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List of Roman emperors facts for kids

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Augustus (Octavian), the first Roman Emperor of the Principate Era whose ascension ended republic rule at Rome.

Roman Emperors were rulers of the Roman Empire, wielding power over its citizens and military. The empire was developed as the Roman Republic invaded and occupied most of Europe and portions of northern Africa and western Asia. Under the republic, regions of the empire were ruled by provincial governors answerable to and authorised by the "Senate and People of Rome".

Rome and its senate were ruled by a variety of magistrates – of whom the consuls were the most powerful. The republic ended, and the emperors were created, when these magistrates became legally and practically subservient to one citizen with power over all other magistrates. Augustus, the first emperor, was careful to maintain the facade of republican rule, taking no specific title for his position and calling the concentration of magisterial power Princeps Senatus (the first man of the senate).

This style of government lasted for 300 years, and is thus called the Principate era.

In the late 3rd century, after the Crisis of the Third Century, Diocletian formalised and embellished the recent manner of imperial rule, establishing the so-called 'Dominate' period of the Roman Empire. This was characterised by the explicit increase of authority in the person of the Emperor, and the use of the style 'Dominus Noster' ('Our Lord').

The rise of powerful Barbarian tribes along the borders of the empire and the challenge they posed to defense of far-flung borders and unstable imperial succession led Diocletian to experiment with sharing imperial titles and responsibilities among several individuals - a partial reversion to pre-Augustian Roman traditions. For nearly two centuries thereafter there was often more than one emperor at a time, frequently dividing the administration of the vast territories between them.

The Empire and chain of emperors continued until the death of Constantine XI and the capture of Constantinople by the Ottoman Empire in 1453. The use of the modern terms "Byzantium," "Byzantine Empire," and "Byzantine Emperor" to refer to the medieval period of the Roman Empire has been common, but not universal, among Western scholars since the 18th century, and continues to be a subject of specialist debate today.

The Principate

(27 BC–68 AD) Julio-Claudian dynasty

Portrait Name Birth Succession Reign Death Time in office
Augustus of Rome.jpg Augustus
September 23, 63 BC, Rome, Italia Great-nephew and adopted son of Julius Caesar; became de facto emperor as a result of the 'first settlement' between himself and the Roman Senate. January 16, 27 BC – August 19, 14 AD August 19, 14 AD (aged 75)
Natural causes
40 years, 7 months and 3 days
Tiberius NyCarlsberg01.jpg Tiberius
November 16, 42 BC, Rome Natural son of Livia Drusilla, Augustus' third wife, by a previous marriage; stepbrother and third husband of Julia the Elder, daughter of Augustus; adopted by Augustus as his son and heir. September 18, 14 AD – March 16, 37 AD March 16, 37 AD (aged 77)
Probably natural causes, possibly assassinated by Caligula or praetorian prefect Naevius Sutorius Macro
22 years, 5 months and 27 days
Caligula - MET - 14.37.jpg Caligula
August 31, 12 AD, Antium, Italia Great-nephew and adoptive grandson of Tiberius; natural son of Germanicus; great-grandson of Augustus. March 18, 37 AD – January 24, 41 AD January 24, 41 AD (aged 28)
Assassinated in a conspiracy involving senators and Praetorian Guards.
3 years, 10 months and 6 days
Claudius crop.jpg Claudius
August 1, 10 BC, Lugdunum, Gallia Lugdunensis Uncle of Caligula; brother of Germanicus; nephew of Tiberius; great-nephew and step-grandson of Augustus; proclaimed emperor by the Praetorian Guard. January 25/26, 41 AD – October 13, 54 AD October 13, 54 AD (aged 63)
Probably poisoned by his wife Agrippina the Younger, in favour of her son Nero, possibly natural causes.
13 years, 8 months and 18/19 days
Nero 1.JPG Nero
December 15, 37 AD, Antium, Italia Great-nephew, stepson, son-in-law and adopted son of Claudius; nephew of Caligula; great-great-nephew of Tiberius; grandson of Germanicus; great-great-grandson of Augustus October 13, 54 AD – June 9, 68 AD June 9, 68 AD (aged 30)
Committed suicide after being declared a public enemy by the Senate.
13 years, 7 months and 27 days

(68–96) Year of the Four Emperors and Flavian dynasty

Portrait Name Birth Succession Reign Death Time in office
Stockholm - Antikengalerie 4 - Büste Kaiser Galba.jpg Galba
December 24 3 BC, Near Terracina, Italia Seized power after Nero's suicide, with support of the Spanish legions June 8, 68 AD – January 15, 69 AD January 15, 69 AD (aged 70)
Murdered by Praetorian Guard in coup led by Otho
7 months and 7 days
Oth001.jpg Otho
April 28, 32 AD, Ferentinum, Italia Appointed by Praetorian Guard January 15, 69 AD – April 16, 69 AD April 16, 69 AD (aged 36)
Committed suicide after losing Battle of Bedriacum to Vitellius
3 months and 1 day (91 days)
Pseudo-Vitellius Louvre MR684.jpg Vitellius
September 24, 15 AD, Rome Seized power with support of German Legions (in opposition to Galba/Otho) April 17, 69 AD – December 20, 69 AD December 20, 69 AD (aged 54)
Murdered by Vespasian's troops
8 months and 3 days
Vespasianus01 pushkin edit.png Vespasian
November 17, 9 AD, Falacrine, Italia Seized power with the support of the eastern Legions (in opposition to Vitellius) December 21, 69 AD – June 24, 79 AD June 24, 79 AD (aged 69)
Natural causes
9 years, 6 months and 3 days
Titus of Rome.jpg Titus
December 30, 39 AD, Rome Son of Vespasian June 24, 79 AD – September 13, 81 AD September 13, 81 AD (aged 41)
Natural causes (fever)
2 years, 2 months and 20 days
Domiziano da collezione albani, fine del I sec. dc. 02.JPG Domitian
October 24, 51 AD, Rome Son of Vespasian September 14, 81 AD – September 18, 96 AD September 18, 96 AD (aged 44)
Assassinated by court officials
15 years and 4 days

(96–192) Nerva–Antonine dynasty

Portrait Name Birth Succession Reign Death Time in office
Nerva Tivoli Massimo.jpg Nerva
November 8, 30 AD, Narni, Italia Appointed by the Senate September 18, 96 AD – January 27, 98 AD January 27, 98 AD (aged 67)
Natural causes
1 year, 4 months and 9 days
Traianus Glyptothek Munich 336.jpg Trajan
September 18, 53 AD, Italica, Hispania Baetica Adopted son and heir of Nerva January 28, 98 AD – August 7, 117 AD August 7, 117 AD (aged 63)
Natural causes
19 years, 6 months and 10 days
Bust Hadrian Musei Capitolini MC817.jpg Hadrian
January 24, 76 AD, Italica, Hispania Baetica (or Rome) Adopted son and heir of Trajan August 11, 117 AD – July 10, 138 AD July 10, 138 AD (aged 62)
Natural causes
20 years, 10 months and 30 days
Antoninus Pius Glyptothek Munich 337.jpg Antoninus Pius
September 19, 86 AD, Near Lanuvium, Italia Adopted son and heir of Hadrian July 10, 138 AD – March 7, 161 AD March 7, 161 AD (aged 74)
Natural causes
22 years, 6 months and 28 days
Lucius Verus - MET - L.2007.26.jpg Lucius Verus
December 15, 130 AD, Rome Adopted son and heir of Antoninus Pius and son-in-law of Marcus Aurelius; Co-emperor with Marcus Aurelius until his death March 7, 161 AD – ? March 169 AD March 169 AD (aged 39)
Natural causes (Plague)
8 years
Marcus Aurelius Glyptothek Munich.jpg Marcus Aurelius
April 26, 121 AD, Rome Adopted son, son-in-law and heir of Antoninus Pius; Co-emperor with Lucius Verus until 169 AD March 7, 161 AD – March 17, 180 AD March 17, 180 AD (aged 58)
Natural causes
19 years and 10 days
Commodus Musei Capitolini MC1120.jpg Commodus
August 31, 161 AD, Lanuvium, Italia Natural son of Marcus Aurelius; joint emperor from 177 AD 177 AD – December 31, 192 AD December 31, 192 AD (aged 31)

