Mary Stone | April 22, 2023


Maximian Galerius, known as Galerius (Imperator Caesar Gaius Galerius Valerius Maximianus Pius Felix Invictus Augustus in Latin), born around 250 in Felix Romuliana and died on May 5, 311 in Dardania, was a Roman emperor of the Late Empire who reigned during the Tetrarchy.

Originating from a very modest Thracian family, Galerius entered the army at a very early age and progressed rapidly in the military hierarchy. Spotted by the emperor Diocletian, he married his daughter Galeria Valeria and became his Caesar, i.e. his vice-emperor, responsible for Illyria, in 293. Galerius thus became one of the four men who collegially directed the Empire. As such, he led several campaigns on the Danube against the Sarmatians, the Carps and the Bastarnes from 294 to 296, then won a great victory over the Sassanids, in the East, in 298. Very critical of the Christian religion, he approved, if not encouraged, the implementation of the Great Persecution decreed in 303 by his superior, the emperor Diocletian, over whom he had more and more influence. Weakened by illness, Diocletian decided in 304 to withdraw from power. The joint abdication of the two principal tetrarchs signs the promotion of the two vice-emperors. Galerius thus became the Augustus at the head of the Eastern part of the Empire, on May 1, 305.

Of the four tetrarchs, he became in fact the main leader of the empire. Indeed, the two new Caesars supposed to support them, he and his colleague Constantius Chlorus, are two of his relatives. His vice-emperor, Maximin II Daia, is his nephew while the deputy of Constantius Chlorus, Severus, fought at his side. Quickly however the political situation degrades. With the death of his co-emperor Constance in 306, his son, Constantine, proclaimed himself emperor in Brittany, immediately imitated in that, in Rome, by Maxentius, son of Maximian Hercules the former colleague of Diocletian. Galerius immediately sent Severus to march against Maxentius and Maximian came to support him. However, the death of Severus and the failure of the campaign of Galerius in Italy intended to defeat the usurpers obliges it to revise the tetrarchic system. In 308, at the time of the imperial conference of Carnuntum, it raises directly Licinius with the title of Augustus in replacement of Severus and officially recognizes Constantine Ier that it names Caesar. As they protest against the promotion of Licinius, the two Caesars, Constantine and Maximin II Daïa, are finally named, in their turn, Augustus in 310.

Galerius fell ill in the meantime and entered a long agony. His last political act was the proclamation on April 30, 311 of an edict of tolerance, the edict of Sardique, putting an end to the persecutions of Diocletian. Last defender of the Tetrarchy, his death, in May 311, consecrates its end.

Galerius was born under the name of Armentarius and later Gaius Galerius Maximinus around 250 in Felix Romuliana in present-day Serbia, not far from Sardica, in one of the provinces of Dacia. His father was originally from Thrace. As for his mother, Romula, despite her Roman name, she was of barbarian blood (born outside the Roman Empire) since, born beyond the Danube, she took refuge in Roman Dacia at the time of the Carp invasions. The couple had a very modest standard of living, the father was a shepherd and Galerius followed in his footsteps for a while before joining the Roman legions. He served under the emperor Aurelian and then participated in the campaigns of Probus and Carus under whose reign he progressed in the military hierarchy.

First Tetrarchy

Become an experienced officer, he is noticed by the emperor Diocletian of which he becomes the prefect of the prétoire. Diocletian offered him the hand of his daughter, Galeria Valeria. Galerius had to repudiate his wife but entered the emperor’s house and received the name of Valerius. On March 1, 293, in Sirmium, Diocletian raises him to the rank of Caesar, that is to say vice-emperor. Galerius thus became the designated heir of Diocletian, according to the model of the Tetrarchy, with the title of Nobilissimus Caesar.

Diocletian has indeed gradually put in place a structure that the defense of the Empire is ensured by four legitimate emperors to be able to face all the enemies of the Empire without giving too much power to mere generals who would be likely to turn against the central power. Thus, he was supported by Maximian Hercules, whom he named Augustus – that is, co-emperor – and to whom he entrusted the West. Each one of them, to avoid hypothetical problems of succession, was in turn associated with a Caesar: Constance Chlorine for Maximian, and Galerius for Diocletian. Maximian and Constantius had the task of defending the West and in particular the Rhine, while Diocletian and Galerius took care of the East, including monitoring the banks of the Danube and the Sassanian border.

