A famous statue of Augustus (r. 27 BC – AD 14), the first Roman emperor
A famous statue of Augustus (r. 27 BC – AD 14), the first Roman emperor

The Roman emperors were the rulers of the Roman Empire from the granting of the name and title Augustus to Octavian by the Roman Senate in 27 BC onward.[1][2] Augustus maintained a facade of Republican rule, rejecting monarchical titles but calling himself princeps senatus (first man of the Senate) and princeps civitatis (first citizen of the state). The title of Augustus was conferred on his successors to the imperial position, and emperors gradually grew more monarchical and authoritarian.[3]

The style of government instituted by Augustus is called the Principate and continued until the late third or early fourth century.[4] The modern word "emperor" derives from the title imperator, that was granted by an army to a successful general; during the initial phase of the empire, the title was generally used only by the princeps.[5] For example, Augustus's official name was Imperator Caesar Divi Filius Augustus.[6] The territory under command of the emperor had developed under the period of the Roman Republic as it invaded and occupied much of Europe and portions of North Africa and the Middle East. Under the republic, the Senate and People of Rome authorized provincial governors, who answered only to them, to rule regions of the empire.[7] The chief magistrates of the republic were two consuls elected each year; consuls continued to be elected in the imperial period, but their authority was subservient to that of the emperor, who also controlled and determined their election.[8] Often, the emperors themselves, or close family, were selected as consul.[9]

After the Crisis of the Third Century, Diocletian increased the authority of the emperor and adopted the title "dominus noster" (our lord). The rise of powerful barbarian tribes along the borders of the empire, the challenge they posed to the defense of far-flung borders as well as an unstable imperial succession led Diocletian to divide the administration of the Empire geographically with a co-augustus in 286. In 330, Constantine the Great, the emperor who accepted Christianity, established a second capital in Byzantium, which he renamed Constantinople. Historians consider the Dominate period of the empire to have begun with either Diocletian or Constantine, depending on the author.[10] For most of the period from 286 to 480, there was more than one recognized senior emperor, with the division usually based on geographic regions. This division was consistently in place after the death of Theodosius I in 395, which historians have dated as the division between the Western Roman Empire and the Eastern Roman Empire. However, formally the Empire remained a single polity, with separate co-emperors in the separate courts.[11]

The fall of the Western Roman Empire is dated either from the de facto date of 476, when Romulus Augustulus was deposed by the Germanic Herulians led by Odoacer, or the de jure date of 480, on the death of Julius Nepos, when Eastern emperor Zeno ended recognition of a separate Western court.[12][13] Historians typically refer to the empire in the centuries that followed as the "Byzantine Empire", orientated toward Hellenic culture and governed by the Byzantine emperors.[a] Given that "Byzantine" is a later historiographical designation and the inhabitants and emperors of the empire continually maintained Roman identity, this designation is not used universally and continues to be a subject of specialist debate.[b] Under Justinian I, in the sixth century, a large portion of the western empire was retaken, including Italy, Africa, and part of Spain.[17] Over the course of the centuries thereafter, most of the imperial territories were lost, which eventually restricted the empire to Anatolia and the Balkans.[c] The line of emperors continued until the death of Constantine XI Palaiologos at the fall of Constantinople in 1453, when the remaining territories were conquered by the Ottoman Turks led by Sultan Mehmed II.[23][d] In the aftermath of the conquest, Mehmed II proclaimed himself kayser-i Rûm ("Caesar of Rome"),[e] thus claiming to be the new emperor,[29] a claim maintained by succeeding sultans.[30] Competing claims of succession to the Roman Empire have also been forwarded by various other states and empires, and by numerous later pretenders.[31]

Legitimacy

See also: Roman emperor and Roman usurper

Coin of Pescennius Niger, a Roman usurper who claimed imperial power AD 193–194. Legend: IMP CAES C PESC NIGER IVST AVG
Coin of Pescennius Niger, a Roman usurper who claimed imperial power AD 193–194. Legend: IMP CAES C PESC NIGER IVST AVG

While the imperial government of the Roman Empire was rarely called into question during its five centuries in the west and fifteen centuries in the east, individual emperors often faced unending challenges in the form of usurpation and perpetual civil wars.[32] From the rise of Augustus, the first Roman emperor, in 27 BC to the sack of Rome in AD 455, there were over a hundred usurpations or attempted usurpations (an average of one usurpation or attempt about every four years). From the murder of Commodus in 192 until the fifth century, there was scarcely a single decade without succession conflicts and civil war. Very few emperors died of natural causes, with regicide in practical terms having become the expected end of a Roman emperor by late antiquity.[33] The distinction between a usurper and a legitimate emperor is a blurry one, given that a large number of emperors commonly considered legitimate began their rule as usurpers, revolting against the previous legitimate emperor.[34]

True legitimizing structures and theories were weak, or wholly absent, in the Roman Empire,[33] and there were no true objective legal criteria for being acclaimed emperor beyond acceptance by the Roman army.[35] Dynastic succession was not legally formalized, but also not uncommon, with powerful rulers sometimes succeeding in passing power on to their children or other relatives. While dynastic ties could bring someone to the throne, they were not a guarantee that their rule would not be challenged.[36] With the exception of Titus (r. 79–81; son of Vespasian), no son of an emperor who ruled after the death of their father died a natural death until Constantine I in 337. Control of Rome itself and approval of the Roman Senate held some importance as legitimising factors, but was mostly symbolic. Emperors who began their careers as usurpers had often been deemed public enemies by the senate before they managed to take the city. Emperors did not need to be acclaimed or crowned in Rome itself, as demonstrated in the Year of the Four Emperors (69), when claimants were crowned by armies in the Roman provinces, and the senate's role in legitimising emperors had almost faded into insignificance by the Crisis of the Third Century (235–284). By the end of the third century, Rome's importance was mainly ideological, with several emperors and usurpers even beginning to place their court in other cities in the empire, closer to the imperial frontier.[37]

Common methods used by emperors to assert claims of legitimacy, such as proclamation by the army, blood connections (sometimes fictitious) to past emperors, wearing imperial regalia, distributing one's own coins or statues and claims to pre-eminent virtue through propaganda, were pursued just as well by many usurpers as they were by legitimate emperors.[38] There were no constitutional or legal distinctions that differentiated legitimate emperors and usurpers. In ancient Roman texts, the differences between emperors and "tyrants" (the term typically used for usurpers) is often a moral one (with the tyrants ascribed wicked behaviour) rather than a legal one. Typically, the actual distinction was whether the claimant had been victorious or not. In the Historia Augusta, an ancient Roman collection of imperial biographies, the usurper Pescennius Niger (193–194) is expressly noted to only be a tyrant because he was defeated by Septimius Severus (r. 193–211).[39] This is also followed in modern historiography, where, in the absence of constitutional criteria separating them, the main factor that distinguishes usurpers from legitimate Roman emperors is their degree of success. What makes a figure who began as a usurper into a legitimate emperor is typically either that they managed to gain the recognition from a more senior, legitimate, emperor, or that they managed to defeat a more senior, legitimate emperor and seize power from them by force.[36]

List inclusion criteria

Given that a concept of constitutional legitimacy was irrelevant in the Roman Empire, and emperors were only 'legitimate' in so far as they were able to be accepted in the wider empire,[40] this list of emperors operates on a collection of inclusion criteria:

In the case of non-dynastic emperors after or in the middle of the rule of a dynasty, it is customary among historians to group them together with the rulers of said dynasty,[49] an approach that is followed in this list. Dynastic breaks with non-dynastic rulers are indicated with thickened horizontal lines.

Principate (27 BC – AD 284)

Main article: Principate

Julio-Claudian dynasty (27 BC – AD 68)

Main article: Julio-Claudian dynasty

Julio-Claudian dynasty
Portrait  Name[f] Reign Succession Life details
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Augustus
Caesar Augustus
16 January 27 BC – 19 August AD 14
  (40 years, 7 months and 3 days)[g]
Grandnephew and adopted son of Julius Caesar. Gradually acquired further power through grants from, and constitutional settlements with, the Roman Senate. 23 September 63 BC – 19 August 14
(aged 75)
Born as Gaius Octavius; first elected Roman consul on 19 August 43 BC.
Died of natural causes[53]
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Tiberius
Tiberius Caesar Augustus
17 September 14 – 16 March 37
(22 years, 5 months and 27 days)
Stepson, former son-in-law and adopted son of Augustus 16 November 42 BC – 16 March 37
(aged 77)
Died probably of natural causes, allegedly murdered at the instigation of Caligula[54]
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Caligula
Gaius Caesar Augustus Germanicus
18 March 37 – 24 January 41
(3 years, 10 months and 6 days)
Grandnephew and adopted heir of Tiberius, great-grandson of Augustus 31 August 12 – 24 January 41
(aged 28)
Murdered in a conspiracy involving the Praetorian Guard and senators[55]
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Claudius
Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus
24 January 41 – 13 October 54
(13 years, 8 months and 19 days)
Uncle of Caligula, grandnephew of Augustus, proclaimed emperor by the Praetorian Guard and accepted by the Senate 1 August 10 BC – 13 October 54
(aged 63)
Probably poisoned by his wife Agrippina, in favor of her son Nero[56]
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Nero
Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus
13 October 54 – 9 June 68
(13 years, 7 months and 27 days)
Grandnephew, stepson, son-in-law and adopted son of Claudius, great-great-grandson of Augustus 15 December 37 – 9 June 68
(aged 30)
Committed suicide after being deserted by the Praetorian Guard and sentenced to death by the Senate[57]

Year of the Four Emperors (68–69)

Main article: Year of the Four Emperors

Year of the Four Emperors
Portrait Name Reign Succession Life details
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Galba
Servius Galba Caesar Augustus
8 June 68 – 15 January 69
(7 months and 7 days)
Governor of Hispania Tarraconensis, revolted against Nero and seized power after his suicide, with support of the Senate and Praetorian Guard 24 December 3 BC – 15 January 69
(aged 70)
Murdered by soldiers of the Praetorian Guard in a coup led by Otho[58]
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Otho
Marcus Otho Caesar Augustus
15 January – 16 April 69
(3 months and 1 day)
Seized power through a coup against Galba 28 April 32 – 16 April 69
(aged 36)
Committed suicide after losing the Battle of Bedriacum to Vitellius[59]
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Vitellius
Aulus Vitellius Germanicus Augustus
19 April – 20 December 69
(8 months and 1 day)
Governor of Germania Inferior, proclaimed emperor by the Rhine legions on 2 January in opposition to Galba and Otho, later recognized by the Senate 24 September 15 – 20/22 December 69
(aged 54)
Murdered by Vespasian's troops[60]

Flavian dynasty (69–96)

Main article: Flavian dynasty

Flavian dynasty
Portrait Name Reign Succession Life details
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Vespasian
Caesar Vespasianus Augustus
1 July 69 – 23 June 79
(9 years, 11 months and 22 days)
Seized power with support of the eastern legions, in opposition to Vitellius 17 November 9 – 23/24 June 79
(aged 69)
Died of natural causes[61]
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Titus
Titus Caesar Vespasianus Augustus
24 June 79 – 13 September 81
(2 years, 2 months and 20 days)
Son of Vespasian 30 December 39 – 13 September 81
(aged 41)
Died of natural causes[62]
statue
Domitian
Caesar Domitianus Augustus
14 September 81 – 18 September 96
(15 years and 4 days)
Brother of Titus and son of Vespasian 24 October 51 – 18 September 96
(aged 44)
Assassinated in a conspiracy of court officials, possibly involving Nerva[63]

