An emperor (through Old French empereor from Latin imperator)[1] is a monarch, and usually the sovereign ruler of an empire or another type of imperial realm. Empress, the female equivalent, may indicate an emperor's wife (empress consort), mother (empress dowager), or a woman who rules in her own right (empress regnant). Emperors are generally recognized to be of a higher honour and rank than kings. In Europe, the title of Emperor has been used since the Middle Ages, considered in those times equal or almost equal in dignity to that of Pope due to the latter's position as visible head of the Church and spiritual leader of the Catholic part of Western Europe. The Emperor of Japan is the only currently reigning monarch whose title is translated into English as Emperor.

Both emperors and kings are monarchs, but emperor and empress are considered the higher monarchical titles. Inasmuch as there is a strict definition of emperor, it is that an emperor has no relations implying the superiority of any other ruler and typically rules over more than one nation, therefore a king might be obliged to pay tribute to another ruler,[2] or be restrained in his actions in some unequal fashion, but an emperor should in theory be completely free of such restraints. However, monarchs heading empires have not always used the title in all contexts—the British sovereign did not assume the title Empress of the British Empire even during the incorporation of India, though she was declared Empress of India.

In Western Europe, the title of Emperor was used exclusively by the Holy Roman Emperor, whose imperial authority was derived from the concept of translatio imperii, i.e. they claimed succession to the authority of the Western Roman Emperors, thus linking themselves to Roman institutions and traditions as part of state ideology. Although initially ruling much of Central Europe and northern Italy, by the 19th century the Emperor exercised little power beyond the German-speaking states.

In India, the Muslim Mughal Emperors were the only South Asian rulers for whom the term was consistently used by Western contemporaries.

Although technically an elective title, by the late 16th century the imperial title had in practice come to be inherited by the Habsburg Archdukes of Austria and following the Thirty Years' War their control over the states (outside the Habsburg Monarchy, i.e. Austria, Bohemia and various territories outside the empire) had become nearly non-existent. However, Napoleon Bonaparte was crowned Emperor of the French in 1804 and was shortly followed by Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor, who declared himself Emperor of Austria in the same year. The position of Holy Roman Emperor nonetheless continued until Francis II abdicated that position in 1806. In Eastern Europe, the monarchs of Russia also used translatio imperii to wield imperial authority as successors to the Eastern Roman Empire. Their status was officially recognised by the Holy Roman Emperor in 1514, although not officially used by the Russian monarchs until 1547. However, the Russian emperors are better known by their Russian-language title of Tsar even after Peter the Great adopted the title of Emperor of All Russia in 1721.

Historians have liberally used emperor and empire anachronistically and out of its Roman and European context to describe any large state from the past or the present. Such pre-Roman titles as Great King or King of Kings, used by the Kings of Persia and others, are often considered as the equivalent. Sometimes this reference has even extended to non-monarchically ruled states and their spheres of influence such as the Athenian Empire of the late 5th century BC, the Angevin Empire of the Plantagenets and the Soviet and American "empires" of the Cold War era. However, such "empires" did not need to be headed by an "emperor". Empire became identified instead with vast territorial holdings rather than the title of its ruler by the mid-18th century.

For purposes of protocol, emperors were once given precedence over kings in international diplomatic relations, but currently precedence amongst heads of state who are sovereigns—whether they be kings, queens, emperors, empresses, princes, princesses and to a lesser degree presidents—is determined by the duration of time that each one has been continuously in office. Outside the European context, emperor was the translation given to holders of titles who were accorded the same precedence as European emperors in diplomatic terms. In reciprocity, these rulers might accredit equal titles in their native languages to their European peers. Through centuries of international convention, this has become the dominant rule to identifying an emperor in the modern era.

Roman tradition

In the Roman tradition a large variety in the meaning and importance of the imperial form of monarchy developed: in intention it was always the highest office, but it could as well fall down to a redundant title for nobility that had never been near to the "Empire" they were supposed to be reigning. Also the name of the position split in several branches of Western tradition, see below.

The importance and meaning of coronation ceremonies and regalia also varied within the tradition: for instance Holy Roman Emperors could only be crowned emperor by the Pope, which meant the coronation ceremony usually took place in Rome, often several years after these emperors had ascended to the throne (as "king") in their home country. The first Latin Emperors of Constantinople on the other hand had to be present in the newly conquered capital of their empire, because that was the only place where they could be granted to become emperor.

Early Roman Emperors avoided any type of ceremony or regalia different from what was already usual for republican offices in the Roman Republic: the most intrusive change had been changing the color of their robe to purple. Later new symbols of worldly and/or spiritual power, like the orb, became an essential part of the imperial accessories.

Rules for indicating successors also varied: there was a tendency towards male inheritance of the supreme office, but as well election by noblemen, as ruling empresses are known (for empires not too strictly under salic law). Ruling monarchs could additionally steer the succession by adoption, as often occurred in the two first centuries of Imperial Rome. Of course, intrigue, murder and military force could also mingle in for appointing successors; the Roman imperial tradition made no exception to other monarchical traditions in this respect. Probably the epoch best known for this part of the imperial tradition is Rome's third century rule.

Roman Empire and Byzantine emperors

Classical Antiquity

A statue of the dictator Julius Caesar.

When Republican Rome turned into a de facto monarchy in the second half of the 1st century BC, at first there was no name for the title of the new type of monarch. Ancient Romans abhorred the name Rex ("king"), and it was critical to the political order to maintain the forms and pretenses of republican rule. Julius Caesar had been Dictator, an acknowledged and traditional office in Republican Rome. Caesar was not the first to hold it, but following his assassination the term was abhorred in Rome.

Augustus, the first emperor of the Roman Empire.

Augustus, considered the first Roman emperor, established his hegemony by collecting on himself offices, titles, and honours of Republican Rome that had traditionally been distributed to different people, concentrating what had been distributed power in one man. One of these offices was princeps senatus, ("first man of the Senate") and became changed into Augustus' chief honorific, princeps civitatis ("first citizen") from which the modern English word and title prince is descended. The first period of the Roman Empire, from 27 BC – 284 AD, is called the principate for this reason. However, it was the informal descriptive of Imperator ("commander") that became the title increasingly favored by his successors. Previously bestowed on high officials and military commanders who had imperium, Augustus reserved it exclusively to himself as the ultimate holder of all imperium. (Imperium is Latin for the authority to command, one of a various types of authority delineated in Roman political thought.)

Beginning with Augustus, Imperator appeared in the title of all Roman monarchs through the extinction of the Empire in 1453. After the reign of Augustus' immediate successor Tiberius, being proclaimed imperator was transformed into the act of accession to the head of state. Other honorifics used by the Roman Emperors have also come to be synonyms for Emperor:

  • Caesar (as, for example, in Suetonius' Twelve Caesars). This tradition continued in many languages: in German it became "Kaiser"; in certain Slavic languages it became "Tsar"; in Hungarian it became "Császár", and several more variants. The name derived from Julius Caesar's cognomen "Caesar": this cognomen was adopted by all Roman emperors, exclusively by the ruling monarch after the Julio-Claudian dynasty had died out. In this tradition Julius Caesar is sometimes described as the first Caesar/emperor (following Suetonius). This is one of the most enduring titles, Caesar and its transliterations appeared in every year from the time of Caesar Augustus to Tsar Symeon II of Bulgaria's removal from the throne in 1946.
  • Augustus was the honorific first bestowed on Emperor Augustus: after him all Roman emperors added it to their name. Although it had a high symbolical value, something like "elevated" or "sublime", it was generally not used to indicate the office of Emperor itself. Exceptions include the title of the Augustan History, a semi-historical collection of Emperors' biographies of the 2nd and 3rd century. Augustus had (by his last will) granted the feminine form of this honorific (Augusta) to his wife. Since there was no "title" of Empress(-consort) whatsoever, women of the reigning dynasty sought to be granted this honorific, as the highest attainable goal. Few were however granted the title, and certainly not as a rule all wives of reigning Emperors.
  • Imperator (as, for example, in Pliny the Elder's Naturalis Historia). In the Roman Republic Imperator meant "(military) commander". In the late Republic, as in the early years of the new monarchy, Imperator was a title granted to Roman generals by their troops and the Roman Senate after a great victory, roughly comparable to field marshal (head or commander of the entire army). For example, in AD 15 Germanicus was proclaimed Imperator during the reign of his adoptive father Tiberius. Soon thereafter "Imperator" became however a title reserved exclusively for the ruling monarch. This led to "Emperor" in English and, among other examples, "Empereur" in French and "Mbreti" in Albanian. The Latin feminine form Imperatrix only developed after "Imperator" had taken on the connotation of "Emperor".
  • Autokrator (Αὐτοκράτωρ) or Basileus (βασιλεύς): although the Greeks used equivalents of "Caesar" (Καῖσαρ, Kaisar) and "Augustus" (in two forms: transliterated as Αὔγουστος, Augoustos or translated as Σεβαστός, Sebastos) these were rather used as part of the name of the Emperor than as an indication of the office. Instead of developing a new name for the new type of monarchy, they used αὐτοκράτωρ (autokratōr, only partly overlapping with the modern understanding of "autocrat") or βασιλεύς (basileus, until then the usual name for "sovereign"). Autokratōr was essentially used as a translation of the Latin Imperator in Greek-speaking part of the Roman Empire, but also here there is only partial overlap between the meaning of the original Greek and Latin concepts. For the Greeks Autokratōr was not a military title, and was closer to the Latin dictator concept ("the one with unlimited power"), before it came to mean Emperor. Basileus appears not to have been used exclusively in the meaning of "emperor" (and specifically, the Roman/Byzantine emperor) before the 7th century, although it was a standard informal designation of the Emperor in the Greek-speaking East.

After the turbulent Year of the four emperors in 69, the Flavian Dynasty reigned for three decades. The succeeding Nervan-Antonian Dynasty, ruling for most of the 2nd century, stabilised the Empire. This epoch became known as the era of the Five Good Emperors, and was followed by the short-lived Severan Dynasty.

During the Crisis of the 3rd century, Barracks Emperors succeeded one another at short intervals. Three short lived secessionist attempts had their own emperors: the Gallic Empire, the Britannic Empire, and the Palmyrene Empire though the latter used rex more regularly.

The Principate (27 BC – 284 AD) period was succeeded by what is known as the Dominate (284 AD – 527 AD), during which Emperor Diocletian tried to put the Empire on a more formal footing. Diocletian sought to address the challenges of the Empire's now vast geography and the instability caused by the informality of succession by the creation of co-emperors and junior emperors. At one point, there were as many as five sharers of the imperium (see: Tetrarchy). In 325 AD Constantine I defeated his rivals and restored single emperor rule, but following his death the empire was divided among his sons. For a time the concept was of one empire ruled by multiple emperors with varying territory under their control, however following the death of Theodosius I the rule was divided between his two sons and increasingly became separate entities. The areas administered from Rome are referred to by historians the Western Roman Empire and those under the immediate authority of Constantinople called the Eastern Roman Empire or (after the Battle of Yarmouk in 636 AD) the Later Roman or Byzantine Empire. The subdivisions and co-emperor system were formally abolished by Emperor Zeno in 480 AD following the death of Julius Nepos last Western Emperor and the ascension of Odoacer as the de facto King of Italy in 476 AD.

Byzantine period

Before the 4th Crusade

Under Justinian I, reigning in the 6th century, parts of Italy were for a few decades (re)conquered from the Ostrogoths: thus, this famous mosaic, featuring the Byzantine emperor in the center, can be admired at Ravenna.

Historians generally refer to the continuing Roman Empire in the east as the Byzantine Empire after Byzantium, the original name of the town that Constantine I would elevate to the Imperial capital as New Rome in AD 330. (The city is more commonly called Constantinople and is today named Istanbul). Although the empire was again subdivided and a co-emperor sent to Italy at the end of the fourth century, the office became unitary again only 95 years later at the request of the Roman Senate and following the death of Julius Nepos, last Western Emperor. This change was a recognition of the reality that little remained of Imperial authority in the areas that had been the Western Empire, with even Rome and Italy itself now ruled by the essentially autonomous Odoacer.