More precisely, Galerius seems to have been in charge of Greece and Illyria while Diocletian defended Asia and Egypt. However it is not a question of a partition of the Empire between the tetrarchs but well of a collegial government. Thus, Diocletian and Galerius fought together against the Sarmatians in 294. They inflicted them, on occasion, a severe defeat, so that except for some Sarmatian warriors who were incorporated into the Roman army by treaty, the majority of the barbarians were pushed out of the Empire. Galerius fights, then, alone, the Carps and the Bastarnes that it sends back beyond the limes in 295 and 296. Thereafter, in 296, whereas the usurpations, in Egypt, of Domitianus then Achilleus force Diocletian to abandon the Sassanian border, Galerius replaces him at the head of the Eastern provinces.

Victory over the Sassanids

In Persia, however, the situation had changed. In 294, a new prince, Narseh, had indeed gone up on the throne of the Kings of the kings. Proclaiming himself in the lineage of Ardachîr Ier and Shapur Ier, victors respectively of the emperors Severus Alexander and Valerian, he declares the war to Dioclétien in the autumn 296 by invading the kingdom of Arménie of Tiridate under Roman protection. Galerius and Diocletian joined their troops and, while Diocletian was stationed on the Syrian border, Galerius was sent in Osroene, beyond the Euphrates, to make his junction with the remaining troops of Tiridate. With these reinforcements, Galerius left in front of the Persian army which he confronted in Callinicum, not far south of Carrhae where Crassus had undergone a severe defeat in front of the Parthians. This time again the Roman army was defeated and Galerius had to withdraw to avoid a new disaster. In Antioch, Diocletian reserves to him an icy reception. According to Festus, Eutropius and Ammianus Marcellinus, he even publicly humiliated him by forcing him to walk in front of his chariot for a distance of one mile.

In 298, Galerius took the offensive again and marched against the Persians, at the head of an army of nearly 25,000 men reinforced with Goths and Sarmatians mercenaries and invaded Armenia. Benefiting from a mountainous ground more favorable to the Roman infantry than to the Persian cavalry, Galerius reverses the situation. He attacked the Persian army by surprise between Callinicum and Carrhae and inflicted a heavy defeat. The King of kings, wounded, manages to flee, but he leaves behind him several of his wives, his sisters and his daughters, as well as an important booty which the Romans seize. Galerius then took Nisibe then crossed the Tigris. Exploiting his successes, the Caesar penetrated into the region of Adiabene but received orders from Diocletian to stop the offensive. The latter finds Galerius in 298 or at the beginning of the year 299, in Nisibe, and publicly congratulates his assistant for his victories by a great ceremony. Desiring to build a durable peace with the Sassanides, Diocletian asks Galerius to send his secretary, Sicorius Probus, to carry proposals of peace to Narseh. The treaty obtained from the Persian ambassadors Apharban, Hargbed and Barasabor confirms the victory of the Romans: the border between the two empires is carried on the Tigris, Tiridate is confirmed on the throne of Armenia, while the king of Iberia receives from now on his royal insignia of the Roman emperor. Nisibe is instituted as unique commercial place between the two empires. Finally, Diocletian obtains the control on the five satrapies located between Armenia and the Roman territory: Ingilène, Sophène, Arzazène, Gordyène and Zabdicène.

If the peace of Nisibe is of the hand of Diocletian, the first great Roman military victory against the Sassanids is recognized to Galerius. To commemorate this event, a triumphal arch was erected in his honor in 299 in Thessalonica, the city in which he had resided during his battles on the Danube. He seems to have settled again in this city from 299 from where he organizes new campaigns against the Sarmatians and the Carps in particular in 302 and 303, as the titles of victories which are allotted to him these years attest. On November 20, 303, the four tetrarchs met in Rome to celebrate the vicennalia, the twenty years of reign of the two Augustans and the decennalia, the ten years of the two Caesars. On the occasion of these festivities illustrating the collegiality and uniqueness of the empire, Galerius celebrated his triumph for his victory over the Persians. On his return from Rome, Galerius may have participated in an inspection on the Danube in early 304, alongside Diocletian.

