Justinian I
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Justinian I (; la, Flavius Petrus Sabbatius Iustinianus, ; grc-gre, Ἰουστινιανός ; 48214 November 565), also known as Justinian the Great, was the
Eastern Roman emperor This is a list of the Byzantine emperors from the foundation of Constantinople in 330 AD, which marks the conventional start of the Byzantine Empire, Eastern Roman Empire, to Fall of Constantinople, its fall to the Ottoman Empire in 1453 AD. On ...
from 527 to 565. His 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 The Western Roman Empire comprised the western provinces of the Roman Empire at any time during which they were administered by a separate independent Imperial court; in particular, this term is used in historiography to describe the period fr ...
. His general,
Belisarius Belisarius (; el, Βελισάριος; The exact date of his birth is unknown. – 565) was a military commander of the Byzantine Empire under the emperor Justinian I. He was instrumental in the reconquest of much of the Mediterranean terri ...
, swiftly conquered the Vandal Kingdom in North Africa. Subsequently, Belisarius, Narses, and other generals conquered the
Ostrogothic kingdom The Ostrogothic Kingdom, officially the Kingdom of Italy (), existed under the control of the Germanic Ostrogoths in Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic, ) or the Republic of Italy, is a country in Southern Europe ...
, restoring
Dalmatia Dalmatia (; hr, Dalmacija ; it, Dalmazia; see #Name, names in other languages) is one of the four historical region, historical regions of Croatia, alongside Croatia proper, Slavonia, and Istria. Dalmatia is a narrow belt of the east shore of ...
,
Sicily (man) it, Siciliana (woman) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_type1 = Ethnicity , demographics1_footnotes = , demographi ...
,
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic, ) or the Republic of Italy, is a country in Southern Europe. It is located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, and its territory largely coincides with the Italy (geographical region) ...
, and
Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus (Romulus and Remus, legendary) , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, Italy).svg ...
to the empire after more than half a century of rule by the Ostrogoths. The praetorian prefect Liberius reclaimed the south of the
Iberian peninsula The Iberian Peninsula (), ** * Aragonese language, Aragonese and Occitan language, Occitan: ''Peninsula Iberica'' ** ** * french: Péninsule Ibérique * mwl, Península Eibérica * eu, Iberiar penintsula also known as Iberia, is a pe ...
, establishing the province of
Spania Spania ( la, Provincia Spaniae) was a Roman province, province of the Eastern Roman Empire from 552 until 624 in the south of the Iberian Peninsula and the Balearic Islands. It was established by the List of Byzantine emperors, Emperor Justinian ...
. 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 subdued the '' Tzani'', a people on the east coast of the
Black Sea The Black Sea is a marginal sea, marginal Mediterranean sea (oceanography), mediterranean sea of the Atlantic Ocean lying between Europe and Asia, east of the Balkans, south of the East European Plain, west of the Caucasus, and north of An ...
that had never been under Roman rule before. He engaged the
Sasanian Empire The Sasanian () or Sassanid Empire, officially known as the Empire of Iranians (, ) and also referred to by historians as the Neo-Persian Empire, was the History of Iran, last Iranian empire before the early Muslim conquests of the 7th-8th cen ...
in the east during Kavad I's reign, and later again during
Khosrow I Khosrow I (also spelled Khosrau, Khusro or Chosroes; pal, 𐭧𐭥𐭮𐭫𐭥𐭣𐭩; New Persian: []), traditionally known by his epithet of Anushirvan ( [] "the Immortal Soul"), was the Sasanian Empire, Sasanian King of Kings of Iran from ...
's reign; this second conflict was partially initiated due to his ambitions in the west. A still more resonant aspect of his legacy was the uniform rewriting of Roman law, the ''
Corpus Juris Civilis The ''Corpus Juris'' (or ''Iuris'') ''Civilis'' ("Body of Civil Law") is the modern name for a collection of fundamental works in jurisprudence, issued from 529 to 534 by order of Justinian I, Byzantine Emperors, Byzantine Emperor. It is also ...
'', which is still the basis of civil law in many modern states. His reign also marked a blossoming of
Byzantine culture The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It survi ...
, and his building program yielded works such as the
Hagia Sophia Hagia Sophia ( 'Holy Wisdom'; ; ; ), officially the Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque ( tr, Ayasofya-i Kebir Cami-i Şerifi), is a mosque and major cultural and historical site in Istanbul, Turkey. The cathedral was originally built as a Greek Ortho ...
.


Life

Justinian was born in Tauresium, Dardania, around 482. A native speaker of
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through ...
(possibly the last Roman emperor to be one), he came from a
peasant A peasant is a pre-industrial farmworker, agricultural laborer or a farmer with limited land-ownership, especially one living in the Middle Ages under feudalism and tenant farmer, paying rent, tax, fees, or services to a landlord. In Europe, ...
family believed to have been of Illyro-Roman or of
Thraco-Roman The term Thraco-Roman describes the Romanization (cultural), Romanized culture of Thracians under the rule of the Roman Empire. The Odrysian kingdom of Thrace became a Roman client kingdom c. 20 BC, while the Greek city-states on the Black Sea coas ...
origin. The
cognomen A ''cognomen'' (; plural ''cognomina''; from ''con-'' "together with" and ''(g)nomen'' "name") was the third name of a citizen of ancient Rome, under Roman naming conventions. Initially, it was a nickname, but lost that purpose when it became here ...
''Iustinianus'', which he took later, is indicative of adoption by his uncle Justin. During his reign, he founded
Justiniana Prima Justiniana Prima (Latin language, Latin: , sr, Јустинијана Прима, Justinijana Prima) was an Byzantine Empire, Eastern Roman city that existed from 535 to 615, and currently an archaeological site, known as or ''Caričin Grad'' ( ...
not far from his birthplace. His mother was Vigilantia, the sister of Justin. Justin, who was commander of one of the imperial guard units (the Excubitors) before he became emperor, adopted Justinian, brought him to
Constantinople la, Constantinopolis ota, قسطنطينيه , alternate_name = Byzantion (earlier Greek name), Nova Roma ("New Rome"), Miklagard/Miklagarth (Old Norse), Tsargrad (Slavs, Slavic), Qustantiniya (Arabic), Basileuousa ("Queen of Cities"), Megalopo ...
, and ensured the boy's education. As a result, Justinian was well educated in
jurisprudence Jurisprudence, or legal theory, is the theoretical study of the propriety of law. Scholars of jurisprudence seek to explain the nature of law in its most general form and they also seek to achieve a deeper understanding of legal reasoning ...
,
theology Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the Divinity, divine and, more broadly, of religious belief. It is taught as an Discipline (academia), academic discipline, typically in universities and seminaries. It occupies itself with the ...
, and Roman history. Justinian served as a ''candidatus'', one of 40 men selected from the ''scholae palatinae'' to serve as the emperor's personal bodyguard. The chronicler
John Malalas John Malalas ( el, , ''Iōánnēs Malálas'';  – 578) was a Byzantine Empire, Byzantine chronicler from Antioch (now Antakya, Turkey). Life Malalas was of Assyrian people, Syrian descent, and he was a native speaker of Syriac language ...
, who lived during the reign of Justinian, describes his appearance as short, fair-skinned, curly-haired, round-faced, and handsome. Another contemporary historian,
Procopius Procopius of Caesarea ( grc-gre, Προκόπιος ὁ Καισαρεύς ''Prokópios ho Kaisareús''; la, Procopius Caesariensis; – after 565) was a prominent late antique Greek scholar from Caesarea Maritima. Accompanying the Roman ge ...
, compares Justinian's appearance to that of tyrannical Emperor
Domitian Domitian (; la, Domitianus; 24 October 51 – 18 September 96) was a Roman emperor who reigned from 81 to 96. The son of Vespasian and the younger brother of Titus, his two predecessors on the throne, he was the last member of the Flavia ...
, although this is probably slander.''Cambridge Ancient History'' p. 65 When Emperor Anastasius 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 a lot of ambition, and it has been thought that he was functioning as virtual
regent A regent (from Latin : ruling, governing) is a person appointed to govern a state ''pro tempore'' (Latin: 'for the time being') because the monarch is a minor, absent, incapacitated or unable to discharge the powers and duties of the monarchy, ...
long before Justin made him associate emperor on 1 April 527,''
Chronicon Paschale ''Chronicon Paschale'' (the ''Paschal'' or ''Easter Chronicle''), also called ''Chronicum Alexandrinum'', ''Constantinopolitanum'' or ''Fasti Siculi'', is the conventional name of a 7th-century Greek Christian chronicle of the world. Its name com ...
'' 527; Theophanes Confessor AM 6019.
although there is no conclusive evidence of this. As Justin became senile near the end of his reign, Justinian became the ''de facto'' ruler. Following the general Vitalian's assassination presumed to be orchestrated by Justinian or Justin, Justinian was appointed
consul Consul (abbrev. ''cos.''; Latin plural ''consules'') was the title of one of the two chief Roman magistrate, magistrates of the Roman Republic, and subsequently also an important title under the Roman Empire. The title was used in other European ...
in 521 and later commander of the army of the east. Upon Justin'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" for his work habits. Nevertheless, he seems to have been amiable and easy to approach. Around 525, he married his mistress, Theodora, in Constantinople. She was by profession an actress and some twenty years his junior. In earlier times, Justinian could not have married her owing to her class, but his uncle, Emperor Justin I, had passed a law lifting restrictions on marriages with ex-actresses. Though the marriage caused a scandal, Theodora would become very influential in the politics of the Empire. Other talented individuals included
Tribonian Tribonian (Greek language, Greek: Τριβωνιανός rivonia'nos c. 485?–542) was a notable Byzantine Empire, Byzantine jurist and advisor, who during the reign of the Byzantine emperor, Emperor Justinian I, supervised the revision of the ...
, his legal adviser; Peter the Patrician, the diplomat and long-time head of the palace bureaucracy; Justinian's finance ministers
John the Cappadocian John the Cappadocian ( el, Ἰωάννης ὁ Καππαδόκης) (''Floruit, fl.'' 530s, living 548) was a praetorian prefect of the East (532–541) in the Byzantine Empire under Emperor Justinian I (r. 527–565). He was also a Patrikios, pa ...
and Peter Barsymes, who managed to collect taxes more efficiently than any before, thereby funding Justinian's wars; and finally, his prodigiously talented generals,
Belisarius Belisarius (; el, Βελισάριος; The exact date of his birth is unknown. – 565) was a military commander of the Byzantine Empire under the emperor Justinian I. He was instrumental in the reconquest of much of the Mediterranean terri ...
and Narses. Justinian's rule was not universally popular; early in his reign he nearly lost his throne during the
Nika riots The Nika riots ( el, Στάσις τοῦ Νίκα, translit=Stásis toû Níka), Nika revolt or Nika sedition took place against Byzantine Emperor Justinian I in Constantinople over the course of a week in 532 AD. They are often regarded as the ...
, and a conspiracy against the emperor's life by dissatisfied businessmen was discovered as late as 562. Justinian was struck by the plague in the early 540s but recovered. Theodora died in 548 at a relatively young age, possibly of cancer; Justinian outlived her by nearly 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. He died on 14 November 565, childless. He was succeeded by
Justin II Justin II ( la, Iustinus; grc-gre, Ἰουστῖνος, Ioustînos; died 5 October 578) or Justin the Younger ( la, Iustinus minor) was Eastern Roman Emperor from 565 until 578. He was the nephew of Justinian I Justinian I (; la, Flavi ...
, who was the son of his sister Vigilantia and married to Sophia, the niece of Theodora. Justinian's body was entombed in a specially built mausoleum in the
Church of the Holy Apostles The Church of the Holy Apostles ( el, , ''Agioi Apostoloi''; tr, Havariyyun Kilisesi), also known as the ''Imperial Polyándreion'' (imperial cemetery), was a Byzantine Eastern Orthodox Eastern Orthodoxy, also known as Eastern Orthodox Chr ...
until it was desecrated and robbed during the pillage of the city in 1204 by the Latin States of the
Fourth Crusade The Fourth Crusade (1202–1204) was a Roman Catholic Church, Latin Christian armed expedition called by Pope Innocent III. The stated intent of the expedition was to recapture the Islam, Muslim-controlled city of Jerusalem, by first defeating th ...
.


