The following is a list of usurpers in the Roman Empire. For an overview of the problem and consequences of usurpation, see Roman usurpers. In the Eastern Roman Empire (395–1453), rebellion and usurpation were so notoriously frequent (in the vision of the medieval West, where usurpation was rare) that the modern term "byzantine" became a byword for political intrigue and conspiracy. For usurpation in the Eastern Roman Empire, see List of Byzantine usurpers.


Usurpers who became legitimate emperors

Further information: List of Roman emperors

The following individuals began as usurpers, but became the legitimate emperor either by establishing uncontested control of the empire or by confirmation of their position by the Roman Senate or by the legitimate emperor.

First Imperial civil war

Main article: Year of the Four Emperors

Second Imperial civil war

Main article: Year of the Five Emperors

Crisis of the Third Century

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

Western Empire

The following last emperors of the West were all accepted by the Senate but never recognized as colleagues by the Emperor of the East:

Usurpers not considered legitimate emperors

The following individuals proclaimed themselves emperor (or were proclaimed or appointed as emperor), but are not considered as legitimate emperors because they did not oust the ruling emperor, or did not establish control of the whole empire, or were not accepted by the senate or other imperial colleagues.

They are listed here under the emperor whose rule they attempted to usurp. The noted date is the attempted year of usurpation.

Claudius: 41–54

Galba: 68–69

Titus: 79–81

Domitian: 81–96

Marcus Aurelius: 161–180

Septimius Severus: 193–211

Elagabalus: 218–222

Alexander Severus: 222–235

Maximinus Thrax: 235–238

Gordian III: 238–244

Philip the Arab: 244–249

Decius: 249–251

Gallienus: 253–268

Main article: Gallienus usurpers

Claudius II: 268–270

Aurelian: 270–275

Probus: 276–282

Carus, Carinus, Numerian: 282–284

Diocletian: 284–305

Galerius: 305–311

Constantine I: 309–337

Constantius II: 337–361

Valentinian I: 364–375

Theodosius I: 379–395

Honorius: 395–423

Valentinian III: 423–455

Anthemius: 467–472

Unsuccessful regional usurpers after the fall of Rome (476)


  1. ^ "Avitus". The Imperial Index: The Rulers of the Roman Empire. From Augustus to Constantine XI Palaeologus. Retrieved 8 December 2021.