Roman Emperor. His birth name was Diocles and he was born in approximately 236 AD. Being of humble birth, he received only an elementary education. He began his career in the army, and won a reputation as a shrewd, able and ambitious soldier. He was promoted to Count of the Domestics under the Emperor Carus in 282 AD and was made Consul in 283 AD. When Carus died, allegedly struck by lightning, in 284 AD, he was proclaimed Emperor and changed his name to Diocletian. Among his first acts as Emperor was the reform of the army and reorganization of the provinces. He also transformed the role of Emperor into that of an out right monarchy and demanded to be addressed as "Lord and Master". He decided that the Empire was too large for one man to rule, and introduced the "Tetrachy", or "Rule of Four", naming his lieutenant Maximianus as Ceasar and making him ruler of the Western Empire. By doing so he began the process that ultimately led to the split of the Empire into two and the formation of the Byzantine Empire. He later appointed two further Caesars, Constantius in Britain and Gaul, and Galerius in the Balkans. A major problem of his reign was the declining economy, which he attempted to rectify first by reissuing good quality gold and silver coins, introducing a "maximum price edict" and, when these measures failed, revising the tax system so that it was based on payments in kind. He then made occupations such as soldiers, bakers and tenant farmers hereditary as "compulsory services". In 303 AD he issued a series of decrees to compel Christians to take part in the imperial cult and pledge allegiance to the empire, this became known as the "Great Persecution". In 305 AD, after ruling for twenty years, he abdicated along with Maximianus, and Constantius and Galerius became the new joint Emperors. He retired to his palace at Split on the Croatian coast and grew vegetables. He died there in 316 AD and was buried in a mausoleum within the palace.
Bio by: js