Reign


Legislative activities

Justinian achieved lasting fame through his judicial reforms, particularly through the complete revision of all
Roman law Roman law is the law, legal system of ancient Rome, including the legal developments spanning over a thousand years of jurisprudence, from the Twelve Tables (c. 449 BC), to the ''Corpus Juris Civilis'' (AD 529) ordered by Eastern Roman emperor J ...
, something that had not previously been attempted. The total of Justinian's legislation is known today as the ''
Corpus juris civilis The ''Corpus Juris'' (or ''Iuris'') ''Civilis'' ("Body of Civil Law") is the modern name for a collection of fundamental works in jurisprudence, issued from 529 to 534 by order of Justinian I, Byzantine Emperors, Byzantine Emperor. It is also ...
''. It consists of the '' Codex Justinianeus'', the ''Digesta'' or '' Pandectae'', the '' Institutiones'', and the '' Novellae''. Early in his reign, Justinian had appointed the ''
quaestor A ( , , ; "investigator") was a public official in Ancient Rome. There were various types of quaestors, with the title used to describe greatly different offices at different times. In the Roman Republic, quaestors were elected officials who ...
''
Tribonian Tribonian (Greek language, Greek: Τριβωνιανός rivonia'nos c. 485?–542) was a notable Byzantine Empire, Byzantine jurist and advisor, who during the reign of the Byzantine emperor, Emperor Justinian I, supervised the revision of the ...
to oversee this task. The first draft of the '' Codex Justinianeus'', 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'', 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 may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece, a country in Southern Europe: *Greeks, an ethnic group. *Greek language, a branch of the Indo-European language family. **Proto-Greek language, the assumed last common ancestor ...
, the common language of the Eastern Empire. The ''Corpus'' forms the basis of Latin jurisprudence (including ecclesiastical
Canon Law Canon law (from grc, κανών, , a 'straight measuring rod, ruler') is a set of ordinances and regulations made by ecclesiastical jurisdiction, ecclesiastical authority (church leadership) for the government of a Christian organization or chur ...
) 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 consults (''senatusconsulta''), imperial decrees,
case law Case law, also used interchangeably with common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent, judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in writt ...
, and jurists' opinions and interpretations (''responsa prudentium''). Tribonian's code ensured the survival of Roman law. It formed the basis of later Byzantine law, as expressed in the '' Basilika'' of
Basil I Basil I, called the Macedonian ( el, Βασίλειος ὁ Μακεδών, ''Basíleios ō Makedṓn'', 811 – 29 August 886), was a Byzantine Emperor who reigned from 867 to 886. Born a simple peasant in the Byzantine themes, theme of Macedoni ...
and
Leo VI the Wise Leo VI, called the Wise ( gr, Λέων ὁ Σοφός, Léōn ho Sophós, 19 September 866 – 11 May 912), was Byzantine Emperor from 886 to 912. The second ruler of the Macedonian dynasty (although his parentage is unclear), he was very well r ...
. The only western province where the Justinianic code was introduced was Italy (after the conquest by the so-called Pragmatic Sanction of 554), from where it was to pass to
Western Europe Western Europe is the western region of Europe. The region's countries and territories vary depending on context. The concept of "the West" appeared in Europe in juxtaposition to "the East" and originally applied to the ancient Mediterranean ...
in the 12th century and become the basis of much Continental European law code, which eventually was spread by European empires to the
Americas The Americas, which are sometimes collectively called America, are a landmass comprising the totality of North America, North and South America. The Americas make up most of the land in Earth's Western Hemisphere and comprise the New World. ...
and beyond in the
Age of Discovery The Age of Discovery (or the Age of Exploration), also known as the early modern period, was a period largely overlapping with the Age of Sail, approximately from the 15th century to the 17th century in European history, during which seafar ...
. It eventually passed to
Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is a subregion of the Europe, European continent. As a largely ambiguous term, it has a wide range of geopolitical, geographical, ethnic, cultural, and socio-economic connotations. The vast majority of the region is covered by Russ ...
where it appeared in Slavic editions, and it also passed on to
Russia Russia (, , ), or the Russian Federation, is a List of transcontinental countries, transcontinental country spanning Eastern Europe and North Asia, Northern Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by area, largest country in the ...
. It remains influential to this day. He passed laws to protect prostitutes from exploitation and women from being forced into prostitution. Rapists were treated severely. Further, by his policies: women charged with major crimes should be guarded by other women to prevent sexual abuse; if a woman was widowed, her dowry should be returned; and a husband could not take on a major debt without his wife giving her consent twice. Family legislation also revealed a greater concern for the interests of children. This was particularly so with respect to children born out of wedlock. The law under Justinian also reveals a striking interest in child neglect issues. Justinian protected the rights of children whose parents remarried and produced more offspring, or who simply separated and abandoned their offspring, forcing them to beg. Justinian discontinued the regular appointment of Consuls in 541.


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 ( grc-gre, ἁρματοδρομία, harmatodromia, la, ludi circenses) was one of the most popular Ancient Greece, ancient Greek, Roman Empire, Roman, and Byzantine sports. In Greece, chariot racing played an essential role in a ...
factions in Constantinople, normally rivals, united against Justinian in a revolt that has become known as the
Nika riots The Nika riots ( el, Στάσις τοῦ Νίκα, translit=Stásis toû Níka), Nika revolt or Nika sedition took place against Byzantine Emperor Justinian I in Constantinople over the course of a week in 532 AD. They are often regarded as the ...
. They forced him to dismiss
Tribonian Tribonian (Greek language, Greek: Τριβωνιανός rivonia'nos c. 485?–542) was a notable Byzantine Empire, Byzantine jurist and advisor, who during the reign of the Byzantine emperor, Emperor Justinian I, supervised the revision of the ...
and two of his other ministers, and then attempted to overthrow Justinian himself and replace him with the senator Hypatius, who was a nephew of the late emperor Anastasius. While the crowd was rioting in the streets, Justinian considered fleeing the capital by sea, but eventually decided to stay, apparently on the prompting of his wife Theodora, who refused to leave. In the next two days, he ordered the brutal suppression of the riots by his generals
Belisarius Belisarius (; el, Βελισάριος; The exact date of his birth is unknown. – 565) was a military commander of the Byzantine Empire under the emperor Justinian I. He was instrumental in the reconquest of much of the Mediterranean terri ...
and Mundus. Procopius relates that 30,000J. Norwich, ''Byzantium: The Early Centuries'', 200 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 took 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 ( 'Holy Wisdom'; ; ; ), officially the Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque ( tr, Ayasofya-i Kebir Cami-i Şerifi), is a mosque and major cultural and historical site in Istanbul, Turkey. The cathedral was originally built as a Greek Ortho ...
.


