The Avtokrator was the absolute ruler of the Empire of Videssos and was considered Phos' vice-regent on Earth. The Avtokrator was assisted by an influential bureaucracy, which was powerful enough to enforce its choice for the throne, even in the face of military opposition. The bureaucracy and military were traditionally rivals for influence over the emperor, and by extension, the empire.
As Harry Turtledove has not revealed every Avtokrator, this list is by no means complete. The list is chronological based on the information available.
Stavrakios, known as the "Great", reigned a century after the empire was founded (two hundred years before the birth of Rhavas and 1100 years before the arrival of the Roman Legion); during his reign, the Videssians invaded both Makuran and Halogaland. Stavrakios sacked Mashiz and was said to have defeated Rishtaspa, King of Kings, in single combat. He also conquered Agder. The Empire grew to its greatest extent under his reign. His rule was also the most stable.
Later generations who viewed his portraits were of the opinion that, despite his imperial raiment, he looked more like a veteran underofficer than an Emperor.
Stavrakios' only mentions in the Legion Cycle are a brief reference to his conquest of Agder and to the relative harmlessness of the Halogai. The slaying of Rishtapa and the "underofficer" look are attributed instead to Laskaris, who is apparently retconned out of existence in all other Videssos Series entries.
See: Maleinos II
Circa 150 years before the Time of Troubles, a pair of twins were set to inherit their father's Empire. Neither would admit to being the younger, and their rivalry for the throne tore the Empire apart. Khamorth nomads took the opportunity to invade the Empire, and both Avtokrators hired mercenaries from among the raiders.
Which twin, if either, prevailed, is not revealed.
Hosios (Likinios' father)
Hosios Avtokrator was the father and immediate predecessor of Likinios.
Based on this timeframe, it is likely that Sermeios was the immediate predecessor of Agarenos.
See: Anthimos III
Ioannakis II died 300 years before the arrival of the Roman Legion.
Khoirosphaktes reigned roughly 200 years before the arrival of the Ronams. He was remembered for establishing a fort in Pardraya on the Kouphis River as a gift to a powerful Khamorth khagan. It was abandoned after his death. The fort came to be remembered as "Khoirosphaktes' Folly". Khoirosphaktes also sent the khagan an elephant, who promptly returned it.
Ioannakis III reigned for two years, and was the immediate predecessor of Strobilos Sphrantzes. Posterity saw him as a poor fool, and his reign was an unhappy one. His successor was no better and also fared badly.
See: Strobilos Sphrantzes
See: Mavrikios Gavras
See: Ortaias Sphrantzes
See: Thorisin Gavras
Turtledove has named other Avtokrators throughout the series, but has not always provided sufficient information about when they reigned, or the information provided contradicts the rest of the canon.
In Hammer and Anvil, the Avtokrator Gordianos is said to have cheapened his gold currency (by mixing in other metal such as silver and copper) to help restore the Amphitheater of Videssos after an earthquake. The chronology of his reign is unknown.
In the Legion Cycle, Mizizios tells Marcus Aemilius Scaurus that the Avtokrator Laskaris sacked Mashiz 739 years before the arrival of the Ronams, taking the helmet from the corpse of Rishtaspa, King of Kings of Makuran, which became a trophy for the Empire of Videssos. In the same scene, Scaurus reflects that Laskaris' portrait looks more like a veteran underofficer than an Emperor, a sentiment repeated in two later volumes of the Cycle. In all other Videssos Series entries, these descriptions are reassigned to Stavrakios, and Laskaris is never mentioned again. Implicitly, Turtledove retconned Laskaris into Stavrakios, deliberately or otherwise.
Rhazates was an Avtokrator who ruled the Empire of Videssos for a very brief period many years before the ascension of Krispos. He was crowned as Avtokrator on the steps of the High Palace, but on being announced to his subjects, the crowd laughed at him because he was grossly overweight. He returned to the palace but was overthrown in a coup d'etat within days.
On being crowned Avtokrator many years later, Krispos remembered reading Rhazates' story in the chronicles with a bit of apprehension before Barsymes introduced him to a similar crowd of onlookers. Krispos understood the incident as a warning that, while Videssos was not a democracy de jure, a would-be Avtokrator who had not won the popular support of the capital's common population, could never be secure in his emperorship.
The Fool and the Butcher
The short story "A Difficult Undertaking" is set a few hundred years prior to the arrival of the Misplaced Legion, but after The Tale of Krispos, during a period of civil war. Two rivals each claim the throne. Neither is named; Videssian general Kypros Zigabenos calls them "the fool and the butcher". The story doesn't say which claimant, if either, prevailed.
Anthimos I & II, Ioannikis I, Maleinos I, and Metokhites I
From the numerals following various reign names, we can infer that there were three avtokrators by the name of Anthimos, three by the name of Ioannikis, two by the name of Maleinos, and two by the name of Metokhites. We know nothing of the first two Anthimoi, the first Ioannikis, the first Maleinos, or the first Metokhites.
- E.g., Krispos Rising, pg. 220, mmp; The Tale of Krispos, p. 204, TPB.
- See, e.g., Counting Up, Counting Down, pgs. 312-338, TPB.
- See, e.g., Videssos Cycle: Volume One, p. 505; An Emperor for the Legion, chapter VIII.
- See, e.g. Videssos Cycle: Volume Two, p. 149; The Legion of Videssos, chapter VI.
- Hammer and Anvil, Chapter II, 1st ed., p. 52; The Time of Troubles I, pgs. 430-431.
- Krispos Rising, pg. 115, mmp.; The Tale of Krispos, pg. 108.
- The Tale of Krispos, pg. 23.
- Ibid., pgs. 35-36.
- Videssos Cycle: Volume Two, pg. 436; Swords of the Legion, chapter I.
- See, e.g., Videssos Cycle: Volume Two, pgs. 150-151.
- See Videssos Cycle: Volume One, p. 397; An Emperor for the Legion, chapter III.
- Videssos Cycle: Volume Two, pg. 430; Swords of the Legion, chapter I.
- Hammer and Anvil, mmp, p. 184.
- Videssos Cycle: Volume One, pg. 82; The Misplaced Legion, chapter IV.
- Videssos Cycle: Volume Two, pgs. 310, 814-815; The Legion of Videssos, chapter XI; Swords of the Legion, chapter XIV.
- See, e.g., The Time of Troubles II, p. 641. Videssos Besieged, chapter X.
- See, e.g., The Tale of Krispos p. 324.
- Hammer and Anvil, mpp edition, p. 132.