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The Roman Emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different titles throughout history. Often when a given Roman is described as becoming "emperor" in English, it reflects his taking of the title Augustus
Augustus
or Caesar. Another title often used was imperator, originally a military honorific. Early Emperors also used the title princeps (first citizen). Emperors frequently amassed republican titles, notably Princeps senatus, Consul
Consul
and Pontifex Maximus. The legitimacy of an emperor's rule depended on his control of the army and recognition by the Senate; an emperor would normally be proclaimed by his troops, or invested with imperial titles by the Senate, or both. The first emperors reigned alone; later emperors would sometimes rule with co-Emperors and divide administration of the Empire between them. The Romans considered the office of emperor to be distinct from that of a king. The first emperor, Augustus, resolutely refused recognition as a monarch.[1] Although Augustus
Augustus
could claim that his power was authentically republican, his successor, Tiberius, could not convincingly make the same claim.[2] Nonetheless, for the first three hundred years of Roman Emperors, from Augustus
Augustus
until Diocletian, a great effort was made to emphasize that the Emperors were the leaders of a Republic. From Diocletian
Diocletian
onwards, emperors ruled in an openly monarchic style[3] and did not preserve the nominal principle of a republic, but the contrast with "kings" was maintained: although the imperial succession was generally hereditary, it was only hereditary if there was a suitable candidate acceptable to the army and the bureaucracy,[4] so the principle of automatic inheritance was not adopted. Elements of the Republican institutional framework (senate, consuls, and magistrates) were preserved until the very end of the Western Empire. The Eastern (Byzantine) emperors ultimately adopted the title of "Basileus" (βασιλεύς), which had meant king in Greek, but became a title reserved solely for the Roman Emperor and the ruler of the Sasanian Empire. Other kings were then referred to as rēgas.[5] In addition to their pontifical office, some emperors were given divine status after death. With the eventual hegemony of Christianity, the emperor came to be seen as God's chosen ruler, as well as a special protector and leader of the Christian Church on Earth, although in practice an emperor's authority on Church matters was subject to challenge. The Western Roman Empire
Roman Empire
collapsed in the late 5th century. Romulus Augustulus is often considered to be the last emperor of the west after his forced abdication in 476, although Julius Nepos
Julius Nepos
maintained a claim to the title until his death in 480. Meanwhile, in the east, emperors continued to rule from Constantinople
Constantinople
("New Rome"); these are referred to in modern scholarship as "Byzantine emperor" but they used no such title and called themselves "Emperor (or King) of the Romans" (βασιλεύς Ῥωμαίων). Constantine XI Palaiologos
Constantine XI Palaiologos
was the last Byzantine Roman Emperor in Constantinople, dying in the Fall of Constantinople
Constantinople
to the Ottomans in 1453. Due to the cultural rupture of the Turkish conquest, most western historians treat Constantine XI as the last meaningful claimant to the title Roman Emperor, although from 1453 Ottoman rulers were titled "Caesar of Rome" (Turkish: Kayser-i Rum)[6] until the Ottoman Empire ended in 1922. A Byzantine group of claimant Roman Emperors existed in the Empire of Trebizond
Empire of Trebizond
until its conquest by the Ottomans in 1461. In western Europe the title of Roman Emperor was revived by Germanic rulers, the "Holy Roman Emperors", in 800, and was used until 1806.

Contents

1 Background and first Roman emperor 2 Classical period

2.1 Imperator 2.2 Princeps 2.3 Evolution in Late Antiquity

3 Titles and positions

3.1 Powers

4 Lineages and epochs

4.1 Principate 4.2 Crisis of the Third Century 4.3 Dominate 4.4 Late empire

5 Post-classical assertions to the title

5.1 Survival of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
in the East 5.2 Last Roman emperor 5.3 New Western lineage

6 See also 7 References 8 Sources 9 Further reading 10 External links

Background and first Roman emperor[edit]

Statue of Augustus, c. 30 BC–20 BC; this statue is located in the Louvre

Modern historians conventionally regard Augustus
Augustus
as the first Emperor whereas Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
is considered the last dictator of the Roman Republic, a view having its origins in the Roman writers Plutarch, Tacitus
Tacitus
and Cassius Dio.[7] However, the majority of Roman writers, including Josephus, Pliny the Younger, Suetonius
Suetonius
and Appian, as well as most of the ordinary people of the Empire, thought of Julius Caesar as the first Emperor.[8] At the end of the Roman Republic
Roman Republic
no new, and certainly no single, title indicated the individual who held supreme power. Insofar as emperor could be seen as the English translation of imperator, then Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
had been an emperor, like several Roman generals before him. Instead, by the end of the civil wars in which Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
had led his armies, it became clear that there was certainly no consensus to return to the old-style monarchy, but that the period when several officials, bestowed with equal power by the senate, would fight one another had come to an end. Julius Caesar, and then Augustus
Augustus
after him, accumulated offices and titles of the highest importance in the Republic, making the power attached to those offices permanent, and preventing anyone with similar aspirations from accumulating or maintaining power for themselves. However, Julius Caesar, unlike those after him, did so without the Senate's vote and approval.[citation needed] Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
held the Republican offices of consul four times and dictator five times, was appointed dictator in perpetuity (dictator perpetuo) in 45 BC and had been "pontifex maximus" for a long period. He gained these positions by senatorial consent. By the time of his assassination, he was the most powerful man in the Roman world. In his will, Caesar appointed his adopted son Octavian as his heir. On Caesar's death, Octavian inherited his adoptive father's property and lineage, the loyalty of most of his allies and – again through a formal process of senatorial consent – an increasing number of the titles and offices that had accrued to Caesar. A decade after Caesar's death, Octavian's victory over his erstwhile ally Mark Antony
Mark Antony
at Actium
Actium
put an end to any effective opposition and confirmed Octavian's supremacy. In 27 BC, Octavian appeared before the Senate and offered to retire from active politics and government; the Senate not only requested he remain, but increased his powers and made them lifelong, awarding him the title of Augustus
Augustus
(the elevated or divine one, somewhat less than a god but approaching divinity). Augustus
Augustus
stayed in office until his death; the sheer breadth of his superior powers as princeps and permanent imperator of Rome's armies guaranteed the peaceful continuation of what nominally remained a republic. His "restoration" of powers to the Senate and the people of Rome
Rome
was a demonstration of his auctoritas and pious respect for tradition. Some later historians such as Tacitus
Tacitus
would say that even at Augustus' death, the true restoration of the Republic might have been possible. Instead, Augustus
Augustus
actively prepared his adopted son Tiberius
Tiberius
to be his successor and pleaded his case to the Senate for inheritance on merit. The Senate disputed the issue but eventually confirmed Tiberius
Tiberius
as princeps. Once in power, Tiberius
Tiberius
took considerable pains to observe the forms and day-to-day substance of republican government. Classical period[edit]

