First English edition of the Nuremberg chronicle: being the Liber chronicarum of Dr. Hartmann Schedel…

Tacitus, the Roman emperor, attained the sovereignty after Aurelian from the Roman senate and the people. At his election a Roman senator said: An army cannot exist very long without a leader; therefore necessity dictates that such a man should be elected, for, it is said, that the Germans invaded the region within the Rhine and the strong cities, and worried the noble, rich and mighty. Immediately the whole senate voted and elected this Tacitus. By reason of his virtue and excellence he was a capable and fit man to rule for the common good. The money he collected at home he employed to pay the army. He lived a moderate life and loved sour food. He seldom bathed, and was strong in his old age, and took pleasure in various kinds of glassware. He ate no bread unless it was dry. He was highly versed in architecture, and was partial to marble. He loved to hunt wild game. At length, through the instigation of the army, he was slain in the sixth month of his reign. But some say he succumbed to an illness. His reign being brief, he accomplished nothing great. He caused the month of September to be named Tacitus after himself, for in that month he was born and was also made emperor.[M. Claudius Tacitus, Roman emperor from September 25, 275 CE, until April 276, was elected by the senate after the death of Aurelian, the army having requested the senate to elect a successor to the imperial throne. At the time he was seventy years of age and was with difficulty persuaded to accept the position. The high character that he had born he amply sustained during his brief reign. He endeavored to repress the luxury and licentiousness of the age by various sumptuary laws, and he himself set the example by the abstemiousness, simplicity and frugality of his own habits. The only military achievement of his reign was the defeat and expulsion from Asia Minor of a party of Goths, who had carried their devastation across the peninsula to the confines of Cicilia. He died either at Tarsus or at Tyana, about the 9th of April, 276.]

Florianus, brother of the aforesaid Tacitus, attained to the sovereignty after his brother, not through election by the Roman senate, but by his own act, as though the sovereignty was inheritable. For he knew that Tacitus in the senate had vowed that after his death, the senate should elect an emperor, not his son, but a good and virtuous man. Florianus held the sovereignty for two months, and was slain. This Florianus was a follower of his morals, but not in all things; for he was more ambitious of power than his brother, and therefore not comparable to him.[M. Annius Florianus, the brother, by a different father, of the emperor Tacitus, upon whose death he was proclaimed emperor at Rome in 276 CE. He was murdered by his own troops at Tarsus, after a reign of about two months, while on his march against Probus, who had been proclaimed emperor by the legions in Syria.]

Probus, the Roman emperor, was a celebrated man at home and abroad, and after Tacitus he was made emperor by the unanimous voice of all men. He ruled the world very peacefully. He was born in the city of Sirmium, in Pannonia, his mother being of more noble birth than his father. His inheritance was moderate, and his relationship was not very distinguished. During his reign as well as up to that time he was noted for his high nobility and virtue. And since he was renowned in military affairs, and now received the care of the commonwealth, he relieved the besieged Gauls of the barbarians with great good fortune; and forty thousand men were slain and seventy celebrated cities freed of the enemy. This Probus also carried on various wars against Saturninus, the emperor in the East; and he suppressed Proculus and Bonosus at Cologne, in Gaul, with masterful speed. Finally he returned to Sirmium, his home, determined to advance and enlarge his fatherland. This caused objection on the part of the army, and they killed him in an iron tower to which he fled, in the sixth year of his reign.[M. Aurelius Probus, Roman emperor (276-282 CE), was a native of Sirmium in Pannonia, and rose to distinction through his military abilities. He was appointed governor of the entire East by Tacitus. On the latter’s death the position of emperor was forced on him by the armies of Syria. The downfall of Florianus speedily removed his only rival, and he was hailed by the united voice of the senate, the people, and the legions. His reign was one of brilliant achievements. He defeated the barbarians on the frontiers of Gaul and Illyricum, and in other parts of the Roman Empire. He put down the rebellions of Saturninus at Alexandria, and of Proculus and Bonosus in Gaul. After crushing all external and internal foes, he was killed at Sirmium by his own soldiers who had risen against him because he had employed them in laborious public works. Probus was as just and virtuous as he was warlike, and is deservedly regarded as one of the greatest of Roman emperors.]

