The office of Emperor of the Roman Empire in the East (retroactively renamed Emperor of the Byzantine Empire) was never formally created, but instead gradually "spun off" from the leadership position of the original Roman Empire. In 330, Roman Emperor Constantine I moved his capital to Constantinople, the city formerly known as Byzantium, which remained the seat of power of the Eastern Empire after the schism with the Western subdivision. The Byzantine Emperors all claimed rulership of "the Romans" until Constantinople's fall to the Ottoman Empire in 1453 AD. The title of all Byzantine Emperors until the reign (610-641) of Herakleios, was officially "Augustus," although other titles such as Dominus were also used. Their names were preceded by Imperator Caesar and followed by Augustus. Following Herakleios the title commonly became the Greek Basileus (Βασιλεύς), which had formerly meant "king" but was then used in place of Augustus. Following the establishment of the rival Holy Roman Empire in Western Europe, the title "Autokrator" (Gr. Αὐτοκράτωρ) was increasingly used. In later centuries, the Emperor could be referred to by Western Christians as the "Emperor of the Greeks". Towards the end of the Empire, the standard imperial formula of the Byzantine ruler was "[Emperor's name] in Christ, Emperor and Autocrat of the Romans" (cf. Ῥωμαῖοι and Rûm).
Constantine XI Palaiologos was the last Christian Emperor of Constantinople, however the conquering Ottoman Emperors used "Caesar of the Romans" among their titles, up until their Empire fell in 1922.
Harry Turtledove's fiction has made the following uses of the office of the Byzantine Emperor.
Although the Empire was torn by civil war at the turn of the 7th century, it endured and consolidated its status as one of the leading powers in the world by the early 14th century. Some Emperors had more colorful personalities than others.
While the ill-fated Maurice was Emperor, Mouamet, an Arabic merchant from the Empire's eastern fringes, converted from polytheism to Christianity, and later became a bishop and writer of hymns. While Saint Mouamet remained a popular cultural touchstone down through the ages, it is doubtful that his conversion had any profound impact on history.
|All unnamed||Mid 7th century through 1300|
|Nikephoros III||Acceded before 1305,|
incumbent at novel's end, 1320
(*)These are not named, but do not seem to have been affected by the POD.
The novel Justinian is set in OTL and is partly a fictional autobiography of Justinian II, recounting his rise and fall. In addition to Justinian's POV role, Emperors Constantine IV, Philippkios Bardanes, and Leo III also appear directly. Several Emperors from previous centuries are the subject of extensive posthumous references.
Other stories contain notable references to Emperors who died before the relevant Point of Divergence.
Historical Emperors in non-imperial roles
- Roman Emperor, the office which preceded that of the Byzantine Emperor.
- Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, the self-styled successors of the Byzantine Emperors.
- Avtokrator of Videssos, an office at the heart of the Videssos Series, set in a fantasy world. Turtledove has confirmed that the office is modeled on the Byzantine leadership, with certain Videssian individuals being modeled on historical personalities.