An emperor (through
Old French empereor from Latin imperator) is a
monarch, 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
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
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. In as much 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. Thus a king might be obliged to pay tribute to
another ruler, or be restrained in his actions in
some unequal fashion, but an emperor should in theory be completely
free of such restraints. Monarchs heading empires, however, 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".
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. Although technically an elective title, by the
16th century the imperial title had in practice come to be
inherited by the
Archdukes of Austria
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, in 1804 Napoleon
Bonaparte was crowned
Emperor of the French, and was shortly followed
by Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor, who declared himself
Austria in the same year; however, the position of Holy Roman Emperor
continued until Francis II abdicated that position in 1806.
Europe the rulers of the Russian
Empire also used
translatio imperii to wield imperial authority as successors to the
Eastern Roman Empire. Their title of
Emperor was officially recognised
Holy Roman Emperor
Holy Roman Emperor in 1514, although not officially used by the
Russian monarchs until 1547. In practice the Russian Emperors are
often known by their Russian-language title Tsar, which may also used
to refer to rulers equivalent to a king.
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
For purposes of protocol, emperors were once given precedence over
kings in international diplomatic relations; currently, however,
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.
1 Roman tradition
Empire and Byzantine emperors
2.1 Classical Antiquity
2.2 Byzantine period
2.2.1 Before the 4th Crusade
2.2.2 Latin emperors
2.2.3 After the 4th Crusade
3 Ottoman Empire
4 Holy Roman Empire
5 Austrian Empire
6 Emperors of Europe
6.2.1 First French Empire
6.2.3 Second French Empire
6.3 Iberian Peninsula
6.4.2 United Kingdom
6.5 German Empire
7 Emperors in the Americas
7.1.1 Aztec Empire
7.1.2 Inca Empire
7.2 Post-Columbian Americas
9 Indian subcontinent
10.2 Central African Empire
East Asian tradition
13 Fictional uses
14 See also
16 External links
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
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.
Empire and Byzantine emperors
Roman emperor and Imperator
A statue of the dictator Julius Caesar.
Augustus, the first emperor of the Roman Empire.
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, considered the first Roman emperor, established his 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,
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
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
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
Exceptions include the title of the Augustan History, a
semi-historical collection of Emperors' biographies of the 2nd and 3rd
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
Imperator (as, for example, in Pliny the Elder's Naturalis Historia).
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
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
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
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
Empire though the latter used rex more regularly.
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
Empire or (after the
Battle of Yarmouk
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
King of Italy in 476 AD.
Main article: Byzantine Emperor
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
Historians generally refer to the continuing Roman
Empire in the east
as the Byzantine
Empire after Byzantium, the original name of the town
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
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
Imperator into the Greek Basileus, after
changed the official language of the empire from Latin to Greek in AD
620. Basileus, a title which had long been used for
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. In fact,
none of these (and other) additional epithets and titles had ever been
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
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
Count of Flanders, as Emperor. However, Byzantine resistance to
the new empire meant that it was in constant struggle to establish
Byzantine Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos succeeded in
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
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
Constantinople in 1261. The Trebizond emperor formally
Constantinople in 1281, but frequently flouted
convention by styling themselves emperor back in Trebizond thereafter.
Agostino Veneziano's engraving of Ottoman emperor Suleiman the
Magnificent. Note the four tiers on the helmet, which he had
commissioned from Venice, symbolizing his imperial power, and
excelling the three-tiered papal tiara. This tiara was made for
115,000 ducats and offered to Suleiman by the French ambassador
Antonio Rincon in 1532. 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.
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.
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
Main article: Holy Roman Emperor
The Roman of the Emperor's 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
From the time of Otto the Great onward, much of the former Carolingian
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
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.
Emperor of Austria
The first Austrian
Emperor was the last
Holy Roman Emperor
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
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
Holy Roman Emperor became Francis
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
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
Emperor of Austria and the
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
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
Constantinople and imperial regent Nicholas Mystikos
outside the Byzantine capital. In its final simplified form, the title
Emperor and Autocrat of all Bulgarians and Romans" (
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
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".
Bulgaria obtained full independence from the Ottoman
1908, its monarch, who was previously styled Knyaz, [prince], took the
traditional title of
Tsar [king] and was recognized internationally as
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
First French Empire
See also: First French Empire
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
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
Joséphine de Beauharnais as
Napoleon Bonaparte, who was already First Consul of the French
Republic (Premier Consul de la République française) for life,
Emperor of the French
Emperor of the French (Empereur des Français) on 18
May 1804, thus creating the French
Napoleon relinquished the title of
Emperor of the French
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
Monarchy under the exiled French Emperor
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,
Elba for France, reviving the
Empire for a Hundred Days; the Allies declared an end to
Napoleon's sovereignty over
Elba on 25 March 1815, and on 31 March
Elba was ceded to the restored
Grand Duchy of Tuscany
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.
