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Italy: Icon of Trebonianus Gallus (206-253), joint 36th Roman emperor, from the book Icones imperatorvm romanorvm (Icons of Roman Emperors), Antwerp, c. 1645 - Trebonianus Gallus (206-253) was a respected politician and general in the Roman Empire, and rose to power after the deaths of co-Emperors Trajan Decius and his son Herennius Etruscus during the Battle of Abrittus in 251. Some rumours claim that Gallus had had a hand in the deaths of Decius and his son, having conspired with the Goth invaders.  His soldiers proclaimed Gallus emperor, but Decius' other son Hostilian had been acknowledged by the people of Rome as rightful heir. Not wishing to start another civil war, Gallus acquiesced to the will of the Roman people and adopted Hostilian as his son, becoming co-emperors together. Hostilian's death to plague barely months into his rule in 251 allowed Gallus to rule alongside his son Volusianus as new co-emperors.  Like the reign of those before him, Gallus had to contend with revolts and foreign invasions. Aemilianus, governor of the provinces of Moesia Superior and Pannonia, took the initiative and defeated invaders threatening the eastern Roman frontier in 253. He was then proclaimed as emperor by his troops, and marched to Rome to fight for his claim, defeating Gallus and Volusianus in battle, who were subsequently killed by their own troops in August 253.  ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
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Italy: Icon of Trebonianus Gallus (206-253), joint 36th Roman emperor, from the book Icones imperatorvm romanorvm (Icons of Roman Emperors), Antwerp, c. 1645 - Trebonianus Gallus (206-253) was a respected politician and general in the Roman Empire, and rose to power after the deaths of co-Emperors Trajan Decius and his son Herennius Etruscus during the Battle of Abrittus in 251. Some rumours claim that Gallus had had a hand in the deaths of Decius and his son, having conspired with the Goth invaders.

His soldiers proclaimed Gallus emperor, but Decius' other son Hostilian had been acknowledged by the people of Rome as rightful heir. Not wishing to start another civil war, Gallus acquiesced to the will of the Roman people and adopted Hostilian as his son, becoming co-emperors together. Hostilian's death to plague barely months into his rule in 251 allowed Gallus to rule alongside his son Volusianus as new co-emperors.

Like the reign of those before him, Gallus had to contend with revolts and foreign invasions. Aemilianus, governor of the provinces of Moesia Superior and Pannonia, took the initiative and defeated invaders threatening the eastern Roman frontier in 253. He was then proclaimed as emperor by his troops, and marched to Rome to fight for his claim, defeating Gallus and Volusianus in battle, who were subsequently killed by their own troops in August 253. ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
Turkey/Byzantium: Icon of Theodosius II (401-450), Eastern Roman emperor, from the book Icones imperatorvm romanorvm (Icons of Roman Emperors), Antwerp, c. 1645 - Theodosius II (401-450), also known as Theodosius the Younger and Theodosius the Calligrapher, was the son of Emperor Arcadius of the Eastern Roman Empire. He was proclaimed co-ruler and Augustus a year after his birth, becoming the youngest person to ever bear the title. He became emperor after his father's death in 408 CE, aged only seven.  His older sister Pulcheria briefly assumed regency as Augusta until Theodosius was old enough in 416 CE. Theodosius was a devout Christian, waging wars against the Sassanids and others who persecuted Christianity. He also had to deal with the Huns under Attila, forced to constantly pay them off to maintain peace.  Theodosius was also known for promulgating the Theodosian law code and for his founding of the University of Constantinople. Theodosius eventually died in 450 CE from a riding accident, leading to a power struggle between his sister Pulcheria and the eunuch Chrysaphius.  ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
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Turkey/Byzantium: Icon of Theodosius II (401-450), Eastern Roman emperor, from the book Icones imperatorvm romanorvm (Icons of Roman Emperors), Antwerp, c. 1645 - Theodosius II (401-450), also known as Theodosius the Younger and Theodosius the Calligrapher, was the son of Emperor Arcadius of the Eastern Roman Empire. He was proclaimed co-ruler and Augustus a year after his birth, becoming the youngest person to ever bear the title. He became emperor after his father's death in 408 CE, aged only seven.

His older sister Pulcheria briefly assumed regency as Augusta until Theodosius was old enough in 416 CE. Theodosius was a devout Christian, waging wars against the Sassanids and others who persecuted Christianity. He also had to deal with the Huns under Attila, forced to constantly pay them off to maintain peace.

Theodosius was also known for promulgating the Theodosian law code and for his founding of the University of Constantinople. Theodosius eventually died in 450 CE from a riding accident, leading to a power struggle between his sister Pulcheria and the eunuch Chrysaphius. ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
Italy: Icon of Trajan Caesar (53-117 CE), 13th Roman emperor, from the book Icones imperatorvm romanorvm (Icons of Roman Emperors), Antwerp, c. 1645 - Marcus Ulpius Traianus, Trajan, was born in the province of Hispania Baetica in 53 CE, to a non-patrician family. He rose to prominence during Domitian's reign, and fought in numerous campaigns. He was adopted as Nerva's heir and successor in 97 CE, the emperor compelled to do so by the Praetorian Guard. Trajan became emperor in 98 after his predecessor's death.  Trajan is considered one of the greatest emperors of the Roman Empire, with the senate officially declaring him 'optimus princeps', or 'best ruler'. He was a highly successful soldier-emperor who led the greatest military expansion in Roman history, with the empire reaching its maximum territorial extent under his rule. He was also known for his philanthropic rule and extensive building programmes, reshaping Rome and leaving numerous landmarks behind.  His beneficent and prosperous reign earned him an enduring reputation that has survived throughout the centuries, and he has been deified as the second of the 'Five Good Emperors'. He died of a stroke in 117 after almost 20 years of rule, and was succeeded by his adopted heir Hadrian.  ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
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Italy: Icon of Trajan Caesar (53-117 CE), 13th Roman emperor, from the book Icones imperatorvm romanorvm (Icons of Roman Emperors), Antwerp, c. 1645 - Marcus Ulpius Traianus, Trajan, was born in the province of Hispania Baetica in 53 CE, to a non-patrician family. He rose to prominence during Domitian's reign, and fought in numerous campaigns. He was adopted as Nerva's heir and successor in 97 CE, the emperor compelled to do so by the Praetorian Guard. Trajan became emperor in 98 after his predecessor's death.

Trajan is considered one of the greatest emperors of the Roman Empire, with the senate officially declaring him 'optimus princeps', or 'best ruler'. He was a highly successful soldier-emperor who led the greatest military expansion in Roman history, with the empire reaching its maximum territorial extent under his rule. He was also known for his philanthropic rule and extensive building programmes, reshaping Rome and leaving numerous landmarks behind.

