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Italy: Icon of Didius Julianus (133-137), 20th Roman emperor, from the book Icones imperatorvm romanorvm (Icons of Roman Emperors), Antwerp, c. 1645 - Didius Julianus (133/137-193 CE) was raised by Domitia Lucilla, the mother of emperor Marcus Aurelius, and was groomed for public office and distinction. He served in the Roman army, and was raised to consulship alongside Pertinax in 175 CE for his successes against the Germanic tribes.  After the Praetorian Guard murdered Pertinax in March 193 CE, they put the imperial throne up for bidding, willing to sell it to whomever could pay the most. Julianus won the bidding war, and was declared as Caesar and emperor, with the Senate formalising the declaration under military threat. His controversial ascension immediately invoked widespread public anger and caused a civil war in protest, with multiple rival claimants to the throne rising up, causing the year to be known as the Year of the Five Emperors.  The Praetorian Guard had become an undisciplined and debauched lot by then, strangers to active military operations, and could not halt rival Septimius Severus' progress towards Rome, who was declared by all Italy as their rightful emperor. Eventually, Julianus was deserted by practically everyone of import, and he was executed after only nine weeks of rule.  ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
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Italy: Icon of Didius Julianus (133-137), 20th Roman emperor, from the book Icones imperatorvm romanorvm (Icons of Roman Emperors), Antwerp, c. 1645 - Didius Julianus (133/137-193 CE) was raised by Domitia Lucilla, the mother of emperor Marcus Aurelius, and was groomed for public office and distinction. He served in the Roman army, and was raised to consulship alongside Pertinax in 175 CE for his successes against the Germanic tribes.

After the Praetorian Guard murdered Pertinax in March 193 CE, they put the imperial throne up for bidding, willing to sell it to whomever could pay the most. Julianus won the bidding war, and was declared as Caesar and emperor, with the Senate formalising the declaration under military threat. His controversial ascension immediately invoked widespread public anger and caused a civil war in protest, with multiple rival claimants to the throne rising up, causing the year to be known as the Year of the Five Emperors.

The Praetorian Guard had become an undisciplined and debauched lot by then, strangers to active military operations, and could not halt rival Septimius Severus' progress towards Rome, who was declared by all Italy as their rightful emperor. Eventually, Julianus was deserted by practically everyone of import, and he was executed after only nine weeks of rule. ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
Italy: Icon of Honorius (384-423), 71st Western Roman emperor, from the book Icones imperatorvm romanorvm (Icons of Roman Emperors), Antwerp, c. 1645 - Honorius (384-423) was the second son of Emperor Theodosius I and younger brother to Eastern Emperor Arcadius. Honorius was made Augustus and co-ruler in 393 CE, aged 9. When his father died two years laters, Honorius was given the Western half of the Roman Empire, while Arcadius ruled the East. Young as he was, Honorius was mainly a figurehead for General Stilicho, who had been appointed his guardian and advisor by Theodosius before his death. Stilicho made Honorius marry his daughter Maria to strengthen their bonds.   Honorius' reign, which was weak and chaotic even by the standards of the rapidly declining Western Roman Empire, was marked by constant barbarian invasions and usurper uprisings. Stilicho defeated many of these threats and played an important role in holding the empire together, but the sudden execution of Stilicho on Honorius' orders in 408 CE paved the way for the empire's collapse, with many of Stilicho's troops defecting en masse to the banner of King Alaric I of the Visigoths.  Chaos and terror gripped the Western Roman Empire without Stilicho's guiding hand, entire swathes of the empire rising up in protest or lost. Rome itself had been sacked by Alaric in 410 CE, the first time in 800 years. Honorius died of edema in 423 CE without an heir, widely considered as one of the worst emperors in Roman history.  ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
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Italy: Icon of Honorius (384-423), 71st Western Roman emperor, from the book Icones imperatorvm romanorvm (Icons of Roman Emperors), Antwerp, c. 1645 - Honorius (384-423) was the second son of Emperor Theodosius I and younger brother to Eastern Emperor Arcadius. Honorius was made Augustus and co-ruler in 393 CE, aged 9. When his father died two years laters, Honorius was given the Western half of the Roman Empire, while Arcadius ruled the East. Young as he was, Honorius was mainly a figurehead for General Stilicho, who had been appointed his guardian and advisor by Theodosius before his death. Stilicho made Honorius marry his daughter Maria to strengthen their bonds.

Honorius' reign, which was weak and chaotic even by the standards of the rapidly declining Western Roman Empire, was marked by constant barbarian invasions and usurper uprisings. Stilicho defeated many of these threats and played an important role in holding the empire together, but the sudden execution of Stilicho on Honorius' orders in 408 CE paved the way for the empire's collapse, with many of Stilicho's troops defecting en masse to the banner of King Alaric I of the Visigoths.

Chaos and terror gripped the Western Roman Empire without Stilicho's guiding hand, entire swathes of the empire rising up in protest or lost. Rome itself had been sacked by Alaric in 410 CE, the first time in 800 years. Honorius died of edema in 423 CE without an heir, widely considered as one of the worst emperors in Roman history. ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
Italy: Icon of Pupienus (165/170-238), joint 30th Roman emperor, from the book Icones imperatorvm romanorvm (Icons of Roman Emperors), Antwerp, c. 1645 - Pupienus (165/170-238), also known as Pupienus Maximus, was a senator in the Roman Senate who had risen to power and influence through military success under the rule of the Severan dynasty. He served two terms as Consul, and became an important member of the Senate.  When Gordian I and his son were proclaimed Emperors in 238, the Senate immediately recognised them in defiance of Emperor Maximinus Thrax. Pupienus, an elderly man by then, was put on a committee to coordinate efforts to thwart Maximinus until the Gordians could arrive in Rome. The Gordians died less than a month after their declaration however, and the Senate became divided in how to act, ulltimately voting for Pupienus and Balbinus, another elderly senator, to be installed as co-emperors.  Some senators, and the people of Rome, had wanted Gordian III, grandson of Gordian I, to be declared emperor however, and civil unrest gripped the capital. It was not helped that Pupienus and Balbinus argued and quarrelled often, Balbinus constantly worrying that Pupienus was planning to supplant him. Only a few months into their rule, they were dragged naked through the streets by the Praetorian Guard, publicly humiliated, tortured and then executed.  ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
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Italy: Icon of Pupienus (165/170-238), joint 30th Roman emperor, from the book Icones imperatorvm romanorvm (Icons of Roman Emperors), Antwerp, c. 1645 - Pupienus (165/170-238), also known as Pupienus Maximus, was a senator in the Roman Senate who had risen to power and influence through military success under the rule of the Severan dynasty. He served two terms as Consul, and became an important member of the Senate.

When Gordian I and his son were proclaimed Emperors in 238, the Senate immediately recognised them in defiance of Emperor Maximinus Thrax. Pupienus, an elderly man by then, was put on a committee to coordinate efforts to thwart Maximinus until the Gordians could arrive in Rome. The Gordians died less than a month after their declaration however, and the Senate became divided in how to act, ulltimately voting for Pupienus and Balbinus, another elderly senator, to be installed as co-emperors.

