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War between Licinius and Maximinus, 311-320 AD

Author(s) : Kamara Afroditi (3/15/2004)
Translation : Nakas Ioannis (7/22/2002)

For citation: Kamara Afroditi, "War between Licinius and Maximinus, 311-320 AD", 2002,
Encyclopaedia of the Hellenic World, Asia Minor
URL: <http://www.ehw.gr/l.aspx?id=9430>

Πόλεμος Λικίνιου - Μαξιμίνου, 311-320 μ.Χ. (5/28/2008 v.1) War between Licinius and Maximinus, 311-320 AD (7/22/2008 v.1) 

1. Maximinus’ revolt

The Tetrarchy, the administrative system established by Diocletian, which was based on the apportionment of power between two Augusti and Caesars, had proven to be inadequate right after the retreat of its creator from public offices, since the ambitions of his heirs led them into antagonisms which often ended in wars. Pretexts were kept while Galerius, Diocletian’s successor, was still alive. However, one year after his death, in 310, his nephew and adopted son Maximinus, mostly known as Maximinus Daia1- to whom Galerius in 305 had offered the title of Caesar, preparing him for the succession- revolted and proclaimed himself Augustus, taking under his command the eastern part of the empire, and mainly Asia Minor and Syria. After Galerius’ death, in order to present himself as the legitimate leader of the Jovian tribe and thus as a continuator of the Tetrarchy, he tried to marry with Valeria, widow of Galerius, and betrothed his daughter with Valeria’s adopted son, Candidianus.

2. The civil war of 313

Notwithstanding the fact that he had initially agreed to the edict of religious tolerance, which was signed by Constantine and Licinius in 312, Maximinus Daia very soon changed his position and followed and anti-Christian policy in his dominion, continuing the persecutions which were first ordered by Diocletian and had continued for a certain period under his successor Galerius.2 Maximinus took harsh measures against the Christians and their clergy; he also turned the priests of the pagan religions against them.3 Apart from that he made administrative changes in his region, some of which were convenient for the inhabitants, since he abolished extra taxes which were imposed by Galerius.
In general, Maximinus tried to defend the principles set by Diocletian. He often, however, did this in the wrong way and always causing the worries and the enmity of the people of the same rank as him.4 His growing atrocities against the Christians were the last drop. The two Augusti, Constantine and Licinius, became relatives, something which evened up the initially tensed relations between them, and then Licinius managed to turn unhindered against Maximinus. The civil war broke up in the beginning of 313. Licinius won a decisive battle against Maximinus at Campus Ergenus near the city of Tzirallum after which the former, in a desperate attempt to take the Christians of his dominion with his side, accepted the content of the religious tolerance decree. But it was too late. Licinius began to pursuit Maximinus, liberating the territories he passed from and declaring the religious tolerance. Maximinus finally found refuge at Tarsus, where he eventually died from a disease.

3. Licinius’ retaliation

After Maximinus’ death the lands of his dominion passed into the hands of Licinius, who thus remained the undisputed Augustus of the Orient. In order to annihilate any centre of future resistance, Licinius executed every minister and officer of Maximinus, even members of his family, like Valeria and her mother, Prisca, widow of Diocletian.

1. Maximinus Daia came from Dacia, probably from the modern city of Sarcamen in Serbia.

2. Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiastica  9.5.9, 9.7; CIL III 12132; Lact., De mor. pers. 36.4-5.

3. On the religious policy of Maximinus Daia, see Grant, R.M., “The Religion of Maximin Daia”, in Neusner, J. (ed.), Christianity, Judaism and other Greco-Roman cults 4: Studies for Morton Smith at sixty (Leiden 1975), p. 143-160.

4. See Stein, E. – Palanque, J.-Ρ., Histoire du Bas-Empire I:2 (Paris 1959), p. 88-90.


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