His beneficent and prosperous reign earned him an enduring reputation that has survived throughout the centuries, and he has been deified as the second of the 'Five Good Emperors'. He died of a stroke in 117 after almost 20 years of rule, and was succeeded by his adopted heir Hadrian. ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
Italy: Icon of Claudius Caesar (10 BCE-54 CE), 4th Roman emperor, from the book Icones imperatorvm romanorvm (Icons of Roman Emperors), Antwerp, c. 1645 - Claudius (10 BCE-54 CE) was the first Roman emperor to be born outside of Italy, and he was ostracised and exempted from public office for much of his life due to slight deafness and being afflicted with a limp. It was his infirmity that would save him from the noble purges that occurred during the reigns of Tiberius and Caligula, as he was not seen as a serious threat.  Due to being the last surviving man of the Julio-Claudian family, Claudius was declared emperor by the Praetorian Guard after their assassination of Caligula. Despite his only previous experience being sharing a consulship with his nephew Caligula in 37 CE, he proved to be a capable administrator, as well as an ambitious builder across the Empire. The conquest of Britain began under his reign, and his seeming vulnerability meant that Claudius often had to shore up his position, usually through the deaths of rival senators and nobles.  Claudius died in 54 CE, either from natural causes or more probably poisoned by his wife, Agrippina the Younger. He was succeeded after his death by his adopted son, Nero, Agrippina's child.  ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
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Italy: Icon of Claudius Caesar (10 BCE-54 CE), 4th Roman emperor, from the book Icones imperatorvm romanorvm (Icons of Roman Emperors), Antwerp, c. 1645 - Claudius (10 BCE-54 CE) was the first Roman emperor to be born outside of Italy, and he was ostracised and exempted from public office for much of his life due to slight deafness and being afflicted with a limp. It was his infirmity that would save him from the noble purges that occurred during the reigns of Tiberius and Caligula, as he was not seen as a serious threat.

Due to being the last surviving man of the Julio-Claudian family, Claudius was declared emperor by the Praetorian Guard after their assassination of Caligula. Despite his only previous experience being sharing a consulship with his nephew Caligula in 37 CE, he proved to be a capable administrator, as well as an ambitious builder across the Empire. The conquest of Britain began under his reign, and his seeming vulnerability meant that Claudius often had to shore up his position, usually through the deaths of rival senators and nobles.

Claudius died in 54 CE, either from natural causes or more probably poisoned by his wife, Agrippina the Younger. He was succeeded after his death by his adopted son, Nero, Agrippina's child. ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
Germany: Copper engraving of Rudolf I (1218-1291), King of Germany, by Janos Blaschke (1770-1833), c. 1807 - Rudolf I (1218-1291), also kown as Rudolf of Habsburg, was the son of Count Albert IV of Habsburg, and became count after his father's death in 1239. His godfather was Emperor Frederick II, to whom he paid frequent court visits. Rudolf ended the Great Interregnum that had engulfed the Holy Roman Empire after the death of Frederick when he was elected as King of Germany in 1273.  Rudolf secured the recognition of the Pope by promising to launch a new crusade and renouncing all imperial rights to Rome, the papal territories and Sicily. His main opponent was King Ottokar II of Bohemia, who had refused to acknowledge Rudolf as King of Germany. War was declared against Ottokar in 1276, and he was defeated and killed in 1278 during the Battle on the Marchfeld.  Rudolf was ultimately not entirely successful in restoring internal peace throughout the Holy Roman Empire, lacking the power, resources and determination to truly enforce his established land peaces, with the princes largely left to their own devices. He died in 1291, establishing the powerful Habsburg dynasty but unable to ensure the succession of his son Albert as German king.  ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
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Germany: Copper engraving of Rudolf I (1218-1291), King of Germany, by Janos Blaschke (1770-1833), c. 1807 - Rudolf I (1218-1291), also kown as Rudolf of Habsburg, was the son of Count Albert IV of Habsburg, and became count after his father's death in 1239. His godfather was Emperor Frederick II, to whom he paid frequent court visits. Rudolf ended the Great Interregnum that had engulfed the Holy Roman Empire after the death of Frederick when he was elected as King of Germany in 1273.

Rudolf secured the recognition of the Pope by promising to launch a new crusade and renouncing all imperial rights to Rome, the papal territories and Sicily. His main opponent was King Ottokar II of Bohemia, who had refused to acknowledge Rudolf as King of Germany. War was declared against Ottokar in 1276, and he was defeated and killed in 1278 during the Battle on the Marchfeld.

Rudolf was ultimately not entirely successful in restoring internal peace throughout the Holy Roman Empire, lacking the power, resources and determination to truly enforce his established land peaces, with the princes largely left to their own devices. He died in 1291, establishing the powerful Habsburg dynasty but unable to ensure the succession of his son Albert as German king. ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
France/Germany: 'Frederick II of Prussia and Voltaire'. Copper engraving by Pierre Charles Baquoy (1759-1829) after Nicolas-Andre Monsiau (1754-1837), c. 1800 - Francois-Marie Arouet (21 November 1694 - 30 May 1778), more commonly known by his nom de plume Voltaire, was a French Enlightenment historian, philosopher and writer. He was famous for his advocacy of freedom of religion, freedom of speech and separation of church and state, often attacking the Catholic Church through his wit and writings.  Voltaire was a prolific and versatile writer, with more than 20,000 letters and over 2,000 books and pamphlets to his name, as well as plays, poems, essays and historical and scientific works. Despite the strict censorship laws of the time, Voltaire often spoke up in favour of civil liberties, and regularly used satire to criticise intolerance, religious dogma and other pillars of French institutions of his day.  ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
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France/Germany: 'Frederick II of Prussia and Voltaire'. Copper engraving by Pierre Charles Baquoy (1759-1829) after Nicolas-Andre Monsiau (1754-1837), c. 1800 - Francois-Marie Arouet (21 November 1694 - 30 May 1778), more commonly known by his nom de plume Voltaire, was a French Enlightenment historian, philosopher and writer. He was famous for his advocacy of freedom of religion, freedom of speech and separation of church and state, often attacking the Catholic Church through his wit and writings.

Voltaire was a prolific and versatile writer, with more than 20,000 letters and over 2,000 books and pamphlets to his name, as well as plays, poems, essays and historical and scientific works. Despite the strict censorship laws of the time, Voltaire often spoke up in favour of civil liberties, and regularly used satire to criticise intolerance, religious dogma and other pillars of French institutions of his day. ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
France: Portrait of an older Voltaire (1694-1778), French philosopher and writer. Engraving published as the frontispiece to Voltaire's A Philosophical Dictionary, London, 1843 - Francois-Marie Arouet (21 November 1694 - 30 May 1778), more commonly known by his nom de plume Voltaire, was a French Enlightenment historian, philosopher and writer. He was famous for his advocacy of freedom of religion, freedom of speech and separation of church and state, often attacking the Catholic Church through his wit and writings.  Voltaire was a prolific and versatile writer, with more than 20,000 letters and over 2,000 books and pamphlets to his name, as well as plays, poems, essays and historical and scientific works. Despite the strict censorship laws of the time, Voltaire often spoke up in favour of civil liberties, and regularly used satire to criticise intolerance, religious dogma and other pillars of French institutions of his day.  ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
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France: Portrait of an older Voltaire (1694-1778), French philosopher and writer. Engraving published as the frontispiece to Voltaire's A Philosophical Dictionary, London, 1843 - Francois-Marie Arouet (21 November 1694 - 30 May 1778), more commonly known by his nom de plume Voltaire, was a French Enlightenment historian, philosopher and writer. He was famous for his advocacy of freedom of religion, freedom of speech and separation of church and state, often attacking the Catholic Church through his wit and writings.