Some senators, and the people of Rome, had wanted Gordian III, grandson of Gordian I, to be declared emperor however, and civil unrest gripped the capital. It was not helped that Pupienus and Balbinus argued and quarrelled often, Balbinus constantly worrying that Pupienus was planning to supplant him. Only a few months into their rule, they were dragged naked through the streets by the Praetorian Guard, publicly humiliated, tortured and then executed. ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
Italy: Icon of Carinus (-285), 49th Roman emperor, from the book Icones imperatorvm romanorvm (Icons of Roman Emperors), Antwerp, c. 1645 - Carinus (-285) was Emperor Carus' eldest son, and was appointed Caesar in the beginning of 283, made co-emperor of the western portion of the Roman Empire while his father and younger brother Numerian headest eastwards to fight the Sassanid Empire.  When his father died in mid-283, Carinus and Numerian became co-emperors of the Empire, with Carinus swiftly returning to Rome to celebrate his ascension. In 284, Numerian was found dead in his closed coach under mysterious circumstances, with Diocletian, commander of Numerian's bodyguards, claiming that Numerian had been assassinated. Diocletian was almost immediately proclaimed emperor by his soldiers, and Carinus was forced to march and face him.  The two armies clashed in 285, with differing accounts on what occurred. One acount claims that Carinus' forces were winning, but the emperor was assassinated by a jealous tribune whose wife Carinus had seduced. A more believable account claims that Diocletian's troops secured a complete victory, and Carinus' army deserted him, leading to either his death by murder or execution. Carinus posthumously gained a reputation as one of the Empire's worst emperors, a slandering possibly supported by newly crowned Diocletian himself.  ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
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Italy: Icon of Carinus (-285), 49th Roman emperor, from the book Icones imperatorvm romanorvm (Icons of Roman Emperors), Antwerp, c. 1645 - Carinus (-285) was Emperor Carus' eldest son, and was appointed Caesar in the beginning of 283, made co-emperor of the western portion of the Roman Empire while his father and younger brother Numerian headest eastwards to fight the Sassanid Empire.

When his father died in mid-283, Carinus and Numerian became co-emperors of the Empire, with Carinus swiftly returning to Rome to celebrate his ascension. In 284, Numerian was found dead in his closed coach under mysterious circumstances, with Diocletian, commander of Numerian's bodyguards, claiming that Numerian had been assassinated. Diocletian was almost immediately proclaimed emperor by his soldiers, and Carinus was forced to march and face him.

The two armies clashed in 285, with differing accounts on what occurred. One acount claims that Carinus' forces were winning, but the emperor was assassinated by a jealous tribune whose wife Carinus had seduced. A more believable account claims that Diocletian's troops secured a complete victory, and Carinus' army deserted him, leading to either his death by murder or execution. Carinus posthumously gained a reputation as one of the Empire's worst emperors, a slandering possibly supported by newly crowned Diocletian himself. ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
Italy: Portrait of Theodosius I (347-395), 69th Roman emperor, from the book 'Das Welttheater' by C. Strahlheim, Frankfurt (1836) - Theodosius I (347-395), also known as Theodosius the Great, was born into a military family in Hispania. He served with his father until his execution in 374 CE, after which Theodosius retired to Hispania until he was given the position of co-emperor by Emperor Gratian after Emperor Valens' death in 378 CE.  Theodosius ruled the East Roman Empire, and after Gratian himself was killed in 383 CE, appointed his son Arcadius as his co-ruler in the east while briefly acknowledging the usurper Magnus Maximus before agreeing to a marriage with Emperor Valentinian II's sister Galla and defeating Maximus in battle. He then appointed his trusted general Arbogast to watch and effectively rule over the young Valentinian II in the west, making Theodosius de facto ruler of both West and East.   Arbogast eventually killed Valentinian II and placed Eugenius as his puppet emperor in the west in 392 CE, forcing Theodosius to march against him, giving his son Honorius the title of co-emperor in the West instead. Eugenius and Arbogast were defeated in 394 CE, the latter executed while the former committed suicide, leaving Theodosius as the last sole emperor to truly rule over both halves of the Roman Empire. He eventually died in 395 CE from severe edema, leaving his sons ruling each half of the empire.  ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
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Italy: Portrait of Theodosius I (347-395), 69th Roman emperor, from the book 'Das Welttheater' by C. Strahlheim, Frankfurt (1836) - Theodosius I (347-395), also known as Theodosius the Great, was born into a military family in Hispania. He served with his father until his execution in 374 CE, after which Theodosius retired to Hispania until he was given the position of co-emperor by Emperor Gratian after Emperor Valens' death in 378 CE.

Theodosius ruled the East Roman Empire, and after Gratian himself was killed in 383 CE, appointed his son Arcadius as his co-ruler in the east while briefly acknowledging the usurper Magnus Maximus before agreeing to a marriage with Emperor Valentinian II's sister Galla and defeating Maximus in battle. He then appointed his trusted general Arbogast to watch and effectively rule over the young Valentinian II in the west, making Theodosius de facto ruler of both West and East.

Arbogast eventually killed Valentinian II and placed Eugenius as his puppet emperor in the west in 392 CE, forcing Theodosius to march against him, giving his son Honorius the title of co-emperor in the West instead. Eugenius and Arbogast were defeated in 394 CE, the latter executed while the former committed suicide, leaving Theodosius as the last sole emperor to truly rule over both halves of the Roman Empire. He eventually died in 395 CE from severe edema, leaving his sons ruling each half of the empire. ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
Italy: Illustration of Licinius (263-325), 58th Roman emperor, by Hubert Goltzius (1526-1583), c. 1557 - Licinius (263-325 CE) was born to a peasant family and was a close childhood friend of future emperor Galerius, becoming a close confidante to Galerius and entrusted with the eastern provinces when Galerius went to deal with the usurper Maxentius. Galerius elevated Licinius to co-emperor, Augustus in the West, in 308, though he personally had control over the eastern provinces.  After emperors Maxentius and Maximinus II formed an alliance, Licinius was forced to enter into a formal agreement with Constantine I, marrying his half-sister Flavia Julia Constantia. He fought against Maximinus' forces and finally killed him in 313, while Constantine had defeated Maxentius in 312.  The two divided the Roman Empire between them, but civil war soon erupted a year later in 314. The two emperors would constantly war against each other, then make peace before restarting conflict again for the next few years. Licinius was finally defeated for good in 324, with only the pleas of his wife, Constantine's sister, saving him. Licinius was then hanged a year later in 325, accused by Constantine of conspiring to stir revolt among the barbarians.  ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
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Italy: Illustration of Licinius (263-325), 58th Roman emperor, by Hubert Goltzius (1526-1583), c. 1557 - Licinius (263-325 CE) was born to a peasant family and was a close childhood friend of future emperor Galerius, becoming a close confidante to Galerius and entrusted with the eastern provinces when Galerius went to deal with the usurper Maxentius. Galerius elevated Licinius to co-emperor, Augustus in the West, in 308, though he personally had control over the eastern provinces.

