[Dates of reigns follow emperors’ names.]

Julius Caesar (58-50 B.C., proconsul in Illyricum and the two Gauls; 49-44 B.C. dictator), although technically not an emperor, wielded supreme power in Rome through the 50’s and 40’s B.C.In addition to the more prominently recorded Gallic provinces, the third province awarded to Caesar in his proconsulate was Illyricum.Illyricum, a place name which is repeated constantly in the territory of the Roman Emperors Route, was for Caesar a region which stretched from the Adriatic to the Danube and onto the western shores of the Black Sea.Caesar visited Illyricum to settle administrative affairs in the 50’s, and his supporters the Adriatic coast fought off his rival Pompey’s forces in the Civil War.The colonies at Salona, near Split, and Narona at the mouth of the Neretva River, both RER sites, are monuments to his administration of the province.

The first emperor Augustus (31 B.C.-A.D. 14) campaigned in Illyricum in 33-32 BC and boasted in his memoirs that he had extended Roman rule from the Adriatic to the Danube.The RER sites at Pula and Zadar on the Adriatic coast are his colonial foundations.The cult of the Roman Emperors at another nearby RER site, Nin (Aenona), shows the loyalty of the indigenous peoples to the Emperor Augustus and his dynasty.

The future emperor Tiberius during the reign of Augustus completed the conquest of Illyricum in the late first century B.C. and early first century A.D.On the territory of the Roman Emperors Route the Roman provinces of Dalmatia and Pannonia are created.The RER site at Sremska Mitrovica (Sirmium) near the Danube frontier is incorporated into the Empire.

Tiberius (14-37), the successor of Augustus, was supervising military activities in Illyricum when Augustus died and was recalled to Rome to assume the purple.Late in his reign the Roman road through the Danube Iron Gates (RER Djerdap Region) was begun.This military road (via militaris) served to link the Roman forts along the frontier and also as a tow path for river traffic.

The Emperor Claudius (41-54), although he never visited the Danube region, made Moesia and Thrace Roman provinces in the 40’s A.D.During his reign Roman legions are moved up to garrison the Danube frontier, to RER sites at Viminacium and possibly Novae on the lower Danube.Repairs are made to the Via Militaris in the Danube Iron Gates (RER Djerdap Region).

Domitian (81-96) was the first Roman emperor to visit the Danube frontier in person.He led Roman troops there, including the elite Praetorian Guard, against the Dacian King Decebalus in the 80’s A.D.RER sites at Sirmium and Viminacium figure prominently as bases for his military operations.Moesia is divided into two provinces, upper and lower.

One of the greatest Roman emperors, Trajan (98-117) visited Pannonia and Moesia after his predecessor’s death in 98; he was presumably assessing logistics on the Danube frontiers for more punitive expeditions against the Dacians.Later, for the first Dacian War (101-102), his headquarters was probably at RER site Viminacium.The First Dacian War ended a peace treaty between Trajan and the Dacian King Decebalus.Later a second outbreak of Dacian raids on Roman territory occasioned the presence of the Emperor Trajan once again to command a massive military buildup and invasion of Dacia (modern Romania) north of the Danube.The Second Dacian War (105-106) resulted in the Roman annexation of Dacia and the creation of three new Roman provinces north of the Danube.In the aftermath of the war the victory monument at the RER site of Adamklissi (Tropaeum Traiani) was erected and the Roman colony at RER Colonia Ulpia at Sarmizegethusa was founded.

During the First Dacian War the future emperor Hadrian was on Trajan’s general staff and presumably was headquartered at RER Viminacium (Kostolac, Serbia) in Upper Moesia.Previous to this assignment he had commanded a legion in Lower Moesia stationed at RER Oescus (Gigen, Bulgaria) under the emperor Domitian.

The great Danube bridge crossing the river at Kostol (Pontes) to Turnu Severin (Drobeta) was built in the interval between the two Dacian wars; it was known as one of the engineering wonders of the ancient world.The design was by Trajan’s famous architect Apollodorus of Damascus; it is located in the RER Djerdap Region near Kladovo.

Hadrian again saw military service in command of a legion during the Second Dacian War.When Pannonia was divided into Upper and Lower Pannonia in 106, the future emperor Hadrian was the first governor of Lower Pannonia with his residence in the provincial capital at RER Sirmium.

As emperor Hadrian (117-138) is rumored to have dismantled the cross-Danube bridge for fear of another Dacian incursion.If he did so, it was only a temporary measure because the Dacian provinces north of the Danube would remain in the empire for more than a century and a half.Hadrian’s military policy of stabilizing the location of the legionary garrisons on the Danube frontier effectively created the long enduring tradition of the sons of these garrison families also serving in the Roman armies and eventually giving rise to the locally born Illyrian emperors of the late empire.

