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Diocletian and Maximian on an aureus
Coin portrait of Maximian

Marcus Aurelius Valerius Maximianus (called Herculius ; * around 240 near Sirmium , today Sremska Mitrovica , in Pannonia ; †  310 in Gaul ) was Emperor of the Roman Empire from March 1, 286 to May 1, 305 together with Diocletian .


Maximian came from a poor family and was evidently uneducated. He made a career in the army until 285 when the new emperor Diocletian, with whom he was already known, made him Caesar (sub-emperor). Diocletian took over the rule in the east and gave Maximian the government of the western part. Maximian showed that he was able to meet expectations and carried out campaigns in Gaul and Africa in the period that followed. In 286 Maximian was elevated to Augustus (co-emperor) by Diocletian , although Diocletian was given priority. In 293, when Diocletian established the Tetrarchy , Maximian's son-in-law Constantius became his Caesar.

Maximian was able to achieve some military successes: He was successful against the Alemanni and Burgundians on the Rhine and the Limes and against the Carps north of Lower Moesia on the Danube border . In the Rhine area, the Frankish petty king Gennobaudes also submitted to the Romans in 288/89 after Maximian had crossed the Rhine several times. Carausius , who rebelled in Britain and declared himself emperor, was defeated by Constantius.

On May 1, 305 Diocletian and Maximian resigned together. According to some sources, Maximian was urged to do so by Diocletian, but the exact background is unclear. Perhaps Diocletian envisaged a temporary empire; at least the resignation had apparently been systematically prepared by Diocletian to ensure the order of the tetrarchy. Galerius and Constantius Chlorus became new emperors (Augusti), Severus and Maximinus Daia new Caesars.

When Constantius died the following year, Maximian intervened again in imperial politics: his son Maxentius assumed the title of emperor in the West in Rome and Maximian reappointed himself Augustus in February 307. Maximian resolved the conflicts surrounding his government by taking Severus' and Galerius' troops for himself and bringing Constantius' son Constantine to his side and marrying his daughter Fausta .

At the Imperial Conference of Carnuntum in 308, Maximian was again forced to abdicate by Diocletian and, after falling out with Maxentius, fled to his son-in-law Constantine in Gaul . In 310 he declared himself emperor there again, but was no longer able to defend himself against Constantine. He was handed over by his soldiers to Constantine, who eventually forced him to commit suicide .


In general, Maximian is also referred to in every account relating to Diocletian and in the time of Constantine.

  • Jörn Kobes: Maximianus Herculius. In: Manfred Clauss (Ed.): The Roman Emperors. 55 historical portraits from Caesar to Justinian. 3. Edition. Beck, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-406-47288-5 , pp. 272-275.

Web links

Commons : Maximian  - collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. ^ Overview in Timothy D. Barnes : Imperial Campaigns, AD 285-311 . In: Phoenix 30 (1976), pp. 174-193, especially pp. 176ff.
  2. Alexander Demandt : The late antiquity . 2nd edition Munich 2007, p. 72; Frank Kolb: Diocletian and the First Tetrarchy. Improvisation or experiment in the organization of monarchical rule? Berlin / New York 1987, p. 128ff.
predecessor Office successor
Diocletian Roman Emperor
285 / 286–305, 307–308, 310
Constantius I.