Voltaire was a prolific and versatile writer, with more than 20,000 letters and over 2,000 books and pamphlets to his name, as well as plays, poems, essays and historical and scientific works. Despite the strict censorship laws of the time, Voltaire often spoke up in favour of civil liberties, and regularly used satire to criticise intolerance, religious dogma and other pillars of French institutions of his day. ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
France: Portrait of Voltaire (1694-1778), French philosopher and writer. Engraving and frontispiece to the monthly scientific magazine The Open Court, February, 1899 - Francois-Marie Arouet (21 November 1694 - 30 May 1778), more commonly known by his nom de plume Voltaire, was a French Enlightenment historian, philosopher and writer. He was famous for his advocacy of freedom of religion, freedom of speech and separation of church and state, often attacking the Catholic Church through his wit and writings.  Voltaire was a prolific and versatile writer, with more than 20,000 letters and over 2,000 books and pamphlets to his name, as well as plays, poems, essays and historical and scientific works. Despite the strict censorship laws of the time, Voltaire often spoke up in favour of civil liberties, and regularly used satire to criticise intolerance, religious dogma and other pillars of French institutions of his day.  ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
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France: Portrait of Voltaire (1694-1778), French philosopher and writer. Engraving and frontispiece to the monthly scientific magazine The Open Court, February, 1899 - Francois-Marie Arouet (21 November 1694 - 30 May 1778), more commonly known by his nom de plume Voltaire, was a French Enlightenment historian, philosopher and writer. He was famous for his advocacy of freedom of religion, freedom of speech and separation of church and state, often attacking the Catholic Church through his wit and writings.

Voltaire was a prolific and versatile writer, with more than 20,000 letters and over 2,000 books and pamphlets to his name, as well as plays, poems, essays and historical and scientific works. Despite the strict censorship laws of the time, Voltaire often spoke up in favour of civil liberties, and regularly used satire to criticise intolerance, religious dogma and other pillars of French institutions of his day. ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
France: Frontispiece of Voltaire's (1694-1778) interpretation of Isaac Newton's work, Elemens de la philosophie de Newton, with Voltaire depicted translating the work of Newton, who illuminates him from above. C. 1738 - Francois-Marie Arouet (21 November 1694 - 30 May 1778), more commonly known by his nom de plume Voltaire, was a French Enlightenment historian, philosopher and writer. He was famous for his advocacy of freedom of religion, freedom of speech and separation of church and state, often attacking the Catholic Church through his wit and writings.  Voltaire was a prolific and versatile writer, with more than 20,000 letters and over 2,000 books and pamphlets to his name, as well as plays, poems, essays and historical and scientific works. Despite the strict censorship laws of the time, Voltaire often spoke up in favour of civil liberties, and regularly used satire to criticise intolerance, religious dogma and other pillars of French institutions of his day.  ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
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France: Frontispiece of Voltaire's (1694-1778) interpretation of Isaac Newton's work, Elemens de la philosophie de Newton, with Voltaire depicted translating the work of Newton, who illuminates him from above. C. 1738 - Francois-Marie Arouet (21 November 1694 - 30 May 1778), more commonly known by his nom de plume Voltaire, was a French Enlightenment historian, philosopher and writer. He was famous for his advocacy of freedom of religion, freedom of speech and separation of church and state, often attacking the Catholic Church through his wit and writings.

Voltaire was a prolific and versatile writer, with more than 20,000 letters and over 2,000 books and pamphlets to his name, as well as plays, poems, essays and historical and scientific works. Despite the strict censorship laws of the time, Voltaire often spoke up in favour of civil liberties, and regularly used satire to criticise intolerance, religious dogma and other pillars of French institutions of his day. ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
France: Portrait of Voltaire (1694-1778), French philosopher and writer. Illustration from The Garden Arbor, 1878, Leipzig - Francois-Marie Arouet (21 November 1694 - 30 May 1778), more commonly known by his nom de plume Voltaire, was a French Enlightenment historian, philosopher and writer. He was famous for his advocacy of freedom of religion, freedom of speech and separation of church and state, often attacking the Catholic Church through his wit and writings.  Voltaire was a prolific and versatile writer, with more than 20,000 letters and over 2,000 books and pamphlets to his name, as well as plays, poems, essays and historical and scientific works. Despite the strict censorship laws of the time, Voltaire often spoke up in favour of civil liberties, and regularly used satire to criticise intolerance, religious dogma and other pillars of French institutions of his day.  ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
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France: Portrait of Voltaire (1694-1778), French philosopher and writer. Illustration from The Garden Arbor, 1878, Leipzig - Francois-Marie Arouet (21 November 1694 - 30 May 1778), more commonly known by his nom de plume Voltaire, was a French Enlightenment historian, philosopher and writer. He was famous for his advocacy of freedom of religion, freedom of speech and separation of church and state, often attacking the Catholic Church through his wit and writings.

Voltaire was a prolific and versatile writer, with more than 20,000 letters and over 2,000 books and pamphlets to his name, as well as plays, poems, essays and historical and scientific works. Despite the strict censorship laws of the time, Voltaire often spoke up in favour of civil liberties, and regularly used satire to criticise intolerance, religious dogma and other pillars of French institutions of his day. ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
Germany: Illumination depicting the sacramentary (book containing the Catholic rites for Mass) of Henry II (974-1024), 15th Holy Roman emperor, c. 1002-1014, Bavarian State Library, Munich - Henry II (974-1024), also known as Henry IV and Saint Henry, was the son of Henry II, Duke of Bavaria and great-grandson of King Henry I, therefore making him part of the Bavarian branch of the Ottonian dynasty. Due to his father's rebellion against the two previous emperors, Henry was often in exile and became close with the Church. He succeeded his father as Duke of Bavaria in 995, taking the name Henry IV.  As Henry was returning home to claim his lands however, Emperor Otto III died of fever with no heir to succeed him. Political chaos gripped the Holy Roman Empire, and Henry defeated several other claimants to become King of Germany in 1002, and King of Italy in 1004. He subsumed the Duchy of Bohemia into the Holy Roman Empire, and fought a series of wars against Poland. He also led a series of expeditions into Italy to ensure Imperial dominance against secessionist forces and the Byzantine Empire. He was eventually crowned as Holy Roman Emperor in 1014.  Henry II's rule was centralised, power consolidated in his hands through personal and political ties with the Catholic Church, which would lead to his canonisation a century later in 1146, the only German monarch to become a saint. Henry eventually died in 1024, leaving no children behind and ending the Ottonian dynasty.  ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
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Germany: Illumination depicting the sacramentary (book containing the Catholic rites for Mass) of Henry II (974-1024), 15th Holy Roman emperor, c. 1002-1014, Bavarian State Library, Munich - Henry II (974-1024), also known as Henry IV and Saint Henry, was the son of Henry II, Duke of Bavaria and great-grandson of King Henry I, therefore making him part of the Bavarian branch of the Ottonian dynasty. Due to his father's rebellion against the two previous emperors, Henry was often in exile and became close with the Church. He succeeded his father as Duke of Bavaria in 995, taking the name Henry IV.

