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Late Roman Timeline
250 AD - 550 AD

By Robert Vermaat

Late Roman timeline 250-550

For the studies of the period I found it was very useful to start with a timeline of the events. However, I found that no such timeline existed, or those that did exist either did not cover my period of choice or concentrated on other affairs. So I decided to make my own.

The Timeline is cut into 4 parts for the sake of convenience:

I've left out the religious events, which surely had their influences on the political events, but the pages would be too long if I had included them. I did however add a few natural disasters.

Copyright notice: everyone who wants to use this document, please do so. The only thing I want in return is that you give me credit for my hard work! (The map below is from Wikipedia)
Roman Empire from 510 BC to 480 AD - from Wikipedia
Roman Empire from 510 BC to 480 AD

The period of this timeline is arbitrarely, it represents what I personally consider to be roughly the Late Roman period. The sharp break of 250 AD as the start of that period, as well as the break at 550 as the start of the Byzantine period, is made purely for the sake of convenience. I could have chosen the first soldier-Emperor, or the death of Justinian, but I consider those (though more pleasing as they might be) no less artificial than the dates chosen here.

The Emperors in this timeline are not distinguished from the usurpers, all are shown in the left column. Some usurpers were recognised but still died as usurpers (Magnus Maximus is one), some were recognised and are now accepted as legitimate (such as in the case of Constantine the Great). I therefore chose not to make any distinction between those emperors elevated by the Senate, their father or by a bunch of soldiers, all are included.

I did not include Caesars or Empresses. I did however, especially towards the end of the 4th century and after, include the power brokers behind the throne, but between brackets and without any regnal years.

  The regnal years of each ruler may differ in sources and are open to discussion. I based them in a number of sources and used the dates most agreed upon.
The events covered in this timeline are mainly military and political.

Emperors (and unsuccessful usurpers alike) are given with years in the left columns, making no difference between legitimity nor the Eastern or Western halves of the Empire.
The right-hand columns show the year and the major political and military events, if possible with the actual date. Some dates may be disputed because they cannot be known with complete certainty. About some dates the available sources differ of opinion. Ancient place names are given in italics with (if possible) the modern versions between brackets.

I have included a table of consuls because in Antiquity, consular years were used in historical sources as a means of reference. Years did not have numbers but referred either to the regnal year of the emperor or to the annual magistrates -- "the year when x and y were consul", the basis of marking time in the Fasti Capitolini. Under the Empire, two consuls were appointed for a year, and the emperor or his family were often consuls for several years in succession. During the Tetrarchy and the Dominate the position of consul became honorary and temporary, and consuls sometimes did not bother to take up office, some leaving office after only a few weeks. Their office was then taken by suffecti, with the year being referred to as "the first year after so-and-so was consul". During some years there was just one consul, or none at all.

Magnus Maximus first introduced a specific consul for the West and the two consuls were gradually split anyway between Rome and Constantinople. 

The names are mostly from the fith century list by Victorius of Aquitaine. Victorinus published this Easter Table in 457 AD, but it was later extended to the year 559 AD (or Anno Passio 532, hence the name, Cursus Paschalis annorum DXXXII). I have used the names from this list as Mommsen edited them, including those after 457 until 541, when the emended Victorian list continues but after which the consulate in the East was merged with imperial titles. I have emended the entries between the years AD 276 and AD 345, because the consuls named by Victorius are one year off with the consuls named in the 'Chronochraphy of 354' (also named 'Calendar of 354'), a 4th century illuminated manuscript, which was produced in 354 AD for a wealthy Roman Christian named Valentius. This MS contains (part VIII) a list of Roman consuls up to 354 AD.

All names are given in the ablative case: e.g. "Sergius" is given as "Sergio".  This is because the formula is the ablative absolute "Limenio et Catulino (consulibus)" = "when Limenius and Catulinus were consuls". For a full list of names and annotations looke here.


Years and events:

  • Demandt, Alexander (1998): Geschichte der Spätantike. Das Römische Reich von Diocletian bis Justinian 284 – 565 n. Chr., (München).
  • Drinkwater, J.F. and Hugh Elton eds. (1992): Fifth-century Gaul: a Crisis of Identity?, (Cambridge).
  • Fischer, Thomas (2001): Spätzeit und Ende, in: Czysz, Wolfgang von, et al: Die Römer in Bayern, (Theiss Verlag, Stuttgart), pp. 358-404.
  • Gregory of Tours: The History of the Franks, trans. Lewis Thorpe, (St Ives 1974).
  • Hoffmann, Dietrich (1969): Das Spätrömische Bewegungsheer und die Notitia Dignitatum, 2 vols., Epigraphische Studien 1, (Rheinisches Landesmuseum Bonn).
  • Jones, A.H.M. (1964): The Later Roman Empire, 284-602, A Social, Economic and Administrative Survey, 2 vols. (Oxford paperback 1990).
  • Kemkes, Martin et al (2002): Am Rande des Imperiums, Der Limes - Grenze Roms zu den Barbaren, (Limesmuseum Aalen).
  • Muhlberger, Steven (1990): The Fifth Century Chroniclers. Prosper, Hydatius and the Gallic Chronicler of 452, (Leeds).
  • Southern, Pat and Karen Dixon (1996): The Late Roman Army, (Routledge).




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