After emperors Maxentius and Maximinus II formed an alliance, Licinius was forced to enter into a formal agreement with Constantine I, marrying his half-sister Flavia Julia Constantia. He fought against Maximinus' forces and finally killed him in 313, while Constantine had defeated Maxentius in 312.

The two divided the Roman Empire between them, but civil war soon erupted a year later in 314. The two emperors would constantly war against each other, then make peace before restarting conflict again for the next few years. Licinius was finally defeated for good in 324, with only the pleas of his wife, Constantine's sister, saving him. Licinius was then hanged a year later in 325, accused by Constantine of conspiring to stir revolt among the barbarians. ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
Italy: 'The Roman Emperor Valens (328-378) Pours Money into a Coffer; an Officer is Arrested and led to Prison', etching by Christoph Murer (1558-1614), early 17th century - Valens (328-378) was the brother of Valentinian, and lived in his brother's shadow for many years. When his brother was appointed emperor in 364 CE, he chose Valens to serve as co-emperor, obtaining the eastern provinces of the Roman Empire. Valens made Constantinople his capital.  Valens was soon presented with a usurper named Procopius in 365, a surviving relative of Emperor Julian who proclaimed himself emperor in Constantinople while Valens was away. He managed to defeat Procopius in the spring of 366, executing the usurper. He then warred against the revolting Goths, before heading back east to face the Sassanid Empire. A resurgent Gothic presence, alongside Huns and Alans, led to the commencement of the Gothic War, after an attempted resettlement of Goths had resulted in them revolting in 377.  Rather than wait for his nephew and co-emperor Gratian to arrive with reinforcements as advised by many, Valens marched out on his own. Valens was struck down during the decisive but avoidable Battle of Adrianople. He was known by some as the 'Last True Roman', and the battle that resulted in his death was considered the beginning of the collapse of the decaying Western Roman Empire.  ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
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Italy: 'The Roman Emperor Valens (328-378) Pours Money into a Coffer; an Officer is Arrested and led to Prison', etching by Christoph Murer (1558-1614), early 17th century - Valens (328-378) was the brother of Valentinian, and lived in his brother's shadow for many years. When his brother was appointed emperor in 364 CE, he chose Valens to serve as co-emperor, obtaining the eastern provinces of the Roman Empire. Valens made Constantinople his capital.

Valens was soon presented with a usurper named Procopius in 365, a surviving relative of Emperor Julian who proclaimed himself emperor in Constantinople while Valens was away. He managed to defeat Procopius in the spring of 366, executing the usurper. He then warred against the revolting Goths, before heading back east to face the Sassanid Empire. A resurgent Gothic presence, alongside Huns and Alans, led to the commencement of the Gothic War, after an attempted resettlement of Goths had resulted in them revolting in 377.

Rather than wait for his nephew and co-emperor Gratian to arrive with reinforcements as advised by many, Valens marched out on his own. Valens was struck down during the decisive but avoidable Battle of Adrianople. He was known by some as the 'Last True Roman', and the battle that resulted in his death was considered the beginning of the collapse of the decaying Western Roman Empire. ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
France: Portrait of Voltaire (1694-1778), French philosopher and writer, engraving by Jean-Michel Moreau (1741-1814), 1846 - 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 by Jean-Michel Moreau (1741-1814), 1846 - 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
Italy: Icon of Maximian (250-310), 52nd Roman emperor, from the book Icones imperatorvm romanorvm (Icons of Roman Emperors), Antwerp, c. 1645 - Maximian (250-310) was born in the province of Pannonia to a family of shopkeepers, and joined the army as soon as he could, serving alongside future co-emperor Diocletian under emperors Aurelian, Probus and Carus. After Diocletian became emperor in 284, Maximian was soon appointed co-emperor in 286, matching Maximian's military brawn with Diocletian's political brain.  Maximian spent most of his time on campaign, fighting against the Germanic tribes along the Rhine frontier and in Gaul. When the man Maximian had appointed to govern the Channel shores, Carausius, rebelled in 286 and seceeded Britain and northwestern Gaul from the Roman Empire, Maximian tried but failed to oust Carausius. The rebellion was eventually crushed in 296, and Maximian moved south to fight pirates near Hispania.  He eventually returned to Italy in 298, living in comfort until he abdicated in 305 alongside Diocletian, handing power to the other two co-emperors of the Tetrachy, Constantius and Galerius, and retiring to southern Italy. Maximian returned to power in 306 when he aided his son Maxentius' rebellion. He later tried to depose his son but failed, fleeing to the court of Constantius' successor, Constantine. He was forced to renounce his title by Diocletian and Galerius, and he committed suicide in 310 after a failed attempt to usurp Constantine's title.  ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
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Italy: Icon of Maximian (250-310), 52nd Roman emperor, from the book Icones imperatorvm romanorvm (Icons of Roman Emperors), Antwerp, c. 1645 - Maximian (250-310) was born in the province of Pannonia to a family of shopkeepers, and joined the army as soon as he could, serving alongside future co-emperor Diocletian under emperors Aurelian, Probus and Carus. After Diocletian became emperor in 284, Maximian was soon appointed co-emperor in 286, matching Maximian's military brawn with Diocletian's political brain.

Maximian spent most of his time on campaign, fighting against the Germanic tribes along the Rhine frontier and in Gaul. When the man Maximian had appointed to govern the Channel shores, Carausius, rebelled in 286 and seceeded Britain and northwestern Gaul from the Roman Empire, Maximian tried but failed to oust Carausius. The rebellion was eventually crushed in 296, and Maximian moved south to fight pirates near Hispania.

He eventually returned to Italy in 298, living in comfort until he abdicated in 305 alongside Diocletian, handing power to the other two co-emperors of the Tetrachy, Constantius and Galerius, and retiring to southern Italy. Maximian returned to power in 306 when he aided his son Maxentius' rebellion. He later tried to depose his son but failed, fleeing to the court of Constantius' successor, Constantine. He was forced to renounce his title by Diocletian and Galerius, and he committed suicide in 310 after a failed attempt to usurp Constantine's title. ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
Italy: Icon of Elagabalus (203-222 CE), 25th Roman emperor, from the book Icones imperatorvm romanorvm (Icons of Roman Emperors), Antwerp, c. 1645 - Elagabalus (203-222), also known as Heliogabalus, was a Syrian and a member of the Severan dynasty. Elagabalus was the grandson of Julia Maesa and cousin to Emperor Caracalla. When Caracalla was assassinated in 217, Julia Maesa instigated a revolt against his killer and successor, Macrinus, championing for Elagabalus to be declared emperor. Macrinus was defeated and executed in 218, and Elagabalus was proclaimed emperor at barely 14 years old.  His reign was notorious for its numerous religious controversies and sex scandals, with Elagabalus showing a marked disregard for traditional Roman religious and sexual values. He was said to have been married as many as five times, had many male lovers, and was even reported to have prostituted himself in the imperial palace. He developed a reputation for extreme decadence, eccentricity and zealotry to the god he was named after, Elagabalus, and whom he declared the new head of the Roman pantheon.  His actions and behaviour estranged both commoner and Praetorian Guard, and after four years of rule, Elagabalus was assassinated in 222 at the age of 18. The plot was orchestrated by Julia Maesa, the same grandmother that had placed him on the throne, and carried out by the Praetorian Guard, with his cousin Severus Alexander replacing him as emperor. Elagabalus developed one of the worst reputations among Roman emperors in history.  ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
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Italy: Icon of Elagabalus (203-222 CE), 25th Roman emperor, from the book Icones imperatorvm romanorvm (Icons of Roman Emperors), Antwerp, c. 1645 - Elagabalus (203-222), also known as Heliogabalus, was a Syrian and a member of the Severan dynasty. Elagabalus was the grandson of Julia Maesa and cousin to Emperor Caracalla. When Caracalla was assassinated in 217, Julia Maesa instigated a revolt against his killer and successor, Macrinus, championing for Elagabalus to be declared emperor. Macrinus was defeated and executed in 218, and Elagabalus was proclaimed emperor at barely 14 years old.