As Henry was returning home to claim his lands however, Emperor Otto III died of fever with no heir to succeed him. Political chaos gripped the Holy Roman Empire, and Henry defeated several other claimants to become King of Germany in 1002, and King of Italy in 1004. He subsumed the Duchy of Bohemia into the Holy Roman Empire, and fought a series of wars against Poland. He also led a series of expeditions into Italy to ensure Imperial dominance against secessionist forces and the Byzantine Empire. He was eventually crowned as Holy Roman Emperor in 1014.

Henry II's rule was centralised, power consolidated in his hands through personal and political ties with the Catholic Church, which would lead to his canonisation a century later in 1146, the only German monarch to become a saint. Henry eventually died in 1024, leaving no children behind and ending the Ottonian dynasty. ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
Italy: Icon of Galerius (260-311), joint 53rd Roman emperor, from the book Icones imperatorvm romanorvm (Icons of Roman Emperors), Antwerp, c. 1645 - Galerius (260-311) was born in Serdica and was initially a herdsman like his father, before going on to join the Roman army, where he served with distinction under Emperors Aurelian and Probus. When the Tetrarchy was established in 293, he was named as one of the junior co-emperors alongside Constantius, marrying Emperor Diocletian's daughter Valeria.  Galerius fought alongside his father-in-law against the resurgent Sassanid Empire, eventually leading to his sacking of the capital Ctesiphon and his capture of the wife and children of the Sassanid king Narseh, with which he was able to negotiate a long-lasting and favourable peace treaty. When Diocletian and Maximian abdicated in 305, Galerius and Constantius became joint emperors, with Galerius conspiring to secure a stronger power base than his co-ruler. His hopes and plans came to naught when Constantius died a year later and his son, Constantine I, ascended to become emperor of the western half of the empire.  Galerius had been a staunch opponent of Christianity, supposedly prodding Diocletian into enacting the Diocletianic Persecution, the largest and most violent official persecution of Christians in the empire's history, by burning down the Imperial Palace and blaming it on Christian saboteurs. His attitude changed in 311 when he enacted the Edict of Toleration, asking for Christians to pray for him as he suffered through a painful and fatal illness. He died six days later.  ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
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Italy: Icon of Galerius (260-311), joint 53rd Roman emperor, from the book Icones imperatorvm romanorvm (Icons of Roman Emperors), Antwerp, c. 1645 - Galerius (260-311) was born in Serdica and was initially a herdsman like his father, before going on to join the Roman army, where he served with distinction under Emperors Aurelian and Probus. When the Tetrarchy was established in 293, he was named as one of the junior co-emperors alongside Constantius, marrying Emperor Diocletian's daughter Valeria.

Galerius fought alongside his father-in-law against the resurgent Sassanid Empire, eventually leading to his sacking of the capital Ctesiphon and his capture of the wife and children of the Sassanid king Narseh, with which he was able to negotiate a long-lasting and favourable peace treaty. When Diocletian and Maximian abdicated in 305, Galerius and Constantius became joint emperors, with Galerius conspiring to secure a stronger power base than his co-ruler. His hopes and plans came to naught when Constantius died a year later and his son, Constantine I, ascended to become emperor of the western half of the empire.

Galerius had been a staunch opponent of Christianity, supposedly prodding Diocletian into enacting the Diocletianic Persecution, the largest and most violent official persecution of Christians in the empire's history, by burning down the Imperial Palace and blaming it on Christian saboteurs. His attitude changed in 311 when he enacted the Edict of Toleration, asking for Christians to pray for him as he suffered through a painful and fatal illness. He died six days later. ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
Germany: Watercolour illustration of Frederick III (1415-1493), 28th Holy Roman emperor, and Pope Pius II (1405-1464), from the Nuremberg Chronicle by Hartmann Schedel (1440-1514), 1493 - Frederick III (1415-1493), also known as Frederick the Fat and Frederick the Peaceful, was the eldest son of the Inner Austrian duke Ernest the Iron, a member of the Habsburg dynasty. He became duke of Inner Austria in 1424 at the age of nine, but would not be awarded rule until 1435, with his younger brother Albert asserting his rights as co-ruler. By 1439, Frederick had become the undisputed head of the Habsburg dynasty.  Frederick was the cousin of late King Albert II, and was elected as King of Germany in 1440. He travelled to Italy in 1452 to receive his bride and be crowned Holy Roman Emperor. He was unsuccessful in being crowned King of Italy however, and was the last emperor to be crowned in Rome. Frederick was not able to gain control over Bohemia and Hungary, losing the Bohemian-Hungarian War and the Austrian-Hungarian War.  Frederick ultimately prevailed against his rivals through patience and cunning, outliving his opponents and then often inheriting their lands. He also gained lands and increased the influence of the Habsburgs through political marriages, giving rise to the saying 'Let others wage wars, but you, happy Austria, shall marry'. Frederick eventually died in 1493, aged 77, bleeding to death after having his infected left leg amputated.  ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
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Germany: Watercolour illustration of Frederick III (1415-1493), 28th Holy Roman emperor, and Pope Pius II (1405-1464), from the Nuremberg Chronicle by Hartmann Schedel (1440-1514), 1493 - Frederick III (1415-1493), also known as Frederick the Fat and Frederick the Peaceful, was the eldest son of the Inner Austrian duke Ernest the Iron, a member of the Habsburg dynasty. He became duke of Inner Austria in 1424 at the age of nine, but would not be awarded rule until 1435, with his younger brother Albert asserting his rights as co-ruler. By 1439, Frederick had become the undisputed head of the Habsburg dynasty.

Frederick was the cousin of late King Albert II, and was elected as King of Germany in 1440. He travelled to Italy in 1452 to receive his bride and be crowned Holy Roman Emperor. He was unsuccessful in being crowned King of Italy however, and was the last emperor to be crowned in Rome. Frederick was not able to gain control over Bohemia and Hungary, losing the Bohemian-Hungarian War and the Austrian-Hungarian War.