Assassinated in palace, strangled to death in his bath

3 years as joint emperor,
12 as sole emperor

(193–235) Year of the Five Emperors and Severan dynasty

Portrait Name Birth Succession Reign Death Time in office
Alba Iulia National Museum of the Union 2011 - Possible Statue of Roman Emperor Pertinax Close Up, Apulum.JPG Pertinax
August 1, 126 AD, Alba, Italia Proclaimed emperor by Praetorian Guard January 1, 193 AD – March 28, 193 AD March 28, 193 AD (aged 66)
Murdered by Praetorian Guard
2 months and 27 days (86 days)
DidiusJulianusSest.jpg Didius Julianus
133 or 137 AD, Milan, Italia Won auction held by the Praetorian Guard for the position of emperor March 28, 193 AD – June 1, 193 AD June 1, 193 AD (aged 56 or 60)
Executed on orders of the Senate
2 months and 4 days (65 days)
Septimius Severus busto-Musei Capitolini.jpg Septimius Severus
April 11, 145 AD, Leptis Magna, Libya Seized power with support of Pannonian legions April 9, 193 AD – February 4, 211 AD February 4, 211 AD (aged 65)
Natural causes
17 years, 9 months and 26 days
Caracalla03 pushkin.jpg Caracalla
April 4, 188 AD, Lugdunum, Gallia Lugdunensis Son of Septimius Severus; co-emperor with Severus from 198 AD; with Severus and Geta from 209 AD until February 211 AD; co-emperor with Geta until December 211 AD 198 AD – April 8, 217 AD April 8, 217 AD (aged 29)
Murdered by a soldier as part of a conspiracy involving Macrinus
13 years as joint emperor
10 months with Geta
6 years as sole emperor
Publius Septimius Geta Louvre Ma1076.jpg Geta
March 7, 189 AD, Rome Son of Septimius Severus; co-emperor with Severus and Caracalla from 209 AD until February 211 AD; co-emperor with Caracalla until December 211 AD 209 AD – December 26, 211 AD December 19, 211 AD (aged 22)
Murdered on the orders of Caracalla
2 years as joint emperor
10 months with Caracalla
Bust of Macrinus - Palazzo Nuovo - Musei Capitolini - Rome 2016.jpg Macrinus

c. 165 AD, Iol Caesarea, Mauretania Praetorian Prefect to Caracalla, probably conspired to have Caracalla murdered and proclaimed himself emperor after Caracalla's death; made his son Diadumenian co-emperor in 218 AD April 11, 217 AD – June 8, 218 AD June 8, 218 AD (aged 53)
Both executed in favour of Elagabalus
1 year, 1 month and 28 days
Bust of Elagabalus - Palazzo Nuovo - Musei Capitolini - Rome 2016 (2).jpg Elagabalus
c. 203 AD, Emesa, Syria Grandson-in-law of Septimius Severus, alleged illegitimate son of Caracalla; proclaimed emperor by Syrian legions June 8, 218 AD – March 11, 222 AD March 11, 222 AD (aged 18)
Murdered by Praetorian Guard
3 years, 9 months and 3 days
Alexander severus.jpg Severus Alexander
October 1, 208 AD, Arca Caesarea, Syria Grandson-in-law of Septimius Severus, cousin and adoptive heir of Elagabalus March 13, 222 AD – March 18, 235 AD March 18, 235 AD (aged 26)
Murdered by the army
13 years and 5 days

(235–285) Crisis of the Third Century and Gordian dynasty

Portrait Name Birth Succession Reign Death Time in office
Maximinus Thrax Musei Capitolini MC473.jpg Maximinus Thrax
c. 173 AD, Thrace or Moesia Proclaimed emperor by German legions after the murder of Severus Alexander March 20, 235 AD – June 238 AD June 238 AD (aged 65)
Assassinated by Praetorian Guard
3 years, 3 months
Gordian I Musei Capitolini MC475.jpg Gordian I
c. 159 AD, Phrygia? Proclaimed emperor, whilst Pro-consul in Africa, during a revolt against Maximinus. Ruled jointly with his son Gordian II, and in opposition to Maximinus. Technically a usurper, but retrospectively legitimised by the accession of Gordian III March 22, 238 AD – April 12, 238 AD April 238 AD (aged 79)
Committed suicide upon hearing of the death of Gordian II.
21 days
GordianusIIsest.jpg Gordian II
c. 192 AD, ? Proclaimed emperor, alongside father Gordian I, in opposition to Maximinus by act of the Senate. March 22, 238 AD – April 12, 238 AD April 238 AD (aged 46)
Killed during the Battle of Carthage, fighting a pro-Maximinus army
21 days
Pupienus Musei Capitolini MC477.jpg Pupienus
c. 178 AD, ? Proclaimed joint emperor with Balbinus by the Senate in opposition to Maximinus; later co-emperor with Balbinus. April 22, 238 AD – July 29, 238 AD July 29, 238 AD (aged 68 or 73)
Assassinated by the Praetorian Guard
3 months and 7 days
Balbinus Hermitage.jpg Balbinus
? Proclaimed joint emperor with Pupienus by the Senate after death of Gordian I and II, in opposition to Maximinus; later co-emperor with Pupienus and Gordian III April 22, 238 AD – July 29, 238 AD July 29, 238 AD (aged 60)
Assassinated by Praetorian Guard
3 months and 7 days
Bust Gordianus III Louvre Ma1063.jpg Gordian III
January 20, 225 AD, Rome Proclaimed emperor by supporters of Gordian I and II, then by the Senate; joint emperor with Pupienus and Balbinus until July 238 AD. Grandson of Gordian I April 22, 238 AD – February 11, 244 AD February 11, 244 AD (aged 19)
Unknown; possibly murdered on orders of Philip I
5 years, 9 months and 20 days
Bust of emperor Philippus Arabus - Hermitage Museum.jpg Philip the Arab

with Philip II
c. 204 AD, Shahba, Syria Praetorian Prefect to Gordian III, took power after his death; made his son Philip II co-emperor in summer 247 AD February 244 AD – September/October 249 AD September/October 249 AD (aged 45)
Killed in the Battle of Verona by Decius
5 years
Emperor Traianus Decius (Mary Harrsch).jpg Decius

with Herennius Etruscus
c. 201 AD, Budalia, Pannonia Inferior Governor under Philip I; proclaimed emperor by Danubian legions then defeating & killing Philip in the Battle of Verona; made his son Herennius Etruscus co-emperor in early 251 AD September/ October 249 AD – June 251 AD June 251 AD (aged 50)
Both killed in the Battle of Abrittus fighting against the Goths
2 years
Sestertius Hostilian-s2771.jpg Hostilian
Sirmium Son of Decius, accepted as heir by the Senate June 251 AD – late 251 AD September/October 251 AD (aged 21)
Natural causes (plague)
4–5 months
Ritratto di trebonianno gallo III sec. dc. 01.JPG Trebonianus Gallus

206 AD, Italia Governor of Moesia Superior, proclaimed emperor by Danubian legions after Decius's death (and in opposition to Hostilian); made his son Volusianus co-emperor in late 251 AD. June 251 AD – August 253 AD August 253 AD (aged 47)
Assassinated by their own troops, in favour of Aemilian
2 years
Aemilian1.jpg Aemilianus
c. 207 AD Africa Governor of Moesia Superior, proclaimed emperor by Danubian legions after defeating the Goths; accepted as emperor after death of Gallus August 253 AD – October 253 AD September/October 253 AD (aged 40 or 46)
Assassinated by his own troops, in favour of Valerian
2 months
Aureus Valerian-RIC 0034-transparent.png Valerian
c. 195 AD Governor of Noricum and Raetia, proclaimed emperor by Rhine legions after death of Gallus; accepted as emperor after death of Aemilian October 253 AD – 260 AD After 260 AD (aged 60)
Captured in Battle of Edessa against Persians, died in captivity
7 years
Gallienus.jpg Gallienus

with Saloninus
218 AD Son of Valerian, made co-emperor in 253 AD; his son Saloninus is very briefly co-emperor in c. July 260 before assassination by Postumus. October 253 AD – September 268 AD September 268 AD (aged 50)
Murdered at Aquileia by his own commanders.
15 years
Santa Giulia 4.jpg Claudius Gothicus
May 10, 213 AD/214 AD, Sirmium Victorious general at Battle of Naissus, seized power after Gallienus's death September 268 AD – January 270 AD January 270 AD (aged 60)
Natural causes (plague)
1 year, 4 months
Antoninianus Quintillus-s3243.jpg Quintillus
?, Sirmium Brother of Claudius Gothicus, seized power after his death January 270 AD – September(?) 270 AD 270 AD (aged 58)
Unclear; possibly suicide or murder
Aureliancoin1.jpg Aurelian
September 9, 214 AD/215 AD, Sirmium Proclaimed emperor by Danubian legions after Claudius II's death, in opposition to Quintillus September(?) 270 AD – September 275 AD September 275 AD (aged 60-61)
Assassinated by Praetorian Guard
5 years
EmpereurTacite.jpg Tacitus
c. 200, Interamna Nahars, Italia Elected by the Senate to replace Aurelian, after a short interregnum September 25, 275 AD – June 276 AD June 276 AD (aged 76)
Natural causes (possibly assassinated)
9 months
Antoninianus Florianus-unpub ant hercules.jpg Florianus
? Brother of Tacitus, elected by the army in the west to replace him June 276 AD – September? 276 AD September? 276 AD
Assassinated by his own troops, in favour of Probus
3 months
Probus Musei Capitolini MC493.jpg Probus
232 AD, Sirmium Governor of the eastern provinces, proclaimed emperor by Danubian legions in opposition to Florian September? 276 AD – September/ October 282 AD September/ October 282 AD
Assassinated by his own troops, in favour of Carus
6 years
Antoninianus of Carus.jpg Carus
c. 230 AD, Narbo, Gallia Narbonensis Praetorian Prefect to Probus; seized power either before or after Probus was murdered; made his son Carinus co-emperor in early 283 AD September/ October 282 AD – late July/ early August 283 AD Late July/early August 283 AD
Natural causes? (Possibly killed by lightning)
10–11 months
NumerianusAntoninianus.jpg Numerian
? Son of Carus, succeeded him jointly with his brother Carinus Late July/early August 283 AD – 284 AD? 284 AD
Unclear; possibly assassinated
1 year
Montemartini - Carino 1030439.JPG Carinus
? Son of Carus, ruled shortly with him and then with his brother Numerian Early 283 AD – 285 AD 285 AD
Died in battle against Diocletian?
2 years

