Justinian I

Justinian I

Overview
Justinian I; , ; 483– 13 or 14 November 565), commonly known as Justinian the Great, was Byzantine Emperor from 527 to 565. During his reign, Justinian sought to revive the Empire's greatness and reconquer the lost western half
Western Roman Empire
The Western Roman Empire was the western half of the Roman Empire after its division by Diocletian in 285; the other half of the Roman Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire, commonly referred to today as the Byzantine Empire....

 of the classical Roman Empire.

One of the most important figures of Late Antiquity
Late Antiquity
Late Antiquity is a periodization used by historians to describe the time of transition from Classical Antiquity to the Middle Ages, in both mainland Europe and the Mediterranean world. Precise boundaries for the period are a matter of debate, but noted historian of the period Peter Brown proposed...

 and the last Roman Emperor to speak Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 as a first language, Justinian's rule constitutes a distinct epoch in the history of the Eastern Roman Empire.
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Timeline

527   Byzantine Emperor Justin I names his nephew Justinian I as co-ruler and successor to the throne.

527   Justinian I becomes the sole ruler of the Byzantine Empire.

529   First draft of the ''Corpus Juris Civilis'' (a fundamental work in jurisprudence) is issued by Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian I.

558   In Constantinople, the dome of the Hagia Sophia collapses. Justinian I immediately orders that the dome be rebuilt.

 
Encyclopedia
Justinian I; , ; 483– 13 or 14 November 565), commonly known as Justinian the Great, was Byzantine Emperor from 527 to 565. During his reign, Justinian sought to revive the Empire's greatness and reconquer the lost western half
Western Roman Empire
The Western Roman Empire was the western half of the Roman Empire after its division by Diocletian in 285; the other half of the Roman Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire, commonly referred to today as the Byzantine Empire....

 of the classical Roman Empire.

One of the most important figures of Late Antiquity
Late Antiquity
Late Antiquity is a periodization used by historians to describe the time of transition from Classical Antiquity to the Middle Ages, in both mainland Europe and the Mediterranean world. Precise boundaries for the period are a matter of debate, but noted historian of the period Peter Brown proposed...

 and the last Roman Emperor to speak Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 as a first language, Justinian's rule constitutes a distinct epoch in the history of the Eastern Roman Empire. The impact of his administration extended far beyond the boundaries of his time and domain. Justinian's reign is marked by the ambitious but only partly realized renovatio imperii, or "restoration of the Empire". This ambition was expressed by the partial recovery of the territories of the defunct Western Roman Empire
Western Roman Empire
The Western Roman Empire was the western half of the Roman Empire after its division by Diocletian in 285; the other half of the Roman Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire, commonly referred to today as the Byzantine Empire....

. His general Belisarius
Belisarius
Flavius Belisarius was a general of the Byzantine Empire. He was instrumental to Emperor Justinian's ambitious project of reconquering much of the Mediterranean territory of the former Western Roman Empire, which had been lost less than a century previously....

 swiftly conquered the Vandal Kingdom
Vandal Kingdom
The Vandal Kingdom was a kingdom in North Africa established by the Vandals, an East Germanic tribe of Scandinavian origin. Having crossed the Rhine in 407, the Vandals settled in southern Spain, modern day Andalusia, until pushed out by the Visigoths...

 in North Africa, extending Roman control to the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

. Subsequently Belisarius, Narses
Narses
Narses was, with Belisarius, one of the great generals in the service of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I during the "Reconquest" that took place during Justinian's reign....

, and other generals conquered the Ostrogothic Kingdom
Ostrogothic Kingdom
The Kingdom established by the Ostrogoths in Italy and neighbouring areas lasted from 493 to 553. In Italy the Ostrogoths replaced Odoacer, the de facto ruler of Italy who had deposed the last emperor of the Western Roman Empire in 476. The Gothic kingdom reached its zenith under the rule of its...

, restoring Dalmatia
Dalmatia
Dalmatia is a historical region on the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea. It stretches from the island of Rab in the northwest to the Bay of Kotor in the southeast. The hinterland, the Dalmatian Zagora, ranges from fifty kilometers in width in the north to just a few kilometers in the south....

, Sicily
Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

, Italy
Italian Peninsula
The Italian Peninsula or Apennine Peninsula is one of the three large peninsulas of Southern Europe , spanning from the Po Valley in the north to the central Mediterranean Sea in the south. The peninsula's shape gives it the nickname Lo Stivale...

, and Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 to the Empire after being under barbarian control for over half a century.

The prefect
Praetorian prefect
Praetorian prefect was the title of a high office in the Roman Empire. Originating as the commander of the Praetorian Guard, the office gradually acquired extensive legal and administrative functions, with its holders becoming the Emperor's chief aides...

 Liberius
Liberius (praetorian prefect)
Petrus Marcellinus Felix Liberius was a Late Roman aristocrat and official, whose career spanned seven decades in the highest offices of both the Ostrogothic Kingdom of Italy and the Eastern Roman Empire...

 reclaimed most of southern Iberia
Iberian Peninsula
The Iberian Peninsula , sometimes called Iberia, is located in the extreme southwest of Europe and includes the modern-day sovereign states of Spain, Portugal and Andorra, as well as the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar...

, establishing the province of Spania
Spania
Spania was a province of the Roman Empire from 552 until 624 in the south of the Iberian Peninsula and the Balearic Islands. It was a part of the conquests of Roman Emperor Justinian I in an effort to restore the western half of the Empire....

. These campaigns re-established Roman control over the western Mediterranean, increasing the Empire's annual revenue by over a million solidi. During his reign Justinian also annexed Lazica, a region on the east coast of the Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

 that had never been under Roman rule before.

A still more resonant aspect of his legacy was the uniform rewriting of Roman law, the Corpus Juris Civilis
Corpus Juris Civilis
The Corpus Juris Civilis is the modern name for a collection of fundamental works in jurisprudence, issued from 529 to 534 by order of Justinian I, Eastern Roman Emperor...

, which is still the basis of civil law
Civil law (legal system)
Civil law is a legal system inspired by Roman law and whose primary feature is that laws are codified into collections, as compared to common law systems that gives great precedential weight to common law on the principle that it is unfair to treat similar facts differently on different...

 in many modern states. His reign also marked a blossoming of Byzantine culture, and his building program yielded such masterpieces as the church of Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia is a former Orthodox patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, and now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey...

, which was to be the center of Eastern Orthodox Christianity
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

 for many centuries.

A devastating outbreak of bubonic plague
Bubonic plague
Plague is a deadly infectious disease that is caused by the enterobacteria Yersinia pestis, named after the French-Swiss bacteriologist Alexandre Yersin. Primarily carried by rodents and spread to humans via fleas, the disease is notorious throughout history, due to the unrivaled scale of death...

 (see Plague of Justinian
Plague of Justinian
The Plague of Justinian was a pandemic that afflicted the Eastern Roman Empire , including its capital Constantinople, in 541–542 AD. It was one of the greatest plagues in history. The most commonly accepted cause of the pandemic is bubonic plague, which later became infamous for either causing or...

) in the early 540s marked the end of an age of splendor. The Empire entered a period of territorial decline not to be reversed until the ninth century.

Procopius
Procopius
Procopius of Caesarea was a prominent Byzantine scholar from Palestine. Accompanying the general Belisarius in the wars of the Emperor Justinian I, he became the principal historian of the 6th century, writing the Wars of Justinian, the Buildings of Justinian and the celebrated Secret History...

 provides the primary source for the history of Justinian's reign. The Syriac chronicle of John of Ephesus
John of Ephesus
John of Ephesus was a leader of the non-Chalcedonian Syriac-speaking Church in the sixth century, and one of the earliest and most important of historians who wrote in Syriac.-Life:...

, which does not survive, was used as a source for later chronicles, contributing many additional details of value. Both historians became very bitter towards Justinian and his empress, Theodora
Theodora (6th century)
Theodora , was empress of the Roman Empire and the wife of Emperor Justinian I. Like her husband, she is a saint in the Orthodox Church, commemorated on November 14...

. Other sources include the histories of Agathias
Agathias
Agathias or Agathias Scholasticus , of Myrina , an Aeolian city in western Asia Minor , was a Greek poet and the principal historian of part of the reign of the Roman emperor Justinian I between 552 and 558....

, Menander Protector
Menander Protector
Menander Protector , Byzantine historian, was born in Constantinople in the middle of the 6th century AD. The little that is known of his life is contained in the account of himself quoted by Suidas. He at first took up the study of law, but abandoned it for a life of pleasure...

, John Malalas
John Malalas
John Malalas or Ioannes Malalas was a Greek chronicler from Antioch. Malalas is probably a Syriac word for "rhetor", "orator"; it is first applied to him by John of Damascus .-Life:Malalas was educated in Antioch, and probably was a jurist there, but moved to...

, the Paschal Chronicle, the chronicles of Marcellinus Comes
Marcellinus Comes
Marcellinus Comes was a Latin chronicler of the Eastern Roman Empire. An Illyrian by birth, he spent most of his life at the court of Constantinople, which is the focus of his surviving work.-Works:...

 and Victor of Tunnuna
Victor of Tunnuna
Victor of Tunnuna was bishop of the North African town of Tunnuna and a chronicler from Late Antiquity....

.

Justinian is considered a saint
Saint
A saint is a holy person. In various religions, saints are people who are believed to have exceptional holiness.In Christian usage, "saint" refers to any believer who is "in Christ", and in whom Christ dwells, whether in heaven or in earth...

 amongst Orthodox Christians, and is also commemorated by some Lutheran Churches.

Summary


Justinian was born in Tauresium
Tauresium
Tauresium or known as Gradište is an archaeological site in Macedonia, located approximately 20 km south-east of the capital Skopje. Tauresium is the birthplace of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I and King Theodahad of the Ostrogoths .- Name :The ancient town of Tauresium is located on the...

 in the Roman province
Roman province
In Ancient Rome, a province was the basic, and, until the Tetrarchy , largest territorial and administrative unit of the empire's territorial possessions outside of Italy...

 of Dalmatia
Dalmatia
Dalmatia is a historical region on the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea. It stretches from the island of Rab in the northwest to the Bay of Kotor in the southeast. The hinterland, the Dalmatian Zagora, ranges from fifty kilometers in width in the north to just a few kilometers in the south....