Second Tetrarchy

Fallen sick during this last campaign, from the summer 304 Diocletian sees his health deteriorating gradually. The emperor is so weakened that he is declared dead wrongly, on December 13, 304 in Nicomedia. Arrived at Nicomedia at the end of March 305, Galerius meets there a Diocletian exhausted and visibly marked by the disease. According to Lactantius, whose testimony must be taken with the greatest skepticism, Galerius would have required of Diocletian that it leaves the capacity with Maximian to leave their place to their respective Caesar. Whether Diocletian was impressed by his subordinate or whether these exchanges were fabricated, the emperor decided to address the armies on May 1, 305. He pronounced his speech not far from Nicomedia, in the same plain where he had been proclaimed emperor in 284 at the foot of a statue of Jupiter, protective god of his house. Attesting of his age and his disease, he claims not to be able to carry any more the burden of the power which he estimates to have to transmit to younger men and thus stronger. Also, he announces to his veterans that he abdicates, jointly with Maximian Hercules to leave the place to Galerius and Constantius Chlorine. Both become Augustus while two other senior officers are raised to the rank of Caesar.

However, contrary to what was expected, it is not Maxentius and Constantine, the sons of Maximian Hercules and Constantius Chlorus, who are honored with the “Caesarate” but two other officers answering the names of Maximin and Severus. Both are close to Galerius. Maximin Daïa, his Caesar in charge of Egypt and Syria, is a young tribune who is none other than his own nephew, moreover native of the same city as him. Severus, who is an experienced Pannonian officer, is as for him a former companion of weapon of Galerius. If his allegiance goes theoretically to Constance Chlore, it is in fact all devoted to Galerius. In fact, if the order of precedence makes Constantius Chlorus the main emperor of the second Tetrarchy, it is indeed Galerius who is the main figure, especially since Constantine, the son of Constantius, resides at his court.

This balance is however quickly upset. Indeed, in July 306, while he was in Brittany to fight the incursions of the Picts and the Scots, the emperor Constantius Chlorus died of an illness. However, in the meantime, he had recalled his son, Constantine, to him and seems to have, on his deathbed, transmitted the power at the expense of his Caesar, Severus. Still it is that with the death of his father and protector, Constantine is acclaimed emperor by the troops, mainly Frankish, joined together in Eboracum. Galerius, this time incontestable master of the empire, becomes at the same time guarantor of the perenniality of the system. Anxious to legitimize his usurpation, Constantine sends to him at once a letter reaffirming his loyalty towards the tetrarchs and certifying that he had only resolved to usurp the purple on the pressure of the soldiers of his father. Galerius, who knows how much the armies of Gaul and Brittany are faithful to the son of Constance Chlore, prefers to avoid the civil war. Swallowing his anger, it grants to Constantine the rank of Caesar, what the principal concerned accepts, while Severus is raised to the “Augustate”.

However this recognition is not without problem: if Constantine obtained victory, Maxentius, also son of tetrarch, considers himself deeply injured. Now, at this precise moment, in the continuation of the fiscal policy of Diocletian, Galerius envisages to subject Rome and Italy to the same taxes as the rest of the empire, thus putting an end to an old privilege from which the region benefited. Taking advantage of the unpopularity of the new Augustus of the West, in charge of preparing the implementation of these future taxes, Maxentius was recognized as emperor by the Praetorian cohorts, on October 28, 306. The close relations of Severus are pursued and executed, like the prefect of the city, Abellius, while the Senate of Rome makes of Maxentius the protector and the restorer of the old liberties. Wishing, there still, to be conciliated Galerius, Maxence writes to him, with the same arguments as Constantine, to ask him for the purple. Desiring to show the greatest humility, he had besides refused of the Senate the titles of Caesar or Augustus to be satisfied with that of princeps, in order not to give the impression to force the hand of the principal emperor.

Beginning of the civil wars

This time, however, Galerius refuses the accomplished fact. The elevation of Maxentius would amount, indeed, to sacrificing the balance brought by the Tétrarchy, since there would be then not four but five emperors. Galerius thus orders to Severus to march on Italy. Not being able to go back any more, Maxence resigns himself to usurp the “Augustate” and prepares for the war. He recalls, on the occasion, his father, Maximian Hercules, who had been forced to abdicate under the pressure of Diocletian and Galerius. Heralded as Augustus for the second time, he agreed to return to power alongside his son. This choice proves very quickly to be profitable: the troops placed recently under the command of Severus are those which, during the preceding decades, had served under the orders of Maximian. Very quickly, Severus is confronted with a whole series of defections in its ranks, phenomenon still increased by the offers of corruption of Maxentius. The own prefect of the praetorium of Severus betrayed him to rally the camp of his adversary. These desertions become such as the emperor is forced to flee to take refuge in the strengthened city of Ravenna. Having received the promise of Maximian that he would have the safe life, Severus ends up giving up to Maxentius. As soon as he left the fortress, he was arrested and taken to prison in Rome, where he was forced to commit suicide in early 307.

