An emperor (from the
Latin" imperator") is a (male) monarch, usually the sovereign ruler of an empireor another type of imperial realm. Empress is the feminine form. As a title, "empress" may indicate the wife of an emperor (" empress consort") or a woman who is a ruling monarch (" empress regnant"). Emperors are generally recognized to be above kings in honorand rank.
Emperor of Japanis the only remaining emperor on throne in the world.
Distinction from other monarchs
Both kings and emperors are
monarchs. Within the European context, "emperor" is considered the highest of monarchical titles, ironic in that it began as a military honorific in a staunchly anti-monarchical republic. Emperors were once given precedence over kings in international diplomatic relations; currently, precedence is decided by the length a head of stateis continuously in office. Some emperors claimed inheritance (" translatio imperii") of the political and religious authority of the Roman Emperors such as an important role in the state church; see Imperial cultand Caesaropapism. This inheritance has been claimed by, among others, the rulers of the Holy Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, and the Russian Empire; however, all types of monarchies have played religious roles; see divine right of kingsand divine king. Territorial size was of no importance; the title was a conscious attempt by monarchs to link themselves to the institutions and traditions of the Romans as part of state ideology. In contrast, many republics have named a legislative chamber after the Roman Senate.
Outside the European context, "emperor" is a translation given to holders of titles who are accorded the same precedence as European emperors in diplomatic terms. In reciprocity, these rulers may accredit equal titles in their native languages to their European peers. Due to centuries of international convention, this has become the dominant rule to identifying an emperor in the modern era.
Also, historians have liberally used "emperor" and "empire" anachronistically and out of its Roman and European context to describe any large state and its ruler in the past and present. "Empire" became identified with vast territorial holdings rather than the title of its ruler by the mid-18th century.
Voltairesardonically described the Holy Roman Empireas "neither Holy, nor Roman, nor an Empire" since by his time it was little more than an informal association of German states and its "Emperor", though ruler of Austria and king of Hungary and Bohemia, had almost no authority within the non-Austrian parts of the territory.
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.
Importance and meaning of
Coronationceremonies and regaliaalso varied within the tradition: for instance Holy Roman Emperorscould 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.
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 (for empires not too strictly under
salic law) are known. 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.
Ancient Roman and Byzantine emperors
When Republican Rome turned into a
monarchyagain, 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 after Julius Caesaralso Dictator (which was an acknowledged office in Republican Rome, Julius Caesar not being the first to hold it). Augustus, who can be considered the first Roman Emperor, avoided naming himself anything that could be reminiscent of "monarchy" or "dictatorship". Instead, these first Emperors constructed their office as a complicated collection of offices, titles, and honours, that were consolidated around a single person and his closest relatives (while in the republic the "taking of turns", often in shared offices, had been the principle for passing on power). These early Roman emperors didn't need a specific name for their monarchy: they had enough offices and powers accumulated so that in any field of power they were "unsurpassable", and besides: it was clear who had supreme power. The supreme power could poison, exile, or try for treason any who did not obey.
As the first Roman Emperors did not rule by virtue of any "particular" republican or senatorial office, the "name" given to the office of "
head of state" in this new monarchical form of governmentbecame different depending on tradition, none of these traditions consolidated in the early days of the Roman Empire:
* Caesar (as, for example, in
Suetonius' "Twelve Caesars"). This tradition continued in many languages: in German it became " Kaiser"; in certain Slavic languagesit 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 dynastyhad 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 Augustusto Tsar Simeon II of Bulgaria's removal from the throne in 1946.
*Augustus was the
honorificfirst bestowed on Emperor Augustus: after him all Roman emperors added it to their name. Although it had a high symbolical value, something like "akin to divinity", it was generally not used to indicate the office of "Emperor" itself. Exceptions include the title of the " Augustan History", a half-mockumentary biography of the Emperors 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 RepublicImperator 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 Senateafter a great victory, roughly comparable to field marshal(head or commander of the entire army). For example, in 15 AD Germanicuswas 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. The Latin feminine form Imperatrixonly developed after "Imperator" had gotten the connotation of "Emperor".
*: although the Greeks used equivalents of "Caesar" (Καίσαρ) and "Augustus" (in two forms: polytonic|Αὔγουστος or translated as polytonic|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 polytonic|αὐτοκράτωρ ("autokratōr", only partly overlapping with the modern understanding of "
autocrat") or polytonic|βασιλεύς (" basileus", until then the usual name for "sovereign"). "Autokratōr" "could" be seen as a translation of the Latin "Imperator" (it was certainly used as its replacement 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 before the 7th century, although it was a standard informal designation of the emperor in the Greek-speaking East.