The Dominate

(284–364) Tetrarchy and Constantinian dynasty

Portrait Name Birth Succession Reign Death Time in office
Istanbul - Museo archeol. - Diocleziano (284-305 d.C.) - Foto G. Dall'Orto 28-5-2006.jpg Diocletian
c. December 22, 244 AD, Salona Proclaimed emperor by army after death of Numerian, and in opposition to Carinus; adopted Maximian as senior co-emperor in 286 AD November 20, 284 AD – May 1, 305 AD 3 December 311 AD
Abdicated; died of natural causes in Aspalatos
20 years, 5 months and 11 days
Toulouse - Musée Saint-Raymond - Maximien Hercule1.jpg Maximian
c. 250 AD, near Sirmium, Pannonia Adopted as senior co-emperor ('Augustus') in the west by Diocletian in 286 AD April 1, 286 AD – May 1, 305 AD 310 AD
Abdicated with Diocletian; twice tried to regain throne with, and then from Maxentius; captured by Constantine I and committed suicide at his behest
19 years and 1 month
Const.chlorus01 pushkin.jpg Constantius I
March 31 c. 250 AD, Dardania, Moesia Adopted as junior co-emperor ('Caesar') and heir by Maximian in 293 AD May 1, 305 AD – July 25, 306 AD 306 AD
Natural causes
1 year, 2 months and 24 days
Romuliana Galerius head.jpg Galerius
c. 260 AD, Felix Romuliana, Moesia Superior Adopted as junior co-emperor ('Caesar') and heir by Diocletian in 293 AD. Also son-in-law of Diocletian. May 1, 305 AD – May 311 AD 311 AD
Natural causes
6 years
Follis-Flavius Valerius Severus-trier RIC 650a.jpg Valerius Severus
? Adopted as junior co-emperor ('Caesar') and heir by Constantius I Chlorus in 305 AD; succeeded as Augustus in 306; opposed by Maxentius and Constantine I Summer 306 AD – March/ April 307 AD September 16, 307 AD
Captured by Maxentius and forced to commit suicide (or murdered)
1 year
Rome-Capitole-StatueConstantin.jpg Constantine the Great
February 27 c. 272 AD, Naissus, Moesia Superior Son of Constantius I Chlorus, proclaimed emperor by his father's troops; accepted as Caesar (west) by Galerius in 306 AD; promoted to Augustus (west) in 307 AD by Maximian after death of Severus II; refused relegation to Caesar in 309 AD July 25, 306 AD – May 22, 337 AD May 22, 337 AD
Natural causes
30 years, 9 months and 27 days
Maxentius02 pushkin.jpg Maxentius
c. 278 AD, ? Son of Maximian, seized power in 306 after death of Constantius I Chlorus, in opposition to Severus and Constantine I; made Caesar (west) by Maximian in 307 AD after the death of Severus October 28, 306 AD – October 28, 312 AD October 28, 312 AD
Died at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, against Constantine I
6 years
Daza01 pushkin.jpg Maximinus II
November 20 c. 270 AD, Dacia Aureliana Nephew of Galerius, adopted as Caesar and his heir in 305 AD; succeeded as Augustus (shared with Licinius I) in 311 AD May 1, 311 AD – July/August 313 AD July/August 313 AD
Defeated in civil war against Licinius I; probably committed suicide thereafter
2 years
Aureus of Licinius.png Licinius I

Valerius Valens
c. 250 AD, Felix Romuliana, Moesia Superior Son-in-law of Constantius Chlorus, appointed Augustus in the west by Galerius in 308 AD, in opposition to Maxentius; became Augustus in the east in 311 AD after the death of Galerius (shared with Maximinus II); defeated Maximinus in civil war to become sole eastern Augustus in 313 AD; appointed Valerius Valens in 317 AD, and Martinian in 324 AD as western Augustus, in opposition to Constantine, both being executed within weeks. November 11, 308 AD – September 18, 324 AD 325 AD
Defeated in civil war against Constantine I in 324 AD and captured; executed on the orders of Constantine the next year
15 years, 10 months and 7 days
Campidoglio, Roma - Costantino II cesare dettaglio.jpg Constantine II
316 AD, Arelate, Gallia Narbonensis Son of Constantine I; appointed Caesar in 317 AD, succeeded as joint Augustus with his brothers Constantius II and Constans I May 22, 337 AD – 340 AD 340 AD
Died in battle against Constans I
3 years
Bust of Constantius II (Mary Harrsch).jpg Constantius II
August 7, 317 AD, Sirmium, Pannonia Son of Constantine I; succeeded as joint Augustus with his brothers Constantine II and Constans I; sole emperor from 350 AD May 22, 337 AD – November 3, 361 AD 361 AD
Natural causes
24 years, 5 months and 12 days
Emperor Constans Louvre Ma1021.jpg Constans I
320 AD, ? Son of Constantine I; succeeded as joint Augustus with his brothers Constantine II and Constantius II May 22, 337 AD – 350 AD 350 AD
Assassinated on the orders of the usurper Magnentius
13 years
Maiorina-Vetranio-siscia RIC 281.jpg Vetranio
?, Moesia General of Constans I, proclaimed Caesar against Magnentius and temporarily accepted as Augustus of the west by Constantius II. March 1, 350 AD – December 25, 350 AD c. 356
As a private citizen, after abdication.
9 months and 24 days
JulianusII-antioch(360-363)-CNG.jpg Julian
331 AD/332 AD, Constantinople, Thracia Cousin of Constantius II; made Caesar of the west in 355 AD; proclaimed Augustus by his troops in 360; sole emperor after the death of Constantius February 360 AD – June 26, 363 AD June 26, 363 AD
Mortally wounded in battle
3 years
Jovian1.jpg Jovian
331 AD, Singidunum, Moesia General of Julian's army; proclaimed emperor by the troops on Julian's death June 26, 363 AD – February 17, 364 AD February 17, 364 AD
Natural causes (suffocated on fumes)
7 months and 22 days

(364–392) Valentinian dynasty

Portrait Name Birth Succession Reign Death Time in office
ValentinianI.jpg Valentinian I
321 AD, Cibalae, Pannonia Elected to replace Jovian by the army February 26, 364 AD – November 17, 375 AD November 17, 375 AD
Natural causes
11 years, 8 months and 22 days
Valens Honorius Musei Capitolini MC494.jpg Valens
328 AD, Cibalae, Pannonia Brother of Valentinian I, appointed co-augustus (for the east) by him March 28, 364 AD – August 9, 378 AD August 9, 378 AD
Killed in Battle of Adrianople against the Goths
14 years, 4 months and 12 days
Gratian Solidus.jpg Gratian
April 18/May 23, 359 AD, Sirmium, Pannonia Son of Valentinian I, appointed 'junior' Augustus by him in 367, became 'senior' augustus (for the west) after Valentinian's death. August 4, 367 AD – August 25, 383 AD August 25, 383 AD
Murdered by rebellious army faction
16 years and 21 days
Statue of emperor Valentinian II detail.JPG Valentinian II
371 AD, Milan, Italia Son of Valentinian I, proclaimed emperor by Pannonian army after Valentinian's death; accepted as co-Augustus for the west by Gratian November 17, 375 AD – May 15, 392 AD May 15, 392 AD
Unclear; possibly murdered or committed suicide
16 years, 5 months and 28 days

(379–457) Theodosian dynasty

Portrait Name Birth Succession Reign Death Time in office
Theodosius.jpg Theodosius I
January 11, 347 AD, Cauca, Hispania Son-in-law of Valentinian I, appointed as Augustus for the east by Gratian after the death of Valens; became sole 'senior' Augustus after death of Valentinian II January 1, 379 AD – January 17, 395 AD January 17, 395 AD
Natural causes
16 years and 16 days
Arcadius Istanbul Museum.PNG Arcadius

c. 377 AD, Hispania Son of Theodosius I; appointed as 'junior' Augustus for the east by Theodosius in 383; became 'senior' Augustus for the east after his father's death January 383 AD – May 1, 408 AD May 1, 408 AD
Natural causes
25 years
Solidus Magnus Maximus-constantinople Dep 38-7 (cropped).jpg Magnus Maximus

with Flavius Victor

c. 335 AD, Hispania Usurper in the West; legitimized along with his son Victor by Theodosius I as emperors of Britannia and Gaul. 383/384 AD – August 28, 388 AD August 28, 388 AD
Executed by Theodosius I in Aquileia after the Battle of the Save; Victor killed by Arbogast
4/5 years
Consular diptych Probus 406.jpg Honorius

