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Gaius Valerius Licinianus Licinius[3][4] (c. 263 – 325), commonly known as Licinius, was Roman Emperor from 308 to 324. Co-author of the Edict of Milan that granted official toleration to Christians in the Roman Empire, for the majority of his reign he was the rival of Constantine I. He was finally defeated at the Battle of Adrianople, before being executed on the orders of Constantine I.


Early Reign

Born to a Dacian[5][6] (Thracian) peasant family in Moesia Superior, Licinius accompanied his close childhood friend, the future emperor Galerius, on the Persian expedition in 298.[7] He was trusted enough by Galerius that in 307 he was sent as an envoy to Maxentius in Italy to attempt to reach some agreement about his illegitimate status.[8] Galerius then trusted the eastern provinces to him when he went to deal with Maxentius personally after the death of Flavius Valerius Severus.[9]

Upon his return to the east, Galerius elevated Licinius to the rank of Augustus in the West on November 11, 308. He received as his immediate command the provinces of Illyricum, Thrace and Pannonia.[10]

In 310 he took command of the war against the Sarmatians, inflicting a severe defeat on them and emerging victorious.[11] Then on the death of Galerius, in May 311, Licinius entered into an agreement with Maximinus Daia, to share the eastern provinces between them. By this point, not only was Licinius the official Augustus of the west, but he also possessed part of the eastern provinces as well, as the Hellespont and the Bosporus became the dividing line, with Licinius taking the European provinces and Daia taking the Asian.[12]

An alliance between Daia and Maxentius forced the two remaining emperors to enter into a formal agreement with each other.[13] So in March 313 Licinius married Flavia Julia Constantia, half-sister of Constantine,[14] at Mediolanum (now Milan); they had a son, Licinius the Younger, in 315. Their marriage was the occasion for the jointly-issued "Edict of Milan" that restored confiscated properties to Christian congregations and allowed Christianity to be professed in the empire.[15]

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