The Roman empire being a long-lived empire and over a large area is likely to have had some dynasties/emperors that were not ethnically Latin/Italian, is that in fact the case? If so which dynasties/emperors?

  • The question was probably not meaningful at the time: for example Maximian came from a family of shopkeepers in Pannonia or perhaps Illyricum (so modern Serbia/Bosnia/Croatia), neither of which were originally Latin but both were very Roman at the time.
    – Henry
    Sep 25, 2013 at 8:00
  • @Henry It is true that the races were well-mixed by the time of the late empire, however some emperors, those whose came from more uncouth frontier areas, were perceived as a somewhat different kettle of fish than the run-of-the-mill Roman. Two examples that spring to mind are Maximin the Thracian and Philip the Arab (these are their common historical appellations). Sep 25, 2013 at 9:05
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    Most of the Emperor of Byzantium. If you include of Holy Roman Empire, then the list goes on and on... Sep 25, 2013 at 10:15
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    most of them...
    – Louis Rhys
    Sep 26, 2013 at 12:18
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    If you consider the Byzantine Empire as a continuation of The Roman Empire-(albeit in the East), both Constantine and Justinian were born in the region of lllyria-(pre-Slavic Southeast Europe) and I believe Theodosius was born in the Iberian peninsula-(most likely Spain). If you also consider the Holy Roman Empire as a continuation of The Roman Empire, then the First Holy Roman Emperor, Charlemagne, was born in Germany-(if my memory is correct).
    – user26763
    Nov 6, 2017 at 19:52

1 Answer 1


There is a fine list here: http://historum.com/ancient-history/19034-national-ethnic-origins-roman-emperors.html

During the mid and late periods of the empire most emperors were born outside of Italy most famously of Illyrian origin.

The Byzantine empire(East roman empire) was more Greek than Latin so it is understandable that its emperors were not from Italy.

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    +1. A wee bit more background: During the imperial period eventually most of the manpower for the legions came from Illyria. Anyone who rose through the ranks on merit was thus also quite likely to be Illyrian. Since the Roman armies had a habit of marching on Rome and installing their own generals as Emperor, this would naturally lead to a lot of Illyrian Emperors.
    – T.E.D.
    Sep 26, 2013 at 12:34

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