September 9, 384 AD, ? Son of Theodosius I; appointed as 'junior' Augustus for the west by Theodosius in 393 (after the death of Valentinian II); became 'senior' Augustus for the west after his father's death January 23, 393 AD – August 15, 423 AD August 15, 423 AD
Natural causes
30 years, 6 months and 23 days
Theodosius II Louvre Ma1036.jpg Theodosius II

April 10, 401 AD, Constantinople? Son of Arcadius; appointed as 'junior' Augustus for the east by Arcadius in 402; became 'senior' Augustus for the east after his father's death January 402 AD – July 28, 450 AD July 28, 450 AD
Injuries suffered during a hunting accident
48 years
Constantineiii.jpg Constantine III

with Constans II

? Usurper who declared himself emperor in the west in 407, recognized as co-emperor by Honorius in 409. Elevated his son Constans II to co-emperor in 409, who was not recognized by Honorius. 407/409 AD - August or September 411 AD August or September 411 AD
Executed by Constantius III
2 years
Solidus Constantius III-RIC 1325.jpg Constantius III

?, Naissus, Moesia Superior Married to Theodosius I's daughter Galla Placidia, elevated to co-Augustus for the west by Honorius February 8, 421 AD – September 2, 421 AD September 2, 421 AD
Natural causes
6 months and 25 days
Solidus Johannes-s4283.jpg Joannes

? A senior civil servant under Honorius, proclaimed emperor by Castinus; not recognized by the Eastern Empire August 27, 423 AD – May 425 AD June or July 425 AD
Defeated in battle by Theodosius II and Valentinian III, captured and executed
2 years
Solidus ValentinianIII-wedding.jpg Valentinian III

July 2, 419 AD, Ravenna, Italia Son of Constantius III, appointed Caesar for the west by Theodosius II after the death of Honorius, in opposition to the regime of Joannes; became Augustus for the west after the defeat of Joannes October 23, 424 AD – March 16, 455 AD March 16, 455 AD
Assassinated, possibly at the behest of Petronius Maximus
30 years, 3 months and 24 days
Solidus Marcian RIC 0509.jpg Marcian

396, Thrace or Illyria Nominated as successor (and husband) by Pulcheria, sister of Theodosius II Summer 450 AD – January 457 AD January 457 AD
Natural causes
7 years

(455–476) The last emperors of the Western Empire

Portrait Name Birth Succession Reign Death Time in office
Solidus Petronius Maximus-RIC 2201.jpg Petronius Maximus
c. 396 AD, ? Son-in-law of Theodosius II, proclaimed himself emperor with the support of the army, after the death of Valentinian III. Not recognized by the Eastern Empire. March 17, 455 AD – May 31, 455 AD May 31, 455 AD
Murdered, probably stoned to death by the Roman mob
2 months and 14 days
Tremissis Avitus-RIC 2402.jpg Avitus
c. 385 AD, ? Magister militum under Petronius Maximus, proclaimed emperor by the Visigoth king Theoderic II after Petronius's death July 9, 455 AD – October 17, 456 AD after 17 October 456 AD
Deposed by his Magister militum, Ricimer; became bishop of Placentia; murdered at some point afterwards
1 year, 3 months and 8 days
Impero d'occidente, maggioriano, solido in oro (arles), 457-461.JPG Majorian
November 420 AD, ? Proclaimed emperor by his troops. Recognized by the Eastern Empire at the behest of Ricimer. April 457 AD – August 2, 461 AD August 7, 461 AD
Deposed and beheaded on the orders of Ricimer.
4 years
Libio Severo - MNR Palazzo Massimo.jpg Libius Severus
?, Lucania, Italia Appointed emperor by Ricimer. Not recognized by the Eastern Empire. November 461 AD – August 465 AD August 465 AD
Probably poisoned by Ricimer
4 years
Anthemius.jpg Anthemius
c. 420 AD Son-in-law of Marcian, appointed emperor by Leo I, with the consent of Ricimer. April 12, 467 AD – July 11, 472 AD July 11, 472 AD
Executed by Ricimer or Gundobad (Ricimer's nephew).
5 years, 2 months and 29 days
Anicius Olybrius.png Olybrius
c. 420 AD Son-in-law of Valentinian III; appointed emperor by Ricimer. Not recognized by the Eastern Empire. July 11, 472 AD – November 2, 472 AD November 2, 472 AD
Natural causes
3 months and 22 days
Glicerio - MNR Palazzo Massimo.jpg Glycerius
? Appointed emperor by Gundobad (Ricimer's successor). Not recognized by the Eastern Empire. March 473 AD – June 474 AD after 480 AD
Deposed by Julius Nepos, became Bishop of Salona, time and manner of death unknown
1 year
Julius Nepos Tremissis.jpg Julius Nepos
c. 430 AD Nephew-in-law of the eastern emperor Leo I (and nephew of Marcellinus) appointed emperor in opposition to Glycerius June 474 AD – August 28, 475 AD (in Italy); – spring 480 AD (in Gaul and Dalmatia) 480 AD
Deposed in Italy by Flavius Orestes, ruled in balance of Western Empire until assassination in 480. Maintained as figurehead in Italy by Odoacer to his death in 480.
1 year/6 years
RomulusAugustus.jpg Romulus Augustulus
c. 460 AD, ? Appointed by his father, Orestes. Not recognized by the Eastern Empire. October 31, 475 AD – September 4, 476 AD (in Italy) Unknown.
Regarded as emperor more from historical convention than accuracy, his rule never extended beyond portions of the Italian peninsula and was not recognized by Eastern Emperor Zeno. Deposed by Odoacer, who then ruled in the name of Julius Nepos until the latter's death in 480, which formally ended the separate western empire; most likely lived out his life on a private villa in obscurity.
10 months and 4 days

Eastern emperors

(457–518) Leonid dynasty

Name Reign Comments
Leo I Louvre Ma1012.jpg Leo I "the Thracian", "the Butcher", or "the Great"
(Flavius Valerius Leo)
7 February 457 –
18 January 474
Born in Dacia ca. 400, and of Thracian Bessian origin, Leo became a low-ranking officer and served as an attendant of the Gothic commander-in-chief of the army, Aspar, who chose him as emperor on Marcian's death. He was the first emperor to be crowned by the Patriarch of Constantinople. His reign was marked by the pacification of the Danube frontier and peace with Persia, which allowed him to intervene in the affairs of the western empire, supporting candidates for the throne and dispatching an expedition to recover Carthage from the Vandals in 468. Initially a puppet of Aspar, Leo began promoting the Isaurians as a counterweight to Aspar's Goths, marrying his daughter Ariadne to the Isaurian leader Tarasicodissa (Zeno). With their support, in 471 Aspar was murdered and Gothic power over the army was broken.
Leo (474)-coin.jpg Leo II "the Little"
(Flavius Leo)
18 January –
17 November 474
Born ca. 467, he was the grandson of Leo I by Leo's daughter Ariadne and her Isaurian husband, Zeno. Raised to Caesar and then co-emperor in autumn 473, soon after his accession Leo II crowned his father Zeno as co-emperor and effective regent. Died shortly after, possibly poisoned.
Zeno.png Zeno
(Flavius Zeno)
17 November 474 –
9 April 491
Born ca. 425 in Isauria, originally named Tarasicodissa. As the leader of Leo I's Isaurian soldiers, he rose to comes domesticorum, married the emperor's daughter Ariadne and took the name Zeno, and played a crucial role in the elimination of Aspar and his Goths. He was named co-emperor by his son on 9 February 474, and became sole ruler upon the latter's death, but had to flee to his native country before Basiliscus in 475, regaining control of the capital in 476. Zeno concluded peace with the Vandals, saw off challenges against him by Illus and Verina, and secured peace in the Balkans by enticing the Ostrogoths under Theodoric the Great to migrate to Italy. Zeno's reign also saw the end of the western line of emperors. His pro-Monophysite stance made him unpopular and his promulgation of the Henotikon resulted in the Acacian Schism with the papacy.
Basiliscus.jpg Basiliscus
(Flavius Basiliscus)
9 January 475 –
August 476
General and brother-in-law of Leo I, he seized power from Zeno but was again deposed by him. Died in 476/477
Anastasius I (emperor).jpg Anastasius I
(Flavius Anastasius)
11 April 491 –
9 July 518
Son-in-law of Leo I, born ca. 430 at Dyrrhachium and of Illyrian origin, he was a palace official (silentiarius) when he was chosen as her husband and Emperor by Empress-dowager Ariadne. He was nicknamed "Dikoros", because of his heterochromia. Anastasius reformed the tax system and the Byzantine coinage and proved a frugal ruler, so that by the end of his reign he left a substantial surplus. His Monophysite sympathies led to wideaspread opposition, most notably the Revolt of Vitalian and the Acacian Schism. His reign was also marked by the first Bulgar raids into the Balkans and by a war with Persia over the foundation of Dara. He died childless and became the last Roman Emperor to be deified on his death.

