In part 28, the power struggle for being emperor of the Roman Empire continued to escalate during the 300th century, all while the empire was attacked on several fronts by the Goths and the Palmyrene Empire.
However, by 274 AD, emperor Aurelian managed to invade both the Palmyrene Empire of North Africa as well as Gaul and Britain in Western Europe, and reclaimed the old territories of the former Roman Empire.
Aurelian also had the Temple of the Sun dedicated to Sol Invictus, the new Sun God based on Mithras (as in Lucifer, Saturn,) which became the state religion of Rome and dominated the late Roman Empire.
As with most late emperors, Aurelian was assassinated, and as we ended in 284 AD, Carinus, the remaining son of Marcus Aurelius Carus, had become emperor.
In this part we will discover several new governing structures that shaped the world we live in today. Showing you slowly how the Roman Empire never died, only transformed.
In 285 AD, after defeating the usurper Sabinus Julianus, and on his way back to Rome, Emperor Carinus was confronted by yet another usurper, Diocletian, in the valley of the Margus (Serbia.) Numerous soldiers deserted Carinus during the battle and Carinus then fled to the Pannonian fort of Cornacum, only to be murdered by his remaining officers.
The new Emperor Diocletian appointed his fellow-officer Maximian to the office of Caesar, as in junior co-emperor, and then sent him to pacify Gaul, where the Bagaudae, a band of peasants, were revolting against the Roman Empire.
In 286 AD, the Caesar Maximian defeated the Bagaudae rebellion in Gaul. Then he allegedly continued to defeat a Germanic invasion into Gaul, another army of Burgundians and Alemanni and finally an army of Chaibones and Heruli.
For his efforts, Diocletian rewarded Maximian by elevating him to co-emperor, giving him the title Augustus.
During the summer, Carausius, the commander of the Roman Classis Britannica, was accused of piracy by Maximian and was sentenced to death. However, Carausius responded by declaring himself emperor of Britain and Northwestern Gaul. His military forces consisted of the newly built Roman fleet and three legions in Britain. The Carausian Revolt quickly became supported by Gaulish merchant ships and Frankish mercenaries.
In 287 AD, Maximian defeated an invasion of Gaul by the Alemanni and then proceeded to invade Alemannia itself. Meanwhile, Diocletian signed a peace treaty with King Bahram II of Persia, and installed the pro-Roman Arsacid Tiridates III as king over the western portion of Armenia.
Diocletian also began fortifications of several strategic locations along the borders and in several towns. He also began the construction of the Strata Diocletiana, a fortified road that ran along the eastern desert border, beginning at the southern bank of the river Euphrates and stretched south and west, passing east of Palmyra and Damascus down to northeast Arabia.
In 288 AD, Maximian made an alliance with the Frankish king Gennobaudes and began constructing a fleet to regain control of the North Sea and to re-take Britain from Carausius.
In 290 AD, Maximian attempted to reconquer Britain from the usurper Carausius but was defeated at sea. Carausius then invaded the European mainland and re-established his military and administrative presence in northern Gaul.
In 291 AD, Maximian returned to Italy and convened with Diocletian in Milan. In the following months they made new plans for the empire and to buy some time, they established a peace and cooperation with Carausius, letting him rule Britain and northwest Gaul while they ruled the rest of the Roman Empire.
Carausius later defeated several Germanic raids in Gaul and Britain, and he also began the construction of the forts of the Saxon Shore (on both sides of the English Channel, as in modern-day Belgium, France and England.)
Around 292 AD, the jurist Gregorius and Emperor Diocletian produced the Gregorian Code, a collection of constitutions and the first codification of Roman law.
In 293 AD, following their earlier ideas for the empire, emperors Diocletian and Maximian appointed Constantius I and Galerius as Caesars. This became known as the Tetrarchy (leadership of four,) a new Roman system of dividing the Roman Empire between two emperors, the Augusti, and their junior colleagues and designated successors, the Caesares. This shift in governance marked the end of the Crisis of the Third Century.
The Tetrarchy would only last until 313 AD, but many aspects of it survived throughout the ages. It was also what birthed the idea of two halves, the east and the west, seemingly independent from each other, but still controlled by the same agenda, the same interests, the same hidden hand.
