May 1, 305

On May 1, 305 CE, Diocletian and Maximian, the co-emperors of Rome retired. This was the first time a Roman Emperor had voluntarily abdicated the throne to allow new blood to take over. Diocletian rode out in the sunset to his little old palace on the Dalmatian coast and tended to his vegetable gardens until his death of unnatural causes on December 3, 311 CE. What was the unnatural cause? Old age. Roman Emperors didn’t die peacefully in their sleep of old age. They went kicking and screaming at the hands of a bunch of pissed off Praetorian Guards, or they were poisoned, or they died leading their armies against an usurper, or they died of heart attack after an orgy, or they died by their own hands rather than surrender to their enemies. What Diocletian did, was unknown and considered strange by the Roman elite. On the other hand, there was Co-Emperor Maximian. He also retired with Diocletian in 305 CE and moved to southern Italy. It didn’t take. Within a year he grew bored and got back in the game of Emperors. He tried to lead a couple of revolts and take back the throne, but he lost each time and in July of 310 CE, he died of natural Roman causes. He killed himself rather than allow his enemies to capture him.

About Joel Byers

Born in North Georgia and educated at some very fine public institutions. Real education started after graduating from college and then getting married and raising two boys. Has the ability to see the funny and absurd in most things and will always remark on it, even if it means getting the stink-eye from his victims.
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