(518–602) Justinian dynasty

Name Reign Comments
JustinI.jpg Justin I
(Flavius Iustinus)
July 518 –
1 August 527
Born c. 450 at Bederiana (Justiniana Prima), Dardania to Thraco-Illyrian parents. Officer and commander of the Excubitors bodyguard under Anastasius I, he was elected by army and people upon the death of Anastasius I.
Mosaic of Justinianus I - Basilica San Vitale (Ravenna).jpg Justinian I "the Great"
(Flavius Petrus Sabbatius Iustinianus)
1 August 527 –
13/14 November 565
Born in 482/483 at Tauresium (Taor), Dardania. Nephew of Justin I, possibly raised to co-emperor on 1 April 527. Succeeded on Justin I's death. Retained power despite the Nika Riots of 532. Justinian's supreme general, Belisarius, reconquered much of Eastern and Central Europe from the Ostrogoths. Contracted the Bubonic Plague and fell into a coma. Empress Theodora acted as regent during Justinian's coma.
Justin II.jpg Justin II
(Flavius Iustinus Iunior)
14 November 565 –
5 October 578
Born c. 520. Nephew of Justinian I, he seized the throne on the death of Justinian I with support of army and Senate. Became insane, hence in 573–574 under the regency of his wife Sophia, and in 574–578 under the regency of Tiberius Constantine.
Tiberius II.jpg Tiberius II Constantine
(Flavius Tiberius Constantinus)
5 October 578 –
14 August 582
Born c. 535, commander of the Excubitors, friend and adoptive son of Justin. Was named Caesar and regent in 574. Succeeded on Justin II's death.
Emperor Maurice.jpg Maurice
(Flavius Mauricius Tiberius)
14 August 582 –
22 November 602
Born in 539 at Arabissus, Cappadocia. Became an official and later a general. Married the daughter of Tiberius II and succeeded him upon his death. Named his son Theodosius as co-emperor in 590. Deposed by Phocas and executed on 27 November 602 at Chalcedon.

(602–610) Non-dynastic

Name Reign Comments
Phocas (emperor).jpg Phocas
(Φωκᾶς, Flavius Phocas)
23 November 602 –
4 October 610
Subaltern in the Balkan army, he led a rebellion that deposed Maurice. Increasingly unpopular and tyrannical, he was deposed and executed by Heraclius.

(610–695) Heraclian dynasty

Name Reign Comments
Tremissis of Heraclius.jpg Heraclius
(Ἡράκλειος, Flavius Heraclius)
5 October 610 –
11 February 641
Born c. 575 as the eldest son of the Exarch of Africa, Heraclius the Elder. Began a revolt against Phocas in 609 and deposed him in October 610. Brought the Byzantine-Sassanid War of 602–628 to successful conclusion but was unable to stop the Muslim conquest of Syria. Officially replaced Latin with Greek as the language of administration and in 629 introduced the new title basileus Rhomaíōn.
Heraclius and sons.jpg Constantine III
formally Heraclius New Constantine
(Ἡράκλειος νέος Κωνσταντῖνος, Heraclius Novus Constantinus)
11 February –
24/26 May 641
Born on 3 May 612 as the eldest son of Heraclius by his first wife Fabia Eudokia. Named co-emperor in 613, he succeeded to throne with his younger brother Heraklonas following the death of Heraclius. Died of tuberculosis, allegedly poisoned by Empress-dowager Martina.
Heraclius and sons.jpg Heraklonas
(Ἡρακλωνᾶς, Heraclianus)
formally Constantine Heraclius
(Κωνσταντίνος Ἡράκλειος, Constantinus Heraclius)
11 February 641 –
September 641
Born in 626 to Heraclius' second wife Martina, named co-emperor in 638. Succeeded to throne with Constantine III following the death of Heraclius. Sole emperor after the death of Constantine III, under the regency of Martina, but was forced to name Constans II co-emperor by the army, and was deposed by the Senate in September 641.
Tremissis of Constans II Pogonatus.jpg Constans II
(Κῶνστας Β', Constantus II)
formally Constantine "the Bearded",
(Κωνσταντίνος ὁ Πωγωνάτος)
September 641 –
15 September 668
Born on 7 November 630, the son of Constantine III. Raised to co-emperor in summer 641 after his father's death due to army pressure, he became sole emperor after the forced abdication of his uncle Heraklonas. Baptized Heraclius, he reigned as Constantine. "Constans" is his nickname. Moved his seat to Syracuse, where he was assassinated, possibly on the orders of Mezezius. He was the first (and until 1423, the only) emperor to visit Rome after the Fall of the Western Roman Empire.
Solidus of Constantine IV.jpg Constantine IV "the Bearded"
(Κωνσταντίνος Δ' ὁ Πωγωνάτος)
15 September 668 –
September 685
Born in 652, he succeeded following the murder of his father Constans II. Erroneously called "Constantine the Bearded" by historians through confusion with his father. He repelled the First Arab Siege of Constantinople, and died of dysentery.
Solidus-Justinian II-reverse.JPG Justinian II "the Slit-nosed"
(Ἰουστινιανὸς Β' ὁ Ῥινότμητος)
September 685 –
Born in 669, he was named co-emperor in 681 and became sole emperor upon Constantine IV's death. Deposed by military revolt in 695, mutilated (hence his surname) and exiled to Cherson, whence he recovered his throne in 705.

(695–717) Twenty Years' Anarchy

Name Reign Comments
Solidus of Leontius.jpg Leontios
695–698 General from Isauria, he deposed Justinian II and was overthrown in another revolt in 698. He was executed in February 706.
Solidus of Tiberius Apsimar.jpg Tiberius III Apsimar
(Τιβέριος Γ' Ἀψίμαρος)
698–705 Admiral of Germanic origin, originally named Apsimar. He rebelled against Leontios after a failed expedition. Reigned under the name of Tiberius until deposed by Justinian II in 705. Executed in February 706.
Solidus-Justinian II-reverse.JPG Justinian II "the Slit-nosed"
(Ἰουστινιανὸς Β' ὁ Ῥινότμητος)
August 705 –
December 711
Returned on the throne with Bulgar support. Named son Tiberius as co-emperor in 706. Deposed and killed by military revolt.
Solidus of Philippicus Bardanes.jpg Philippikos Bardanes
(Φιλιππικὸς Βαρδάνης)
December 711 –
3 June 713
A general of Armenian origin, he deposed Justinian II and was in turn overthrown by a revolt of the Opsician troops.
Solidus of Anastasius II.jpg Anastasios II
(Ἀναστάσιος Β')
June 713 –
November 715
Originally named Artemios. A bureaucrat and secretary under Philippikos, he was raised to the purple by the soldiers who overthrew Philippikos. Deposed by another military revolt, he led an abortive attempt to regain the throne in 718 and was killed.
Theodosius iii coin.jpg Theodosios III
(Θεοδόσιος Γ')
May 715 –
25 March 717
A fiscal official, he was proclaimed emperor by the rebellious Opsician troops. Entered Constantinople in November 715. Abdicated following the revolt of Leo the Isaurian and became a monk.

(717–802) Isaurian dynasty

Name Reign Comments
Solidus of Leo III the Isaurian.jpg Leo III "the Isaurian"
(Λέων Γ΄ ὁ Ἴσαυρος)
25 March 717 –
18 June 741
Born c. 685 in Germanikeia, Commagene, he became a general. Rose in rebellion and secured the throne in spring 717. Repelled the Second Arab Siege of Constantinople and initiated the Byzantine Iconoclasm.
Solidus of Constantine V Copronymus.jpg Constantine V "the Dung-named"
(Κωνσταντίνος Ε΄ ὁ Κοπρώνυμος)
18 June 741 –
14 September 775
Born in July 718, the only son of Leo III. Co-emperor since 720, he succeeded upon his father's death. After overcoming the usurpation of Artabasdos, he continued his father's iconoclastic policies and won several victories against the Arabs and the Bulgars. He is given the surname "the Dung-named" by hostile later chroniclers.
June 741/742 –
2 November 743
General and son-in-law of Leo III, Count of the Opsician Theme. Led a revolt that secured Constantinople, but was defeated and deposed by Constantine V, who blinded and tonsured him.
Solidus of Leo IV the Khazar & Constantine VI.jpg Leo IV "the Khazar"
(Λέων Δ΄ ὁ Χάζαρος)
14 September 775 –
8 September 780
Born on 25 January 750 as the eldest son of Constantine V. Co-emperor since 751, he succeeded upon his father's death.
Solidus of Leo IV the Khazar & Constantine VI.jpg Constantine VI
(Κωνσταντίνος ΣΤ΄)
8 September 780 –
August 797
Born in 771, the only child of Leo IV. Co-emperor in 776, sole emperor upon Leo's death in 780, until 790 under the regency of his mother, Irene of Athens. He was overthrown on Irene's orders, blinded and imprisoned, probably dying of his wounds shortly after.
Solidus-Irene-sb1599.jpg Irene of Athens
(Εἰρήνη ἡ Αθηναία)
August 797 –
31 October 802
Born c. 752 in Athens, she married Leo IV. Regent for her son Constantine VI in 780–790, she overthrew him in 797 and became empress-regnant. Deposed in a palace coup in 802, she was exiled and died on 9 August 803.