The philosopher emperor Marcus Aurelius (161-180) personally led campaigns against Germanic tribes along the Danube on several occasions in the late 160’s and 170’s,In 169 he winters in RER Sirmium (Sremska Mitrovica) with the empress Faustina, their youngest daughter Sabina and his entourage.Around this same time, also in RER Sirmium he heard a famous law case involving the Athenian philanthropist Herodes Atticus.On March 17, 180, once again at war with Germanic tribes on the Danube frontier, Marcus became ill and died, either at RER Sirmium or in Vindobona (Vienna)

The new emperor from North Africa, Septimius Severus (193-211), on his return to Rome from victorious eastern campaigns makes a triumphant march with army in 202 through the Danube provinces where he had been governor of Upper Pannonia in the 190’s.

Maximinus Thrax (“The Thracian”; 235-238) was born in Thrace and as the first Illyrian emperor was an early example of a soldier in the Danube garrison who rose up through the ranks to become emperor.He used RER Sirmium as his headquarters for campaigns against the Sarmatians and Dacians.To remain close to the theater of operations; he remained in RER Sirmium during the winters of 236-237 and 237-238.

Philip the Arab (244-249), another emperor of provincial origin (Arabia), led Roman forces against the Carpi, a possibly Dacian tribe who were raiding Roman territory along the lower Danube.RER Oescus was Philip’s base for his operations north of the Danube.His reign also marks the beginning of a long series of conflicts with Gothic nations along the Danube.Gothic hostilities were probably provoked by Philip’s termination of the payment of subsidies to the tribes.

Trajan Decius (249-251) has the dubious distinction of being the first Roman emperor killed on the battlefield.Decius was born to a aristocratic provincial, probably military family near RER Sirmium in Lower Pannonia.He served as governor of Moesia in 234 before being acclaimed as emperor by his troops around 250.He had two sons, Herennius Etruscus and Hostilian who were both made Augusti or co-emperors; their birthplaces are unknown.Along with his elder son Herennius Decius campaigned against the Goths on the lower Danube in 251.Both were killed in the Battle of Abritus (near Razgrad, Bulgaria).

Before he became emperor, Trebonius Gallus (251-253) governor of Upper Moesia, possibly based at RER Viminacium (Kostolac). The army declared Gallus emperor after Decius’ death, and he quickly made peace with the Goths so he could return to Rome to claim the imperial purple. Gallus named Hostilian, the youngest son of Trajan Decius, briefly as his co-emperor in Rome until the young man died there of the plague.Hostilian never visited the Danube, although coins were minted there in his name.The darker version of Hostilian’s life has him murdered by Gallus to eliminate potential competition with his son for the throne.

Aemilian (253) served as emperor only for a year and fought against the Goths on the Danube there. Previously he had commanded army units either in Pannonia or Moesia.His brief reign was ended violently by his own troops who defected to the side of his successor Valerian.

Gallienus (253-258), who succeeded his father Valerian, led the campaigns against the Carpi on the Middle Danube (Dalmatia, Pannonia) in the mid 250’s.He returned to Pannonia to in 260 to put down rebellions by the Danube legions. At the head of the Roman armies again on the Danube, Gallienus in 268 scores a major victory over the Goths at RER Naissus (Niš).

The usurper Ingenuus (260) ruled less than a year.As governor of Pannonia, his troops acclaimed him as emperor in RER Sirmium.He died in defeat by Gallienus at the Battle of Mursa (on the Drava River near Osijek, Croatia) later that year.

Claudius II Gothicus (268-270) succeeded Gallienus and won a major victory over Gothic invaders at RER Naissus in 269.He was another Illyrian emperor (born either in Dalmatia or elsewhere in Illyricum); he rose to power through the ranks in the army and died of illness at his headquarters in RER Sirmium in 270.

Aurelian (270-275) is the Illyrian emperor most famous for initiating the Roman withdrawal from Dacia in 274 to form the new Dacian provinces south of the Danube on RER territory in Bulgaria and Serbia.He was born in Moesia Superior, possibly RER Sirmium, rose up through the ranks in the cavalry and was acclaimed emperor by his legions in RER Sirmium in 270.He led campaigns against the Vandals, Goths and other barbarian tribes until he was assassinated by his own general staff.

The Illyrian Emperor Probus (276-282) like his predecessors fought against Goths and Vandals in the Danube corridor in the late 270’s.He was a native of RER Sirmium and is most famous in the RER region for using his soldiers for planting vineyards in the Danube Wine Route (DWR) Fruška Gora in Serbia.Some say that the reason his soldiers murdered him in RER Sirmium was that they were unhappy with the agricultural work he assigned for them.

