With Roman Empire spanning across three continents during its peak, it’s no wonder much of Europe and modern day Slavic lands ended up under the mighty Roman standards. When Octavian Augustus assumed the title of the first Emperor in 27 BC, however, Republic became an Empire and supreme ruler became somewhat of a living deity. There were plethora of Emperors during the five centuries of Roman (and later Western and Eastern Roman) Empire’s existence and some of them were, naturally born in modern Slavic lands. I bet you never thought there were so many of them, though! Take a look at the chronological list and see for yourself.
Trajan Decius (Caesar Gaius Messius Quintus Traianus Decius Augustus)
Born circa 201 AD in Budalia near Sirmium, modern day Martinci and Sremska Mitrovica (Serbia) respectively. He ruled between September or October 249 AD and June 251 AD when he was killed in the Battle of Abritus, thus becoming the first Roman Emperor killed in a battle by foreign enemy.
Hostilian (Gaius Valens Hostilianus Messius Quintus Augustus)
Born circa 230 in Sirmium, modern-day Sremska Mitrovica in Serbia. He was Trajan Decius’ younger son who ruled the Empire after his father’s death for few short months in second half of the 251 AD before succumbing to plague.
Claudius Gothicus (Marcus Aurelius Valerius Claudius Augustus)
Born in Sirmium on May 10, 210 AD. He ruled between September 268 AD and January 270 AD before succumbing to the plague. He’s infamous for beheading the St. Valentine.
Quintillus (Marcus Aurelius Claudius Quintillus Augustus)
Born in Sirmium like his brother Claudius, probably sometimes in 212 AD. He only ruled for a few short months during 270 AD before being killed or committing suicide.
Aurelian (Lucius Domitius Aurelianus Augustus)
Born in Sirmium on September 9 of 214 or 215 AD. He ruled the Empire between September 270 AD and September 275 AD before being assassinated by the Praetorian Guard on his way to Asia Minor and campaign against Sassanids.
Probus (Marcus Aurelius Probus Augustus)
Born in Sirmium circa August 19, 232 AD. He was the Emperor between September 276 AD and September or October 282 AD. Like Aurelian, he too was murdered by his own troops.
Diocletian (Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus Augustus)
Born in Salona, modern day Solin near Split, Croatia circa December 22, 244 AD. He reigned for 21 years (quite a feat at the time), between November 20, 284 AD and May 1, 305 when he retired peacefully becoming the first Roman Emperor to do so. You can still see his palace in Split which is UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Maximian (Marcus Aurelius Valerius Maximianus Herculius Augustus)
Born near Sirmium around 250 AD. He ruled jointly with Diocletian between April 286 AD and May 1, 305 AD. He abdicated together with Diocletian as well, but declared himself Emperor again in 310 AD before being overthrown by then legitimate ruler Constantine I and committing suicide on his behest.
Constantius Chlorus (Marcus Flavius Valerius Constantius Herculius Augustus)
Born in northern Dardania or southern Moesia Superior on March 31, 250 AD. He was the father of Constantine I (Constantine the Great) and ruled the Empire between May 1, 305 AD and July 25, 306 AD.
Galerius (Gaius Galerius Valerius Maximianus Augustus)
Born in Felix Romuliana around 260 AD, although some sources state he was born in Serdica, modern-day Sofia, Bulgaria. He ruled the Empire between May 1, 305 AD and May 311 AD alongside (or in competition with) Constantius, Severus, Constantine and finally Licinius. He’s responsible for the erection of Felix Romuliana (Gamzigrad) which is UNESCO World Heritage Site near modern-day Zajecar (Zaječar) in Serbia.
Severus II (Flavius Valerius Severus Augustus)
Born around Naissus which is modern-day Nis (Niš), Serbia. Severus ruled as Augustus during tumultuous time between summer 306 AD and April 307 AD. He was captured by Maxentius and executed or forced to commit suicide in 307 AD.
Constantine I (Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus)
Born in Naissus on February 27, 272 AD. He emerged as strongest of the Emperors vying for power in early fourth century and left a legacy like none other of his coevals and wider. He ruled the Empire between July 25, 306 AD and May 22, 337 AD. He’s responsible for passing the Edict of Milan in February 313 AD which gave Christianity a legal status within the Empire, thus effectively ending the prosecution of Christians.
Maximinus II Daia (Gaius Valerius Galerius Maximinus Daia Augustus)
Born close to Felix Romuliana, near today’s village of Sarkamen (Šarkamen) in Serbia. His reign during the civil war lasted between May 1, 311 AD and 313 AD when he was defeated by Licinius I and probably committed suicide.
Licinius I (Gaius Valerius Licinianus Licinius Augustus)
Born circa 263 AD – 265 AD near Felix Romuliana, Licinius I ruled in competition with Constantine the Great between November 11, 308 AD and September 18, 324 AD. He was ultimately defeated by his rival and executed in 325 AD.
Constantius II (Flavius Julius Constantius Augustus)
Second son of Constantine the Great was born in Sirmium on August 7, 317 AD. His reign as Augustus lasted between 350 AD and 361 AD, but he also ruled as co-Augustus with Constantine II between 337 AD and 340 AD, and with his youngest brother Constans between 340 AD and 350 AD.
Vetranio (Flavius Vetranio Augustus)
Born somewhere in modern-day Serbia and ruled as Augustus in the West alongside Constantius II temporarily between March 1, 350 AD and December 25, 350 AD.
Jovian (Flavius Iovianus Augustus)
Born in Singidunum, modern-day Belgrade, in 331 AD. He was hastily elected Emperor after the death of his predecessor Julian, and only reigned between June 26, 363 AD and February 17, 364 AD.
Valentinian I (Flavius Valentinianus Augustus)
Born in Cibalae, present-day Vinkovci , Croatia, in 321 AD. He is considered the last great Western Roman Emperor because Rome rapidly declined after his reign which lasted between February 26, 364 AD and November 17, 375 AD.
Valens (Flavius Julius Valens Augustus)
Valentinian’s brother who was also born in Cibalae, in Croatia. He jointly ruled with his brother over the Eastern Roman Empire from March 28, 364 AD to August 9, 378 AD. He died at the Battle of Adrianople against the Goths.
Gratian (Flavius Gratianus Augustus)
Born in Sirmium, in Serbia between April 18 and May 23, 359 AD. He was the eldest son of Valentinian I and ruled below his father as Junior Augustus in the West between 367 AD and 375 AD. He then ruled as Augustus alone and jointly with his brother between 375 AD and August 25, 383 AD when he was murdered.
Constantius III (Flavius Constantius Augustus)
Born in Naissus, in Serbia, Constantius III ended up being a successful general and politician. His reign as Augustus, however, only lasted between February 8, 421 AD and September 2, 421 AD when he died of natural causes – such a rarity for a Roman Emperor.
Maximinus Thrax (Gaius Julius Verus Maximinus Augustus) who ruled between 235 AD and 238 AD was born either in Moesia (Serbia) or Thrace (Bulgaria or Greece), but historians aren’t certain, hence we decided to count him out. Even without him, though, there are 21 Roman Emperors born in modern Slavic lands who ruled both Eastern and Western part of the empire before Western Empire’s downfall in 476 AD.