Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Caius Valerius Daja Maximinus

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Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Volume 10
Caius Valerius Daja Maximinus

by Karl Hoeber


Under his uncle Augustus Galerius, the Caesar of Syria and Egypt, from the year 305; in 307 following the example of Constantine, he assumed the title of Augustus. When Galerius died in 311, the Caesar, Licinius, set out for the Hellespont to besiege the provinces of the Near East. Maximinus obtained the sympathy of the population by granting a remission of taxation to the threatened provinces; also, he had in his power Galerius's widow and Valeria, Diocletian's daughter. An agreement was made fixing the Aegean Sea and the straits between Europe and Asia as the boundaries of the dominions and as no new Caesars were appointed, there were three legal emperors. Thus Diocletian's plan of governing the empire was abandoned. Maximinus, a fanatical idolater and tyrant, continued the persecution of the Christians in his part of the empire with especial severity and persistency, even where the cruel Galerius had ceased. Besides sanguinary measures for the suppression of Christianity, he made attempts to establish in both town and country a heathen organization similar to the Christian Church. The emperor made the heathen high-priests and magicians of equal rank with the governors of provinces. His attempt to achieve renown by a war against the Persians in Armenia was frustrated by pestilence and bad harvests (Eusebius). When Constantine and Licinius published the edict of toleration for the Christians at Milan in 312, and Maximinus was asked to promulgate it in his part of the empire, he did so, because he saw clearly that it was directed against his anti-Christian policy. When in the winter of 312 Constantine's Gallic troops were withdrawn from Italy, and Licinius was still at Milan, Maximinus pushed on by forced marches to the capital, Byzantium, and captured it together with Heraclea. Licinius, taken by surprise, offered to make terms with him, which Maximinus trusting to gain an easy victory refused. Contrary to his expectation, and in spite of the superiority in numbers of his troops, he was defeated near Adrianople, 30 April, 313, and fled precipitately to Nicomedia to endeavor to rally his army. Licinius harassing him incessantly, published an edict of toleration for the Christians of Nicomedia so that Maximinus was obliged to withdraw to the Taurus where he entrenched himself in the passes. He then tried to win the Christians by issuing an edict of toleration; but his military situation was hopeless and he took poison (313). Licinius exterminated the Jovian family, murdering all the relatives of Diocletian who were at the court of Maximin. The edicts of the deceased emperor were cancelled, and decrees favourable to the Christians were now promulgated in the East.

SCHILLER, Gesch. der römischen Kaiserzeit, II (Gotha, 1887).

KARL HOEBER