The new Caesar, Constantinus, immediately broke the peace with former usurper Carausius and reclaimed parts of the Gallic territories. Towards the end of the year, Carausius was murdered by his finance minister Allectus, who proceeded to proclaim himself the new emperor of Britain.
The second Caesar, Galerius, began a series of campaigns in Upper Egypt.
As a continuation of the Tetrarchy, Diocletian divided the large provinces of the Roman Empire into smaller administrative units, and he grouped these new smaller provinces into dioceses – very much as modern-day countries has states, counties, and regions – seemingly somewhat independent, but all ruled by the same hand.
Diocletian also began the trend whereby the administration and military of the provinces were increasingly divided between governors and generals respectively, whereas formerly governors had also been in charge of the legions. This expansion and division of imperial personnel increased Diocletian’s control over the empire and weakened the power of individual officials and officers, as they became more and more puppets of the ruling state in Rome. Moreover, Diocletian expanded the retinues of the individual emperors to have more ministers and secretaries, thus establishing what would become known as the late Roman Consistorium – a political council very much like what we have today within governments, giving the illusion of “elected” officials working for the people, when they actually only follow the agenda and orders from those above.
Meanwhile in Persia, King Bahram II of the Persian Empire died after a 17-year reign. His son Bahram III ascended to the throne. However, after four months, Bahram III’s great-uncle Narseh, the king of Persarmenia, marched on the Persian capital Ctesiphon with the support of a faction of the nobility and the eastern Satraps. Bahram III is overthrown and Narseh is declared the new King of Kings.
In 294 AD, the new king Narseh defeated the Roman puppet-King Tiridates III of Armenia, who was forced to flee and seek refuge in the Roman Empire.
In 296 AD, Caesar Constantius, with two invasion fleets, defeated and killed the usurper Allectus. With this victory, the Romano-British regime first established by Carausius was finally overthrown, and Britain was once again re-incorporated into the rest of the Roman Empire.
Later that year, the Persian king Narseh continued his invasion into the Roman-held Upper Mesopotamia and western Armenia. With a small army, Caesar Galerius fought Narseh’s army in Mesopotamia. While Galerius’ army suffered a defeat, he succeeded in blunting the Persian offensive.
In 297 AD, Emperor Diocletian introduced an empire-wide taxation system based on census and indiction. Again, this was the beginning of the numbering and registration of people, identifying them as property of the state (census,) and demanding payment (taxation) on a chronological cycle (indiction.)
The taxation system was immediately met with disdain and Domitius Domitianus launched a usurpation against Diocletian in Egypt. Months later, as Diocletian besieged the rebels in Alexandria, Domitianus died, but his colleague Aurelius Achilleus took over as the leader of the rebellion.
By the end of 297 AD, Caesar Galerius launched a surprise attack against Persian King Narseh’s camp in western Armenia. The Romans sacked the camp and captured Narseh’s wives, sisters and daughters, including his Queen of Queens Arsane. Narseh was wounded but managed to escape.
In 298 AD, Diocletian quelled the rebellion in Alexandria and had Aurelius Achilleus executed.
Caesar Galerius restored their puppet Tiridates III to the throne of Armenia and then proceeded to invade the Sassanid Empire.
Meanwhile in Japan and Korea, silk became a popular commodity.
In 299 AD, Emperor Diocletian signed a treaty with the Persian king Narseh that would last for 40 years. The Persians accepted Roman dominion over Armenia, the Caucasus, and Upper Mesopotamia. The pro-Roman ruler Tiridates III received all of Armenia.
Maximian returned to Rome after more than three years of successful campaigns in North Africa, and he commissioned the ‘Baths of Diocletian’ in honor of his ‘brother’ Diocletian – the largest of the imperial baths at this time.
In 300 AD, Emperor Diocletian began the construction of a palace that would later become the city of Split (the second-largest city of present-day Croatia.) Diocletian, who at this time was planning on abdicating, intended for the palace to be his place of retirement.
Meanwhile in Asia, it is said that the first Indian handbook in the art of sexual love, the Kama Sutra, was published by the sage Vatsyayana.
Also, around this time, the magnetic compass for navigation was invented in China.
And before the end of the year, the Roman puppet Tiridates III made his kingdom of Armenia the first state to adopt Christianity as its official religion.