20 November 284-1 May 305

20 March 235 - May 238



Diocletian was of mean birth. He received his name from Dioclea, the town in which he was born. He was forty years old when he was elected to the empire, A.D. 284.

After gaining many victories, and in the midst of his triumphs, Diocletian and Maximian, his partner in the empire, surprised the world by resigning their dignities on the same day, and both retiring into private stations. In this contented manner Diocletian lived some time, and at last died either by poison or madness. His reign, which continued twenty years, was active and useful; and his authority, which was tinctured with severity, was well adapted to the depraved state of morals of that time. Upon the resignation of the two emperors, the two Caesars whom they had before chosen, were universally acknowledged as their successors, namely, Constantius Chlorus, who was so called from the paleness of his complexion, being virtuous, valiant, and merciful; and Galerius, who was brave, but brutal, incontinent and cruel.

As there was such a disparity in their tempers, they readily agreed, upon coming into full power, to divide the empire, Constantius being appointed to govern the western parts. Constantius died in Britain, appointing Constantine his son as his successor. Galerius was seized with a very extraordinary disorder which baffled all the skill of the physicians, and carried him off, after he had languished in torments for nearly a year.

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