Frederick ultimately prevailed against his rivals through patience and cunning, outliving his opponents and then often inheriting their lands. He also gained lands and increased the influence of the Habsburgs through political marriages, giving rise to the saying 'Let others wage wars, but you, happy Austria, shall marry'. Frederick eventually died in 1493, aged 77, bleeding to death after having his infected left leg amputated. ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
Italy: Icon of Probus (232-282), 47th Roman emperor, from the book Icones imperatorvm romanorvm (Icons of Roman Emperors), Antwerp, c. 1645 - Marcus Aurelius Probus (232-282) was a career soldier, having entered the army as soon as he reached adulthood sometime in 250. He distinguished himself under Emperors Valerian, Aurelian and Tacitus, and when Tacitus died in 276, Probus' soldiers proclaimed him emperor, despite a rival claim by Florianus, Tacitus' half-brother. Though Florianus' reign is recognised, it was brief and lasted only eighty-eight days, as he was soon murdered by his own troops after losing a battle against Probus. Probus was ratified as emperor after this.    The first years of his reign saw him campaign successfully against the Germanic tribes in Gaul, and he began the strategy of settling the conquered Germanic tribes in the devastated provinces of the empire, to rebuild and restart them. He also put down at least three revolts and usurpers between 280-281, as well as fighting against the Blemmyes in Egypt and the Vandals in Illyricum.    In 282, the commander of the Praetorian Guard Marcus Aurelius Carus had been proclaimed, probably unwillingly, as emperor by his soldiers. Probus sent troops to defeat the usurper, but they turned on him and supported Carus' claim, while his remaining soldiers assassinated him near the end of the year. Other sources claimed that the soldiers murdered him due to being ordered to complete civic purposes sucrobus. Probus was ratified as emperor after this.  T  ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
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Italy: Icon of Probus (232-282), 47th Roman emperor, from the book Icones imperatorvm romanorvm (Icons of Roman Emperors), Antwerp, c. 1645 - Marcus Aurelius Probus (232-282) was a career soldier, having entered the army as soon as he reached adulthood sometime in 250. He distinguished himself under Emperors Valerian, Aurelian and Tacitus, and when Tacitus died in 276, Probus' soldiers proclaimed him emperor, despite a rival claim by Florianus, Tacitus' half-brother. Though Florianus' reign is recognised, it was brief and lasted only eighty-eight days, as he was soon murdered by his own troops after losing a battle against Probus. Probus was ratified as emperor after this.



The first years of his reign saw him campaign successfully against the Germanic tribes in Gaul, and he began the strategy of settling the conquered Germanic tribes in the devastated provinces of the empire, to rebuild and restart them. He also put down at least three revolts and usurpers between 280-281, as well as fighting against the Blemmyes in Egypt and the Vandals in Illyricum.



In 282, the commander of the Praetorian Guard Marcus Aurelius Carus had been proclaimed, probably unwillingly, as emperor by his soldiers. Probus sent troops to defeat the usurper, but they turned on him and supported Carus' claim, while his remaining soldiers assassinated him near the end of the year. Other sources claimed that the soldiers murdered him due to being ordered to complete civic purposes sucrobus. Probus was ratified as emperor after this.

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Germany: Miniature depicting Henry II (974-1024), 15th Holy Roman emperor, and Empress Kunigunde being crowned by Christ, c. 1007-1012, from the book Mediaeval Miniatures by Anna Maria Cetto - Henry II (974-1024), also known as Henry IV and Saint Henry, was the son of Henry II, Duke of Bavaria and great-grandson of King Henry I, therefore making him part of the Bavarian branch of the Ottonian dynasty. Due to his father's rebellion against the two previous emperors, Henry was often in exile and became close with the Church. He succeeded his father as Duke of Bavaria in 995, taking the name Henry IV.  As Henry was returning home to claim his lands however, Emperor Otto III died of fever with no heir to succeed him. Political chaos gripped the Holy Roman Empire, and Henry defeated several other claimants to become King of Germany in 1002, and King of Italy in 1004. He subsumed the Duchy of Bohemia into the Holy Roman Empire, and fought a series of wars against Poland. He also led a series of expeditions into Italy to ensure Imperial dominance against secessionist forces and the Byzantine Empire. He was eventually crowned as Holy Roman Emperor in 1014.  Henry II's rule was centralised, power consolidated in his hands through personal and political ties with the Catholic Church, which would lead to his canonisation a century later in 1146, the only German monarch to become a saint. Henry eventually died in 1024, leaving no children behind and ending the Ottonian dynasty.  ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
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Germany: Miniature depicting Henry II (974-1024), 15th Holy Roman emperor, and Empress Kunigunde being crowned by Christ, c. 1007-1012, from the book Mediaeval Miniatures by Anna Maria Cetto - Henry II (974-1024), also known as Henry IV and Saint Henry, was the son of Henry II, Duke of Bavaria and great-grandson of King Henry I, therefore making him part of the Bavarian branch of the Ottonian dynasty. Due to his father's rebellion against the two previous emperors, Henry was often in exile and became close with the Church. He succeeded his father as Duke of Bavaria in 995, taking the name Henry IV.

As Henry was returning home to claim his lands however, Emperor Otto III died of fever with no heir to succeed him. Political chaos gripped the Holy Roman Empire, and Henry defeated several other claimants to become King of Germany in 1002, and King of Italy in 1004. He subsumed the Duchy of Bohemia into the Holy Roman Empire, and fought a series of wars against Poland. He also led a series of expeditions into Italy to ensure Imperial dominance against secessionist forces and the Byzantine Empire. He was eventually crowned as Holy Roman Emperor in 1014.

Henry II's rule was centralised, power consolidated in his hands through personal and political ties with the Catholic Church, which would lead to his canonisation a century later in 1146, the only German monarch to become a saint. Henry eventually died in 1024, leaving no children behind and ending the Ottonian dynasty. ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
Italy: Icon of Philip the Arab (204-249 CE), 33rd Roman emperor, from the book Icones imperatorvm romanorvm (Icons of Roman Emperors), Antwerp, c. 1645 - Marcus Julius Philippus (204-249 CE), commonly known as Philip the Arab, was born in the Roman province of Arabia, in what is now Syria. He rose to power during the last years of Emperor Gordian III's reign, due to the machinations of his brother, Gaius Julius Priscus, who was an important member of the Praetorian Guard.    Gordian III's death in 244 resulted in Philip's accession to the imperial throne. He quickly concluded a peace treaty with Shapur I of Persia, ruler of the Sassanid Empire, and rushed back to Rome to secure his position with the Roman Senate. Rome celebrated its one thoucbÖê lvŸ  ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
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Italy: Icon of Philip the Arab (204-249 CE), 33rd Roman emperor, from the book Icones imperatorvm romanorvm (Icons of Roman Emperors), Antwerp, c. 1645 - Marcus Julius Philippus (204-249 CE), commonly known as Philip the Arab, was born in the Roman province of Arabia, in what is now Syria. He rose to power during the last years of Emperor Gordian III's reign, due to the machinations of his brother, Gaius Julius Priscus, who was an important member of the Praetorian Guard.