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 that 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 The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Romanum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Roman Republic, Republican period of ancient Rome. As a polity, it included large territorial holdings aro ...
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 (; el, Βελισάριος; The exact date of his birth is unknown. – 565) was a military commander of the Byzantine Empire under the emperor Justinian I. He was instrumental in the reconquest of much of the Mediterranean terri ...
.Justinian himself took the field only once, during a campaign against the Huns in 559, when he was already an old man. This enterprise was largely symbolic and although no battle was fought, the emperor held a triumphal entry in the capital afterwards. (See Browning, R. ''Justinian and Theodora.'' London 1971, 193.)


War with the Sassanid Empire, 527–532

From his uncle, Justinian inherited ongoing hostilities with the
Sassanid Empire The Sasanian () or Sassanid Empire, officially known as the Empire of Iranians (, ) and also referred to by historians as the Neo-Persian Empire, was the History of Iran, last Iranian empire before the early Muslim conquests of the 7th-8th cen ...
. In 530 the Persian forces suffered a double defeat at Dara and
Satala Located in Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Türkiye ( tr, Türkiye Cumhuriyeti, links=no ), is a transcontinental country located mainly on the Anatolia, Anatolian Peninsula in Western Asia, with a East Thr ...
, but the next year saw the defeat of Roman forces under Belisarius near Callinicum. Justinian then tried to make alliance with the Axumites of Ethiopia and the Himyarites of Yemen against the Persians, but this failed. When king
Kavadh I of Persia Kavad I ( pal, 𐭪𐭥𐭠𐭲 ; 473 – 13 September 531) was the Sasanian The Sasanian () or Sassanid Empire, officially known as the Empire of Iranians (, ) and also referred to by historians as the Neo-Persian Empire, was the History ...
died (September 531), Justinian concluded an " Eternal Peace" (which cost him 11,000 pounds of gold)J. Norwich, ''Byzantium: The Early Centuries'', p. 195. with his successor
Khosrau I Khosrow I (also spelled Khosrau, Khusro or Chosroes; pal, 𐭧𐭥𐭮𐭫𐭥𐭣𐭩; New Persian: []), traditionally known by his epithet of Anushirvan ( [] "the Immortal Soul"), was the Sasanian Empire, Sasanian King of Kings of Iran from ...
(532). Having thus secured his eastern frontier, Justinian turned his attention to the West, where Germanic kingdoms had been established in the territories of the former
Western Roman Empire The Western Roman Empire comprised the western provinces of the Roman Empire at any time during which they were administered by a separate independent Imperial court; in particular, this term is used in historiography to describe the period fr ...
.


