Diocletion and Constantine

Personal rule

Diocletion abandoned the title “Princeps” in favour of the title “Dominus”, which historically had been the title slaves gave to their master! All this without any written definition of a constitution. The image of the continuance of the Republic was projected by the concept that all the roles and powers and counterbalances were still in place but now invested in one person , the Emperor himself.

The change from Republic to Principate to Dominate was a gradual evolution but the changes were nevertheless real.

Thus the peripheral provinces such as Britain, and there were now four separate provinces in Britain alone, did not responded to the Senate in Rome, but only to the Emperor directly. This caused no concern as the machinations of Rome and its Senate had always seemed like the activities of a foreign state of no concern to the British, or the citizens of Gaul, Hispania or Mauretania. Now it was only a question of choosing the high king as emperor.

Two Empires

Diocletian’s went still further, he accepted the inevitable he learned from instability and from the successful experiment under the reign of Marcus Aurelius. He created the concept of two parallel empires, jointly owned by two Augusti.  It was envisaged that the Augusti would consult each other on all important issues but only in the vaguest terms.  No attempt was made to define what an important issue might be. Diocletion also learned from the Albinus Experiment which had come close to success. He created the post of “Caesar’, one for each half of the empire.

He could have achieved control in an entirely different way. his decision was based on a recognition that there really were two different empires, east and west.

The Celts had made their point and now it seemed they had got what they wanted.

Diocletion set up the original template for his reform. He made himself Eastern Augustus and appointed his long term associate Maximian as Caesar for the west.

Maximian was however from Sirmium, a roman town in pannonia . He was an eastern Celt. He had no feeling for western celtic sensibilities and made no attempt to establish his credentials as “high king”

Imperium Britannium.

Maximian appointed Mausaeus Carausius to control the activivities of the Frankish and Saxon pirates in the English channel. Carausius succeed brilliantly and strenghened coastal defences both in Britain and Gaul. his success attracted celtic support and soon he felt able to declare himself western Augustus, superior to Maximian. He then styled himself as Emperor of “Imperium Britanniarum” and issued coins as such.  His success continued and he extended his empire to include north-west gaul. The gallic empire was reborn.

Maximian promoted himself to be Augustus of the west but made no effective moves against Carausius preffering to attack Burgundians, Allemanni, Heruli and Chaibones along the Rhine frontier.

Constantius Chlorus

In 288 Diocletian appointed Constantius Chlorus as a legate (possibly a comes) to attack the Franks in the Rhine delta who had made themselves allies of Causaurius. The declared purpose was so that a seaborne attack on Britain could be mounted from bases on the Rhine. Constantius defeated the Franks and siezed their territory but the attack on Britain did not take place.

As a result of his success Constantius Chlorus was appointed Caesar of the west and at the same time a military contemporary Galerius was appointed Caesar of the east.  Constantius divorced Helen and married Maximian’s step daughter Theodora.

Diocletians planned reorganisation was now complete. The sons of Constantius and Maximian took up residence with Diocletian in Nicomedia (Asia Minor). They were obviously intended to be the eventual successors to their fathers territories.

Constantius Chlrorus invaded and defeated the ‘Imperium Brittanicum’

Diocletians retirement

In 305 Diocletian retired, the only Emperor ever to do so.  He died in 311,  living long enought to see the objectives of his reforms come to nothing.

He forced Maximian to retire with him probably to test out his succession planning.

This attempt to improve succession planning envisaged the Caesar in each half of the Empire would  work as an assistant to the Augustus and thus be a ready trained replacement. Subsequent events make it clear that it was intended that the agreement of both Augustii was needed to appoint a new Caesar but not even this was documented.

In practice this reform creating not two but four parallel empires. Again it was not formally documented and there was disputation about the boundaries.  It was a recipe for conflict. The subdivision itself had built in inequities.

A flawed concept

The objectives of Diocletian’s reforms are clear.  He recognised the requirement for a different style of leadership in both halves of the empire and to provide a structured succession to avoid internal conflict.

It took over a hundred years for the subdivision to become a reality and in the meantime the Augusti and the Caesars yet more civil wars to seek a greater share of resources or obtain total control.

The problems started immediately Constantius became Augustus of the West and Galerius Augustus in the East. The East included Italia, leaving the Gallic empire as a totally seperate entity. It had been supposed but not formally agreed that Constantius’ son Constantine and Maximian’s son Maxentius would be nominated as Caesars.

Galerius protested that they were both “of the west” and nominated his own nephew Maximin Daia as Caesar of the east. This left only one position for either Constantine or Maxentius an almost impossible decision. Instead of either of them a default candidate Severus was selected, yet another of the military group which had served Diocletian. Galerius moved immediatly to Nicomedia where he hoped he would have control of both Constantine and Maxentius. He may have intended to dispose of them, but if so he acted too slowly they both fled. Maxentius to Rome and Constantine to Britain.

Constantine’s  flight

Legend has it that in his flight to Britain Constantine used post horses and at each post stop he ham-strung all other horses to prevent pursuit.

In Britain he joined his father and joined him in a campaign to drive the Picts back beyond Hadrian’s wall.

