List of Roman usurpers: Wikis


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The following is an attempted list of usurpers in the Roman Empire. For an overview of the problem and consequences of usurpation see Roman usurpers. In the Eastern Roman Empire (476-1453), or Byzantine Empire, usurpation was so notoriously frequent that the term "Byzantine" became a byword for intrigue.


  • kPG, killed by the Praetorian guard
  • kS, killed by own soldiers
  • kB, killed in battle
  • e, executed
  • S, suicide
  • dates are beginning and end of reign
  • origin of the rebellion indicated where possible
  • the list is complete until the advent of the tetrarchy in the end of the 3rd century


Emperor usurpers

This is a listing of Roman emperors that so became due to their own initiative with neither family ties to the previous nor senatorial appointment.


First Roman Imperial civil war: the year of the four emperors (69 AD)

  • Galba - killed January 15, 69
  • Otho – committed suicide April 16, 69
  • Vitellius – killed December 22, 69
  • Vespasian – secured the throne

From 193 to the tetrarchy (crisis of the third century)

Unsuccessful usurpers in the 1st century

List of to be emperors eventually defeated by the ruling sovereign, listed by reign. The noted date is the attempted usurpation.

Titus: 79-81

Domitian: 91-96

Unsuccessful usurpers in the 2nd century

Marcus Aurelius: 161-180

  • Avidius Cassius (175), in Egypt and Syria, governor of Syria, declared himself emperor upon the rumor that Marcus Aurelius had died, continued his revolt even upon learning Marcus Aurelius was alive.

Septimius Severus: 193-211

Unsuccessful usurpers in the 3rd century

Elagabalus: 218-222

Alexander Severus: 222-235

  • Sallustius (ca. 227), in Rome, raised to Caesar by Alexander, executed for attempted murder, prefect of the Praetorian guard
  • Taurinus (S. date unclear), in the East, committed suicide in the Euphrates after being hailed Augustus

Maximinus Thrax: 235-238

  • Magnus (235), ordered some soldiers of Maximinus to destroy the bridge that allowed the Emperor to cross back the Rhine, a former consul
  • Quartinus (235), in the East, supported by soldiers loyal to former emperor Alexander Severus

Gordian III: 238-244

Philip the Arab: 244-249

Decius: 249-251

Gallienus: 253-268

See also Gallienus usurpers

Claudius II: 268-270

Aurelian: 270-275

  • Domitianus (270-271)most probably in Southern Gaul. He was probably encouraged by Aurelian's difficulties in dealing with an Alamannic incursion into Italy that occurred early in his reign. His bid for power could have been suppressed by Aurelian's Praetorian Prefect, Placidianus who was in the Rhone valley at the time or by Tetricus, the Gallic Emperor.
  • Felicissimus (k.271) in Rome, a civil servant involved in corruption
  • Septimius (kS.271) in Dalmatia
  • Urbanus (271), questioned existence
  • Firmus (k.273) in Egypt, questioned existence

Probus: 276-282

Carus, Carinus, Numerian: 282-284

Diocletian: 284-305

Unsuccessful usurpers in the 4th and 5th century

Honorius: 395-423

Valentinian III: 423-455

Unsuccessful regional usurpers after the fall of Rome (476)


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