After having snatched a new victory from the Sarmatians in the summer of 307, Galerius took the head of the armies of Illyria with the firm intention of breaking himself the double usurpation. Maxentius and Maximian, who want to avoid an alliance between Galerius and Constantine, decide then to ensure the neutrality of Caesar. Before the end of the summer 307, whereas Maxence awaits Galerius at the foot of the Alps, Constantine and Maximian meet. There, Maximian offers to the young Caesar the hand of his daughter, Fausta, and raises him to the rank of Augustus, making him thus join his house and the camp of the usurpation. Galerius enters Italy in September 307. Maxentius who wishes to avoid any pitched battle withdraws on Rome but makes close the doors of all the cities of the North of Italy. Galerius reached Latium safely but without having been able to supply his army on the way. Although important, its troops are not in any case enough numerous to besiege the city of Rome well protected behind the walls of Aurelian. Very quickly, Galerius found himself in the same situation as Severus before him: as a consequence of their pessimism or of bribes generously distributed by the masters of Rome, some of his soldiers decided to desert. If, unlike Severus, Galerius managed to stop the phenomenon quickly, his situation was no less precarious. Aware of its weakness, it envisages negotiations and sends in this direction its lieutenants, Licinius and Probus, near Maxence. It requires by this way its submission but promises in return to recognize it officially as legitimate emperor. Fearing a trap, or sure of its victory, Maxentius rejects these proposals. However the victory is not with the appointment: Galerius avoids the encirclement. It leaves at once its camp of Interamna in Latium and withdraws in the East. By making destroy the grounds located on its passage, what slows down its pursuers, it manages to leave without encumbers Italy.

The situation did not change: Galerius was not defeated and kept all his troops while Maximian and Maxentius were still considered as usurpers. A new event however makes somewhat change the situation since dissensions burst between Maximian and his son. If Maxentius recalled his father, it is, indeed, only with an aim of taking advantage of his name and his talents of general. However, Maximian which directed the Occident like principal emperor during more than twenty years accepts badly to be relegated to the second rank. Speaking before the troops, he denounced the ingratitude and mediocrity of his son and went so far as to snatch the purple from him. To his great surprise, however, the soldiers took his son’s side. Spared, he must nevertheless flee and take refuge with Constantine. At the same time, a new usurpation in 308, that of Domitius Alexander in Africa, territory under the control of Maxentius, still reduces the power of the prince of Rome.

The Carnuntum Conference

Anxious to restore the stability of the tetrarchic system, Galerius, after a new campaign against the Carps on the Danube during the summer 308, leaves to seek council near his old mentor, Diocletian. He succeeds in convincing this last to leave a few days its holiday of Spalatum the time of a meeting in Carnuntum. If Diocletian is determined not to return to power, he agrees to bring his experience, his prestige as well as his influence on Maximian to try to save the system. On his advice, Galerius organizes, in the presence of Diocletian and Maximian Hercules, a conference charged to put a definitive end to the disorders consecutive to the death of Constance Chlore.

At the end of this conference, on November 11, 308, several important decisions are taken. First, Maximian must, like Diocletian, withdraw again from the political scene. Then, Maxentius and Alexander are condemned again as usurpers while Constantine loses his title of Augustus to find that of simple Caesar. Finally, a new Augustus is appointed to replace Severus, it is Licinius, a lieutenant of Galerius, who is entrusted with Illyria the time it takes Italy and Africa occupied by the usurpers. If Licinius did not follow the statutory curriculum – he never passed through the stage of “Caesarate” – Galerius nevertheless re-established a structure comparable to those of the first two tetrarchies with two Augustinians, in the East and West, Galerius and Licinius, and two Caesars, Maximin Daia and Constantine.

