Ancient History & Civilisation

The Roman Imperial Succession

The Roman Imperial Succession

An analysis the Roman imperial succession and the failure to come up with an enduring, consistent system for selecting the next emperor with over 22 genealogical tables and 100 images illustrating the Emperors.

John D. Grainger analyses the Roman imperial succession, demonstrating that the empire organized by Augustus was fundamentally flawed in the method it used to find emperors. Augustus’ system was a mixture of heredity, senatorial and military influences, and these were generally antagonistic. Consequently the Empire went through a series of crises, in which the succession to a previous, usually dead, emperor was the main issue. The infamous ‘Year of the Four Emperors’, AD 69, is only the most famous of these crises, which often involved bouts of bloody and destructive civil war, assassinations and purges. These were followed by a period, usually relatively short, in which the victor in the ‘crisis’ established a new system, juggling the three basic elements identified by Augustus, but which was as fragile and short lived as its predecessor; these ‘consequences’ of each crisis are discussed. The lucid and erudite text is supported by numerous genealogical tables and dozens of depictions of emperors.


Part I: Augustus Defines the System

Chapter 1. Augustus

Part II: The Augustan Process

Chapter 2. The First Imperial Family

Chapter 3. The Crisis of 68–69

Chapter 4. The Consequence of Civil War: The Flavian Dynasty

Chapter 5. The Crisis of 96–97

Chapter 6. The Consequences of Trajan: The Antonine ‘Dynasty’

Chapter 7. The Crisis of 193

Chapter 8. The Consequences of Septimius

Part III: The Senate’s Revival

Chapter 9. The Crisis of 238

Chapter 10. The Consequences of Gordian (1): Successful Emperors

Chapter 11. The Consequences of Gordian (2): Unsuccessful Emperors

Part IV: Heredity and Absolutism

Chapter 12. The Tetrarchy

Chapter 13. The Crises of 306–312

Chapter 14. The Consequences of Constantine

Chapter 15. The Crises of 375–379

Chapter 16. The Consequences of Theodosius

Part V: Breakdown

Chapter 17. The Crises of 455–457

Chapter 18. The Consequences of Ricimer and Aspar

Chapter 19. The Crisis of 474–476


List of Emperors


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