Second French Empire
See also: 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.
Napoleon III was deposed on 4
September 1870, after France's defeat in the Franco-Prussian War. The
Republic followed and after the death of his son
in 1879 during the Zulu War, the Bonapartist movement split, and the
Republic was to last until 1940.
The origin of the title
Imperator totius Hispaniae (Latin for Emperor
of All Spain) is murky. It was associated with the Leonese
monarchy perhaps as far back as
Alfonso the Great
Alfonso the Great (r. 866–910). The
last two kings of its
Astur-Leonese dynasty were called emperors in a
Sancho III of Navarre
Sancho III of Navarre conquered Leon in 1034 and began using it.
Ferdinand I of Castile
Ferdinand I of Castile also took the title in 1039.
Alfonso VI of León and Castile
Alfonso VI of León and Castile took the title in
1077. It then passed to his son-in-law,
Alfonso I of Aragon
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.
King of Portugal and the Algarves,
Emperor of Brazil.
After the independence and proclamation of the
Empire of Brazil from
the Kingdom of Portugal by
Prince Pedro, who became Emperor, in 1822,
John VI of Portugal
John VI of Portugal briefly held the honorific style
Emperor of Brazil
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.
Main article: British Emperor
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
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
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
Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, is according to English
Empire ruled by a
King endowed with the imperial dignity.
However, this has not led to the creation of the title of
England, nor in Great Britain, nor in the United Kingdom.
King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions,
Emperor of India.
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
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
The last Empress of India was George VI's wife, Queen Elizabeth The
Main article: German Empire
Wilhelm II, German Emperor
Wilhelm II, German Emperor and the
King of Prussia.
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
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
Reich was abandoned after the Second World War.
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
Mongol overlords in 1480, Ivan III began the usage of the
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
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
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
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
Emperor of Serbia
In 1345, the Serbian
King Stefan Uroš IV Dušan proclaimed himself
Emperor (Tsar) and was crowned as such at
Easter 1346 by the
newly created Serbian Patriarch, and by the Patriarch of
the autocephalous Archbishop of Ohrid. His imperial title was
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
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
The Aztec and Inca traditions are unrelated to one another. Both were
conquered under the reign of
Charles I of Spain
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.
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
Cuauhtémoc and installed puppet rulers
who became vassals for Spain.
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.
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).
Emperor of Brazil
Emperor of Brazil in regalia at the opening of the General
Assembly (oil painting by Pedro Américo).
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
Rio de Janeiro to avoid the fate of the Spanish
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
VI) proclaimed the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the
Algarves, as a union of three kingdoms, lifting Brazil from its
After the fall of
Napoleon I and the Liberal revolution in Portugal,
the Portuguese royal family returned to
Prince Pedro of
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
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
II (Pedro I's son and successor), when the Brazilian republic was
Haiti was declared an empire by its ruler, Jean-Jacques Dessalines,
who made himself Jacques I, on 20 May 1805. He was assassinated the
Haiti again became an empire from 1849 to 1859 under
Portrait of Maximilian I of Mexico, by Franz Xaver Winterhalter
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
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
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.
King of Kings
In Persia, from the time of Darius the Great, Persian rulers used the
King of Kings" (Shahanshah in Persian) since they had dominion
over peoples from the borders of India to the borders of Greece and
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,
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.
Main article: Chakravartin
The Sanskrit word for emperor is Samrāj 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 (Maharajah) was
only called Samrāṭ after performing the Vedic
enabling him by religious tradition to claim superiority over the
other kings and princes. Another word for emperor is sārvabhaumā.
The title of Samrāṭ 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 samrāṭ (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,
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. For the period from 1877 to 1947 when British Emperors
British India as the pearl in the crown of the British Empire,
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Emperor of Ethiopia
Emperor of Ethiopia
Emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974.
In Ethiopia, the
Solomonic dynasty used, beginning in 1270, the title
of "nəgusä nägäst" which is 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
Sembrouthes in the 3rd century. Another title used by this
dynasty was "Itegue Zetopia".
"Itegue" translates as Empress, and was also used by the only female
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
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
Central African Empire
Emperor of Central Africa
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.
East Asian tradition
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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.
Emperor of China
Qin Shi Huang
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 (dì) 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 him 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
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
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
Manchuria in 1931, they proclaimed it to be the
Puyi became emperor of Manchukuo. This empire ceased to
exist when it was occupied by the Soviet
Red Army in 1945.[citation
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 of Japan
Emperor Hirohito (裕仁), or the
Shōwa Emperor (昭和天皇), the
Emperor having ruled with prerogative powers, combined
with assumption of divinity (photographed 1926).