His reign was notorious for its numerous religious controversies and sex scandals, with Elagabalus showing a marked disregard for traditional Roman religious and sexual values. He was said to have been married as many as five times, had many male lovers, and was even reported to have prostituted himself in the imperial palace. He developed a reputation for extreme decadence, eccentricity and zealotry to the god he was named after, Elagabalus, and whom he declared the new head of the Roman pantheon.

His actions and behaviour estranged both commoner and Praetorian Guard, and after four years of rule, Elagabalus was assassinated in 222 at the age of 18. The plot was orchestrated by Julia Maesa, the same grandmother that had placed him on the throne, and carried out by the Praetorian Guard, with his cousin Severus Alexander replacing him as emperor. Elagabalus developed one of the worst reputations among Roman emperors in history. ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
Italy: Icon of Trajan Decius (201-251 CE), 34th Roman emperor, from the book Icones imperatorvm romanorvm (Icons of Roman Emperors), Antwerp, c. 1645 - Trajan Decius (201-251 CE) was a distinguished senator and governor in the Roman Empire. When revolts and uprisings began occurring throughout the Empire in the last years of Philip the Arab's reign, Decius was sent to quell a revolt in the Balkan provinces of Moesia and Pannonia. After defeating the revolt, Decius was proclaimed Emperor by his troops, and he fought against and killed Philip in 249 CE, entering Rome and being recognised as Emperor by the Roman Senate.  As Emperor, Decius focused on defeating external threats to the Empire, as well as restoring public piety and strengthening the State religion, which involved the persecution of Christians as well as an Imperial edict declaring all citizens make a sacrifice for the Emperor and Empire every year on a certain day.  A renewed incursion by the Goths forced Decius to march and confront them in battle, alongside his son and co-emperor, Herennius Etruscus. During the decisive Battle of Abritus, Etruscus was killed early on by an arrow, and Decius was himself later killed on the field of battle, when his entire army was entangled and annihilated in a swamp. Decius and his son were the first two Roman Emperors to be officially recorded dying in battle against a foreign enemy, with Gordian III's manner of death still debated.  ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
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Italy: Icon of Trajan Decius (201-251 CE), 34th Roman emperor, from the book Icones imperatorvm romanorvm (Icons of Roman Emperors), Antwerp, c. 1645 - Trajan Decius (201-251 CE) was a distinguished senator and governor in the Roman Empire. When revolts and uprisings began occurring throughout the Empire in the last years of Philip the Arab's reign, Decius was sent to quell a revolt in the Balkan provinces of Moesia and Pannonia. After defeating the revolt, Decius was proclaimed Emperor by his troops, and he fought against and killed Philip in 249 CE, entering Rome and being recognised as Emperor by the Roman Senate.

As Emperor, Decius focused on defeating external threats to the Empire, as well as restoring public piety and strengthening the State religion, which involved the persecution of Christians as well as an Imperial edict declaring all citizens make a sacrifice for the Emperor and Empire every year on a certain day.

A renewed incursion by the Goths forced Decius to march and confront them in battle, alongside his son and co-emperor, Herennius Etruscus. During the decisive Battle of Abritus, Etruscus was killed early on by an arrow, and Decius was himself later killed on the field of battle, when his entire army was entangled and annihilated in a swamp. Decius and his son were the first two Roman Emperors to be officially recorded dying in battle against a foreign enemy, with Gordian III's manner of death still debated. ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
Italy: Icon of Severus II (-307), 55th Roman emperor, from the book Icones imperatorvm romanorvm (Icons of Roman Emperors), Antwerp, c. 1645 - Severus II (-307), full name Flavius Valerius Severus, was of humble birth from Illyria, but he managed to rise and become a senior officer in the Roman army. He was an old friend of Emperor Galerius, and the emperor ordered Severus be appointed as Caesar of the Western Roman Empire in 305, serving as deputy-emperor to Emperor Constantius I.  Severus was promoted to emperor in 306 after the death of Constantius, in opposition to the claims made by Constantius' soldiers that his son, Constantine I, was emperor. Severus was sent to deal with the usurper emperor Maxentius in Rome, marching towards Rome at the head of an army once commanded by former Emperor Maximian, Maxentius' father. Maxentius, fearing Severus' arrival, offered his father co-rule of the empire, which he accepted.  Therefore, when Severus arrived at the walls of Rome, his army deserted him for Maximian, forcing Severus to flee to Ravenna. Maximian offered him protection if he surrendered peacefully, which he did in 307. Nevertheless, Severus was still displayed as a captive and imprisoned at Tres Tabernae. When Galerius himself invaded Italy to defeat Maxentius and Maximian, Maxentius ordered Severus' execution, which occurred on 16 September 307.  ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
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Italy: Icon of Severus II (-307), 55th Roman emperor, from the book Icones imperatorvm romanorvm (Icons of Roman Emperors), Antwerp, c. 1645 - Severus II (-307), full name Flavius Valerius Severus, was of humble birth from Illyria, but he managed to rise and become a senior officer in the Roman army. He was an old friend of Emperor Galerius, and the emperor ordered Severus be appointed as Caesar of the Western Roman Empire in 305, serving as deputy-emperor to Emperor Constantius I.

Severus was promoted to emperor in 306 after the death of Constantius, in opposition to the claims made by Constantius' soldiers that his son, Constantine I, was emperor. Severus was sent to deal with the usurper emperor Maxentius in Rome, marching towards Rome at the head of an army once commanded by former Emperor Maximian, Maxentius' father. Maxentius, fearing Severus' arrival, offered his father co-rule of the empire, which he accepted.