Nerva–Antonine dynasty (96–192)

Main article: Nerva–Antonine dynasty

Nerva–Antonine dynasty
Portrait Name Reign Succession Life details
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Nerva
Nerva Caesar Augustus
18 September 96 – 27 January 98
(1 year, 4 months and 9 days)
Proclaimed emperor after the murder of Domitian 8 November 30 – 27 January 98
(aged 67)
First of the "Five Good Emperors". Died of natural causes[64]
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Trajan
Caesar Nerva Traianus Augustus
28 January 98 – 7/11 August 117
(19 years, 6 months and 10/14 days)
Adopted son of Nerva 18 September 53 – 7/11 August 117
(aged 63)
First non-Italian emperor. His reign marked the geographical peak of the empire. Died of natural causes[65]
statue
Hadrian
Caesar Traianus Hadrianus Augustus
11 August 117 – 10 July 138
(20 years, 10 months and 29 days)
Cousin of Trajan, allegedly adopted on his deathbed 24 January 76 – 10 July 138
(aged 62)
Ended Roman expansionism. Died of natural causes[66]
statue
Antoninus Pius
Titus Aelius Hadrianus Antoninus Pius[h]
10 July 138 – 7 March 161
(22 years, 7 months and 25 days)
Adopted son of Hadrian 19 September 86 – 7 March 161
(aged 74)
Died of natural causes[68]
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Marcus Aurelius
Marcus Aurelius Antoninus
7 March 161 – 17 March 180
(19 years and 10 days)
Son-in-law and adopted son of Antoninus Pius. Reigned jointly with his adoptive brother, Lucius Verus, the first time multiple emperors shared power. 26 April 121 – 17 March 180
(aged 58)
Last of the "Five Good Emperors"; also one of the most representative Stoic philosophers. Died of natural causes[69]
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Lucius Verus
Lucius Aurelius Verus
7 March 161 – January/February 169
(7 years and 11 months)
Adopted son of Antoninus Pius, joint emperor with his adoptive brother, Marcus Aurelius 15 December 130 – early 169
(aged 38)
Died of natural causes[70]
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Commodus
Marcus Aurelius Commodus Antoninus / Lucius Aelius Aurelius Commodus
17 March 180 – 31 December 192
(12 years, 9 months and 14 days)
Son of Marcus Aurelius. Proclaimed co-emperor on 27 November 176, at age 15, becoming the first emperor to be elevated during predecessor's lifetime 31 August 161 – 31 December 192
(aged 31)
Strangled to death in a conspiracy involving his praetorian prefect, Laetus, and mistress, Marcia[71]

Year of the Five Emperors (193)

Main article: Year of the Five Emperors

Note: The other claimants during the Year of the Five Emperors were Pescennius Niger and Clodius Albinus, generally regarded as usurpers.
Year of the Five Emperors
Portrait Name Reign Succession Life details
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Pertinax
Publius Helvius Pertinax
1 January – 28 March 193
(2 months and 27 days)
City prefect of Rome at Commodus's death, set up as emperor by the praetorian prefect, Laetus, with consent of the Senate 1 August 126 – 28 March 193
(aged 66)
Murdered by mutinous soldiers of the Praetorian Guard[72]
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Didius Julianus
Marcus Didius Severus Julianus
28 March – 1 June 193
(2 months and 4 days)
Won auction held by the Praetorian Guard for the position of emperor 30 January 133 – 1/2 June 193
(aged 60)
Killed on order of the Senate, at the behest of Septimius Severus[73]

Severan dynasty (193–235)

Main article: Severan dynasty

  (§) – Varying ascribed status[i]
Severan dynasty
Portrait Name Reign Succession Life details
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Septimius Severus
Lucius Septimius Severus Pertinax
9 April 193 – 4 February 211
(17 years, 9 months and 26 days)
Governor of Upper Pannonia, acclaimed emperor by the Pannonian legions following the murder of Pertinax 11 April 145 – 4 February 211
(aged 65)
First non-European emperor. Died of natural causes[74]
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Caracalla
Marcus Aurelius Antoninus
4 February 211 – 8 April 217
(6 years, 2 months and 4 days)
Son of Septimius Severus, proclaimed co-emperor on 28 January 198, at age 10. Succeeded jointly with his brother, Geta, in 211 4 April 188 – 8 April 217
(aged 29)
First child emperor. Granted Roman citizenship to all free inhabitants of the empire. Murdered by a soldier at the instigation of Macrinus[75]
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Geta
Publius Septimius Geta
4 February 211 – 19/26 December 211
(10 months and 15/22 days)
Son of Septimius Severus, proclaimed co-emperor in October 209, succeeded jointly with his older brother, Caracalla 7 March 189 – 19/26 December 211
(aged 22)
Murdered on order of his brother, Caracalla[76]
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Macrinus
Marcus Opellius Severus Macrinus
11 April 217 – 8 June 218
(1 year, 1 month and 28 days)
Praetorian prefect of Caracalla, accepted as emperor by the army and Senate after having arranged his predecessor's death in fear of his own life c. 165 – June 218
(aged approx. 53)
First non-senator to become emperor, and first emperor not to visit Rome after acceding. Executed during a revolt of the troops in favor of Elagabalus.[77]
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Diadumenian
Marcus Opellius Antoninus Diadumenianus
Late May – June 218
(less than a month)
Son of Macrinus, named co-emperor by his father after the eruption of a rebellion in favor of Elagabalus 14 September 208 – June 218
(aged 9)
Caught in flight and executed in favor of Elagabalus[78]
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Elagabalus
Marcus Aurelius Antoninus
16 May 218 – 12 March 222
(3 years, 9 months and 24 days)
Cousin and alleged illegitimate son of Caracalla, acclaimed as emperor by rebellious legions in opposition to Macrinus at the instigation of his grandmother, Julia Maesa 203/204 – 11/12 March 222
(aged 18)
Murdered by the Praetorian Guard alongside his mother, probably at the instigation of Julia Maesa[79]
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Severus Alexander
Marcus Aurelius Severus Alexander
13 March 222 – 21 March 235
(13 years and 8 days)
Cousin and adopted heir of Elagabalus 1 October 208 – 21 March 235
(aged 26)
Lynched by mutinous troops, alongside his mother[80]

Crisis of the Third Century (235–284)

Main articles: Crisis of the Third Century, Year of the Six Emperors, and Gordian dynasty

  (#) – Ambiguous legitimacy[j]
  (§) – Varying ascribed status[i]
Crisis of the Third Century
Portrait Name Reign Succession Life details
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Maximinus I "Thrax"
Gaius Julius Verus Maximinus
c. March 235 – c. June 238[k]
(3 years and 3 months)
Proclaimed emperor by Germanic legions after the murder of Severus Alexander c. 172–180 – c. June 238
(aged approx. 58–66)
First commoner to become emperor. Murdered by his men during the siege of Aquileia[86]
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Gordian I
Marcus Antonius Gordianus Sempronianus Romanus
c. April – c. May 238[k]
(22 days)
Proclaimed emperor alongside his son, Gordian II, while serving as governor of Africa, in a revolt against Maximinus, and recognized by the Senate c. 158 (?) – c. May 238
(aged approx. 80)
Oldest emperor at the time of his elevation. Committed suicide upon hearing of the death of his son, Gordian II[87]
coin
Gordian II
Marcus Antonius Gordianus Sempronianus Romanus
c. April – c. May 238[k]
(22 days)
Proclaimed emperor alongside his father Gordian I, during revolt in Africa against Maximinus c. 192 – c. May 238
(aged approx. 46)
The shortest-reigning emperor on record. Killed outside Carthage in battle against an army loyal to Maximinus I[88]
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Pupienus
Marcus Clodius Pupienus Maximus
c. May – c. August 238[k]
(99 days)
Proclaimed emperor jointly with Balbinus by the Senate after death of Gordian I and II, in opposition to Maximinus c. 164 – c. August 238
(aged approx. 74)
Tortured and murdered by the Praetorian Guard[89]
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Balbinus
Decimus Caelius Calvinus Balbinus
c. May – c. August 238[k]
(99 days)
Proclaimed emperor jointly with Pupienus by the Senate after death of Gordian I and II, in opposition to Maximinus c. 178 – c. August 238
(aged approx. 60)
Tortured and murdered by the Praetorian Guard[90]
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Gordian III
Marcus Antonius Gordianus
c. August 238 – c. February 244
(c. 5 years and 6 months)
Grandson of Gordian I, appointed as heir by Pupienus and Balbinus, upon whose deaths he succeeded as emperor 20 January 225 – c. February 244
(aged 19)
Died during campaign against Persia, possibly in a murder plot instigated by Philip I[91]
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Philip I "the Arab"
Marcus Julius Philippus
c. February 244 – September/October 249
(c. 5 years and 7/8 months)
Praetorian prefect under Gordian III, seized power after his death c. 204 – September/October 249
(aged approx. 45)
Killed at the Battle of Verona, against Decius[92]
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Philip II "the Younger" (§)
Marcus Julius Severus Philippus
July/August 247 – September/October 249
(c. 2 years and 2 months)
Son of Philip I, appointed co-emperor c. 237 – September/October 249
(aged approx. 12)
Murdered by the Praetorian Guard[93]
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Decius
Gaius Messius Quintus Traianus Decius
September/October 249 – June 251
(c. 1 year and 8/9 months)
Proclaimed emperor by the troops in Moesia, then defeated and killed Philip I in battle c. 190/200 – June 251
(aged approx. 50/60)
Killed at the Battle of Abrittus, against the Goths[94]
coin
Herennius Etruscus (§)
Quintus Herennius Etruscus Messius Decius
May/June – June 251
(less than a month)
Son of Decius, appointed co-emperor Unknown – June 251
Killed at the Battle of Abrittus alongside his father[95]
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Trebonianus Gallus
Gaius Vibius Trebonianus Gallus
June 251 – c. August 253
(c. 3 years and 2 months)
Senator and general, proclaimed emperor after the deaths of Decius and Herennius Etruscus c. 206 – c. August 253
(aged 47)
Murdered by his own troops in favor of Aemilian[96]
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Hostilian (§)
Gaius Valens Hostilianus Messius Quintus
c. June – c. July 251
(c. 1 month)
Younger son of Decius, named caesar by his father and proclaimed co-emperor by Trebonianus Gallus Unknown – c. July 251
Died of plague or murdered by Trebonianus Gallus[97]
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Volusianus (§)
Gaius Vibius Afinius Gallus Veldumnianus Volusianus
c. August 251 – c. August 253
(3 years)
Son of Gallus, appointed co-emperor c. 230 – c. August 253
(aged approx. 23)
Murdered by the soldiers, alongside his father[98]
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Aemilianus
Marcus Aemilius Aemilianus
c. July – c. September 253
(c. 2 months)
Commander in Moesia, proclaimed emperor by his soldiers after defeating barbarians, in opposition to Gallus c. 207 – c. September 253
(aged approx. 46)
Murdered by his own troops in favor of Valerian[99]
coin
Silbannacus[l] (#)
Mar. Silbannacus
c. September/October 253
(very briefly)
Obscure figure known only from coinage, appears to have briefly ruled in Rome between Aemilianus and Valerian Nothing known[24]
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Valerian
Publius Licinius Valerianus
c. September 253 – c. June 260
(c. 6 years and 9 months)
Army commander in Raetia and Noricum, proclaimed emperor by the legions in opposition to Aemilian c. 200 – after 262 (?)
Captured at Edessa by the Persian king Shapur I, died in captivity possibly forced to swallow molten gold[103]
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Gallienus
Publius Licinius Egnatius Gallienus
c. September 253 – c. September 268
(15 years)
Son of Valerian, appointed joint emperor. Sole emperor after Valerian's capture and subsequent death 218 – c. September 268
(aged 50)
Murdered in a conspiracy of army officers, involving his successors Claudius II and Aurelian[104]
coin
Saloninus[m] (§)
Publius Licinius Cornelius Saloninus Valerianus
Autumn 260
(c. 1 month)
Son of Gallienus, proclaimed caesar by his father and proclaimed emperor by the praetorian prefect Silvanus while besieged by Postumus Unknown – Late 260
Murdered by troops loyal to Postumus[107]
coin
Claudius II "Gothicus"
Marcus Aurelius Claudius
c. September 268 – c. April 270
(c. 1 year and 7 months)
Army commander in Illyria, proclaimed emperor after Gallienus's death 10 May 214 – c. April 270
(aged approx. 55)
Died of plague[108]
coin
Quintillus
Marcus Aurelius Claudius Quintillus
c. April – May/June 270
(17–77 days)
Brother of Claudius II, proclaimed emperor after his death Unknown – 270
Committed suicide or killed at the behest of Aurelian[109]
coin
Aurelian
Lucius Domitius Aurelianus
c. May 270 – c. October 275
(c. 5 years and 5 months)
Supreme commander of the Roman cavalry, proclaimed emperor by Danube legions after Claudius II's death, in opposition to Quintillus 9 September 214 – c. October 275
(aged 61)
Murdered by the Praetorian Guard[110]
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Tacitus
Marcus Claudius Tacitus
c. December 275 – c. June 276
(c. 7 months)
Alleged princeps senatus, proclaimed emperor by his soldiers in Campania after Aurelian's death c. 200 (?) – c. June 276
(aged approx. 76)
Died of illness or possibly murdered[111]
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Florianus
Marcus Annius Florianus
c. June – September 276
(80–88 days)
Brother or, more likely, half-brother of Tacitus Unknown – September/October 276
Murdered by his own troops in favor of Probus[112]
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Probus
Marcus Aurelius Probus
c. June 276 – c. September 282
(c. 6 years and 3 months)
General; proclaimed emperor by the eastern legions, in opposition to Florianus 19 August 232 – c. September 282
(aged 50)
Murdered by his own troops in favor of Carus[113]
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Carus
Marcus Aurelius Carus
c. September 282 – c. July 283
(c. 10 months)
Praetorian prefect under Probus, seized power before or after Probus's murder c. 224 (?) – c. July 283
(aged approx. 60)
Died in Persia, either of illness, assassination, or by being hit by lightning[114]
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Carinus
Marcus Aurelius Carinus
Spring 283 – August/September 285
(2 years)
Son of Carus, appointed joint emperor shortly before his death. Succeeded jointly with Numerian c. 250 – August/September 285
(aged approx. 35)
Probably died in battle against Diocletian, likely betrayed by his own soldiers[115]
coin
Numerian
Marcus Aurelius Numerianus
c. July/August 283 – November 284
(1 year and 3/4 months)
Son of Carus, succeeded jointly with Carinus c. 253 – November 284
(aged approx. 31)
Died while marching to Europe, probably of disease, possibly assassinated[116]