 (the precise location of this site is disputed, e.g. the possible locations include Justiniana Prima
Justiniana Prima
Justiniana Prima is an archaeological site near today's Lebane in southern Serbia, It was a Byzantine city that served as the seat of an Archbishopric that had jurisdiction of the Central Balkans...

 near the modern town of Lebane
Lebane
Lebane is a town and municipality in southern Serbia, a part of the Jablanica District. The municipality is located at 41°45'N and 21°45'E and has a population of 21,802 while the town itself has 9,122 inhabitants...

 in southern Serbia
Serbia
Serbia , officially the Republic of Serbia , is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, covering the southern part of the Carpathian basin and the central part of the Balkans...

 and Taor near Skopje
Skopje
Skopje is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Macedonia with about a third of the total population. It is the country's political, cultural, economic, and academic centre...

, Republic of Macedonia
Republic of Macedonia
Macedonia , officially the Republic of Macedonia , is a country located in the central Balkan peninsula in Southeast Europe. It is one of the successor states of the former Yugoslavia, from which it declared independence in 1991...

), in AD 483. His Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

-speaking peasant
Peasant
A peasant is an agricultural worker who generally tend to be poor and homeless-Etymology:The word is derived from 15th century French païsant meaning one from the pays, or countryside, ultimately from the Latin pagus, or outlying administrative district.- Position in society :Peasants typically...

 family is believed to have been of Thraco-Roman
Thraco-Roman
The terms Thraco-Roman and Daco-Roman refer to the culture and language of the Thracian and Dacian peoples who were incorporated into the Roman Empire and ultimately fell under the Roman and Latin sphere of influence.-Meaning and usage:...

 or Illyro-Roman
Illyro-Roman
Illyro-Roman is a term used to describe the Romanized Illyrian population within the ancient Roman provinces of Illyricum, Moesia and Dardania. The remnants of the Illyro-Romans were absorbed into successive waves of settlers to the Balkans....

 origins.

The cognomen
Cognomen
The cognomen nōmen "name") was the third name of a citizen of Ancient Rome, under Roman naming conventions. The cognomen started as a nickname, but lost that purpose when it became hereditary. Hereditary cognomina were used to augment the second name in order to identify a particular branch within...

 Iustinianus which he took later is indicative of adoption by his uncle Justin
Justin I
Justin I was Byzantine Emperor from 518 to 527. He rose through the ranks of the army and ultimately became its Emperor, in spite of the fact he was illiterate and almost 70 years old at the time of accession...

. During his reign, he founded Justiniana Prima
Justiniana Prima
Justiniana Prima is an archaeological site near today's Lebane in southern Serbia, It was a Byzantine city that served as the seat of an Archbishopric that had jurisdiction of the Central Balkans...

 not far from his birthplace, today in South East Serbia. His mother was Vigilantia, the sister of Justin. Justin, who was in the imperial guard (the Excubitors
Excubitors
The Excubitors were founded in circa 460 AD as the imperial guards of the early Byzantine emperors. Their commanders soon acquired great influence and provided a series of emperors in the 6th century...

) before he became emperor, adopted Justinian, brought him to Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

, and ensured the boy's education. As a result, Justinian was well educated in jurisprudence
Jurisprudence
Jurisprudence is the theory and philosophy of law. Scholars of jurisprudence, or legal theorists , hope to obtain a deeper understanding of the nature of law, of legal reasoning, legal systems and of legal institutions...

, theology
Theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

 and Roman history. Justinian served for some time with the Excubitors
Excubitors
The Excubitors were founded in circa 460 AD as the imperial guards of the early Byzantine emperors. Their commanders soon acquired great influence and provided a series of emperors in the 6th century...

 but the details of his early career are unknown. Chronicler John Malalas
John Malalas
John Malalas or Ioannes Malalas was a Greek chronicler from Antioch. Malalas is probably a Syriac word for "rhetor", "orator"; it is first applied to him by John of Damascus .-Life:Malalas was educated in Antioch, and probably was a jurist there, but moved to...

, who lived during the reign of Justinian, tells of his appearance that he was short, fair skinned, curly haired, round faced and handsome. Another contemporary chronicler, Procopius
Procopius
Procopius of Caesarea was a prominent Byzantine scholar from Palestine. Accompanying the general Belisarius in the wars of the Emperor Justinian I, he became the principal historian of the 6th century, writing the Wars of Justinian, the Buildings of Justinian and the celebrated Secret History...

, compares Justinian's appearance to that of tyrannical Emperor Domitian
Domitian
Domitian was Roman Emperor from 81 to 96. Domitian was the third and last emperor of the Flavian dynasty.Domitian's youth and early career were largely spent in the shadow of his brother Titus, who gained military renown during the First Jewish-Roman War...

, although this is probably slander.

When Emperor Anastasius
Anastasius I (emperor)
Anastasius I was Byzantine Emperor from 491 to 518. During his reign the Roman eastern frontier underwent extensive re-fortification, including the construction of Dara, a stronghold intended to counter the Persian fortress of Nisibis....

 died in 518, Justin was proclaimed the new Emperor, with significant help from Justinian. During Justin's reign (518–527), Justinian was the Emperor's close confidant. Justinian showed much ambition, and it has been thought that he was functioning as virtual regent long before Justin made him associate Emperor on 1 April 527, although there is no conclusive evidence for this. As Justin became senile near the end of his reign, Justinian became the de facto ruler. Justinian was appointed consul
Consul
Consul was the highest elected office of the Roman Republic and an appointive office under the Empire. The title was also used in other city states and also revived in modern states, notably in the First French Republic...

 in 521, and later commander of the army of the east. Upon Justin I
Justin I
Justin I was Byzantine Emperor from 518 to 527. He rose through the ranks of the army and ultimately became its Emperor, in spite of the fact he was illiterate and almost 70 years old at the time of accession...

's death on 1 August 527, Justinian became the sole sovereign.
As a ruler, Justinian showed great energy. He was known as "the Emperor who never sleeps" on account of his work habits. Nevertheless, he seems to have been amenable and easy to approach. Justinian's family came from a lowly and provincial background, and therefore he had no power base in the traditional aristocracy of Constantinople. Instead, he surrounded himself with men and women of extraordinary talent, whom he selected not on the basis of aristocratic origin, but on the basis of merit.

Around 525 he married in Constantinople Theodora
Theodora (6th century)
Theodora , was empress of the Roman Empire and the wife of Emperor Justinian I. Like her husband, she is a saint in the Orthodox Church, commemorated on November 14...

, who was by profession a courtesan
Courtesan
A courtesan was originally a female courtier, which means a person who attends the court of a monarch or other powerful person.In feudal society, the court was the centre of government as well as the residence of the monarch, and social and political life were often completely mixed together...

 about 20 years his junior. Justinian would have, in earlier times, been unable to marry her because of her class, but his uncle Emperor Justin I had passed a law allowing intermarriage between social classes. Theodora would become very influential in the politics of the Empire, and later emperors would follow Justinian's precedent in marrying outside the aristocratic
Aristocracy (class)
The aristocracy are people considered to be in the highest social class in a society which has or once had a political system of Aristocracy. Aristocrats possess hereditary titles granted by a monarch, which once granted them feudal or legal privileges, or deriving, as in Ancient Greece and India,...

 class. The marriage caused a scandal, but Theodora would prove to be very intelligent, "street smart", a good judge of character and Justinian's greatest supporter. Other talented individuals included Tribonian
Tribonian
Tribonian or Tribonianos was a jurist during the reign of the Emperor Justinian I, who revised the legal code of the Roman Empire.Tribonian was born in Pamphylia around the year 500...

, his legal adviser; Peter the Patrician
Peter the Patrician
Peter the Patrician was a senior East Roman or Byzantine official, diplomat and historian. A well-educated and successful lawyer, he was repeatedly sent as envoy to Ostrogothic Italy in the prelude to the Gothic War of 535–554. Despite his diplomatic skill, he was not able to avert war, and was...

, the diplomat and longtime head of the palace bureaucracy; his finance ministers John the Cappadocian
John the Cappadocian
A different John the Cappadocian was Patriarch from 518-520. See John of Cappadocia.John the Cappadocian,also known as Iohannis Orientalis, was a praetorian prefect of the East in the Byzantine Empire under Emperor Justinian I...

 and Peter Barsymes
Peter Barsymes
Peter Barsymes was a senior Byzantine official, associated chiefly with public finances and administration, under Byzantine emperor Justinian I ....

, who managed to collect taxes more efficiently than any before, thereby funding Justinian's wars; and finally, his prodigiously talented general Belisarius
Belisarius
Flavius Belisarius was a general of the Byzantine Empire. He was instrumental to Emperor Justinian's ambitious project of reconquering much of the Mediterranean territory of the former Western Roman Empire, which had been lost less than a century previously....

.

Justinian's rule was not universally popular; early in his reign he almost lost his throne during the Nika riots
Nika riots
The Nika riots , or Nika revolt, took place over the course of a week in Constantinople in AD 532. It was the most violent riot that Constantinople had ever seen to that point, with nearly half the city being burned or destroyed and tens of thousands of people killed.-Background:The ancient Roman...

, and a conspiracy against the Emperor's life by dissatisfied businessmen was discovered as late as 562.

Justinian was struck by the plague
Plague of Justinian
The Plague of Justinian was a pandemic that afflicted the Eastern Roman Empire , including its capital Constantinople, in 541–542 AD. It was one of the greatest plagues in history. The most commonly accepted cause of the pandemic is bubonic plague, which later became infamous for either causing or...

 in the early 540s but recovered. Theodora died in 548, perhaps of cancer, at a relatively young age; Justinian outlived her by almost twenty years. Justinian, who had always had a keen interest in theological matters and actively participated in debates on Christian doctrine, became even more devoted to religion during the later years of his life. When he died, on the night of November 13–14 of the year 565, he left no children. He was succeeded by Justin II
Justin II
Justin II was Byzantine Emperor from 565 to 578. He was the husband of Sophia, nephew of Justinian I and the late Empress Theodora, and was therefore a member of the Justinian Dynasty. His reign is marked by war with Persia and the loss of the greater part of Italy...

, who was the son of his sister Vigilantia, and married to Sophia, the niece of Empress Theodora. Justinian's body was entombed in a specially built mausoleum in the Church of the Holy Apostles
Church of the Holy Apostles
The Church of the Holy Apostles , also known as the Imperial Polyandreion, was a Christian church built in Constantinople, capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, in 550. It was second only to the Church of the Holy Wisdom among the great churches of the capital...

.

Legislative activities




Justinian achieved lasting fame through his judicial reforms, particularly through the complete revision of all Roman law
Roman law
Roman law is the legal system of ancient Rome, and the legal developments which occurred before the 7th century AD — when the Roman–Byzantine state adopted Greek as the language of government. The development of Roman law comprises more than a thousand years of jurisprudence — from the Twelve...