This solution however does not satisfy two of the principal interested parties. Constantine, Caesar in the West, had indeed the hope that Galerius would recognize him this new title of Augustus that Maximian granted to him. At the same time, Maximin Daïa, Caesar in the East, refuses to accept that Licinius just named Augustus is hierarchically superior to him. Rejecting the appeasement advocated by Galerius, he ends up requiring the “Augustate” for him and Constantine in order to avoid this injustice. Galerius resigned himself to add to that of Caesar the title of filii Augustorum then finally concedes them that of augustus in spring 310. It is that, indeed, Galerius needs again the support of the three other tetrarchs at the time when a new usurpation comes to threaten the recovered balance of the Tétrarchy.

In fact, Constantine being officially recognized as Augustus, Maximian Hercules loses all utility in the eyes of his son-in-law. Realizing that he cannot count on him any more to return to the power, he tries his va-tout. Taking advantage of the fact that Constantine had left for the Rhine to fight the Bructers, he went to Arles and announced the false news of the emperor’s death. For the third time in his life, the former brother-in-arms of Diocletian puts on the imperial purple. This time again it is a failure: quickly the soldiers, warned of the lie, refuse to follow him and the march towards the south of Constantine obliges Maximian Hercules to flee Arles for Massilia where he locks himself up. His adventure stops there: as soon as Constantine and his army reach the walls, the inhabitants open the doors of the city to him. Maximian Hercules was captured and the purple was taken from him. Driven to suicide, he hanged himself a few days later in July 310.

Constantine is more and more the strong man of the regime. His elevation to the “Augustate” as well as that of Maximin Da’a does indeed establish a tetrarchic system since there are still four legitimate emperors, but the hierarchical relationships between the various tetrarchs are less and less clear. If Galerius is always theoretically the principal emperor, in fact, each emperor directs his territory more or less independently.

The great persecution of Diocletian

From its foundation, the Tetrarchy, symbolizing unity and stability, was closely associated with the pagan religion. The emperors are deified: Diocletian takes for protector Jupiter, Conservator of the Roman state, while Maximian is related to Hercules, the son of Jupiter. This important place occupied by the traditional Roman religion quickly raises the question of the attitude to adopt towards a Christianity in full development. After several years of procrastination, Diocletian finally decided to fight against the religion of Christ and published several imperial edicts, signing the last great persecution of the Roman Empire. From February 24, 303 to the beginning of 304, four increasingly severe edicts were issued in the names of Diocletian, Maximian, Constantius and Galerius. In accordance with these decisions, churches were destroyed, holy books were confiscated, clergy were arrested, and finally all those who refused to sacrifice to the gods of the empire were tortured, condemned to death or deported to the mines.

The question of responsibility for this persecution has been historically discussed. In fact, ancient sources, beginning with the contemporaries, the Christians Lactantius and Eusebius of Caesarea, point to Galerius as the main instigator of this policy. According to them, the brutal Caesar, under the influence of his mother Romula, a fiercely anti-Christian pagan priestess, would have coerced or manipulated Diocletian to obtain from him this great persecution. This helps to explain the fact that these edicts were not issued until the eighteenth year of Diocletian’s reign. However, if Galerius undoubtedly approved of these anti-Christian measures, which he continued to apply after Diocletian’s departure, his role is probably greatly exaggerated. Indeed, the burning of the imperial palace of Nicomedia or the multiplication of incidents in the army, where Christian soldiers refused to sacrifice, could also have encouraged the emperor to set up the persecution. The influence of Galerius was only fully effective for the last of the four edicts, the one that obliged all Christians to sacrifice to the gods of the empire under penalty of death, which was published at the beginning of 304, when Diocletian was overcome by illness. Nevertheless, this last edict, certainly more radical, is not less in the continuity of the preceding texts and is first and foremost the result of the will of Diocletian.

The extent of the persecution must also be put into perspective. It was indeed applied very unevenly throughout the empire. Thus Constantius Chlorus in the West was content to destroy a few monuments while Maximian Hercules, who had at first fully implemented the orders of Diocletian, quickly tired of this persecution. Finally, Maxentius and Constantine are both very reserved on the opportunity of such a policy, which they do not apply so to speak. One can see here a strong difference between the East, where Galerius and Maximin Daia were very zealous in the application of the imperial edicts, and the West, where the persecutions were on a lesser scale. This distinction, which beyond the attitude of the various tetrarchs can be explained by the much larger proportion of Christians in the East than in the West, reinforces the idea, among contemporaries, that Galerius was the one most responsible for this outburst of violence.