Dominate (284–602)

Main article: Dominate

Tetrarchy (284–324)

Main article: Tetrarchy

  (#) – Ambiguous legitimacy[j]
Tetrarchy
Portrait Name Reign Succession Life details
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Diocletian
Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus
20 November 284 – 1 May 305
(20 years, 5 months and 11 days)
Commander of the imperial bodyguard, acclaimed by the army after death of Numerian, and proceeded to defeat Numerian's brother, Carinus, in battle c. 243/245 – 311/312
(aged approx. 68)
First emperor to voluntarily abdicate. Died in unclear circumstances[117]
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Maximian "Herculius"
Marcus Aurelius Valerius Maximianus
1 April 286 – 1 May 305
(19 years and 1 month; West)
Elevated by Diocletian, ruled the western provinces c. 250 – c. July 310
(aged approx. 60)
Abdicated with Diocletian, later trying to regain power with, and then from, Maxentius, before being probably killed on orders of Constantine I[118]
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Constantius I "Chlorus"
Flavius Valerius Constantius
1 May 305 – 25 July 306
(1 year, 2 months and 24 days; West)
Maximian's relation by marriage, elevated to caesar in 293 by Diocletian, succeeded as western augustus upon Maximian's abdication 31 March c. 250 – 25 July 306
(aged approx. 56)
Died of natural causes[119]
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Galerius
Gaius Galerius Valerius Maximianus
1 May 305 – May 311
(6 years; East)
Elevated to caesar in 293 by Diocletian, succeeded as eastern augustus upon Diocletian's abdication c. 258 – May 311
(aged approx. 53)
Died of natural causes[120]
coin
Severus II
Flavius Valerius Severus
August 306 – March/April 307
(c. 8 months; West)
Elevated to caesar in 305 by Maximian, promoted to western augustus by Galerius upon Constantius I's death Unknown – September 307
Surrendered to Maximian and Maxentius, later murdered or forced to commit suicide[121]
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Maxentius (#)
Marcus Aurelius Valerius Maxentius
28 October 306 – 28 October 312
(6 years; Italy)
Son of Maximian and son-in-law of Galerius, seized power in Italy with support of the Praetorian Guard and his father after being passed over in the succession. Not recognized by the other emperors c. 283 – 28 October 312
(aged approx. 29)
Died at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, against Constantine I[122]
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Licinius
Valerius Licinianus Licinius
11 November 308 – 19 September 324
(15 years, 10 months and 8 days; East)
Elevated by Galerius to replace Severus, in opposition to Maxentius. Defeated Maximinus Daza in a civil war to become sole emperor of the East in 313 c. 265 – early 325
(aged approx. 60)
Defeated, deposed and put to death by Constantine I[123]
coin
Maximinus II "Daza"
Galerius Valerius Maximinus
310 – c. July 313
(3 years; East)
Nephew of Galerius, elevated to caesar by Diocletian in 305, and acclaimed as augustus by his troops in 310 20 November c. 270 – c. July 313
(aged approx. 42)
Defeated in civil war against Licinius, died shortly afterwards[124]
coin
Valerius Valens[n] (#)
Aurelius Valerius Valens
October 316 – c. January 317
(c. 2–3 months; West)
Frontier commander in Dacia, elevated by Licinius in opposition to Constantine I Unknown – 317
Executed in the lead-up to a peace settlement between Licinius and Constantine[126]
coin
Martinian[n] (#)
Mar. Martinianus
July – 19 September 324
(2 months; West)
A senior bureaucrat, elevated by Licinius in opposition to Constantine I Unknown – 325
Deposed by Constantine and banished to Cappadocia, later executed[127]

Constantinian dynasty (306–363)

Main article: Constantinian dynasty

  (#) – Ambiguous legitimacy[j]
Constantinian dynasty
Portrait Name Reign Succession Life details
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Constantine I
"the Great"
Flavius Valerius Constantinus
25 July 306 – 22 May 337
(30 years, 9 months and 27 days)
Son of Constantius I, acclaimed by his father's troops. Accepted as caesar by Galerius in 306, promoted to augustus in 307 by Maximian, refused demotion to caesar in 309 27 February 272/273 – 22 May 337
(aged 64/65)
First Christian emperor and founder of Constantinople. Sole ruler of the Empire after defeating Maxentius in 312 and Licinius in 324. Died of natural causes[128]
statue
Constantine II
Flavius Claudius Constantinus
9 September 337 – April 340
(2 years and 7 months)
Son of Constantine I 7 August 316 – April 340
(aged 23)
Ruled the praetorian prefecture of Gaul. Killed in an ambush during a war against his brother, Constans I[129]
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Constans I
Flavius Julius Constans
9 September 337 – January 350
(12 years and 4 months)
Son of Constantine I 322/323 – January/February 350
(aged 27)
Ruled Italy, Illyricum and Africa initially, then the western empire after Constantine II's death. Overthrown and killed by Magnentius[130]
coin
Constantius II
Flavius Julius Constantius
9 September 337 – 3 November 361
(24 years, 1 month and 25 days)
Son of Constantine I 7 August 317 – 3 November 361
(aged 44)
Ruled the east initially, then the whole empire after the death of Magnentius. Died of a fever[131]
coin
Magnentius (#)
Magnus Magnentius
18 January 350 – 10 August 353
(3 years, 6 months and 23 days)
Proclaimed emperor by the troops, in opposition to Constans I c. 303 – 10 August 353
(aged approx. 50)
Committed suicide after losing the Battle of Mons Seleucus[132]
coin
Nepotianus (#)
Julius Nepotianus
3 June – 30 June 350
(27 days)
Son of Eutropia, a daughter of Constantius I. Proclaimed emperor in Rome in opposition to Magnentius Unknown – 30 June 350
Captured and executed by supporters of Magnentius[133]
coin
Vetranio[o] (#) 1 March – 25 December 350
(9 months and 24 days)
General of Constans in Illyricum, acclaimed by the Illyrian legions at the expense of Magnentius Unknown – c. 356
Abdicated in Constantius II's favor, retired, and died 6 years later[135]
coin
Julian "the Apostate"
Flavius Claudius Julianus
3 November 361 – 26 June 363
(1 year, 7 months and 24 days)
Acclaimed by the Gallic army in early 360, became sole emperor after the death of his cousin, Constantius II 331 – 26 June 363
(aged 32)
Last non-Christian emperor. Mortally wounded during a campaign against Persia[136]
coin
Jovian
Jovianus[p]
27 June 363 – 17 February 364
(7 months and 21 days)
Commander of imperial household guard; proclaimed emperor by the army after Julian's death 330/331 – 17 February 364
(aged 33)
Possibly died of inhaling toxic fumes or indigestion[138]

Valentinianic dynasty (364–392)

