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An emperor is nominally a monarch and sovereign ruler of an empire or any other imperial realm. Emperors are generally recognised to be above kings in honour. They may obtain their position hereditarily, or by force, such as a coup d'état.

The English term for emperor is derived from the Latin imperator (literally, "one who prepares against"; loosely, "commander"). In German the title Kaiser is used and in Russian tsar is used, both of which are derived from Caesar.

Imperator was originally a title used by the highest-ranking Roman commanders, roughly comparable to field marshal or commander-in-chief. Caesar was the family name of Gaius Julius Caesar (100 BC-44 BC), who never was an emperor himself but rather the last dictator of the Roman Republic. The name of Caesar lived on by adoption in the first Roman Emperor, Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus (better known as Caesar Augustus). This was not a constitutional office but rather a complicated collection of offices, titles, and honours.

In Persia from the time of the Cyrus the Great, Persian emperors used the title "Shahanshah" which is translated as emperor. In China the designation "Emperor" was first introduced when Qin Shi Huangdi declared himself the first emperor. In Japan a ruler in Yamato court was called "Tenno" (usually translated as emperor), although Japan is usually not considered an "empire" in the traditional sense of the word except during the brief period of the Meiji, Taisho and early Showa emperors. In the Japanese language, tenno is strictly distinguished from teiou who rules an empire— both are translated as emperor.

Sometimes a retired emperor has actual power instead of the ruling emperor.

Today there is only one remaining emperor— the Emperor of Japan1.

Table of contents
1 List of empires
2 Footnote
3 See Also

List of empires

Ancient empires

Medieval empires

Newer empires

Emperors of short-lived 'empires'

Self-proclaimed 'emperors'

Fictional Empires


1. Although the
Emperor of Japan (1945- ) is classified as constitutional Monarch Emperor among political scientists, the constitution of Japan defines him only as a symbol of the nation and no law states his status as a political monarch or otherwise. 2. Although not an Empire in the traditional sense of a large state with a large culturally diverse population, the Ethiopian monarchy (fell 1974) referred to it's monarchs as Emperors.

See Also

Emperor is also a Norwegian black metal band; see Emperor (band).