After the problematic year 69, the
Flavian Dynastyreigned for about half a century. The succeeding , 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.
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 Empirethough the latter used "rex" more regularly. The next period, known as the Dominate, started with the Tetrarchyinstalled by Diocletian.
Through most of the 4th century, there were separate emperors for the Western and Eastern part of the Empire. Although there were several dynastic relations between the Emperors of both parts, they also often were adversaries. The last Emperor to rule a unified Roman Empire was Theodosius. Less than a century after his death in 395, the last Emperor of the Western half of the Empire was driven out.
Prior to the 4th Crusade
Historians generally call the eastern part of the Roman Empire the
Byzantine Empiredue to its capital Constantinople, whose ancient name was Byzantium(now Istanbul). After the fall of Rome to barbarianforces in 476, the title of "emperor" lived on in rulers of Constantinople ( New Rome).
The Byzantine Emperors completed the transition from the idea of the Emperor as a semi-republican official to the Emperor as a traditional monarch when Emperor
Heracliusretained the title of Basileus, already a synonym for "Emperor" (but which had earlier designated "King" in Greek) in the first half of the seventh century. A specifically Byzantine development of emperor's position was cesaropapism, position as leader of Christians.
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. [George Ostrogorsky, "Avtokrator i samodržac", "Glas Srpske kraljevske akadamije" CLXIV, Drugi razdred 84 (1935), 95-187] In fact, none of these (and other) additional epithets and titles had ever been completely discarded.
In 1204, the
Fourth Crusadecaptured Constantinople, and soon established a Latin Empire of Constantinopleunder one of the Crusader leaders. The Latin Empire was, however, unable to consolidate control of the whole of the former territories of the Byzantine Empire. Driven out of Constantinople in 1261, some territories in Greece still recognized their authority for some time. Eventually, the Imperial title became redundant and did not even contribute any longer to the prestige of the noblemen in their own country: it remained dormant after 1383. It produced three reigning empresses, two of which reigned outside of the city in the remnants of their empire.
After the 4th Crusade
In Asia Minor, after being driven out of Constantinople, relations of the last pre-Crusader emperors established the
Empire of Nicaeaand the Empire of Trebizond. Similarly, the Despotate of Epiruswas founded in the Western Balkans (the rulers of the latter took the title of Emperor for a short time following their conquest of Thessalonica in 1224).
Eventually, the Nicaean Emperors were successful in reclaiming the Byzantine imperial title. They managed to force Epirus into submission and retake Constantinople by 1261, but Trebizond remained independent. The restored Byzantine empire finally fell due to Ottoman invasion in 1453. The Trapezuntines produced three reigning empresses before they too were defeated by the Ottomans in 1461.
Holy Roman emperors
After the discontinuation of the title of Emperor in
Western Europein 476, it was revived in the Middle Ages. What connected these Emperors to "Rome" was that they were supposed to be crowned by the Pope, usually in Rome. So in this branch of Roman Emperors, Roman had an implied connotation of " Roman Catholic", hence the epithet "Holy".
25 December, 800, Charlemagne, King of the Franks, was crowned Emperor by Pope Leo IIIin Rome. This was seen both as a reaction to the supposed vacancy of the Eastern Empire, due to the presence of a woman, Irene on the throne in Constantinople, and as a revival of the Western Roman Empire, and descendants of Charlemagne continued to be crowned in Rome until the late 9th century. After the death of Charles the Fatin 888, the Popes intermittently bestowed the imperial title upon whomever was momentarily the most powerful lord in northern Italy, and after Berengar of Friuliwas deposed in 922, the title lay vacant for decades.
In 962, Otto I, King of the
Eastern Frankswas crowned Emperor by the Pope. The Holy Roman Empire, such as it was, consisted of the German Kingdoms, Italy, and Burgundy (including most of the Low Countries), but it continued to have theoretical claims of universal suzerainty over the Latin west.
After the 13th century and the fall of the Hohenstaufen dynasty which led to a 62 year
interregnum, the universalistic aspirations of the Emperors became increasingly theoretical, and their control over Italy, still seen as the locus of the proper empire, became increasingly tenuous. Rather than being hereditary, emperors were chosen by the prince-electors, in a process codified by the Golden Bull of 1356.
