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Maximian (Marcus Aurelius Valerius Maximianus) (c. 245-310).

Roman emperor. Principal wars: Gothic War (269-270); war against Zenobia (271-273); Persian War (282-283); war against Carausius (287-294); Civil Wars (306-312).

Born to a poor peasant family in Illyria (Yugoslavia) (c. 245); entered the army and first rose to some prominence during the reign of Aurelian, fighting barbarians and Zenobia of Palmyra (Tudmur); a friend of Diocletian, he was made caesar (285) after Diocletian was proclaimed Emperor following the death of Numerianus (November 284); later raised to the rank of augustus (April 1, 286), he was clearly Diocletian's junior colleague; politically unambitious, he loyally supported Diocletian's reforms, while administering the western empire; suppressed the revolt of the Bagaudae in Gaul (286); defeated an incursion by the Alemanni (287); he was unable, however, to subdue the usurper Carausius in Britain, and suffered a costly repulse (289); selected Constantine Chlorus as his deputy and appointed him caesar (March 1, 293), thus inaugurating the Tetrarchy along with Diocletian and his caesar, Gaius Galerius Valerius; supported Constantine's successful campaign against Carausius (293-294); later undertook the subjugation of unruly tribes in Mauretania (Morocco); retired along with Diocletian, leaving the throne to Constantine Chlorus (May 1, 305); lived at a villa in Lucania (Basilicata); accepted the invitation of his son Maxentius to resume the throne, and so returned to Rome (October 306); his prestige with the troops enabled him and his son to defeat Severus and Galerius, but he quarreled with Maxentius and fled to the court of Constantine, son of Chlorus (307); persuaded by Diocletian to abdicate once more at the Congress of Carnuntum (near Hainburg) (308), he returned to Constantine's court; led a revolt during Constantine's absence (310), but was defeated and captured when Constantine rushed back; killed himself soon after, probably at Constantine's bidding.

A simple soldier of rough manner and little culture; while not an intellectual match for Diocletian and lacking the latter's political subtlety, he was a vigorous, brave, and resourceful soldier, and a perfect counterpart to Diocletian. He seems to have lost his sound judgment in his later years. <BL>

Jones, A. H. M., The Later Roman Empire, 284-602, 3 vols. Oxford,
Williams, Stephen, Diocletian and the Roman Recovery. New York,


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Author:Bongard, David L.
Publication:The Harper Encyclopedia of Military Biography
Article Type:Reference Source
Date:Jan 1, 1992
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