Conquest of North Africa, 533–534

The first of the western kingdoms Justinian attacked was that of the
Vandals The Vandals were a Germanic peoples, Germanic people who first inhabited what is now southern Poland. They established Vandal Kingdom, Vandal kingdoms on the Iberian Peninsula, Mediterranean islands, and North Africa in the fifth century. The ...
in
North Africa North Africa, or Northern Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the African continent. There is no singularly accepted scope for the region, and it is sometimes defined as stretching from the Atlantic shores of Mauritania in t ...
. King Hilderic, who had maintained good relations with Justinian and the North African
Catholic The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptized Catholics worldwide . It is among the world's oldest and largest international institutions, and has played a ...
clergy, had been overthrown by his cousin Gelimer in 530 A.D. Imprisoned, the deposed king appealed to Justinian. In 533,
Belisarius Belisarius (; el, Βελισάριος; The exact date of his birth is unknown. – 565) was a military commander of the Byzantine Empire under the emperor Justinian I. He was instrumental in the reconquest of much of the Mediterranean terri ...
sailed to Africa with a fleet of 92
dromon A dromon (from Greek language, Greek δρόμων, ''dromōn'', "runner") was a type of galley and the most important warship of the Byzantine navy from the 5th to 12th centuries AD, when they were succeeded by Italian-style galleys. It was devel ...
s, escorting 500 transports carrying an army of about 15,000 men, as well as a number of barbarian troops. They landed at Caput Vada (modern Ras Kaboudia) in modern
Tunisia ) , image_map = Tunisia location (orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = Location of Tunisia in northern Africa , image_map2 = , capital = Tunis , largest_city = capital , ...
. 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 was the capital city of Ancient Carthage, on the eastern side of the Lake of Tunis in what is now Tunisia ) , image_map = Tunisia location (orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = Location of Tunisia in ...
. King Gelimer fled to Mount Pappua in
Numidia Numidia (Berber languages, Berber: ''Inumiden''; 202–40 BC) was the ancient kingdom of the Numidians located in northwest Africa, initially comprising the territory that now makes up modern-day Algeria, but later expanding across what is tod ...
, but surrendered the next spring. He was taken to Constantinople, where he was paraded in a triumph.
Sardinia Sardinia ( ; it, Sardegna, label=Italian language, Italian, Corsican language, Corsican and Tabarchino ; sc, Sardigna , sdc, Sardhigna; french: Sardaigne; sdn, Saldigna; ca, Sardenya, label=Algherese dialect, Algherese and Catalan languag ...
and
Corsica Corsica ( , Upper , Southern ; it, Corsica; ; french: Corse ; lij, Còrsega; sc, Còssiga) is an island in the Mediterranean Sea and one of the Regions of France, 18 regions of France. It is the fourth-largest island in the Mediterranean and ...
, the
Balearic Islands The Balearic Islands ( es, Islas Baleares ; or ca, Illes Balears ) are an archipelago in the Balearic Sea, near the eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula. The archipelago is an Autonomous communities of Spain, autonomous community and a P ...
, and the stronghold Septem Fratres near Mons Calpe (later named
Gibraltar ) , anthem = "God Save the King" , song = "Gibraltar Anthem" , image_map = Gibraltar location in Europe.svg , map_alt = Location of Gibraltar in Europe , map_caption = United Kingdom shown in pale green , mapsize = , image_map2 = Gibra ...
) were recovered in the same campaign. In this war, the contemporary
Procopius Procopius of Caesarea ( grc-gre, Προκόπιος ὁ Καισαρεύς ''Prokópios ho Kaisareús''; la, Procopius Caesariensis; – after 565) was a prominent late antique Greek scholar from Caesarea Maritima. Accompanying the Roman ge ...
remarks that Africa was so entirely depopulated that a person might travel several days without meeting a human being, and he adds, "it is no exaggeration to say, that in the course of the war 5,000,000 perished by the sword, and famine, and pestilence." An African prefecture, 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 The term Moor, derived from the ancient Mauri, is an Endonym and exonym, exonym first used by Christianity in Europe, Christian Europeans to designate the Muslims, Muslim inhabitants of the Maghreb, the Iberian Peninsula, Sicily and Malta duri ...
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 (; 5162 October 534) was the king of the Ostrogoths in Italy between 526 and 534. He was a son of Eutharic and Amalasuntha, the youngest daughter of Theoderic the Great, whom Athalaric succeeded as king in 526. As Athalaric was only ...
had died on 2 October 534, and a usurper,
Theodahad Theodahad, also known as Thiudahad ( la, Flavius Theodahatus , Theodahadus, Theodatus; 480 – December 536) was king of the Ostrogoths from 534 to 536. Early life Born at in Tauresium, Theodahad was a nephew of Theodoric the Great through ...
, had imprisoned queen Amalasuintha,
Theodoric Theodoric is a Germanic given name. First attested as a Gothic name in the 5th century, it became widespread in the Germanic-speaking world, not least due to its most famous bearer, Theodoric the Great, king of the Ostrogoths. Overview The name ...
's daughter and mother of Athalaric, on the island of Martana in Lake Bolsena, where he had her assassinated in 535. Thereupon
Belisarius Belisarius (; el, Βελισάριος; The exact date of his birth is unknown. – 565) was a military commander of the Byzantine Empire under the emperor Justinian I. He was instrumental in the reconquest of much of the Mediterranean terri ...
, with 7,500 men,J. Norwich, ''Byzantium: The Early Centuries'', 215 invaded
Sicily (man) it, Siciliana (woman) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_type1 = Ethnicity , demographics1_footnotes = , demographi ...
(535) and advanced into Italy, sacking
Naples Naples (; it, Napoli ; nap, Napule ), from grc, Νεάπολις, Neápolis, lit=new city. is the regional capital of Campania and the third-largest city of Italy, after Rome and Milan, with a population of 909,048 within the city's adminis ...
and capturing
Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus (Romulus and Remus, legendary) , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, Italy).svg ...
on 9 December 536. By that time
Theodahad Theodahad, also known as Thiudahad ( la, Flavius Theodahatus , Theodahadus, Theodatus; 480 – December 536) was king of the Ostrogoths from 534 to 536. Early life Born at in Tauresium, Theodahad was a nephew of Theodoric the Great through ...
had been deposed by the
Ostrogothic The Ostrogoths ( la, Ostrogothi, Austrogothi) were a Roman-era Germanic peoples, Germanic people. In the 5th century, they followed the Visigoths in creating one of the two great Goths, Gothic kingdoms within the Roman Empire, based upon the larg ...
army, who had elected Vitigis as their new king. He gathered a large army and besieged
Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus (Romulus and Remus, legendary) , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, Italy).svg ...
from February 537 to March 538 without being able to retake the city. Justinian sent another general, Narses, to Italy, but tensions between Narses and Belisarius hampered the progress of the campaign.
Milan Milan ( , , Lombard language, Lombard: ; it, Milano ) is a city in northern Italy, capital of Lombardy, and the List of cities in Italy, second-most populous city proper in Italy after Rome. The city proper has a population of about 1.4  ...
was taken, but was soon recaptured and razed by the Ostrogoths. Justinian recalled Narses in 539. By then the military situation had turned in favour of the Romans, and in 540 Belisarius reached the Ostrogothic capital
Ravenna Ravenna ( , , also ; rgn, Ravèna) is the capital city of the Province of Ravenna, in the Emilia-Romagna region of Northern Italy. It was the capital city of the Western Roman Empire from 408 until its collapse in 476. It then served as the cap ...
. 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 that would leave the region north of the
Po River The Po ( , ; la, Padus or ; Ligurian language (ancient), Ancient Ligurian: or ) is the longest river in Italy. It flows eastward across northern Italy starting from the Cottian Alps. The river's length is either or , if the Maira (river), Mair ...
in Gothic hands. Belisarius feigned acceptance of 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 The Persians are an Iranian peoples, Iranian ethnic group who comprise over half of the population of Iran. They share a Culture of Iran, common cultural system and are native speakers of the Persian language as well as of Iranian languages, t ...
. Following a revolt against the Empire in
Armenia Armenia (), , group=pron officially the Republic of Armenia,, is a landlocked country in the Armenian Highlands of Western Asia.The UNbr>classification of world regions places Armenia in Western Asia; the CIA World Factbook , , and '' ...
in the late 530s and possibly motivated by the pleas of
Ostrogothic The Ostrogoths ( la, Ostrogothi, Austrogothi) were a Roman-era Germanic peoples, Germanic people. In the 5th century, they followed the Visigoths in creating one of the two great Goths, Gothic kingdoms within the Roman Empire, based upon the larg ...
ambassadors, King
Khosrau I Khosrow I (also spelled Khosrau, Khusro or Chosroes; pal, 𐭧𐭥𐭮𐭫𐭥𐭣𐭩; New Persian: []), traditionally known by his epithet of Anushirvan ( [] "the Immortal Soul"), was the Sasanian Empire, Sasanian King of Kings of Iran from ...
broke the "Eternal Peace" and invaded Roman territory in the spring of 540. He first sacked Beroea and then
Antioch Antioch on the Orontes (; grc-gre, Ἀντιόχεια ἡ ἐπὶ Ὀρόντου, ''Antiókheia hē epì Oróntou'', Koine Greek phonology#Learned pronunciation, 4th century BC until early Roman period, Learned ; also Syrian Antioch) grc-koi ...
(allowing the garrison of 6,000 men to leave the city),J. Norwich, ''Byzantium: The Early Centuries'', 229 besieged Daras, and then went on to attack the Byzantine base in the small but strategically significant satellite kingdom of
Lazica Lazica ( ka, ეგრისი, ; lzz, ლაზიკა, ; grc-gre, Λαζική, ; fa, لازستان, ; hy, Եգեր, ) was the Latin name given to the territory of Colchis during the Georgia in the Roman era, Roman/Byzantine period, ...
near the
Black Sea The Black Sea is a marginal sea, marginal Mediterranean sea (oceanography), mediterranean sea of the Atlantic Ocean lying between Europe and Asia, east of the Balkans, south of the East European Plain, west of the Caucasus, and north of An ...
as requested by its discontented king Gubazes, 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 his disloyalty reaching the court. The outbreak of the plague coupled with a rebellion in Persia brought Khosrow I's offensives to a halt. Exploiting this, Justinian ordered all the forces in the East to invade Persian Armenia, but the 30,000-strong Byzantine force was defeated by a small force at Anglon.J. Norwich, ''Byzantium: The Early Centuries'', 235 The next year, Khosrau unsuccessfully besieged the major city of
Edessa Edessa (; grc, Ἔδεσσα, Édessa) was an ancient city (''polis'') in Upper Mesopotamia, founded during the Hellenistic period by King Seleucus I Nicator (), founder of the Seleucid Empire. It later became capital of the Kingdom of Osroene ...
. 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 The Lazic War, also known as the Colchidian War or in Georgian historiography as the Great War of Egrisi was fought between the Byzantine Empire and the Sasanian Empire for control of the ancient Georgia (country), Georgian region of Lazica. The ...
in the North continued for several years: the Lazic king switched to the Byzantine side, and in 549 Justinian sent Dagisthaeus to recapture Petra, but he faced heavy resistance and the siege was relieved by Sasanian reinforcements. Justinian replaced him with Bessas, who was under a cloud after the loss of Rome in 546, but he managed to capture and dismantle Petra in 551. The war 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 and Eraric (both murdered in 541) and especially
Totila Totila, original name Baduila (died 1 July 552), was the penultimate King of the Ostrogoths, reigning from 541 to 552 AD. A skilled military and political leader, Totila reversed the tide of the Gothic War (535–554), Gothic War, recovering ...
, the Ostrogoths made quick gains. After a
victory The term victory (from Latin ''victoria'') originally applied to warfare, and denotes success achieved in personal Duel, combat, after military operations in general or, by extension, in any competition. Success in a military campaign constitu ...
at
Faenza Faenza (, , ; rgn, Fènza or ; la, Faventia) is an Italian city and comune of 59,063 inhabitants in the province of Ravenna, Emilia-Romagna, situated southeast of Bologna. Faenza is home to a historical manufacture of Maiolica, majolica-ware g ...
in 542, they reconquered the major cities of Southern Italy and soon held almost the entire Italian peninsula. Belisarius was sent back to Italy late in 544 but lacked sufficient troops and supplies. Making no headway, he was relieved of his command in 548. Belisarius succeeded in defeating a Gothic fleet of 200 ships. During this period the city of
Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus (Romulus and Remus, legendary) , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, Italy).svg ...
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 (man) it, Siciliana (woman) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_type1 = Ethnicity , demographics1_footnotes = , demographi ...
and attacked Greek coastlines. Finally, Justinian dispatched a force of approximately 35,000 men (2,000 men were detached and sent to invade southern
Visigothic The Visigoths (; la, Visigothi, Wisigothi, Vesi, Visi, Wesi, Wisi) were an early Germanic people who, along with the Ostrogoths, constituted the two major political entities of the Goths within the Roman Empire in late antiquity, or what is kno ...
Hispania Hispania ( la, Hispānia , ; nearly identically pronounced in Spanish language, Spanish, Portuguese language, Portuguese, Catalan language, Catalan, and Italian language, Italian) was the Ancient Rome, Roman name for the Iberian Peninsula and it ...
) under the command of Narses.J. Norwich, ''Byzantium: The Early Centuries'', 251 The army reached Ravenna in June 552 and defeated the Ostrogoths decisively within a month at the battle of Busta Gallorum in the
Apennines The Apennines or Apennine Mountains (; grc-gre, links=no, Ἀπέννινα ὄρη or Ἀπέννινον ὄρος; la, Appenninus or  – a singular with plural meaning;''Apenninus'' (Greek or ) has the form of an adjective, which wou ...
, where Totila was slain. After a second battle at Mons Lactarius in October that year, the resistance of the Ostrogoths was finally broken. In 554, a large-scale Frankish invasion was defeated at Casilinum, and Italy was secured for the Empire, 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.J. Norwich, ''Byzantium: The Early Centuries'', 233 The recovery of Italy cost the empire about 300,000 pounds of gold.
Procopius Procopius of Caesarea ( grc-gre, Προκόπιος ὁ Καισαρεύς ''Prokópios ho Kaisareús''; la, Procopius Caesariensis; – after 565) was a prominent late antique Greek scholar from Caesarea Maritima. Accompanying the Roman ge ...
estimated 15,000,000 Goths died.