Coronations in Rome became rarer and rarer, until in 1508, King Maximilian I, after receiving permission from the pope, declared himself Emperor-Elect without having been crowned in Rome. Although Maximilian's grandson and successor, Charles V, was crowned in
Bolognain 1530 by the Pope, he was the last, and thereafter the position of Holy Roman Emperor was a wholly German post until the Empire's dissolution in August 6, 1806.
Even in Germany itself, real control was increasingly tenuous, as various local princes increased their power, so that the
Habsburgemperors who ruled almost continuously from 1438 until the end of the empire derived their power much more from their hereditary lands in the south-eastern part of the monarchy than from their position as emperor. As religious differences added to the tensions, compromise was needed ( Peace of Augsburg, 1555). The Habsburg dynastyattempted to reassert authority over the Empire in the Thirty Years' War, which ended with the Peace of Westphalia(1648) that recognized princes sort of sovereign instead of dependents.
The impotence of the Emperors' position became most nakedly apparent during the brief reign of Charles VII from 1742 to 1745. As
Duke of Bavaria, Charles was the only non-Habsburg emperor for the last three hundred fifty years of the empire's existence, and his utter inability even to protect his own hereditary lands from the forces of his enemy, Maria Theresa, the Habsburg heiress, showed how empty the position of Holy Roman Emperor had become.
11 August, 1804anticipating the eventual collapse of the Holy Roman Empireat the behest of Napoleon I, Francis II, Holy Roman Emperorassumed the additional title of Emperor of Austria (as Francis I thereof). The precaution was a wise one, because two years later on August 6 1806he was obliged to proclaim the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire.
Karl of Austria, the last ruling hereditary monarch in that country, "relinquished every participation in the administration of the State" on November 11 1918.
Following victory after the
Franco-Prussian warand the founding of the German Empire, the Prussian king had himself crowned German Emperor or Kaiseras Wilhelm I on January 18 1871, as part of the competition with the Emperor of Austria (whose Habsburg dynasty was the heir of the Holy Roman Empire) for dominance in the German-speaking lands.
When the Empire was formed, there was much debate about how to precisely phrase the title of the monarch. One of the contributions to this debate was Kaiser von Deutschland ("Emperor of Germany"), another one being Kaiser der Deutschen ("Emperor of the Germans"). Finally, Deutscher Kaiser ("German Emperor"), the version expressing the least degree of superiority to the rulers of the other principalities, was agreed upon.
With defeats in
World War Iand revolution breaking out, Emperor Wilhelm II abdicated on 9 November 1918and a republic was established.
Emperors of Eastern Europe
Byzantium's close cultural and political interaction with its Balkan neighbors
Bulgariaand Serbia, and with Russia (Kievan Rus', then Muscovy) led to the adoption of Byzantine imperial traditions in all of these countries.
Simeon I of Bulgariawas crowned Emperor ( Tsar) by the Patriarch of Constantinopleand imperial regent Nicholas Mystikosoutside of the Byzantine capital. In its final simplified form, the title read "Emperor and Autocrat of all Bulgarians and Romans" ("Tsar i samodăržec na vsički bălgari i gărci" in the modern vernacular). The "Roman" component in the Bulgarian imperial title indicateed both rulership over Greek speakers and the derivation of the imperial tradition from the Romans (represented by the "Roman" Byzantines).
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 (Tărnovo) as a successor of Romeand Constantinople, in effect, the "Third Rome".
It should be noted that after Bulgaria obtained full independence from the
Ottoman Empirein 1908, its monarch, who was previously styled "Knyaz", i.e Prince, took the traditional title of "Tsar", but was recognized internationally only as a King.
In 1345 the Serbian King Stefan Uroš IV Dušan proclaimed himself Emperor (
Tsar) and was crowned as such at Skopjeon Easter1346 by the newly created Patriarch of Serbia, 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 Serbians and Greeks" ("car srbljem i grkom" in the modern vernacular). 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 (represented by the "Greek" Byzantines).
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 of the monk Filofej addressed their son Vasili III. After ending Muscovy's dependence on its
Mongoloverlords in 1480, Ivan III began the usage of the titles Tsar ( Tsar) and Autocrat ("samoderžec' "). His insistence on recognition as such by the emperor of the Holy Roman Empiresince 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 (Tsar) 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.