Main article: Valentinianic dynasty

  (#) – Ambiguous legitimacy[j]
Valentinianic dynasty
Portrait  Name[q] Reign Succession Life details
coin
Valentinian I "the Great"
Valentinianus
25/26 February 364 – 17 November 375
(11 years, 8 months and 23 days)
General; proclaimed emperor by the army after Jovian's death 321 – 17 November 375
(aged 54)
Died of a stroke while yelling at envoys[140]
coin
Valens 28 March 364 – 9 August 378
(14 years, 4 months and 12 days)
Brother of Valentinian I, made eastern emperor by his brother (Valentinian retaining the west) c. 328 – 9 August 378
(aged nearly 50)
Killed at the Battle of Adrianople[141]
coin
Procopius (#) 28 September 365 – 27 May 366
(7 months and 29 days)
Maternal cousin and intended heir of Julian; revolted against Valens and captured Constantinople, where the people proclaimed him emperor 326 – 27/28 May 366
(aged 40)
Deposed, captured and executed by Valens[142]
coin
Gratian
Gratianus
17 November 375 – 25 August 383
(7 years, 9 months and 8 days)
Son of Valentinian I; proclaimed western co-emperor on 24 August 367, at age 8. Emperor in his own right after Valentinian's death 18 April 359 – 25 August 383
(aged 24)
Killed by Andragathius, an officer of Magnus Maximus[143]
coin
Magnus Maximus (#) Spring 383 – 28 August 388
(5 years)
with Victor (383/387–388)
[r]
General, related to Theodosius I; proclaimed emperor by the troops in Britain. Briefly recognized by Theodosius I and Valentinian II Unknown – 28 August 388
Defeated by Theodosius I at the Battle of Save, executed after surrendering[144]
statue
Valentinian II
Valentinianus
28 August 388 – 15 March 392
(3 years, 6 months and 16 days)
Son of Valentinian I, proclaimed co-emperor on 22 November 375, at age 4. Sole western ruler after the defeat of Magnus Maximus in 388 371 – 15 March 392
(aged 20)
Dominated by regents and co-emperors his entire reign. Probably suicide, possibly killed by Arbogast[145]
coin
Eugenius (#) 22 August 392 – 6 September 394
(2 years and 15 days)
Teacher of Latin grammar and rhetoric, secretary of Valentinian II. Proclaimed emperor by Arbogast Unknown – 6 September 394
Defeated by Theodosius I at the Battle of the Frigidus and executed[146]

Theodosian dynasty (379–457)

Main article: Theodosian dynasty

  (#) – Ambiguous legitimacy[j]
Theodosian dynasty
Portrait Name Reign Succession Life details
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Theodosius I
"the Great"
19 January 379 – 17 January 395
(15 years, 11 months and 29 days)
Retired general; proclaimed eastern emperor by Gratian. Ruler of the entire empire after Valentinian II's death 11 January 346/347 – 17 January 395
(aged 48/49)
Last emperor to rule over the two halves of the Empire. Died of natural causes[147]
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Arcadius 17 January 395 – 1 May 408
(13 years, 3 months and 14 days)
Son of Theodosius I; co-emperor since 16 January 383. Emperor in the east 377 – 1 May 408
(aged 31)
Died of natural causes[148]
carved portrait
Honorius 17 January 395 – 15 August 423
(28 years, 6 months and 29 days)
Son of Theodosius I; co-emperor since 23 January 393. Emperor in the west 9 September 384 – 15 August 423
(aged 38)
Reigned under several successive regencies. Died of edema[149]
coin
Constantine III (#)
Claudius Constantinus
407 – 411
(4 years)
with Constans (409–411)
[r]
Common soldier, proclaimed emperor by the troops in Britain. Recognized by Honorius in 409. Emperor in the west Unknown – 411 (before 18 September)
Surrendered to Constantius, a general of Honorius, and abdicated. Sent to Italy but murdered on the way[150]
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Theodosius II 1 May 408 – 28 July 450
(42 years, 2 months and 27 days)
Son of Arcadius; co-emperor since 10 January 402. Emperor in the east 10 April 401 – 28 July 450
(aged 49)
Died of a fall from his horse[151]
coin
Priscus Attalus (#) Late 409 – summer 410
(less than a year)
A leading member of the Senate, proclaimed emperor by Alaric after the Sack of Rome. Emperor in the west Unknown lifespan
Deposed by Alaric after reconciling with Honorius. Tried to claim the throne again 414–415 but was defeated and forced into exile; fate unknown[152]
coin
Constantius III 8 February – 2 September 421
(6 months and 25 days)
Prominent general under Honorius and husband of Galla Placidia, a daughter of Theodosius I. Made co-emperor by Honorius. Emperor in the west Unknown – 2 September 421
De facto ruler since 411; died of illness[153]
coin
Johannes (#) 20 November 423 – c. May 425
(c. 1 year and a half)
Senior civil servant, seized power in Rome and the west after Theodosius II delayed in nominating a successor of Honorius Unknown – c. May 425
Captured by the forces of Theodosius II, brought to Constantinople and executed[154]
coin
Valentinian III
Placidius Valentinianus
23 October 425 – 16 March 455
(29 years, 4 months and 21 days)
Son of Constantius III and grandson of Theodosius I, installed as emperor of the west by Theodosius II 2 July 419 – 16 March 455
(aged 35)
Murdered by Optelas and Thraustelas, retainers of Aetius[155]
coin
Marcian
Marcianus
25 August 450 – 27 January 457
(6 years, 5 months and 2 days)
Soldier and official, proclaimed emperor after marrying Pulcheria, a daughter of Arcadius. Emperor in the east 391/392 – 27 January 457
(aged 65)
Died after a prolonged period of illness[156]

Puppet emperors (west, 455–476)

See also: Fall of the Western Roman Empire

Puppet emperors
Portrait Name Reign Succession Life details
coin
Petronius Maximus 17 March – 31 May 455
(2 months and 14 days)
General and civil official, murdered Valentinian III and married his widow, Licinia Eudoxia Unknown – 31 May 455
Killed by a mob while fleeing during the Vandalic sack of Rome[157]
coin
Avitus
Eparchius Avitus
9 July 455 – 17 October 456
(1 year, 3 months and 8 days)
General; proclaimed emperor by the Visigoths and Gallo-Romans after the death of Petronius Maximus Unknown – 456/457
Defeated and deposed by the magister militum Ricimer, consecrated as a bishop. Died soon thereafter of either natural causes, strangulation, or being starved to death[158]
coin
Majorian
Julius Valerius Maiorianus
28 December 457 – 2 August 461
(3 years, 7 months and 5 days)
General; proclaimed emperor by the army and backed by Ricimer Unknown – 7 August 461
Deposed by Ricimer and executed five days later[159]
coin
Severus III
Libius Severus
19 November 461 – 14 November 465
(3 years, 11 months and 26 days)
Proclaimed emperor by Ricimer Unknown – 14 November 465
Died of natural causes[160]
coin
Anthemius
Procopius Anthemius
12 April 467 – 11 July 472
(5 years, 2 months and 29 days)
General; husband of Marcia Euphemia, a daughter of Marcian. Proclaimed western emperor by the eastern emperor Leo I Unknown – 11 July 472
Murdered by Gundobad after a civil war with Ricimer[161]
coin
Olybrius
Anicius Olybrius
c. April – 2 November 472
(c. 7 months)
Husband of Placidia, a daughter of Valentinian III. Proclaimed emperor by Ricimer Unknown – 2 November 472
Died of dropsy[162]
coin
Glycerius 3/5 March 473 – 24 June 474
(1 year, 3 months and 11/19 days)
General; proclaimed emperor by Gundobad Unknown lifespan
Deposed by Julius Nepos and made a bishop, subsequent fate unknown[163]
coin
Julius Nepos 24 June 474 – 28 August 475
(1 year, 2 months and 4 days)
General; married to a relative of Verina, the wife of the eastern emperor Leo I. Installed as western emperor by Leo Unknown – 9 May 480
Fled to Dalmatia in the face of an attack by his magister militum Orestes. Continued to claim to be emperor in exile. Murdered by his retainers[164]
coin
Romulus "Augustulus"
Romulus Augustus
31 October 475 – 4 September 476
(10 months and 4 days)
Proclaimed emperor by his father, the magister militum Orestes Roughly 465 – after 507/511?
The last western emperor. Deposed by the Germanic general Odoacer and retired. Possibly alive as late as 507 or 511; fate unknown[165]

Leonid dynasty (east, 457–518)

Main articles: Leonid dynasty and Byzantine Empire under the Leonid dynasty

Leonid dynasty
Portrait Name Reign Succession Life details
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Leo I "the Butcher" 7 February 457 – 18 January 474
(16 years, 11 months and 11 days)
Low-ranking army officer; chosen by the magister militum Aspar to succeed Marcian 400 – 18 January 474
(aged 73)
First emperor to be crowned by the Patriarch of Constantinople. Died of dysentery[166]
coin
Leo II 18 January – November 474
(11 months)
Grandson of Leo I and son of Zeno; co-emperor since 17 November 473 467 – November 474
(aged 7)
Died of illness[167]
coin
Zeno 29 January 474 – 9 April 491
(17 years, 2 months and 11 days)
Husband of Ariadne, a daughter of Leo I, and father of Leo II. Crowned senior co-emperor with the approval of the Senate 425/430 – 9 April 491
(aged 60/65)
Died of dysentery or epilepsy[168]
coin
Basiliscus 9 January 475 – August 476
(1 year and 7 months)
with Marcus (475–476)
[r]
Brother of Verina, the wife of Leo I. Proclaimed emperor by his sister in opposition to Zeno and seized Constantinople Unknown – 476/477
Deposed by Zeno upon his return to Constantinople; imprisoned in a dried-up resorvoir and starved to death[169]
coin
Anastasius I "Dicorus" 11 April 491 – 9 July 518
(27 years, 2 months and 28 days)
Government official; chosen by Ariadne, whom he married, to succeed Zeno 429/430 – 9 July 518
(aged 88)
Oldest emperor at the time of his death. Died of natural causes[170]

Justinian dynasty (east, 518–602)

Main article: Byzantine Empire under the Justinian dynasty

Justinian dynasty
Portrait Name Reign Succession Life details
coin
Justin I
Iustinus
9/10 July 518 – 1 August 527
(9 years and 23 days)
Soldier; proclaimed emperor by the troops after the death of Anastasius I 450 – 1 August 527
(aged 77)
Died of natural causes[171]
mosaic
Justinian I "the Great"
Petrus Sabbatius Iustinianus
1 April 527 – 14 November 565
(38 years, 7 months and 13 days)
Nephew and adoptive son of Justin I 481/482 – 14 November 565
(aged 83)
Temporarily reconquered most of the Western Roman Empire, including Rome. Died of natural causes[172]
coin
Justin II
Iustinus
14 November 565 – 5 October 578
(12 years, 10 months and 21 days)
Son of Vigilantia, sister of Justinian I Unknown – 5 October 578
Suffered an attack of dementia in 572, whereafter the government was run by regents. Died of natural causes[173]
coin
Tiberius II Constantine
Tiberius Constantinus
26 September 578 – 14 August 582
(3 years, 10 months and 19 days)
Adoptive son of Justin II Mid-6th century – 14 August 582
Died after a sudden illness, supposedly after accidentally eating bad food[174]
coin
Maurice
Mauricius Tiberius
13 August 582 – 27 November 602
(20 years, 3 months and 14 days)
with Theodosius (590–602)
[r]
Husband of Constantina, a daughter of Tiberius II Constantine 539 – 27 November 602
(aged 63)
Captured and executed by troops loyal to Phocas[175]
coin
Phocas
Focas
23 November 602 – 5 October 610
(7 years, 10 months and 12 days)
Centurion in the army; proclaimed emperor by the troops against Maurice 547 – 5 October 610
(aged 63)
Deposed and then beheaded on the orders of Heraclius[176]

Later eastern emperors (610–1453)

Heraclian dynasty (610–695)

