List of Byzantine emperors

Emperor of the Romans
162 - Constantine XI Palaiologos (Mutinensis - color).png
Last to reign
Constantine XI
6 January 1449 – 29 May 1453
First monarchConstantine I
Last monarchConstantine XI
Formation11 May 330
Abolition29 May 1453
ResidenceGreat Palace, Blachernae Palace
AppointerUnspecified, de facto hereditary[1]

This is a list of the Byzantine emperors from the foundation of Constantinople in 330 AD, which marks the conventional start of the Eastern Roman Empire, to its fall to the Ottoman Empire in 1453 AD. Only the emperors who were recognized as legitimate rulers and exercised sovereign authority are included, to the exclusion of junior co-emperors (symbasileis) who never attained the status of sole or senior ruler, as well as of the various usurpers or rebels who claimed the imperial title.

The following list starts with Constantine the Great, the first Christian emperor, who rebuilt the city of Byzantium as an imperial capital, Constantinople, and who was regarded by the later emperors as the model ruler. It was under Constantine that the major characteristics of what is considered the Byzantine state emerged: a Roman polity centered at Constantinople and culturally dominated by the Greek East, with Christianity as the state religion.

The Byzantine Empire was the direct legal continuation of the eastern half of the Roman Empire following the division of the Roman Empire in 395. Emperors listed below up to Theodosius I in 395 were sole or joint rulers of the entire Roman Empire. The Western Roman Empire continued until 476. Byzantine emperors considered themselves to be rightful Roman emperors in direct succession from Augustus;[2] the term "Byzantine" was coined by Western historiography only in the 16th century. The use of the title "Roman Emperor" by those ruling from Constantinople was not contested until after the papal coronation of the Frankish Charlemagne as Holy Roman Emperor (25 December 800), done partly in response to the Byzantine coronation of Empress Irene, whose claim, as a woman, was not recognized by Pope Leo III.

In practice, according to the Hellenistic political system, the Byzantine emperor had been given total power through God to shape the state and its subjects, he was the last authority and legislator of the empire and all his work was in imitation of the sacred kingdom of God, also according to the Christian principles, he was the ultimate benefecator and protector of his people.[3]

The title of all Emperors preceding Heraclius was officially "Augustus", although other titles such as Dominus were also used. Their names were preceded by Imperator Caesar and followed by Augustus. Following Heraclius, the title commonly became the Greek Basileus (Gr. Βασιλεύς), which had formerly meant sovereign, though Augustus continued to be used in a reduced capacity. Following the establishment of the rival Holy Roman Empire in Western Europe, the title "Autokrator" (Gr. Αὐτοκράτωρ) was increasingly used. In later centuries, the Emperor could be referred to by Western Christians as the "Emperor of the Greeks". Towards the end of the Empire, the standard imperial formula of the Byzantine ruler was "[Emperor's name] in Christ, Emperor and Autocrat of the Romans" (cf. Ῥωμαῖοι and Rûm).[4]

In the medieval period, dynasties were common, but the principle of hereditary succession was never formalized in the Empire,[5] and hereditary succession was a custom rather than an inviolable principle.[1]

Portrait Name[a] Reign Notes
  1. ^ a b Nicol, Donald MacGillivray, Last Centuries of Byzantium, 1261–1453, Cambridge University Press, Second Edition, 1993, p. 72: "Hereditary succession to the throne was a custom or a convenience in Byzantium, not an inviolable principle. Emperors, particularly in the later period, would take pains to nominate their sons as co-emperors, for the rule of a dynasty made for stability and continuity. But in theory, the road to the throne was a carriere ouverte aux talents [career open to talents]..."
  2. ^ Hooker, Richard (1 October 2007). "European Middle Ages: The Byzantine Empire". Washington State University. Archived from the original on 24 February 1999. Retrieved 25 August 2015.
  3. ^ Charanis, Peter (July 1969). "Early Christian and Byzantine Political Philosophy: Origins and Background. Francis Dvornik". Speculum. 44 (3): 459–460. doi:10.2307/2855514. ISSN 0038-7134. JSTOR 2855514.
  4. ^ Morrisson, Cécile (2013) "Displaying the Emperor's Authority and Kharaktèr on the Marketplace" in Armstrong, Pamela. Authority in Byzantium. Routledge. p. 72. ISBN 978-1409436089
  5. ^ p. 183, Karayannopoulous, Yanis, "State Organization, Social Structure, Economy, and Commerce," History of Humanity – Scientific and Cultural Development from the Seventh to the Sixteenth Centuries, Vol. IV, M. A. Al-Bakhit, L. Bazin, S. M. Cissoko and M. S. Asimov, Editors, UNESCO, Paris (2000)

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