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.
Constantine the Great
Let us start out with the very first emperor of the Byzantine Empire. Constantine the Great was a Roman Emperor (306 – 337) who built a new imperial residence at Byzantium (back then it was an Ancient Greek colony. Today it is Turkey’s capital, Istanbul) and renamed the city Constantinople after himself. The city later became the capital of the entire Byzantine Empire.
Also known as Julian the Apostate, Julian was a Roman Emperor (361 – 363). Julian was a man of unusually complex character – he was also a brilliant military commander, theosophist, philosopher, social reformer, and respected author. Julian was the last non-Christian ruler of the Roman Empire, and it was his desire to bring the Empire back to its ancient Roman values in order to, as he saw it, save it from dissolution.
Also known as Theodosius the Great, Theodosius I was a Roman Emperor (379 – 395) known as the last emperor to rule over both the eastern and the western halves of the Roman Empire. In 393, he banned the pagan rituals of the Olympics in Ancient Greece. After Theodosius’ death, his young sons Arcadius and Honorius inherited the east and west halves respectively.
Commonly known as Theodosius the Younger or Theodosius the Calligrapher, Theodosius II was an Eastern Roman Emperor (408 – 450). He is mostly known for promulgating the Theodosian law code, and for the construction of the Theodosian Walls of Constantinople. He also presided over the outbreak of two great christological controversies, Nestorianism and Eutychianism.
Leo I the Thracian
An Eastern Roman Emperor (457 – 474), Leo I the Thracian was a capable ruler who oversaw many ambitious political and military plans, aimed mostly for the aid of the faltering Western Roman Empire and recovering its former territories. Notable for being the first Eastern Emperor to legislate in Greek rather than Latin, Leo I the Thracian died at the age of 73, a very old age for that time.