Contantius was taken ill and died at York less than a year later. Galerius declared Severus the Augustus of the west , an appointment which was immediately rejected by both the British and the legions in Britain.

Constantine sent to Galerius, a picture of himself wearing the purple and the imperial wreath. Galerius refused to confirm Constantine as Augustus but instead offered him the role of Caesar with control of Britain, Gaul and Hispania Serverus was left as the senior emperor but controlling only the italian peninsula and africa.

Five Augusti

Once again the Gallic empire was reborn.

Meanwhile in 306  Maximian emerged from retirement declared himself Augustus and his disenfrachised son Maxentius, Caesar and “Prince of the Romans”. Severus invaded Italy but was defeated and ultimately executed. Incredibly father and son then fell out and Maximian fled to Consantine’s capital at Trier( more echo’s of the gallic empire). Constantine was already Maximian’s step grandson and as a result of this visit agreed to marry Maximian’s daughter Fausta, thus also becoming his son in law.

Diocletion intervened from retirement in an attempt to salvage the wreckage of his succession reforms . Maximian was again persuaded to retire but an associate of Gallerius, Licinius was appointed as Augustus for the West.   Both Constantine and Maxentius refused to accept the appointment and Maximin Dia declared himselt Augustus for the orient so for a short period there were Five Augusti.

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The most dangerous woman in the world

The Treasure of Trencavel

List of Characters

Table Of Contents



List of Places

Table of Contents

Pseudo History


Extract from The Prisoner of Foix--Chapter 43 -The EntranceNo need to buy a Kindle. Read it on your computer or tablet

John Stanley-26th April 1355


'Looks like we are going to see a bit of excitement, John. The Captain tried to get an agreement from the Prince that if there is surf running across the channel to Arcachon we will turn back to Bordeaux, but the Prince would hear none of it. Instead, he has offered to provide insurance for all three ships. If they are damaged or sunk, the owners will be compensated and every sailor who makes the passage will be given a bounty payment. What none of this seems to take into account is that if we sink in rough, fast-flowing waters we might all drown.'

John raised his eyebrows. 'But that is what we are going to do?'

'Yes, despite the fact that surf running accross the entrance is not uncommon and the deep water channel moves continually. In the end, the Prince attacked their captains on their weakest point, their professional pride! He threw down the gauntlet. He offered to take the Sally first through the channel, and to take control during the passage.' He raised his brow. 'We are going into the Bay of Arcachon, come what may! '

Extract from The Eagle of Carcassone -- Chapter 24-- A Real GoddessNo need to buy a Kindle. Read it on your computer or tablet

John Stanley - 22 July 1355

An hour later John walked with Ximene close to the river along the valley below St Feriole. It was the very essence of a summer’s day. The sun was fierce but in the shadow of the trees, it was cool and fragrant. The trees and shrubs along the riverbank hid their progress, from the Château, from St Feriole.

Eventually they reached a point where John thought it was safe to emerge from cover. To his satisfaction the stream extended into a pool with a sandy beach, shaded by trees. Where the stream entered the pool there was a flat grassy area, almost circular. Behind this, the bulk of two mountain ridges provided a splendid backdrop. He looked around once more ‘Not just a good training ground but a great training ground. If the Greek heroes knew about this they might be tempted to join me, to train with me’

Ximene laughed out loud. He turned to look at her. She had removed her outer clothes and was wearing a white chemise, cut short so that it barely reached her knees. Around her waist, she wore a plaited leather belt, obviously fashioned from the multitude of leather straps to be found in the tackle room.

She ran her hands down over her breasts. ‘When you were unconscious I heard you muttering about gods and goddesses, so  I have decided that from now on, for you, I will be the goddess.’

The Prisoner of FoixVol 1 of the series—The Treasure of Trencavel

Aquitaine, an English possession, is in crisis. It is under threat from neighbouring nations and internal dissension.

The Black Prince, King Edward III’s eldest son has been given the task of taking command in Aquitaine.

Suddenly there is an opportunity. Ximene Trencavel is the heiress to the lands of Occitan, to the east of Aquitaine: lands controlled by the Franks. Ximene wants independence, both for herself and for Occitan.

A union between Aquitaine and Occitan would be mutually beneficial. The Black Prince undertakes a secret journey to meet Ximene to negotiate a marriage contract. It is, however, a marriage neither of them really wants.

Meanwhile, the  Franks plot to murder Ximene to prevent ,not just the marriage, but any kind of union between England and Occitan.

The Eagle Of CarcassonneVol II of the series—The Treasure of Trencavel

The loose alliance between Ximene Trencavel and the Black Prince is under threat.

The Prince invades Occitan, to show his support for Ximene but it becomes an invasion which creates more problems than it solves.

The Prince has fallen hopelessly in love with Joan of Kent and Joan is now determined to marry him and become the next Queen of England.

Joan is therefore  determined to convince Ximene that she should not marry the Prince.

Part of her strategy is to encourage Ximene’s relationship with John Stanley—one of the Princes bodyguards—not an easy task as both John and Ximene have doubts about their compatibility.

However, John is grievously injured in a battle and Ximene commits herself to nurse him back to health.