Gordian III's death in 244 resulted in Philip's accession to the imperial throne. He quickly concluded a peace treaty with Shapur I of Persia, ruler of the Sassanid Empire, and rushed back to Rome to secure his position with the Roman Senate. Rome celebrated its one thoucbÖê lvŸ ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
Italy: Icon of Hadrian Caesar (76-138 CE), 14th Roman emperor, from the book Icones imperatorvm romanorvm (Icons of Roman Emperors), Antwerp, c. 1645 - Born Publius Aelius Hadrianus (76-138 CE) to a well-established family with old roots in Hispania, Hadrian was related to Emperor Trajan through his father, who was a maternal cousin of Trajan's. Trajan did not officially designate an heir before he died, though his wife Pompeia Plotina claims that Trajan named Hadrian his successor just before his death.    Hadrian travelled extensively during his reign, visiting nearly every province in the Roman Empire. He attempted to turn Athens into the Empire's cultural capital, and had a Greek lover named Antinous. Hadrian also spent a lot of time with the military, often wearing his military attire anstablished family with old roots in Hispania, Hadrian was related to Emperor Trajan through his father, who was a maternal cousin of Trajan's. Trajan did not officially designate an heir before he died, though his wife Pompeia Plotina claims that Trajan named Hadrian his successor just before his death.  Hadrian travelled extensively during his reign, visiting nearly every province in the Roman Empire. He attempted to turn Athens into the Empire's cultural capital, and had a Greek lover named Antinous. Hadrian also spent a lot of time with the military, often wearing his military attire and dining and sleepin  ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
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Italy: Icon of Hadrian Caesar (76-138 CE), 14th Roman emperor, from the book Icones imperatorvm romanorvm (Icons of Roman Emperors), Antwerp, c. 1645 - Born Publius Aelius Hadrianus (76-138 CE) to a well-established family with old roots in Hispania, Hadrian was related to Emperor Trajan through his father, who was a maternal cousin of Trajan's. Trajan did not officially designate an heir before he died, though his wife Pompeia Plotina claims that Trajan named Hadrian his successor just before his death.



Hadrian travelled extensively during his reign, visiting nearly every province in the Roman Empire. He attempted to turn Athens into the Empire's cultural capital, and had a Greek lover named Antinous. Hadrian also spent a lot of time with the military, often wearing his military attire anstablished family with old roots in Hispania, Hadrian was related to Emperor Trajan through his father, who was a maternal cousin of Trajan's. Trajan did not officially designate an heir before he died, though his wife Pompeia Plotina claims that Trajan named Hadrian his successor just before his death.

Hadrian travelled extensively during his reign, visiting nearly every province in the Roman Empire. He attempted to turn Athens into the Empire's cultural capital, and had a Greek lover named Antinous. Hadrian also spent a lot of time with the military, often wearing his military attire and dining and sleepin ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
Germany / France: 'Louis the Pious Making Penance at Attigny in 822', from the book L'Histoire de France Populaire by Henri Martin (1810-1883), 1876 - Louis I (778-840), also known as Louis the Pious, Louis the Fair and Louis the Debonaire, was the sole surviving adult son of Emperor Charlemagne and Hildegard. Louis ruled from Aquitaine, charged by his father with defending the empire's southwestern frontier from the Muslims of Spain. He conquered Barcelona in 801 and asserted Frankish dominance over Pamplona and the Basques south of the Pyrenees in 812. He was named as co-emperor and King of the Franks by his father in 813, before becoming sole ruler in 814.    When he became sole emperor, he appointed his adult sons Lothair, Pepin and Louis to roles in his government, seeking to establish a suitable division of the realm among them. Several embarrassments and tragedies marred his first decade of rule however, including his brutal tratment of his newphew Bernard of Italy, for which he atoned in a public act of self-debasement. In the 830s, the Holy Roman Empire was beset by various civil wars between Louis' sons, made worse when he tried to include his son Charles by his second wife into his succession plans.    Louis was deposed from 833-834, but soon regained his throne and largely restored order to the empire. He died in 840, and three years of civil war followed his death. Ultimately, Louis is generally compared unfavourably to his legendary father, though his reign faced distinctly different problems.  ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
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Germany / France: 'Louis the Pious Making Penance at Attigny in 822', from the book L'Histoire de France Populaire by Henri Martin (1810-1883), 1876 - Louis I (778-840), also known as Louis the Pious, Louis the Fair and Louis the Debonaire, was the sole surviving adult son of Emperor Charlemagne and Hildegard. Louis ruled from Aquitaine, charged by his father with defending the empire's southwestern frontier from the Muslims of Spain. He conquered Barcelona in 801 and asserted Frankish dominance over Pamplona and the Basques south of the Pyrenees in 812. He was named as co-emperor and King of the Franks by his father in 813, before becoming sole ruler in 814.



When he became sole emperor, he appointed his adult sons Lothair, Pepin and Louis to roles in his government, seeking to establish a suitable division of the realm among them. Several embarrassments and tragedies marred his first decade of rule however, including his brutal tratment of his newphew Bernard of Italy, for which he atoned in a public act of self-debasement. In the 830s, the Holy Roman Empire was beset by various civil wars between Louis' sons, made worse when he tried to include his son Charles by his second wife into his succession plans.



Louis was deposed from 833-834, but soon regained his throne and largely restored order to the empire. He died in 840, and three years of civil war followed his death. Ultimately, Louis is generally compared unfavourably to his legendary father, though his reign faced distinctly different problems. ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
Germany: Watercolour painting of Maximilian I (1459-1519), 29th Holy Roman emperor, bearing the flag of Catalonia by Albrecht Altdorfer (1480-1538), c. 1513-1515 - Maximilian I (1459-1519) was the son of Emperor Frederick III, and was married to Mary of Burgundy in 1477, daughter of Duke Charles the Bold, ruling the substantial Burgundian domains through his wife and their children when she died in 1482. He was elected King of Germany in 1486 at his father's initiative, ruling together until his father's death in 1493. Maximilian then became sole ruler and was crowned Holy Roman emperor.  Maximilian's first actions were to reconquer large swathes of Austria that had been occupied by Hungary. He fought during the Italian Wars, joining the Holy League against the French. He also had to deal with the Swiss rebelling in 1499, and was forced to sign a peace treaty that granted the Swiss Confederacy independence from the Holy Roman Empire, losing the Austrian territories in modern-day Switzerland. In 1508, Maximilian ended the centuries-old custom that the Holy Roman emperor had to be crowned by the pope, taking the title of 'Elected Roman emperor'.  Maximilian fell from his horse in 1501, which badly damaged his leg and would cause him pain for the rest of his life. He was also said to be morbidly depressed, and from 1514 onwards would travel everywhere with his coffin. He died in Wels, Upper Austria, in 1519, and was succeeded by his grandson Charles V. Maximilian's legacy was expanding the influence of the Habsburg dynasty, and helping to establish a branch of the dynasty in Spain, allowing Charles to hold the thrones of both Castile and Aragon.  ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
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Germany: Watercolour painting of Maximilian I (1459-1519), 29th Holy Roman emperor, bearing the flag of Catalonia by Albrecht Altdorfer (1480-1538), c. 1513-1515 - Maximilian I (1459-1519) was the son of Emperor Frederick III, and was married to Mary of Burgundy in 1477, daughter of Duke Charles the Bold, ruling the substantial Burgundian domains through his wife and their children when she died in 1482. He was elected King of Germany in 1486 at his father's initiative, ruling together until his father's death in 1493. Maximilian then became sole ruler and was crowned Holy Roman emperor.

