Was Diocletian a good emperor


Overcoming the crisis

The imperial crisis was finally overcome under Emperor Diocletian. He implemented numerous reforms and rearranged the empire. He introduced the system of tetrarchy, the rule of four men. With his coming to power one also associates the end of the principate and the beginning of the Late antiquity.


Diocletian was born around the year 240. When he was proclaimed emperor, he presided over the imperial bodyguard. He appointed Maximian to the co-emperor in the western area, Constantius Chlorus (in the west) and Galerius (in the east) to under-emperors. These were intended as successors.

So the size of the empire should become more manageable. That worked well at first. It was now possible to secure the borders on several sides. Other people to take power became much more difficult. The later division of the huge empire is already hinted at here.


Diocletian stabilized the empire through many reforms. The administration has been streamlined by downsizing the provinces. This increased their number, but reduced the dangers from there because they could be better defended. They were also combined into twelve administrative units.

A new Tax system was introduced, which brought the empire greater income. The citizens of Italy now also had to pay taxes. There was a Maximum price regulation and coin reforms. The army was enlarged, but the individual legions were made smaller and the cavalry strengthened.

However, under Diocletian there was another wave of persecution of Christians.


In 305 Diocletian resigned, probably also for health reasons. He was thus the first emperor to volunteer abdicated.

Afterwards there was another struggle for rule. The principle of the rule of four men could not prevail. His successor was initially, as planned, his sub-emperor Galerius, in the west also Maximian abdicated, who was succeeded by Constantius Chlorus.