Ancient Rome

This article is part of a series on the politics and government of ancient Rome

Periods

Roman Kingdom 753–509 BC Roman Republic 509–27 BC Roman Empire 27 BC – AD 395

Principate Dominate

Western AD 395–476 Eastern AD 395–1453

Empire of Trebizond AD 1204 – 1461

Timeline

Roman Constitution

Constitution of the Kingdom Constitution of the Republic Constitution of the Empire Constitution of the Late Empire Senate Legislative assemblies Executive magistrates

Ordinary magistrates

Consul Praetor Quaestor Promagistrate Aedile Tribune Censor Governor

Extraordinary magistrates

Dictator Magister equitum Consular tribune Rex Triumviri Decemviri

Titles and honours

Emperor

Legatus Dux Officium Praefectus Vicarius Vigintisexviri Lictor Magister militum Imperator Princeps senatus Pontifex maximus Augustus Caesar Tetrarch

Precedent and law

Roman law Ius Imperium Mos maiorum Collegiality Auctoritas Roman citizenship Cursus honorum Senatus consultum

Senatus consultum
Senatus consultum
ultimum

Assemblies

Centuriate Curiate Plebeian Tribal

Other countries Atlas

v t e

Rome
Rome
had no single constitutional office, title or rank exactly equivalent to the English title "Roman emperor". Romans of the Imperial era used several titles to denote their emperors, and all were associated with the pre-Imperial, Republican era. The emperor's legal authority derived from an extraordinary concentration of individual powers and offices that were extant in the Republic rather than from a new political office; emperors were regularly elected to the offices of consul and censor. Among their permanent privileges were the traditional Republican title of princeps senatus (leader of the Senate) and the religious office of pontifex maximus (chief priest of the College of Pontiffs). Every emperor held the latter office and title until Gratian
Gratian
surrendered it in AD 382 to Pope
Pope
Siricius; it eventually became an auxiliary honor of the Bishop of Rome. These titles and offices conferred great personal prestige (dignitas) but the basis of an emperor's powers derived from his auctoritas: this assumed his greater powers of command (imperium maius) and tribunician power (tribunicia potestas) as personal qualities, separate from his public office. As a result, he formally outranked provincial governors and ordinary magistrates. He had the right to enact or revoke sentences of capital punishment, was owed the obedience of private citizens (privati) and by the terms of the ius auxiliandi could save any plebeian from any patrician magistrate's decision. He could veto any act or proposal of any magistrate, including the tribunes of the people (ius intercedendi or ius intercessionis). His person was held to be sacrosanct. Roman magistrates on official business were expected to wear the form of toga associated with their office; different togas were worn by different ranks; senior magistrates had the right to togas bordered with purple. A triumphal imperator of the Republic had the right to wear the toga picta (of solid purple, richly embroidered) for the duration of the triumphal rite. During the Late Republic, the most powerful had this right extended. Pompey
Pompey
and Caesar are both thought to have worn the triumphal toga and other triumphal dress at public functions. Later emperors were distinguished by wearing togae purpurae, purple togas; hence the phrase "to don the purple" for the assumption of imperial dignity. The titles customarily associated with the imperial dignity are imperator ("commander"), which emphasizes the emperor's military supremacy and is the source of the English word emperor; Caesar, which was originally a name but came to be used for the designated heir (as Nobilissimus
Nobilissimus
Caesar, "Most Noble Caesar") and was retained upon accession. The ruling emperor's title was the descriptive Augustus ("majestic" or "venerable", which had tinges of the divine), which was adopted upon accession. In Greek, these three titles were rendered as autokratōr ("Αὐτοκράτωρ"), kaisar ("Καίσαρ"), and augoustos ("Αὔγουστος") or sebastos ("Σεβαστός") respectively. In Diocletian's Tetrarchy, the traditional seniorities were maintained: "Augustus" was reserved for the two senior emperors and "Caesar" for the two junior emperors – each delegated a share of power and responsibility but each an emperor-in-waiting, should anything befall his senior. As princeps senatus (lit., "first man of the senate"), the emperor could receive foreign embassies to Rome; some emperors (such as Tiberius) are known to have delegated this task to the Senate. In modern terms these early emperors would tend to be identified as chiefs of state. The office of princeps senatus, however, was not a magistracy and did not entail imperium. At some points in the Empire's history, the emperor's power was nominal; powerful praetorian prefects, masters of the soldiers and on a few occasions, other members of the Imperial household including Imperial mothers and grandmothers were the true source of power. Imperator[edit] Main article: Imperator The title imperator dates back to the Roman Republic, when a victorious commander could be hailed as imperator in the field by his troops. The Senate could then award or withhold the extraordinary honour of a triumph; the triumphal commander retained the title until the end of his magistracy.[9] In Roman tradition, the first triumph was that of Romulus, but the first attested recipient of the title imperator in a triumphal context is Aemilius Paulus in 189 BC.[9] It was a title held with great pride: Pompey
Pompey
was hailed imperator more than once, as was Sulla, but it was Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