31 October, 1721Peter 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, Sophia's son and Ivan IV's father, in which the Holy Roman Emperor used the term in referring to Vasili. The title has not been used in Russiasince the abdication of Emperor Nicholas II on 15 March, 1917. Imperial Russiaproduced four reigning Empresses, all in the eighteenth century.
Ottoman rulers held the title "
padishah", equivalent to the Persian " shahanshah". The Ottomans frequently adopted styles from conquered peoples, presenting themselves as successors in law, such as " Hakan", as well as loftier styles like "Sultan of Sultans". After conquering the last vestige of the Byzantine Empirein 1453, Mehmed IIalso took the title of Roman Emperor ("Kayser-i-Rûm"). The monarchy fell in 1922.
Emperors in Western Europe
The kings of the "
Ancien Régime" and the July Monarchyused 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 due to 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
First French Empire"
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 May 18, 1804. Despite being ruled by an emperor, it continued to be the French Republic ("République Française") until 1808, when it was renamed the French Empire ("Empire Français").
Napoleon relinquished the title of Emperor of the French on
6 Apriland again on April 11, 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 theoretically reigned as "Emperor" for fifteen days, June 22to July 7of 1815.
3 May 1814, the Sovereign Principality of Elbawas 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.
26 February 1815, Napoleon abandoned Elba for France, reviving the French Empire for Hundred Days; as this broke the terms of his parole, the Allies declared an end to Napoleon's sovereignty over Elba on 25 March 1815, and on 31 March 1815Elba was ceded to the restored Grand Duchy of Tuscanyby the Congress of Vienna. After his final defeat, Bonaparte was stripped of every imperial privilege during his second exile to Atlantic Isle of St. Helena.
econd French Empire
Second French Empire"Napoleon I's nephew, Napoleon III, resurrected the title of emperor on December 2, 1852, after establishing the Second French Empirein a presidential coup. His efforts to rebuild France's imperial status, however, failed: he was deposed on September 4, 1870, after France's defeat in the Franco-Prussian War. The Third Republic followed and there would be no further French empires or emperors.
The origins of the title "
Imperator totius Hispaniae" (Latin for "Emperor of All Spain" [Notice that, before the emergence of the modern country of Spain (beginning with the union of Castile and Aragonin 1492), the Latinword " 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.] ) 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 Pérez Dynastywere called emperors in a contemporary source.
Sancho III of Navarreconquered Leon in 1034 and began using it. His son, Ferdinand I of Castilealso took the title in 1039. Ferdinand's son, Alfonso VI of Castiletook the title in 1077. It then passed to his son-in-law, Alfonso I of Aragonin 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.
After the fall of the Byzantine Empire, the legitimate heir to the throne,
Andreas Palaiologos, willed away his claim to Ferdinand and Isabellain 1503. This claim seems to have been forgotten or abandoned quietly for the last 300 years.
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
Roman departure from Britain, the Imperator Cuneddaforged the Kingdom of Gwyneddin northern Wales, but all his successors were titled kings and princes.
There was no set title for the king of England before 1066 and monarchs chose to style themselves as they pleased. Imperial titles were used inconsistently beginning with
Athelstanin 930 and ended with the Norman conquest of England.
In 1801, George III rejected the title of Emperor when offered. The only period when British monarchs were given 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; it was also formally justified as the expression of Britain succeeding as
paramount rulerof the subcontinent the former Mughal ' Padishahof Hind', using indirect rule through hundreds of princely states formally under protection, not colonies, but accepting the British Sovereign as their 'feudal' suzerain. That title was relinquished by the last "Kaisar-i-Hind" George VI when Indiawas granted independence on August 15 1947.
Two decades earlier the
Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act 1927had stated that the United Kingdom and the dominions were "equal in status, in no way subordinate one to another in any aspect of their domestic or external affairs, though united by common allegiance to the Crown, and freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations". Along with the Statute of Westminster, 1931this changed the way the British parliamentary monarchy ruled the overseas dominions, moving from a colonial British Empire towards a new structure for the interaction between the Commonwealth Realmsand the Crown.
Post-colonial emperors modeled on Europe
When Napoleon I ordered the invasion of
Portugalin 1807 because it refused to join the Continental System, the Portuguese Braganças moved their capital to Rio de Janeiroto avoid the fate of the Spanish Bourbons (Napoleon I arrested them and made his brother King). When General Junot(French) 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 John VI) proclaimed the "United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarve", as a union of three kingdoms, lifting Brazil from its colonial status.