Therefore, when Severus arrived at the walls of Rome, his army deserted him for Maximian, forcing Severus to flee to Ravenna. Maximian offered him protection if he surrendered peacefully, which he did in 307. Nevertheless, Severus was still displayed as a captive and imprisoned at Tres Tabernae. When Galerius himself invaded Italy to defeat Maxentius and Maximian, Maxentius ordered Severus' execution, which occurred on 16 September 307. ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
Italy: Julius Caesar (100-44 BCE), Perpetual Dictator of the Roman Republic, from the book Romanorvm imperatorvm effigies: elogijs ex diuersis scriptoribus per Thomam Treteru S. Mariae Transtyberim canonicum collectis, 1583 - Born Gaius Julius Caesar (100-44 BCE), Julius Caesar was one the most infamous figures in history. A Roman politican, general and author, he played a critical role in the fall of the Roman Republic and paved the way for the rise of the Roman Empire. His political alliance alongside Crassus and Pompey, first formed in 60 BCE, would dominate Roman politics for many years. His victories in the Gallic Wars extended the Republic's territories all the way to the English Channel and the Rhine, and he became the first Roman general to build a bridge across the Rhine, as well as starting the invasion of Britain.  With these achievements under his belt, he amassed unmatched military power to himself, soon eclipsing his political ally Pompey. The Senate, also fearful of his growing power, demanded he step down from military command and return to Rome, which he refused, and marked his defiance by crossing the Rubicon with a legion in 49 BCE, illegally entering Roman Italy with an army and causing a civil war that he quickly crushed.  Taking control of the government, Caesar began implementing various social and political changes, declaring himself 'dictator in perpetuity'. The Senate still held much contempt for him however, and during the Ides of March (15 March) 44 BCE, Caesar was assassinated by a conspiracy of rebellious senators led by former friend and ally, Marcus Junius Brutus. A new string of civil wars ensued, ultimately concluding with Julius Caesar's adopted heir, Octavian, emerging victorious and becoming emperor.  ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
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Italy: Julius Caesar (100-44 BCE), Perpetual Dictator of the Roman Republic, from the book Romanorvm imperatorvm effigies: elogijs ex diuersis scriptoribus per Thomam Treteru S. Mariae Transtyberim canonicum collectis, 1583 - Born Gaius Julius Caesar (100-44 BCE), Julius Caesar was one the most infamous figures in history. A Roman politican, general and author, he played a critical role in the fall of the Roman Republic and paved the way for the rise of the Roman Empire. His political alliance alongside Crassus and Pompey, first formed in 60 BCE, would dominate Roman politics for many years. His victories in the Gallic Wars extended the Republic's territories all the way to the English Channel and the Rhine, and he became the first Roman general to build a bridge across the Rhine, as well as starting the invasion of Britain.

With these achievements under his belt, he amassed unmatched military power to himself, soon eclipsing his political ally Pompey. The Senate, also fearful of his growing power, demanded he step down from military command and return to Rome, which he refused, and marked his defiance by crossing the Rubicon with a legion in 49 BCE, illegally entering Roman Italy with an army and causing a civil war that he quickly crushed.

Taking control of the government, Caesar began implementing various social and political changes, declaring himself 'dictator in perpetuity'. The Senate still held much contempt for him however, and during the Ides of March (15 March) 44 BCE, Caesar was assassinated by a conspiracy of rebellious senators led by former friend and ally, Marcus Junius Brutus. A new string of civil wars ensued, ultimately concluding with Julius Caesar's adopted heir, Octavian, emerging victorious and becoming emperor. ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
Italy: Augustus Caesar (63 BCE-14 CE), 1st Roman Emperor, from the book Romanorvm imperatorvm effigies: elogijs ex diuersis scriptoribus per Thomam Treteru S. Mariae Transtyberim canonicum collectis, 1583 - Born Gaius Octavius, his maternal great-uncle Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 BCE, and Octavius, now calling himself Octavian, was named in Caesar's will as his adopted son and heir. He, Mark Antony, and Marcus Lepidus formed the Second Triumvirate to defeat the assassins of Caesar. Following their victory at Philippi, the Triumvirate divided the Roman Republic among themselves and ruled as military dictators. Competing ambitions eventually tore the Triumvirate apart and engulfed the Republic into another civil war. Lepidus was driven into exile and stripped of his position, while Antony committed suicide following his defeat at the Battle of Actium by Octavian in 31 BCE.  Following the fall of the Second Triumvirate, Octavian, renamed Augustus, restored the facade of the free Republic, with governmental power vested in the Roman Senate. In reality, however, he still possessed autocratic power over the Republic as a military dictator. Lawfully, Augustus had powers granted to him for life by the Senate, including supreme military command. After several years, Augustus reformed the republican state into one under his sole rule. Rejecting monarchical titles, he instead declared himself Princeps Civitatis ('First Citizen of the State'). The resulting constitutional framework was known as the Principate, the first phase of the Roman Empire.  The reign of Augustus initiated an era of relative peace known as the Pax Romana (The Roman Peace). The Roman world was largely free from large-scale conflict for more than two centuries, though there were continuous wars of imperial expansion on the Empire's frontiers. Augustus dramatically enlarged the Empire through annexation of Egypt, Dalmatia, Pannonia, Noricum, and Raetia, as well as expanding possessions in Africa, Germania and Hispania.  ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
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Italy: Augustus Caesar (63 BCE-14 CE), 1st Roman Emperor, from the book Romanorvm imperatorvm effigies: elogijs ex diuersis scriptoribus per Thomam Treteru S. Mariae Transtyberim canonicum collectis, 1583 - Born Gaius Octavius, his maternal great-uncle Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 BCE, and Octavius, now calling himself Octavian, was named in Caesar's will as his adopted son and heir. He, Mark Antony, and Marcus Lepidus formed the Second Triumvirate to defeat the assassins of Caesar. Following their victory at Philippi, the Triumvirate divided the Roman Republic among themselves and ruled as military dictators. Competing ambitions eventually tore the Triumvirate apart and engulfed the Republic into another civil war. Lepidus was driven into exile and stripped of his position, while Antony committed suicide following his defeat at the Battle of Actium by Octavian in 31 BCE.

Following the fall of the Second Triumvirate, Octavian, renamed Augustus, restored the facade of the free Republic, with governmental power vested in the Roman Senate. In reality, however, he still possessed autocratic power over the Republic as a military dictator. Lawfully, Augustus had powers granted to him for life by the Senate, including supreme military command. After several years, Augustus reformed the republican state into one under his sole rule. Rejecting monarchical titles, he instead declared himself Princeps Civitatis ('First Citizen of the State'). The resulting constitutional framework was known as the Principate, the first phase of the Roman Empire.