who first used it permanently – according to Dio, this was a singular and excessive form of flattery granted by the Senate, passed to Caesar's adopted heir along with his name and virtually synonymous with it.[10] In 38 BC Agrippa refused a triumph for his victories under Octavian's command, and this precedent established the rule that the princeps should assume both the salutation and title of imperator. It seems that from then on Octavian (later the first emperor Augustus) used imperator as a first name (praenomen): Imperator
Imperator
Caesar not Caesar imperator. From this the title came to denote the supreme power and was commonly used in that sense. Otho
Otho
was the first to imitate Augustus, but only with Vespasian
Vespasian
did imperator (emperor) become the official title by which the ruler of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
was known. Princeps[edit] The word princeps (plural principes), meaning "first", was a republican term used to denote the leading citizen(s) of the state. It was a purely honorific title with no attached duties or powers. It was the title most preferred by Caesar Augustus
Augustus
as its use implies only primacy, as opposed to another of his titles, imperator, which implies dominance. Princeps, because of its republican connotation, was most commonly used to refer to the emperor in Latin
Latin
(although the emperor's actual constitutional position was essentially "pontifex maximus with tribunician power and imperium superseding all others") as it was in keeping with the façade of the restored Republic; the Greek word basileus ("king") was modified to be synonymous with emperor (and primarily came into favour after the reign of Heraclius) as the Greeks had no republican sensibility and openly viewed the emperor as a monarch. In the era of Diocletian
Diocletian
and beyond, princeps fell into disuse and was replaced with dominus ("lord");[11] later emperors used the formula Imperator
Imperator
Caesar NN. Pius Felix (Invictus) Augustus: NN representing the individual's personal name; Pius Felix meaning "Pious and Blest"; and Invictus meaning "undefeated". The use of princeps and dominus broadly symbolise the differences in the empire's government, giving rise to the era designations "Principate" and "Dominate". Evolution in Late Antiquity[edit] In 293, following the Crisis of the Third Century
Crisis of the Third Century
which had severely damaged Imperial administration, Emperor Diocletian
Diocletian
enacted sweeping reforms that washed away many of the vestiges and façades of republicanism which had characterized the Augustan order in favor of a more frank autocracy. As a result, historians distinguish the Augustan period as the principate and the period from Diocletian
Diocletian
to the 7th century reforms of Emperor Heraclius
Heraclius
as the dominate (from the Latin for "lord".) Reaching back to the oldest traditions of job-sharing in the republic, however, Diocletian
Diocletian
established at the top of this new structure the Tetrarchy
Tetrarchy
("rule of four") in an attempt to provide for smoother succession and greater continuity of government. Under the Tetrarchy, Diocletian
Diocletian
set in place a system of co-emperors, styled "Augustus", and junior emperors, styled "Caesar". When a co-emperor retired (as Diocletian
Diocletian
and his co-emperor Maximian
Maximian
did in 305) or died, a junior "Caesar" would succeed him and the co-emperors would appoint new Caesars as needed. The four members of the Imperial college (as historians call the arrangement) shared military and administrative challenges by each being assigned specific geographic areas of the empire. From this innovation, often but not consistently repeated over the next 187 years, comes the notion of an east-west partition of the empire that became popular with historians long after the practice had stopped. The two halves of empire, while often run as de facto separate entities day-to-day, were always considered and seen, legally and politically, as separate administrative divisions of a single, insoluble imperium by the Romans of the time. The final period of co-emperorship began in 395, when Emperor Theodosius I's sons Arcadius
Arcadius
and Honorius succeeded as co-emperors. Eighty-five years later, following Germanic migrations which had reduced the empire's effective control across Brittania, Gaul
Gaul
and Hispania
Hispania
and a series of military coup d'état which drove Emperor Nepos out of Italy, the idea of dividing the position of emperor was formally abolished by Emperor Zeno (480). The Roman Empire
Roman Empire
survived in the east until 1453, but the marginalization of the former heartland of Italy
Italy
to the empire[clarification needed] had a profound cultural impact on the empire and the position of emperor. In 620, the official language was changed from Latin
Latin
to Greek. The Greek-speaking inhabitants were Romaioi (Ῥωμαῖοι), and were still considered Romans by themselves and the populations of Eastern Europe, the Near East, India, and China. But many in Western Europe began to refer to the political entity as the "Greek Empire". The evolution of the church in the no-longer imperial city of Rome
Rome
and the church in the now supreme Constantinople
Constantinople
began to follow divergent paths, culminating in the schism between the Roman Catholic
Roman Catholic
and Eastern Orthodox
Eastern Orthodox
faiths. The position of emperor was increasingly influenced by Near Eastern concepts of kingship. Starting with Emperor Heraclius, Roman emperors styled themselves " King
King
of Kings" (from the imperial Persian Shahanshah) from 627 and "Basileus" (from the title used by Alexander the Great) from 629. The later period of the empire is today called the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
as a matter of scholarly convention.[citation needed] Titles and positions[edit] Although these are the most common offices, titles, and positions, not all Roman emperors used them, nor were all of them used at the same time in history. The consular and censorial offices especially were not an integral part of the Imperial dignity, and were usually held by persons other than the reigning emperor.