After the fall of Napolean I and the Liberal revolution in
Portugal, the Portuguese Royals returned to Europe(1820). Prince Peter of Braganza (King John’s older son) stayed in South America acting as regent of the local kingdom, but, two years later in 1822, he proclaimed himself Peter I, first Emperor of Brazil. He did, however, recognize his father, John VI, as "Titular Emperor of Brazil" - a purely honorific title - until John 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.
Haitiwas declared an empire by its ruler, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, who made himself Jacques I, in 20 May, 1805. He was assassinated the next year. Haiti again became an empire from 1849 to 1859 under Faustin Soulouque.
Mexico, the First Mexican Empirewas the first of two empires created. Agustín de Iturbide, the general who helped secure Mexican independence from Spanish rule, was proclaimed Emperor Agustín I in 12 July, 1822, but was overthrown the next year.
In 1863, the invading French, under Napoleon III (see above), in alliance with Mexican conservatives, 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 grandson as his heir to bolster his claim to the throne of Mexico. Maximilian and Carlota made Chapultepec Castletheir home, which was the only palace in North America to house soveriegns. After the withdrawal of French protection in 1867, Maximilian was captured and executed by liberal forces. This empire led to French influence in the Mexican culture and also immigration from France, Belgium, and Switzerland to Mexico.
The Aztec and Inca traditions are unrelated to one another. Both were conquered under the reign of King
Charles I of Spainwho was simultaneously emperor-elect of the Holy Roman Empireduring 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.
pre-ColumbianNorth American rulers to be commonly called emperors were the " Hueyi Tlatoani" of the Aztec Empire(1375–1521). It was an elected monarchychosen by the elite. Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortésslew Emperor Cuauhtémocand installed puppet rulers who became vassals for Spain. Mexican Emperor Maximilian built his palace, Chapultepec Castle, over the ruins of an Aztec one.
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).
In Persia, from the time of
Darius the Great, Persian rulers used the title " King of Kings" ("Shahanshah" in modern Iranian) since they had dominion over peoples from India to Greece. Alexander the Greatprobably crowned himself "shahanshah" after conquering PersiaFact|date=February 2007, bringing the phrase "basileus toon basileoon" 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.
The last "shahanshah" 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 Sassaniddynasties, and often shortened to "shah" for rulers since the Safaviddynasty in the 16th century.
The Sanskrit word for emperor is "Samrāṭ" or "Chakravarti"(word stem: "samrāj"). This word has been used as an epithet of various Vedic deities, like Varuna, and has been attested in the Holy 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 king ("Maharajah") was only called "Samrāṭ" after performing the Vedic "Rājasūya" sacrifice, 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 Hindu emperor was his grandson Ashoka the Great. Other dynasties that are considered imperial by historians are the Kushanas, Guptas, Vijayanagara, Hoysala and the Cholas.
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. For the episode from 1877 to 1947 when British Emperors ruled colonial India as the pearl in the crown of the British Empire, see above.
Ethiopia, the Solomonic dynastyused, beginning in 1270, the title of "IPA| [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 with Sembrouthesin 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 Ethiopiaafter Ethiopia was occupied by Italy during the Second Italo-Abyssinian War. After the defeat of the Italians by the British in 1941, Haile Selassie was restored to the throne but Victor Emmanuel did not relinquish his claim to the title until 1943.
The Rastafari claimed Selassie as God incarnate before and even more so after the Second World War (see
Rastafari movement) which he did not endorse, though he was sympathetic. He was deposed in 1974, the imperial title ending the next year when his son, who had succeeded him, was deposed and exiled.
Central African Empire
In 1976, President
Jean-Bédel Bokassaof 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
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 ("dì") which together or individually are imperial. Due to the cultural influence of China, China's neighbors adopted these titles or had their native titles conform in "
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. 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 "vuong" in Vietnamese, "ō" in Japanese, and "wang" in Korean.
The imperial title continued in
Chinauntil the Qing dynastywas overthrown in 1912. The title was briefly revived from December 12, 1915to March 22, 1916by President Yuan Shikaiand again in early July, 1917 when General Zhang Xun attempted to restore last Qing emperor Puyito the throne. Puyi retained the title and attributes of a foreign emperor, as a personal status, until 1924. After the Japanese occupied Manchuriain 1931, they proclaimed it to be the Empire of Manchukuo, and Puyi became emperor of Manchukuo. This Empire ceased to be when it was occupied by Soviettroops 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 harem. In subsequent dynasties, when the distinction between wife and concubine became more accentuated, the crown princewould have chosen an empress-designate before his reign. Imperial Chinaproduced 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.