Other campaigns

In addition to the other conquests, the Empire established a presence in
Visigothic The Visigoths (; la, Visigothi, Wisigothi, Vesi, Visi, Wesi, Wisi) were an early Germanic people who, along with the Ostrogoths, constituted the two major political entities of the Goths within the Roman Empire in late antiquity, or what is kno ...
Hispania Hispania ( la, Hispānia , ; nearly identically pronounced in Spanish language, Spanish, Portuguese language, Portuguese, Catalan language, Catalan, and Italian language, Italian) was the Ancient Rome, Roman name for the Iberian Peninsula and it ...
, when the usurper Athanagild 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 (), also written as Jordanis or Jornandes, was a 6th-century Eastern Roman bureaucrat widely believed to be of Goths, Gothic descent who became a historian later in life. Late in life he wrote two works, one on Roman history (''Romana ...
, this army was led by the octogenarian Liberius. The Byzantines took Cartagena and other cities on the southeastern coast and founded the new province of
Spania Spania ( la, Provincia Spaniae) was a Roman province, province of the Eastern Roman Empire from 552 until 624 in the south of the Iberian Peninsula and the Balearic Islands. It was established by the List of Byzantine emperors, Emperor Justinian ...
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 The Balkans ( ), also known as the Balkan Peninsula, is a geographical area in southeastern Europe with various geographical and historical definitions. The region takes its name from the Balkan Mountains that stretch throughout the who ...
suffered from several incursions by the Turkic and
Slavic peoples Slavs are the largest European ethnolinguistic group. They speak the various Slavic languages, belonging to the larger Balto-Slavic language, Balto-Slavic branch of the Indo-European languages. Slavs are geographically distributed throughout ...
who lived north of the
Danube The Danube ( ; ) is a river that was once a long-standing frontier of the Roman Empire and today connects 10 European countries, running through their territories or being a border. Originating in Germany, the Danube flows southeast for , pa ...
. Here, Justinian resorted mainly to a combination of diplomacy and a system of defensive works. In 559 a particularly dangerous invasion of Sklavinoi and Kutrigurs under their khan Zabergan 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 realized. 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 Italian population were deeply resented. The final victory in Italy and the conquest of Africa and the coast of southern
Hispania Hispania ( la, Hispānia , ; nearly identically pronounced in Spanish language, Spanish, Portuguese language, Portuguese, Catalan language, Catalan, and Italian language, Italian) was the Ancient Rome, Roman name for the Iberian Peninsula and it ...
significantly enlarged the area of Byzantine influence and eliminated all naval threats to the empire, which in 555 reached its territorial zenith. Despite losing much of Italy soon after Justinian's death, the empire retained several important cities, including Rome, Naples, and Ravenna, leaving the
Lombards The Lombards () or Langobards ( la, Langobardi) were a Germanic peoples, Germanic people who ruled most of the Italian Peninsula from 568 to 774. The medieval Lombard historian Paul the Deacon wrote in the ''History of the Lombards'' (written ...
as a regional threat. The newly founded province of Spania kept the Visigoths as a threat to Hispania alone and not to the western Mediterranean and Africa. Events of the later years of his 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 the Guardsman, Menander the Byzantian; el, Μένανδρος Προτήκτωρ or Προτέκτωρ), Byzantine Empire, Byzantine historian, was born in Constantinople in the middle of the 6th century AD. The little ...
felt the need to attribute the Emperor's failure to protect the capital to the weakness of his body in his old age. In his efforts to renew the Roman Empire, Justinian dangerously stretched its resources while failing to take into account the changed realities of 6th-century Europe.


Religious activities

Justinian saw the orthodoxy of his empire threatened by diverging religious currents, especially
Monophysitism Monophysitism ( or ) or monophysism () is a Christological term derived from the Greek (, "alone, solitary") and (, a word that has many meanings but in this context means "nature Nature, in the broadest sense, is the physics, physical ...
, which had many adherents in the eastern provinces of Syria and Egypt. Monophysite doctrine, which maintains that Jesus Christ had one divine nature rather than a synthesis of divine and human nature, had been condemned as a
heresy Heresy is any belief or theory that is strongly at variance with established beliefs or customs, in particular the accepted beliefs of a church or religious organization. The term is usually used in reference to violations of important religi ...
by the
Council of Chalcedon The Council of Chalcedon (; la, Concilium Chalcedonense), ''Synodos tēs Chalkēdonos'' was the fourth ecumenical council of the Christian Church. It was convoked by the List of Byzantine emperors, Roman emperor Marcian. The council convened in t ...
in 451, and the tolerant policies towards Monophysitism of Zeno and Anastasius I 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 that 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, but he died before being able to issue any legislation. 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 in his secular administration,
despotism Despotism ( el, Δεσποτισμός, ''despotismós'') is a government, form of government in which a single entity rules with absolute power. Normally, that entity is an individual, the despot; but (as in an autocracy) societies which limit ...
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 The Christian doctrine of the Trinity (, from 'threefold') is the central dogma concerning the nature of God in most Christian churches, which defines one God existing in three coequal, coeternal, consubstantial divine persons: God t ...
and the
Incarnation Incarnation literally means ''embodied in flesh'' or ''taking on flesh''. It refers to the conception and the embodiment of a deity or spirit in some earthly form or the appearance of a god as a human. If capitalized, it is the union of divinit ...
, and to threaten all heretics 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 of law is application by State (polity), state of all legal rules and principles pertaining to the case so all legal rights that are owed to the person are respected. Due process balances the power of law of the land and protects the ...
of law. He made the Nicaeno-Constantinopolitan creed the sole symbol of the Church and accorded legal force to the canons of the four
ecumenical Ecumenism (), also spelled oecumenism, is the concept and principle that Christians who belong to different Christian denominations should work together to develop closer relationships among their churches and promote Christian unity. The adjec ...
councils. The bishops in attendance at the Council of Constantinople (536) 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, reinforced the ban of the Church with temporal proscription. Justinian protected the purity of the church by suppressing heretics. He neglected no opportunity to secure the rights of the Church and
clergy Clergy are formal leaders within established religions. Their roles and functions vary in different religious traditions, but usually involve presiding over specific rituals and teaching their religion's doctrines and practices. Some of the ter ...
, and to protect and extend
monasticism Monasticism (from Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following perio ...
. 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 of 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 ( 'Holy Wisdom'; ; ; ), officially the Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque ( tr, Ayasofya-i Kebir Cami-i Şerifi), is a mosque and major cultural and historical site in Istanbul, Turkey. The cathedral was originally built as a Greek Ortho ...
(which cost 20,000 pounds of gold),P. Heather, ''The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History of Rome and the Barbarians'', 283 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 A mosaic is a pattern or image made of small regular or irregular pieces of colored stone, glass or ceramic, held in place by plaster/mortar, and covering a surface. Mosaics are often used as floor and wall decoration, and were particularly pop ...
s, became the centre and most visible monument of
Eastern Orthodoxy Eastern Orthodoxy, also known as Eastern Orthodox Christianity, is one of the three main Branches of Christianity, branches of Chalcedonian Christianity, alongside Catholic Church, Catholicism and Protestantism. Like the Pentarchy of the first m ...
in Constantinople.


Religious relations with Rome

From the middle of the 5th century onward, increasingly arduous tasks confronted the emperors of the East in ecclesiastical matters. Justinian entered the arena of ecclesiastical statecraft shortly after his uncle's accession in 518, and put an end to the
Acacian schism The Acacian schism, between the Eastern and Western Christian Western Christianity is one of two sub-divisions of Christianity (Eastern Christianity being the other). Western Christianity is composed of the Latin Church and Protestantism, W ...
. Previous Emperors had tried to alleviate theological conflicts by declarations that deemphasized the
Council of Chalcedon The Council of Chalcedon (; la, Concilium Chalcedonense), ''Synodos tēs Chalkēdonos'' was the fourth ecumenical council of the Christian Church. It was convoked by the List of Byzantine emperors, Roman emperor Marcian. The council convened in t ...
, which had condemned
Monophysitism Monophysitism ( or ) or monophysism () is a Christological term derived from the Greek (, "alone, solitary") and (, a word that has many meanings but in this context means "nature Nature, in the broadest sense, is the physics, physical ...
, which had strongholds in Egypt and Syria, and by tolerating the appointment of Monophysites to church offices. The Popes reacted by severing ties with the Patriarch of Constantinople who supported these policies. Emperors Justin I (and later Justinian himself) rescinded these policies and reestablished the union between Constantinople and Rome. After this, Justinian also felt entitled to settle disputes in papal elections, as he did when he favored Vigilius and had his rival Silverius deported. This new-found unity between East and West did not, however, solve the ongoing disputes in the east. Justinian's policies switched between attempts to force Monophysites and Miaphysites (who were mistaken to be adherers of Monophysitism) to accept the Chalcedonian creed by persecuting their bishops and monks – thereby embittering their sympathizers in Egypt and other provinces – and attempts at a compromise that would win over the Monophysites without surrendering the Chalcedonian faith. Such an approach was supported by the Empress Theodora, who favoured the Miaphysites unreservedly. In the condemnation of the ''Three Chapters'', three theologians that had opposed Monophysitism before and after the Council of Chalcedon, Justinian tried to win over the opposition. At the Fifth Ecumenical Council, most of the Eastern church yielded to the Emperor's demands, and Pope Vigilius, who was forcibly brought to Constantinople and besieged at a chapel, finally also gave his assent. However, the condemnation was received unfavourably in the west, where it led to new (albeit temporal) schism, and failed to reach its goal in the east, as the Monophysites remained unsatisfied – all the more bitter for him because during his last years he took an even greater interest in theological matters.


