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The Donatists were followers of a belief considered a heresy by the Roman Catholic Church. They were localized in Roman Africa, and flourished in the fourth and fifth centuries.

Their primary disagreement with the rest of the Church was over the treatment of individuals who forsook their faith during the Persecution (303 - 305 AD) of Diocletian. The rest of the Church was far more forgiving of these people than were the Donatists. As a result, many towns were divided between Donatist and non-Donatist congregations.

The Donatists also drew their beliefs from the writings of Tertullian and Cyprian.

The bishop Augustine campaigned against this alternative belief throughout his tenure as bishop of Hippo, and through his efforts the Church gained the upper hand. His successes were reversed when the Vandals conquered North Africa. Donatism survived the Vandal occupation and the Byzantine reconquest under Justinian. It is unknown how long this belief persisted into the Moslem period.