(802–813) Nikephorian dynasty

Name Reign Comments
Nicephorus I Logothetes.jpg Nikephoros I "the Logothete"
(Νικηφόρος Α΄ ὁ Λογοθέτης)
31 October 802 –
26 July 811
General Logothete (finance minister) under Irene, led initially successful campaigns against the Bulgars but was killed at the Battle of Pliska.
Stauracius.jpg Staurakios
26 July 811 –
2 October 811
Only son of Nikephoros I, crowned co-emperor in December 803. Succeeded on his father's death; however, he had been heavily wounded at Pliska and left paralyzed. He was forced to resign, and retired to a monastery where he died soon after.
Michael I Rangabe.jpg Michael I Rangabe
(Μιχαὴλ Α΄ Ραγγαβὲ)
2 October 811 –
22 June 813
Son-in-law of Nikephoros I, he succeeded Staurakios on his abdication. Resigned after the revolt under Leo the Armenian and retired to a monastery, where he died on 11 January 844. Reigned with eldest son Theophylact as co-emperor.

(813–820) Non-dynastic

Name Reign Comments
Solidus of Leo V the Armenian.jpg Leo V "the Armenian"
(Λέων Ε' ὁ Ἀρμένιος)
11 July 813 –
25 December 820
General of Armenian origin, born c. 775. He rebelled against Michael I and became emperor. Appointed his son Symbatios co-emperor under the name of Constantine on Christmas 813. Revived Byzantine Iconoclasm. Murdered by a conspiracy led by Michael the Amorian.

(820–867) Amorian dynasty

Name Reign Comments
Solidus of Michael II the Amorian.jpg Michael II "the Amorian"
(Μιχαὴλ Β΄ ὁ ἐξ Ἀμορίου)
25 December 820 –
2 October 829
Born in 770 at Amorium, he became an army officer. A friend of Leo V, he was raised to high office but led the conspiracy that murdered him. Survived the rebellion of Thomas the Slav, lost Crete to the Arabs and faced the beginning of the Muslim conquest of Sicily, reinforced iconoclasm.
Solidus of Theophilus.jpg Theophilos
2 October 829 –
20 January 842
Born in 813, as the only son of Michael II. Co-emperor since 821, he succeeded on his father's death.
Michael iii.jpg Michael III "the Drunkard"
(Μιχαὴλ Γ΄ ὁ Μέθυσος)
20 January 842 –
23 September 867
Born on 19 January 840, he succeeded on Theophilos' death. Under the regency of his mother Theodora until 856, and under the effective control of his uncle Bardas in 862–866. Ended iconoclasm. Murdered by Basil the Macedonian.

(867–1056) Macedonian dynasty

Name Reign Comments
Basil&leo.jpg Basil I "the Macedonian"
(Βασίλειος Α΄ ὁ Μακεδών)
867 –
2 August 886
Born in the Theme of Macedonia ca. 811, he rose in prominence through palace service, becoming a favourite of Michael III. He overthrew Michael and established the Macedonian dynasty. He led successful wars in the East against the Arabs and the Paulicians, and recovered southern Italy for the Empire.
Detail of the Imperial Gate mosaic in Hagia Sophia showing Leo VI the Wise.jpg Leo VI "the Wise"
(Λέων ΣΤ΄ ὁ Σοφὸς)
886 –
11 May 912
Born on 19 September 866, likely either son of Basil I or Michael III, Leo was known for his erudition. His reign saw a height in Saracen (Muslim) naval raids, culminating in the Sack of Thessalonica, and was marked by unsuccessful wars against the Bulgarians under Simeon I. He was the last emperor to hold the Consulate.
Alexander of Constantinople.jpg Alexander
11 May 912 –
6 June 913
Son of Basil I, Alexander was born in 870 and raised to co-emperor in 879. Sidelined by Leo VI, Alexander dismissed his brother's principal aides on his accession. He died of exhaustion after a polo game.
Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus.jpg Constantine VII "the Purple-born"
(Κωνσταντίνος Ζ΄ ὁ Πορφυρογέννητος)
6 June 913 –
9 November 959
The son of Leo VI, he was born on 17/18 May 905 and raised to co-emperor on 15 May 908. His early reign was dominated by successive regencies, first by his mother, Zoe Karbonopsina, and Patriarch Nicholas Mystikos, and from 919 by the admiral Romanos Lekapenos, who wedded his daughter to Constantine and was crowned senior emperor in 920. Constantine was sidelined during the Lekapenos regime, but asserted his control by deposing Romanos's sons in early 945. His reign was marked by struggles with Sayf al-Dawla in the East and an unsuccessful campaign against Crete, and pro-aristocratic policies that saw a partial reversal of Lekapenos' legislation against the dynatoi. He is notable for his promotion of the "Macedonian Renaissance", sponsoring encyclopaedic works and histories. He was a prolific writer himself, best remembered for the manuals on statecraft (De administrando imperio) and ceremonies (De ceremoniis) he compiled for his son, Romanos II.
Romanus I with Christopher, solidus.jpg Romanos I Lekapenos
(Ρωμανὸς Α΄ Λεκαπηνὸς)
17 December 920 –
16 December 944
An admiral of lowly origin, Romanos rose to power as a protector of the young Constantine VII against the general Leo Phokas the Elder. After becoming the emperor's father-in-law, he successively assumed higher offices until he crowned himself senior emperor. His reign was marked by the end of warfare with Bulgaria and the great conquests of John Kourkouas in the East. Romanos promoted his sons Christopher, Stephen and Constantine as co-emperors over Constantine VII, but was himself overthrown by the latter two and confined to an island as a monk. He died there on 15 June 948.
Constantine VII and Romanos II solidus.jpg Romanos II "the Purple-born"
(Ρωμανὸς Β΄ ὁ Πορφυρογέννητος)
9 November 959 –
15 March 963
The only surviving son of Constantine VII, he was born on 15 March 938 and succeeded his father on the latter's death. He ruled until his own death, although the government was led mostly by Joseph Bringas. His reign was marked by successful warfare in the East against Sayf al-Dawla and the recovery of Crete by general Nikephoros Phokas.
Nikiphoros Phokas.jpg Nikephoros II Phokas
(Νικηφόρος Β΄ Φωκᾶς)
16 August 963 –
11 December 969
The most successful general of his generation, Nikephoros II was born ca. 912 to the powerful Phokas clan. After the death of Romanos II, he rose to the throne with the support of the army and people as regent for the young emperors Basil II and Constantine VIII, marrying the empress-dowager Theophano. Throughout his reign he led campaigns in the East, conquering much of Syria. He was murdered by his nephew and one-time associate John Tzimiskes.
John I Tzimiskes 8.jpg John I Tzimiskes
(Ἰωάννης Α΄ Κουρκούας ὁ Τσιμισκὴς)
11 December 969 –
10 January 976
Nephew of Nikephoros Phokas, Tzimiskes was born ca. 925. A successful general, he fell out with his uncle and led a conspiracy of disgruntled generals who murdered him. Tzimiskes succeeded Nikephoros as emperor and regent for the young sons of Romanos II. As ruler, Tzimiskes crushed the Rus' in Bulgaria and ended the Bulgarian tsardom before going on to campaign in the East, where he died.
Basilios II.jpg Basil II "the Bulgar-Slayer"
(Βασίλειος Β΄ ὁ Βουλγαροκτόνος)
10 January 976 –
15 December 1025
Eldest son of Romanos II, Basil was born in 958. The first decade of his reign was marked by rivalry with the powerful Basil Lekapenos, an unsuccessful war against Bulgaria, and rebellions by generals in Asia Minor. Basil solidified his position through a marriage alliance with Vladimir I of Kiev, and after suppressing the revolts, he embarked on his conquest of Bulgaria. Bulgaria was finally subdued in 1018 after over 20 years of war, interrupted only by sporadic warfare in Syria against the Fatimids. Basil also expanded Byzantine control over most of Armenia. His reign is widely considered as the apogee of medieval Byzantium.
Histamenon nomisma-Constantine VIII-sb1776.jpg Constantine VIII "the Purple-born"
(Κωνσταντίνος Η΄ ὁ Πορφυρογέννητος)
15 December 1025 –
15 November 1028
The second son of Romanos II, Constantine was born in 960 and raised to co-emperor in March 962. During the rule of Basil II, he spent his time in idle pleasure. During his short reign he was an indifferent ruler, easily influenced by his courtiers and suspicious of plots to depose him, especially among the military aristocracy, many of whom were blinded and exiled. On his deathbed, he chose Romanos Argyros as husband for his daughter Zoe.
Zoe mosaic Hagia Sophia.jpg Zoe "the Purple-born"
(Ζωὴ Πορφυρογέννητη)
15 November 1028 –
June 1050
The daughter of Constantine VIII, she succeeded on her father's death, as the only surviving member of the Macedonian dynasty, along with her sister Theodora. Her three husbands, Romanos III (1028–1034), Michael IV (1034–1041) and Constantine IX (1042–1050) ruled alongside her.
Miliaresion-Romanus III-sb1822.jpg Romanos III Argyros
(Ρωμανὸς Γ΄ Ἀργυρὸς)
15 November 1028 –
11 April 1034
Born in 968, the elderly aristocrat Romanos was chosen by Constantine VIII on his deathbed as Zoe's husband and succeeded on the throne after Constantine's death a few days later.
Michael IV histamenon.jpg Michael IV "the Paphlagonian"
(Μιχαὴλ Δ΄ ὁ Παφλαγὼν)
11 April 1034 –
10 December 1041
Born in 1010, he became a lover of Zoe even while Romanos III was alive, and succeeded him upon his death as her husband and emperor. Aided by his older brother, John the Orphanotrophos, his reign was moderately successful against internal rebellions, but his attempt to recover Sicily failed. He died after a long illness.
Histamenon nomisma-Micael V-sb1776.jpg Michael V "the Caulker"
(Μιχαὴλ Ε΄ ὁ Καλαφάτης)
10 December 1041 –
20 April 1042
Born in 1015, he was the nephew and adopted son of Michael IV. During his reign he tried to sideline Zoe, but a popular revolt forced him to restore her as empress on 19 April 1042, along with her sister Theodora. He was deposed the next day, dying on 24 August 1042.
Tetarteron-Theodora-sb1838.jpg Theodora
19 April 1042 –
after 31 August 1056
The younger sister of Zoe, born in 984, she was raised as co-ruler on 19 April 1042. After Zoe married her third husband, Constantine IX, in June 1042, Theodora was again sidelined. After Zoe died in 1050 and Constantine in 1055, Theodora assumed full governance of the Empire and reigned until her death. She nominated Michael VI as her successor.
Emperor Constantine IX.jpg Constantine IX Monomachos
(Κωνσταντίνος Θ΄ Μονομάχος)
11 June 1042 –
7/8 or 11 January 1055
Born ca. 1000 of noble origin, he had an undistinguished life but was exiled to Lesbos by Michael IV, returning when he was chosen as Zoe's third husband. Constantine supported the mercantile classes and favoured the company of intellectuals, thereby alienating the military aristocracy. A pleasure-loving ruler, he lived an extravagant life with his favourite mistresses and endowed a number of monasteries, chiefly the Nea Moni of Chios and the Mangana Monastery. His reign was marked by invasions by the Pechenegs in the Balkans and the Seljuk Turks in the East, the revolts of George Maniakes and Leo Tornikios, and the Great Schism between the patriarchates of Rome and Constantinople.

