The Later Roman Empire

The Later Roman Empire - The Later Roman Empire The reforms...

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The Later Roman Empire The reforms of Diocletian and Constantine "preserved" the empire, but changed it radically. The Reforms of Diocletian (284-305 d. 311) Before you plunge into a consideration of Diocletian's reign, you might be interested to know that much of the great palace he built for himself in ex-Yugoslavia is still sufficiently intact to provide one with a good idea of how the rulers of the Roman empire lived. You might want to visit it and look around. 1. Political a. He divided the empire into two independent parts, leaving an impoverished and vulnerable western empire. Note that the Western empire had by far the longer frontier to defend, and a much smaller tax base with which to pay for its defense. b. Established the Augustus-Caesar policy of succession. Under this system, there were two emperors ( Augusti ), each of whom appointed a Caesar to defend the frontiers. When an emperor died, his Caesar was supposed to succeed him, take over his administration, and appoint a Caesar to defend the frontiers and eventually succeed to the emperorship. This was an attempt to create a stable form of succession -- which had been the weakness of the original empire -- but it failed. c. Made the provinces smaller and appointed both a civil and military governor over each. This generally increased government interference at local level and took affairs out of the hands of the middle classes of the provinces. Once they no longer had an important role in the governing of the empire, the imperial administration was able to tax the urban middle classes to the point of destroying them, at least in the western empire.
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d. Adopted Persian court ceremony to make the emperor sacrosanct and removed from the people. This greatly changed the sense of public spirit within the empire. In the first empire, the emperor had been extremely powerful and -- after his death -- sometimes worshipped as a god. During his lifetime, however, his status -- in theory at least -- was that of the foremost of the citizens of Rome. After Diocletian's reforms, the emperor became the "lord" of the empire. The later emperors rarely governed in person, but acted through appointed officials. They were thus isolated from the actual state of affairs in their realms and were often controlled or at least greatly influenced by palace officials. 2.
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This note was uploaded on 11/18/2011 for the course HISTORY 170 taught by Professor Romero during the Fall '11 term at Rutgers.

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The Later Roman Empire - The Later Roman Empire The reforms...

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