In some countries in the 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 attested use of this term is on a wooden slat, or " mokkan", that was unearthed in Asuka-mura, Nara Prefecture in 1998 and dated back to the reign of Emperor Temmuand Empress Jitō. The reading 'Tennō' has become the standard title for the sovereign of Japan up to and including the present age. The term 帝 ("mikado", Emperor) is also found in literary sources.
Japanese monarchs placed themselves from 607 on equal footing with
Chinese emperorsin titulary terms, but rarely was the Chinese-style " Son of Heaven" term 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 have kept power over a child-emperor as de facto Regent. For a fairly long time, a shōgun (formally the imperial generalissimo, but made hereditary) or regent wielded actual political power. In fact, through much of Japanese history, the emperor has been little more than a figurehead.
World War II, all claims of divinity were dropped (see Ningen-sengen). Parliamentary government has wielded the power, reducing the office of emperor again to a mere ceremonial function. [Although the Emperor of Japanis classified as constitutional monarch among political scientists, the current constitution of Japan defines him only as a symbol of the nation and no law states his status as a political monarch ( head of state) or otherwise.] 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. However, with the birth of a daughter as the first child of the current
Crown Prince, Naruhito, Japan is considering abandoning that rule. Princess Kiko gave birth to a son on 6 September 2006, although it is still uncertain if the young prince or Aiko will ascend the throne; however many believe the new prince of Japan will. 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.
Although the Vietnamese rulers acknowledged the supremacy of China, and were known to the Chinese emperors as simply King of Annam, domestically they took on a full Chinese-style imperial regalia in 1806 and have inconsistently used the title "hoang de" for a century though many were raised to that status posthumously so as not to antagonize relations with China. 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 Vietnamfrom 1949 to 1955.
Some early dynasties of
Korea, often considered to be legendary, used the title "Dangun" (단군, 檀君: "Dan" meaning " birch", "gun" meaning "emperor"). The rulers of Goguryeoand Sillaused the title of " Taewang" (태왕, 太王), literally translated as the "Greatest of the Kings" but often to signify "emperor".
Rulers of the
Goryeo Dynasty(from Gwangjong onward) took the title of emperor as a means of enhancing the prestige of the monarchy. The title was relinquished in the 13th century, however, after the agreement of peace with the Mongols, when the Korean rulers were pressured into use the title of Kings and as such tributary ally of Kublai Khan's China-based Mongol Yuan Dynasty.
The full style of the ruler of the
Joseon Dynastycalled "Jusang Jeonha"("His Majesty") and "Joseon Guk-wang" ("King of the Realm of Joseon") until 1895.
Following the Chinese defeat by Japan in 1895, Korea declared its total independence from China (see
Treaty of Shimonoseki) and King Gojong took the title of "Daehan Hwangje", translated as 'Emperor of the Great Han'. also Emperor Gojong used the "Yeonho" (era names, a very strong indication of sovereignty), were adopted on 1 January 1896. The full style of the ruler ( 7 January 1895- 12 October 1897) called "Daegunju Pyeha" ("His Majesty the Great Monarch"), "Joseon Guk-wang" ("King of the Joseon State"). In the Korean Empire, since 12 October 1897, the full imperial style was "Daehan Hwangje" ("Emperor of Great Korean").
Khagan(khan of khans or grand khan) was held by Genghis Khan, founder of the Mongol Empirein 1206. When the empire fragmented, the emperors of the Yuan dynastyin China (who also took the Chinese title "huangdi") continued to be nominal Great Khans of the whole Mongol empire. Only the Khagans from Genghis Khan to the fall of the Yuan dynasty in China in 1368 are normally referred to as Emperors in English.
There have been many fictional emperors in movies and books. To see a list of these emperors, see .
Lists of emperors
* [http://sitemaker.umich.edu/mladjov Ian Mladjov's site at University of Michigan] :
** [http://sitemaker.umich.edu/mladjov/monarchs__chronology_and_genealogy Monarchs (chronology and geneaology)]
** [http://sitemaker.umich.edu/mladjov/addenda Monarchs (more genealogy)]
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