Augustus: (also "Αὔγουστος" or "Σεβαστός"), "Majestic" or "Venerable"; an honorific cognomen exclusive to the emperor Autokrator: (Αὐτοκράτωρ, Autokratōr), (lit. "Self-ruler"); Greek title equivalent to imperator or commander-in-chief Basileus: (Βασιλεύς), Greek for king, popularly used in the east to refer to the emperor; a formal title of the Roman emperor beginning with Heraclius Caesar: (also "Καίσαρ"), "Caesar"; initially the cognomen of Julius Caesar, it was transformed into a title; an honorific name later used to identify an emperor-designate Censor: a Republican office held jointly by two former consuls every five years for the purpose of conducting the lustrum that determined the role of citizens; the censor could audit all other magistrates and all state finances Consul: the highest magistracy of the Roman Republic
Roman Republic
with a one-year term and one coequal officeholder; the consul was the head of state within Rome. The last emperor to be bestowed the title by the Senate was Constans
Constans
II, who was also the last emperor to visit Rome. Dominus ("Lord" or "Master"): an honorific title mainly associated with the Dominate Dominus Noster ("Our Lord"): an honorific title; the praenomen of later emperors.[citation needed] Imperator
Imperator
("Commander" or "Commander-in-Chief"): a victory title taken on accession to the purple and after a major military victory Imperator
Imperator
Destinatus ("Destined to be Emperor"): heir apparent, used by Septimius Severus
Septimius Severus
for Caracalla Invictus ("Unconquered"), an honorific title. Nobilissimus: (Nωβελίσσιμος, Nōbelissimos), ("Most Noble"), one of the highest imperial titles held by the emperor Pater Patriae
Pater Patriae
("Father of the Fatherland"): an honorific title Perpetuus ("Universal"): an honorific title of later emperors Pius Felix ("Pious and Blessed"): an honorific title Pontifex Maximus
Pontifex Maximus
("Supreme Pontiff" or "Chief Priest"): in the Republican era, the Pontifex Maximus
Pontifex Maximus
was the head of the College of Pontiffs, the religious body that oversaw the ancestral public religion of the Romans; Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
had become Pontifex Maximus before he was elected consul, and the precedent set by his heir Augustus
Augustus
in consolidating supreme authority through this religious office was in general followed by his successors until the empire came under Christian rule Princeps ("First Citizen" or "Leading Citizen"): an honorific title denoting the status of the emperor as first among equals, associated mainly with the Principate Princeps Iuventutis: ("Prince of Youth"), an honorific title awarded to a presumptive emperor-designate Princeps Senatus: ("First Man of the Senate"), a Republican office with a five-year term Sebastos: (Σεβαστός), ("Venerable"); the Greek rendition of the imperial title Augustus Sebastokrator: (Σεβαστοκράτωρ, Sebastokratōr), ("Venerable Ruler); a senior court title from the compound words "sebastos" ("venerable", the Greek equivalent of the Latin
Latin
Augustus) and "kratōr" ("ruler", the same element as is found in "autokratōr", "emperor") Tribunicia Potestas: ("Tribunician Power"); the powers of a tribune of the people, including sacrosanctity and inviolability of his person, and the veto over any decision by any other magistrate, assembly, or the Senate (the emperor could not be a "tribune" because a tribune was a plebeian by definition, therefore the emperor had all the powers of a tribune without actually being one)