These Later Roman "Byzantine" Emperors completed the transition from the idea of the Emperor as a semi-republican official to the Emperor as an absolute monarch. Of particular note was the translation of the Latin Imperator into the Greek Basileus, after Emperor Heraclius changed the official language of the empire from Latin to Greek in AD 620. Basileus, a title which had long been used for Alexander the Great was already in common usage as the Greek word for the Roman emperor, but its definition and sense was "King" in Greek, essentially equivalent with the Latin Rex. Byzantine period emperors also used the Greek word "autokrator", meaning "one who rules himself", or "monarch", which was traditionally used by Greek writers to translate the Latin dictator. Essentially, the Greek language did not incorporate the nuances of the Ancient Roman concepts that distinguished imperium from other forms of political power.

In general usage, the Byzantine imperial title evolved from simply "emperor" (basileus), to "emperor of the Romans" (basileus tōn Rōmaiōn) in the 9th century, to "emperor and autocrat of the Romans" (basileus kai autokratōr tōn Rōmaiōn) in the 10th.[3] In fact, none of these (and other) additional epithets and titles had ever been completely discarded.

One important distinction between the post Constantine I (reigned AD 306–337) emperors and their pagan predecessors was cesaropapism, the assertion that the Emperor (or other head of state) is also the head of the Church. Although this principle was held by all emperors after Constantine, it met with increasing resistance and ultimately rejection by bishops in the west after the effective end of Imperial power there. This concept became a key element of the meaning of "emperor" in the Byzantine and Orthodox east, but went out of favor in the west with the rise of Roman Catholicism.

The Byzantine Empire also produced three women who effectively governed the state: the Empress Irene and the Empresses Zoe and Theodora.

Latin emperors

In 1204 Constantinople fell to the Venetians and the Franks in the Fourth Crusade. Following the tragedy of the horrific sacking of the city, the conquerors declared a new "Empire of Romania", known to historians as the Latin Empire of Constantinople, installing Baldwin IX, Count of Flanders, as Emperor. However, Byzantine resistance to the new empire meant that it was in constant struggle to establish itself. Byzantine Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos succeeded in recapturing Constantinople in 1261. The Principality of Achaea, a vassal state the empire had created in Morea (Greece) intermittently continued to recognize the authority of the crusader emperors for another half century. Pretenders to the title continued among the European nobility until circa 1383.

After the 4th Crusade

With Constantinople occupied, claimants to the imperial succession styled themselves as emperor in the chief centers of resistance: The Laskarid dynasty in the Empire of Nicaea, the Komnenid dynasty in the Empire of Trebizond and the Doukid dynasty in the Despotate of Epirus. In 1248, the Epirus recognized the Nicaean Emperors, who then recaptured Constantinople in 1261. The Trebizond emperor formally submitted in Constantinople in 1281,[4] but frequently flouted convention by styling themselves emperor back in Trebizond thereafter.

Ottoman Empire

Suleiman Agostino
Agostino Veneziano's engraving of Ottoman emperor Suleiman the Magnificent wearing his Venetian Helmet.[note 1] Note the four tiers on the helmet, symbolizing his imperial power, and excelling the three-tiered papal tiara.[5] This tiara was made for 115,000 ducats and offered to Suleiman by the French ambassador Antonio Rincon in 1532.[6] This was a most atypical piece of headgear for a Turkish sultan, which he probably never normally wore, but which he placed beside him when receiving visitors, especially ambassadors. It was crowned with an enormous feather.[7]

Ottoman rulers held several titles denoting their Imperial status. These included: Sultan, Khan, Sovereign of the Imperial House of Osman, Sultan of Sultans, Khan of Khans, Commander of the Faithful and Successor of the Prophet of the Lord of the Universe, Protector of the Holy Cities of Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem, Emperor of The Three Cities of Constantinople, Adrianopole and Bursa as well as many other cities and countries.[8]

After the Ottoman capture of Constantinople in 1453, the Ottoman sultans began to style themselves Kaysar-i Rum (Emperor of the Romans) as they asserted themselves to be the heirs to the Roman Empire by right of conquest. The title was of such importance to them that it led them to eliminate the various Byzantine successor states — and therefore rival claimants — over the next eight years. Though the term "emperor" was rarely used by Westerners of the Ottoman sultan, it was generally accepted by Westerners that he had imperial status.

Holy Roman Empire

The Emperor of the Romans' title was a reflection of the translatio imperii (transfer of rule) principle that regarded the Holy Roman Emperors as the inheritors of the title of Emperor of the Western Roman Empire, despite the continued existence of the Roman Empire in the east.

From the time of Otto the Great onward, much of the former Carolingian kingdom of Eastern Francia became the Holy Roman Empire. The prince-electors elected one of their peers as King of the Romans and King of Italy before being crowned by the Pope. The Emperor could also pursue the election of his heir (usually a son) as King, who would then succeed him after his death. This junior King then bore the title of Roman King (King of the Romans). Although technically already ruling, after the election he would be crowned as emperor by the Pope. The last emperor to be crowned by the pope was Charles V; all emperors after him were technically emperors-elect, but were universally referred to as Emperor.

Austrian Empire

The first Austrian Emperor was the last Holy Roman Emperor Francis II. In the face of aggressions by Napoleon, Francis feared for the future of the Holy Roman Empire. He wished to maintain his and his family's Imperial status in the event that the Holy Roman Empire should be dissolved, as it indeed was in 1806 when an Austrian-led army suffered a humiliating defeat at the Battle of Austerlitz. After which, the victorious Napoleon proceeded to dismantle the old Reich by severing a good portion from the empire and turning it into a separate Confederation of the Rhine. With the size of his imperial realm significantly reduced, Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor became Francis I, Emperor of Austria. The new imperial title may have sounded less prestigious than the old one, but Francis' dynasty continued to rule from Austria and a Habsburg monarch was still an emperor (Kaiser), and not just merely a king (König), in name.

The title lasted just a little over one century until 1918, but it was never clear what territory constituted the "Empire of Austria". When Francis took the title in 1804, the Habsburg lands as a whole were dubbed the Kaisertum Österreich. Kaisertum might literally be translated as "emperordom" (on analogy with "kingdom") or "emperor-ship"; the term denotes specifically "the territory ruled by an emperor", and is thus somewhat more general than Reich, which in 1804 carried connotations of universal rule. Austria proper (as opposed to the complex of Habsburg lands as a whole) had been an Archduchy since the 15th century, and most of the other territories of the Empire had their own institutions and territorial history, although there were some attempts at centralization, especially during the reign of Marie Therese and her son Joseph II and then finalized in the early 19th century. When Hungary was given self-government in 1867, the non-Hungarian portions were called the Empire of Austria and were officially known as the "Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council (Reichsrat)". The title of Emperor of Austria and the associated Empire were both abolished at the end of the First World War in 1918, when German Austria became a republic and the other kingdoms and lands represented in the Imperial Council established their independence or adhesion to other states.

Emperors of Europe

Byzantium's close cultural and political interaction with its Balkan neighbors Bulgaria and Serbia, and with Russia (Kievan Rus', then Muscovy) led to the adoption of Byzantine imperial traditions in all of these countries.


In 913, Simeon I of Bulgaria was crowned Emperor (Tsar) by the Patriarch of Constantinople and Imperial regent Nicholas Mystikos outside the Byzantine capital. In its final simplified form, the title read "Emperor and Autocrat of all Bulgarians and Romans" (Tsar i samodarzhets na vsichki balgari i gartsi in the modern vernacular). The Roman component in the Bulgarian imperial title indicated both rulership over Greek speakers and the derivation of the imperial tradition from the Romans, however this component was never recognised by the Byzantine court.

Byzantine recognition of Simeon's imperial title was revoked by the succeeding Byzantine government. The decade 914–924 was spent in destructive warfare between Byzantium and Bulgaria over this and other matters of conflict. The Bulgarian monarch, who had further irritated his Byzantine counterpart by claiming the title "Emperor of the Romans" (basileus tōn Rōmaiōn), was eventually recognized, as "Emperor of the Bulgarians" (basileus tōn Boulgarōn) by the Byzantine Emperor Romanos I Lakapenos in 924. Byzantine recognition of the imperial dignity of the Bulgarian monarch and the patriarchal dignity of the Bulgarian patriarch was again confirmed at the conclusion of permanent peace and a Bulgarian-Byzantine dynastic marriage in 927. In the meantime, the Bulgarian imperial title may have been also confirmed by the pope. The Bulgarian imperial title "tsar" was adopted by all Bulgarian monarchs up to the fall of Bulgaria under Ottoman rule. 14th-century Bulgarian literary compositions clearly denote the Bulgarian capital (Tarnovo) as a successor of Rome and Constantinople, in effect, the "Third Rome".

After Bulgaria obtained full independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1908, its monarch, who was previously styled Knyaz, [prince], took the traditional title of Tsar [king] and was recognized internationally as such.


The kings of the Ancien Régime and the July Monarchy used the title Empereur de France in diplomatic correspondence and treaties with the Ottoman emperor from at least 1673 onwards. The Ottomans insisted on this elevated style while refusing to recognize the Holy Roman Emperors or the Russian tsars because of their rival claims of the Roman crown. In short, it was an indirect insult by the Ottomans to the HRE and the Russians. The French kings also used it for Morocco (1682) and Persia (1715).

First French Empire

Jacques-Louis David - The Coronation of Napoleon (1805-1807)
One of the most famous Imperial coronation ceremonies was that of Napoleon, crowning himself Emperor in the presence of Pope Pius VII (who had blessed the regalia), at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
The painting by David commemorating the event is equally famous: the gothic cathedral restyled style Empire, supervised by the mother of the Emperor on the balcony (a fictional addition, while she had not been present at the ceremony), the pope positioned near the altar, Napoleon proceeds to crown his then wife, Joséphine de Beauharnais as Empress.

Napoleon Bonaparte, who was already First Consul of the French Republic (Premier Consul de la République française) for life, declared himself Emperor of the French (Empereur des Français) on 18 May 1804, thus creating the French Empire (Empire Français).

Napoleon relinquished the title of Emperor of the French on 6 April and again on 11 April 1814. Napoleon's infant son, Napoleon II, was recognized by the Council of Peers, as Emperor from the moment of his father's abdication, and therefore reigned (as opposed to ruled) as Emperor for fifteen days, 22 June to 7 July 1815.


Since 3 May 1814, the Sovereign Principality of Elba was created a miniature non-hereditary Monarchy under the exiled French Emperor Napoleon I. Napoleon I was allowed, by the treaty of Fontainebleau with (27 April), to enjoy, for life, the imperial title. The islands were not restyled an empire.

On 26 February 1815, Napoleon abandoned Elba for France, reviving the French Empire for a Hundred Days; the Allies declared an end to Napoleon's sovereignty over Elba on 25 March 1815, and on 31 March 1815 Elba was ceded to the restored Grand Duchy of Tuscany by the Congress of Vienna. After his final defeat, Napoleon was treated as a general by the British authorities during his second exile to Atlantic Isle of St. Helena. His title was a matter of dispute with the governor of St Helena, who insisted on addressing him as "General Bonaparte", despite the "historical reality that he had been an emperor" and therefore retained the title.[9][10][11]

Second French Empire

Napoleon I's nephew, Napoleon III, resurrected the title of emperor on 2 December 1852, after establishing the Second French Empire in a presidential coup, subsequently approved by a plebiscite. His reign was marked by large scale public works, the development of social policy, and the extension of France's influence throughout the world. During his reign, he also set about creating the Second Mexican Empire (headed by his choice of Maximilian I of Mexico, a member of the House of Habsburg), to regain France's hold in the Americas and to achieve greatness for the 'Latin' race.[12] Napoleon III was deposed on 4 September 1870, after France's defeat in the Franco-Prussian War. The Third Republic followed and after the death of his son Napoleon (IV), in 1879 during the Zulu War, the Bonapartist movement split, and the Third Republic was to last until 1940.