The reign of Augustus initiated an era of relative peace known as the Pax Romana (The Roman Peace). The Roman world was largely free from large-scale conflict for more than two centuries, though there were continuous wars of imperial expansion on the Empire's frontiers. Augustus dramatically enlarged the Empire through annexation of Egypt, Dalmatia, Pannonia, Noricum, and Raetia, as well as expanding possessions in Africa, Germania and Hispania. ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
Italy: Tiberius Caesar (42 BCE-37 CE), 2nd Roman emperor, from the book Romanorvm imperatorvm effigies: elogijs ex diuersis scriptoribus per Thomam Treteru S. Mariae Transtyberim canonicum collectis, 1583 - Born Tiberius Claudius Nero, son of Tiberius Claudius Nero and Livia Drusilla, he became step-son of Octavian (later to become Augustus, first emperor of Rome) after his mother was forced to divorce Nero and marry him.  Tiberius would eventually marry Augustus' daughter from his previous marriage, Julia the Elder, and later be adopted by Augustus, officially becoming a Julian, bearing the name Tiberius Julius Caesar.  In relations to the other emperors of this dynasty, Tiberius was the stepson of Augustus, grand-uncle of Caligula, paternal uncle of Claudius, and great-grand uncle of Nero.  Tiberius was one of Rome's greatest generals, with his conquest of Pannonia, Dalmatia, Raetia, and temporarily, parts of Germania, creating the foundations for the empire's northern frontier. However, he came to be known as a dark, reclusive, and sombre ruler who never really desired to be emperor; Pliny the Elder called him tristissimus hominum, 'the gloomiest of men'.  ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
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Italy: Tiberius Caesar (42 BCE-37 CE), 2nd Roman emperor, from the book Romanorvm imperatorvm effigies: elogijs ex diuersis scriptoribus per Thomam Treteru S. Mariae Transtyberim canonicum collectis, 1583 - Born Tiberius Claudius Nero, son of Tiberius Claudius Nero and Livia Drusilla, he became step-son of Octavian (later to become Augustus, first emperor of Rome) after his mother was forced to divorce Nero and marry him.

Tiberius would eventually marry Augustus' daughter from his previous marriage, Julia the Elder, and later be adopted by Augustus, officially becoming a Julian, bearing the name Tiberius Julius Caesar.

In relations to the other emperors of this dynasty, Tiberius was the stepson of Augustus, grand-uncle of Caligula, paternal uncle of Claudius, and great-grand uncle of Nero.

Tiberius was one of Rome's greatest generals, with his conquest of Pannonia, Dalmatia, Raetia, and temporarily, parts of Germania, creating the foundations for the empire's northern frontier. However, he came to be known as a dark, reclusive, and sombre ruler who never really desired to be emperor; Pliny the Elder called him tristissimus hominum, 'the gloomiest of men'. ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
Italy: Caligula Caesar (12-41 CE), 3rd Roman emperor, from the book Romanorvm imperatorvm effigies: elogijs ex diuersis scriptoribus per Thomam Treteru S. Mariae Transtyberim canonicum collectis, 1583 - Born Gaius Julius Caesar Germanicus, Caligula was the nephew and adopted son of Emperor Tiberius, making him part of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. He earned the nickname 'Caligula' (little solder's boot) while accompanying his father, Germanicus, during his campaigns in Germania.  His mother, Agrippina the Elder, became entangled in a deadly feud with Emperor Tiberius that resulted in the destruction of her family and leaving Caligula the sole male survivor. After Tiberius' death in 37 CE, Caligula succeeded his grand uncle as emperor. Surviving sources of his reign are few and far between, but he is often described as initially being a noble and moderate ruler before descending into tyranny, cruelty, sadism, extravagance and sexual perversity.  Caligula was eventually assassinated in 41 CE by a conspiracy of courtiers, senators and officers within his own Praetorian Guard, who murdered him and his family. Attempts by some of the conspirators to re-establish the Roman Republic were thwarted when the Praetorian Guard immediately decalared Caligula's uncle, Claudius, the new emperor.  ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
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Italy: Caligula Caesar (12-41 CE), 3rd Roman emperor, from the book Romanorvm imperatorvm effigies: elogijs ex diuersis scriptoribus per Thomam Treteru S. Mariae Transtyberim canonicum collectis, 1583 - Born Gaius Julius Caesar Germanicus, Caligula was the nephew and adopted son of Emperor Tiberius, making him part of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. He earned the nickname 'Caligula' (little solder's boot) while accompanying his father, Germanicus, during his campaigns in Germania.

His mother, Agrippina the Elder, became entangled in a deadly feud with Emperor Tiberius that resulted in the destruction of her family and leaving Caligula the sole male survivor. After Tiberius' death in 37 CE, Caligula succeeded his grand uncle as emperor. Surviving sources of his reign are few and far between, but he is often described as initially being a noble and moderate ruler before descending into tyranny, cruelty, sadism, extravagance and sexual perversity.

Caligula was eventually assassinated in 41 CE by a conspiracy of courtiers, senators and officers within his own Praetorian Guard, who murdered him and his family. Attempts by some of the conspirators to re-establish the Roman Republic were thwarted when the Praetorian Guard immediately decalared Caligula's uncle, Claudius, the new emperor. ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
Italy: Claudius Caesar (10 BCE-54 CE), 4th Roman emperor, from the book Romanorvm imperatorvm effigies: elogijs ex diuersis scriptoribus per Thomam Treteru S. Mariae Transtyberim canonicum collectis, 1583 - 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: Claudius Caesar (10 BCE-54 CE), 4th Roman emperor, from the book Romanorvm imperatorvm effigies: elogijs ex diuersis scriptoribus per Thomam Treteru S. Mariae Transtyberim canonicum collectis, 1583 - 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
Italy: Nero Caesar (37-68 CE), 5th Roman Emperor, from the book Romanorvm imperatorvm effigies: elogijs ex diuersis scriptoribus per Thomam Treteru S. Mariae Transtyberim canonicum collectis, 1583 - Born Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, Nero was the only son of Agrippina the Younger, who would later marry his great-uncle Emperor Claudius. Claudius adopted Nero and was made heir and successor alongside Claudius' own son Brittanicus. Nero acceded to the throne after Claudius' death in 54 CE, possibly poisoned at the hands of Nero's mother.  Nero's reign is infamous for his corruption, tyranny and extravagance, as well as his many executions, including that of his mother and the poisoning of his stepbrother Britannicus soon after the start of his rule. His most infamous mark on history however, is his presumed starting of the Great Fire of Rome in 64 CE, which caused widespread destruction and was intentionally done to clear space for Nero's planned palatial complex, the Domus Aurea.  In 68 CE, Nero was driven from the throne by rebellion, and he committed suicide that same year. With his death came the the end of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, leading to the tumultuous period known as the Year of the Four Emperors.  ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
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Italy: Nero Caesar (37-68 CE), 5th Roman Emperor, from the book Romanorvm imperatorvm effigies: elogijs ex diuersis scriptoribus per Thomam Treteru S. Mariae Transtyberim canonicum collectis, 1583 - Born Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, Nero was the only son of Agrippina the Younger, who would later marry his great-uncle Emperor Claudius. Claudius adopted Nero and was made heir and successor alongside Claudius' own son Brittanicus. Nero acceded to the throne after Claudius' death in 54 CE, possibly poisoned at the hands of Nero's mother.

Nero's reign is infamous for his corruption, tyranny and extravagance, as well as his many executions, including that of his mother and the poisoning of his stepbrother Britannicus soon after the start of his rule. His most infamous mark on history however, is his presumed starting of the Great Fire of Rome in 64 CE, which caused widespread destruction and was intentionally done to clear space for Nero's planned palatial complex, the Domus Aurea.

