The Avtokrator was the absolute ruler of the Empire of Videssos. The Avtokrator was assisted by an influential bureaucracy, which was powerful enough to enforce its choice for the throne, even in the face of military opposition. The bureaucracy and military were traditionally rivals for influence over the emperor, and by extension, the empire.

Known AvtokratorsEdit

As Harry Turtledove has not revealed every Avtokrator, this list is by no means complete. The list is chronological based on the evidence available.  


Stavrakios, known as the "Great", reigned a century after the empire was founded (two hundred years before the birth of Rhavas and 1100 years before the arrival of the Roman Legion); during his reign, the Videssians invaded both Makuran and Halogaland. Stavrakios sacked Mashiz and was said to have defeated Rishtaspa, King of Kings, in single combat. The Empire grew to its greatest extent under his reign. His rule was also the most stable.

Later generations who viewed his portraits were of the opinion that, despite his imperial raiment, he looked more like a veteran underofficer than an Emperor.[1]

It was during his reign that Kveldulf was martyred.[2]


Palamas reigned three centuries after the founding of the empire (nine hundred years prior to the arrival of the Roman Legion.) A plaza in Videssos the city was named in his honor.

Maleinos IIEdit

See: Maleinos II


See: Stylianos


See: Likinios


See: Genesios

Maniakes IIEdit

See: Maniakes II


Sermeios, during his reign as Avtokrator, once visited Opsikion and dined at the estate of a local nobleman. Decades later, this nobleman's grandson Mavros became Sevastos of Videssos.[3]

Literary commentEdit

Based on this timeframe, it is likely that Sermeios was the immediate predecessor of Agarenos.


Agarenos was the father of Rhaptes and Petronas. He reigned before Krispos was born.


Rhaptes, among other things, ransomed several hundred Videssian peasants from their Kubrati overlords, including a young boy named Krispos.[4]

He died while his son Anthimos was still very young. Until Anthimos reached his majority, Rhaptes's brother Petronas ruled as Sevastokrator on Anthimos' behalf.[5]

Anthimos IIIEdit

See: Anthimos III


See: Krispos


See: Phostis

Ioannakis IIEdit

Ioannakis II died 300 years before the arrival of the Roman Legion.[6]


Khoirosphaktes reigned roughly 200 years before the arrival of the Roman Legion. He was remembered for establishing a fort in Pardraya on the Kouphis River as a gift to a powerful Khamorth khagan. It was abandoned after his death. The fort came to be remembered as "Khoirosphaktes' Folly". Khoirosphaktes also sent the khagan an elephant, who promptly returned it.[7]

Ioannakis IIIEdit

Ioannakis III reigned for a few years before Strobilos Sphrantzes. Posterity saw him as a poor fool, and his reign was an unhappy one. His sucessor was no better and also fared badly. [8]

Strobilos SphrantzesEdit

See: Strobilos Sphrantzes

Mavrikos GavrasEdit

See: Mavrikios Gavras

Ortaias SphrantzesEdit

See: Ortaias Sphrantzes

Thorisin GavrasEdit

See: Thorisin Gavras

Other AvtokratorsEdit

Turtledove has named other Avtokrators throughout the series, but has not always provided sufficient information about when they reigned, or the information provided contradicts the rest of the canon.


In The Misplaced Legion, Laskaris is said to have sacked Mashiz 739 years before the arrival of the Roman Legion. He is also described as having personally taken the helmet from Rishtaspa of Makuran's corpse, which became a trophy for the empire.[9]

However, these actions are credited to Stavrakios in every other volume of the series, and Laskaris is never mentioned again after this. Implicitly, Turtledove retconned Laskarsis into Stavrakios (deliberately or otherwise).


Rhazates was an Avtokrator who ruled the Empire of Videssos for a very brief period many years before the ascension of Krispos. He was crowned as Avtokrator on the steps of the High Palace, but on being announced to his subjects, the crowd laughed at him because he was grossly overweight. He returned to the palace but was overthrown in a coup d'etat within days.

On being crowned Avtokrator many years later, Krispos remembered reading Rhazates' story in the chronicles with a bit of apprehension before Barsymes introduced him to a similar crowd of onlookers. Krispos understood the incident as a warning that, while Videssos was not a democracy de jure, a would-be Avtokrator who had not won the popular support of the capital's common population could never be secure in his emperorship.[10]


In Hammer and Anvil we are told that upon the death of an emperor named Yermanos, the empire fell into civil war. The date of his reign is unknown.

The Fool and the ButcherEdit

The short story "A Difficult Undertaking" is set a few hundred years prior to the arrival of the Misplaced Legion during a period of civil war. Two rivals each claim the throne. Neither is named; Videssian general Kypros Zigabenos calls them "the fool and the butcher". The story doesn't say which claimant, if either, prevailed.

Anthimos I & II, Ioannikis I, and Maleinos IEdit

From the numerals following various reign names, we can infer that there were three avtokrators by the name of Anthimos, three by the name of Ioannikis, and two by the name of Maleinos. We know nothing of the first two Anthimoi, the first Ioannikis, or the first Maleinos.


  1. E.g., Krispos Rising, pg. 220, mmp; The Tale of Krispos, p. 204, TPB.
  2. See, e.g., Counting Up, Counting Down, pgs. 312-338, TPB.
  3. Krispos Rising, pg. 115, mmp.; The Tale of Krispos, pg. 108.
  4. The Tale of Krispos, pg. 23.
  5. Ibid., pgs. 35-36.
  6. Videssos Cycle: Volume Two, pg. 436.
  7. See, e.g., Videssos Cycle: Volume Two, pgs. 150-151.
  8. Videssos Cycle: Volume Two, pg. 430.
  9. See, e.g., Videssos Cycle: Volume One, pg. 82, TPB.
  10. The Tale of Krispos p. 324.