Powers[edit] When Augustus
Augustus
established the Princeps, he turned down supreme authority in exchange for a collection of various powers and offices, which in itself was a demonstration of his auctoritas ("authority"). As holding princeps senatus, the emperor declared the opening and closure of each Senate session, declared the Senate's agenda, imposed rules and regulation for the Senate to follow, and met with foreign ambassadors in the name of the Senate. Being pontifex maximus made the emperor the chief administrator of religious affairs, granting him the power to conduct all religious ceremonies, consecrate temples, control the Roman calendar
Roman calendar
(adding or removing days as needed), appoint the vestal virgins and some flamens, lead the Collegium Pontificum, and summarize the dogma of the Roman religion. While these powers granted the emperor a great deal of personal pride and influence, they did not include legal authority. In 23 BC, Augustus
Augustus
gave the emperorship its legal power. The first was Tribunicia Potestas, or the powers of the tribune of the plebs without actually holding the office (which would have been impossible, since a tribune was by definition a plebeian, whereas Augustus, although born into a plebeian family, had become a patrician when he was adopted into the gens Julia). This endowed the emperor with inviolability (sacrosanctity) of his person, and the ability to pardon any civilian for any act, criminal or otherwise. By holding the powers of the tribune, the emperor could prosecute anyone who interfered with the performance of his duties. The emperor's tribuneship granted him the right to convene the Senate at his will and lay proposals before it, as well as the ability to veto any act or proposal by any magistrate, including the actual tribune of the plebeians. Also, as holder of the tribune's power, the emperor would convoke the Council of the People, lay legislation before it, and served as the council's president. But his tribuneship only granted him power within Rome
Rome
itself. He would need another power to veto the act of governors and that of the consuls while in the provinces. To solve this problem, Augustus
Augustus
managed to have the emperor be given the right to hold two types of imperium. The first being consular imperium while he was in Rome, and imperium maius outside of Rome. While inside the walls of Rome, the reigning consuls and the emperor held equal authority, each being able to veto each other's proposals and acts, with the emperor holding all of the consul's powers. But outside of Rome, the emperor outranked the consuls and could veto them without the same effects on himself. Imperium Maius also granted the emperor authority over all the provincial governors, making him the ultimate authority in provincial matters and gave him the supreme command of all of Rome's legions. With Imperium Maius, the emperor was also granted the power to appoint governors of imperial provinces without the interference of the Senate. Also, Imperium Maius granted the emperor the right to veto the governors of the provinces and even the reigning consul while in the provinces. Lineages and epochs[edit] Principate[edit] Main article: Roman Emperor (Principate) The nature of the imperial office and the Principate
Principate
was established under Julius Caesar's heir and posthumously adopted son, Caesar Augustus, and his own heirs, the descendants of his wife Livia
Livia
from her first marriage to a scion of the distinguished Claudian
Claudian
clan. This Julio-Claudian dynasty
Julio-Claudian dynasty
came to an end when the Emperor Nero
Nero
– a great-great-grandson of Augustus
Augustus
through his daughter and of Livia through her son – was deposed in 68. Nero
Nero
was followed by a succession of usurpers throughout 69, commonly called the "Year of the Four Emperors". The last of these, Vespasian, established his own Flavian dynasty. Nerva, who replaced the last Flavian emperor, Vespasian's son Domitian, in 96, was elderly and childless, and chose therefore to adopt an heir, Trajan, from outside his family. When Trajan
Trajan
acceded to the purple he chose to follow his predecessor's example, adopting Hadrian
Hadrian
as his own heir, and the practice then became the customary manner of imperial succession for the next century, producing the "Five Good Emperors" and the Empire's period of greatest stability. The last of the Good Emperors, Marcus Aurelius, chose his natural son Commodus
Commodus
as his successor rather than adopting an heir. Commodus's misrule led to his murder on 31 December 192, following which a brief period of instability quickly gave way to Septimius Severus, who established the Severan dynasty
Severan dynasty
which, except for an interruption in 217–218 when Macrinus
Macrinus
was emperor, held the purple until 235. Crisis of the Third Century[edit] Main article: Roman Emperor (Crisis of the Third Century) The accession of Maximinus Thrax
Maximinus Thrax
marks both the close and the opening of an era. It was one of the last attempts by the increasingly impotent Roman Senate
Roman Senate
to influence the succession. Yet it was the second time that a man had achieved the purple while owing his advancement purely to his military career; both Vespasian
Vespasian
and Septimius Severus
Septimius Severus
had come from noble or middle-class families, while Thrax was born a commoner. He never visited the city of Rome
Rome
during his reign, which marks the beginning of a series of "barracks emperors" who came from the army. Between 235 and 285 over a dozen emperors achieved the purple, but only Valerian and Carus
Carus
managed to secure their own sons' succession to the throne; both dynasties died out within two generations. Dominate[edit] Main article: Roman Emperor (Dominate) The accession on 20 November 284, of Diocletian, the lower-class, Greek-speaking Dalmatian commander of Carus's and Numerian's household cavalry (protectores domestici), marked major innovations in Rome's government and constitutional theory. Diocletian, a traditionalist and religious conservative, attempted to secure efficient, stable government and a peaceful succession with the establishment of the Tetrarchy. The empire was divided into East and West, each ruled by an Augustus
Augustus
assisted by a Caesar as emperor-in-waiting. These divisions were further subdivided into new or reformed provinces, administered by a complex, hierarchic bureaucracy of unprecedented size and scope. Diocletian's own court was based at Nicomedia. His co-Augustus, Maximian, was based at Mediolanum
Mediolanum
(modern Milan). Their courts were peripatetic, and Imperial progressions through the provinces made much use of the impressive, theatrical adventus, or "Imperial arrival" ceremony, which employed an elaborate choreography of etiquette to emphasise the emperor's elevation above other mortals. Hyperinflation of imperial honours and titles served to distinguish the Augusti from their Caesares, and Diocletian, as senior Augustus, from his colleague Maximian. The senior Augustus
Augustus
in particular was made a separate and unique being, accessible only through those closest to him. The overall unity of the Empire still required the highest investiture of power and status in one man.[12] The Tetrarchy
Tetrarchy
ultimately degenerated into civil war, but the eventual victor, Constantine the Great, restored Diocletian's division of Empire into East and West. He kept the East for himself and founded his city of Constantinople
Constantinople
as its new capital. Constantine's own dynasty was also soon swallowed up in civil war and court intrigue until it was replaced, briefly, by Julian the Apostate's general Jovian and then, more permanently, by Valentinian I
Valentinian I
and the dynasty he founded in 364. Though a soldier from a low middle-class background, Valentinian was made emperor by a conclave of senior generals and civil officials. Late empire[edit] Main article: Roman Emperor (Late Empire) Theodosius I
Theodosius I
acceded to the purple in the East in 379 and in the West in 394. He outlawed paganism and made Christianity
Christianity
the Empire's official religion. He was the last emperor to rule over a united Roman Empire; the distribution of the East to his son Arcadius
Arcadius
and the West to his son Honorius after his death in 395 represented a permanent division. In the West, the office of emperor soon degenerated into being little more than a puppet of a succession of Germanic tribal kings, until finally the Heruli
Heruli
Odoacer
Odoacer
simply overthrew the child-emperor Romulus Augustulus in 476, shipped the imperial regalia to the Emperor Zeno in Constantinople
Constantinople
and became King
King
of Italy. Though during his own lifetime Odoacer
Odoacer
maintained the legal fiction that he was actually ruling Italy
Italy
as the viceroy of Zeno, historians mark 476 as the traditional date of the fall of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
in the West. Large parts of Italy
Italy
(Sicily, the south part of the peninsula, Ravenna, Venice
Venice
etc.), however, remained under actual imperial rule from Constantinople
Constantinople
for centuries, with imperial control slipping or becoming nominal only as late as the 11th century. In the East, the Empire continued until the fall of Constantinople
Constantinople
to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. Although known as the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
by contemporary historians, the Empire was simply known as the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
to its citizens and neighboring countries. Post-classical assertions to the title[edit] Survival of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
in the East[edit]

Imaginary portrait of Constantine XI, the last Roman emperor
Roman emperor
of the Eastern Roman empire (until 1453).