Iberian Peninsula


The origin of the title Imperator totius Hispaniae (Latin for Emperor of All Spain[note 2]) is murky. It was associated with the Leonese monarchy perhaps as far back as Alfonso the Great (r. 866–910). The last two kings of its Astur-Leonese dynasty were called emperors in a contemporary source.

King Sancho III of Navarre conquered Leon in 1034 and began using it. His son, Ferdinand I of Castile also took the title in 1039. Ferdinand's son, Alfonso VI of León and Castile took the title in 1077. It then passed to his son-in-law, Alfonso I of Aragon in 1109. His stepson and Alfonso VI's grandson, Alfonso VII was the only one who actually had an imperial coronation in 1135.

The title was not exactly hereditary but self-proclaimed by those who had, wholly or partially, united the Christian northern part of the Iberian Peninsula, often at the expense of killing rival siblings. The popes and Holy Roman emperors protested at the usage of the imperial title as a usurpation of leadership in western Christendom. After Alfonso VII's death in 1157, the title was abandoned, and the kings who used it are not commonly mentioned as having been "emperors", in Spanish or other historiography.

After the fall of the Byzantine Empire, the legitimate heir to the throne, Andreas Palaiologos, willed away his claim to Ferdinand and Isabella in 1503.


After the independence and proclamation of the Empire of Brazil from the Kingdom of Portugal by Prince Pedro, who became Emperor, in 1822, his father, King John VI of Portugal briefly held the honorific style of Titular Emperor of Brazil and the treatment of His Imperial and Royal Majesty under the 1825 Treaty of Rio de Janeiro, by which Portugal recognized the independence of Brazil. The style of Titular Emperor was a life title, and became extinct upon the holder's demise. John VI held the imperial title for a few months only, from the ratification of the Treaty in November 1825 until his death in March 1826. During those months, however, as John's imperial title was purely honorific while his son, Pedro I, remained the sole monarch of the Brazilian Empire.

Great Britain

In the late 3rd century, by the end of the epoch of the barracks emperors in Rome, there were two Britannic Emperors, reigning for about a decade. After the end of Roman rule in Britain, the Imperator Cunedda forged the Kingdom of Gwynedd in northern Wales, but all his successors were titled kings and princes.


There was no consistent title for the king of England before 1066, and monarchs chose to style themselves as they pleased. Imperial titles were used inconsistently, beginning with Athelstan in 930 and ended with the Norman conquest of England. Empress Matilda (1102–1167) is the only English monarch commonly referred to as "emperor" or "empress", but she acquired her title through her marriage to Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor.

During the rule of Henry VIII the Statute in Restraint of Appeals declared that 'this realm of England is an Empire...governed by one Supreme Head and King having the dignity and royal estate of the imperial Crown of the same'. This was in the context of the divorce of Catherine of Aragon and the English Reformation, to emphasize that England had never accepted the quasi-imperial claims of the papacy. Hence England and, by extension its modern successor state, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, is according to English law an Empire ruled by a King endowed with the imperial dignity. However, this has not led to the creation of the title of Emperor in England, nor in Great Britain, nor in the United Kingdom.

United Kingdom

In 1801, George III rejected the title of Emperor when offered. The only period when British monarchs held the title of Emperor in a dynastic succession started when the title Empress of India was created for Queen Victoria. The government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, conferred the additional title upon her by an Act of Parliament, reputedly to assuage the monarch's irritation at being, as a mere Queen, notionally inferior to her own daughter (Princess Victoria, who was the wife of the reigning German Emperor); the Indian Imperial designation was also formally justified as the expression of Britain succeeding the former Mughal Emperor as suzerain over hundreds of princely states. The Indian Independence Act 1947 provided for the abolition of the use of the title "Emperor of India" by the British monarch, but this was not executed by King George VI until a royal proclamation on 22 June 1948. Despite this, George VI continued as king of India until 1950 and as king of Pakistan until his death in 1952.

The last Empress of India was George VI's wife, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.

German Empire

Under the guise of idealism giving way to realism, German nationalism rapidly shifted from its liberal and democratic character in 1848 to Prussian prime minister Otto von Bismarck's authoritarian Realpolitik. Bismarck wanted to unify the rival German states to achieve his aim of a conservative, Prussian-dominated Germany. Three wars led to military successes and helped to convince German people to do this: the Second war of Schleswig against Denmark in 1864, the Austro-Prussian War against Austria in 1866, and the Franco-Prussian War against the Second French Empire in 1870–71. During the Siege of Paris in 1871, the North German Confederation, supported by its allies from southern Germany, formed the German Empire with the proclamation of the Prussian king Wilhelm I as German Emperor in the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles, to the humiliation of the French, who ceased to resist only days later.

After his death he was succeeded by his son Frederick III who was only emperor for 99 days. In the same year his son Wilhelm II became the third emperor within a year. He was the last German emperor. After the empire's defeat in World War I the empire, called in German Reich, had a president as head of state instead of an emperor. The use of the word Reich was abandoned after the Second World War.


Profile portrait of Catherine II by Fedor Rokotov (1763, Tretyakov gallery)
Empress of Russia Catherine the Great

In 1472, the niece of the last Byzantine emperor, Sophia Palaiologina, married Ivan III, grand prince of Moscow, who began championing the idea of Russia being the successor to the Byzantine Empire. This idea was represented more emphatically in the composition the monk Filofej addressed to their son Vasili III. After ending Muscovy's dependence on its Mongol overlords in 1480, Ivan III began the usage of the titles Tsar and Autocrat (samoderzhets). His insistence on recognition as such by the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire since 1489 resulted in the granting of this recognition in 1514 by Emperor Maximilian I to Vasili III. His son Ivan IV emphatically crowned himself Tsar of Russia on 16 January 1547. The word "Tsar" derives from Latin Caesar, but this title was used in Russia as equivalent to "King"; the error occurred when medieval Russian clerics referred to the biblical Jewish kings with the same title that was used to designate Roman and Byzantine rulers — "Caesar".

On 31 October 1721, Peter I was proclaimed Emperor by the Senate. The title used was Latin "Imperator", which is a westernizing form equivalent to the traditional Slavic title "Tsar". He based his claim partially upon a letter discovered in 1717 written in 1514 from Maximilian I to Vasili III, in which the Holy Roman Emperor used the term in referring to Vasili.

A formal address to the ruling Russian monarch adopted thereafter was 'Your Imperial Majesty'. The crown prince was addressed as 'Your Imperial Highness'.

The title has not been used in Russia since the abdication of Emperor Nicholas II on 15 March 1917.

Imperial Russia produced four reigning Empresses, all in the eighteenth century.


In 1345, the Serbian King Stefan Uroš IV Dušan proclaimed himself Emperor (Tsar) and was crowned as such at Skopje on Easter 1346 by the newly created Serbian Patriarch, and by the Patriarch of Bulgaria and the autocephalous Archbishop of Ohrid. His imperial title was recognized by Bulgaria and various other neighbors and trading partners but not by the Byzantine Empire. In its final simplified form, the Serbian imperial title read "Emperor of Serbs and Greeks" (цар Срба и Грка in modern Serbian). It was only employed by Stefan Uroš IV Dušan and his son Stefan Uroš V in Serbia (until his death in 1371), after which it became extinct. A half-brother of Dušan, Simeon Uroš, and then his son Jovan Uroš, claimed the same title, until the latter's abdication in 1373, while ruling as dynasts in Thessaly. The "Greek" component in the Serbian imperial title indicates both rulership over Greeks and the derivation of the imperial tradition from the Romans.

Emperors in the Americas

Pre-Columbian traditions

The Aztec and Inca traditions are unrelated to one another. Both were conquered under the reign of King Charles I of Spain who was simultaneously emperor-elect of the Holy Roman Empire during the fall of the Aztecs and fully emperor during the fall of the Incas. Incidentally by being king of Spain, he was also Roman (Byzantine) emperor in pretence through Andreas Palaiologos. The translations of their titles were provided by the Spanish.

Aztec Empire

The only pre-Columbian North American rulers to be commonly called emperors were the Hueyi Tlatoani of the Aztec Empire (1375–1521). It was an elected monarchy chosen by the elite. Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés slew Emperor Cuauhtémoc and installed puppet rulers who became vassals for Spain.

Inca Empire

The only pre-Columbian South American rulers to be commonly called emperors were the Sapa Inca of the Inca Empire (1438–1533). Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro, conquered the Inca for Spain, killed Emperor Atahualpa, and installed puppets as well. Atahualpa may actually be considered a usurper as he had achieved power by killing his half-brother and he did not perform the required coronation with the imperial crown mascaipacha by the Huillaq Uma (high priest).

Post-Columbian Americas


Pedro Américo - D. Pedro II na abertura da Assembléia Geral
Pedro II, Emperor of Brazil in regalia at the opening of the General Assembly (oil painting by Pedro Américo).

When Napoleon I ordered the invasion of Portugal in 1807 because it refused to join the Continental System, the Portuguese Braganzas moved their capital to Rio de Janeiro to avoid the fate of the Spanish Bourbons (Napoleon I arrested them and made his brother Joseph king). When the French general Jean-Andoche Junot arrived in Lisbon, the Portuguese fleet had already left with all the local elite.

In 1808, under a British naval escort, the fleet arrived in Brazil. Later, in 1815, the Portuguese Prince Regent (since 1816 King João VI) proclaimed the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves, as a union of three kingdoms, lifting Brazil from its colonial status.

After the fall of Napoleon I and the Liberal revolution in Portugal, the Portuguese royal family returned to Europe (1821). Prince Pedro of Braganza (King João's older son) stayed in South America acting as regent of the local kingdom, but, two years later in 1822, he proclaimed himself Pedro I, first Emperor of Brazil. He did, however, recognize his father, João VI, as Titular Emperor of Brazil —a purely honorific title—until João VI's death in 1826.

The empire came to an end in 1889, with the overthrow of Emperor Pedro II (Pedro I's son and successor), when the Brazilian republic was proclaimed.


Haiti was declared an empire by its ruler, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, who made himself Jacques I, on 20 May 1805. He was assassinated the next year. Haiti again became an empire from 1849 to 1859 under Faustin Soulouque.


In Mexico, the First Mexican Empire was the first of two empires created. After the declaration of independence on September 15, 1821, it was the intention of the Mexican parliament to establish a commonwealth whereby the King of Spain, Ferdinand VII, would also be Emperor of Mexico, but in which both countries were to be governed by separate laws and with their own legislative offices. Should the king refuse the position, the law provided for a member of the House of Bourbon to accede to the Mexican throne.

Ferdinand VII, however, did not recognize the independence and said that Spain would not allow any other European prince to take the throne of Mexico. By request of Parliament, the president of the regency Agustín de Iturbide was proclaimed emperor of Mexico on 12 July 1822 as Agustín I. Agustín de Iturbide was the general who helped secure Mexican independence from Spanish rule, but was overthrown by the Plan of Casa Mata.

In 1863, the invading French, under Napoleon III (see above), in alliance with Mexican conservatives and nobility, helped create the Second Mexican Empire, and invited Archduke Maximilian, of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine, younger brother of the Austrian Emperor Franz Josef I, to become emperor Maximilian I of Mexico. The childless Maximilian and his consort Empress Carlota of Mexico, daughter of Leopold I of Belgium, adopted Agustín's grandsons Agustin and Salvador as his heirs to bolster his claim to the throne of Mexico. Maximilian and Carlota made Chapultepec Castle their home, which has been the only palace in North America to house sovereigns. After the withdrawal of French protection in 1867, Maximilian was captured and executed by the liberal forces of Benito Juárez.

This empire led to French influence in the Mexican culture and also immigration from France, Belgium, and Switzerland to Mexico.