, something that had not previously been attempted. The total of Justinian's legislature is known today as the Corpus juris civilis
Corpus Juris Civilis
The Corpus Juris Civilis is the modern name for a collection of fundamental works in jurisprudence, issued from 529 to 534 by order of Justinian I, Eastern Roman Emperor...

. It consists of the Codex Iustinianus, the Digesta or Pandectae, the Institutiones, and the Novellae
Novellae Constitutiones
The Novellae Constitutiones , or Justinian's Novels, are one of the four major units of Roman law created by Roman Emperor Justinian I in the course of his long reign . The other three pieces are: the Code, the Digest, and the Institutes. Together, the four parts are known as the Corpus Juris...

.

Early in his reign, Justinian appointed the quaestor
Quaestor sacri palatii
The quaestor sacri palatii , in English Quaestor of the Sacred Palace, was the senior legal authority in the late Roman and early Byzantine empires, responsible for drafting laws. In the later Byzantine Empire, the office of the quaestor was altered and it became a senior judicial official for the...

Tribonian
Tribonian
Tribonian or Tribonianos was a jurist during the reign of the Emperor Justinian I, who revised the legal code of the Roman Empire.Tribonian was born in Pamphylia around the year 500...

 to oversee this task. The first draft of the Codex Iustinianus, a codification of imperial constitutions from the 2nd century onward, was issued on 7 April 529. (The final version appeared in 534.) It was followed by the Digesta (or Pandectae), a compilation of older legal texts, in 533, and by the Institutiones, a textbook explaining the principles of law. The Novellae
Novellae Constitutiones
The Novellae Constitutiones , or Justinian's Novels, are one of the four major units of Roman law created by Roman Emperor Justinian I in the course of his long reign . The other three pieces are: the Code, the Digest, and the Institutes. Together, the four parts are known as the Corpus Juris...

, a collection of new laws issued during Justinian's reign, supplements the Corpus. As opposed to the rest of the corpus, the Novellae appeared in Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

, the common language of the Eastern Empire.

The Corpus forms the basis of Latin jurisprudence (including ecclesiastical Canon Law
Canon law (Catholic Church)
The canon law of the Catholic Church, is a fully developed legal system, with all the necessary elements: courts, lawyers, judges, a fully articulated legal code and principles of legal interpretation. It lacks the necessary binding force present in most modern day legal systems. The academic...

) and, for historians, provides a valuable insight into the concerns and activities of the later Roman Empire. As a collection it gathers together the many sources in which the leges (laws) and the other rules were expressed or published: proper laws, senatorial
Roman Senate
The Senate of the Roman Republic was a political institution in the ancient Roman Republic, however, it was not an elected body, but one whose members were appointed by the consuls, and later by the censors. After a magistrate served his term in office, it usually was followed with automatic...

 consults (senatusconsulta), imperial decrees, case law
Case law
In law, case law is the set of reported judicial decisions of selected appellate courts and other courts of first instance which make new interpretations of the law and, therefore, can be cited as precedents in a process known as stare decisis...

, and jurists' opinions and interpretations (responsa prudentum).

Tribonian's code ensured the survival of Roman law. It formed the basis of later Byzantine law, as expressed in the Basilika
Basilika
The term Basilika or 'Basilica' refers to a code of laws issued by the Eastern Roman emperor Leo VI the Wise . Written entirely in Greek, the 'Basilica', in 60 books, adapt the 6th-century Justinian code to the conditions of the 9th- and 10th-century Empire, and include laws issued by Leo VI and...

of Basil I
Basil I
Basil I, called the Macedonian was a Byzantine emperor of probable Armenian descent who reigned from 867 to 886. Born a simple peasant in the Byzantine theme of Macedonia, he rose in the imperial court, and usurped the imperial throne from Emperor Michael III...

 and Leo VI the Wise
Leo VI the Wise
Leo VI, surnamed the Wise or the Philosopher , was Byzantine emperor from 886 to 912. The second ruler of the Macedonian dynasty , he was very well-read, leading to his surname...

. The only western province where the Justinianic code was introduced was Italy (after the conquest, by the so-called Pragmatic Sanction
Pragmatic sanction
A pragmatic sanction is a sovereign's solemn decree on a matter of primary importance and has the force of fundamental law. In the late history of the Holy Roman Empire it referred more specifically to an edict issued by the Emperor....

 of 554), from where it was to pass to Western Europe
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

 in the 12th century and become the basis of much European law code. It eventually passed to Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

 where it appeared in Slavic editions, and it also passed on to Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

. It remains influential to this day.

In order to marry Theodora, he abolished the law which forbade actresses to marry men of senatorial class. He also passed laws to protect prostitutes from exploitation and women being forced into prostitution. Rapists were treated severely. Women charged with major crimes should be guarded by other women to prevent sexual abuse. After a woman got widowed, her dowry should be returned and a husband could not take on a major debt without his wife giving her consent twice.

Nika riots



Justinian's habit of choosing efficient, but unpopular advisers nearly cost him his throne early in his reign. In January 532, partisans of the chariot racing
Chariot racing
Chariot racing was one of the most popular ancient Greek, Roman and Byzantine sports. Chariot racing was often dangerous to both driver and horse as they frequently suffered serious injury and even death, but generated strong spectator enthusiasm...

 factions in Constantinople, normally divided among themselves, united against Justinian in a revolt that has become known as the Nika riots
Nika riots
The Nika riots , or Nika revolt, took place over the course of a week in Constantinople in AD 532. It was the most violent riot that Constantinople had ever seen to that point, with nearly half the city being burned or destroyed and tens of thousands of people killed.-Background:The ancient Roman...

. They forced him to dismiss Tribonian
Tribonian
Tribonian or Tribonianos was a jurist during the reign of the Emperor Justinian I, who revised the legal code of the Roman Empire.Tribonian was born in Pamphylia around the year 500...

 and two of his other ministers, and then attempted to overthrow Justinian himself and replace him by the senator Hypatius, who was a nephew of the late emperor Anastasius
Anastasius I (emperor)
Anastasius I was Byzantine Emperor from 491 to 518. During his reign the Roman eastern frontier underwent extensive re-fortification, including the construction of Dara, a stronghold intended to counter the Persian fortress of Nisibis....

. While the crowd was rioting in the streets, Justinian considered fleeing the capital, but he remained in the city on the stirring words of Theodora
Theodora (6th century)
Theodora , was empress of the Roman Empire and the wife of Emperor Justinian I. Like her husband, she is a saint in the Orthodox Church, commemorated on November 14...

 (according to Procopius, she said "For an Emperor to become a fugitive is not a thing to be endured...I hold with the old saying that the purple makes an excellent shroud".) In the next two days, he ordered the brutal suppression of the riots by his generals Belisarius
Belisarius
Flavius Belisarius was a general of the Byzantine Empire. He was instrumental to Emperor Justinian's ambitious project of reconquering much of the Mediterranean territory of the former Western Roman Empire, which had been lost less than a century previously....

 and Mundus. Procopius relates that 30,000 unarmed civilians were killed in the Hippodrome. On Theodora's insistence, and apparently against his own judgment, Justinian had Anastasius' nephews executed.

The destruction that had taken place during the revolt provided Justinian with an opportunity to tie his name to a series of splendid new buildings, most notably the architectural innovation of the domed Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia is a former Orthodox patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, and now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey...

.

Military activities



One of the most spectacular features of Justinian's reign was the recovery of large stretches of land around the Western Mediterranean basin which had slipped out of Imperial control in the 5th century. As a Christian Roman emperor, Justinian considered it his divine duty to restore the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 to its ancient boundaries. Although he never personally took part in military campaigns, he boasted of his successes in the prefaces to his laws and had them commemorated in art. The re-conquests were in large part carried out by his general Belisarius
Belisarius
Flavius Belisarius was a general of the Byzantine Empire. He was instrumental to Emperor Justinian's ambitious project of reconquering much of the Mediterranean territory of the former Western Roman Empire, which had been lost less than a century previously....

.

War with the Sassanid Empire, 527–532



From his uncle, Justinian inherited ongoing hostilities with the Sassanid Empire
Sassanid Empire
The Sassanid Empire , known to its inhabitants as Ērānshahr and Ērān in Middle Persian and resulting in the New Persian terms Iranshahr and Iran , was the last pre-Islamic Persian Empire, ruled by the Sasanian Dynasty from 224 to 651...

. In 530 a Persian army was defeated at Dara
Battle of Dara
The Battle of Dara was fought between the Sassanids and the Byzantine Empire in 530. It was one of the battles of the Iberian War.- Background :...

, but the next year saw the defeat of Roman forces under Belisarius near Callinicum
Battle of Callinicum
The Battle of Callinicum took place Easter day, 19 April 531, between the armies of the Eastern Roman Empire under Belisarius and the Sassanid Persians under Azarethes. After a defeat at the Battle of Dara, the Sassanids moved to invade Syria in an attempt to turn the tide of the war...

. When king Kavadh I of Persia died (September 531), Justinian concluded an "Eternal Peace
Eternal Peace (532)
The Eternal Peace , signed in 532 between the East Roman Empire and Sassanid Persia, was a peace treaty of indefinite duration, which concluded the Iberian War between the two powers...

" (which cost him 11,000 pounds of gold) with his successor Khosrau I
Khosrau I
Khosrau I , also known as Anushiravan the Just or Anushirawan the Just Khosrau I (also called Chosroes I in classical sources, most commonly known in Persian as Anushirvan or Anushirwan, Persian: انوشيروان meaning the immortal soul), also known as Anushiravan the Just or Anushirawan the Just...

 (532). Having thus secured his eastern frontier, Justinian turned his attention to the West, where Arian
Arianism
Arianism is the theological teaching attributed to Arius , a Christian presbyter from Alexandria, Egypt, concerning the relationship of the entities of the Trinity and the precise nature of the Son of God as being a subordinate entity to God the Father...

 Germanic
Germanic peoples
The Germanic peoples are an Indo-European ethno-linguistic group of Northern European origin, identified by their use of the Indo-European Germanic languages which diversified out of Proto-Germanic during the Pre-Roman Iron Age.Originating about 1800 BCE from the Corded Ware Culture on the North...

 kingdoms had been established in the territories of the former Western Roman Empire
Western Roman Empire
The Western Roman Empire was the western half of the Roman Empire after its division by Diocletian in 285; the other half of the Roman Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire, commonly referred to today as the Byzantine Empire....

.

Conquest of North Africa, 533–534




The first of the western kingdoms Justinian attacked was that of the Vandals
Vandals
The Vandals were an East Germanic tribe that entered the late Roman Empire during the 5th century. The Vandals under king Genseric entered Africa in 429 and by 439 established a kingdom which included the Roman Africa province, besides the islands of Sicily, Corsica, Sardinia and the Balearics....

 in North Africa
North Africa
North Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent, linked by the Sahara to Sub-Saharan Africa. Geopolitically, the United Nations definition of Northern Africa includes eight countries or territories; Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and...