In 68 CE, Nero was driven from the throne by rebellion, and he committed suicide that same year. With his death came the the end of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, leading to the tumultuous period known as the Year of the Four Emperors. ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
Italy: Galba (3 BCE-69 CE), 6th Roman emperor, from the book Romanorvm imperatorvm effigies: elogijs ex diuersis scriptoribus per Thomam Treteru S. Mariae Transtyberim canonicum collectis, 1583 - Born Servius Sulpicius Galba, Galba came from a noble and wealthy family, though he had no connection by birth and only a very remote connection by adoption to any of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Refusing encouragement by friends to make a bid for the empire after Caligula's assassination, Galba loyally served Claudius, and lived for most of Nero's reign in retirement.  However, in 68 CE, he was informed of Nero's intention to have him killed, and he defected from Nero to save himself. After Nero's suicide, Galba was named Caesar and killed many soldiers upon his approach to Rome for making demands of him.  Galba's reign lasted little more than seven months, his cruelty and sentencing of many to death without trial turning the people and especially the military and Praetorian guard against him. Many legions refused to swear loyalty and rebelled against Galba, and Galba was assassinated while riding out to confront them. His reign began what would be known as the tumultuous Year of the Four Emperors.  ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
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Italy: Galba (3 BCE-69 CE), 6th Roman emperor, from the book Romanorvm imperatorvm effigies: elogijs ex diuersis scriptoribus per Thomam Treteru S. Mariae Transtyberim canonicum collectis, 1583 - Born Servius Sulpicius Galba, Galba came from a noble and wealthy family, though he had no connection by birth and only a very remote connection by adoption to any of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Refusing encouragement by friends to make a bid for the empire after Caligula's assassination, Galba loyally served Claudius, and lived for most of Nero's reign in retirement.

However, in 68 CE, he was informed of Nero's intention to have him killed, and he defected from Nero to save himself. After Nero's suicide, Galba was named Caesar and killed many soldiers upon his approach to Rome for making demands of him.

Galba's reign lasted little more than seven months, his cruelty and sentencing of many to death without trial turning the people and especially the military and Praetorian guard against him. Many legions refused to swear loyalty and rebelled against Galba, and Galba was assassinated while riding out to confront them. His reign began what would be known as the tumultuous Year of the Four Emperors. ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
Italy: Otho (32-69 CE), 7th Roman emperor, from the book Romanorvm imperatorvm effigies: elogijs ex diuersis scriptoribus per Thomam Treteru S. Mariae Transtyberim canonicum collectis, 1583 - Born to a noble and ancient Etruscan lineage, Otho was one of the young nobles of Nero's court, said to be overly extravagant and reckless. His close friendship with Nero crumbled when his wife began an affair with the emperor and eventually divorced Otho, having Nero send Otho away to govern the distant province of Lusitania, where he would remain for ten years.  Otho followed Galba in his revolt against Nero, but his own personal ambitions led him to betray and overthrow Emperor Galba, purchasing the services of the Praetorian Guard and killing Galba. Otho was declared emperor, but his reign would be even briefer than Galba's.  Inheriting a revolution from Galba, Otho was forced to war against rival claimant to the throne Vitellius. After some of his army was defeated by the Vitellians, Otho decided to commit suicide rather than cause more deaths, even though he still had a substantial force willing to fight for him. He was only emperor for three months, and was the second emperor during the tumultuous Year of the Four Emperors.  ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
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Italy: Otho (32-69 CE), 7th Roman emperor, from the book Romanorvm imperatorvm effigies: elogijs ex diuersis scriptoribus per Thomam Treteru S. Mariae Transtyberim canonicum collectis, 1583 - Born to a noble and ancient Etruscan lineage, Otho was one of the young nobles of Nero's court, said to be overly extravagant and reckless. His close friendship with Nero crumbled when his wife began an affair with the emperor and eventually divorced Otho, having Nero send Otho away to govern the distant province of Lusitania, where he would remain for ten years.

Otho followed Galba in his revolt against Nero, but his own personal ambitions led him to betray and overthrow Emperor Galba, purchasing the services of the Praetorian Guard and killing Galba. Otho was declared emperor, but his reign would be even briefer than Galba's.

Inheriting a revolution from Galba, Otho was forced to war against rival claimant to the throne Vitellius. After some of his army was defeated by the Vitellians, Otho decided to commit suicide rather than cause more deaths, even though he still had a substantial force willing to fight for him. He was only emperor for three months, and was the second emperor during the tumultuous Year of the Four Emperors. ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
Turkey / Byzantium: Icon of Heraclius (575-641), Byzantine emperor, from the book Icones imperatorvm romanorvm (Icons of Roman Emperors), Antwerp, c. 1645 - Heraclius (575-641) was son of Heraclius the Elder, exarch of Africa, who led a revolt against the usurper emperor Phocas, deposing him in 610. Heraclius became emperor and was immediately forced to deal with multiple threats on many frontiers.  One of the main frontiers was the Byzantine-Sassanid War of 602-628 against King Khosrau II and the Sassanid Empire. The Sassanids managed to fight all the way to the walls of Constantinople before failing to penetrate them, allowing Heraclius to counter-attack and drive them all the way back to the capital of Ctesiphon. Khosrau was executed by his son Kavadh II, and a peace treaty was agreed to. The Sassanid Empire soon fell to the Muslim conquests, another threat Heraclius had to deal with.  Heraclius was credited for making Greek the Byzantine Empire's official language, as well as for his enlarging of the empire and his reorganisation of government and military. Though his attempts at religious harmony failed, he was successful in returning the True Cross to Jerusalem.  ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
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Turkey / Byzantium: Icon of Heraclius (575-641), Byzantine emperor, from the book Icones imperatorvm romanorvm (Icons of Roman Emperors), Antwerp, c. 1645 - Heraclius (575-641) was son of Heraclius the Elder, exarch of Africa, who led a revolt against the usurper emperor Phocas, deposing him in 610. Heraclius became emperor and was immediately forced to deal with multiple threats on many frontiers.

One of the main frontiers was the Byzantine-Sassanid War of 602-628 against King Khosrau II and the Sassanid Empire. The Sassanids managed to fight all the way to the walls of Constantinople before failing to penetrate them, allowing Heraclius to counter-attack and drive them all the way back to the capital of Ctesiphon. Khosrau was executed by his son Kavadh II, and a peace treaty was agreed to. The Sassanid Empire soon fell to the Muslim conquests, another threat Heraclius had to deal with.