Persia (Iran)

In Persia, from the time of Darius the Great, Persian rulers used the title "King of Kings" (Shahanshah in Persian) since they had dominion over peoples from the borders of India to the borders of Greece and Egypt. Alexander probably crowned himself shahanshah after conquering Persia, bringing the phrase basileus ton basileon to Greek. It is also known that Tigranes the Great, king of Armenia, was named as the king of kings when he made his empire after defeating the Parthians. Georgian title "mephet'mephe" has the same meaning.

The last shahanshah (Mohammad Reza Pahlavi) was ousted in 1979 following the Iranian Revolution. Shahanshah is usually translated as king of kings or simply king for ancient rulers of the Achaemenid, Arsacid, and Sassanid dynasties, and often shortened to shah for rulers since the Safavid dynasty in the 16th century. Iranian rulers were typically regarded in the West as emperors.

Indian subcontinent

The Sanskrit word for emperor is Samrāj or Samraat or Chakravartin. This word has been used as an epithet of various Vedic deities, like Varuna, and has been attested in the Rig-Veda, possibly the oldest compiled book among the Indo-Europeans. Chakravarti refers to the king of kings. A Chakravarti is not only a sovereign ruler but also has feudatories.

Typically, in the later Vedic age, a Hindu high king (Maharaja) was only called Samraaṭ after performing the Vedic Rajasuya sacrifice, enabling him by religious tradition to claim superiority over the other kings and princes. Another word for emperor is sārvabhaumā. The title of Samraaṭ has been used by many rulers of the Indian subcontinent as claimed by the Hindu mythologies. In proper history, most historians call Chandragupta Maurya the first samraaṭ (emperor) of the Indian subcontinent, because of the huge empire he ruled. The most famous emperor was his grandson Ashoka the Great. Other dynasties that are considered imperial by historians are the Kushanas, Guptas, Vijayanagara, Kakatiya, Hoysala and the Cholas.

Rudhramadevi (1259–1289) was one of the most prominent rulers of the Kakatiya dynasty on the Deccan Plateau, being one of the few ruling queens (empress) in Indian history.

After India was invaded by the Mongol Khans and Turkic Muslims, the rulers of their major states on the subcontinent were titled Sultān or Badshah or Shahanshah. In this manner, the only empress-regnant ever to have actually sat on the throne of Delhi was Razia Sultan. The Mughal Emperors were the only Indian rulers for whom the term was consistently used by Western contemporaries. The emperors of the Maratha Empire were called Chhatrapati. From 1877 to 1947 the monarch of the United Kingdom adopted the additional title of Emperor/Empress of India (Kaisar-i-Hind).



From 1270 the Solomonic dynasty of Ethiopia used the title Nəgusä Nägäst, literally "King of Kings". The use of the king of kings style began a millennium earlier in this region, however, with the title being used by the Kings of Aksum, beginning with Sembrouthes in the 3rd century.

Another title used by this dynasty was Itegue Zetopia. Itegue translates as Empress, and was used by the only reigning Empress, Zauditu, along with the official title Negiste Negest ("Queen of Kings").

In 1936, the Italian king Victor Emmanuel III claimed the title of Emperor of Ethiopia after Ethiopia was occupied by Italy during the Second Italo-Abyssinian War. After the defeat of the Italians by the British and the Ethiopians in 1941, Haile Selassie was restored to the throne but Victor Emmanuel did not relinquish his claim to the title until 1943.[13]

Central African Empire

In 1976, President Jean-Bédel Bokassa of the Central African Republic, proclaimed the country to be an autocratic Central African Empire, and made himself Emperor as Bokassa I. The expenses of his coronation ceremony actually bankrupted the country. He was overthrown three years later and the republic was restored.[14]

East Asian tradition (Sinosphere)

The rulers of China and (once Westerners became aware of the role) Japan were always accepted in the West as emperors, and referred to as such. The claims of other East Asian monarchies to the title may have been accepted for diplomatic purposes, but it was not necessarily used in more general contexts.


Qin Shi Huang BW
Qin Shi Huang

The East Asian tradition is different from the Roman tradition, having arisen separately. What links them together is the use of the Chinese logographs 皇 (huáng) and 帝 () which together or individually are imperial. Because of the cultural influence of China, China's neighbors adopted these titles or had their native titles conform in hanzi. Anyone who spoke to the emperor was to address the emperor as bìxià (陛下, lit. the "Bottom of the Steps"), corresponding to "Imperial Majesty"; shèngshàng (聖上, lit. Holy Highness); or wànsuì (萬歲, lit. "You, of Ten Thousand Years").

In 221 BC, Ying Zheng, who was king of Qin at the time, proclaimed himself Shi Huangdi (始皇帝), which translates as "first emperor". Huangdi is composed of huang ("august one", 皇) and di ("sage-king", 帝), and referred to legendary/mythological sage-emperors living several millennia earlier, of which three were huang and five were di. Thus Zheng became Qin Shi Huang, abolishing the system where the huang/di titles were reserved to dead and/or mythological rulers. Since then, the title "king" became a lower ranked title, and later divided into two grades. Although not as popular, the title 王 wang (king or prince) was still used by many monarchs and dynasties in China up to the Taipings in the 19th century. 王 is pronounced vương in Vietnamese, ō in Japanese, and wang in Korean.

The imperial title continued in China until the Qing Dynasty was overthrown in 1912. The title was briefly revived from 12 December 1915 to 22 March 1916 by President Yuan Shikai and again in early July 1917 when General Zhang Xun attempted to restore last Qing emperor Puyi to the throne. Puyi retained the title and attributes of a foreign emperor, as a personal status, until 1924. After the Japanese occupied Manchuria in 1931, they proclaimed it to be the Empire of Manchukuo, and Puyi became emperor of Manchukuo. This empire ceased to exist when it was occupied by the Soviet Red Army in 1945.

In general, an emperor would have one empress (Huanghou, 皇后) at one time, although posthumous entitlement to empress for a concubine was not uncommon. The earliest known usage of huanghou was in the Han Dynasty. The emperor would generally select the empress from his concubines. In subsequent dynasties, when the distinction between wife and concubine became more accentuated, the crown prince would have chosen an empress-designate before his reign. Imperial China produced only one reigning empress, Wu Zetian, and she used the same Chinese title as an emperor (Huangdi, 皇帝). Wu Zetian then reigned for about 15 years (690–705 AD).


Emperor Showa
Emperor Hirohito (裕仁), or the Shōwa Emperor (昭和天皇), the last Japanese Emperor having ruled with prerogative powers, combined with assumption of divinity (photographed 1926).

The earliest Emperor recorded in Kojiki and Nihon Shoki is Emperor Jimmu, who is said to be a descendant of Amaterasu's grandson Ninigi who descended from Heaven (Tenson kōrin). If one believes what is written in Nihon Shoki, the Emperors have an unbroken direct male lineage that goes back more than 2,600 years.

In ancient Japan, the earliest titles for the sovereign were either ヤマト大王/大君 (yamato ōkimi, Grand King of Yamato), 倭王/倭国王 (waō/wakokuō, King of Wa, used externally), or 治天下大王 (amenoshita shiroshimesu ōkimi, Grand King who rules all under heaven, used internally). As early as the 7th century, the word 天皇 (which can be read either as sumera no mikoto, divine order, or as tennō, Heavenly Emperor, the latter being derived from a Tang Chinese term referring to the Pole star around which all other stars revolve) began to be used. The earliest use of this term is found on a wooden slat, or mokkan, unearthed in Asuka-mura, Nara Prefecture in 1998. The slat dated back to the reign of Emperor Tenmu and Empress Jitō. The reading 'Tennō' has become the standard title for the Japanese sovereign up to the present age. The term 帝 (mikado, Emperor) is also found in literary sources.

Japanese monarchs were given their official title by the Chinese emperor. The new Japanese monarch after coming into power would send a representative to China and receive the anointment. They would receive their official title on several golden plates of several meters tall. Since the Japanese monarchs changed their title to 天皇 (Heavenly Emperor) in 607, the Chinese emperor refused to anoint the Japanese king, thus, ending relations with Japan for the next few hundred years.[15] Although the Japanese emperors used Chinese imperial titles,, rarely was the Chinese-style "Son of Heaven" used. In the Japanese language, the word tennō is restricted to Japan's own monarch; kōtei (皇帝) is used for foreign emperors. Historically, retired emperors often kept power over a child-emperor as de facto regent. For a long time, a shōgun (formally the imperial generalissimo, but made hereditary) or an imperial regent wielded actual political power. In fact, through much of Japanese history, the emperor has been little more than a figurehead.

After World War II, all claims of divinity were dropped (see Ningen-sengen). The Diet acquired all prerogative powers of the Crown, reverting the latter to a ceremonial role.[16] By the end of the 20th century, Japan was the only country with an emperor on the throne.

As of the early 21st century, Japan's succession law prohibits a female from ascending the throne. With the birth of a daughter as the first child of the then-Crown Prince Naruhito, Japan considered abandoning that rule. However, shortly after the announcement that Princess Kiko was pregnant with her third child, the proposal to alter the Imperial Household Law was suspended by then-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. On 3 January 2007, as the child turned out to be a son, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced that he would drop the proposal.[17]

Currently, many believe the new prince of Japan will ascend the throne, as the law defines. Historically, Japan has had eight reigning empresses who used the genderless title Tennō, rather than the female consort title kōgō (皇后) or chūgū (中宮). There is ongoing discussion of the Japanese Imperial succession controversy. Although current Japanese law prohibits female succession, all Japanese emperors claim to trace their lineage to Amaterasu, the Sun Goddess of the Shintō religion. Thus, the Emperor is thought to be the highest authority of the Shinto religion, and one of his duties is to perform Shinto rituals for the people of Japan.


Some rulers of Goguryeo (37 BC–668 AD) used the title of Taewang (태왕; 太王), literally translated as "Greatest King". The title of Taewang was also used by some rulers of Silla (57 BC–935 AD), including Beopheung and Jinheung.

The rulers of Balhae (698–926) internally called themselves Seongwang (성왕; 聖王).[18]

The rulers of Goryeo (918–1392) used the titles of emperor and Son of Heaven. Goryeo's imperial system ended in 1270 with capitulation to the Mongol Empire.[19]

In 1897, Gojong, the King of Joseon, proclaimed the founding of the Korean Empire (1897–1910), becoming the Emperor of Korea. He declared the era name of "Gwangmu" (광무; 光武), meaning "Bright and Martial". The Korean Empire lasted until 1910, when it was annexed by the Empire of Japan.


The title Khagan (khan of khans or grand khan) was held by Genghis Khan, founder of the Mongol Empire in 1206. After 1271, the emperors of the Yuan Dynasty also took the Chinese title huangdi, or Chinese emperor. Only the Khagans from Genghis Khan to the fall of the Yuan Dynasty in 1368 are normally referred to as Emperors in English.


Bảo Đại au pouvoir
Bảo Đại, the last Emperor of Vietnam

Ngô Quyền, the first ruler of Đại Việt as an independent state, used the title Vương (王, King). However, after the death of Ngô Quyền, the country immersed in a civil war known as Chaos of the 12 Lords that lasted for over 20 years. In the end, Đinh Bộ Lĩnh unified the country after defeating all the warlords and became the first ruler of Đại Việt to use the title Hoàng Đế (皇帝, Emperor) in 968. Succeeding rulers in Vietnam then continued to use this Emperor title until 1806 when this title was stopped being used for a century.

Đinh Bộ Lĩnh wasn't the first to claim the title of Đế (帝, Emperor). Before him, Lý Bí and Mai Thúc Loan also claimed this title. However, their rules were very short lived.