Maximilian's first actions were to reconquer large swathes of Austria that had been occupied by Hungary. He fought during the Italian Wars, joining the Holy League against the French. He also had to deal with the Swiss rebelling in 1499, and was forced to sign a peace treaty that granted the Swiss Confederacy independence from the Holy Roman Empire, losing the Austrian territories in modern-day Switzerland. In 1508, Maximilian ended the centuries-old custom that the Holy Roman emperor had to be crowned by the pope, taking the title of 'Elected Roman emperor'.

Maximilian fell from his horse in 1501, which badly damaged his leg and would cause him pain for the rest of his life. He was also said to be morbidly depressed, and from 1514 onwards would travel everywhere with his coffin. He died in Wels, Upper Austria, in 1519, and was succeeded by his grandson Charles V. Maximilian's legacy was expanding the influence of the Habsburg dynasty, and helping to establish a branch of the dynasty in Spain, allowing Charles to hold the thrones of both Castile and Aragon. ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
Japan: 'Shiratori Myojin Shrine', from the series 'Scenes of Famous Places along the Tokaido Road' by Ikkyosai Tsuyanaga, 1863 - Nishiki-e were a type of multi-coloured woodblock prints from Japan. The technique was primarily used in Ukiyo-e, and was invented in the 1760s. Before, woodblock prints were usually in black-and-white and were coloured either by hand or with the addition of one or two colour ink blocks.  Nishiki-e was credited to an engraver named Kinroku, but it was popularised and perfected by Suzuki Harunobu. <i>Nishiki-e</i> is sometimes also known as <i>Edo-e</i>, and became very popular during the Meiji Period, especially during the first Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895), where over 3,000 prints were made in the 9-month period.  ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
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Japan: 'Shiratori Myojin Shrine', from the series 'Scenes of Famous Places along the Tokaido Road' by Ikkyosai Tsuyanaga, 1863 - Nishiki-e were a type of multi-coloured woodblock prints from Japan. The technique was primarily used in Ukiyo-e, and was invented in the 1760s. Before, woodblock prints were usually in black-and-white and were coloured either by hand or with the addition of one or two colour ink blocks.

Nishiki-e was credited to an engraver named Kinroku, but it was popularised and perfected by Suzuki Harunobu. <i>Nishiki-e</i> is sometimes also known as <i>Edo-e</i>, and became very popular during the Meiji Period, especially during the first Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895), where over 3,000 prints were made in the 9-month period. ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
Japan: 'The Tiger of Ryogoku', woodblock print by Utagawa Hirokage (active 1855-1865) and poem by Kanagaki Robun (1829-1894), c. 1860 - Utagawa Hirokage (active 1855-1865), also known as Ichiyusai Hirokage, was a Japanese woodblock printer living and working in the mid-19th century. He was a pupil of Utagawa Hiroshige I, and his main noteworthy work is the series Edo meisho doke zukushi (Joyful Events in Famous Places in Edo).  ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
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Japan: 'The Tiger of Ryogoku', woodblock print by Utagawa Hirokage (active 1855-1865) and poem by Kanagaki Robun (1829-1894), c. 1860 - Utagawa Hirokage (active 1855-1865), also known as Ichiyusai Hirokage, was a Japanese woodblock printer living and working in the mid-19th century. He was a pupil of Utagawa Hiroshige I, and his main noteworthy work is the series Edo meisho doke zukushi (Joyful Events in Famous Places in Edo). ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
Germany: Antique print of Maximilian I (1459-1519), 29th Holy Roman emperor, published by Estienne Richer, c. 1615 - Maximilian I (1459-1519) was the son of Emperor Frederick III, and was married to Mary of Burgundy in 1477, daughter of Duke Charles the Bold, ruling the substantial Burgundian domains through his wife and their children when she died in 1482. He was elected King of Germany in 1486 at his father's initiative, ruling together until his father's death in 1493. Maximilian then became sole ruler and was crowned Holy Roman emperor.  Maximilian's first actions were to reconquer large swathes of Austria that had been occupied by Hungary. He fought during the Italian Wars, joining the Holy League against the French. He also had to deal with the Swiss rebelling in 1499, and was forced to sign a peace treaty that granted the Swiss Confederacy independence from the Holy Roman Empire, losing the Austrian territories in modern-day Switzerland. In 1508, Maximilian ended the centuries-old custom that the Holy Roman emperor had to be crowned by the pope, taking the title of 'Elected Roman emperor'.  Maximilian fell from his horse in 1501, which badly damaged his leg and would cause him pain for the rest of his life. He was also said to be morbidly depressed, and from 1514 onwards would travel everywhere with his coffin. He died in Wels, Upper Austria, in 1519, and was succeeded by his grandson Charles V. Maximilian's legacy was expanding the influence of the Habsburg dynasty, and helping to establish a branch of the dynasty in Spain, allowing Charles to hold the thrones of both Castile and Aragon.  ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
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Germany: Antique print of Maximilian I (1459-1519), 29th Holy Roman emperor, published by Estienne Richer, c. 1615 - Maximilian I (1459-1519) was the son of Emperor Frederick III, and was married to Mary of Burgundy in 1477, daughter of Duke Charles the Bold, ruling the substantial Burgundian domains through his wife and their children when she died in 1482. He was elected King of Germany in 1486 at his father's initiative, ruling together until his father's death in 1493. Maximilian then became sole ruler and was crowned Holy Roman emperor.

Maximilian's first actions were to reconquer large swathes of Austria that had been occupied by Hungary. He fought during the Italian Wars, joining the Holy League against the French. He also had to deal with the Swiss rebelling in 1499, and was forced to sign a peace treaty that granted the Swiss Confederacy independence from the Holy Roman Empire, losing the Austrian territories in modern-day Switzerland. In 1508, Maximilian ended the centuries-old custom that the Holy Roman emperor had to be crowned by the pope, taking the title of 'Elected Roman emperor'.