Carus, the Roman emperor, attained the sovereignty after Probus. He associated with him in the government his two sons Numerianus and Carinus, making them caesars, and reigning with them for two years. While conducting a war against the Sarmatians, he received news of a revolt in Persia. So he went to the East and made war upon the Persians. He was killed by lightning in camp on the river Tigris.[M. Aurelius Carus, Roman emperor (282-283 CE), was probably born at Narbo in Gaul. He was praefectus praetorio (‘commander in charge of the Praetorian Guard’) under the emperor Probus, and on the murder of the latter was elected his successor. After defeating the Sarmatians, he invaded the Persian dominions, took Seleucia and Ctesiphon, and was preparing to push his conquests beyond the river Tigris, when he was struck dead by lightning, toward the close of the year 283. He was succeeded by his sons Carinus and Numerianus. Carus was a victorious general and an able ruler.] Numerianus was confined to his bed by an affliction of the eyes, and was secretly murdered. He surpassed all the poets of his time.[M. Aurelius Numerianus was the younger of the two sons of the Roman emperor Carus. He accompanied his father in an expedition against the Persians in the year 283. After his father’s death in the same year he was chosen joint emperor with his brother Carinus. The army, alarmed by the fate of Carus, who was struck dead by lightening while preparing to push his conquests beyond the Tigris in the year 283, compelled Numerianus to make a retreat toward Europe. During the greater part of this march, which extended over a period of eight months, he was confined to his litter by an affliction of the eyes. But the suspicions of the soldiers became aroused, and they at length found their way into his tent; and there they discovered the dead body of their prince. Arrius Aper, prefect of the Praetorians, and father-in-law of the deceased, was arraigned for murder before a military council, and without being permitted to speak in his own defense was stabbed in the heart by Diocletian, whom the troops had already proclaimed emperor.] But Carinus, a man contaminated with every vice, and a constant adulterer, was defeated by Diocletian in Dalmatia, and thus suffered the penalty for his crimes.[M. Aurelius Carinus, elder of the two sons of Carus, was associated with his father in the government in 283 CE. He remained in the West while his father and brother proceeded to war against the Persians in the East. On the death of his father in the same year, Carinus and Numerianus succeeded to the empire. When the latter was slain in 284, Carinus marched into Moesia to oppose Diocletian who had been proclaimed emperor. Carinus gained the victory, but in the moment of triumph was slain by his own officers, some of whose wives he had seduced.]

Diocletian of Dalmatia was of very obscure and low birth. He was elected emperor in the year of the founding of the city (i.e., Rome) 1041. When a revolt occurred in Gaul, he sent Maximianus, surnamed Hercules, there with an army, soon silencing this great people. But when wars broke out which Diocletian could not withstand alone, he made Maximian (Maximianus) associate emperor, and sent Constantius and Maximinus Galerius to assist him in governing the empire. After ten years Maximian brought Britain back into the empire. Constantius slaughtered many thousands of Germans who came to Gaul as mercenaries; and he freed Gaul. In the meantime Diocletian proceeded to Egypt and besieged Alexandria. This he conquered in eight months, giving the city over to the soldiers for pillage. Diocletian was cunning, well mannered, resourceful, at times subtle and ingenious, and, in addition, a very industrious and ambitious prince. Although his predecessors were saluted, he commanded that he be worshipped. Maximian, however, was a serious man, ignored customs and usages, and his fierce countenance expressed his cruel nature. Having quelled all the revolts, Diocletian in the East and Maximian in the West, they proceeded to destroy the churches. Diocletian divided the empire and retired. He lived to the age of 73 years and was put to death by poison.[Valerius Diocletian, Roman emperor (284-305 CE), was born near Salona in Dalmatia in 245. From his mother Doclea, or Dioclea, who received her name from the village in which she lived, he inherited the appellation of Docles or Diocles, which after his assumption of the purple, was expanded into Diocletianus, and attached as a cognomen to the high patrician name of Valerius. Having entered the army he served with high reputation under Probus and Aurelian, followed Carus to the Persian war, and after the fate of Numerianus became known, was proclaimed emperor by the troops. He finally became undisputed master of the empire; but as the attacks of the barbarians became daily more formidable, he associated with himself as a colleague Maximian (Maximianus), who was invested with the title of Augustus in 286. The latter took care of the Western empire, Diocletian of the Eastern. But as the dangers from Persian attack in the East, and the barbarians in the West became still more imminent, he made a further division of the empire. In 292 Constantius, Chlorus, and Galerius were proclaimed caesars. Britain was restored to the empire in 296, the Persians were defeated, and the barbarians driven back. After an anxious reign of twenty-one years Diocletian retired to his native Dalmatia, where he died in 313. Today he is perhaps most remembered for his fierce persecution of the Christians.]