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Emperor recorded in
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),
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
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. 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. 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 current 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
Imperial Household Law was suspended by
Prime Minister Junichiro
Koizumi. On 3 January 2007, after the birth of her son, Prince
Shinzo Abe announced that he would drop the
Currently, many[who?] 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.
Emperor Gojong of the Korean Empire
The rulers of
Goguryeo (37 BC-668 AD) used the title of Taewang
(Hangul: 태왕, Hanja: 太王), literally translated as the Greatest
of the Kings. Also some
Silla (57 BC-935 AD) rulers including
Beopheung and Jinheung used this title for their declaration of
independence from the influence of Goguryeo.
The rulers of
Balhae (698–926) internally called themselves
Seongwang (Hangul: 성왕, Hanja: 聖王). In the 10th century,
Gwangjong of Goryeo took the title of emperor himself as a means of
enhancing the prestige of the monarchy, and it was first used in
Korea. Many Goryeo sovereign alternately used both supreme king and
emperor. After the Mongolian invasions (1231–1258), however, Korea
relinquished the imperial title.
The rulers of the Joseon
Dynasty (1392–1897) still used the term
King of the Joseon" (Hangul: 조선국왕, Hanja: 朝鮮國王). In
First Sino-Japanese War
First Sino-Japanese War of 1894–'95, Japan defeated the Qing
Dynasty China, and the
Treaty of Shimonoseki
Treaty of Shimonoseki was concluded in which
Japan had China recognize the independence and autonomy of Korea.
King Gojong used term of "His Majesty the Great Monarch"
(Hangul: 대군주폐하, Hanja: 大君主陛下), not an official
King Gojong proclaimed the founding of the Korean Empire
(1897–1910), and became emperor of Korea.
Emperor Gojong declared
the new era name "Gwangmu" (Hangul: 광무, Hanja: 光武, Warrior of
light). The Korean
Empire maintained their state until 1910 — though
it was an
Empire by name, it was in fact in the process of being
absorbed by Japan.
Mongol Kingdoms such as the Xiongnu used the title "Chanu" meaning
"Ruler of all" in old Mongolian. However it was not until the Chanu
name was dropped and instead replaced by "Khan" that the rulers of
Mongolia claimed the divine right as the ruler of all under the blue
sky, this rule was closely tied with the ancient religious beliefs of
the people of Mongolia (Tengrism). The title
Khagan (khan of khans or
grand khan) was held by Genghis Khan, founder of the
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, 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
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
In 1802 the newly established Nguyễn dynasty requested canonization
Jiaqing Emperor and received the title Quốc Vương
King of a State) and the name of the country as An Nam
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
South Vietnam from 1949-55.
The lone holders of the imperial title in
Oceania were the heads of
the semi-mythical Tuʻi Tonga Empire.
There have been many fictional emperors in movies and books. To see a
list of these emperors, see
Category of fictional emperors and
Lists of emperors
^ Harper, Douglas. "emperor". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved
^ George Ostrogorsky, "Avtokrator i samodržac", Glas Srpske
kraljevske akadamije CLXIV, Drugi razdred 84 (1935), 95–187
^ Nicol, Donald MacGillivray, The Last Centuries of Byzantium, second
edition (Cambridge: University Press, 1993), p. 74
^ Agostino never saw the Sultan, but probably did see and sketch the
helmet in Venice.
^ The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1968. "Turquerie" The Metropolitan
Museum of Art Bulletin, New Series 26 (5): 229.
^ Garnier, p.52
^ Levey, 65.
^ "Nobility of the World Volume VIII- Turkey". Almanch De Saxe Gotha.
Retrieved 10 December 2017.
^ Napoleon, Vincent Cronin, p419, HarperCollins, 1994.
^ Napoleon, Frank McLynn, p644, Pimlico 1998
^ Le Mémorial de Sainte Hélène, Emmanuel De Las Cases, Tome III,
page101, published by Jean De Bonnot, Libraire à l'enseigne du canon,
^ 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.
^ Notice that, 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.
Alexander Attilio (2011-01-01). "Elite Distinction and
Regime Change: The Ethiopian Case". Comparative Sociology. 10 (4):
636–653. doi:10.1163/156913311X590664. ISSN 1569-1330.
^ Lentz, Harris M (1994-01-01). Heads of states and governments: a
worldwide encyclopedia of over 2,300 leaders, 1945 through 1992.
Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland. ISBN 0899509266.
^ "Once upon a time, China anointed a '
King of Japan' - The Japan
Times". The Japan Times.
^ Although the
Emperor of Japan
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.
^ New Book of Tang vol.209
^ 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
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Emperors.
Ian Mladjov's site at University of Michigan:
Monarchs (chronology and genealogy)
Monarchs (more genealogy)