Galerius and Thessaloniki
  Thessaloniki is the second largest economic center of Greece today. During the Roman periods, it was the second largest city in the Byzantine Empire after Constantinople. The name is derived from Thessalonike of Macedon, half-sister of Alexander the Great, and daughter of Philip II (his tomb is in Vergina, suburb of Thessaloniki).

After the fall of the Roman Empire, Romans stopped mining for gold (used as money), which caused an almost 1000 year long recession in Western Europe. Yet gold continued to be produced in Constantinople and Thessaloniki, which sustained the Byzantine Empire for a thousand years.

It was becoming difficult for one emperor to manage the expanding Roman Empire. In 285 AD, the emperor Diocletian (244-311) appointed a talented general, Maximian, to assume the rule of the western provinces. His seat or headquarters was in Milan. Eight years later, Diocletian established the so-called tetrarchy to ensure smooth succession.

The empire was divided into four parts governed by two Augusti (Diocletian and Maximian). Each Augustus was supported by an associate or assistant called Caesar.

The western part of the Empire was governed by Maximian and his Caesar was Constantius I (the father of Constantine the Great), who ruled Briton and France. Diocletian as Augustus ruled Turkey, Palestine and Egypt, while his assistant Galerius (who was from Illyria) ruled Illyria and Greece, the region that roughly corresponds to the Balkan peninsula today. Rome was abandoned and each tetrarch established their headquarters in his own region so they could quickly handle any rebellion.

Galerius was adopted by Diocletian, and later married his daughter. When Diocletian resigned in 305 AD, Galerius was proclaimed August at Nikomedia. His initial campaign against Persians was unsuccessful, but in the second campaign he defeated the Persian king Narseh in 298 AD. Galerius then began to establish his seat in Thessaloniki, building a palace there. The ruins of Galerian palace is present in the center of Thessaloniki.

The last important act of Galerius was the Edict of Toleration of Christianity on April 30, 311, shortly before his death. (Two years later Constantine issued the Edict of Milan.) At his instigation (that the palace fire was caused by Christians) Diocletian, Maximian, Galerius and Constantius issued a series of edicts in AD 303 to persecute Christians, and this policy were maintained by Galerius until almost the end of his life.

Galerius died after a serious disease in late April or early May in 303. Just a few days before his death he issued the Edict of Toleration of Christianity on April 30, 303. He acknowledged his policy of eradicating Christianity had failed, saying: "wherefore, for this our indulgence, they ought to pray to their God for our safety, for that of the republic, and for their own, that the republic may continue uninjured on every side, and that they may be able to live securely in their homes." (wiki)

Why did he have a change of heart a few days before his death?

There are many theories. Galerius probably reasoned in his heart: “I don’t believe in their God, but hey, what have I got to lose? I am dying anyway.” Maybe he was placing bets on all possible outcomes. Or maybe he felt he was being punished by God. Maybe he was hoping that Christian God would forgive him, and he was sufficiently hard pressed.

(91:6.4) Prayer, even as a purely human practice, a dialogue with one's alter ego, constitutes a technique of the most efficient approach to the realization of those reserve powers of human nature which are stored and conserved in the unconscious realms of the human mind. Prayer is a sound psychologic practice, aside from its religious implications and its spiritual significance. It is a fact of human experience that most persons, if sufficiently hard pressed, will pray in some way to some source of help.

   Aristoteles Square
  Hotel Electra
 Performers in front of Electra
   White Tower
   Gold in Thessaloniki
  Agia Sofia Church
   Roman Walls of Thessaloniki
   The Arch of Galerius
   Rotunda of Galerius
  Souvlaki in the market
   Holy Monastery of Saint Dionysios of Olympos
   Mount Olympus
   Dion, Ancient City of Greece
 Toilets in ancient Dion.

   Museum of Byzantine Culture