Main article: Byzantine Empire under the Heraclian dynasty

Heraclian dynasty
Portrait Name Reign Succession Life details
coin
Heraclius
   Ἡράκλειος
[s]
5 October 610 – 11 February 641
(30 years, 4 months and 6 days)
Son of Heraclius the Elder, the exarch of Carthage. Led a revolt against Phocas 574/575 – 11 February 641
(aged 66)
Ended the Persian Wars, but suffered the loss of Africa and the Levant to the Muslims. Died of natural causes[179]
coin
Constantine III Heraclius
Heraclius Constantinus
  Ἡράκλειος Κωνσταντῖνος[t]
11 February – 25 May 641
(3 months and 14 days)
Son of Heraclius; co-emperor since 22 January 613 3 May 612 – 25 May 641
(aged 29)
Died of tuberculosis[182]
coin
Heraclonas
Heraclius, Ἡράκλειος
11 February – 5 November (?) 641
(8 months and 25 days)
with Tiberius, son of Heraclius (641)
[r]
Son of Heraclius; co-emperor since 4 July 638. Co-ruler with Constantine and then sole emperor under the regency of his mother Martina 626 – unknown
Deposed, mutilated and exiled, subsequent fate unknown[183]
coin
Constans II "the Bearded"
Constantinus, Κωνσταντῖνος
September 641 – 15 July 668
(26 years and 10 months)
Son of Heraclius Constantine; proclaimed co-emperor by Heraclonas at age 11 7 November 630 – 15 July 668
(aged 37)
Murdered in Sicily while bathing by supporters of the usurper Mezezius[184]
mosaic
Constantine IV
Constantinus, Κωνσταντῖνος
September 668 – 10 July (?) 685
(16 years and 10 months)
with Heraclius and Tiberius, sons of Constans II (659–681)
[r]
Son of Constans II; co-emperor since 13 April 654 c. 650 – 10 July (?) 685
(aged approx. 35)
Died of dysentery[185]
mosaic
Justinian II "Rhinotmetus"
Iustinianus, Ἰουστινιανός
July 685 – 695
(10 years)
Son of Constantine IV 668/669 – 4 November 711
(aged 42)
Deposed and mutilated (hence his nickname, "Slit-nosed") by Leontius in 695; returned to the throne in 705[186]

Twenty Years' Anarchy (695–717)

Main article: Twenty Years' Anarchy

Twenty Years' Anarchy
Portrait Name Reign Succession Life details
coin
Leontius
Λέων(τιος)
695 – 698
(3 years)
General; deposed Justinian II Unknown – 15 February (?) 706
Deposed by Tiberius III in 698 and later executed by Justinian II in 706[187]
coin
Tiberius III Apsimar
Τιβέριος
698 – 705
(7 years)
General; proclaimed emperor by the troops against Leontius Unknown – 15 February (?) 706
Deposed and later executed by Justinian II alongside Leontius[188]
coin
Justinian II "Rhinotmetus"
Iustinianus, Ἰουστινιανός
(second reign)
21 August (?) 705 – 4 November 711
(6 years, 2 months and 14 days)
with Tiberius, son of Justinian II (706–711)
[r]
Retook the throne with the aid of the Khazars 668/669 – 4 November 711
(aged 42)
Killed by supporters of Philippicus after fleeing Constantinople[189]
coin
Philippicus Bardanes
Filepicus, Φιλιππικός
4 November 711 – 3 June 713
(1 year, 6 months and 30 days)
General; proclaimed emperor by the troops against Justinian II Unknown – 20 January 714/715
Deposed and blinded in favor of Anastasius II, later died of natural causes[190]
coin
Anastasius II
Artemius Anastasius
Ἀρτέμιος Ἀναστάσιος
4 June 713 – fall 715
(less than 2 years)
Senior court official, proclaimed emperor after the deposition of Philippicus Unknown – 1 June 719
Abdicated to Theodosius III after a six-month civil war, becoming a monk. Beheaded by Leo III after an attempt to retake the throne[191]
coin
Theodosius III
Θεοδόσιος
Fall 715 – 25 March 717
(less than 2 years)
Tax-collector, possibly son of Tiberius III; proclaimed emperor by the troops against Anastasius II Unknown lifespan
Deposed by Leo III, whereafter he became a monk. His subsequent fate is unknown.[192]

Isaurian dynasty (717–802)

Main article: Byzantine Empire under the Isaurian dynasty

  (#) – Ambiguous legitimacy[j]
Isaurian dynasty
Portrait Name Reign Succession Life details
coin
Leo III "the Isaurian"
Λέων[u]
25 March 717 – 18 June 741
(24 years, 2 months and 24 days)
General; deposed Theodosius III c. 685 – 18 June 741
(aged approx. 56)
Ended Muslim expansion in Anatolia. Died of dropsy[193]
coin
Constantine V "Copronymus"
Κωνσταντῖνος
18 June 741 – 14 September 775
(34 years, 2 months and 27 days)
Son of Leo III; co-emperor since 31 March 720 718 – 14 September 775
(aged 57)
Last emperor to rule over Rome. Died of a fever[194]
coin
Artabasdos (#)
Ἀρτάβασδος
June 741/2 – 2 November 743
(1/2 years and 5 months)
with Nikephoros, son of Artabasdos (741/2–743)
Husband of Anna, a daughter of Leo III. Revolted against Constantine V and briefly ruled at Constantinople Unknown lifespan
Deposed and blinded by Constantine V, relegated to a monastery where he died of natural causes[195]
coin
Leo IV "the Khazar"
Λέων
14 September 775 – 8 September 780
(4 years, 11 months and 25 days)
Son of Constantine V; co-emperor since 6 June 751 25 January 750 – 8 September 780
(aged 30)
Died of a fever[196]
coin
Constantine VI
Κωνσταντῖνος
8 September 780 – 19 August 797
(16 years, 11 months and 11 days)
Son of Leo IV; co-emperor since 14 April 776 14 January 771 – before 805
(aged less than 34)
Last emperor to be recognized in the West. Deposed and blinded by Irene, died in exile[197]
coin
Irene
Εἰρήνη
19 August 797 – 31 October 802
(5 years, 2 months and 12 days)
Widow of Leo IV and former regent of Constantine VI. Dethroned and blinded her son Constantine in 797, becoming the first female ruler of the empire c. 752 – 9 August 803
(aged approx. 51)
Deposed by Nikephoros I and exiled to Lesbos, where she died of natural causes[198]

Nikephorian dynasty (802–813)

Main article: Byzantine Empire under the Nikephorian dynasty

Nikephorian dynasty
Portrait Name Reign Succession Life details
miniature portrait
Nikephoros I
"the Logothete"
Νικηφόρος
31 October 802 – 26 July 811
(8 years, 8 months and 26 days)
Court official; proclaimed emperor in opposition to Irene c. 760 – 26 July 811
(aged approx. 51)
Killed at the Battle of Pliska[199]
coin
Staurakios
Σταυράκιος
28 July – 2 October 811
(2 months and 4 days)
Son of Nikephoros I; co-emperor since December 803. Proclaimed emperor after the death of his father 790s – 11 January 812
(in his late teens)
Wounded at the Battle of Pliska; abdicated in favor of Michael I and became a monk[200]
miniature portrait
Michael I Rangabe
Μιχαὴλ
2 October 811 – 11 July 813
(1 year, 9 months and 9 days)
with Theophylact and Staurakios, sons of Michael I (811–813)
[r]
Husband of Prokopia, a daughter of Nikephoros I c. 770 – 11 January 844
(aged approx. 74)
Abdicated in 813 in favor of Leo V after suffering a defeat at the Battle of Versinikia and retired as a monk[201]
miniature portrait
Leo V "the Armenian"
Λέων
11 July 813 – 25 December 820
(7 years, 5 months and 14 days)
with Constantine (813–820)
[r]
General; proclaimed emperor after the Battle of Versinikia c. 775 – 25 December 820
(aged approx. 45)
Murdered while in church by supporters of Michael II[202]

Amorian dynasty (820–867)

Main article: Byzantine Empire under the Amorian dynasty

  (§) – Varying ascribed status[v]
Amorian dynasty
Portrait Name Reign Succession Life details
miniature portrait
Michael II "the Amorian"
Μιχαὴλ
25 December 820 – 2 October 829
(8 years, 9 months and 7 days)
General sentenced to execution by Leo V; proclaimed emperor by Leo V's assassins and crowned by Patriarch Theodotus I on the same day c. 770 – 2 October 829
(aged approx. 59)
Died of kidney failure[204]
miniature portrait
Theophilos
Θεόφιλος
2 October 829 – 20 January 842
(12 years, 3 months and 18 days)
with Constantine (c. 834–835)
[r]
Son of Michael II; co-emperor since 12 May 821 812/813 – 20 January 842
(aged 30)
Died of dysentery[205]
miniature portrait
Theodora (§)
Θεοδώρα
20 January 842 – 15 March 856
(14 years, 1 month and 24 days)
with Thekla (842–856)
[r]
Widow of Theophilos; ruler in her own right during the minority of their son Michael III c. 815 – c. 867
(aged approx. 52)
Deposed by Michael III in 856, later died of natural causes[206]
miniature portrait
Michael III "the Drunkard"
Μιχαὴλ
20 January 842 – 24 September 867
(25 years, 8 months and 4 days)
Son of Theophilos; co-emperor since 16 May 840. Ruled under his mother's regency until 15 March 856 19 January 840 – 24 September 867
(aged 27)
The youngest emperor. Murdered by Basil I and his supporters[207]

Macedonian dynasty (867–1056)

Main articles: Macedonian dynasty, Lekapenos, and Byzantine Empire under the Macedonian dynasty

Macedonian dynasty
Portrait Name Reign Succession Life details
miniature portrait
Basil I "the Macedonian"
Βασίλειος
24 September 867 – 29 August 886
(18 years, 9 months and 5 days)
with Constantine (868–879)
[r]
General; proclaimed co-emperor by Michael III on 26 May 866 and became senior emperor after Michael's murder 811, 830 or 836 – 29 August 886
(aged approx. 50, 56 or 75)
Died after a hunting accident[208]
mosaic
Leo VI "the Wise"
Λέων
29 August 886 – 11 May 912
(25 years, 8 months and 12 days)
Son of Basil I or illegitimate son of Michael III; crowned co-emperor on 6 January 870 19 September 866 – 11 May 912
(aged 45)
Died of an intestinal disease[209]
mosaic
Alexander
Αλέξανδρος
11 May 912 – 6 June 913
(1 year and 26 days)
Son of Basil I; co-emperor since September or October 879 23 November 870 – 6 June 913
(aged 42)
Died of illness, possibly testicular cancer[210]
carved portrait
Constantine VII
Porphyrogenitus