The line of Roman emperors in the Eastern Roman Empire
Roman Empire
continued unbroken at Constantinople
Constantinople
until the capture of Constantinople
Constantinople
in 1204 by the Fourth Crusade. In the wake of this action, four lines of Emperors emerged, each claiming to be the legal successor: the Empire of Thessalonica, evolving from the Despotate of Epirus, which was reduced to impotence when its founder Theodore Komnenos Doukas
Theodore Komnenos Doukas
was defeated, captured and blinded by the Bulgarian Emperor Ivan Asen III;[13] the Latin
Latin
Empire, which came to an end when the Empire of Nicaea recovered Constantinople
Constantinople
in 1261; the Empire of Trebizond, whose importance declined over the 13th century, and whose claims were simply ignored;[14] and the Empire of Nicaea, whose claims based on kinship with the previous emperors, control of the Patriarch of Constantinople, and possession of Constantinople
Constantinople
through military prowess, prevailed. The successors of the emperors of Nicaea continued until the fall of Constantinople
Constantinople
in 1453 under Constantine XI Palaiologos. These emperors eventually normalized the imperial dignity into the modern conception of an emperor, incorporated it into the constitutions of the state, and adopted the aforementioned title Basileus
Basileus
kai autokratōr Rhomaiōn ("Emperor and Autocrat of the Romans"). They had also ceased to use Latin
Latin
as the language of state after Emperor Heraclius
Heraclius
(d. 641 AD). Historians have customarily treated the state of these later Eastern emperors under the name "Byzantine Empire". It is important to note, however, that the adjective Byzantine, although historically used by Eastern Roman authors in a metonymic sense, was never an official term. Last Roman emperor[edit] Main article: Constantine XI Palaiologos Constantine XI Palaiologos
Constantine XI Palaiologos
was the last reigning Roman emperor. A member of the Palaiologos
Palaiologos
dynasty, he ruled the remnant of the Eastern Roman Empire
Roman Empire
from 1449 until his death in 1453 defending its capital Constantinople. He was born in Mystra[15] as the eighth of ten children of Manuel II Palaiologos
Palaiologos
and Helena Dragaš, the daughter of the Serbian prince Constantine Dragaš
Constantine Dragaš
of Kumanovo. He spent most of his childhood in Constantinople
Constantinople
under the supervision of his parents. During the absence of his older brother in Italy, Constantine was regent in Constantinople
Constantinople
from 1437–40. Before the beginning of the siege, Mehmed the Conqueror
Mehmed the Conqueror
made an offer to Constantine XI. In exchange for the surrender of Constantinople, the emperor's life would be spared and he would continue to rule in Mystra. Constantine refused this offer. Instead he led the defense of the city and took an active part in the fighting along the land walls. At the same time, he used his diplomatic skills to maintain the necessary unity between the Genovese, Venetian, and Byzantine troops. As the city fell on May 29, 1453, Constantine is said to have remarked: "The city is fallen but I am alive." Realizing that the end had come, he reportedly discarded his purple cloak and led his remaining soldiers into a final charge, in which he was killed. With his death, Roman imperial succession came to an end, almost 1500 years after Augustus. After the fall of Constantinople, Thomas Palaiologos, brother of Constantine XI, was elected emperor and tried to organize the remaining forces. His rule came to an end after the fall of the last major Byzantine city, Corinth. He then moved in Italy
Italy
and continued to be recognized as Eastern emperor by the Christian powers. His son Andreas Palaiologos
Palaiologos
continued claims on the Byzantine throne until he sold the title to Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile, the grandparents of Holy Roman Emperor
Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V.

New Western lineage[edit]

Charles V was the last emperor of the Holy Roman Empire
Roman Empire
to receive a papal coronation (until abdication in 1556).

The concept of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
was renewed in the West with the coronation of the king of the Franks, Charlemagne
Charlemagne
(Charles the Great), as Roman emperor
Roman emperor
by the Pope
Pope
on Christmas
Christmas
Day, 800. This coronation had its roots in the decline of influence of the Pope
Pope
in the affairs of the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
at the same time the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
declined in influence over politics in the West. The Pope
Pope
saw no advantage to be derived from working with the Byzantine Empire, but as George Ostrogorsky points out, "an alliance with the famous conqueror of the Lombards, on the other hand ... promised much".[16] The immediate response of the Eastern Roman Emperor was not welcoming. "At that time it was axiomatic that there could be only one Empire as there could be only one church", writes Ostrogorsky. "The coronation of Charles the Great violated all traditional ideas and struck a hard blow at Byzantine interests, for hitherto Byzantium, the new Rome, had unquestionably been regarded as the sole Empire which had taken over the inheritance of the old Roman imperium. Conscious of its imperial rights, Byzantium could only consider the elevation of Charles the Great to be an act of usurpation."[17] Nikephoros I
Nikephoros I
chose to ignore Charlemagne's claim to the imperial title, clearly recognizing the implications of this act. According to Ostrogorsky, "he even went so far as to refuse the Patriarch Nicephorus permission to dispatch the customary synodica to the Pope."[18] Meanwhile, Charlemagne's power steadily increased: he subdued Istria and several Dalmatian cities during the reign of Irene, and his son Pepin brought Venice
Venice
under Western hegemony, despite a successful counter-attack by the Byzantine fleet. Unable to counter this encroachment on Byzantine territory, Nikephoros' successor Michael I Rangabe
Michael I Rangabe
capitulated; in return for the restoration of the captured territories, Michael sent Byzantine delegates to Aachen in 812 who recognized Charlemagne
Charlemagne
as Basileus.[19] Michael did not recognize him as Basileus
Basileus
of the Romans, however, which was a title that he reserved for himself.[20] This line of Roman emperors was actually generally Germanic rather than Roman, but maintained their Roman-ness as a matter of principle. These emperors used a variety of titles (most frequently "Imperator Augustus") before finally settling on Imperator
Imperator
Romanus Electus ("Elected Roman Emperor"). Historians customarily assign them the title "Holy Roman Emperor", which has a basis in actual historical usage, and treat their "Holy Roman Empire" as a separate institution. To Latin
Latin
Catholics of the time, the Pope
Pope
was the temporal authority as well as spiritual authority, and as Bishop of Rome
Rome
he was recognized as having the power to anoint or crown a new Roman emperor. The last man to be crowned by the pope (although in Bologna, not Rome) was Charles V. All his successors bore only a title of "Elected Roman Emperor". This line of Emperors lasted until 1806 when Francis II dissolved the Empire during the Napoleonic Wars. Despite the existence of later potentates styling themselves "emperor", such as the Napoleons, the Habsburg
Habsburg
Emperors of Austria, and the Hohenzollern
Hohenzollern
heads of the German Reich, this marked the end of the Western Empire. Although there is a living heir, Karl von Habsburg, to the Habsburg
Habsburg
dynasty, as well as a Pope
Pope
and pretenders to the positions of the electors, and although all the medieval coronation regalia are still preserved in Austria, the legal abolition of all aristocratic prerogatives of the former electors and the imposition of republican constitutions in Germany and Austria render quite remote any potential for a revival of the Holy Roman Empire.

For rulers of Italy
Italy
after Romulus "Augustulus" and Julius Nepos, see list of barbarian kings.

For the Roman emperors who ruled in the East after The Fall in the West, see List of Byzantine emperors.

For emperors of the Holy Roman Empire
Roman Empire
in the West, see Holy Roman Emperor.