. King Hilderic
Hilderic
Hilderic was the penultimate king of the Vandals and Alans in North Africa in Late Antiquity . Although dead by the time the Vandal kingdom was overthrown in 534, he nevertheless played a key role in that event....

, who had maintained good relations with Justinian and the North African Catholic
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 clergy, had been overthrown by his cousin Gelimer
Gelimer
Gelimer , King of the Vandals and Alans , was the last ruler of the North African Kingdom of the Vandals...

 in 530. Imprisoned, the deposed king appealed to Justinian.

In 533, Belisarius
Belisarius
Flavius Belisarius was a general of the Byzantine Empire. He was instrumental to Emperor Justinian's ambitious project of reconquering much of the Mediterranean territory of the former Western Roman Empire, which had been lost less than a century previously....

 with a fleet of 92 dromon
Dromon
The dromon was a type of galley and the most important warship of the Byzantine navy from the 6th to 12th centuries AD...

s escorting 500 transports, landed at Caput Vada (modern Ras Kaboudia) in modern Tunisia
Tunisia
Tunisia , officially the Tunisian RepublicThe long name of Tunisia in other languages used in the country is: , is the northernmost country in Africa. It is a Maghreb country and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area...

 with an army of about 15,000 men, as well as a number of barbarian troops. They defeated the Vandals, who were caught completely off-guard, at Ad Decimum on 14 September 533 and Tricamarum in December; Belisarius took Carthage
Carthage
Carthage , implying it was a 'new Tyre') is a major urban centre that has existed for nearly 3,000 years on the Gulf of Tunis, developing from a Phoenician colony of the 1st millennium BC...

. King Gelimer
Gelimer
Gelimer , King of the Vandals and Alans , was the last ruler of the North African Kingdom of the Vandals...

 fled to Mount Pappua in Numidia
Numidia
Numidia was an ancient Berber kingdom in part of present-day Eastern Algeria and Western Tunisia in North Africa. It is known today as the Chawi-land, the land of the Chawi people , the direct descendants of the historical Numidians or the Massyles The kingdom began as a sovereign state and later...

, but surrendered the next spring. He was taken to Constantinople, where he was paraded in a triumph
Roman triumph
The Roman triumph was a civil ceremony and religious rite of ancient Rome, held to publicly celebrate and sanctify the military achievement of an army commander who had won great military successes, or originally and traditionally, one who had successfully completed a foreign war. In Republican...

. Sardinia
Sardinia
Sardinia is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea . It is an autonomous region of Italy, and the nearest land masses are the French island of Corsica, the Italian Peninsula, Sicily, Tunisia and the Spanish Balearic Islands.The name Sardinia is from the pre-Roman noun *sard[],...

 and Corsica
Corsica
Corsica is an island in the Mediterranean Sea. It is located west of Italy, southeast of the French mainland, and north of the island of Sardinia....

, the Balearic Islands
Balearic Islands
The Balearic Islands are an archipelago of Spain in the western Mediterranean Sea, near the eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula.The four largest islands are: Majorca, Minorca, Ibiza and Formentera. The archipelago forms an autonomous community and a province of Spain with Palma as the capital...

, and the stronghold Septem near Gibraltar
Gibraltar
Gibraltar is a British overseas territory located on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula at the entrance of the Mediterranean. A peninsula with an area of , it has a northern border with Andalusia, Spain. The Rock of Gibraltar is the major landmark of the region...

 were recovered in the same campaign.

An African prefecture
Praetorian prefecture of Africa
The praetorian prefecture of Africa was a major administrative division of the Eastern Roman Empire, established after the reconquest of northwestern Africa from the Vandals in 533-534 by emperor Justinian I...

, centered in Carthage, was established in April 534, but it would teeter on the brink of collapse during the next 15 years, amidst warfare with the Moors
Moors
The description Moors has referred to several historic and modern populations of the Maghreb region who are predominately of Berber and Arab descent. They came to conquer and rule the Iberian Peninsula for nearly 800 years. At that time they were Muslim, although earlier the people had followed...

 and military mutinies. The area was not completely pacified until 548, but remained peaceful thereafter and enjoyed a measure of prosperity. The recovery of Africa cost the empire about 100,000 pounds of gold.

War in Italy, first phase, 535–540



As in Africa, dynastic struggles in Ostrogothic Italy provided an opportunity for intervention. The young king Athalaric
Athalaric
Athalaric was the King of the Ostrogoths in Italy. He was a son of Eutharic and Amalasuntha. His maternal grandfather was Theodoric the Great. He succeeded his grandfather as king in 526....

 had died on 2 October 534, and an usurper, Theodahad
Theodahad
Theodahad was the King of the Ostrogoths from 534 to 536 and a nephew of Theodoric the Great through his sister Amalafrida. He might have arrived in Italy with Theodoric and was an elderly man at the time of his succession...

, had imprisoned queen Amalasuntha
Amalasuntha
Amalasuntha was a queen of the Ostrogoths from 526 to 534....

, Theodoric
Theodoric the Great
Theodoric the Great was king of the Ostrogoths , ruler of Italy , regent of the Visigoths , and a viceroy of the Eastern Roman Empire...

's daughter and mother of Athalaric, on the island of Martana in Lake Bolsena
Lake Bolsena
Lake Bolsena is a crater lake of central Italy, of volcanic origin, which was formed starting 370,000 years ago following the collapse of a caldera of the Vulsini volcanic complex into a deep aquifer. Roman historic records indicate activity of the Vulsini volcano occurred as recently as 104 BC,...

, where he had her assassinated in 535. Thereupon Belisarius
Belisarius
Flavius Belisarius was a general of the Byzantine Empire. He was instrumental to Emperor Justinian's ambitious project of reconquering much of the Mediterranean territory of the former Western Roman Empire, which had been lost less than a century previously....

 with 7,500 men invaded Sicily
Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

 (535) and advanced into Italy, sacking Naples
Naples
Naples is a city in Southern Italy, situated on the country's west coast by the Gulf of Naples. Lying between two notable volcanic regions, Mount Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields, it is the capital of the region of Campania and of the province of Naples...

 and capturing Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 on 9 December 536. By that time Theodahad
Theodahad
Theodahad was the King of the Ostrogoths from 534 to 536 and a nephew of Theodoric the Great through his sister Amalafrida. He might have arrived in Italy with Theodoric and was an elderly man at the time of his succession...

 had been deposed by the Ostrogothic army, who had elected Vitigis as their new king. He gathered a large army and besieged Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 from February 537 to March 538 without being able to retake the city.

Justinian sent another general, Narses
Narses
Narses was, with Belisarius, one of the great generals in the service of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I during the "Reconquest" that took place during Justinian's reign....

, to Italy, but tensions between Narses and Belisarius hampered the progress of the campaign. Milan
Milan
Milan is the second-largest city in Italy and the capital city of the region of Lombardy and of the province of Milan. The city proper has a population of about 1.3 million, while its urban area, roughly coinciding with its administrative province and the bordering Province of Monza and Brianza ,...

 was taken, but was soon recaptured and razed by the Ostrogoths. Justinian recalled Narses
Narses
Narses was, with Belisarius, one of the great generals in the service of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I during the "Reconquest" that took place during Justinian's reign....

 in 539. By then the military situation had turned in favour of the Romans, and in 540 Belisarius reached the Ostrogothic capital Ravenna
Ravenna
Ravenna is the capital city of the Province of Ravenna in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy and the second largest comune in Italy by land area, although, at , it is little more than half the size of the largest comune, Rome...

. There he was offered the title of Western Roman Emperor by the Ostrogoths at the same time that envoys of Justinian were arriving to negotiate a peace which would leave the region north of the Po River
Po River
The Po |Ligurian]]: Bodincus or Bodencus) is a river that flows either or – considering the length of the Maira, a right bank tributary – eastward across northern Italy, from a spring seeping from a stony hillside at Pian del Re, a flat place at the head of the Val Po under the northwest face...

 in Gothic hands. Belisarius feigned to accept the offer, entered the city in May 540, and reclaimed it for the Empire. Then, having been recalled by Justinian, Belisarius returned to Constantinople, taking the captured Vitigis and his wife Matasuntha with him.

War with the Sassanid Empire, 540–562



Belisarius had been recalled in the face of renewed hostilities by the Persians
Sassanid Empire
The Sassanid Empire , known to its inhabitants as Ērānshahr and Ērān in Middle Persian and resulting in the New Persian terms Iranshahr and Iran , was the last pre-Islamic Persian Empire, ruled by the Sasanian Dynasty from 224 to 651...

. Following a revolt against the Empire in Armenia
Marzpanate Period
Marzpanate period refers to the period in Armenian history after the fall of the Arshakuni Dynasty of Armenia in 428, when Marzpans , nominated by the Sassanid Persian King, governed the eastern part of Armenia...

 in the late 530s and possibly motivated by the pleas of Ostrogothic ambassadors, King Khosrau I
Khosrau I
Khosrau I , also known as Anushiravan the Just or Anushirawan the Just Khosrau I (also called Chosroes I in classical sources, most commonly known in Persian as Anushirvan or Anushirwan, Persian: انوشيروان meaning the immortal soul), also known as Anushiravan the Just or Anushirawan the Just...

 broke the "Eternal Peace" and invaded Roman territory in the spring of 540. He first sacked Beroea
Aleppo
Aleppo is the largest city in Syria and the capital of Aleppo Governorate, the most populous Syrian governorate. With an official population of 2,301,570 , expanding to over 2.5 million in the metropolitan area, it is also one of the largest cities in the Levant...

 and then Antioch
Antioch
Antioch on the Orontes was an ancient city on the eastern side of the Orontes River. It is near the modern city of Antakya, Turkey.Founded near the end of the 4th century BC by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals, Antioch eventually rivaled Alexandria as the chief city of the...

 (allowing the garrison of 6,000 men to leave the city), besieged Daras, and then went on to attack the small but strategically significant satellite kingdom of Lazica
Lazic War
The Lazic War or Colchic War, also known as the Great War of Egrisi in Georgian historiography, was fought between the Byzantine Empire and Sassanid Persia for control of the region of Lazica, in what is now western Georgia...

 near the Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

, exacting tribute from the towns he passed along his way. He forced Justinian I to pay him 5,000 pounds of gold, plus 500 pounds of gold more each year.