(1056–1057) Non-dynastic

Name Reign Comments
Michael VI tetarteron.jpg Michael VI Bringas, "Stratiotikos" or "the Old"
(Μιχαὴλ ΣΤ΄ Βρίγγας, ὁ Στρατιωτικός, ὁ Γέρων)
September 1056 –
31 August 1057
A court bureaucrat and military logothete (hence his first sobriquet). Deposed by military revolt under Isaac Komnenos, he retired to a monastery where he died in 1059.

(1057–1059) Komnenid dynasty

Name Reign Comments
Histamenon nomisma-Isaac I-sb1776.jpg Isaac I Komnenos
(Ἰσαάκιος Α΄ Κομνηνὸς)
5 June 1057 –
22 November 1059
Born c. 1005. A successful general, he rose in revolt leading the eastern armies and was declared Emperor; he was recognized after the abdication of Michael VI on 31 August 1057. He resigned in 1059 and died c. 1061.

(1059–1081) Doukid dynasty

Name Reign Comments
Costantino X - histamenon - Sear 1847v.jpg Constantine X Doukas
(Κωνσταντίνος Ι΄ Δούκας)
24 November 1059 –
22 May 1067
Born in 1006, he became a general and close ally of Isaac Komnenos, and succeeded him as emperor on his abdication. Named his sons Michael, Andronikos and Konstantios as co-emperors
NomismaMikaelVIIDoukas.jpg Michael VII Doukas
(Μιχαὴλ Ζ΄ Δούκας)
22 May 1067 –
24 March 1078
Born in 1050 as the eldest son of Constantine X. Co-emperor since 1059, he succeeded on his father's death. Due to his minority he was under the regency of his mother, Eudokia Makrembolitissa, in 1067–1068, and relegated to junior emperor under her second husband Romanos IV Diogenes in 1068–1071. Senior emperor in 1071–1078, he named his son Constantine co-emperor alongside his brothers. He abdicated before the revolt of Nikephoros Botaneiates, retired to a monastery and died c. 1090.
Romanos et Eudoxie.JPG Romanos IV Diogenes
(Ρωμανὸς Δ΄ Διογένης)
1 January 1068 –
24 October 1071
Born in 1032, a successful general he married empress-dowager Eudokia Makrembolitissa and became senior emperor as guardian of her sons by Constantine X. Deposed by the Doukas partisans after the Battle of Manzikert, blinded in June 1072 and exiled. He died soon after.
Nicephorus III.jpg Nikephoros III Botaneiates
(Νικηφόρος Γ΄ Βοτανειάτης)
31 March 1078 –
4 April 1081
Born in 1001, he was the strategos of the Anatolic Theme. He rebelled against Michael VII and was welcomed into the capital. He weathered several revolts, but was overthrown by the Komnenos clan. He retired to a monastery where he died on 10 December of the same year (1081).

(1081–1185) Komnenid dynasty

Name Reign Comments
Alexios I Komnenos.jpg Alexios I Komnenos
(Ἀλέξιος Α' Κομνηνὸς)
4 April 1081 –
15 August 1118
Born in 1056, a nephew of Isaac I Komnenos. A distinguished general, he overthrew Nikephoros III. His reign was dominated by wars against the Normans and the Seljuk Turks, as well as the arrival of the First Crusade and the establishment of independent Crusader states. He retained Constantine Doukas as co-emperor until 1087 and named his eldest son John co-emperor in 1092.
Jean II Comnene.jpg John II Komnenos
(Ἰωάννης Β' Κομνηνὸς)
15 August 1118 –
8 April 1143
Born on 13 September 1087 as the eldest son of Alexios I. Co-emperor since 1092, he succeeded upon his father's death. His reign was focused on wars with the Turks. A popular and frugal ruler, he was known as "John the Good". Named his eldest son Alexios co-emperor in 1122, but he died before him.
Manuel I Comnenus.jpg Manuel I Komnenos
(Μανουὴλ Α' Κομνηνὸς)
1143 –
24 September 1180
Born on 28 November 1118 as the third and youngest son of John II, he was chosen as emperor over his elder brother Isaac by his father on his deathbed. An energetic ruler, he launched campaigns against the Turks, humbled Hungary, achieved supremacy over the Crusader states, and tried unsuccessfully to recover Italy. His extravagance and constant campaigning, however, depleted the Empire's resources.
Alexios II - komnenos.jpg Alexios II Komnenos
(Ἀλέξιος B' Κομνηνὸς)
24 September 1180 –
October 1183
Born on 14 September 1169 as the only son of Manuel I. In 1180–1182 under the regency of his mother, Maria of Antioch. She was overthrown by Andronikos I Komnenos, who became co-emperor and finally had Alexios II deposed and killed.
ByzantineBillonTrachy.jpg Andronikos I Komnenos
(Ἀνδρόνικος Α' Κομνηνὸς)
1183 –
11 September 1185
Born c. 1118, a nephew of John II by his brother Isaac. A general, he was imprisoned for conspiring against John II, but escaped and spent 15 years in exile in various courts in eastern Europe and the Middle East. He seized the regency from Maria of Antioch in 1182 and subsequently throne from his nephew Alexios II. An unpopular ruler, he was overthrown and lynched in a popular uprising.

(1185–1204) Angelid dynasty

Name Reign Comments
Isaac II Angelos.jpg Isaac II Angelos
(Ἰσαάκιος Β' Ἄγγελος)
1185–1195 Born in September 1156, Isaac came to the throne at the head of a popular revolt against Andronikos I. His reign was marked by revolts and wars in the Balkans, especially against a resurgent Bulgaria. He was deposed, blinded and imprisoned by his elder brother, Alexios III.
Alexios III -Angelos.jpg Alexios III Angelos
(Ἀλέξιος Γ' Ἄγγελος)
1195 –
17/18 July 1203
Born in 1153, Alexios was the elder brother of Isaac II. His reign was marked by misgovernment and the increasing autonomy of provincial magnates. He was deposed by the Fourth Crusade and fled Constantinople, roaming Greece and Asia Minor, searching for support to regain his throne. He died in Nicaean captivity in 1211.
Isaac II Angelos.jpg Isaac II Angelos
(Ἰσαάκιος Β' Ἄγγελος)
18 July 1203 –
27/28 January 1204
Restored to his throne by the Crusaders, actual rule fell to his son Alexios IV. Due to their failure to deal with the Crusaders' demands, he was deposed by Alexios V Doukas in January 1204 and died on 28 January 1204, perhaps of poison.
Alexius4.jpg Alexios IV Angelos
(Ἀλέξιος Δ' Ἄγγελος)
1 August 1203 –
27/28 January 1204
Born in 1182, the son of Isaac II. He enlisted the Fourth Crusade to return his father to the throne, and reigned alongside his restored father. Due to their failure to deal with the Crusaders' demands, he was deposed by Alexios V Doukas in January 1204, and was strangled on 8 February.
Alexius V.JPG Alexios V Doukas "Mourtzouphlos"
(Ἀλέξιος Ε' Δούκας ὁ Μούρτζουφλος)
5 February 1204 –
13 April 1204
Born in 1140, the son-in-law of Alexios III and a prominent aristocrat, he deposed Isaac II and Alexios IV in a palace coup. He tried to repel the Crusaders, but they captured Constantinople forcing Mourtzouphlos to flee. He joined the exiled Alexios III, but was later blinded by the latter. Captured by the Crusaders, he was executed in December 1205.

