- The last empire-wide persecution of Christians by the Roman state. It lasted from 303-311, beginning during the reign of Diocletian (q.v.). However, the moving force behind it was Diocletian's caesar (q.v.), and fanatical pagan, Galerius (q.v.). This was a serious attempt to destroy the Christian church by arresting clergy, razing church buildings to the ground, burning the Scriptures, and stripping Christians of their right to plead in courts of law. There were numerous martyrs in Palestine under Maximinus Daia (qq.v.), as reported by Eusebios of Caesarea in his Ecclesiastical History, and Martyrs of Palestine. However, outside Palestine decrees were unevenly enforced. In the West, for example, Constantius Chlorus, father of Constantine I the Great (qq.v.), seems to have enforced the decrees hardly at all. In 311 Galerius acknowledged the persecution's failure in an edict of toleration that became the basis of the Edict of Milan (q.v.).
Historical Dictionary of Byzantium . John H. Rosser .
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