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From Hutton Webster's, Early European History (1917); edited for this on-line publication, by ELLOPOS
VII. THE LATER EMPIRE: CHRISTIANITY IN THE ROMAN WORLD, 180-395 A.D.
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THE "ABSOLUTE EMPERORS," 284-395 A.D.
REIGN OF DIOCLETIAN, 284-305 A.D.
Diocletian, whose reign is one of the most illustrious in Roman history, entered the army as a common soldier, rose to high command, and fought his way to the throne. A strong, ambitious man, Diocletian resolutely set himself to the task of remaking the Roman government. His success in this undertaking entitles him to rank, as a statesman and administrator, with Augustus.
WEAKNESSES IN THE IMPERIAL SYSTEM
The reforms of Diocletian were meant to remedy those weaknesses in the imperial system disclosed by the disasters of the preceding century. In the first place, experience showed that the empire was unwieldy. There were the distant frontiers on the Rhine, Danube, and Euphrates to be guarded; there were all the provinces to be governed. A single ruler, however able and energetic, had more than he could do. In the second place, the succession to the imperial throne was uncertain. Now an emperor named his successor, now the Senate elected him, and now the swords of the legionaries raised him to the purple. Such an unsettled state of affairs constantly invited those struggles between rival pretenders which had so nearly brought the empire to destruction.
Cf. The Ancient Greece * The Ancient Rome
Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) * Western Medieval Europe * Renaissance in Italy