Κωνσταντῖνος
6 June 913 – 9 November 959
(46 years, 5 months and 3 days)
Son of Leo VI; co-emperor since 15 May 908. Successively dominated by regents and co-emperors until 27 January 945, when he deposed Romanos I's sons 17/18 May 905 – 9 November 959
(aged 54)
Remembered for his numerous writings. Died of natural causes[211]
miniature portrait
Romanos I Lekapenos
Ῥωμανὸς
17 December 920 – 20 December 944
(24 years and 3 days)
with Christopher (921–931), Stephen and Constantine Lekapenos (924–945)
[r]
Overthrew Constantine VII's regency, married him to his daughter Helena and was made senior co-emperor. Made several sons co-emperors to curb Constantine VII's authority c. 870 – 15 June 948
(aged approx. 78)
Deposed by his sons Stephen and Constantine. Died of natural causes in exile as a monk[212]
carved portrait
Romanos II
Ῥωμανὸς
9 November 959 – 15 March 963
(3 years, 4 months and 6 days)
Son of Constantine VII and grandson of Romanos I; co-emperor since 6 April 945 939 – 15 March 963
(aged 23)
Died of exhaustion on a hunting trip[213]
miniature portrait
Nikephoros II Phokas
Νικηφόρος
16 August 963 – 11 December 969
(6 years, 3 months and 25 days)
General; proclaimed emperor on 2 July 963 against the unpopular Joseph Bringas (regent for the young sons of Romanos II), entered Constantinople on 16 August 963. Married Theophano, the widow of Romanos II c. 912 – 11 December 969
(aged approx. 57)
Murdered in a conspiracy involving his former supporters (including John I Tzimiskes) and Theophano[214]
miniature portrait
John I Tzimiskes
Ἰωάννης
11 December 969 – 10 January 976
(6 years and 30 days)
Nephew of Nikephoros II, took his place as senior co-emperor c. 925 – 10 January 976
(aged approx. 50)
Possibly poisoned by Basil Lekapenos[215]
miniature portrait
Basil II "the Bulgar-Slayer"
Βασίλειος
10 January 976 – 15 December 1025
(49 years, 11 months and 5 days)
Son of Romanos II; co-emperor since 22 April 960. Succeeded as senior emperor upon the death of John I 958 – 15 December 1025
(aged 67)
The longest-reigning emperor; best known for his reconquest of Bulgaria. Died of natural causes[216]
miniature portrait
Constantine VIII
Κωνσταντῖνος
15 December 1025 – 12 November 1028
(2 years, 10 months and 28 days)
Son of Romanos II and brother of Basil II; co-emperor since 30 March 962 960/961 – 12 November 1028
(aged 68)
Died of natural causes[217]
miniature portrait
Romanos III Argyros
Ῥωμανὸς
12 November 1028 – 11 April 1034
(5 years, 4 months and 30 days)
Husband of Zoë, a daughter of Constantine VIII c. 968 – 11 April 1034
(aged approx. 66)
Possibly drowned on Zoë's orders[218]
miniature portrait
Michael IV "the Paphlagonian"
Μιχαὴλ
12 April 1034 – 10 December 1041
(7 years, 7 months and 28 days)
Lover of Zoë, made emperor after their marriage following Romanos III's death c. 1010 – 10 December 1041
(aged approx. 31)
Died of epilepsy[219]
miniature portrait
Michael V "Kalaphates"
Μιχαὴλ
13 December 1041 – 21 April 1042
(4 months and 8 days)
Nephew and designated heir of Michael IV, proclaimed emperor by Zoë three days after Michael IV's death c. 1015 – unknown
Deposed in a popular uprising after attempting to sideline Zoë, blinded and forced to become a monk[220]
mosaic
Zoë Porphyrogenita
Ζωή
21 April – 12 June 1042
(1 month and 22 days)
Daughter of Constantine VIII and widow of Romanos III and Michael IV. Ruled in her own right from Michael V's deposition until her marriage to Constantine IX. c. 978 – 1050
(aged approx. 72)
Died of natural causes[221]
Portrait from the Monomachos crown
Theodora Porphyrogenita
Θεοδώρα
21 April – 12 June 1042
(1 month and 22 days)
Daughter of Constantine VIII and sister of Zoë, proclaimed co-empress during the revolt that deposed Michael V c. 980 – 31 August 1056
(aged approx. 76)
Sidelined after Zoë's marriage to Constantine IX, returned to the throne in 1055[222]
mosaic
Constantine IX Monomachos
Κωνσταντῖνος Μονομάχος[w]
12 June 1042 – 11 January 1055
(12 years, 6 months and 30 days)
Husband of Zoë, made emperor the day after their marriage c. 1006 – 11 January 1055
(aged approx. 49)
Died of natural causes[224]
Portrait from the Monomachos crown
Theodora Porphyrogenita
Θεοδώρα
(second reign)
11 January 1055 – 31 August 1056
(1 year, 7 months and 20 days)
Claimed the throne again after Constantine IX's death as the last living member of the Macedonian dynasty c. 980 – 31 August 1056
(aged approx. 76)
Died of natural causes[222]
coin
Michael VI Bringas "Stratiotikos"
Μιχαήλ[w]
22 August 1056 – 30 August 1057
(1 year and 8 days)
Proclaimed emperor by Theodora on her deathbed 980s/990s – c. 1057
(in his sixties)
Deposed in a revolt, retired to a monastery and died soon afterwards[225]
coin
Isaac I Komnenos
Ἰσαάκιος Κομνηνός
1 September 1057 – 22 November 1059
(2 years, 2 months and 21 days)
General, revolted against Michael VI c. 1007 – 31 May/1 June 1060
(aged approx. 53)
Abdicated to Constantine X due to illness and hostile courtiers, became a monk[226]

Doukas dynasty (1059–1078)

Main articles: Doukas and Byzantine Empire under the Doukas dynasty

  (§) – Varying ascribed status[v]
Doukas dynasty
Portrait Name Reign Succession Life details
miniature portrait
Constantine X Doukas
Κωνσταντῖνος Δούκας
23 November 1059 – 23 May 1067
(7 years and 6 months)
Designated as emperor by Isaac I Komnenos during his abdication c. 1006 – 23 May 1067
(aged approx. 61)
Died of natural causes[227]
miniature portrait
Eudokia Makrembolitissa
Εὐδοκία Μακρεμβολίτισσα (§)
23 May – 31 December 1067
(7 months and 8 days)
Widow of Constantine X; ruler in her own right on behalf of their sons until her marriage to Romanos IV. Briefly resumed her regency in 1071 c. 1030 – after 1078
Became a nun in November 1071 and later died of natural causes[228]
coin
Romanos IV Diogenes
Ῥωμανὸς Διογένης
1 January 1068 – 1 October 1071
(3 years and 9 months)
with Leo (1069–1071) and Nikephoros Diogenes (1070–1071)
[r][x]
Husband of Eudokia. Regent and senior co-emperor together with Constantine X's and Eudokia's children c. 1032 – 4 August 1072
(aged approx. 40)
Deposed in a palace coup while imprisoned by the Seljuk Sultanate. After his release captured and blinded on 29 June 1072, later dying of his wounds[230]
portrait from the Holy Crown of Hungary
Michael VII Doukas "Parapinakes"
Μιχαὴλ Δούκας
23 May 1067 – 24/31 March 1078
(10 years, 10 months and 1/8 days)
with Konstantios (1060–1078), Andronikos (1068–1070s) and Constantine Doukas (1074–1078; 1st time)
[r]
Son of Constantine X; co-emperor with Eudokia and Romanos IV c. 1050 – c. 1090
(aged approx. 40)
Forced to become a monk after a popular uprising. Died of natural causes several years later[231]
miniature portrait
Nikephoros III Botaneiates
Νικηφόρος Βοτανειάτης
3 April 1078 – 1 April 1081
(2 years, 11 months and 29 days)
General; revolted against Michael VII on 2 July or 2 October 1077 and entered Constantinople on 27 March or 3 April. Married Maria of Alania, the former wife of Michael VII 1001/1002 – c. 1081
(aged approx. 80)
Abdicated after Alexios I captured Constantinople, became a monk and died of natural causes, probably later in the same year[232]

Komnenos dynasty (1081–1185)

Main articles: Komnenos and Byzantine Empire under the Komnenos dynasty

Komnenos dynasty
Portrait Name Reign Succession Life details
miniature portrait
Alexios I Komnenos
Ἀλέξιος Κομνηνός
1 April 1081 – 15 August 1118
(37 years, 4 months and 14 days)
with Constantine Doukas
(1081–1087; 2nd time)
[r]
Nephew of Isaac I, also husband of Irene Doukaina, a grand-niece of Constantine X. General; revolted against Nikephoros III on 14 February 1081. Seized Constantinople on 1 April; crowned on 4 April c. 1057 – 15 August 1118
(aged approx. 61)
Died of natural causes[233]
mosaic
John II Komnenos
"the Good"
Ἰωάννης Κομνηνός
15 August 1118 – 8 April 1143
(24 years, 7 months and 24 days)
with Alexios Komnenos, son of John II
(1119–1142)
[r]
Son of Alexios I, co-emperor since about September 1092 13 September 1087 – 8 April 1143
(aged 55)
Died of injuries sustained in a hunting accident, possibly assassinated (perhaps involving Raymond of Poitiers or supporters of Manuel I)[234]
miniature portrait
Manuel I Komnenos
"the Great"
Μανουὴλ Κομνηνός
8 April 1143 – 24 September 1180
(37 years, 5 months and 16 days)
Youngest son and allegedly designated heir of John II on his deathbed, crowned in November 1143 after a few months of having to establish his rights 28 November 1118 – 24 September 1180
(aged 61)
Last emperor to attempt reconquests in the west. Died of natural causes[235]
miniature portrait
Alexios II Komnenos
Ἀλέξιος Κομνηνός
24 September 1180 – c. September 1183
(3 years)
Son of Manuel I; co-emperor since 1171 14 September 1169 – c. September 1183
(aged 14)
Strangled on the orders of Andronikos I, body thrown in the sea[236]
miniature portrait
Andronikos I Komnenos "Misophaes"
Ἀνδρόνικος Κομνηνός
c. September 1183 – 12 September 1185
(2 years)
with John Komnenos, son of Andronikos I
(1183–1185)
[r]
Son of Isaac Komnenos, a son of Alexios I. Overthrew the regency of Alexios II in April 1182, crowned co-emperor in 1183 and shortly thereafter had Alexios II murdered c. 1118/1120 – 12 September 1185
(aged 64–67)
Overthrown by Isaac II, tortured and mutilated in the imperial palace, then slowly dismembered alive by a mob in the Hippodrome[237]

Angelos dynasty (1185–1204)

Main articles: Angelos and Byzantine Empire under the Angelos dynasty

Angelos dynasty
Portrait Name Reign Succession Life details
miniature portrait
Isaac II Angelos
Ἰσαάκιος Κομνηνός Ἄγγελος
12 September 1185 – 8 April 1195
(9 years, 6 months and 27 days)
Great-grandson of Alexios I. Resisted an order of arrest issued by Andronikos I, after which he was proclaimed emperor by the people of Constantinople. Captured and killed Andronikos I c. 1156 – 28/29 January 1204
(aged 47)
Overthrown and blinded by Alexios III in 1195, reinstalled in 1203[238]
miniature portrait
Alexios III Angelos
  Ἀλέξιος Κομνηνός[y]
8 April 1195 – 17/18 July 1203
(8 years, 3 months and 10 days)
Elder brother of Isaac II, overthrew and blinded his brother c. 1156 – 1211/1212
(aged approx. 58)
Fled after brief resistance against the Fourth Crusade. Died a natural death after being captured and forced to become a monk by Theodore I[240]
miniature portrait
Isaac II Angelos
Ἰσαάκιος Κομνηνός Ἄγγελος
(second reign)
19 July 1203 – 27 January 1204
(6 months and 8 days)
Freed from imprisonment during the Fourth Crusade by courtiers and reinstated as ruler after Alexios III abandoned the defense of Constantinople c. 1156 – 28/29 January 1204
(aged 47)
Became senile or demented and died of natural causes[238]
miniature portrait
Alexios IV Angelos
Ἀλέξιος Ἄγγελος
19 July 1203 – 27 January 1204
(6 months and 8 days)
Son of Isaac II, made co-emperor after the populace of Constantinople were convinced by the crusaders to accept him alongside his father c. 1182/1183 – c. 8 February 1204
(aged approx. 21)
Deposed and imprisoned by Alexios V, then strangled in prison[241]
miniature portrait
Alexios V Doukas "Mourtzouphlos"
Ἀλέξιος Δούκας
27/28 January – 12 April 1204
(2 months and 16 days)
Seized power through a palace coup c. 1139 – c. late November 1204
(aged approx. 65)
Captured by crusader Thierry de Loos, tried by the Latin Empire and thrown from the Column of Theodosius[242]