Belisarius arrived in the East in 541, but, after some success, was again recalled to Constantinople in 542. The reasons for his withdrawal are not known, but it may have been instigated by rumours of disloyalty on behalf of the general reaching the court.
The outbreak of the plague
Plague of Justinian
The Plague of Justinian was a pandemic that afflicted the Eastern Roman Empire , including its capital Constantinople, in 541–542 AD. It was one of the greatest plagues in history. The most commonly accepted cause of the pandemic is bubonic plague, which later became infamous for either causing or...

 caused a lull in the fighting during the year 543. The following year Khosrau defeated a Byzantine army of 30,000 men, but unsuccessfully besieged the major city of Edessa
Edessa, Mesopotamia
Edessa is the Greek name of an Aramaic town in northern Mesopotamia, as refounded by Seleucus I Nicator. For the modern history of the city, see Şanlıurfa.-Names:...

. Both parties made little headway, and in 545 a truce was agreed upon for the southern part of the Roman-Persian frontier. After that the Lazic War
Lazic War
The Lazic War or Colchic War, also known as the Great War of Egrisi in Georgian historiography, was fought between the Byzantine Empire and Sassanid Persia for control of the region of Lazica, in what is now western Georgia...

 in the North continued for several years, until a second truce in 557, followed by a Fifty Years' Peace in 562. Under its terms, the Persians agreed to abandon Lazica in exchange for an annual tribute of 400 or 500 pounds of gold (30,000 solidi) to be paid by the Romans.

War in Italy, second phase, 541–554


While military efforts were directed to the East, the situation in Italy took a turn for the worse. Under their respective kings Ildibad
Ildibad
Ildibad was a king of the Ostrogoths in Italy, being chosen to replace Witiges, who had been engaged in various intregues with Belisarius, and had left Ravenna...

 and Eraric
Eraric
Eraric was briefly King of the Ostrogoths. He was killed by a member of his royal guard. He had nine wives....

 (both murdered in 541) and especially Totila
Totila
Totila, original name Baduila was King of the Ostrogoths from 541 to 552 AD. A skilled military and political leader, Totila reversed the tide of Gothic War, recovering by 543 almost all the territories in Italy that the Eastern Roman Empire had captured from his Kingdom in 540.A relative of...

, the Ostrogoths made quick gains. After a victory at Faenza
Faenza
Faenza is an Italian city and comune, in the province of Ravenna, Emilia-Romagna, situated 50 km southeast of Bologna.Faenza is noted for its manufacture of majolica ware glazed earthenware pottery, known from the name of the town as "faience"....

 in 542, they reconquered the major cities of Southern Italy and soon held almost the entire peninsula. Belisarius was sent back to Italy late in 544, but lacked sufficient troops. Making no headway, he was relieved of his command in 548. Belisarius succeeded in defeating a Gothic
Goths
The Goths were an East Germanic tribe of Scandinavian origin whose two branches, the Visigoths and the Ostrogoths, played an important role in the fall of the Roman Empire and the emergence of Medieval Europe....

 fleet with 200 ships. During this period the city of Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 changed hands three more times, first taken and depopulated by the Ostrogoths in December 546, then reconquered by the Byzantines in 547, and then again by the Goths in January 550. Totila also plundered Sicily
Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

 and attacked the Greek coastlines.

Finally, Justinian dispatched a force of approximately 35,000 men (2,000 men were detached and sent to invade southern Visigothic Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

) under the command of Narses
Narses
Narses was, with Belisarius, one of the great generals in the service of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I during the "Reconquest" that took place during Justinian's reign....

. The army reached Ravenna in June 552, and defeated the Ostrogoths decisively within a month at the battle of Busta Gallorum in the Apennines
Apennine mountains
The Apennines or Apennine Mountains or Greek oros but just as often used alone as a noun. The ancient Greeks and Romans typically but not always used "mountain" in the singular to mean one or a range; thus, "the Apennine mountain" refers to the entire chain and is translated "the Apennine...

, where Totila was slain. After a second battle at Mons Lactarius
Battle of Mons Lactarius
The Battle of Mons Lactarius took place in 552 or 553 in the course the Gothic War waged on behalf of Justinian I against the Ostrogoths in Italy....

 in October that year, the resistance of the Ostrogoths was finally broken. In 554, a large-scale Frankish
Franks
The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...

 invasion was defeated at Casilinum, and Italy secured for the Empire, even though it would take Narses several years to reduce the remaining Gothic strongholds. At the end of the war, Italy was garrisoned with an army of 16,000 men. The recovery of Italy cost the empire about 300,000 pounds of gold.

Other campaigns



In addition to the other conquests, the Empire established a presence in Visigothic Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

, when the usurper Athanagild
Athanagild
Athanagild was Visigothic King of Hispania and Septimania. He had rebelled against his predecessor, Agila, in 551. The armies of Agila and Athanagild met at Seville, where Agila met a second defeat...

 requested assistance in his rebellion against king Agila I. In 552, Justinian dispatched a force of 2,000 men; according to the historian Jordanes
Jordanes
Jordanes, also written Jordanis or Jornandes, was a 6th century Roman bureaucrat, who turned his hand to history later in life....

, this army was led by the octogenarian Liberius
Liberius (praetorian prefect)
Petrus Marcellinus Felix Liberius was a Late Roman aristocrat and official, whose career spanned seven decades in the highest offices of both the Ostrogothic Kingdom of Italy and the Eastern Roman Empire...

. The Byzantines took Cartagena
Cartagena, Spain
Cartagena is a Spanish city and a major naval station located in the Region of Murcia, by the Mediterranean coast, south-eastern Spain. As of January 2011, it has a population of 218,210 inhabitants being the Region’s second largest municipality and the country’s 6th non-Province capital...

 and other cities on the southeastern coast and founded the new province of Spania
Spania
Spania was a province of the Roman Empire from 552 until 624 in the south of the Iberian Peninsula and the Balearic Islands. It was a part of the conquests of Roman Emperor Justinian I in an effort to restore the western half of the Empire....

 before being checked by their former ally Athanagild, who had by now become king. This campaign marked the apogee of Byzantine expansion.

During Justinian's reign, the Balkans
Balkans
The Balkans is a geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe...

 suffered from several incursions by the Turkic
Turkic peoples
The Turkic peoples are peoples residing in northern, central and western Asia, southern Siberia and northwestern China and parts of eastern Europe. They speak languages belonging to the Turkic language family. They share, to varying degrees, certain cultural traits and historical backgrounds...

 and Slavic peoples
Slavic peoples
The Slavic people are an Indo-European panethnicity living in Eastern Europe, Southeast Europe, North Asia and Central Asia. The term Slavic represents a broad ethno-linguistic group of people, who speak languages belonging to the Slavic language family and share, to varying degrees, certain...

 who lived north of the Danube
Danube
The Danube is a river in the Central Europe and the Europe's second longest river after the Volga. It is classified as an international waterway....

. Here, Justinian resorted mainly to a combination of diplomacy and a system of defensive works. In 559 a particularly dangerous invasion of Sklavinoi
Slavic peoples
The Slavic people are an Indo-European panethnicity living in Eastern Europe, Southeast Europe, North Asia and Central Asia. The term Slavic represents a broad ethno-linguistic group of people, who speak languages belonging to the Slavic language family and share, to varying degrees, certain...

 and Kutrigurs
Kutrigurs
The Kutrigurs , first mentioned in 539/540, were a horde of equestrian nomads later known as part of the Bulgars that inhabited the Eurasian plains during the Dark Ages. They came into existence when the Eurasian Avars conquered half of the Hunno-Bulgars, whilst the remaining group, who were free ...

 under their khan
Khan (title)
Khan is an originally Altaic and subsequently Central Asian title for a sovereign or military ruler, widely used by medieval nomadic Turko-Mongol tribes living to the north of China. 'Khan' is also seen as a title in the Xianbei confederation for their chief between 283 and 289...

 Zabergan
Zabergan
Zabergan, Samur Khan, or Sam-Or Khan was a Kutrigur Khan, associated with the Eurasian Avars. Either under orders, or in revolt from them, he led the Kutrigur Bulgar Huns in attacks against Justinian I's northern frontier in 559...

 threatened Constantinople, but they were repulsed by the aged general Belisarius.

Results



Justinian's ambition to restore the Roman Empire to its former glory was only partly realised. In the West, the brilliant early military successes of the 530s were followed by years of stagnation. The dragging war with the Goths was a disaster for Italy, even though its long-lasting effects may have been less severe than is sometimes thought. The heavy taxes that the administration imposed upon its population were deeply resented. While the final victory in Italy and the conquest of the coast of southern Spain significantly enlarged the area over which the Empire could project its power and influence, and while they must have contributed to the Empire's prestige, most of the conquests proved ephemeral. The greater part of Italy would be lost to the invading Lombards
Lombards
The Lombards , also referred to as Longobards, were a Germanic tribe of Scandinavian origin, who from 568 to 774 ruled a Kingdom in Italy...

 three years after Justinian's death (568), the newly founded province of Spania was completely recovered by the Spanish Visigoths in 624 under the leadership of Suintila
Suintila
Suintila was Visigothic King of Hispania, Septimania and Galicia from 621 to 631. There was a new peace in the Kingdom of the Visigoths. As a direct result, by 624 the king was able to retake those lands that had been under the control of Byzantium...

, and within a century and a half Africa would be forever lost for the empire to the Rashidun
Rashidun Caliphate
The Rashidun Caliphate , comprising the first four caliphs in Islam's history, was founded after Muhammad's death in 632, Year 10 A.H.. At its height, the Caliphate extended from the Arabian Peninsula, to the Levant, Caucasus and North Africa in the west, to the Iranian highlands and Central Asia...

 and Umayyad Caliphates during the Muslim conquests
Muslim conquests
Muslim conquests also referred to as the Islamic conquests or Arab conquests, began with the Islamic prophet Muhammad. He established a new unified polity in the Arabian Peninsula which under the subsequent Rashidun and Umayyad Caliphates saw a century of rapid expansion of Muslim power.They...

.

Events of the later years of the reign showed that Constantinople itself was not safe from barbarian incursions from the north, and even the relatively benevolent historian Menander Protector
Menander Protector
Menander Protector , Byzantine historian, was born in Constantinople in the middle of the 6th century AD. The little that is known of his life is contained in the account of himself quoted by Suidas. He at first took up the study of law, but abandoned it for a life of pleasure...

 felt the need to explain the Emperor's failure to protect the capital from the weakness of his body in his old age. In his efforts to renew the Roman Empire, Justinian dangerously stretched the resources of the Roman Empire while failing to take into account the changed realities of 6th-century Europe. Paradoxically, the grand scale of Justinian's military successes probably contributed in part to the Empire's subsequent decline.