Carinus (283-285) was not an Illyrian emperor, but he was the last obstacle between newly acclaimed Diocletian and sole rule in the Empire.He was killed in battle against Diocletian on the Margus (Morava River and DWR Morava Region in Serbia) near its confluence with the Danube in 285.This was one of the many civil war battles between competitors for the throne fought on the Trans Balkan Highway in the RER Danube corridor.

The Illyrian-born Diocletian (284-305), perhaps near RER Salona on the Dalmatian coast, had more associations with RER sites than any other emperor.Although he is best known for his retirement “villa” at RER Split (Croatia) on the Adriatic, he spent significant amounts of time at RER Sirmium and Oescus improving frontier fortifications on the Danube and campaigning against the Carpi across the Danube.Construction of the imperial palace at RER Sirmium can probably be associated with his frequent residence there in the early 290’s.Diocletian also initiated administrative reform by establishing the tetrarchic form of government with the responsibilities of military command divided between 2 senior Augusti and two junior Caesars.This change in government gave rise to a series of new imperial capitals with palace-circus complexes in places like Sirmium, Thessaloniki and Nicomedia near the frontiers from which the emperors with their entourages actually ruled the empire.Rome administratively was no longer primary.Diocletian abdicated in 305 and retired to Split, a location probably chosen because it was near his birthplace.The ancient sources describe the emperor in retirement happily engaged in raising cabbages in his native Dalmatia, but the layout of the complex at Split more closely represents the functional components of an active emperor, with its public receiving and private residential spaces.This is why the complex is correctly referred to as Diocletian’s Palace today.

Maximianus (286-305, 307-308) saw military service under fellow Illyrians Aurelian and Probus and was co-opted as emperor by Diocletian for his new tetrarchic form of government.Maximianus abdicated along with Diocletian in 305 but briefly returned from retirement two years later in the civil war which marked the breakdown of the tetrarchy.Like his early commanders, Maximianus was born in or near RER Sirmium.

Constantius I Chlorus (305-306), the father of the future emperor Constantine the Great, rose through the ranks in the army to become governor of Dalmatia.He was named a Caesar in Diocletian’s first tetrarchy and later was promoted to Augustus.Constantius Chlorus was born in Illyricum and served in the army there.At some point in the early 270’s Chlorus’ first wife Helena, was in RER Naissus where she gave birth to Constantine.

Galerius (305-311) was another Illyrian emperor with close associations to an RER site.He was born from a peasant family in Dacia Ripensis (Serbia) south of the Danube. He rose through the ranks in the army until appointed Caesar in the first tetrarchy.On Diocletian’s abdication he became emperor and built an imperial palace-circus complex in Thessaloniki.Like his mentor Diocletian he also included an imperial mausoleum in his imperial capital in northern Greece.In the RER Danube corridor Galerius also was an generous benefactor of his Illyrian homeland.At a place he called Romuliana (RER) after his mother Romula, in eastern Serbia in the Danube hinterland, he built a massively fortified complex which included a luxurious imperial villa, temples, granaries and, on the hill above the site, two consecration mounds and mausoleums apparently for himself and his mother.Galerius died on the Trans Balkan Highway near Serdica (Sofia, Bulgaria) and was returned to RER Romuliana for burial.

Severus II (306-307) was briefly co-emperor with Galerius before he was killed by the usurper Maxentius in the civil war at the break-up of the tetrarchy.Severus came from a humble family in Illyricum and followed a military career to brief prominence.

The Illyrian Constantine (306-337),later known as the Great, along with Augustus, Trajan and Diocletian, was one of the most preeminent of the Roman emperors. He restored sole rule in the Empire in a series of battles with his competitors and on the way established Christianity as a legal religion by issuing a letter of tolerance with his co-emperor Licinius in February of 313.This was the so-called “Edict of Milan”.Constantine thus was the first Christian emperor, an active builder of churches, and envisioned himself as the “thirteenth apostle”.He was born in RER Naissus and raised in a military family. After he defeated his rival Licinius in 316 at Cibalae (Vinkovci, Croatia), Constantine moved his base further east along the Trans Balkan Highway and replaced Licinius in the imperial palace in RER Sirmium.There he spent significant periods of time managing the affairs of empire until Licinius’ final defeat and his final move to the East.Finally, he founded a new Rome, Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey) in 330 on the Bosphorus which outlived all of the other imperial capitals as a seat of imperial power.Constantine also founded a dynasty with his three sons which remained in power well past the midpoint of the fourth century.

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