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He lived out his retirement in his palace on the Dalmatian coast, tending to his vegetable gardens.
His palace eventually became the core of the modern-day city of Split in Croatia.
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.
Julianus minted coins from the mint at Siscia (Sisak, Croatia) declaring himself as emperor and promising freedom.
The first forty years of his life are mostly obscure.
Although effective while he ruled, Diocletian's tetrarchic system collapsed after his abdication under the competing dynastic claims of Maxentius and Constantine, sons of Maximian and Constantius respectively.
The Diocletianic Persecution (303–11), the empire's last, largest, and bloodiest official persecution of Christianity, failed to eliminate Christianity in the empire; indeed, after 324, Christianity became the empire's preferred religion under its first Christian emperor, Constantine.
Diocletian may have become involved in battles against the Quadi and Marcomanni immediately after the Battle of the Margus.
He eventually made his way to northern Italy and made an imperial government, but it is not known whether he visited the city of Rome at this time.
Under this 'tetrarchy', or "rule of four", each emperor would rule over a quarter-division of the empire.