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Serbia - the homeland of Roman emperors

Updated: May 6, 2021

The Roman Empire was founded after the reforms implemented by Octavian Augustus, in the last three decades of the first century BC. This country is considered one of the largest, wealthiest, most densely populated and by far the most powerful empires in the world. At the height of its power, the Roman Empire spread across three continents (Europe, Asia and Africa). During its existence from 27 BC to 476 AD, the capital Rome experienced its turmoils. The third century was known as the century of crisis, and thanks to the skills and abilities of its leaders, the destruction of the country would have been postponed for two centuries. In those periods of uncertainties, the large number of emperors ruled for a brief period of time , apparently with no set goals nor ideals to aspire to.

The Roman Empire, photo source:

In Serbia, 17 emperors were born including the first Roman emperor (Trajan Decius).

And in nowadays, you can notice cultural, historical and religious influence and all those legacy of the Romans in this area. Sirmium (today’s Sremska Mitrovica) was the city in Pannonia, an ancient province of the Roman Empire.

The Roman Empire, photo source:

Please, take some time to read about the emperors born in the territory of the now Serbia, and what recognitions they were awarded with in their lifetime.

1. Trajan Decius (Trajan Decius, 249-251), was a highly capable warrior and military leader. He was born in the village Budalija (today Martinci near Sremska Mitrovica); remembered as the first Roman emperor killed in the battle against the Goths. Also, he was a famous and infamous persecutor of Christians.

Trajan Decius

Trajan Decius, photo source:

2. Hostilian (Gaius Valens Hostilianus Quintus Augustus, died 251), lived in a castle in Viminacium (a Roman city and a military camp). He ruled for a short period of time (merely for a couple of months). At the age of 40, he died of plague.

3. Claudius Gothicus (Claudius II Gothicus, 268-270), ruled for only two years before he and his predecessor died of plague. He is famous for the execution of the Christian monk of Saint Valentine which is among Roman Catholics normally referred to as Valentine's Day.

4. Aurelian (Aurelian, 270-275), was born and lived on a small farm, near Sirmium. His sudden and untimely death prevented him from conquering Mesopotamia in Asia.

5. Prob (Probus, 276-282), the successor of Aurelius also lived near today’s town of Sremska Mitrovica. He is considered to be the creator of viticulture in Serbia; in Fruska Gora he planted his first vineyards. He died in Asia, where he was killed by his own army.

6. Maximilian Herculius (Maximianus Herculius, 285-305) ruled for 20 years. In the town of Graz, Austria, there lies his unexplored Imperial Palace. He was known as a cruel and heartless dictator with a huge army and disciples.

7. Constantius Chlorine (Constantius Chlorus, 293-306), was an emperor of the Western Roman Empire, father of Constantine the Great, and also the founder of the dynasty which ruled the empire until 363 years AD. He was born in Dardania, which is believed to have built the Troy, given their superb legal, economic and negotiation skills.

8. Gallery (Galerius, 293-311), during his lifetime, he was capable of creating a unique state in which the government was upheld and respected. He was born on the territory of Romania; leaving Felix Romuliana behind in the background, the ancient palace near city of Zajecar.

9. Maximin Daja (Maximinus Daia, 305-313), was born in eastern Serbia (near Negotin), in the province of Upper Moesia. Adopted Edict of Toleration didn’t prevent the prosecution of the Christians. He built up the four palaces, located on three different continents.

10. Flavius Sever (Flavius Severus, 305-307), was an emperor of the Western Roman Empire, born in the city of Nis. He was considered an outstanding emperor, but because of political and ideological pressures, was forced to commit suicide.

11. Constantin the Great (Constantine I the Grate, 306-337), the history celebrates him; he’s considered as one of the most important Roman emperors born in the territory of Serbia. The Edict of Milan (a proclamation that permanently established religious toleration for Christianity), was the outcome of a political agreement between Constantine I and Licinius in February 313 AD.

Constanstin the Great

Constantine the Great, photo source:

12. Licinius (Licinus, 307-324), in a short period ruled together with Constantine, bringing the Edict of Milan, but he withdrew his signature and continued persecution of Christians. He was executed after he tried to raise revolt against Constantine.

13. Constantius II (Constatntius II, 337-361), was one of three sons of Constantine the Great. He was very successful in conquers, but didn’t want to independently conduct all public affairs, so he promoted his cousin to the rank of an emperor.

14. Vetranio (Vetranio, 350), ruled briefly, along with its predecessor Constantius. He was an experienced soldier and officer, and after the death of their compatriots in the civil war, he moved to Sirmium having continued to rule until his death.

15. Jovian (Jovian, 363-364), reigned for less than a year given that the emperor was chosen by error having been remembered as a terrible negotiator ever since. He is also the only Roman emperor born in the territory of Singidunum (the now Belgrade).

16. Gratian (Flavius Gratianus, 375-383), was an emperor of the Western Roman Empire. During his rule, Christianity became the dominant religion; pagan cults in Rome were prohibited including the Altar of Victory (an ancient goddess).

17. Constantius III (Constantius II, 421), was born in Naissus (today’s Nis) and acknowledged as a military leader with a brilliant mind; sadly he died after spending a year on the throne. His son was Valentinian III, the last monarch of huge importance of the Western Roman Empire.


Viminacium, one of the best preserved and largest cities of the Roman Empire, in the territory of which almost all Roman emperors were born, speaks volumes as to how important Serbian cultural heritage is. At the time of territorial expansion and economic flourishing of the Roman state, Viminacium had between 35ooo and 48ooo inhabitants. Today, tourists in this beautiful town, can thoroughly enjoy it, starting from the Archaeological Park, the Imperial Mausoleum, all over to the Roman amphitheater. Also, in this city (and the military camp at that), one of the most beautiful and best preserved monograms of Christ was found. Constantine the Great apparently saw it in his dream; perhaps because of that - he won a battle after which he ruled the entire Rome.

adapted and submitted by Natasha from Angloland

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