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The title was also claimed by Carus' other surviving son, Carinus, but Diocletian defeated him in the Battle of the Margus.
Diocletian's reign stabilized the empire and marks the end of the Crisis of the Third Century.
He defeated the Sarmatians and Carpi during several campaigns between 285 and 299, the Alamanni in 288, and usurpers in Egypt between 297 and 298.
Galerius, aided by Diocletian, campaigned successfully against Sassanid Persia, the empire's traditional enemy. Diocletian led the subsequent negotiations and achieved a lasting and favorable peace.
Building on third-century trends towards absolutism, he styled himself an autocrat, elevating himself above the empire's masses with imposing forms of court ceremonies and architecture.
Bureaucratic and military growth, constant campaigning, and construction projects increased the state's expenditures and necessitated a comprehensive tax reform.
He lived out his retirement in his palace on the Dalmatian coast, tending to his vegetable gardens.
The army unanimously saluted Diocles as their new augustus, and he accepted the purple imperial vestments.
Carinus quickly made his way to Rome from his post in Gaul as imperial commissioner and arrived there by January 284, becoming legitimate Emperor in the West. The Sassanid king Bahram II could not field an army against them as he was still struggling to establish his authority.
By March 284, Numerian had only reached Emesa (Homs) in Syria; by November, only Asia Minor.
In spite of these failures and challenges, Diocletian's reforms fundamentally changed the structure of Roman imperial government and helped stabilize the empire economically and militarily, enabling the empire to remain essentially intact for another 150 years despite being near the brink of collapse in Diocletian's youth.
Weakened by illness, Diocletian left the imperial office on 1 May 305, and became the first Roman emperor to abdicate the position voluntarily.