See also[edit]

Byzantine Emperor Imperator Imperial cult Interregnum Justitium King
King
of Rome Roman dictator Roman Emperors family tree; also Julio-Claudian family tree
Julio-Claudian family tree
and Severan dynasty
Severan dynasty
family tree Roman usurper

Lists:

List of Imperial Victory Titles List of Roman emperors List of Roman usurpers List of condemned Roman emperors

References[edit]

^ Galinsky 2005, pp. 13–14 ^ Alston 1998, p. 39 ^ Williams 1997, p. 147 ^ Heather 2005, p. 28 ^ Kazhdan 1991, p. 264 ^ İlber Ortaylı, "Büyük Constantin ve İstanbul", Milliyet, 28 May 2011. ^ Barnes 2009, pp. 278–279 ^ Barnes 2009, pp. 279–282 ^ a b The Oxford Classical Dictionary, entry 'Imperator', Third Edition, Oxford University Press, 1996. ^ Cassius Dio, 43.44.2. ^ Goldsworth 2010, p. 443 ^ Rees 2004, pp. 46–56, 60 ^ Ostrogorsky 1957, p. 387 ^ On the imperial claims of the Grand Komnenos and international response to them, see N. Oikonomides, "The Chancery of the Grand Komnenoi; Imperial Tradition and Political Reality", Archeion Pontou, 35 (1979), pp. 299–332 ^ Constantine XI Palaeologus (1449–53) Fall of Constantinople
Constantinople
"Ealo h Polis" ^ Ostrogorsky 1957, p. 164 ^ Ostrogorsky 1957, p. 164f ^ Ostrogorsky 1957, p. 175 ^ Ostrogorsky 1957, p. 176 ^ Eichmann, Eduard (1942). Die Kaiserkrönung im Abendland: ein Beitrag zur Geistesgeschichte des Mittelalters, mit besonderer Berücksichtigung des kirchlichen Rechte, der Liturgie und der Kirchenpolitik. Echter-Verlag. p. 33.

Sources[edit]

Alston, Richard (1998). Aspects of Roman history, AD 14–117. Psychology Press. ISBN 978-0-415-13237-4. Retrieved 2011-08-03.  Barnes, Timothy (2009). "The first Emperor: the view of late antiquity". In Griffin, Miriam. A Companion to Julius Caesar. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-1-4443-0845-7.  Galinsky, Karl (2005). The Cambridge companion to the Age of Augustus. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-80796-8. Retrieved 2011-08-03.  Goldsworth, Adrian (2010). How Rome
Rome
Fell: Death of a Superpower. Yale University Press. ISBN 9780300164268.  Heather, Peter (2005). The Fall of the Roman Empire. ISBN 978-0-330-49136-5. Retrieved 2011-08-03.  Kazhdan, Alexander, ed. (1991), Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-504652-6  Ostrogorsky, George (1957). History of the Byzantine State. Translated by Hussey, Joan. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.  Rees, Roger (2004). Diocletian
Diocletian
and the Tetrarchy. Edinburgh, UK: Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 978-0-7486-1661-9.  Williams, Stephen (1997) [1985]. Diocletian
Diocletian
and the Roman recovery. New York, NY: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-91827-5. Retrieved 2011-08-03. 

Further reading[edit]

Scarre, Chris. Chronicle of the Roman Emperors: The Reign-by-Reign Record of the Rulers of Imperial Rome. London: Thames & Hudson, October 1, 1995. ISBN 0-500-05077-5. (hardcover)

External links[edit]

De Imperatoribus Romanis Rulers of Rome "Decadence, Rome
Rome
and Romania, and the Emperors Who Weren't", by Kelley L. Ross, Ph.D. UNRV.com The Roman Law Library List of Greatest Roman Emperors

v t e

Roman and Byzantine emperors

Principate 27 BC – 235 AD

Augustus Tiberius Caligula Claudius Nero Galba Otho Vitellius Vespasian Titus Domitian Nerva Trajan Hadrian Antoninus Pius Marcus Aurelius
Marcus Aurelius
and Lucius Verus Commodus Pertinax Didius Julianus (Pescennius Niger) (Clodius Albinus) Septimius Severus Caracalla
Caracalla
with Geta Macrinus
Macrinus
with Diadumenian Elagabalus Severus Alexander

Crisis 235–284

Maximinus Thrax Gordian I
Gordian I
and Gordian II Pupienus
Pupienus
and Balbinus Gordian III Philip the Arab
Philip the Arab
with Philip II Decius
Decius
with Herennius Etruscus Hostilian Trebonianus Gallus
Trebonianus Gallus
with Volusianus Aemilianus Valerian Gallienus
Gallienus
with Saloninus and Valerian II Claudius
Claudius
Gothicus Quintillus Aurelian Tacitus Florian Probus Carus Carinus
Carinus
and Numerian

Gallic Emperors: Postumus (Laelianus) Marius Victorinus (Domitianus II) Tetricus I
Tetricus I
with Tetricus II
Tetricus II
as Caesar

Dominate 284–395

Diocletian
Diocletian
(whole empire) Diocletian
Diocletian
(East) and Maximian
Maximian
(West) Diocletian
Diocletian
(East) and Maximian
Maximian
(West) with Galerius
Galerius
(East) and Constantius Chlorus
Constantius Chlorus
(West) as Caesares Galerius
Galerius
(East) and Constantius Chlorus
Constantius Chlorus
(West) with Severus (West) and Maximinus II (East) as Caesares Galerius
Galerius
(East) and Severus (West) with Constantine the Great
Constantine the Great
(West) and Maximinus II (East) as Caesares Galerius
Galerius
(East) and Maxentius
Maxentius
(West) with Constantine the Great
Constantine the Great
(West) and Maximinus II (East) as Caesares Galerius
Galerius
(East) and Licinius
Licinius
I (West) with Constantine the Great (West) and Maximinus II (East) as Caesares Maxentius
Maxentius
(alone) Licinius
Licinius
I (West) and Maximinus II (East) with Constantine the Great (Self-proclaimed Augustus) and Valerius Valens Licinius
Licinius
I (East) and Constantine the Great
Constantine the Great
(West) with Licinius
Licinius
II, Constantine II, and Crispus
Crispus
as Caesares (Martinian) Constantine the Great
Constantine the Great
(whole empire) with son Crispus
Crispus
as Caesar Constantine II Constans
Constans
I Magnentius
Magnentius
with Decentius as Caesar Constantius II
Constantius II
with Vetranio Julian Jovian Valentinian the Great Valens Gratian Valentinian II Magnus Maximus
Magnus Maximus
with Victor Theodosius the Great (Eugenius)

