Sometimes referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire was undoubtedly one of the greatest, most powerful and longest-lived empires in the history of mankind. The continuation of the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire existed for more than a thousand years (from c. 330 to 1453), and it spanned over a number of different dynasties with hundreds of emperors. Considering the huge number of Byzantine rulers, it is quite natural that not all of them became prominent figures who would go down in history, but some of them did, and today’s post is dedicated to them. If you liked our previously published post with 25 Things You May Not Know About The Byzantine Empire, you will surely enjoy this one too because it features 25 Most Notable Byzantine Emperors in History. From the very first Byzantine Emperor Constantine the Great to the very last one, Constantine XI, it is our pleasure to present you with these 25 Most Notable Byzantine Emperors in History.
Note: as we already mentioned, the Byzantine Empire was the continuation of the Roman Empire so some of its early emperors are also referred to as Roman Emperors.
Anastasius I was an Eastern Roman Emperor (491 – 518) whose reign was characterized by substantive accomplishments, which were representative of emerging patterns of government, economy, and bureaucracy in the Eastern Roman empire. In addition, Anastasius is known for leaving the imperial government with a sizable budget surplus due to minimization of government corruption, reforms to the tax code, and the introduction of a new form of currency.
Traditionally known as Justinian the Great, Justinian I was a Byzantine Emperor (527 – 565) who sought to revive the Roman Empire’s greatness and re-conquer its lost western half. He is also known for the uniform rewriting of Roman law, the Corpus Juris Civilis, which is still the basis of civil law in many modern states. During Justinian’s reign, the Byzantine culture thrived, and his building program yielded such masterpieces as the iconic church of Hagia Sophia in today’s Istanbul.
Maurice was an Eastern Roman Emperor (582 – 602) who is best known for his successful military campaign against the Sassanid Persians. He brought the war with Sassanid Persia to a victorious conclusion: the Empire’s eastern border in the Caucasus was vastly expanded, and for the first time in nearly two centuries, the Romans were no longer obliged to pay the Persians thousands of pounds of gold annually for peace.
A prominent Byzantine Emperor (610 – 641), Heraclius was responsible for introducing Greek as the Eastern Empire’s official language. His reign was marked by several military campaigns including the Byzantine–Sassanid War and the Muslim Conquests. His government reforms reduced corruption, and he also reorganized the military with great success.
Justinian II was the last Byzantine Emperor of the Heraclian Dynasty, reigning from 685 to 695 and again from 705 to 711. He was an ambitious and passionate ruler who was keen to restore the Empire to its former glories, but he responded poorly to any opposition to his will, which resulted in his deposition in 695. He returned to the throne in 705 but his second reign was even more despotic than the first, and it too saw his eventual overthrow in 711.