Authoritarian rule

Justinian's religious policy reflected the Imperial conviction that the unity of the Empire presupposed unity of faith, and it appeared to him obvious that this faith could only be the orthodoxy (Chalcedonian). Those of a different belief were subjected to persecution, which imperial legislation had effected from the time of
Constantius II Constantius II (Latin: ''Flavius Julius Constantius''; grc-gre, Κωνστάντιος; 7 August 317 – 3 November 361) was Roman emperor from 337 to 361. His reign saw constant warfare on the borders against the Sasanian Empire and Germanic ...
and which would now vigorously continue. The ''Codex'' contained two
statute A statute is a formal written enactment of a legislature, legislative authority that governs the legal entities of a city, State (polity), state, or country by way of consent. Typically, statutes command or prohibit something, or declare Public p ...
s that decreed the total destruction of
paganism Paganism (from classical Latin ''pāgānus'' "rural", "rustic", later "civilian") is a term first used in the fourth century by early Christianity, early Christians for people in the Roman Empire who practiced polytheism, or ethnic religions ot ...
, even in private life; these provisions were zealously enforced. Contemporary sources (
John Malalas John Malalas ( el, , ''Iōánnēs Malálas'';  – 578) was a Byzantine Empire, Byzantine chronicler from Antioch (now Antakya, Turkey). Life Malalas was of Assyrian people, Syrian descent, and he was a native speaker of Syriac language ...
, Theophanes, and
John of Ephesus John of Ephesus (or of Asia) (Ancient Greek, Greek: Ίωάννης ό Έφέσιος, c. 507 – c. 588) was a leader of the early Syriac Orthodox Church in the sixth century and one of the earliest and the most important historians to write in Sy ...
) tell of severe persecutions, even of men in high position. The original
Academy An academy ( Attic Greek: Ἀκαδήμεια; Koine Greek Ἀκαδημία) is an institution of secondary or tertiary higher learning (and generally also research or honorary membership). The name traces back to Plato's school of philosoph ...
of Plato had been destroyed by the
Roman dictator A Roman dictator was an extraordinary magistrate in the Roman Republic endowed with full authority to resolve some specific problem to which he had been assigned. He received the full powers of the state, subordinating the other magistrates, c ...
Sulla Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix (; 138–78 BC), commonly known as Sulla, was a Ancient Romans, Roman List of Roman generals, general and Politician, statesman. He won the first large-scale civil war in Roman history and became the first man of the ...
in 86 BC. Several centuries later, in 410 AD, a Neoplatonic Academy was established that had no institutional continuity with Plato's Academy, and which served as a center for
Neoplatonism Neoplatonism is a strand of Platonism, Platonic philosophy that emerged in the 3rd century AD against the background of Hellenistic philosophy and Hellenistic religion, religion. The term does not encapsulate a set of ideas as much as a chain of ...
and mysticism. It persisted until 529 AD when it was finally closed by Justinian I. Other schools in Constantinople, Antioch, and Alexandria, which were the centers of Justinian's empire, continued.In
Asia Minor Anatolia (also Asia Minor), is a large peninsula in Western Asia and is the western-most extension of continental Asia. The land mass of Anatolia constitutes most of the territory of contemporary Turkey. Geographically, the Anatolian region i ...
alone, John of Ephesus was reported to have converted 70,000 pagans, which was probably an exaggerated number. Other peoples also accepted Christianity: the
Heruli The Heruli (or Herules) were an early Germanic people. Possibly originating in Scandinavia, the Heruli are first mentioned by Roman authors as one of several " Scythian" groups raiding Roman provinces in the Balkans The Balkans ( ), ...
, the
Huns The Huns were a Nomad, nomadic people who lived in Central Asia, the Caucasus, and Eastern Europe between the 4th and 6th century AD. According to European tradition, they were first reported living east of the Volga River, in an area that wa ...
dwelling near the Don, the Abasgi, and the Tzanni in Caucasia. The worship of
Amun Amun (; also Amon, Ammon, Amen; egy, wikt:jmn, jmn, reconstructed as (Old Egyptian and early Middle Egyptian) → (later Middle Egyptian) → (Late Egyptian), cop, Ⲁⲙⲟⲩⲛ, Amoun) romanized: ʾmn) was a major ancient Egyptian dei ...
at the
oasis In ecology, an oasis (; ) is a fertile area of a desert or semi-desert environment'ksar''with its surrounding feeding source, the palm grove, within a relational and circulatory nomadic system.” The location of oases has been of critical im ...
of
Awjila Awjila (Awjila language, Berber: ''Awilan'', ''Awjila'', ''Awgila''; ar, أوجلة; Latin: ''Augila'') is an oasis town in the Al Wahat District in the Cyrenaica region of northeastern Libya. Since classical times it has been known as a place wh ...
in the
Libya Libya (; ar, ليبيا, Lībiyā), officially the State of Libya ( ar, دولة ليبيا, Dawlat Lībiyā), is a country in the Maghreb region in North Africa. It is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to Egypt–Libya bo ...
n desert was abolished,Procopius, ''De Aedificiis'', vi. 2. and so were the remnants of the worship of
Isis Isis (; ''Ēse''; ; Meroitic language, Meroitic: ''Wos'' 'a''or ''Wusa''; Phoenician language, Phoenician: 𐤀𐤎, romanized: ʾs) was a major ancient Egyptian deities, goddess in ancient Egyptian religion whose worship spread throughou ...
on the island of
Philae The Philae temple complex (; grc-gre, Φιλαί or Φιλή and Πιλάχ, ar, فيلة  , Egyptian language, Egyptian: ''p3-jw-rķ' or 'pA-jw-rq''; cop, ⲡⲓⲗⲁⲕ, ⲡⲓⲗⲁⲕϩ, )is an island-based temple complex in the rese ...
, at the first
cataract A cataract is a cloudy area in the lens (anatomy), lens of the eye that leads to a visual impairment, decrease in vision. Cataracts often develop slowly and can affect one or both eyes. Symptoms may include faded colors, blurry or double visi ...
of the
Nile The Nile, , Bohairic , lg, Kiira , Nobiin language, Nobiin: Áman Dawū is a major north-flowing river in northeastern Africa. It flows into the Mediterranean Sea. The Nile is the longest river in Africa and has historically been considered ...
. The Presbyter Julian and the Bishop Longinus conducted a mission among the
Nabataean The Nabataeans or Nabateans (; Nabataean Aramaic: , , vocalized as ; Arabic language, Arabic: , , singular , ; compare grc, Ναβαταῖος, translit=Nabataîos; la, Nabataeus) were an ancient Arab people who inhabited northern Arabian Pe ...
s, and Justinian attempted to strengthen
Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings of Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth. It is the Major religious groups, world's ...
in
Yemen Yemen (; ar, ٱلْيَمَن, al-Yaman), officially the Republic of Yemen,, ) is a country in Western Asia. It is situated on the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula, and borders Saudi Arabia to the Saudi Arabia–Yemen border, north and ...
by dispatching a bishop from
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مصر , ), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a List of transcontinental countries, transcontinental country spanning the North Africa, northeast corner of Africa and Western Asia, southwest corner of Asia via a land bridg ...
. The civil rights of Jews were restricted and their religious privileges threatened. Justinian also interfered in the internal affairs of the
synagogue A synagogue, ', 'house of assembly', or ', "house of prayer"; Yiddish: ''shul'', Ladino: or ' (from synagogue); or ', "community". sometimes referred to as shul, and interchangeably used with the word temple, is a Jewish house of wo ...
and encouraged the Jews to use the Greek
Septuagint The Greek Old Testament, or Septuagint (, ; from the la, septuaginta, lit=seventy; often abbreviated ''70''; in Roman numerals, LXX), is the earliest extant Greek language, Greek translation of books from the Hebrew Bible. It includes several ...
in their synagogues in Constantinople. The Emperor faced significant opposition from the Samaritans, who resisted conversion to Christianity and were repeatedly in insurrection. He persecuted them with rigorous edicts, but could not prevent reprisals towards Christians from taking place in
Samaria Samaria (; he, שֹׁמְרוֹן, translit=Šōmrōn, ar, السامرة, translit=as-Sāmirah) is the historic and Hebrew Bible, biblical name used for the central region of Palestine (region), Palestine, bordered by Judea to the south and ...
toward the close of his reign. The consistency of Justinian's policy meant that the
Manicheans Manichaeism (; in New Persian ; ) is a former major religionR. van den Broek, Wouter J. Hanegraaff ''Gnosis and Hermeticism from Antiquity to Modern Times''SUNY Press, 1998 p. 37 founded in the 3rd century AD by the Parthian Empire, Parthian ...
too suffered persecution, experiencing both exile and threat of capital punishment. At
Constantinople la, Constantinopolis ota, قسطنطينيه , alternate_name = Byzantion (earlier Greek name), Nova Roma ("New Rome"), Miklagard/Miklagarth (Old Norse), Tsargrad (Slavs, Slavic), Qustantiniya (Arabic), Basileuousa ("Queen of Cities"), Megalopo ...
, 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 is a type of Asphyxia, suffocation induced by the submersion of the mouth and nose in a liquid. Most instances of fatal drowning occur alone or in situations where others present are either unaware of the victim's situation or unable t ...
.


