus), (2 to 9) unknown. Died near Margum, summer AD 285.
Marcus Aurelius Numerius Numerianus
born AD ca. 253. Became emperor in spring AD 283. Died near Nicomedia, November AD 284.
At Carus' death, rule of the empire fell to his two sons, Carinus and Numerian.
The troops compelled Numerian to abandon the Persian expedition on which he had accompanied his father. He was credited with both character and ability, but his health had broken down under the hardships of the Persian campaign. Though he accompanied his army in its withdrawal westwards he was constantly confined to a sick-bed, where he was rarely seen by anyone else but Arrius Aper, the praetorian prefect. All state business passed through Aper's hands, so too all communication with the outside world.
At length the general suspicion became intolerable. Soldiers forced their way to their emperor, and found not a sick man, but a corpse.
Aper was then led in chains before a new emperor Diocletian, who had been elected the new ruler from his post of commander of the imperial bodyguard, who executed Aper by his own sword.
A few months later the tyrannical Carinus was slain at the very point of victory in battle over Diocletian, by the dagger of one of his own officer's whose wife he had seduced.
Diocletian - Constantine AD 284-337
Diocletian splits the empire
Diocletian, Maximian and Carausius
Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus
born 22 December AD 240. Consul AD 284, 285, 287, 290, 293, 296, 299, 303, 304, 308. Became emperor in 20 November AD 284. Wife: Prisca (one daughter; Galeria Valeria). Died at Spalatum, 3 December AD 311.
Marcus Aurelius Valerius Maximianus
born 21 July AD ca 250. Consul AD 287, 288, 290, 293, 297, 299, 303, 304, 307. Became emperor in 1 April AD 286. Wife: Eutropia (one son; Marcus Valerius Maxentius; one daughter; Fausta). Died at Massilia, July AD 310.
born in Menapia, date unknown. Became emperor in AD 286/7. Died AD 293.
One aspect of the problem was not so much that the empire was falling apart, but that it had always consisted of two parts.
Much of the region which comprised Macedonia and Cyrenaica and the lands to the east was Greek, or had been Hellenized before being occupied by Rome. The western part of the empire had received from Rome its first taste of a common culture and language overlaid on a society which was largely Celtic in origin.
Diocletian was an organizer. In AD 286 he split the empire into east and west, and appointed a Dalmatian colleague, Maximian (d. AD 305), to rule the west and Africa. A further division of responsibilities followed in AD 292. Diocletian and Maximian remained senior emperors, with the title of Augustus, but Galerius, Diocletian's son-in-law, and Constantius (surnamed Chlorus - 'the pale') were made deputy emperors with the title of Caesar. Galerius was given authority over the Danube provinces and Dalmatia, while Constantius took over Britain, Gaul and Spain. Significantly, Diocletian retained all his eastern provinces and set up his regional headquarters at Nicomedia in Bithynia, where he held court with all the outward show of an eastern potentate, complete with regal trappings and elaborate ceremonial.
The establishment of an imperial executive team had less to do with delegation that with the need to exercise closer supervision over all parts of the empire, and thus to lessen the chances of rebellion. There had already been trouble in the north, where in AD 286 the commander of the combined naval and military forces based at Boulogne, Aurelius Carausius, to avoid execution for embezzling stolen property, proclaimed himself emperor of Britain and even issued his own coins.
Diocletian ruled for twenty one years until, on 1 May AD 305, he took the unprecedented step of announcing from Nicomedia that he had abdicated, and offered Maximian no choice but to do the same. While his reign had been outwardly peaceful, the years of turmoil had left their mark on the administration of the empire and on its financial situation. Diocletian reorganized the provinces and Italy into 116 divisions, each governed by a rector or praeses, which were then grouped into twelve dioceses under a vicariusresponsible to the appropriate emperor. He strengthened the army (while at the same time purging it of Christians), and introduced new policies for the supply of arms and provisions.
Diocletian's monetary reforms were equally wide-ranging, but though the new tax system he introduced was workable, if not always equitable, his bill in AD 301 to curb inflation by establishing maximum prices, wages, and freight charges fell into disuse, its effect having been that goods simply disappeared from the market.
Its interest today lies in its comparisons, even though or because these are much as one would expect. Ordinary wine was twice the price of beer, while named vintages were almost four times as much as the ordinary wine. Pork mince cost half as much again as beef mince, and about the same as prime sea fish. River fish were cheaper. A pint of fresh quality olive oil was more expensive that the same amount of vintage wine; there was cheaper oil as well. A carpenter could expect twice the wages of a farm labourer or a sewer cleaner, all with meals included. A teacher of shorthand or arithmetic might earn half as much again per pupil as a primary-school teacher; grammar teachers, and teachers of rhetoric five times as much. Baths' barbers were all paid the same rate per customer.
Diocletian died in his retirement palace in his native Dalmatia in AD 311, having spent his retirement gardening and studying philosophy, refusing to play any further part in the government of the empire, which immediately after his departure began to founder.
Thre was however a curious episode during Diocletian's reign which took place in the west of the empire. The western Augustus Maximian had hardly taken office, and proven his authority by crushing an insurrection in Gaul, when Britain declared its independence. For seven years the two Augusti found themselves compelled to recognize a third emperor in the person of Mausaeus Carausius, previously commander of the North Sea Fleet.