The edict of Sardique and the death of Galerius

Although considered the main architect of the repression of Christianity, it was Galerius who was the first to repeal the measures of persecution that had been enacted against the followers of the religion of Christ. The proclaimed objective of the persecution edicts of 303 and 304 was, in fact, to bring the Christians back by force to the beliefs of their ancestors. Only, contrary to what Diocletian and Galerius had hoped for, the violent anti-Christian measures proved to be totally unproductive. If the religion of Christ was indeed deserted by some, they did not return to the traditional Roman cults; worse, they seemed to affect not to venerate any deity anymore. Taking note of the failure of the persecutions, which did not manage to eradicate Christianity, Galerius chooses to put an end to it definitively.

Thus, on April 30, 311, he published, in Nicomedia or Sardique, an edict of tolerance recognizing the existence of the Christian religion. This “Edict of Sardikus” or “Edict of Galerius” put an end to all anti-Christian measures still in force on the territory of the empire. Issued by Galerius without consulting his peers, it was promulgated not only in his own name but also in the name of his three tetrarch colleagues – Constantine, Licinius and Maximin Daia. Going further than the “little peace of the Church”, granted by Gallien at the end of Valerian’s persecution in 260, and during which the practice of the Christian religion and the construction of places of worship were tolerated, Galerius went this time as far as giving a form of legitimacy to Christianity, since he humbly asked his followers to pray for him and for the salvation of the empire. Immediately after the publication of this text, all imprisoned Christians were released. If the measures of persecution had already been abandoned in fact in the West, they ceased in the East, in the territory under the control of Galerius. Maximin Daïa, who was very reluctant towards this new policy, opposed it. Taking advantage of the withdrawal of his former master Galerius, he maintains in force the edicts of Diocletian.

During the winter of 310, while preparing for the celebration of his vicennalia, Galerius was struck by illness. The precise nature of this long and painful illness can hardly be deduced from the testimonies of Christian authors, whose statements are polemical in nature, or from less oriented authors such as Zosimus or Aurelius Victor who, remaining vague, mention an infected wound.

Thus, the Christian apologist Lactantius describes, in his De Mortibus Persecutorum, the appearance of an abscess, affecting the emperor’s genitals, in a parallel to the description of the illness that afflicted Antiochus IV Epiphanes, of his terrible suffering and his remorse that followed, reported in the Book of Maccabees in a literary motif of the redemption of the persecuting ruler regularly taken up by Jewish and Christian authors also follows the pattern of Antiochus’ death, stating that after the promulgation of the edict of Sardikus, Galerius had been relieved of his sufferings, before dying a few days later. Later, the apologists Ruffin add that the emperor would have committed suicide of pain.

Based on these texts, which are full of gruesome details that are complacently reported and perhaps imagined, modern studies have hypothesized a form of penile cancer. According to historian Arnold H. M. Jones, as he sank into the throes of illness, Galerius came to believe that he was being avenged by the god of the Christians, which would also explain his reversal of religious policy.

Wishing to die in his birthplace, in Felix Romuliana where he had built a fortified residence on the model of the palace of Diocletian of Spalatum, Galerius, confronted with a new push of the disease, does not arrive alive at destination: Galerius dies in the province of Dardania, at the beginning of May 311, a few days only after the promulgation of his edict of tolerance. His body was buried in his palace of Felix Romuliana, in the presence of the emperor Licinius.

The death of Galerius left the Tetrarchy in deep crisis. The power is shared between three legitimate emperors – all three Augustans -, Licinius, Maximin Daia and Constantine, and a usurper, Maxentius. However, no one tried to re-establish the system as Galerius had done at Carnuntum. Thus, one does not proceed to the elevation of a new emperor in replacement of the defunct Augustus; Licinius and Maximin hasten to place its old provinces under their authority and move the border between their territories on the banks of the Bosphorus. At the same time, Maxentius, claiming to want to avenge the death of his father Maximian, declared war on Constantine. However none of them undertakes in the immediate the least action of scale. From then on, alliances were formed: in the winter of 311, Constantine allied himself with Licinius to whom he offered the hand of his sister Constantia. Reacting to what he considered to be an alliance against him, Maximin officially recognized Maxentius and signed a military alliance of mutual defense with him. The death of Diocletian, probably affected by the turn of the events as well as by the condemnation by Constantine of his former companion Maximian to the damnatio memoriae, occurs on this time.