Religious activities


Justinian saw the orthodoxy of his empire threatened by diverging religious currents, especially Monophysitism
Monophysitism
Monophysitism , or Monophysiticism, is the Christological position that Jesus Christ has only one nature, his humanity being absorbed by his Deity...

, which had many adherents in the eastern provinces of Syria and Egypt. Monophysite doctrine had been condemned as a heresy
Heresy
Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma. It is distinct from apostasy, which is the formal denunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is irreverence toward religion...

 by the Council of Chalcedon
Council of Chalcedon
The Council of Chalcedon was a church council held from 8 October to 1 November, 451 AD, at Chalcedon , on the Asian side of the Bosporus. The council marked a significant turning point in the Christological debates that led to the separation of the church of the Eastern Roman Empire in the 5th...

 in 451, and the tolerant policies towards Monophysitism of Zeno
Zeno (emperor)
Zeno , originally named Tarasis, was Byzantine Emperor from 474 to 475 and again from 476 to 491. Domestic revolts and religious dissension plagued his reign, which nevertheless succeeded to some extent in foreign issues...

 and Anastasius I
Anastasius I (emperor)
Anastasius I was Byzantine Emperor from 491 to 518. During his reign the Roman eastern frontier underwent extensive re-fortification, including the construction of Dara, a stronghold intended to counter the Persian fortress of Nisibis....

 had been a source of tension in the relationship with the bishops of Rome. Justin reversed this trend and confirmed the Chalcedonian doctrine, openly condemning the Monophysites. Justinian, who continued this policy, tried to impose religious unity on his subjects by forcing them to accept doctrinal compromises that might appeal to all parties, a policy which proved unsuccessful as he satisfied none of them.

Near the end of his life, Justinian became ever more inclined towards the Monophysite doctrine, especially in the form of Aphthartodocetism
Aphthartodocetae
The Aphthartodocetae were members of a 6th century Non-Chalcedonian sect. Their leader Julian, Bishop of Halicarnassus taught that Christ's body was always incorruptible...

, but he died before being able to issue any legislation which would have elevated its teachings to the status of dogma. The empress Theodora sympathized with the Monophysites and is said to have been a constant source of pro-Monophysite intrigues at the court in Constantinople in the earlier years. In the course of his reign Justinian, who had a genuine interest in matters of theology, authored a small number of theological treatises.

Religious policy


As with his secular administration, despotism
Despotism
Despotism is a form of government in which a single entity rules with absolute power. That entity may be an individual, as in an autocracy, or it may be a group, as in an oligarchy...

 appeared also in the Emperor's ecclesiastical policy. He regulated everything, both in religion and in law.

At the very beginning of his reign, he deemed it proper to promulgate by law the Church's belief in the Trinity
Trinity
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity defines God as three divine persons : the Father, the Son , and the Holy Spirit. The three persons are distinct yet coexist in unity, and are co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial . Put another way, the three persons of the Trinity are of one being...

 and the Incarnation
Incarnation
Incarnation literally means embodied in flesh or taking on flesh. It refers to the conception and birth of a sentient creature who is the material manifestation of an entity, god or force whose original nature is immaterial....

; and to threaten all heretics
Christian heresy
Christian heresy refers to non-orthodox practices and beliefs that were deemed to be heretical by one or more of the Christian churches. In Western Christianity, the term "heresy" most commonly refers to those beliefs which were declared to be anathema by the Catholic Church prior to the schism of...

 with the appropriate penalties; whereas he subsequently declared that he intended to deprive all disturbers of orthodoxy of the opportunity for such offense by due process
Due process
Due process is the legal code that the state must venerate all of the legal rights that are owed to a person under the principle. Due process balances the power of the state law of the land and thus protects individual persons from it...

 of law. He made the Nicaeno-Constantinopolitan creed the sole symbol of the Church, and accorded legal force to the canon
Canon law
Canon law is the body of laws & regulations made or adopted by ecclesiastical authority, for the government of the Christian organization and its members. It is the internal ecclesiastical law governing the Catholic Church , the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches, and the Anglican Communion of...

s of the four ecumenical councils. The bishops in attendance at the Second Council of Constantinople
Second Council of Constantinople
The Second Council of Constantinople is recognized as the Fifth Ecumenical Council by the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholics, Old Catholics, and a number of other Western Christian groups. It was held from May 5 to June 2, 553, having been called by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian...

 in 553 recognized that nothing could be done in the Church contrary to the emperor's will and command; while, on his side, the emperor, in the case of the Patriarch Anthimus
Patriarch Anthimus I of Constantinople
Anthimus I was a Monophysite patriarch of Constantinople from 535–536. He was the bishop or archbishop of Trebizond before accession to the Constantinople see. He was deposed by Pope Agapetus I before March 13, 536, and later hidden by Theodora in her quarters for 12 years, until her...

, reinforced the ban of the Church with temporal proscription. Justinian protected the purity of the church by suppressing heretics. He neglected no opportunity for securing the rights of the Church and clergy
Clergy
Clergy is the generic term used to describe the formal religious leadership within a given religion. A clergyman, churchman or cleric is a member of the clergy, especially one who is a priest, preacher, pastor, or other religious professional....

, for protecting and extending monasticism
Monasticism
Monasticism is a religious way of life characterized by the practice of renouncing worldly pursuits to fully devote one's self to spiritual work...

. He granted the monks the right to inherit property from private citizens and the right to receive solemnia or annual gifts from the Imperial treasury or from the taxes of certain provinces and he prohibited lay confiscation on monastic estates.

Although the despotic character of his measures is contrary to modern sensibilities, he was indeed a "nursing father" of the Church. Both the Codex and the Novellae contain many enactments regarding donations, foundations, and the administration of ecclesiastical property; election and rights of bishops, priests and abbots; monastic life, residential obligations of the clergy, conduct of divine service, episcopal jurisdiction, etc. Justinian also rebuilt the Church of Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia is a former Orthodox patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, and now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey...

 (which cost 20,000 pounds of gold), the original site having been destroyed during the Nika riots. The new Hagia Sophia, with its numerous chapels and shrines, gilded octagonal dome, and mosaic
Mosaic
Mosaic is the art of creating images with an assemblage of small pieces of colored glass, stone, or other materials. It may be a technique of decorative art, an aspect of interior decoration, or of cultural and spiritual significance as in a cathedral...

s, became the centre and most visible monument of Eastern Orthodoxy in Constantinople.

Religious relations with Rome


From the middle of the fifth century onward increasingly arduous tasks confronted the emperors of the East in ecclesiastical matters. For one thing, the radicals on all sides felt themselves constantly repelled by the creed adopted by the Council of Chalcedon
Council of Chalcedon
The Council of Chalcedon was a church council held from 8 October to 1 November, 451 AD, at Chalcedon , on the Asian side of the Bosporus. The council marked a significant turning point in the Christological debates that led to the separation of the church of the Eastern Roman Empire in the 5th...

 to defend the biblical doctrine of the nature of Christ and bridge the gap between the dogma
Dogma
Dogma is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, or a particular group or organization. It is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from, by the practitioners or believers...

tic parties. The letter of Pope Leo I
Pope Leo I
Pope Leo I was pope from September 29, 440 to his death.He was an Italian aristocrat, and is the first pope of the Catholic Church to have been called "the Great". He is perhaps best known for having met Attila the Hun in 452, persuading him to turn back from his invasion of Italy...

 to Flavian of Constantinople was widely considered in the East as the work of Satan
Satan
Satan , "the opposer", is the title of various entities, both human and divine, who challenge the faith of humans in the Hebrew Bible...

; so that nobody cared to hear of the Church of Rome. The Emperors, however, had a policy of preserving the unity between Constantinople and Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

; and this remained possible only if they did not swerve from the line defined at Chalcedon
Council of Chalcedon
The Council of Chalcedon was a church council held from 8 October to 1 November, 451 AD, at Chalcedon , on the Asian side of the Bosporus. The council marked a significant turning point in the Christological debates that led to the separation of the church of the Eastern Roman Empire in the 5th...

. In addition, the factions in the East which had become stirred up and disaffected because of Chalcedon needed restraining and pacifying. This problem proved the more difficult because, in the East, the dissenting groups exceeded supporters of Chalcedon both in numerical strength and in intellectual ability. Tension from the incompatibility of the two aims grew: whoever chose Rome and the West must renounce the East, and vice versa.

Justinian entered the arena of ecclesiastical statecraft shortly after his uncle's accession in 518, and put an end to the Monophysite
Monophysitism
Monophysitism , or Monophysiticism, is the Christological position that Jesus Christ has only one nature, his humanity being absorbed by his Deity...

 schism
Schism (religion)
A schism , from Greek σχίσμα, skhísma , is a division between people, usually belonging to an organization or movement religious denomination. The word is most frequently applied to a break of communion between two sections of Christianity that were previously a single body, or to a division within...

 that had prevailed between Rome and Constantinople since 483. The recognition of the Roman see
Holy See
The Holy See is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, in which its Bishop is commonly known as the Pope. It is the preeminent episcopal see of the Catholic Church, forming the central government of the Church. As such, diplomatically, and in other spheres the Holy See acts and...

 as the highest ecclesiastical authority remained the cornerstone of his Western policy. Offensive as it was to many in the East, nonetheless Justinian felt himself entirely free to take a Despotic stance toward the pope
Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

s such as Silverius and Vigilius. While no compromise could ever be accepted by the dogmatic wing of the church, his sincere efforts at reconciliation gained him the approval of the major body of the church. A signal proof was his attitude in the Theopaschite controversy. At the outset he was of the opinion that the question turned on a quibble of words. By degrees, however, Justinian came to understand that the formula at issue not only appeared orthodox, but might also serve as a conciliatory measure toward the Monophysites, and he made a vain attempt to do this in the religious conference with the followers of Severus of Antioch
Severus of Antioch
Severus, Patriarch of Antioch , born approximately 465 in Sozopolis in Pisidia, was by birth and education a pagan, who was baptized in the "precinct of the divine martyr Leontius" at Tripoli, Lebanon.- Life :...

, in 533.

Again, Justinian moved toward compromise in the religious edict of 15 March 533, and congratulated himself that Pope John II
Pope John II
Pope John II was pope from 533 to 535.He was the son of a certain Projectus, born in Rome and a priest of the Basilica di San Clemente on the Caelian Hill. He was made pope January 2, 533. The basilica of St. Clement still retains several memorials of "Johannes surnamed Mercurius"...

 admitted the orthodoxy of the imperial confession. The serious blunder that he had made at the beginning by abetting a severe persecution of the Monophysite bishops and monks and thereby embittering the population of vast regions and provinces, he remedied eventually. His constant aim now remained to win over the Monophysites, yet not to surrender the Chalcedonian faith. For many at court, he did not go far enough: Theodora especially would have rejoiced to see the Monophysites favored unreservedly. Justinian, however, felt restrained by the complications that would have ensued with the West. But in the condemnation of the Three Chapters
Three-Chapter Controversy
The Three-Chapter Controversy, a phase in the Chalcedonian controversy, was an attempt to reconcile the Non-Chalcedonian Christians of Syria and Egypt with Chalcedonian Eastern Orthodoxy, following the failure of the Henotikon...