Laskaris dynasty (1205–1261)

Main articles: Laskaris and Empire of Nicaea

Note: Roman rule in Constantinople was interrupted with the capture of the city by the Fourth Crusade in 1204. Though the crusaders created a new line of Latin emperors in the city, modern historians recognize the line of emperors of the Laskaris dynasty, reigning in Nicaea, as the legitimate Roman emperors during this period as the Nicene Empire eventually retook Constantinople.[25] For other lines of claimant emperors, see List of Trapezuntine emperors and List of Thessalonian emperors.
Laskaris dynasty
Portrait Name Reign Succession Life details
miniature portrait
Theodore I Laskaris
Θεόδωρος Κομνηνὸς Λάσκαρις
c. August 1205 – November 1221
(16 years and 3 months)
with Nicholas Laskaris (1208–1210)
[r]
Husband of Anna Komnene Angelina, a daughter of Alexios III. Organized resistance against the Latin Empire in Nicaea and proclaimed emperor in 1205 after the Battle of Adrianople; crowned by Patriarch Michael IV on 6 April 1208. c. 1174 – November 1221
(aged approx. 47)
Died of natural causes[243]
miniature portrait
John III Doukas Vatatzes
Ἰωάννης Δούκας Βατάτζης
c. December 1221 – 3 November 1254
(32 years and 11 months)
Husband of Irene Laskarina, a daughter of Theodore I c. 1192 – 3 November 1254
(aged approx. 62)
Started Nicaean expansionism. Died of natural causes[244]
miniature portrait
Theodore II Laskaris
Θεόδωρος Δούκας Λάσκαρις
3 November 1254 – 16 August 1258
(3 years, 9 months and 13 days)
Son of John III and grandson of Theodore I November 1221 – 16 August 1258
(aged 36)
Died of epilepsy[245]
miniature portrait
John IV Laskaris
Ἰωάννης Δούκας Λάσκαρις
16 August 1258 – 25 December 1261
(3 years, 4 months and 9 days)
Son of Theodore II 25 December 1250 – c. 1305
(aged approx. 55)
Blinded, deposed and imprisoned by Michael VIII Palaiologos in 1261, died in captivity several decades later[246]

Palaiologos dynasty (1259–1453)

Main articles: Palaiologos and Byzantine Empire under the Palaiologos dynasty

Palaiologos dynasty
Portrait Name Reign Succession Life details
miniature portrait
Michael VIII Palaiologos
Μιχαὴλ Δούκας Ἄγγελος Κομνηνὸς Παλαιολόγος
1 January 1259 – 11 December 1282
(23 years, 11 months and 10 days)
Great-grandson of Alexios III; became regent for John IV in 1258 and crowned co-emperor in 1259. Regained Constantinople on 25 July 1261, entered the city on 15 August. Became sole ruler after deposing John IV on 25 December 1224/1225 – 11 December 1282
(aged 57/58)
Died of dysentery[247]
miniature portrait
Andronikos II Palaiologos
Ἀνδρόνικος Δούκας Ἄγγελος Κομνηνὸς Παλαιολόγος
11 December 1282 – 24 May 1328
(45 years, 5 months and 13 days)
Son of Michael VIII; co-emperor since 8 November 1272 25 March 1259 – 13 February 1332
(aged 72)
Deposed by his grandson Andronikos III in 1328 and became a monk, dying of natural causes four years later[248]
miniature portrait
Michael IX Palaiologos
Μιχαὴλ Δούκας Ἄγγελος Κομνηνὸς Παλαιολόγος
21 May 1294 – 12 October 1320
(26 years, 4 months and 21 days)
Son and co-ruler of Andronikos II, named co-emperor in 1281 but not crowned until 21 May 1294 17 April 1277/1278 – 12 October 1320
(aged 42/43)
Allegedly died of grief due to the accidental murder of his second son[249]
miniature portrait
Andronikos III Palaiologos
Ἀνδρόνικος Δούκας Ἄγγελος Κομνηνός Παλαιολόγος
24 May 1328 – 15 June 1341
(13 years and 22 days)
Son of Michael IX, named co-emperor between 1308 and 1313. Fought with his grandfather Andronikos II for power from April 1321 onwards. Crowned emperor on 2 February 1325, became sole emperor after deposing Andronikos II 25 March 1297 – 15 June 1341
(aged 44)
Died of sudden illness, possibly malaria[250]
miniature portrait
John V Palaiologos
Ίωάννης Κομνηνός Παλαιολόγος
15 June 1341 – 16 February 1391
(49 years, 8 months and 1 day)
Son of Andronikos III, not formally crowned until 19 November 1341. Dominated by regents until 1354, faced numerous usurpations and civil wars throughout his long reign 18 June 1332 – 16 February 1391
(aged 58)
Reigned almost 50 years, but only held effective power for 17. Lost almost all territories outside Constantinople. Died of natural causes[251]
miniature portrait
John VI Kantakouzenos
Ἰωάννης Ἄγγελος Κομνηνὸς Παλαιολόγος Καντακουζηνός
8 February 1347 – 10 December 1354
(7 years, 10 months and 2 days)
with Matthew Kantakouzenos (1353–1357)
[r]
Related to the Palaiologoi through his mother. Proclaimed by the army on 26 October 1341, became regent and senior co-emperor after a lengthy civil war with John V's mother, Anna of Savoy. Entered Constantinople on 8 February, crowned on 21 May 1347 c. 1295 – 15 June 1383
(aged approx. 88)
Deposed by John V in another civil war and retired, becoming a monk. Died of natural causes several decades later[252]
miniature portrait
Andronikos IV Palaiologos
Ἀνδρόνικος Κομνηνός Παλαιολόγος
12 August 1376 – 1 July 1379
(2 years, 10 months and 19 days)
Son of John V and grandson of John VI; co-emperor since 1352. Rebelled and deposed his father in 1376, not formally crowned until 18 October 1377 11 April 1348 – 25/28 June 1385
(aged 37)
Deposed by John V in 1379 and fled to Galata in exile but restored as co-emperor and heir in 1381. Rebelled again in 1385 but died shortly thereafter[253]
miniature portrait
John VII Palaiologos
Ίωάννης Παλαιολόγος
14 April – 17 September 1390
(5 months and 3 days, in Constantinople)
1403 – 22 September 1408
(5 years, in Thessalonica)
with Andronikos V Palaiologos (1403–1407)
[r]
Son of Andronikos IV, usurped the throne from John V in 1390. Deposed shortly thereafter but granted Thessalonica by Manuel II in 1403, from where he once more ruled as emperor until his death 1370 – 22 September 1408
(aged 38)
Died of natural causes[254]
miniature portrait
Manuel II Palaiologos
Μανουὴλ Παλαιολόγος
16 February 1391 – 21 July 1425
(34 years, 4 months and 5 days)
Son of John V and grandson of John VI; co-emperor since 25 September 1373 27 June 1350 – 21 July 1425
(aged 74)
Suffered a stroke in 1422, whereafter the government was run by his son, John VIII. Died of natural causes[255]
miniature portrait
John VIII Palaiologos
Ίωάννης Παλαιολόγος
21 July 1425 – 31 October 1448
(23 years, 4 months and 10 days)
Son of Manuel II; co-emperor since before 1408 and full emperor since 19 January 1421 18 December 1392 – 31 October 1448
(aged 55)
Died of natural causes[256]
miniature portrait
Constantine XI Palaiologos
Κωνσταντῖνος Δραγάσης Παλαιολόγος
6 January 1449 – 29 May 1453
(4 years, 4 months and 23 days)
Son of Manuel II and favored successor of his brother John VIII. Crowned emperor in Mystras on 6 January 1449, entered Constantinople on 12 March. 8 February 1405 – 29 May 1453
(aged 48)
Died in battle at the fall of Constantinople.[257]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ The term basileus eventually replaced augustus as the official title of the emperor, although both were seen as equals already by the times of Constantine I.[14]
  2. ^ The Byzantine Empire is universally recognized as the remnant, continuation or later stage of the Roman Empire. There is no universally agreed date used to separate the ancient Roman and "Byzantine" empires, with proposed dates ranging in age from 284 to 716.[15] Some authors reject the term "Byzantine" entirely.[16]
  3. ^ Spain was lost in 625[18] and Africa in 698.[19] A large portion of Italy was conquered by the Lombards already under Justinian I's successor, Justin II.[20] Rome and its surroundings remained under imperial control until 756, when they became the Papal States,[21] though the last Italian holdouts were not lost until 1071 with the fall of Bari.[22] The seventh century also saw much of the empire's eastern and southern territories lost permanently to Arab Muslim conquests.[23]
  4. ^ There is no "official" count of Roman emperors given that different scholars sometimes include and omit different emperors (see Legitimacy). This list includes 171 emperors, 15 of whose legitimacy is disputed in scholarship (including the obscure figure of Silbannacus, whose existence and role are shrouded in mystery,[24] and the four emperors of Nicaea, who are often seen as the "legitimate" emperors during the interregnum of 1204–1261),[25] and 5 ruling empresses, 2 of which have variable ascribed status (these being Saint Theodora and Eudokia Makrembolitissa, who were rulers in their own right but are still absent in most lists of rulers[26] or just labeled as regents),[27] for a total of 176 monarchs. Also included are 33 junior co-emperors, 3 of whose legitimacy is debated, and 1 junior co-empress. All in all, this list thus includes a total of 210 occupants of the Roman imperial office.
  5. ^ This was one of the titles used for the emperors in Constantinople by Ottoman writers prior to 1453.[28]
  6. ^ Entries also include the regnal name of each emperor. These generally differed from their original birth name, often adopting elements from the previous emperor.[50] Augustus's full name would be "Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus" according to Roman naming conventions, but he styled himself as "Imperator Caesar Augustus", treating "Caesar" as a family name.[51] Given that "Imperator" was only a victory title, it will be omitted from the emperors' full nomenclature.
  7. ^ The conventional date for the Empire's founding is 27 BC,[1] when the Senate awarded Octavian the title and name Augustus alongside one of several grants of power.[2] Ancient writers, however, give him a rule of 56 years.[1] He became de facto sovereign in 31 BC, after defeating his last remaining opposition at the Battle of Actium.[52] This is a date also used by some writers.[1] Augustus himself dated his accession to legal power to 7 January 43 BC, when he first received imperium.[2] Later that year he became consul (19 August) and then triumvir (27 November) alongside Mark Antony and Lepidus. Augustus thus ruled the Roman state for exactly 56 years, but only 40 as "emperor".[2]
  8. ^ By this time, 'Caesar' and 'Augustus' are regarded less as personal names and more as imperial titles, with the former denoting the heir-apparent and the latter indicating the emperor himself.[67]
  9. ^ a b The co-emperors marked as being of "varying ascribed status" are figures, mostly children, who are not always counted as "true" emperors given their submissive status to the senior emperor.[46]
  10. ^ a b c d e f Unless otherwise noted to be some other ambiguity, the emperors marked to be of ambiguous legitimacy are those who fulfill one or more of the inclusion criteria above, but who are not universally regarded by scholars to count as legitimate. In most cases, such figures are those who held power only briefly, and/or who in times of more than one emperor held one of the capitals but never achieved the full recognition of the other emperor(s).[81][82][83][84]
  11. ^ a b c d e On account of the limited surviving source material, the dates used here for the Year of the Six Emperors (238) are approximate and only one of several estimates.[85]
  12. ^ Unmentioned in literary sources and known only from two coins seemingly issued in Rome, implying he was proclaimed emperor in the capital, probably between Aemilianus and Valerian, or against either.[100][101][102]
  13. ^ Made caesar by his father and only referred to as augustus in a single series of coins, issued while he was besieged in Cologne in 260. Coinage issued after his death honor him as caesar; probably because Gallienus didn't want to advertise the death of a second emperor in one year.[105][106]
  14. ^ a b Legitimately appointed as co-emperor by Licinius, though as western emperor (in opposition to Constantine I). Did not actually rule anything given that Licinius did not control the west.[125]
  15. ^ Although technically recognized by Constantius II, who even sent him the imperial diadem, Vetranio is often regarded as a usurper.[134]
  16. ^ From the fourth century, emperors and other high-profile men of non-aristocratic birth often bore the name "Flavius", the family name of the Constantinian dynasty. Because it was often used as a status marker rather than personal name,[137] "Flavius" will generally be omitted in the following entries for simplicity.
  17. ^ Distinction between nomen, praenomen and cognomen, the core elements of Roman naming conventions, began to fade away from the 3rd century onwards. Given that "new Romans" —that is, barbarians turned citizens— adopted the names of their masters, many citizens adopted the names Julius, Flavius (notable the Constantinians) and Marcus Aurelius (notable the 3rd century emperors), thus making them obsolete as surnames. As a result, most citizens of the Empire, even emperors, reverted back to single-names by the 5th century.[139]
  18. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u Although they constitutionally held the same supreme power as their senior counterpart, it is customary among scholars of the later empire to only regard those who actually ruled as emperors, omitting junior co-emperors who only exercised power nominally and never governed in their own name.[45] Co-emperors from the late 4th century onwards are thus no longer given full entries in the list, nor are later senior emperors' tenures as co-emperors counted as part of their reigns, per standard modern late Roman & Byzantine historiography.[26]
  19. ^ From 629 onwards, Heraclius issued administrative documents in Greek.[177] Latin continued to be used in communication with Western Europe until the end of the empire and coins continued to be struck with Latin inscriptions until the early eighth century.[178]
  20. ^ Often enumerated as 'Constantine III',[180] a name also applied to the earlier western emperor. It has been also used, at least once, for Heraclius Constantine's son Constans II.[181]
  21. ^ Latin ceased being used in coin inscriptions under Leo III.[178]
  22. ^ a b The empresses marked as being of "varying ascribed status" are figures who were undisputed as legitimate heads of the imperial government and who are sometimes (including by the Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium),[203] though not always, seen as having been empresses regnant.
  23. ^ a b Emperors began to officially use family names from Constantine IX Monomachos onwards. The sole exception after Constantine IX's reign is Michael VI, whose family name (Bringas) was far less distinguished than those of the other imperial families and thus does not appear in official use.[223]
  24. ^ Unattested in coinage; Leo is only called emperor in a singular letter, while his brother's status can only be deduced from the fact that he was born in the purple and that he also used the "imperial tokens".[229]
  25. ^ Alexios III used the name Alexios Komnenos Angelos (Ἀλέξιος Κομνηνός Ἄγγελος) prior to his accession but reigned as Alexios Komnenos, dropping his own family name in order to stress his matrilineal descent from the Komnenos dynasty.[239]