The Vietnamese emperors also gave this title to their ancestors who were lords or influence figures in the previous dynasty like the Chinese emperors. This practice is one of many indications of the idea "Vietnam's equality with China" which remained intact up to the twentieth century.[20]

In 1802 the newly established Nguyễn dynasty requested canonization from Chinese Jiaqing Emperor and received the title Quốc Vương (國王, King of a State) and the name of the country as An Nam (安南) instead Đại Việt (大越). To avoid unnecessary armed conflicts, the Vietnamese rulers accepted this in diplomatic relation and use the title Emperor only domestically. However, Vietnamese rulers never accepted the vassalage relationship with China and always refused to come to Chinese courts to pay homage to Chinese rulers (a sign of vassalage acceptance). China waged a number of wars against Vietnam throughout history, and after each failure, settled for the tributary relationship. The Yuan dynasty under Kublai Khan waged three wars against Vietnam to force it into a vassalage relationship but after successive failures, Kublai Khan's successor, Temür Khan, finally settled for a tributary relationship with Vietnam. Vietnam sent tributary missions to China once in three years (with some periods of disruptions) until the 19th century, Sino-French War France replaced China in control of northern Vietnam.

The emperors of the last dynasty of Vietnam continued to hold this title until the French conquered Vietnam. The emperor, however, was then a puppet figure only and could easily be disposed of by the French for more pro-France figure. Japan took Vietnam from France and the Axis-occupied Vietnam was declared an empire by the Japanese in March 1945. The line of emperors came to an end with Bảo Đại, who was deposed after the war, although he later served as head of state of South Vietnam from 1949-55.


The lone holders of the imperial title in Oceania were the heads of the semi-mythical Tuʻi Tonga Empire.

Fictional uses

There have been many fictional emperors in movies and books. To see a list of these emperors, see Category of fictional emperors and empresses.

See also


  1. ^ Agostino never saw the Sultan, but probably did see and sketch the helmet in Venice.
  2. ^ Before the emergence of the modern country of Spain (beginning with the union of Castile and Aragon in 1492), the Latin word Hispania, in any of the Iberian Romance languages, either in singular or plural forms (in English: Spain or Spains), was used to refer to the whole of the Iberian Peninsula, and not exclusively, as in modern usage, to the country of Spain, thus excluding Portugal.


  1. ^ Harper, Douglas. "emperor". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 30 August 2010.
  2. ^ Peng, Dr. Ying-chen. "The Forbidden City". Khan Academy.
  3. ^ George Ostrogorsky, "Avtokrator i samodržac", Glas Srpske kraljevske akadamije CLXIV, Drugi razdred 84 (1935), 95–187
  4. ^ Nicol, Donald MacGillivray, The Last Centuries of Byzantium, second edition (Cambridge: University Press, 1993), p. 74
  5. ^ The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1968. "Turquerie" The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, New Series 26 (5): 229.
  6. ^ Garnier, p. 52.
  7. ^ Levey, 65.
  8. ^ "Nobility of the World Volume VIII- Turkey". Almanch De Saxe Gotha. Retrieved 10 December 2017.
  9. ^ Napoleon, Vincent Cronin, p419, HarperCollins, 1994.
  10. ^ Napoleon, Frank McLynn, p644, Pimlico 1998
  11. ^ Le Mémorial de Sainte Hélène, Emmanuel De Las Cases, Tome III, page101, published by Jean De Bonnot, Libraire à l'enseigne du canon, 1969
  12. ^ Appelbaum, Nancy P.; Macpherson, Anne S.; Rosemblatt, Karin Alejandra (2003). Race and nation in modern Latin America. UNC Press Books. p. 88. ISBN 978-0-8078-5441-9.
  13. ^ Vadala, Alexander Attilio (1 January 2011). "Elite Distinction and Regime Change: The Ethiopian Case". Comparative Sociology. 10 (4): 636–653. doi:10.1163/156913311X590664. ISSN 1569-1330.
  14. ^ Lentz, Harris M (1 January 1994). Heads of states and governments: a worldwide encyclopedia of over 2,300 leaders, 1945 through 1992. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland. ISBN 0899509266.
  15. ^ "Once upon a time, China anointed a 'King of Japan' - The Japan Times". The Japan Times.
  16. ^ Although the Emperor of Japan is classified as constitutional monarch among political scientists, the current constitution of Japan defines him only as 'a symbol of the nation' and no subsequent legislation states his status as the head of state or equates the Crown synonymously with any government establishment.
  17. ^ Japan Imperial Succession
  18. ^ New Book of Tang, vol. 209
  19. ^ Em, Henry (2013). The Great Enterprise: Sovereignty and Historiography in Modern Korea. Duke University Press. pp. 24–26. ISBN 0822353725. Retrieved 3 November 2018.
  20. ^ Tuyet Nhung Tran, Anthony J. S. Reid (2006), Việt Nam Borderless Histories, Madison, Wisconsin: The University of Wisconsin Press, p. 67, ISBN 978-0-299-21770-9

External links


Akihito (明仁, Japanese: [akiçito]; English pronunciation ; born 23 December 1933) is a member of the Imperial House of Japan who reigned as the 125th Emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession, from 7 January 1989 until his abdication on 30 April 2019. He succeeded to the Chrysanthemum Throne upon the death of his father, Emperor Shōwa (Hirohito). Upon abdication due to his age and declining health, he became emperor emeritus. He was succeeded by his eldest son, Naruhito.


Caligula (; Latin: Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus; 31 August 12 – 24 January 41 AD) was Roman emperor from 37 to 41 AD. The son of the popular Roman general Germanicus and Augustus's granddaughter Agrippina the Elder, Caligula was born into the first ruling family of the Roman Empire, conventionally known as the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Germanicus's uncle and adoptive father, Tiberius, succeeded Augustus as emperor of Rome in 14.

Although he was born Gaius Caesar, after Julius Caesar, he acquired the nickname "Caligula" (meaning "little [soldier's] boot", the diminutive form of caliga) from his father's soldiers during their campaign in Germania. When Germanicus died at Antioch in 19, Agrippina returned with her six children to Rome, where she became entangled in a bitter feud with Tiberius. The conflict eventually led to the destruction of her family, with Caligula as the sole male survivor. Untouched by the deadly intrigues, Caligula accepted an invitation in 31 to join the emperor on the island of Capri, where Tiberius had withdrawn five years earlier. Following the death of Tiberius, Caligula succeeded his adoptive grandfather as emperor in 37.

There are few surviving sources about the reign of Caligula, although he is described as a noble and moderate emperor during the first six months of his rule. After this, the sources focus upon his cruelty, sadism, extravagance, and sexual perversion, presenting him as an insane tyrant. While the reliability of these sources is questionable, it is known that during his brief reign, Caligula worked to increase the unconstrained personal power of the emperor, as opposed to countervailing powers within the principate. He directed much of his attention to ambitious construction projects and luxurious dwellings for himself, and initiated the construction of two aqueducts in Rome: the Aqua Claudia and the Anio Novus. During his reign, the empire annexed the client kingdom of Mauretania as a province.

In early 41, Caligula was assassinated as a result of a conspiracy by officers of the Praetorian Guard, senators, and courtiers. The conspirators' attempt to use the opportunity to restore the Roman Republic was thwarted, however. On the day of the assassination of Caligula, the Praetorians declared Caligula's uncle, Claudius, the next Roman emperor. Although the Julio-Claudian dynasty continued to rule the empire until the fall of his nephew Nero in 68, Caligula's death marked the official end of the Julii Caesares in the male line.


Charlemagne () or Charles the Great (2 April 742 – 28 January 814), numbered Charles I, was king of the Franks from 768, king of the Lombards from 774, and emperor of the Romans from 800. During the Early Middle Ages, he united the majority of western and central Europe. He was the first recognised emperor to rule from western Europe since the fall of the Western Roman Empire three centuries earlier. The expanded Frankish state that Charlemagne founded is called the Carolingian Empire. He was later canonized by Antipope Paschal III.

Charlemagne was the eldest son of Pepin the Short and Bertrada of Laon, born before their canonical marriage. He became king in 768 following his father's death, initially as co-ruler with his brother Carloman I. Carloman's sudden death in December 771 under unexplained circumstances left Charlemagne as the sole ruler of the Frankish Kingdom. He continued his father's policy towards the papacy and became its protector, removing the Lombards from power in northern Italy and leading an incursion into Muslim Spain. He campaigned against the Saxons to his east, Christianizing them upon penalty of death and leading to events such as the Massacre of Verden. He reached the height of his power in 800 when he was crowned "Emperor of the Romans" by Pope Leo III on Christmas Day at Rome's Old St. Peter's Basilica.

Charlemagne has been called the "Father of Europe" (Pater Europae), as he united most of Western Europe for the first time since the classical era of the Roman Empire and united parts of Europe that had never been under Frankish or Roman rule. His rule spurred the Carolingian Renaissance, a period of energetic cultural and intellectual activity within the Western Church. Emperors of the Holy Roman Empire considered themselves successors of Charlemagne, as did the French and German monarchs. However, the Eastern Orthodox Church views Charlemagne more controversially, labelling as heterodox his support of the filioque and the Pope's recognition of him as legitimate Roman Emperor rather than Irene of Athens of the Byzantine Empire. These and other machinations led to the eventual split of Rome and Constantinople in the Great Schism of 1054.Charlemagne died in 814, having ruled as emperor for almost 14 years and as king for almost 46 years. He was laid to rest in his imperial capital city of Aachen. He married at least four times and had three legitimate sons, but only his son Louis the Pious survived to succeed him.

Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor

Charles V (24 February 1500 – 21 September 1558) was Holy Roman Emperor (1519–1556), King of Castile and Aragon (1516–1556), and head of the House of Habsburg. As emperor he was sovereign in Germany and northern Italy, while he had direct rule over Habsburg Austria and also the Habsburg Netherlands since becoming Duke of Burgundy in 1506. Through his Spanish kingdoms he was also ruler of Naples, Sicily, Sardinia and an expanding colonial empire. He spent most of his reign defending the integrity of the Holy Roman Empire from the Protestant Reformation, the Ottoman Empire and a series of wars with France.

Charles ratified the conquest of the Aztec and Inca empires by the Castilian conquistadores, and financed the expedition of Ferdinand Magellan. He revitalized the medieval concept of the universal monarchy of Charlemagne and travelled from city to city, with no single fixed capital: overall he spent 28 years in the Low Countries, 18 years in Spain and 9 years in Germany proper. After four decades of incessant warfare, Charles V abandoned his multi-national project by abdicating in 1556 and dividing his hereditary and imperial domains between the Spanish Habsburgs headed by his son Philip II of Spain and the Austrian Habsburgs headed by his brother Ferdinand, who was Archduke of Austria under Charles' authority since 1521 and the designated successor as Emperor since 1531. The personal union of his European and American territories, spanning over nearly 4 million square kilometres, was the first collection of realms labelled "the empire on which the sun never sets".Charles was born in Flanders to Philip the Handsome and Joanna the Mad. Due to the premature death of his father in 1506 and the mental illness of his mother, Charles inherited all of his family dominions at a young age. As Duke of Burgundy from 1506, he inherited areas in the Netherlands and around the eastern border of France. As a grandson of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he became King of Spain jointly with his mother in 1516 and inherited the developing Castilian empire in the Americas and the Aragonese territories extending to southern Italy. As the head of the House of Habsburg, he inherited Austria and other lands in central Europe and was also elected in 1519 to succeed his grandfather as Holy Roman Emperor.

Because of widespread fears that his vast inheritance would lead to the realisation of a universal monarchy and that he was trying to create a European hegemony, Charles was the object of hostility from many enemies. His reign was dominated by war, particularly by three major simultaneous prolonged conflicts: the Italian Wars with France, the struggle to halt the Turkish advance into Europe, and the conflict with the German princes resulting from the Protestant Reformation. In order to finance such wars to defend the Holy Roman Empire, Charles V increased the flows of South American silver to Spain (the chief source of his power and wealth) and caused long-term consequences on the economy. While Charles did not typically concern himself with rebellions, he was quick to put down four particularly dangerous rebellions; the Revolt of the Comuneros in Castile, the Revolt of the Brotherhoods in Aragon, the revolt of the Arumer Zwarte Hoop in Frisia, and, later in his reign, the Revolt of Ghent (1539). Once the rebellions were quelled, the essential Castilian and Burgundian territories remained mostly loyal to Charles throughout his rule.

