Both Diocletian (A.D. 284-305) and Constantine (A.D. 306-337) sought to address the major flaw in the Roman system of governance that had precipitated the third century crisis by strengthening the office of the emperor and by developing a system to ensure mellifluous transition of power.Diocletian sought to do so by elevating and strengthening the office of the emperor by giving it religious sanctity implying that the emperor was chosen by and responsible to the gods alone, and by developing the system of four emperors. Unfortunately, this system could not survive beyond his reign, culminating in the sole rule of Constantine.
Following his religious experience at the Battle of Milvian Bridge (A.D. 312), Constantine subsequently converted to Christianity, resulting in the “Edict of Milan” issued to strengthen and support the office of the Christian church. Furthermore, as the sole emperor, he saw himself as alone responsible for strengthening and protecting the new religion, and this allowed him to elevate the office of the emperor to that of the vice-regent of Christ.
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