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  134. ^ Grant, p. 249; Kienast, Eck & Heil, p. 307; Meijer 2004, p. 127–128.
  135. ^ Kienast, Eck & Heil, p. 307; PLRE, Vol. I, p. 954; Omissi 2018, pp. 181–182.
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  150. ^ PLRE, Vol. II, pp. 316–317; Grant, pp. 286–287.
  151. ^ PLRE, Vol. II, p. 1100; ODB, pp. 2051–2052; Grant, pp. 288–291.
  152. ^ PLRE, Vol. II, pp. 180–181.
  153. ^ PLRE, Vol. II, pp. 321–325; Grant, pp. 292–295.
  154. ^ PLRE, Vol. II, pp. 594–595; Grant, pp. 296–297.
  155. ^ PLRE, Vol. II, pp. 1138–1139; Grant, pp. 298–304.
  156. ^ PLRE, Vol. II, pp. 714–715; ODB, pp. 1296–1297; Grant, pp. 305–307.
  157. ^ PLRE, Vol. II, pp. 308–309; Grant, pp. 315–316.
  158. ^ PLRE, Vol. II, pp. 196–198; Grant, pp. 310–311.
  159. ^ PLRE, Vol. II, pp. 702–703; Grant, pp. 315–316.
  160. ^ PLRE, Vol. II, pp. 1004–1005; Grant, pp. 317–318.
  161. ^ PLRE, Vol. II, pp. 96–98; Grant, pp. 319–321.
  162. ^ PLRE, Vol. II, pp. 796–798; Grant, p. 322.
  163. ^ PLRE, Vol. II, pp. 514, 777; Grant, pp. 323–324.
  164. ^ PLRE, Vol. II, pp. 777–778; Grant, pp. 325–326.
  165. ^ PLRE, Vol. II, pp. 949–950; Grant, pp. 332–334.
  166. ^ PLRE, Vol. II, pp. 663–664; ODB, pp. 1206–1207; Grant, pp. 312–314; Croke 2004, p. 569–572.
  167. ^ PLRE, Vol. II, pp. 664–665; ODB, pp. 1207–1208; Croke 2004, pp. 563–575.
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  205. ^ ODB, p. 2066.
  206. ^ ODB, pp. 2037–2038; Treadgold 1997, p. 438; Garland 1999, p. 102.
  207. ^ ODB, pp. 1364; Treadgold 1997, pp. 446–455; PmbZ, Michael 11 (#4991).
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  209. ^ ODB, pp. 1210–1211; Treadgold 1997, p. 458–462, 470, 491.
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  213. ^ ODB, pp. 1806–1807; Treadgold 1997, pp. 495–497.
  214. ^ ODB, pp. 1478–1479.
  215. ^ ODB, p. 1045.
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  220. ^ ODB, pp. 1365–1366; Treadgold 1997, p. 491.
  221. ^ ODB, p. 2228; Treadgold 1997, p. 590.
  222. ^ a b ODB, p. 2038; Treadgold 1997, pp. 491, 590.
  223. ^ Grierson 1973, p. 180.
  224. ^ ODB, p. 504.
  225. ^ ODB, p. 1366; Treadgold 1997, p. 597; Schreiner, pp. 149–150.
  226. ^ ODB, pp. 1011–1012; Schreiner, pp. 151–152; Grierson 1973, pp. 759–760.
  227. ^ ODB, pp. 504–505; Schreiner, pp. 151–152; Grierson 1973, p. 764.
  228. ^ ODB, pp. 739–740; Treadgold 1997, p. 608; Grierson 1973, pp. 779–780.
  229. ^ PmbZ, Leon 15005..
  230. ^ ODB, p. 1807; Treadgold 1997, pp. 601–604, 608; Schreiner, p. 156.
  231. ^ ODB, pp. 1366–1367; Schreiner, p. 157–159; Norwich 1993, p. 361.
  232. ^ ODB, p. 1479; Schreiner, p. 158–159; Grierson 1973, p. 798–799, 821; Maynard 2021.
  233. ^ ODB, p. 63; Schreiner, p. 159–164.
  234. ^ ODB, pp. 1046–1047; Treadgold 1997, pp. 628–637; Bucossi & Rodriguez Suarez 2016, p. 16.
  235. ^ ODB, pp. 1289–1290; Treadgold 1997, pp. 636, 638–650.
  236. ^ ODB, pp. 64, 1289; Treadgold 1997, pp. 650–653; Schreiner, p. 176.
  237. ^ ODB, pp. 64, 94, 1012; Treadgold 1997, pp. 653–656; Lascaratos 1999, p. 73.
  238. ^ a b ODB, p. 1012; Treadgold 1997, pp. 654–660; Schreiner, pp. 183–185; Macrides 1999, VI: p. 75, X: p. 514, XII: p. 195.
  239. ^ Cotsonis 2020, pp. 260–261.
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  241. ^ ODB, pp. 65–66; Schreiner, pp. 183–185.
  242. ^ ODB, p. 66; Treadgold 1997, pp. 265–266, 665; Schreiner, pp. 185–186.
  243. ^ ODB, pp. 2039–2040; Schreiner, pp. 187–188; Angelov 2019, p. 18; Dragon 2003, p. 275.
  244. ^ ODB, pp. 1047–1048; Angelov 2019, p. 256.
  245. ^ ODB, pp. 2040–2041; Treadgold 1997, p. 731; Angelov 2019, p. 325.
  246. ^ ODB, pp. 1048–1049; Treadgold 1997, p. 737; Angelov 2019, p. 305; Schreiner, pp. 196.
  247. ^ ODB, p. 1367; Treadgold 1997, p. 745; Schreiner, pp. 196–206; PLP, p. 3929 (#21528).
  248. ^ ODB, pp. 94–95; Angelov 2009, p. 100; PLP, p. 3889 (#21436).
  249. ^ ODB, pp. 1367–8; Treadgold 1997, p. 755; Angelov 2009, p. 100; PLP, p. 3931 (#21529).
  250. ^ ODB, p. 95; Treadgold 1997, p. 764; Lascaratos & Marketos 1997, pp. 106–9; PLP, p. 3891 (#21437).
  251. ^ ODB, p. 1050; Schreiner, pp. 253, 345; PLP, p. 3912 (#21485).
  252. ^ ODB, pp. 1050–1051; Schreiner, pp. 252–288; PLP, p. 2046 (#10973); Feiller 1976.
  253. ^ ODB, p. 95; Mladenov 2003, p. 190; Schreiner, pp. 312–321; PLP, p. 3893 (#21438).
  254. ^ ODB, p. 1052; Oikonomides 1977, p. 331; Schreiner, pp. 340–343.
  255. ^ ODB, p. 1291; Schreiner, pp. 276, 309, 429; PLP, p. 3923 (#21513).
  256. ^ ODB, pp. 1053–1054; Schreiner, pp. 340, 387–411; PLP, p. 3909 (#21481).
  257. ^ ODB, p. 505; Nicol 1992, pp. 2, 35–38, 70; PLP, p. 3919 (#21500).

Main bibliography

Secondary bibliography