Charles opposed the Reformation, and in Germany he was in conflict with Protestant nobles who were motivated by both religious and political opposition to him. In 1521 he organised the Diet of Worms and declared Martin Luther an outlaw, but could not prevent the spread of Protestantism and (despite victory in the Schmalkaldic War) was ultimately forced to concede the principle of Cuius regio, eius religio in 1555. The struggle with the Ottoman Empire was fought in Hungary and the Mediterranean. The Turkish advance was halted at the Siege of Vienna in 1529, and a lengthy war of attrition, conducted on Charles' behalf by his younger brother Ferdinand (King of Hungary and archduke of Austria), continued for the rest of Charles's reign. In the Mediterranean, although there were some successes, he was unable to prevent the Ottomans' increasing naval dominance and the piratical activity of the Barbary pirates. The French wars, mainly fought in Italy, lasted for most of his reign. Enormously expensive due to the employment of condottieri and landsknecht, they led to the development of the infantry known as the tercios. The Battle of Pavia (1525) led to the temporary imprisonment of Francis I of France: imperial control of the French-occupied Duchy of Milan was restored and Charles V became Duke of Milan in 1535. However, France refused to accept the hegemony of Charles V and often supported the Protestant Leagues and formed alliances with the Ottomans.

Charles was 56 when he abdicated, and after 40 years of active rule he was physically exhausted and sought the peace of a monastery, where he died at the age of 58. The Holy Roman Empire passed to his younger brother Ferdinand, archduke of Austria, while the Spanish Empire was inherited by Charles's son Philip II of Spain. The Duchy of Milan and the Habsburg Netherlands were left in personal union to the King of Spain, but remained part of the Holy Roman Empire. The two empires would remain allies until the extinction of the male line of the Spanish branch of the Habsburgs in 1700.


Claudius (; Latin: Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus; 1 August 10 BC – 13 October AD 54) was Roman emperor from AD 41 to 54. A member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, he was the son of Drusus and Antonia Minor. He was born at Lugdunum in Gaul, the first (and until Trajan, only) Roman emperor to be born outside Italy. Because he was afflicted with a limp and slight deafness due to sickness at a young age, his family ostracized him and excluded him from public office until his consulship, shared with his nephew Caligula in 37.

Claudius's infirmity probably saved him from the fate of many other nobles during the purges of Tiberius's and Caligula's reigns; potential enemies did not see him as a serious threat. His survival led to his being declared emperor by the Praetorian Guard after Caligula's assassination, at which point he was the last man of his family. Despite his lack of experience, Claudius proved to be an able and efficient administrator. He was also an ambitious builder, constructing many new roads, aqueducts, and canals across the Empire. During his reign the Empire began the conquest of Britain (if the earlier invasions of Britain by Caesar and Caligula's aborted attempts are not counted).

Having a personal interest in law, he presided at public trials, and issued up to twenty edicts a day. He was seen as vulnerable throughout his reign, particularly by elements of the nobility. Claudius was constantly forced to shore up his position; this resulted in the deaths of many senators. These events damaged his reputation among the ancient writers, though more recent historians have revised this opinion. Many authors contend that he was murdered by his own wife. After his death in 54 (at the age of 63), his grand-nephew, step-son, and adopted son Nero succeeded him as emperor. His 13-year reign (slightly longer than Nero's) would not be surpassed by any successors until that of Domitian, who reigned for 15 years.

He was a descendant of the Octavii Rufi (through Gaius Octavius), Julii Caesares (through Julia Minor and Julia Antonia), and the Claudii Nerones (through Nero Claudius Drusus). He was a step-grandson (through his father Drusus) and great-nephew (through his mother Antonia Minor) of Augustus. He was a nephew of Tiberius through his father, Tiberius's brother. Through his brother Germanicus, Claudius was an uncle of Caligula and a great uncle of Nero. Through his mother Antonia Minor he was a grandson of Mark Antony.

Constantine the Great

Constantine the Great (Latin: Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus; Greek: Κωνσταντῖνος ὁ Μέγας; 27 February c. 272 AD – 22 May 337 AD), also known as Constantine I, was a Roman Emperor who ruled between 306 and 337 AD. Born in Naissus, in Dacia Ripensis, city now known as Niš (Serbian Cyrillic: Ниш, located in Serbia), he was the son of Flavius Valerius Constantius, a Roman Army officer. His mother was Empress Helena. His father became Caesar, the deputy emperor in the west, in 293 AD. Constantine was sent east, where he rose through the ranks to become a military tribune under Emperors Diocletian and Galerius. In 305, Constantius was raised to the rank of Augustus, senior western emperor, and Constantine was recalled west to campaign under his father in Britannia (Britain). Constantine was acclaimed as emperor by the army at Eboracum (modern-day York) after his father's death in 306 AD. He emerged victorious in a series of civil wars against Emperors Maxentius and Licinius to become sole ruler of both west and east by 324 AD.

As emperor, Constantine enacted administrative, financial, social, and military reforms to strengthen the empire. He restructured the government, separating civil and military authorities. To combat inflation he introduced the solidus, a new gold coin that became the standard for Byzantine and European currencies for more than a thousand years. The Roman army was reorganised to consist of mobile field units and garrison soldiers capable of countering internal threats and barbarian invasions. Constantine pursued successful campaigns against the tribes on the Roman frontiers—the Franks, the Alamanni, the Goths, and the Sarmatians—even resettling territories abandoned by his predecessors during the Crisis of the Third Century.

Constantine was the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity. Although he lived much of his life as a pagan, and later as a catechumen, he joined the Christian faith on his deathbed, being baptised by Eusebius of Nicomedia. He played an influential role in the proclamation of the Edict of Milan in 313, which declared religious tolerance for Christianity in the Roman empire. He called the First Council of Nicaea in 325, which produced the statement of Christian belief known as the Nicene Creed. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was built on his orders at the purported site of Jesus' tomb in Jerusalem and became the holiest place in Christendom. The Papal claim to temporal power in the High Middle Ages was based on the forged Donation of Constantine. He has historically been referred to as the "First Christian Emperor", and he did heavily promote the Christian Church. Some modern scholars, however, debate his beliefs and even his comprehension of the Christian faith itself.The age of Constantine marked a distinct epoch in the history of the Roman Empire. He built a new imperial residence at Byzantium and renamed the city Constantinople (now Istanbul) after himself (the laudatory epithet of "New Rome" came later, and was never an official title). It became the capital of the Empire for more than a thousand years, with the later eastern Roman Empire now being referred to as the Byzantine Empire by historians. His more immediate political legacy was that he replaced Diocletian's tetrarchy with the principle of dynastic succession by leaving the empire to his sons. His reputation flourished during the lifetime of his children and for centuries after his reign. The medieval church upheld him as a paragon of virtue, while secular rulers invoked him as a prototype, a point of reference, and the symbol of imperial legitimacy and identity. Beginning with the Renaissance, there were more critical appraisals of his reign, due to the rediscovery of anti-Constantinian sources. Trends in modern and recent scholarship have attempted to balance the extremes of previous scholarship.

Emperor of Japan

The Emperor of Japan is the head of the Imperial Family and the head of state of Japan. Under the 1947 constitution, he is defined as "the symbol of the State and of the unity of the people." Historically, he was also the highest authority of the Shinto religion. In Japanese, the emperor is called Tennō (天皇), literally "heavenly sovereign". In English, the use of the term Mikado (帝 or 御門) for the emperor was once common, but is now considered obsolete.Currently, the Emperor of Japan is the only head of state in the world with the English title of "emperor". The Imperial House of Japan is the oldest continuing monarchical house in the world. The historical origins of the emperors lie in the late Kofun period of the 3rd–7th centuries AD, but according to the traditional account of the Kojiki (finished 712) and Nihon Shoki (finished 720), Japan was founded in 660 BC by Emperor Jimmu, who was said to be a direct descendant of the sun-goddess Amaterasu. The current emperor is Naruhito. He acceded to the Chrysanthemum Throne upon the abdication of his father, the now-Emperor Emeritus Akihito on 1 May 2019 at 00:00 local time (15:00 UTC).

The role of the Emperor of Japan has historically alternated between a largely ceremonial symbolic role and that of an actual imperial ruler. Since the establishment of the first shogunate in 1199, the emperors have rarely taken on a role as supreme battlefield commander, unlike many Western monarchs. Japanese emperors have nearly always been controlled by external political forces, to varying degrees. In fact, between 1192 and 1867, the shōguns, or their shikken regents in Kamakura (1203–1333), were the de facto rulers of Japan, although they were nominally appointed by the emperor. After the Meiji Restoration in 1867, the emperor was the embodiment of all sovereign power in the realm, as enshrined in the Meiji Constitution of 1889. Since the enactment of the 1947 Constitution, he has been a ceremonial head of state without even nominal political powers.

Since the mid-nineteenth century, the Imperial Palace has been called Kyūjō (宮城), later Kōkyo (皇居), and is on the former site of Edo Castle in the heart of Tokyo (the current capital of Japan). Earlier, emperors resided in Kyoto (the ancient capital) for nearly eleven centuries. The Emperor's Birthday (currently 23 February) is a national holiday.

Franz Joseph I of Austria

Franz Joseph I or Francis Joseph I (Franz Joseph Karl; 18 August 1830 – 21 November 1916) was Emperor of Austria along with his wife: Empress Elizabeth of Austria, Queen of Hungary. He was also King of Hungary, King of Bohemia, and monarch of many other states of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, from 2 December 1848 to his death. From 1 May 1850 to 24 August 1866 he was also President of the German Confederation. He was the longest-reigning Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary, as well as the third-longest-reigning monarch of any country in European history, after Louis XIV of France and Johann II of Liechtenstein.In December 1848, Emperor Ferdinand abdicated the throne at Olomouc, as part of Minister President Felix zu Schwarzenberg's plan to end the Revolutions of 1848 in Hungary. This allowed Ferdinand's nephew Franz Joseph to accede to the throne. Largely considered to be a reactionary, Franz Joseph spent his early reign resisting constitutionalism in his domains. The Austrian Empire was forced to cede its influence over Tuscany and most of its claim to Lombardy–Venetia to the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia, following the Second Italian War of Independence in 1859 and the Third Italian War of Independence in 1866. Although Franz Joseph ceded no territory to the Kingdom of Prussia after the Austrian defeat in the Austro-Prussian War, the Peace of Prague (23 August 1866) settled the German Question in favour of Prussia, which prevented the Unification of Germany from occurring under the House of Habsburg.Franz Joseph was troubled by nationalism during his entire reign. He concluded the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, which granted greater autonomy to Hungary and transformed the Austrian Empire into the Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary. He ruled peacefully for the next 45 years, but personally suffered the tragedies of the execution of his brother, the Emperor Maximilian of Mexico in 1867, the suicide of his only son and heir, Crown Prince Rudolf, in 1889, and the assassination of his wife, Empress Elisabeth, in 1898.

After the Austro-Prussian War, Austria-Hungary turned its attention to the Balkans, which was a hotspot of international tension because of conflicting interests with the Russian Empire. The Bosnian Crisis was a result of Franz Joseph's annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1908, which had been occupied by his troops since the Congress of Berlin (1878).

On 28 June 1914, the assassination of his nephew, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, in Sarajevo resulted in Austria-Hungary's declaration of war against the Kingdom of Serbia, which was Russia's ally. That activated a system of alliances which resulted in World War I.

Franz Joseph died on 21 November 1916, after ruling his domains for almost 68 years as one of the longest-reigning monarchs in modern history. He was succeeded by his grandnephew Charles.