Western Empire 395–480

Honorius Constantine III with son Constans
Constans
II) Constantius III Joannes Valentinian III Petronius Maximus
Petronius Maximus
with Palladius Avitus Majorian Libius Severus Anthemius Olybrius Glycerius Julius Nepos Romulus Augustulus

Eastern/ Byzantine Empire 395–1204

Arcadius Theodosius II Pulcheria Marcian Leo I the Thracian Leo II Zeno (first reign) Basiliscus
Basiliscus
with son Marcus as co-emperor Zeno (second reign) Anastasius I Dicorus Justin I Justinian the Great Justin II Tiberius
Tiberius
II Constantine Maurice with son Theodosius as co-emperor Phocas Heraclius Constantine III Heraklonas Constans
Constans
II Constantine IV
Constantine IV
with brothers Heraclius
Heraclius
and Tiberius
Tiberius
and then Justinian II as co-emperors Justinian II
Justinian II
(first reign) Leontios Tiberios III Justinian II
Justinian II
(second reign) with son Tiberius
Tiberius
as co-emperor Philippikos Anastasios II Theodosius III Leo III the Isaurian Constantine V Artabasdos Leo IV the Khazar Constantine VI Irene Nikephoros I Staurakios Michael I Rangabe
Michael I Rangabe
with son Theophylact as co-emperor Leo V the Armenian
Leo V the Armenian
with Symbatios-Constantine as junior emperor Michael II
Michael II
the Amorian Theophilos Michael III Basil I
Basil I
the Macedonian Leo VI the Wise Alexander Constantine VII
Constantine VII
Porphyrogennetos Romanos I Lekapenos
Romanos I Lekapenos
with sons Christopher, Stephen and Constantine as junior co-emperors Romanos II Nikephoros II Phokas John I Tzimiskes Basil II Constantine VIII Zoë (first reign) and Romanos III Argyros Zoë (first reign) and Michael IV the Paphlagonian Michael V Kalaphates Zoë (second reign) with Theodora Zoë (second reign) and Constantine IX Monomachos Constantine IX Monomachos
Constantine IX Monomachos
(sole emperor) Theodora Michael VI Bringas Isaac I Komnenos Constantine X Doukas Romanos IV Diogenes Michael VII Doukas
Michael VII Doukas
with brothers Andronikos and Konstantios and son Constantine Nikephoros III Botaneiates Alexios I Komnenos John II Komnenos
John II Komnenos
with Alexios Komnenos as co-emperor Manuel I Komnenos Alexios II Komnenos Andronikos I Komnenos Isaac II Angelos Alexios III Angelos Alexios IV Angelos Nicholas Kanabos (chosen by the Senate) Alexios V Doukas

Empire of Nicaea 1204–1261

Constantine Laskaris Theodore I Laskaris John III Doukas Vatatzes Theodore II Laskaris John IV Laskaris

Eastern/ Byzantine Empire 1261–1453

Michael VIII Palaiologos Andronikos II Palaiologos
Palaiologos
with Michael IX Palaiologos
Palaiologos
as co-emperor Andronikos III Palaiologos John V Palaiologos John VI Kantakouzenos
John VI Kantakouzenos
with John V Palaiologos
Palaiologos
and Matthew Kantakouzenos as co-emperors John V Palaiologos Andronikos IV Palaiologos John VII Palaiologos Andronikos V Palaiologos Manuel II Palaiologos John VIII Palaiologos Constantine XI Palaiologos

Italics indicates a co-emperor, while underlining indicates an usurper.

v t e

Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome
topics

Outline Timeline

Epochs

Foundation Kingdom

overthrow

Republic

Empire

Pax Romana Principate Dominate Western Empire

fall historiography of the fall

Byzantine Empire

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Constitution

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Executive magistrates SPQR

Government

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Magistrates

Ordinary

Consul Censor Praetor Tribune Tribune
Tribune
of the Plebs Military
Military
tribune Quaestor Aedile Promagistrate Governor

Extraordinary

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Law

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castra

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Society

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Latin

History Alphabet Versions

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Romance languages

Writers

Latin

Ammianus Marcellinus Appian Appuleius Asconius Pedianus Augustine Aurelius Victor Ausonius Boëthius Caesar Catullus Cassiodorus Censorinus Cicero Claudian Columella Ennius Eutropius Fabius Pictor Festus Florus Frontinus Fulgentius Gellius Horace Jerome Juvenal Livy Lucan Lucretius Macrobius Marcus Aurelius Martial Orosius Ovid Petronius Phaedrus Plautus Pliny the Elder Pliny the Younger Priscian Propertius Quintilian Quintus Curtius Rufus Sallust Seneca the Elder Seneca the Younger Servius Sidonius Apollinaris Statius Suetonius Symmachus Tacitus Terence Tertullian Tibullus Valerius Antias Valerius Maximus Varro Velleius Paterculus Verrius Flaccus Virgil Vitruvius

Greek

Arrian Cassius Dio Diodorus Siculus Dionysius of Halicarnassus Dioscorides Eusebius of Caesaria Galen Herodian Josephus Pausanias Philostratus Phlegon of Tralles Photius Plutarch Polybius Porphyrius Procopius Strabo Zonaras Zosimus

Major cities

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Lists and other topics

Cities and towns Climate Consuls Distinguished women Emperors Generals Gentes Geographers Institutions Laws Legacy Legions Nomina Tribunes Wars and battles

Fiction Films

.