Heraclius was credited for making Greek the Byzantine Empire's official language, as well as for his enlarging of the empire and his reorganisation of government and military. Though his attempts at religious harmony failed, he was successful in returning the True Cross to Jerusalem. ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
Italy: Icon of Gallienus (218-268), 41st Roman emperor, from the book Icones imperatorvm romanorvm (Icons of Roman Emperors), Antwerp, c. 1645 - Gallienus (218-268) was the son of Emperor Valerian, and initially served as co-emperor alongside his father in 253, dividing the Roman Empire between them. While Valerian dealt with the East, Gallienus was tasked with dealing with the Germanic tribes of the West.   After Valerian's defeat and capture at the Battle of Edessa by the Sassanid Empire in 260, Gallienus became sole emperor and had to contend with multiple uprisings and revolts by various governors declaring themselves emperor. One of the most severe revolts Gallienus faced was by General Postumus in the west, who claimed the provinces of Britain and Spain, as well as large swathes of Germania and Gaul, forming the Gallic Empire.  Gallienus was eventually murdered by his own officials in 268 while besieging Milan in a fight against yet another revolt. His inability to defeat the Gallic Empire and retake Gaul would leave him with an unfavourable reputation by historians, while his military reforms and limits on senate power would become important for future emperors.  ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
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Italy: Icon of Gallienus (218-268), 41st Roman emperor, from the book Icones imperatorvm romanorvm (Icons of Roman Emperors), Antwerp, c. 1645 - Gallienus (218-268) was the son of Emperor Valerian, and initially served as co-emperor alongside his father in 253, dividing the Roman Empire between them. While Valerian dealt with the East, Gallienus was tasked with dealing with the Germanic tribes of the West.

After Valerian's defeat and capture at the Battle of Edessa by the Sassanid Empire in 260, Gallienus became sole emperor and had to contend with multiple uprisings and revolts by various governors declaring themselves emperor. One of the most severe revolts Gallienus faced was by General Postumus in the west, who claimed the provinces of Britain and Spain, as well as large swathes of Germania and Gaul, forming the Gallic Empire.

Gallienus was eventually murdered by his own officials in 268 while besieging Milan in a fight against yet another revolt. His inability to defeat the Gallic Empire and retake Gaul would leave him with an unfavourable reputation by historians, while his military reforms and limits on senate power would become important for future emperors. ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
Italy: Icon of Clodius Albinus (150-197), usurper emperor, from the book Icones imperatorvm romanorvm (Icons of Roman Emperors), Antwerp, c. 1645 - Clodius Albinus (150-197) was born in Africa Province (modern day Tunisia) to an aristocratic Roman family. He joined the army at a young age and served with distinction under Emperors Marcus Aurelius and Commodus. After the assassination of Emperor Pertinax and the auctioning of the imperial throne to senator Didius Julianus in 193, Albinus was proclaimed emperor by the armies in Britain and Gaul.  In the civil war that followed, which would be known as the Year of the Five Emperors, Albinus initially allied himself with fellow claimant Septimius Severus, who had captured Rome, with the two sharing a consulship in 194 and Severus giving the title of Caesar to Albinus. By the the year 196, Severus had already removed the other emperors, and turned his eye on Albinus, wishing to be undisputed master of the Roman Empire.  Albinus formally proclaimed himself emperor in 196, and went on the offensive. On 19 February 197, the armies of the two emperors clashed at the Battle of Lugdunum. Though it was hard-fought, Albinus was defeated and either killed himself or was executed on Severus' orders. In a final act of humiliation, Severus had Albinus' body laid out on the ground so that he could ride his horse over it.  ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
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Italy: Icon of Clodius Albinus (150-197), usurper emperor, from the book Icones imperatorvm romanorvm (Icons of Roman Emperors), Antwerp, c. 1645 - Clodius Albinus (150-197) was born in Africa Province (modern day Tunisia) to an aristocratic Roman family. He joined the army at a young age and served with distinction under Emperors Marcus Aurelius and Commodus. After the assassination of Emperor Pertinax and the auctioning of the imperial throne to senator Didius Julianus in 193, Albinus was proclaimed emperor by the armies in Britain and Gaul.

In the civil war that followed, which would be known as the Year of the Five Emperors, Albinus initially allied himself with fellow claimant Septimius Severus, who had captured Rome, with the two sharing a consulship in 194 and Severus giving the title of Caesar to Albinus. By the the year 196, Severus had already removed the other emperors, and turned his eye on Albinus, wishing to be undisputed master of the Roman Empire.

Albinus formally proclaimed himself emperor in 196, and went on the offensive. On 19 February 197, the armies of the two emperors clashed at the Battle of Lugdunum. Though it was hard-fought, Albinus was defeated and either killed himself or was executed on Severus' orders. In a final act of humiliation, Severus had Albinus' body laid out on the ground so that he could ride his horse over it. ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
Italy: Icon of Pescennius Niger (135/140-194), usurper emperor, from the book Icones imperatorvm romanorvm (Icons of Roman Emperors), Antwerp, c. 1645 - Pescennius Niger (135/140-194) was born into an old Italian equestrian family, and was the first member to become a Roman senator. He was appointed by Commodus to be imperial legate of Syria in 191, where he was serving when news came of the murder of Pertinax in 193 and the auctioning of the imperial throne to Didius Julianus.  Niger was a well regarded public figure, and the citizens of Rome called out for him to return to Rome and claim the title from Julianus. Consequently, the eastern legions proclaimed Niger as emperor in 193, the second emperor to claim the imperial title after Septimius Severus. The resulting chaos and civil war was known as the Year of the Five Emperors, with claimants all across the Roman Empire vying for the throne.  Niger and Severus fought in the east to see who would become undisputed emperor, though Niger was militarily outmatched and outnumbered. Severus offered Niger the chance to surrender and go into exile, but he refused, and was eventually captured in 194. He was beheaded, with his severed head travelling to Byzantium first in an attempt to cow the city into surrendering, before eventually arriving in Rome where it was displayed for all to see.  ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
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Italy: Icon of Pescennius Niger (135/140-194), usurper emperor, from the book Icones imperatorvm romanorvm (Icons of Roman Emperors), Antwerp, c. 1645 - Pescennius Niger (135/140-194) was born into an old Italian equestrian family, and was the first member to become a Roman senator. He was appointed by Commodus to be imperial legate of Syria in 191, where he was serving when news came of the murder of Pertinax in 193 and the auctioning of the imperial throne to Didius Julianus.

Niger was a well regarded public figure, and the citizens of Rome called out for him to return to Rome and claim the title from Julianus. Consequently, the eastern legions proclaimed Niger as emperor in 193, the second emperor to claim the imperial title after Septimius Severus. The resulting chaos and civil war was known as the Year of the Five Emperors, with claimants all across the Roman Empire vying for the throne.

Niger and Severus fought in the east to see who would become undisputed emperor, though Niger was militarily outmatched and outnumbered. Severus offered Niger the chance to surrender and go into exile, but he refused, and was eventually captured in 194. He was beheaded, with his severed head travelling to Byzantium first in an attempt to cow the city into surrendering, before eventually arriving in Rome where it was displayed for all to see. ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
Japan: Traditional crafts and trades of the 18th century from a hand-painted album by an anonymous artist. Folio 26: (left) - Hand-coloured illustration from a Japanese miscellany on traditional trades, crafts and customs in mid-18th century Japan, dated Meiwa Era (1764-1772) Year 6 (c. 1770 CE).  ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works
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Japan: Traditional crafts and trades of the 18th century from a hand-painted album by an anonymous artist. Folio 26: (left) - Hand-coloured illustration from a Japanese miscellany on traditional trades, crafts and customs in mid-18th century Japan, dated Meiwa Era (1764-1772) Year 6 (c. 1770 CE). ©Pictures From History/ The Image Works

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