Inauguration of the Dominate in Rome (Great Events from History: The Ancient World, Prehistory-476)
Article abstract: The inauguration of the dominate placed the rule of the Roman Empire on a formally and explicitly authoritarian basis to provide stability in a troubled political climate.
Summary of Event
The Roman Empire has been traditionally divided into two great periods: the principate as founded by Augustus and the dominate as reconstituted by Diocletian. The difference in tone between the two periods is well indicated by their separate names: Principate, derived from princeps, or first man, indicates that the emperor was, at least in theory, a constitutional magistrate. Dominate, on the other hand, taken from dominus, meaning lord or master, acknowledges the fact that the emperor was an absolute ruler.
From the assassination of Severus Alexander in 235 c.e. to the accession of the Dalmatian peasant and successful general Diocletian in 284, the Roman Empire had been in a state of almost continuous anarchy. Thanks to assassinations and wars, only one of the more than twenty emperors who ruled during this period had died a natural death. Ruinous taxes, a plague that lasted from 253 to 268, wars with the Persians, and barbarian threats further afflicted the empire.
In the face of these difficulties, Diocletian effected a series of controversial reforms. Changes to make the army more mobile, arrangement for planned retirement of emperors after twenty years and for peaceful...
(The entire section is 1308 words.)
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