Architecture, learning, art and literature

Justinian was a prolific builder; the historian Procopius bears witness to his activities in this area. Under Justinian's reign, the San Vitale in Ravenna, which features two famous mosaics representing Justinian and Theodora, was completed under the sponsorship of Julius Argentarius.Robert Browning. "Justinian I" in ''
Dictionary of the Middle Ages The ''Dictionary of the Middle Ages'' is a 13-volume encyclopedia of the Middle Ages published by the American Council of Learned Societies between 1982 and 1989. It was first conceived and started in 1975 with American medieval historian Josep ...
'', volume VII (1986).
Most notably, he had the
Hagia Sophia Hagia Sophia ( 'Holy Wisdom'; ; ; ), officially the Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque ( tr, Ayasofya-i Kebir Cami-i Şerifi), is a mosque and major cultural and historical site in Istanbul, Turkey. The cathedral was originally built as a Greek Ortho ...
, originally a
basilica In Ancient Roman architecture, a basilica is a large public building with multiple functions, typically built alongside the town's Forum (Roman), forum. The basilica was in the Latin West equivalent to a stoa in the Greek East. The building ...
-style church that had been burnt down during the
Nika riots The Nika riots ( el, Στάσις τοῦ Νίκα, translit=Stásis toû Níka), Nika revolt or Nika sedition took place against Byzantine Emperor Justinian I in Constantinople over the course of a week in 532 AD. They are often regarded as the ...
, splendidly rebuilt according to a completely different ground plan, under the architectural supervision of Isidore of Miletus and Anthemius of Tralles. According to Pseudo-Codinus, Justinian stated at the completion of this edifice, "Solomon, I have outdone thee" (in reference to the first 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 The Church of the Holy Apostles ( el, , ''Agioi Apostoloi''; tr, Havariyyun Kilisesi), also known as the ''Imperial Polyándreion'' (imperial cemetery), was a Byzantine Eastern Orthodox Eastern Orthodoxy, also known as Eastern Orthodox Chr ...
, which had been in a very poor state near the end of the 5th century, was likewise rebuilt. The Church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus, later renamed Little Hagia Sophia, was also built between 532 and 536 by the imperial couple. Works of embellishment were not confined to churches alone: excavations at the site of the
Great Palace of Constantinople The Great Palace of Constantinople ( el, Μέγα Παλάτιον, ''Méga Palátion''; Latin language, Latin: ''Palatium Magnum''), also known as the Sacred Palace ( el, Ἱερὸν Παλάτιον, ''Hieròn Palátion''; Latin: ''Sacrum Pal ...
have yielded several high-quality mosaics dating from Justinian's reign, and a column topped by a bronze statue 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 might 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 A cistern (Middle English ', from Latin ', from ', "box", from Greek language, Greek ', "basket") is a waterproof receptacle for holding liquids, usually water. Cisterns are often built to catch and Rainwater tank, store rainwater. Cisterns ar ...
(see Basilica Cistern). To prevent floods from damaging the strategically important border town Dara, an advanced arch dam was built. During his reign the large Sangarius Bridge was built in
Bithynia Bithynia (; Koine Greek: , ''Bithynía'') was an ancient region, kingdom and Roman province in the northwest of Asia Minor (present-day Turkey), adjoining the Sea of Marmara, the Bosporus, and the Black Sea. It bordered Mysia to the southwest, Pa ...
, 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 (Latin language, Latin: , sr, Јустинијана Прима, Justinijana Prima) was an Byzantine Empire, Eastern Roman city that existed from 535 to 615, and currently an archaeological site, known as or ''Caričin Grad'' ( ...
, which was intended to replace
Thessalonica Thessaloniki (; el, Θεσσαλονίκη, , also known as Thessalonica (), Saloniki, or Salonica (), is the second-largest city in Greece, with over one million inhabitants in its Thessaloniki metropolitan area, metropolitan area, and the capi ...
as the political and religious centre of Illyricum. In Justinian's reign, and partly under his patronage, Byzantine culture produced noteworthy historians, including
Procopius Procopius of Caesarea ( grc-gre, Προκόπιος ὁ Καισαρεύς ''Prokópios ho Kaisareús''; la, Procopius Caesariensis; – after 565) was a prominent late antique Greek scholar from Caesarea Maritima. Accompanying the Roman ge ...
and
Agathias Agathias or Agathias Scholasticus ( grc-gre, Ἀγαθίας σχολαστικός; Martindale, Jones & Morris (1992), pp. 23–25582/594), of Myrina (Mysia), an Aeolian city in western Asia Minor (Turkey), was a Greece, Greek poet and the princip ...
, and poets such as Paul the Silentiary and Romanus the Melodist flourished. On the other hand, centres of learning such as the Neoplatonic Academy in Athens and the famous
Law School of Berytus The law school of Berytus (also known as the law school of Beirut) was a center for the study of Roman law Roman law is the law, legal system of ancient Rome, including the legal developments spanning over a thousand years of jurisprudence, f ...
lost their importance during his reign.


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 (; kw, Kernow ) is a Historic counties of England, historic county and Ceremonial counties of England, ceremonial county in South West England. It is recognised as one of the Celtic nations, and is the homeland of the Cornish people ...
where
tin Tin is a chemical element with the Chemical symbol, symbol Sn (from la, :la:Stannum, stannum) and atomic number 50. Tin is a silvery-coloured metal. Tin is soft enough to be cut with little force and a bar of tin can be bent by hand wit ...
was exchanged for Roman wheat. Within the Empire, convoys sailing from
Alexandria Alexandria ( or ; ar, ٱلْإِسْكَنْدَرِيَّةُ ; grc-gre, Αλεξάνδρεια, Alexándria) is the second largest city in Egypt, and the largest city on the Mediterranean coast. Founded in by Alexander the Great, Alexandria ...
provided Constantinople with wheat and grains. Justinian made the traffic more efficient by building a large granary on the island of
Tenedos Tenedos (, ''Tenedhos'', ), or Bozcaada in Turkish language, Turkish, is an island of Turkey in the northeastern part of the Aegean Sea. Administratively, the island constitutes the Bozcaada, Çanakkale, Bozcaada district of Çanakkale Provinc ...
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 is a natural fiber, natural protein fiber, some forms of which can be weaving, woven into textiles. The protein fiber of silk is composed mainly of fibroin and is produced by certain insect larvae to form cocoon (silk), cocoons. The be ...
, 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, 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, also known as Middle Asia, is a region of Asia Asia (, ) is one of the world's most notable geographical regions, which is either considered a continent in its own right or a subcontinent of Eurasia, which shares the c ...
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 ( la, Iustinus; grc-gre, Ἰουστῖνος, ''Ioustînos''; 450 – 1 August 527) was the Eastern Roman emperor from 518 to 527. Born to a peasant family, he rose through the ranks of the army to become commander of the imperial ...
. 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 A prefecture (from the Latin ''Praefectura'') is an administrative jurisdiction traditionally governed by an appointed prefect. This can be a regional or local government subdivision in various countries, or a subdivision in certain international ...
and of the provinces, while power was taken away from the vicariates of the
dioceses In church governance, a diocese or bishopric is the ecclesiastical district under the jurisdiction of a bishop A bishop is an ordained clergy member who is entrusted with a position of Episcopal polity, authority and oversight in a relig ...
, of which a number were abolished. The overall trend was towards a simplification of administrative infrastructure. According to
Brown Brown is a color. It can be considered a composite color, but it is mainly a darker shade of orange. In the CMYK color model used in printing or painting, brown is usually made by combining the colors Orange (colour), orange and black. In the RGB ...
(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 on the Orontes (; grc-gre, Ἀντιόχεια ἡ ἐπὶ Ὀρόντου, ''Antiókheia hē epì Oróntou'', Koine Greek phonology#Learned pronunciation, 4th century BC until early Roman period, Learned ; also Syrian Antioch) grc-koi ...
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. Despite all these measures, the Empire suffered several major setbacks in the course of the 6th century. The first one was the plague, 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.


Natural disasters

During the 530s, it seemed to many that God had abandoned the Christian Roman Empire. There were noxious fumes in the air and the Sun, while still providing daylight, refused to give much heat. The extreme weather events of 535–536 led to a famine such as had not been recorded before, affecting both Europe and the Middle East. These events may have been caused by an atmospheric dust veil resulting from a large
volcanic eruption Several types of volcanic eruptions—during which lava, tephra (Volcanic ash, ash, lapilli, volcanic bombs and volcanic blocks), and Volcanic gas, assorted gases are expelled from a Volcano, volcanic vent or fissure vent, fissure—have been ...
. The historian
Procopius Procopius of Caesarea ( grc-gre, Προκόπιος ὁ Καισαρεύς ''Prokópios ho Kaisareús''; la, Procopius Caesariensis; – after 565) was a prominent late antique Greek scholar from Caesarea Maritima. Accompanying the Roman ge ...
recorded in 536 in his work on the
Vandalic War The Vandalic War was a conflict fought in North Africa between the forces of the Byzantine Empire and the Vandal Kingdom, Vandalic Kingdom of Carthage in 533–534. It was the first of Justinian I's wars of reconquest of the Western Roman Empi ...
"during this year a most dread portent took place. For the sun gave forth its light without brightness … and it seemed exceedingly like the sun in eclipse, for the beams it shed were not clear". The causes of these disasters are not precisely known, but volcanoes at the
Rabaul caldera The Rabaul caldera, or Rabaul Volcano, is a large volcano A volcano is a rupture in the Crust (geology), crust of a Planet#Planetary-mass objects, planetary-mass object, such as Earth, that allows hot lava, volcanic ash, and volcanic gas, gas ...
, Lake Ilopango,
Krakatoa Krakatoa (), also transcribed (), is a caldera in the Sunda Strait between the islands of Java and Sumatra in the Indonesian province of Lampung. The caldera is part of a volcanic island group (Krakatoa archipelago) comprising four islands. Tw ...
, or, according to a recent finding, in
Iceland Iceland ( is, Ísland; ) is a Nordic countries, Nordic island country in the Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic Ocean and in the Arctic Ocean. Iceland is the most list of countries and dependencies by population density, sparsely populated coun ...
are suspected, Seven years later in 542, a devastating outbreak of
Bubonic Plague Bubonic plague is one of three types of Plague (disease), plague caused by the plague Bacteria, bacterium (''Yersinia pestis''). One to seven days after exposure to the bacteria, flu-like symptoms develop. These symptoms include fever, headac ...
, known as the
Plague of Justinian The plague of Justinian or Justinianic plague (541–549 AD) was the first recorded major outbreak of the first plague pandemic, the first Old World pandemic of plague, the contagious disease caused by the bacterium '' Yersinia pestis''. T ...
and second only to
Black Death The Black Death (also known as the Pestilence, the Great Mortality or the Plague) was a bubonic plague pandemic occurring in Western Eurasia and North Africa North Africa, or Northern Africa is a region encompassing the northern portio ...
of the 14th century, killed tens of millions. Justinian and members of his court, physically unaffected by the previous 535–536 famine, were afflicted, with Justinian himself contracting and surviving the pestilence. The impact of this outbreak of plague has recently been disputed, since evidence for tens of millions dying is uncertain. In July 551, the eastern Mediterranean was rocked by the
551 Beirut earthquake The 551 Beirut earthquake occurred on 9 July with an estimated magnitude of about 7.5 on the moment magnitude scale and a maximum felt intensity of X (''Extreme'') on the Mercalli intensity scale. It triggered a devastating tsunami which affected ...
, which triggered a tsunami. The combined fatalities of both events likely exceeded 30,000, with tremors felt from Antioch to Alexandria.


