Greek term meaning "absolute ruler." It was equivalent to the Latin imperator, or emperor (q.v.). After the Persians (q.v.) were defeated in 629 the emperor was called basileus (q.v.), and autokrator declined in significance. Nevertheless, it was still used to designate the senior emperor (the megas basileus) from his co-em-peror(s). In the 10th century the title revived in importance when the tsars of Bulgaria (qq.v.) expropriated the title of basileus. Under the Palaiologan (q.v.) dynasts it distinguished not only the reigning emperor but also the heir-presumptive among the co-emperors.

Historical Dictionary of Byzantium . .

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