Roman Emperor in 308-324.
Country: Italy

  1. Biography of Licinius
  2. Early Life and Rise to Power
  3. Policy on Religion and Persecution of Christians
  4. Conflict with Constantine and Division of Power
  5. Renewed Conflict and Defeat
  6. Final Defeat and Death
  7. Personality and Legacy

Biography of Licinius

Early Life and Rise to Power

Licinius, also known as Caesar Valerius Licinianus Licinius Augustus, was a Roman emperor who ruled from 308 to 324 AD. He was elevated to the position of augustus by Emperor Galerius on November 11, 308 AD.

Policy on Religion and Persecution of Christians

After his victory over Maximinus Daia in June 313 AD in Nicomedia, Licinius proclaimed freedom of religion. However, his policy towards Christians did not exhibit consistency, and in 320 AD, he subjected them to persecution.

Conflict with Constantine and Division of Power

After the death of Maximinus Daia, Licinius and Constantine remained the sole rulers of the Roman Empire and engaged in a power struggle. Licinius suffered defeats in two battles against Constantine and sought peace. In 314 AD, the rivals reconciled and agreed to divide their territories, with Constantine gaining Pannonia, Dalmatia, Dacia, Macedonia, and Greece, while Licinius retained Thrace, Asia Minor, Syria, and Egypt.

Renewed Conflict and Defeat

The reconciliation proved to be fragile, and in 324 AD, Constantine and Licinius once again mobilized their forces against each other. Licinius commanded an army of 150,000 infantry, 15,000 cavalry, and a fleet of 350 triremes, while Constantine had over 120,000 cavalry and infantry troops and 200 smaller ships. The decisive battle took place near the Thracian city of Adrianople, where Licinius was defeated. He managed to escape to Byzantium (the city that would later become Constantinople, modern-day Istanbul). While Constantine besieged Byzantium, his son Crispus achieved victory over Licinius' fleet. However, the struggle was not yet over.

Final Defeat and Death

Licinius managed to flee to Asia Minor and gather a new large army. In the autumn of 324 AD, Constantine caught up with Licinius in Asia Minor and decisively defeated his forces. After suffering a final defeat, Licinius escaped to Nicomedia. Constantine promised to spare his life on the condition that he abdicate his power. Licinius accepted the terms of the victor and, on September 18, 324 AD, in a solemn ceremony, he removed his purple mantle and prostrated himself at the feet of Constantine. Outwardly, the victor showed mercy towards the vanquished. Licinius was exiled to Thessalonica (modern-day Thessaloniki) and quietly executed there.

Personality and Legacy

According to Aurelius Victor, Licinius lived until nearly sixty years old. He was known for his insatiable greed for money and indulgence in excesses and power-hungry behavior. He had a harsh and irritable demeanor and displayed hostility towards the sciences, which he ignorantly referred to as poison and detrimental to society, particularly oratory. As a man who was born and raised in a village, Licinius was beneficial to farmers and rural residents. Standing up for the cause of justice, he strictly adhered to ancient discipline and firmly curbed the power of eunuchs and other court officials, referring to them as palace worms and mice.