Haile Selassie

Haile Selassie I (Ge'ez: ቀዳማዊ ኃይለ ሥላሴ, qädamawi haylä səllasé, English trans.: "Power of the Trinity," born Lij Tafari Makonnen Woldemikael; Amharic pronunciation: [ˈhaɪlə sɨlˈlase] (listen); 23 July 1892 – 27 August 1975) was an Ethiopian regent from 1916 to 1930 and emperor from 1930 to 1974. He is a defining figure in contemporary Ethiopian history.He was a member of the Solomonic dynasty who traced his lineage to Emperor Menelik I via his Shewan royal ancestors as a great-grandson of king Sahle Selassie daughter of Sahle Selase was mother of Woldemikael. Haile Selassie's father was Makonnen Wolde-Mikael Guddisa and his mother was Yeshimebet Mikael (Daughter of Ras Ali of Bete Amhara/Wollo)

His internationalist views led to Ethiopia becoming a charter member of the United Nations, and his political thought and experience in promoting multilateralism and collective security, have proved seminal and enduring. At the League of Nations in 1936, the emperor condemned the use of chemical weapons by Italy against his people during the Second Italo-Ethiopian War.His suppression of rebellions among the landed aristocracy (the mesafint), which consistently opposed his reforms, as well as what some critics perceived to be Ethiopia's failure to modernize rapidly enough, earned him criticism among some contemporaries and historians. During his rule the Harari people were persecuted and many left the Harari Region. His regime was also criticized by human rights groups, such as Human Rights Watch, as autocratic and illiberal.Among the Rastafari movement, whose followers are estimated to number between 700,000 and one million, Haile Selassie is revered as the returned messiah of the Bible, God incarnate. Beginning in Jamaica in the 1930s, the Rastafari movement perceives Haile Selassie as a messianic figure who will lead a future golden age of eternal peace, righteousness, and prosperity. Haile Selassie was an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian throughout his life.

The 1973 famine in Ethiopia led to Haile Selassie's eventual removal from the throne. He died from strangulation on 27 August 1975 at the age of 83, following a coup d'état.


Hirohito (裕仁, 29 April 1901 – 7 January 1989) was the 124th Emperor of Japan according to the traditional order of succession, reigning from 25 December 1926, until his death on 7 January 1989. He was succeeded by his eldest son, Akihito. In Japan, reigning emperors are known simply as "the Emperor" and he is now referred to primarily by his posthumous name, Shōwa (昭和), which is the name of the era coinciding with his reign; for this reason, he is also known as the "Shōwa Emperor" or "Emperor Shōwa".

At the start of his reign, Japan was already one of the great powers—the ninth-largest economy in the world, the third-largest naval power, and one of the four permanent members of the council of the League of Nations. He was the head of state under the Constitution of the Empire of Japan during Japan's imperial expansion, militarization, and involvement in World War II. After Japan's surrender, he was not prosecuted for war crimes as many other leading government figures were, and his degree of involvement in wartime decisions remains controversial. During the post-war period, he became the symbol of the new state under the post-war constitution and Japan's recovery, and by the end of his reign, Japan had emerged as the world's second largest economy.

Holy Roman Emperor

The Holy Roman Emperor (also "German-Roman Emperor", German: Römisch-deutscher Kaiser "Roman-German emperor"; historically Imperator Romanorum, "Emperor of the Romans") was the ruler of the Holy Roman Empire (considered by itself to be the successor of the Roman Empire) during the Middle Ages and the early modern period. The title was, almost without interruption, held in conjunction with title of King of Germany (rex teutonicorum) throughout the 12th to 18th centuries.From an autocracy in Carolingian times (AD 800–924) the title by the 13th century evolved into an elected monarchy chosen by the prince-electors.

Various royal houses of Europe, at different times, became de facto hereditary holders of the title, notably the Ottonians (962–1024) and the Salians (1027–1125). Following the late medieval crisis of government, the Habsburgs kept possession of the title without interruption from 1440–1740. The final emperors were from the House of Lorraine (Habsburg-Lorraine), from 1765–1806. The Holy Roman Empire was dissolved by Emperor Francis II, after a devastating defeat to Napoleon at the Battle of Austerlitz.

The Holy Roman Emperor was widely perceived to rule by divine right, though he often contradicted or rivaled the Pope, most notably during the Investiture controversy.

In theory, the Holy Roman Emperor was primus inter pares (first among equals) among other Catholic monarchs. In practice, a Holy Roman Emperor was only as strong as his army and alliances, including marriage alliances, made him. There was never a Holy Roman Empress regnant, though women such as Theophanu and Maria Theresa of Austria served as de facto Empresses regnant.

Throughout its history, the position was viewed as a defender of the Roman Catholic faith. Until the Reformation, the Emperor elect (imperator electus) was required to be crowned by the Pope before assuming the imperial title. Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor was the last to be crowned by the Pope in 1530. Even after the Reformation, the elected Emperor always was a Roman Catholic. There were short periods in history when the electoral college was dominated by Protestants, and the electors usually voted in their own political interest.

Holy Roman Empire

The Holy Roman Empire (Latin: Sacrum Imperium Romanum; German: Heiliges Römisches Reich) was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western and Central Europe that developed during the Early Middle Ages and continued until its dissolution in 1806 during the Napoleonic Wars. The largest territory of the empire after 962 was the Kingdom of Germany, though it also came to include the neighboring Kingdom of Bohemia, the Kingdom of Burgundy, the Kingdom of Italy, and numerous other territories.On 25 December 800, Pope Leo III crowned the Frankish king Charlemagne as Emperor, reviving the title in Western Europe, more than three centuries after the fall of the earlier ancient Western Roman Empire in 476. The title continued in the Carolingian family until 888 and from 896 to 899, after which it was contested by the rulers of Italy in a series of civil wars until the death of the last Italian claimant, Berengar I, in 924. The title was revived again in 962 when Otto I was crowned emperor, fashioning himself as the successor of Charlemagne and beginning a continuous existence of the empire for over eight centuries. Some historians refer to the coronation of Charlemagne as the origin of the empire, while others prefer the coronation of Otto I as its beginning. Scholars generally concur, however, in relating an evolution of the institutions and principles constituting the empire, describing a gradual assumption of the imperial title and role.The exact term "Holy Roman Empire" was not used until the 13th century, but the concept of translatio imperii, the notion that he—the sovereign ruler—held supreme power inherited from the ancient emperors of Rome, was fundamental to the prestige of the emperor. The office of Holy Roman Emperor was traditionally elective, although frequently controlled by dynasties. The mostly German prince-electors, the highest-ranking noblemen of the empire, usually elected one of their peers as "King of the Romans", and he would later be crowned emperor by the Pope; the tradition of papal coronations was discontinued in the 16th century.

The empire never achieved the extent of political unification as was formed to the west in France, evolving instead into a decentralized, limited elective monarchy composed of hundreds of sub-units: kingdoms, principalities, duchies, counties, prince-bishoprics, Free Imperial Cities, and other domains. The power of the emperor was limited, and while the various princes, lords, bishops, and cities of the empire were vassals who owed the emperor their allegiance, they also possessed an extent of privileges that gave them de facto independence within their territories. Emperor Francis II dissolved the empire on 6 August 1806 following the creation of the Confederation of the Rhine by emperor Napoleon I the month before.

List of Roman emperors

The Roman emperors were the rulers of the Roman Empire dating from the granting of the title of Augustus to Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus by the Roman Senate in 27 BC. Augustus maintained a façade of Republican rule, rejecting monarchical titles but calling himself princeps senatus (first man of the council) and princeps civitatis (first citizen of the state). The title of Augustus was conferred on his successors to the imperial position. The style of government instituted by Augustus is called the Principate and continued until reforms by Diocletian. The modern word 'emperor' derives from the title imperator, which was granted by an army to a successful general; during the initial phase of the empire, the title was generally used only by the princeps. For example, Augustus' official name was Imperator Caesar Divi Filius Augustus.

The territory under command of the emperor had developed under the period of the Roman Republic as it 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. During the republic, the chief magistrates of Rome were two consuls elected each year; consuls continued to be elected in the imperial period, but their authority was subservient to that of the emperor, and the election was controlled by the emperor.

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 divide the administration geographically of the Empire in 286 with a co-Augustus. In 330, Constantine the Great established a second capital in Byzantium, which he renamed Constantinople. For most of the period from 286 to 480, there was more than one recognised senior emperor, with the division usually based in geographic terms. This division was consistently in place after the death of Theodosius I in 395, which historians have dated as the division between the Western Roman Empire and the Eastern Roman Empire. However, formally the Empire remained a single polity, with separate co-emperors in the separate courts. The fall of the Western Roman Empire, and so the end of a separate list of emperors below, is dated either from the de facto date of 476 when Romulus Augustulus was deposed by the Germanic Herulians led by Odoacer or the de jure date of 480, on the death of Julius Nepos, when Eastern Emperor Zeno ended recognition of a separate Western court. In the period that followed, the Empire is usually treated by historians as the Byzantine Empire governed by the Byzantine Emperors, although this designation is not used universally, and continues to be a subject of specialist debate today.The line of emperors continued until the death of Constantine XI Palaiologos during the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, when the remaining territories were captured by the Ottoman Empire under Mehmed II.Counting all individuals to have possessed the full imperial title, including those who did not technically rule in their own right (e.g. co-emperors or minors during regencies), this list contains 193 emperors and 5 ruling empresses, for a total of 198 monarchs.

Mughal emperors

The Mughal Emperors, Great Moghul, from the early 16th century to the mid 19th century, built and ruled the Mughal Empire on the Indian subcontinent, mainly corresponding to the modern countries of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. The Mughals were a branch of the Timurid dynasty of Turco-Mongol origin from Central Asia. Their power rapidly dwindled during the 18th century and the last emperor was deposed in 1857, with the establishment of the British Raj. Mughal emperors were of direct descent from Timur (generally known in western nations as Tamerlane), and also affiliated with Genghis Khan, because of Tamerlane’s marriage with a Genghisid princess.

The Mughals also had significant Indian Rajput and Persian ancestry through marriage alliances, as emperors were born to Rajput and Persian princesses. Only the first two Mughal emperors, Babur and Humayun, were fully Central Asian (Turkic people), whereas Akbar was half-Persian (his mother was of Persian origin), Jahangir was half-Rajput and quarter-Persian, and Shah Jahan was three-quarters Rajput.During Aurangzeb's Islamic sharia based government, the empire, as the world's largest economy, worth over 25% of world GDP, controlled all of the Indian subcontinent, extending from Chittagong in the east to Kabul and Baluchistan in the west, Kashmir in the north to the Kaveri River basin in the south. Its population at the time has been estimated as between 110 and 150 million (a quarter of the world's population), over a territory of more than 4 million square kilometres (1.2 million square miles). It was the largest empire that existed and was centralized around India.


Napoléon Bonaparte (, French: [napɔleɔ̃ bɔnɑpaʁt]; Italian: Napoleone di Buonaparte, Italian pronunciation: [napoleˈone di bwɔnaˈparte]; 15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) was a French statesman and military leader of Italian descent who rose to prominence during the French Revolution and led several successful campaigns during the French Revolutionary Wars. He was Emperor of the French as Napoleon I from 1804 until 1814 and again briefly in 1815 during the Hundred Days. Napoleon dominated European and global affairs for more than a decade while leading France against a series of coalitions in the Napoleonic Wars. He won most of these wars and the vast majority of his battles, building a large empire that ruled over much of continental Europe before its final collapse in 1815. He is considered one of the greatest commanders in history, and his wars and campaigns are studied at military schools worldwide. Napoleon's political and cultural legacy has endured as one of the most celebrated and controversial leaders in human history.He was born in Corsica to a relatively modest family of Italian origin from minor nobility. He was serving as an artillery officer in the French army when the French Revolution erupted in 1789. He rapidly rose through the ranks of the military, seizing the new opportunities presented by the Revolution and becoming a general at age 24. The French Directory eventually gave him command of the Army of Italy after he suppressed a revolt against the government from royalist insurgents. At age 26, he began his first military campaign against the Austrians and the Italian monarchs aligned with the Habsburgs—winning virtually every battle, conquering the Italian Peninsula in a year while establishing "sister republics" with local support, and becoming a war hero in France. In 1798, he led a military expedition to Egypt that served as a springboard to political power. He orchestrated a coup in November 1799 and became First Consul of the Republic.