The confrontation between Maxentius and Constantine finally took place in 312 and ended, after the battle of the Milvian Bridge, with the death of Maxentius. Contrary to what Galerius anticipated, it was Constantine and not Licinius who conquered the former territories of the usurper. This time still, the new master of Rome tries to conciliate the alliance of Licinius. The two men meet in February 313 in Milan. There, they agree to govern their two territories together. On this occasion, they proclaim again, as Galerius had done in his edict of 311, the freedom of worship for all the inhabitants of the empire. Wanting to go further than Galerius, Constantine also convinced Licinius to consider forms of compensation for Christians who had been robbed of their property. This declaration of principle must be put into perspective with the fact that Maximin Daia, in the East, where the Christian populations were the largest, still refused to apply the Edict of Sardikus.

Fearing once again that the rapprochement between the two other tetrarchs would be at his expense, Maximin crossed the Bosphorus and invaded the territory of Licinius. Defeated by the latter in front of Hadrianople, on April 30, 313, he withdrew on Nicomédie then Tarsus where, caught up by his adversary, he committed suicide. Licinius condemns the memory of the deceased and takes advantage of the occasion to get rid of all his potential opponents. Thus, Severianus, the son of Severus, is executed for having served Maximin while Gaius Valerius Candidianus, the bastard son of Galerius born in Thessalonica around 297, is assassinated in Nicomedia. Maximin’s wife, also Galerius’ daughter, was drowned; Valeria, Galerius’ wife, and her mother Prisca, Diocletian’s wife, were beheaded. Licinius then settled in the East, where he imposed the application of the Edict of Sardique everywhere and shared power with Constantine in the West for some time. The civil war resumed in 324 and opposed the two former allies. The triumph of Constantine, winner of Licinius, signs the end of the system of Diocletian and Galerius.

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  1. Galère (empereur romain)
  2. Galerius
  3. Il est dès lors surnommé Armantarius, « celui qui garde les troupeaux ».
  4. De fait, la mise en place de la Tétrarchie par Dioclétien tient plus de choix pragmatiques que d’une doctrine préconçue. Voir à ce sujet Marcel Le Glay, Grandeur et chute de l’Empire (livre II, page 512).
  5. Cela n’est peut-être toutefois qu’une invention postérieure, l’événement n’étant mentionné chez aucun contemporain. Voir Stephen Williams, op. cit., p. 80. D’après Roger Rees, ce peut être tout simplement une marque de déférence d’un César pour son Auguste. Voir Diocletian and the tetrarchy, p. 14.
  6. Carus a mené une campagne victorieuse contre Vahram II en 283, au cours de laquelle il a pillé les villes sassanides du Moyen-Euphrate et est parvenu à prendre d’assaut Ctésiphon et Weh-Ardashîr, les capitales perses. Sa mort quelques jours plus tard amorce, toutefois, la retraite de l’armée romaine. Ses successeurs se montreront incapable de tirer profit de cette victoire.
  7. junto con Constancio (hasta 25 de julio de 306) luego Severo (hasta la primavera de 307) después Constantino (desde circa septiembre de 307; no reconocible por acuñamiento de moneda de Galerio desde circa septiembre de 307 hasta noviembre de 308) luego Licinio (desde 11 de noviembre de 308)[1]​
  8. Esta medida iba dirigida contra las religiones monoteístas. La fe cristiana y otras de carácter también monoteísta tenían prohibido la realización de sacrificios en honor a otros dioses y, por esa vía, los emperadores obligaban a los miembros cristianos de la corte a que confesaran abiertamente su fe negándose a cumplir la orden o a que abjuraran de ella.
  9. ^ Gai Galeri Valeri Maximià, Gran Enciclopèdia Catalana
  10. ^ Timothy Barnes (New Empire, 33–34) questions the parentage of Theodora shown here. He proposes that Maximian is her natural father (and that her mother is possibly a daughter of Afranius Hannibalianus). Substituting Afranicus Hannibalianus and switching the positions of Maximian and Eutropia would produce a diagram that matches the alternative lineage.
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