Imperial Titulature

What's in a Name?

Augustus, despotes, basileus, autocrator, most pious augusta, imperator, porphyrogennetos. For eleven centuries, Byzantine emperors ruled over a state that witnessed economic and territorial growth and decline, social and demographic changes, and shifting political and diplomatic fortunes. The empire was not static, and neither were the titles used for the state’s head. Tracing the developments of titles is more than a study of fashion. The titles used on a seal tell us about changes in the language of the empire, Byzantium's connection with the past, how the emperors wished to be viewed by their subjects and fellow rulers, and how they saw themselves. This section traces the development of Byzantine imperial titles.

 

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