Napoleon's ambition and public approval inspired him to go further, and he became the first Emperor of the French in 1804. Intractable differences with the British meant that the French were facing a Third Coalition by 1805. Napoleon shattered this coalition with decisive victories in the Ulm Campaign and a historic triumph over the Russian Empire and Austrian Empire at the Battle of Austerlitz which led to the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire. In 1806, the Fourth Coalition took up arms against him because Prussia became worried about growing French influence on the continent. Napoleon quickly defeated Prussia at the battles of Jena and Auerstedt, then marched his Grande Armée deep into Eastern Europe and annihilated the Russians in June 1807 at the Battle of Friedland. France then forced the defeated nations of the Fourth Coalition to sign the Treaties of Tilsit in July 1807, bringing an uneasy peace to the continent. Tilsit signified the high-water mark of the French Empire. In 1809, the Austrians and the British challenged the French again during the War of the Fifth Coalition, but Napoleon solidified his grip over Europe after triumphing at the Battle of Wagram in July.

Napoleon then invaded the Iberian Peninsula, hoping to extend the Continental System and choke off British trade with the European mainland, and declared his brother Joseph Bonaparte the King of Spain in 1808. The Spanish and the Portuguese revolted with British support. The Peninsular War lasted six years, featured extensive guerrilla warfare, and ended in victory for the Allies against Napoleon. The Continental System caused recurring diplomatic conflicts between France and its client states, especially Russia. The Russians were unwilling to bear the economic consequences of reduced trade and routinely violated the Continental System, enticing Napoleon into another war. The French launched a major invasion of Russia in the summer of 1812. The campaign destroyed Russian cities, but did not yield the decisive victory Napoleon wanted. It resulted in the collapse of the Grande Armée and inspired a renewed push against Napoleon by his enemies. In 1813, Prussia and Austria joined Russian forces in the War of the Sixth Coalition against France. A lengthy military campaign culminated in a large Allied army defeating Napoleon at the Battle of Leipzig in October 1813, but his tactical victory at the minor Battle of Hanau allowed retreat onto French soil. The Allies then invaded France and captured Paris in the spring of 1814, forcing Napoleon to abdicate in April. He was exiled to the island of Elba off the coast of Tuscany, and the Bourbon dynasty was restored to power. Napoleon escaped from Elba in February 1815 and took control of France once again. The Allies responded by forming a Seventh Coalition which defeated him at the Battle of Waterloo in June. The British exiled him to the remote island of Saint Helena in the South Atlantic, where he died six years later at the age of 51.

Napoleon's influence on the modern world brought liberal reforms to the numerous territories that he conquered and controlled, such as the Low Countries, Switzerland, and large parts of modern Italy and Germany. He implemented fundamental liberal policies in France and throughout Western Europe. His Napoleonic Code has influenced the legal systems of more than 70 nations around the world. British historian Andrew Roberts states: "The ideas that underpin our modern world—meritocracy, equality before the law, property rights, religious toleration, modern secular education, sound finances, and so on—were championed, consolidated, codified and geographically extended by Napoleon. To them he added a rational and efficient local administration, an end to rural banditry, the encouragement of science and the arts, the abolition of feudalism and the greatest codification of laws since the fall of the Roman Empire".


Naruhito (徳仁, pronounced [naɾɯçi̥to]; born 23 February 1960) is the current Emperor of Japan. He acceded to the Chrysanthemum Throne on 1 May 2019, beginning the Reiwa era, following the abdication of his father, Emperor Akihito, on 30 April 2019. He is the 126th monarch according to Japan's traditional order of succession.


Nero (; Latin: Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus; 15 December 37 – 9 June 68 AD) was the last Roman emperor of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. He was adopted by his great-uncle Claudius and became Claudius' heir and successor. Like Claudius, Nero became emperor with the consent of the Praetorian Guard. Nero's mother, Agrippina the Younger, was likely implicated in Claudius' death and Nero's nomination as emperor. She dominated Nero's early life and decisions until he cast her off. Five years into his reign, he had her murdered.During the early years of his reign, Nero was content to be guided by his mother, his tutor Lucius Annaeus Seneca and his Praetorian prefect, Sextus Afranius Burrus. As time passed, he started to play a more active and independent role in government and foreign policy. During his reign, the redoubtable general Corbulo conducted a successful war and negotiated peace with the Parthian Empire. His general Suetonius Paulinus crushed a major revolt in Britain, led by the Iceni Queen Boudica. The Bosporan Kingdom was briefly annexed to the empire, and the First Jewish–Roman War began. Nero focused much of his attention on diplomacy, trade and the cultural life of the empire, ordering theatres built and promoting athletic games. He made public appearances as an actor, poet, musician and charioteer. In the eyes of traditionalists, this undermined the dignity and authority of his person, status, and office. His extravagant, empire-wide program of public and private works was funded by a rise in taxes that was much resented by the middle and upper classes. Various plots against his life were revealed; the ringleaders, most of them Nero's own courtiers, were executed.

In 68 AD Vindex, governor of the Gaulish territory Gallia Lugdunensis, rebelled. He was supported by Galba, the governor of Hispania Tarraconensis. Vindex's revolt failed in its immediate aim, but Nero fled Rome when Rome's discontented civil and military authorities chose Galba as emperor. He committed suicide on June 9, 68 AD, when he learned that he had been tried in absentia and condemned to death as a public enemy, making him the first Roman Emperor to commit suicide. His death ended the Julio-Claudian dynasty, sparking a brief period of civil wars known as the Year of the Four Emperors.

Nero's rule is usually associated with tyranny and extravagance. Most Roman sources, such as Suetonius and Cassius Dio, offer overwhelmingly negative assessments of his personality and reign; Tacitus claims that the Roman people thought him compulsive and corrupt. Suetonius tells that many Romans believed that the Great Fire of Rome was instigated by Nero to clear the way for his planned palatial complex, the Domus Aurea. According to Tacitus he was said to have seized Christians as scapegoats for the fire and burned them alive, seemingly motivated not by public justice but by personal cruelty. Some modern historians question the reliability of the ancient sources on Nero's tyrannical acts. A few sources paint Nero in a more favorable light. There is evidence of his popularity among the Roman commoners, especially in the eastern provinces of the Empire, where a popular legend arose that Nero had not died and would return. At least three leaders of short-lived, failed rebellions presented themselves as "Nero reborn" to enlist popular support.

Qin Shi Huang

Qin Shi Huang (Chinese: 秦始皇; literally: 'First Emperor of Qin', pronunciation ; 18 February 259 BC – 10 September 210 BC) was the founder of the Qin dynasty and was the first emperor of a unified China. He was born Ying Zheng (嬴政) or Zhao Zheng (趙政), a prince of the state of Qin. He became Zheng, the King of Qin (秦王政) when he was thirteen, then China's first emperor when he was 38 after the Qin had conquered all of the other Warring States and unified all of China in 221 BC. Rather than maintain the title of "king" (王 wáng) borne by the previous Shang and Zhou rulers, he ruled as the First Emperor (始皇帝) of the Qin dynasty from 220 to 210 BC. His self-invented title "emperor" (皇帝 huángdì), as indicated by his use of the word "First", would continue to be borne by Chinese rulers for the next two millennia.

During his reign, his generals greatly expanded the size of the Chinese state: campaigns south of Chu permanently added the Yue lands of Hunan and Guangdong to the Chinese cultural orbit; campaigns in Central Asia conquered the Ordos Loop from the nomad Xiongnu, although eventually it would also lead to their confederation under Modu Chanyu.

Qin Shi Huang also worked with his minister Li Si to enact major economic and political reforms aimed at the standardization of the diverse practices of the earlier Chinese states. He is traditionally said to have banned and burned many books and executed scholars, though a closer examination renders the account doubtful. His public works projects included the unification of diverse state walls into a single Great Wall of China and a massive new national road system, as well as the city-sized mausoleum guarded by the life-sized Terracotta Army. He ruled until his death in 210 BC during his fourth tour of Eastern China.

Roman emperor

The Roman emperor was the ruler of the 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 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 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. Although Augustus could claim that his power was authentically republican, his successor, Tiberius, could not convincingly make the same claim. Nonetheless, for the first three hundred years of Roman emperors, from Augustus until Diocletian, efforts were made to portray the emperors as leaders of a republic.

From Diocletian, whose tetrarchic reforms also divided the position into one emperor in the West and one in the East, until the end of the Empire, emperors ruled in an openly monarchic style 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, so the principle of automatic inheritance was not adopted. Elements of the republican institutional framework (senate, consuls, and magistrates) were preserved even after the end of the Western Empire.

The Western Roman Empire collapsed in the late 5th century after multiple invasions of imperial territory by Germanic barbarian tribes. Romulus Augustulus is often considered to be the last emperor of the West after his forced abdication in 476, although Julius Nepos maintained a claim recognized by the Eastern Empire to the title until his death in 480. Following Nepos' death, the Eastern Emperor Zeno abolished the division of the position and proclaimed himself as the sole Emperor of a reunited Roman Empire. The Eastern imperial lineage continued to rule from Constantinople ("New Rome"); they continued to style themselves as Emperor of the Romans (later βασιλεύς Ῥωμαίων in Greek), but are often referred to in modern scholarship as Byzantine emperors. Constantine XI Palaiologos was the last Roman emperor in Constantinople, dying in the Fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans in 1453.

The "Byzantine" emperors from Heraclius in 629 and onwards adopted the title of basileus (βασιλεύς), which had originally 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.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.

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. From 1453, one of the titles used by the Ottoman Sultans was "Caesar of Rome" (Turkish: Kayser-i Rum), part of their titles until the Ottoman Empire ended in 1922. A Byzantine group of claimant Roman emperors existed in the Empire of Trebizond until its conquest by the Ottomans in 1461, though they had used a modified title since 1282.

Eastern emperors in Constantinople had been recognized and accepted as Roman emperors both in the East, which they ruled, and by the Papacy and Germanic kingdoms of the West until the deposition of Constantine VI and accession of Irene of Athens as Empress regnant in 797. Objecting to a woman ruling the Roman Empire in her own right and issues with the eastern clergy, the Papacy would then create a rival lineage of Roman emperors in western Europe, the Holy Roman Emperors, which ruled the Holy Roman Empire for most of the period between 800 and 1806. These Emperors were never recognized as Roman emperors by the court in Constantinople.

Wilhelm II, German Emperor

Wilhelm II (German: Friedrich Wilhelm Viktor Albert; 27 January 1859 – 4 June 1941) was the last German Emperor (Kaiser) and King of Prussia, reigning from 15 June 1888 until his abdication on 9 November 1918 shortly before Germany's defeat in World War I. He was the eldest grandchild of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and related to many monarchs and princes of Europe, most notably his first cousin King George V of the United Kingdom and Emperor Nicholas II of Russia, whose wife, Alexandra, was Wilhelm and George's first cousin.

Assuming the throne in 1888, he dismissed the country's longtime chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, in 1890 before launching Germany on a bellicose "New Course" to cement its status as a respected world power. However, due to his impetuous personality, he frequently undermined this aim by making tactless, alarming public statements without consulting his ministers beforehand. He also did much to alienate other Great Powers from Germany by initiating a massive build-up of the German Navy, challenging French control over Morocco, and backing the Austrian annexation of Bosnia in 1908.

Wilhelm II's turbulent reign culminated in his guarantee of military support to Austria-Hungary during the crisis of July 1914, which resulted in the outbreak of World War I. A lax wartime leader, he left virtually all decision-making regarding military strategy and organisation of the war effort in the hands of the German General Staff. This broad delegation of authority gave rise to a de facto military dictatorship whose authorisation of unrestricted submarine warfare and the Zimmerman Telegram led to the United States' entry into the conflict in April 1917. After Germany's defeat in 1918, Wilhelm lost the support of the German army, abdicated on 9 November 1918, and fled to exile in the Netherlands, where he died in 1941.

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