 Justinian tried to satisfy both the East and the West, but succeeded in satisfying neither. Although the pope assented to the condemnation, the West believed that the Emperor had acted contrary to the decrees of Chalcedon. Though many delegates emerged in the East subservient to Justinian, many, especially the Monophysites, remained unsatisfied; all the more bitter for him because during his last years he took an even greater interest in theological matters.

Suppression of religions


Justinian's religious policy reflected the Imperial conviction that the unity of the Empire unconditionally presupposed unity of faith; and it appeared to him obvious that this faith could be only the Orthodox (Nicaean). Those of a different belief had to recognize that the process of consolidation, which imperial legislation had effected from the time of Constantius II
Constantius II
Constantius II , was Roman Emperor from 337 to 361. The second son of Constantine I and Fausta, he ascended to the throne with his brothers Constantine II and Constans upon their father's death....

, would now vigorously continue. The Codex contained two statute
Statute
A statute is a formal written enactment of a legislative authority that governs a state, city, or county. Typically, statutes command or prohibit something, or declare policy. The word is often used to distinguish law made by legislative bodies from case law, decided by courts, and regulations...

s which decreed the total destruction of paganism
Paganism
Paganism is a blanket term, typically used to refer to non-Abrahamic, indigenous polytheistic religious traditions....

, even in private life; these provisions were zealously enforced. Contemporary sources (John Malalas
John Malalas
John Malalas or Ioannes Malalas was a Greek chronicler from Antioch. Malalas is probably a Syriac word for "rhetor", "orator"; it is first applied to him by John of Damascus .-Life:Malalas was educated in Antioch, and probably was a jurist there, but moved to...

, Theophanes
Theophanes the Confessor
Saint Theophanes Confessor was a member of the Byzantine aristocracy, who became a monk and chronicler. He is venerated on March 12 in the Roman Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox Church .-Biography:Theophanes was born in Constantinople of wealthy and noble iconodule parents: Isaac,...

, John of Ephesus
John of Ephesus
John of Ephesus was a leader of the non-Chalcedonian Syriac-speaking Church in the sixth century, and one of the earliest and most important of historians who wrote in Syriac.-Life:...

) tell of severe persecutions, even of men in high position.

Perhaps the most noteworthy event occurred in 529 when the Neoplatonic Academy of Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

 was placed under state control by order of Justinian, effectively strangling this training-school for Hellenism. Paganism
Paganism
Paganism is a blanket term, typically used to refer to non-Abrahamic, indigenous polytheistic religious traditions....

 was actively suppressed. In Asia Minor
Asia Minor
Asia Minor is a geographical location at the westernmost protrusion of Asia, also called Anatolia, and corresponds to the western two thirds of the Asian part of Turkey...

 alone, John of Ephesus claimed to have converted
Christianization
The historical phenomenon of Christianization is the conversion of individuals to Christianity or the conversion of entire peoples at once...

 70,000 pagans. Other peoples also accepted Christianity: the Heruli
Heruli
The Heruli were an East Germanic tribe who are famous for their naval exploits. Migrating from Northern Europe to the Black Sea in the third century They were part of the...

, the Huns
Huns
The Huns were a group of nomadic people who, appearing from east of the Volga River, migrated into Europe c. AD 370 and established the vast Hunnic Empire there. Since de Guignes linked them with the Xiongnu, who had been northern neighbours of China 300 years prior to the emergence of the Huns,...

 dwelling near the Don, the Abasgi
Abkhaz people
The Abkhaz or Abkhazians are a Caucasian ethnic group, mainly living in Abkhazia, a disputed region on the Black Sea coast. A large Abkhazian diaspora population resides in Turkey, the origins of which lie in the emigration from the Caucasus in the late 19th century known as Muhajirism...

, and the Tzanni in Caucasia
Caucasus
The Caucasus, also Caucas or Caucasia , is a geopolitical region at the border of Europe and Asia, and situated between the Black and the Caspian sea...

.

The worship of Amun
Amun
Amun, reconstructed Egyptian Yamānu , was a god in Egyptian mythology who in the form of Amun-Ra became the focus of the most complex system of theology in Ancient Egypt...

 at Augila in the Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

n desert was abolished; and so were the remnants of the worship of Isis
Isis
Isis or in original more likely Aset is a goddess in Ancient Egyptian religious beliefs, whose worship spread throughout the Greco-Roman world. She was worshipped as the ideal mother and wife as well as the matron of nature and magic...

 on the island of Philae
Philae
Philae is an island in the Nile River and the previous site of an Ancient Egyptian temple complex in southern Egypt...

, at the first cataract
Cataracts of the Nile
The cataracts of the Nile are shallow lengths of the Nile between Aswan and Khartoum where the surface of the water is broken by many small boulders and stones protruding out of the river bed, as well as many rocky islets. Aswan is also the Southern boundary of Upper Egypt...

 of the Nile
Nile
The Nile is a major north-flowing river in North Africa, generally regarded as the longest river in the world. It is long. It runs through the ten countries of Sudan, South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Egypt.The Nile has two major...

. The Presbyter Julian and the Bishop Longinus conducted a mission among the Nabataeans, and Justinian attempted to strengthen Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 in Yemen
Yemen
The Republic of Yemen , commonly known as Yemen , is a country located in the Middle East, occupying the southwestern to southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, and Oman to the east....

 by despatching a bishop from Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

.

The civil rights of Jews were restricted and their religious privileges threatened. Justinian also interfered in the internal affairs of the synagogue
Synagogue
A synagogue is a Jewish house of prayer. This use of the Greek term synagogue originates in the Septuagint where it sometimes translates the Hebrew word for assembly, kahal...

., and he encouraged the Jews to use the Greek Septuagint in their synagogues in Constantinople.

The Emperor had much trouble with the Samaritan
Samaritan
The Samaritans are an ethnoreligious group of the Levant. Religiously, they are the adherents to Samaritanism, an Abrahamic religion closely related to Judaism...

s, resisting conversion to Christianity and repeatedly in insurrection. He opposed them with rigorous edicts, but yet could not prevent hostilities towards Christians from taking place in Samaria
Samaria
Samaria, or the Shomron is a term used for a mountainous region roughly corresponding to the northern part of the West Bank.- Etymology :...

 toward the close of his reign. The consistency of Justinian's policy meant that the Manicheans too suffered severe persecution, experiencing both exile and threat of capital punishment. At Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

, on one occasion, not a few Manicheans, after strict inquisition, were executed in the emperor's very presence: some by burning, others by drowning
Drowning
Drowning is death from asphyxia due to suffocation caused by water entering the lungs and preventing the absorption of oxygen leading to cerebral hypoxia....

.

Building activities, learning, art and literature


Justinian was a prolific builder; the historian Procopius bears witness to his activities in this area. Under Justinian's patronage the San Vitale
Basilica of San Vitale
The Church of San Vitale — styled an "ecclesiastical basilica" in the Roman Catholic Church, though it is not of architectural basilica form — is a church in Ravenna, Italy, one of the most important examples of early Christian Byzantine Art and architecture in western Europe...

 in Ravenna, which features two famous mosaics representing Justinian and Theodora, was completed. Most notably, he had the Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia is a former Orthodox patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, and now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey...

, originally a basilica
Basilica
The Latin word basilica , was originally used to describe a Roman public building, usually located in the forum of a Roman town. Public basilicas began to appear in Hellenistic cities in the 2nd century BC.The term was also applied to buildings used for religious purposes...

 style church that had been burnt down during the Nika riots
Nika riots
The Nika riots , or Nika revolt, took place over the course of a week in Constantinople in AD 532. It was the most violent riot that Constantinople had ever seen to that point, with nearly half the city being burned or destroyed and tens of thousands of people killed.-Background:The ancient Roman...

, splendidly rebuilt according to a completely different ground plan, under the architectural supervision of Isidore of Miletus
Isidore of Miletus
Isidore of Miletus was one of the two main Byzantine architects that Emperor Justinian I commissioned to design the church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople from 532-537A.D.-Summary:...

 and Anthemius of Tralles
Anthemius of Tralles
Anthemius of Tralles was a Greek professor of Geometry in Constantinople and architect, who collaborated with Isidore of Miletus to build the church of Hagia Sophia by the order of Justinian I. Anthemius came from an educated family, one of five sons of Stephanus of Tralles, a physician...

. According to Procopius, Justinian stated at the completion of this edifice, "Solomon I have outdone thee" (in reference to the 1st Jewish temple). This new cathedral, with its magnificent dome filled with mosaics, remained the centre of eastern Christianity for centuries.

Another prominent church in the capital, the Church of the Holy Apostles
Church of the Holy Apostles
The Church of the Holy Apostles , also known as the Imperial Polyandreion, was a Christian church built in Constantinople, capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, in 550. It was second only to the Church of the Holy Wisdom among the great churches of the capital...

, which had been in a very poor state near the end of the 5th century, was likewise rebuilt. Works of embellishment were not confined to churches alone: excavations at the site of the Great Palace of Constantinople
Great Palace of Constantinople
The Great Palace of Constantinople — also known as the Sacred Palace — was the large Imperial Byzantine palace complex located in the south-eastern end of the peninsula now known as "Old Istanbul", modern Turkey...

 have yielded several high-quality mosaics dating from Justinian's reign, and a column topped by a bronze statue
Column of Justinian
The Column of Justinian was a Roman triumphal column erected in Constantinople by the Byzantine emperor Justinian I in honour of his victories in 543...

 of Justinian on horseback and dressed in a military costume was erected in the Augustaeum in Constantinople in 543. Rivalry with other, more established patrons from the Constantinopolitan and exiled Roman aristocracy (like Anicia Juliana
Anicia Juliana
Anicia Juliana was a Roman imperial princess, the daughter of the Western Roman Emperor Olybrius, of the Anicii, by Placidia the younger, daughter of Emperor Valentinian III and Licinia Eudoxia....

) may have enforced Justinian's building activities in the capital as a means of strengthening his dynasty's prestige.

Justinian also strengthened the borders of the Empire from Africa to the East through the construction of fortifications, and ensured Constantinople of its water supply through construction of underground cisterns (see Basilica Cistern
Basilica Cistern
The Basilica Cistern , is the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns that lie beneath the city of Istanbul , Turkey...

