Diocletians Abdication and the Dissolution of the Tetrarchy

On May 1, 305 C.E., in the midst of the persecution, Diocletian abdicated, leaving his palace in Nicomedia to retire to his palace in the modern Split, in Croatia. At the same time, his co-Augustus Maximian abdicated

(under pressure) in Milan. Maximian's Caesar in the West, Constantius, now became Augustus, and Diocletian's Caesar, Galerius, succeeded him as Augustus in the East. Diocletian acknowledged Galerius' primacy by granting him the exclusive privilege of appointing the new Caesars: the loyal officer Flavius Valerius Severus became Caesar of the west under Constantius; and Galerius' nephew, Gaius Galerius Valerius Daia, added Maximinus to his name and became his Caesar (Maximin Daia) in the east. Another fellow Illyrian, Valerius Licinianus Licinius, was also eager for power and would soon replace Severus. This marked the beginning of the dissolution of the tetrarchy that lasted only until the death of Con-stantius in July 306. Then, the stronger bonds of filial loyalty superseded Diocletian's plans for peaceful succession and resulted in the emergence of the new "Christian" monarchy of Constantine.

Flavius Valerius Constantinus (Constantine the Great) (c. 273-337 C.E.) was at Galerius' court in Nicomedia when the Augusti abdicated and the new Caesars were appointed. Soon after this, in July of 306 C.E., at Constantius' death, his father's loyal troops proclaimed Constantine the new Augustus of the west. Emboldened by Constantine's popular elevation to power at his father's death, Maxentius, also the son of a tetrarch (Maximian), made a bid for power. On October 28, 306 C.E., he had himself proclaimed emperor of Rome by the Praetorian Guard. The government was in chaos and in 308 C.E., the lead tetrarch, Galerius, called a conference at Carnuntum in Upper Pannonia, the modern Petronell, Austria. At that conference, after reaffirming his status as Augustus and that of Maximin Daia as his Caesar, Galerius still had to contend with Maxentius, self-proclaimed emperor in Rome, and Constantine, who not only called himself Augustus, but also issued coins in his name depicting Sol Invictus rather than the tetrarchy's emblematic Jupiter and Hercules.

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