Constantius Chlorus, Galerius, Severus II
Maxentius, Licinius and Maximinus II Daia
Flavius Julius Constantius
born 31 March AD ca. 250 in Illyricum. Became emperor in 1 May AD 305. Wife: (1) Helena (one son; Constantine), (2) Theodora ( two sons; Flavius Dalmatius, Flavius Julius Constantius; third child unknown). Died at Ebucarum (York), 25 July AD 306.
Gaius Galerius Valerius Maximianus
born AD ca. 250 at Florentiniana, Upper Moesia. Became emperor in 1 May AD 305. Wife: (1) Galeria Valeria (one daughter; Valeria Maximilla), (2) an unknown concubine (one sons; Candidianus). Died at Nicomedia, May AD 311.
Flavius Valerius Severus
born in the Danubian region, date unknown. Became emperor in August AD 306. Wife: (1) unknown (one son; Severus). Died at Rome, 16 September AD 307.
Marcus Aurelius Valerius Maxentius
born in AD ca. 279 possibly in Syria. Became emperor in 28 October AD 306. Wife: Valeria Maximilla (two sons; Valerius Romulus; unknown). Died at Milvian Bridge at Rome, 28 October AD 312.
Gaius Galerius Valerius Maximinus
born 20 November AD 270 in the Danubian region. Became emperor in 1 August AD 310. Wife: unknown (one daughter; unknown). Died at Tarsus July/August AD 313.
Valerius Licinius Licinianus
born in AD ca. 250 in Upper Moesia. Became emperor in 11 November AD 308. Wife: Constantia (one son; Licinius). Died at Thessalonica early in AD 325.
When he retired, Diocletian had promoted Galerius and Constantius to the posts of Augustus, and appointed two new Caeasars. The troubles broke out when Constantius died in York in AD 306, and his troops proclaimed his son Constantine as their leader.
Encouraged by this development, Maxentius, son of Maximian, had himself set up as emperor and took control of Italy and Africa, whereupon his father came out of involuntary retirement and insisted on having back his former imperial command.
The situation degenerated into chaos. At one point in AD 308 there seem to have been six men styling themselves Augustus, whereas Diocletian's system allowed for only two. Galerius died in AD 311, having on his deathbed revoked Diocletian's anti-Christian edicts. Matters were not fully resolved until AD 324, when Constantine defeated and executed his last surviving rival. The empire once again had a single ruler, and against all the odds he lasted for some years.
Flavius Valerius Constantinus
born on 27 February AD 285 (or AD 272/273) at Naissus. Consul AD 307, 312, 313, 315, 319, 320, 326, 329. Became emperor in AD 307. Wife: (1) Minervina (one son; Gaius Flavius Julius Crispus), (2) Fausta (three sons; Flavius Claudius Constantinus, Flavius Julius Constantius, Flavius Julius Constans; two daughters; Constantia, Helena) Died at Ankyrona near Nicomedia, 22 May AD 337. Deified AD 337.
Constantine was born in Naissus in Upper Moesia in about AD 290, his father subsequently being forced to divorce his mother (a former barmaid) and marry Maximian's daughter. His appellation 'the Great' is justified on two counts. Under Diocletian especially, the Christians had suffered a terrible time. In AD 313, while the struggle for imperial power was at its height, Constantine initiated the edict of Milan - Milan, not Rome, was now the administrative centre of the government of Italy - which gave Christians (and others) freedom of worship and exemption from any religious ceremonial. It is said that before the battle of the Milvian Bridge in AD 312, at which he enticed Maxentius to abandon his safe position behind the Aurelian Wall and then drove most of his army into the Tiber, Constantine had dreamed of the sign of Christ. Thereafter he was not actually baptized until just before his death in AD 337, he regarded himself as a man of the god of the Christians, and can therefore claim to be the first Christian emperor or king. In AD 325 he assembled at Nicaea in Bithynia 318 bishops, each elected by his community, to debate and affirm some priciples of their faith. The result, known as the Nicene Creed, is now part of the Roman Catholic mass and the Anglican churches' service of communion. And, in AD 330, he established the seat of government of the Roman empire in a town known as Byzantium, which he renamed Constantinopolis (city of Constantine), thus ensuring that a Roman (but Hellenized and predominantly Christian) empire would survive the inevitable loss of its western part. Its capital stood, until the middle of the fifteenth century, as a barrier between the forces of the east and the as yet ill-organized tribes and peoples of Europe, each struggling to find a permanent identity and culture.
To the Jews Constantine was ambivalent: while the Edict of Milan is also known as the Edict of Toleration, Judaism was seen as a rival to Christianity, and among other measures he forbade the conversion of pagans to its practices. In time he became even more uncompromising towards the pagans themselves, enacting a law against divination and finally banning sacrifices. He also destroyed temples and confiscated temple lands and treasures, which gave him much needed funds to fuel his personal extravagances. His reign constituted, however, a series of field days for architects, whom he encouraged to celebrate the religious revolution by reinventing the basilica as a dramatic ecclesiastical edifice.
A general of considerable dynamism, he developed Diocletian's reforms, and completed the division of the military into two arms: frontier forces and permanent reserves, who could be sent anywhere at short notice. He changed the system of command so that normally the posts of civil governor and military commander were separate. He disbanded the imperial guard, and established a chief of staff to assume control of all military operations and army discipline; the praetorian prefects (commanders of the imperial guard), became appeal judges and chief ministers of finance.
Constantine the Great died 22 May AD 337.