). To prevent floods from damaging the strategically important border town Dara
Dara (Mesopotamia)
Dara or Daras was an important East Roman fortress city in northern Mesopotamia on the border with the Sassanid Empire. Because of its great strategic importance, it featured prominently in the Roman-Persian conflicts of the 6th century, with the famous Battle of Dara taking place before its walls...

, an advanced arch dam
Dara Dam
The Dara Dam was a Roman arch dam at Dara in Mesopotamia , a rare pre-modern example of this dam type. The modern identification of its site is uncertain, but may rather point to a common gravity dam.- Ancient account :...

 was built. During his reign the large Sangarius Bridge
Sangarius Bridge
The Sangarius Bridge or Bridge of Justinian is a late Roman bridge over the river Sakarya in Anatolia, in modern-day Turkey. It was built by the East Roman Emperor Justinian I to improve communications between the capital Constantinople and the eastern provinces of his empire...

 was built in Bithynia
Bithynia
Bithynia was an ancient region, kingdom and Roman province in the northwest of Asia Minor, adjoining the Propontis, the Thracian Bosporus and the Euxine .-Description:...

, securing a major military supply route to the east. Furthermore, Justinian restored cities damaged by earthquake or war and built a new city near his place of birth called Justiniana Prima
Justiniana Prima
Justiniana Prima is an archaeological site near today's Lebane in southern Serbia, It was a Byzantine city that served as the seat of an Archbishopric that had jurisdiction of the Central Balkans...

, which was intended to replace Thessalonica as the political and religious center of the Illyricum
Praetorian prefecture of Illyricum
The praetorian prefecture of Illyricum was one of four praetorian prefectures into which the Late Roman Empire was divided.The administrative centre of the prefecture was Sirmium , and, after 379, Thessalonica...

.

In Justinian's era, and partly under his patronage, Byzantine culture produced noteworthy historians, including Procopius
Procopius
Procopius of Caesarea was a prominent Byzantine scholar from Palestine. Accompanying the general Belisarius in the wars of the Emperor Justinian I, he became the principal historian of the 6th century, writing the Wars of Justinian, the Buildings of Justinian and the celebrated Secret History...

 and Agathias
Agathias
Agathias or Agathias Scholasticus , of Myrina , an Aeolian city in western Asia Minor , was a Greek poet and the principal historian of part of the reign of the Roman emperor Justinian I between 552 and 558....

, and poets such as Paul the Silentiary
Paul the Silentiary
Paul the Silentiary, also known as Paulus Silentiarius , was an epigrammatist and an officer in the imperial household of the Byzantine emperor Justinian I, responsible for the silence in the imperial palace....

 and Romanus the Melodist flourished during his reign. On the other hand, centers of learning as the Platonic Academy in Athens and the famous law school of Beirut
Beirut
Beirut is the capital and largest city of Lebanon, with a population ranging from 1 million to more than 2 million . Located on a peninsula at the midpoint of Lebanon's Mediterranean coastline, it serves as the country's largest and main seaport, and also forms the Beirut Metropolitan...

 lost their importance during his reign. Despite Justinian's passion for the glorious Roman past, the practice of choosing Roman consul
Roman consul
A consul served in the highest elected political office of the Roman Republic.Each year, two consuls were elected together, to serve for a one-year term. Each consul was given veto power over his colleague and the officials would alternate each month...

 was allowed to lapse after 541.

Economy and administration


As was the case under Justinian's predecessors, the Empire's economic health rested primarily on agriculture. In addition, long-distance trade flourished, reaching as far north as Cornwall
Cornwall
Cornwall is a unitary authority and ceremonial county of England, within the United Kingdom. It is bordered to the north and west by the Celtic Sea, to the south by the English Channel, and to the east by the county of Devon, over the River Tamar. Cornwall has a population of , and covers an area of...

 where tin
Tin
Tin is a chemical element with the symbol Sn and atomic number 50. It is a main group metal in group 14 of the periodic table. Tin shows chemical similarity to both neighboring group 14 elements, germanium and lead and has two possible oxidation states, +2 and the slightly more stable +4...

 was exchanged for Roman wheat. Within the Empire, convoys sailing from Alexandria
Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

 provided Constantinople with wheat and grains. Justinian made the traffic more efficient by building a large granary on the island of Tenedos
Tenedos
Tenedos or Bozcaada or Bozdja-Ada is a small island in the Aegean Sea, part of the Bozcaada district of Çanakkale province in Turkey. , Tenedos has a population of about 2,354. The main industries are tourism, wine production and fishing...

 for storage and further transport to Constantinople. Justinian also tried to find new routes for the eastern trade, which was suffering badly from the wars with the Persians.

One important luxury product was silk
Silk
Silk is a natural protein fiber, some forms of which can be woven into textiles. The best-known type of silk is obtained from the cocoons of the larvae of the mulberry silkworm Bombyx mori reared in captivity...

, which was imported and then processed in the Empire. In order to protect the manufacture of silk products, Justinian granted a monopoly to the imperial factories in 541. In order to bypass the Persian landroute, Justinian established friendly relations with the Abyssinians
Habesha people
The term Habesha ābešā, Ḥābešā; al-Ḥabašah) refers to the South Semitic-speaking group of people whose cultural, linguistic, and in certain cases, ancestral origins trace back to those people who ruled the Axumite Empire and the kingdom known as DʿMT .Peoples referred to as "Habesha" today...

, whom he wanted to act as trade mediators by transporting Indian silk to the Empire; the Abyssinians, however, were unable to compete with the Persian merchants in India. Then, in the early 550s, two monks succeeded in smuggling eggs of silk worms from Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

 back to Constantinople, and silk became an indigenous product.

Gold and silver were mined in the Balkans, Anatolia, Armenia, Cyprus, Egypt and Nubia.

At the start of Justinian I's reign he had inherited a surplus 28,800,000 solidi (400,000 pounds of gold) in the imperial treasury from Anastasius I and Justin I
Justin I
Justin I was Byzantine Emperor from 518 to 527. He rose through the ranks of the army and ultimately became its Emperor, in spite of the fact he was illiterate and almost 70 years old at the time of accession...

. Under Justinian's rule, measures were taken to counter corruption in the provinces and to make tax collection more efficient. Greater administrative power was given to both the leaders of the prefectures and of the provinces, while power was taken away from the vicariates
Vicarius
Vicarius is a Latin word, meaning substitute or deputy. It is the root and origin of the English word "vicar" and cognate to the Persian word most familiar in the variant vizier....

 of the dioceses, of which a number were abolished. The overall trend was towards a simplification of administrative infrastructure. According to Brown
Peter Brown (historian)
Peter Robert Lamont Brown is Rollins Professor of History at Princeton University. His principal contributions to the discipline have been in the field of late antiquity and, in particular, the religious culture of the later Roman Empire and early medieval Europe.-Life:Peter Brown was born in...

 (1971), the increased professionalization of tax collection did much to destroy the traditional structures of provincial life, as it weakened the autonomy of the town councils in the Greek towns. It has been estimated that before Justinian I's reconquests the state had an annual revenue of 5,000,000 solidi in AD 530, but after his reconquests, the annual revenue was increased to 6,000,000 solidi in AD 550.

Throughout Justinian's reign, the cities and villages of the East prospered, although Antioch
Antioch
Antioch on the Orontes was an ancient city on the eastern side of the Orontes River. It is near the modern city of Antakya, Turkey.Founded near the end of the 4th century BC by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals, Antioch eventually rivaled Alexandria as the chief city of the...

 was struck by two earthquakes (526, 528) and sacked and evacuated by the Persians (540). Justinian had the city rebuilt, but on a slightly smaller scale. Some consider Justinian the "Last of the Romans
Last of the Romans
The description Last of the Romans has historically been given to any man thought to embody the values of Ancient Roman civilization - values which, by implication, became extinct on his death....

," for he was the last Roman Emperor to speak Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

.

Despite all these measures, the Empire suffered several major setbacks in the course of the 6th century. The first one was the plague
Plague of Justinian
The Plague of Justinian was a pandemic that afflicted the Eastern Roman Empire , including its capital Constantinople, in 541–542 AD. It was one of the greatest plagues in history. The most commonly accepted cause of the pandemic is bubonic plague, which later became infamous for either causing or...

, which lasted from 541 to 543 and, by decimating the Empire's population, probably created a scarcity of labor and a rising of wages. The lack of manpower also led to a significant increase in the number of "barbarians" in the Byzantine armies after the early 540s. The protracted war in Italy and the wars with the Persians themselves laid a heavy burden on the Empire's resources, and Justinian was criticized for curtailing the government-run post service, which he limited to only one eastern route of military importance.

In art and popular culture


Justinian was portrayed by Orson Welles
Orson Welles
George Orson Welles , best known as Orson Welles, was an American film director, actor, theatre director, screenwriter, and producer, who worked extensively in film, theatre, television and radio...

 in the 1968 German film Kampf um Rom I
Kampf um Rom I
Kampf um Rom I is a 1968 West German historical drama film directed by Robert Siodmak, about Justinian's attempts to repel barbarian incursions and reclaim those parts of the empire already lost. Before screening it in the US in 1973 both parts were combined to one and shortened from over three...

, directed by Robert Siodmak
Robert Siodmak
Robert Siodmak was a German born American film director. He is best remembered as a thriller specialist and for the series of Hollywood film noirs he made in the 1940s.-Early life:...

.

Primary sources

  • Procopii Caesariensis opera omnia. Edited by J. Haury; revised by G. Wirth. 3 vols. Leipzig: Teubner, 1976-64. Greek text.
  • Procopius. Edited by H. B. Dewing. 7 vols. Loeb Classical Library. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press and London, Hutchinson, 1914–40. Greek text and English translation.
  • Procopius, The Secret History, translated by G.A. Williamson. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1966. A readable and accessible English translation of the Anecdota.
  • Elizabeth Jeffreys, Michael Jeffreys, Roger Scott et al. 1986, The Chronicle of John Malalas: A Translation, Byzantina Australiensia 4 (Melbourne: Australian Association for Byzantine Studies) ISBN 0-9593626-2-2
  • Edward Walford
    Edward Walford
    Edward Walford was a British magazine editor and a compiler of educational, biographical, genealogical and touristic works, perhaps best known for his Old and New London 6 volumes , 1878....

    , translator (1846) The Ecclesiastical History of Evagrius: A History of the Church from AD 431 to AD 594, Reprinted 2008. Evolution Publishing, ISBN 978-1-889758-88-6. http://www.evolpub.com/CRE/CREseries.html#CRE5

External links