(1204–1261, Empire of Nicaea) Laskarid dynasty

Name Reign Comments
Theodore I Laskaris miniature.jpg Theodore I Laskaris
(Θεόδωρος Α΄ Λάσκαρις)
December 1221/1222
Born c. 1174, he rose to prominence as a son-in-law of Alexios III. His brother Constantine Laskaris was elected emperor by the citizens of Constantinople on the day the city fell to the Crusaders; he later fled to Nicaea, where Theodore organized the Greek resistance to the Latins. Proclaimed emperor after Constantine's death in 1205, Theodore was crowned only in 1208. He managed to stop the Latin advance in Asia and to repel Seljuk attacks, establishing the Empire of Nicaea as the strongest of the Greek successor states.
John III Doukas Vatatzes.jpg John III Doukas Vatatzes
(Ἰωάννης Γ' Δούκας Βατάτζης)
15 December 1221/1222–
3 November 1254
Born c. 1192, he became the son-in-law and successor of Theodore I in 1212. A capable ruler and soldier, he expanded his state in Bithynia, Thrace and Macedonia at the expense of the Latin Empire, Bulgaria and the rival Greek state of Epirus.
Theodore II Laskaris miniature.jpg Theodore II Laskaris
(Θεόδωρος Β' Λάσκαρις)
3 November 1254–
18 August 1258
Born in 1221/1222 as the only son of John III, he succeeded on his father's death. His reign was marked by his hostility towards the major houses of the aristocracy, and by his victory against Bulgaria and the subsequent expansion into and Albania.
John IV Laskaris miniature.jpg John IV Laskaris
(Ἰωάννης Δ' Λάσκαρις)
18 August 1258–
25 December 1261
Born on 25 December 1250 as the only son of Theodore II, he succeeded on his father's death. Due to his minority, the regency was exercised at first by George Mouzalon until his assassination, and then by Michael Palaiologos, who within months was crowned senior emperor. After the recovery of Constantinople in August 1261, Palaiologos sidelined John IV completely, had him blinded and imprisoned. John IV died c. 1305.

(1261–1453, restored to Constantinople) Palaiologan dynasty

Name Reign Comments
Michael VIII Palaiologos (head).jpg Michael VIII Palaiologos
(Μιχαὴλ Η' Παλαιολόγος)
1 January 1259–
11 December 1282
Born in 1223, great-grandson of Alexios III, grandnephew of John III by marriage. Senior emperor alongside John IV in 1259, sole emperor since 25 December 1261.
Andronikos II Palaiologos (head).jpg Andronikos II Palaiologos
(Ἀνδρόνικος Β' Παλαιολόγος)
11 December 1282–
24 May 1328
Son of Michael VIII, he was born on 25 March 1259. Named co-emperor in September 1261, crowned in 1272, he succeeded as sole emperor on Michael's death. Favouring monks and intellectuals, he neglected the army, and his reign saw the collapse of the Byzantine position in Asia Minor. He named his son Michael IX co-emperor. In a protracted civil war, he was first forced to recognize his grandson Andronikos III as co-emperor and was then deposed outright. He died on 13 February 1332.
Andronikos III Palaiologos.jpg Andronikos III Palaiologos
(Ἀνδρόνικος Γ' Παλαιολόγος)
24 May 1328–
15 June 1341
Son of Michael IX, he was born on 25 March 1297 and named co-emperor in 1316. Rival emperor since July 1321, he deposed his grandfather Andronikos II in 1328 and ruled as sole emperor until his death. Supported by John Kantakouzenos, his reign saw defeats against the Ottoman emirate but successes in Europe, where Epirus and Thessaly were recovered.
John V Palaiologos.jpg John V Palaiologos
(Ἰωάννης Ε' Παλαιολόγος)
15 June 1341–
12 August 1376
Only son of Andronikos III, he had not been crowned co-emperor or declared heir at his father's death, a fact which led to the outbreak of a destructive civil war between his regents and his father's closest aide, John VI Kantakouzenos, who was crowned co-emperor. The conflict ended in 1347 with Kantakouzenos recognized as senior emperor, but he was deposed by John V in 1354, during another civil war. Matthew Kantakouzenos, raised by John VI to co-emperor, was also deposed in 1357. John V appealed to the West for aid against the Ottomans, but in 1371 he was forced to recognize Ottoman suzerainty. He was deposed in 1376 by his son Andronikos IV.
Johannes VI. Cantacuzenos (cropped).jpg John VI Kantakouzenos
(Ἰωάννης ΣΤ' Καντακουζηνὸς)
8 February 1347–
4 December 1354
A maternal relative of the Palaiologoi, he was declared co-emperor on 26 October 1341, and was recognized as senior emperor for ten years after the end of the civil war on 8 February 1347. Deposed by John V in 1354, he became a monk, dying on 15 June 1383.
Andronikos IV Palaiologos.jpg Andronikos IV Palaiologos
(Ἀνδρόνικος Δ΄ Παλαιολόγος)
12 August 1376–
1 July 1379
Son of John V and grandson of John VI, he was born on 2 April 1348 and raised to co-emperor c. 1352. He deposed his father on 12 August 1376 and ruled until overthrown in turn in 1379. He was again recognized as co-emperor in 1381 and given Selymbria as an appanage, dying there on 28 June 1385.
John V Palaiologos.jpg John V Palaiologos
(Ἰωάννης Ε' Παλαιολόγος)
1 July 1379–
14 April 1390
Restored to senior emperor, he was reconciled with Andronikos IV in 1381, re-appointing him co-emperor. He was overthrown again in 1390 by his grandson, John VII.
John VII Palaiologos.gif John VII Palaiologos
(Ἰωάννης Ζ' Παλαιολόγος)
14 April 1390–
17 September 1390
Son of Andronikos IV, he was born in 1370, and named co-emperor under his father in 1377–79. He usurped the throne from his grandfather John V for five months in 1390, but with Ottoman mediation he was reconciled with John V and his uncle, Manuel II. He held Constantinople against the Ottomans in 1399–1402, and was then given Thessalonica as an appanage, which he governed until his death on 22 September 1408. His son Andronikos V Palaiologos ruled alongside him as co-emperor.
John V Palaiologos.jpg John V Palaiologos
(Ἰωάννης Ε' Παλαιολόγος)
17 September 1390–
16 February 1391
Restored to senior emperor, he ruled until his death in February 1391.
Manuel II Paleologus.jpg Manuel II Palaiologos
(Μανουὴλ Β' Παλαιολόγος)
16 February 1391–
21 July 1425
Second son of John V, he was born on 27 June 1350. Raised to co-emperor in 1373, he became senior emperor on John V's death and ruled until his death. He journeyed to the West European courts seeking aid against the Turks, and was able to use the Ottoman defeat in the Battle of Ankara to regain some territories and throw off his vassalage to them.
Palaio.jpg John VIII Palaiologos
(Ἰωάννης Η' Παλαιολόγος)
21 July 1425–
31 October 1448
Eldest surviving son of Manuel II, he was born on 18 December 1392. Raised to co-emperor c. 1416, he succeeded his father on his death. Seeking aid against the resurgent Ottomans, he ratified the Union of the Churches in 1439. He was the last Eastern emperor to visit Rome in 1423.
Constantine XI Palaiologos miniature.jpg Constantine XI Palaiologos
(Κωνσταντίνος ΙΑ' Παλαιολόγος)
6 January 1449–
29 May 1453
The fourth son of Manuel II, he was born on 8 February 1405. As Despot of the Morea since 1428, he distinguished himself in campaigns that annexed the Principality of Achaea and brought the Duchy of Athens under temporary Byzantine suzerainty, but was unable to repel Turkish attacks under Turahan Bey. As the eldest surviving brother, he succeeded John VIII after the latter's death. Facing the designs of the new Ottoman sultan, Mehmed II, on Constantinople, Constantine acknowledged the Union of the Churches and made repeated appeals for help to the West, but in vain. Refusing to surrender the city, he was killed during the final Ottoman attack on 29 May 1453.

(claimants in exile) Palaiologan dynasty

Picture Name Status Birth Claimant from Claimant until Death
Demetrios Palaiologos (Δημήτριος Παλαιολόγος) Son of Manuel II, brother of John VIII and Constantine XI c. 1407 1453 1460 1470
Thomas Palaiologos2.jpg Thomas Palaiologos (Θωμᾶς Παλαιολόγος) Son of Manuel II, brother of John VIII and Constantine XI c. 1409 1453 12 May 1465
Andreas Palaiologos (Ἀνδρέας Παλαιολόγος) Son of Thomas c. 1453 12 May 1465 1502

Andreas died a pauper during 1502, in spite of having sold his titles and royal and imperial rights to Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile.

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See also

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