Maximilian fell from his horse in 1501, which badly damaged his leg and would cause him pain for the rest of his life. He was also said to be morbidly depressed, and from 1514 onwards would travel everywhere with his coffin. He died in Wels, Upper Austria, in 1519, and was succeeded by his grandson Charles V. Maximilian's legacy was expanding the influence of the Habsburg dynasty, and helping to establish a branch of the dynasty in Spain, allowing Charles to hold the thrones of both Castile and Aragon. ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
Japan: 'Minakuchi: the actor Sawamura Chojuro V as Choemon', woodblock print by Utagawa Kunisada (1786-1865), c. 1852 - Utagawa Kunisada (1786 – January 12, 1865), also known as Utagawa Toyokuni III) was the most popular, prolific and financially successful designer of ukiyo-e woodblock prints in 19th-century Japan. In his own time, his reputation far exceeded that of his contemporaries, Hokusai, Hiroshige and Kuniyoshi.  Surprisingly, not many details of Kunisada's life are recorded, aside from a few well-established events. He was born in 1786 in Honjo, a district of Edo, with the given name Sumida Shogoro IX. His family owned a fairly successful ferry-boat service, and he soon developed an artistic talent as he grew up. So impressive were his early sketches that he caught the eye of Toyokuni, great master of the Utagawa School, who soon took him on as an apprentice.  His skills and renown quickly grew, and he became head of the Utagawa School in 1825, where he would teach and design woodblock prints until his death in 1865, having achieved the largest collection of woodblock prints of any designer in 19th-century Japan.  ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
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Japan: 'Minakuchi: the actor Sawamura Chojuro V as Choemon', woodblock print by Utagawa Kunisada (1786-1865), c. 1852 - Utagawa Kunisada (1786 – January 12, 1865), also known as Utagawa Toyokuni III) was the most popular, prolific and financially successful designer of ukiyo-e woodblock prints in 19th-century Japan. In his own time, his reputation far exceeded that of his contemporaries, Hokusai, Hiroshige and Kuniyoshi.

Surprisingly, not many details of Kunisada's life are recorded, aside from a few well-established events. He was born in 1786 in Honjo, a district of Edo, with the given name Sumida Shogoro IX. His family owned a fairly successful ferry-boat service, and he soon developed an artistic talent as he grew up. So impressive were his early sketches that he caught the eye of Toyokuni, great master of the Utagawa School, who soon took him on as an apprentice.

His skills and renown quickly grew, and he became head of the Utagawa School in 1825, where he would teach and design woodblock prints until his death in 1865, having achieved the largest collection of woodblock prints of any designer in 19th-century Japan. ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
Turkey / Byzantium: Miniature from the 'Divine Comedy' of Justinian I (482-565), Eastern Roman emperor, recalling the history of the Roman Empire, by Giovanni di Paolo (1403-1482), mid-15th century - Justinian I (482-565), also known as Justinian the Great or Saint Justinian the Great, was the nephew of Emperor Justin I, originally born from a peasant family in Tauresium. Justin, before he became emperor, adopted Justinian and raised him in Constantinople. Justinian served in the Imperial Guard, the Excubitors, just as his uncle had, and was made associate emperor in 527 before becoming sole emperor when Justin died in the same year.  Justinian was ambitious and clever, and sought to revive the empire's greatness, planning the reconquest of the western half of the Roman Empire in what was known as renovatio imperii (restoration of the Empire). Justinian was hard-working and known as 'the emperor who never sleeps'. He nearly lost his throne during the Nika riots, and nearly lost his life during the Justinian Plague of the early 540s.  Justinian was a devout Christian and theologian, and his partial recovery of lost Roman territories led him to be called by some as one of the 'last Romans'. His uniform rewriting of Roman law, the Corpus Juris Civilis is perhaps his greatest legacy, which is still used as the basis of civil law in many modern nations. His restoration activities included the building of the Hagia Sophia. He died in 565 without an heir, succeeded by his nephew Justin II.  ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
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Turkey / Byzantium: Miniature from the 'Divine Comedy' of Justinian I (482-565), Eastern Roman emperor, recalling the history of the Roman Empire, by Giovanni di Paolo (1403-1482), mid-15th century - Justinian I (482-565), also known as Justinian the Great or Saint Justinian the Great, was the nephew of Emperor Justin I, originally born from a peasant family in Tauresium. Justin, before he became emperor, adopted Justinian and raised him in Constantinople. Justinian served in the Imperial Guard, the Excubitors, just as his uncle had, and was made associate emperor in 527 before becoming sole emperor when Justin died in the same year.

Justinian was ambitious and clever, and sought to revive the empire's greatness, planning the reconquest of the western half of the Roman Empire in what was known as renovatio imperii (restoration of the Empire). Justinian was hard-working and known as 'the emperor who never sleeps'. He nearly lost his throne during the Nika riots, and nearly lost his life during the Justinian Plague of the early 540s.

Justinian was a devout Christian and theologian, and his partial recovery of lost Roman territories led him to be called by some as one of the 'last Romans'. His uniform rewriting of Roman law, the Corpus Juris Civilis is perhaps his greatest legacy, which is still used as the basis of civil law in many modern nations. His restoration activities included the building of the Hagia Sophia. He died in 565 without an heir, succeeded by his nephew Justin II. ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
Italy: Icon of Crispus (299/305-326), Caesar of the Roman Empire and son of Constantine I, 57th Roman emperor, from the book Icones imperatorvm romanorvm (Icons of Roman Emperors), Antwerp, c. 1645 - Crispus (299/305-326) was the first-born son and initial heir to Emperor Constantine I and his first wife Minervina. When his father had to eventually put aside Minervina to marry Fausta for political reasons, he did not dismiss his son but continued to care for him and would have named Crispus his heir.  Crispus was declared as Caesar in 317, a prince of the empire, and was made commander of Gaul. He led many victorious military campaigns against the Alamanni and Franks, securing the Roman presence in Gaul and Germania. He also fought alongside his brother against the hostile Emperor Licinius, building upon his already illustrious reputation with even more outstanding victories. Crispus was loved by many, almost as admired and revered as Constantine himself.  However, in a shocking turn of events Crispus was executed on the orders of his father in 326. It is unknown what truly was the cause for such action, but the execution of Fausta only a few months later has led many historians to link the two, whether it be a conspiracy against Crispus by Fausta to ensure her own sons became heirs or, less likely, that there had been an illegitimate love affair between the two that Constantine had discovered. Either way, Crispus was killed and his name never mentioned again, deleted from all official documents and monuments.  ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
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Italy: Icon of Crispus (299/305-326), Caesar of the Roman Empire and son of Constantine I, 57th Roman emperor, from the book Icones imperatorvm romanorvm (Icons of Roman Emperors), Antwerp, c. 1645 - Crispus (299/305-326) was the first-born son and initial heir to Emperor Constantine I and his first wife Minervina. When his father had to eventually put aside Minervina to marry Fausta for political reasons, he did not dismiss his son but continued to care for him and would have named Crispus his heir.

Crispus was declared as Caesar in 317, a prince of the empire, and was made commander of Gaul. He led many victorious military campaigns against the Alamanni and Franks, securing the Roman presence in Gaul and Germania. He also fought alongside his brother against the hostile Emperor Licinius, building upon his already illustrious reputation with even more outstanding victories. Crispus was loved by many, almost as admired and revered as Constantine himself.

However, in a shocking turn of events Crispus was executed on the orders of his father in 326. It is unknown what truly was the cause for such action, but the execution of Fausta only a few months later has led many historians to link the two, whether it be a conspiracy against Crispus by Fausta to ensure her own sons became heirs or, less likely, that there had been an illegitimate love affair between the two that Constantine had discovered. Either way, Crispus was killed and his name never mentioned again, deleted from all official documents and monuments. ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works

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