Cultural depictions

In the '' Paradiso'' section of the ''
Divine Comedy The ''Divine Comedy'' ( it, Divina Commedia ) is an Italian narrative poetry, narrative poem by Dante Alighieri, begun 1308 and completed in around 1321, shortly before the author's death. It is widely considered the pre-eminent work in Ital ...
'', Canto (chapter) VI, by
Dante Alighieri Dante Alighieri (; – 14 September 1321), probably baptized Durante di Alighiero degli Alighieri and often referred to as Dante (, ), was an Italian people, Italian Italian poetry, poet, writer and philosopher. His ''Divine Comedy'', origin ...
, Justinian I is prominently featured as a spirit residing on the sphere of Mercury. The latter holds in
Heaven Heaven or the heavens, is a common Religious cosmology, religious cosmological or transcendence (religion), transcendent supernatural place where beings such as deity, deities, angels, souls, saints, or Veneration of the dead, venerated ancest ...
the souls of those whose acts were righteous, yet meant to achieve fame and honor. Justinian's legacy is elaborated on, and he is portrayed as a defender of the Christian faith and the restorer of Rome to the Empire. Justinian confesses that he was partially motivated by fame rather than duty to God, which tainted the justice of his rule in spite of his proud accomplishments. In his introduction, "Cesare fui e son Iustinïano" ("Caesar I was, and am Justinian"), his mortal title is contrasted with his immortal soul, to emphasize that "glory in life is ephemeral, while contributing to God's glory is eternal", according to Dorothy L. Sayers. Dante also uses Justinian to criticize the factious politics of his 14th Century Italy, divided between Ghibellines and Guelphs, in contrast to the unified Italy of the Roman Empire. Justinian is a major character in the 1938 novel '' Count Belisarius'', by Robert Graves. He is depicted as a jealous and conniving Emperor obsessed with creating and maintaining his own historical legacy. Justinian appears as a character in the 1939 time travel novel '' Lest Darkness Fall'', by L. Sprague de Camp. ''The Glittering Horn: Secret Memoirs of the Court of Justinian'' was a novel written by Pierson Dixon in 1958 about the court of Justinian. Justinian occasionally appears in the comic strip ''
Prince Valiant ''Prince Valiant in the Days of King Arthur'', often simply called ''Prince Valiant'', is an American comic strip created by Hal Foster in 1937. It is an epic adventure that has told a continuous story during its entire history, and the full stretc ...
'', usually as a nemesis of the title character. Justinian is played by Innokenty Smoktunovsky in the 1985 Soviet film '' Primary Russia''. Justinian's Crown is a historical artifact claimed by the
Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It survi ...
in the popular 2020 computer strategy game '' Crusader Kings 3'', by Paradox Development Studio. ''Paradox Wiki's, Historical Artifacts https://ck3.paradoxwikis.com/Artifacts.


Historical sources

Procopius Procopius of Caesarea ( grc-gre, Προκόπιος ὁ Καισαρεύς ''Prokópios ho Kaisareús''; la, Procopius Caesariensis; – after 565) was a prominent late antique Greek scholar from Caesarea Maritima. Accompanying the Roman ge ...
provides the primary source for the history of Justinian's reign, but his opinion is tainted by a feeling of betrayal when Justinian became more pragmatic and less idealistic (Justinian and the Later Roman Empire by John W. Barker). He became very bitter towards Justinian and his empress, Theodora.While he glorified Justinian's achievements in his panegyric and his ''Wars'', Procopius also wrote a hostile account, ''Anekdota'' (the so-called ''Secret History''), in which Justinian is depicted as a cruel, venal, and incompetent ruler. The
Syriac Syriac may refer to: *Syriac language, an ancient dialect of Middle Aramaic *Sureth, one of the modern dialects of Syriac spoken in the Nineveh Plains region * Syriac alphabet ** Syriac (Unicode block) ** Syriac Supplement * Neo-Aramaic languages a ...
chronicle of
John of Ephesus John of Ephesus (or of Asia) (Ancient Greek, Greek: Ίωάννης ό Έφέσιος, c. 507 – c. 588) was a leader of the early Syriac Orthodox Church in the sixth century and one of the earliest and the most important historians to write in Sy ...
, which survives partially, was used as a source for later chronicles, contributing many additional details of value. Other sources include the writings of
John Malalas John Malalas ( el, , ''Iōánnēs Malálas'';  – 578) was a Byzantine Empire, Byzantine chronicler from Antioch (now Antakya, Turkey). Life Malalas was of Assyrian people, Syrian descent, and he was a native speaker of Syriac language ...
,
Agathias Agathias or Agathias Scholasticus ( grc-gre, Ἀγαθίας σχολαστικός; Martindale, Jones & Morris (1992), pp. 23–25582/594), of Myrina (Mysia), an Aeolian city in western Asia Minor (Turkey), was a Greece, Greek poet and the princip ...
, John the Lydian,
Menander Protector Menander Protector (Menander the Guardsman, Menander the Byzantian; el, Μένανδρος Προτήκτωρ or Προτέκτωρ), Byzantine Empire, Byzantine historian, was born in Constantinople in the middle of the 6th century AD. The little ...
, the Paschal Chronicle,
Evagrius Scholasticus Evagrius Scholasticus ( el, Εὐάγριος Σχολαστικός) was a Syrian people, Syrian scholar and intellectual living in the 6th century AD, and an aide to the patriarch Gregory of Antioch. His surviving work, ''Ecclesiastical History ...
, Pseudo-Zacharias Rhetor,
Jordanes Jordanes (), also written as Jordanis or Jornandes, was a 6th-century Eastern Roman bureaucrat widely believed to be of Goths, Gothic descent who became a historian later in life. Late in life he wrote two works, one on Roman history (''Romana ...
, the chronicles of Marcellinus Comes and Victor of Tunnuna. Justinian is widely regarded as a
saint In religious belief, a saint is a person who is recognized as having an exceptional degree of holiness, likeness, or closeness to God In monotheistic thought, God is usually viewed as the supreme being, creator, and principal object of ...
by Orthodox Christians, and is also commemorated by some
Lutheran Lutheranism is one of the largest branches of Protestantism, identifying primarily with the theology of Martin Luther, the 16th-century German monk and Protestant Reformers, reformer whose efforts to reform the theology and practice of the Cathol ...
churches on 14 November.In various Eastern Orthodox Churches, including the
Orthodox Church in America The Orthodox Church in America (OCA) is an Eastern Orthodox Christian church based in North America. The OCA is partly recognized as autocephalous and consists of more than 700 parishes, missions, communities, monasteries and instituti ...
, Justinian and his empress Theodora are commemorated on the anniversary of his death, 14 November. Some denominations translate the
Julian calendar The Julian calendar, proposed by Roman consul Julius Caesar in 46 BC, was a reform of the Roman calendar. It took effect on , by edict. It was designed with the aid of Greek mathematics, Greek mathematicians and Ancient Greek astronomy, as ...
date to 27 November on the
Gregorian calendar The Gregorian calendar is the calendar used in most parts of the world. It was introduced in October 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII as a modification of, and replacement for, the Julian calendar. The principal change was to space leap years diffe ...
. The
Calendar of Saints The calendar of saints is the traditional Christianity, Christian method of organizing a liturgical year by associating each day with one or more saints and referring to the day as the feast day or feast of said saint. The word "feast" in thi ...
of the
Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS), also known as the Missouri Synod, is a traditional, confessional Lutheran Christian denomination, denomination in the United States. With 1.8 million members, it is the second-largest Lutheranism, Luther ...
and the Lutheran Church–Canada also remember Justinian on 14 November.


See also

*
Church of the Nativity The Church of the Nativity, or Basilica of the Nativity,; ar, كَنِيسَةُ ٱلْمَهْد; el, Βασιλική της Γεννήσεως; hy, Սուրբ Ծննդեան տաճար; la, Basilica Nativitatis is a basilica located in B ...
in Bethlehem, rebuilt by Justinian *
Flavia gens The gens Flavia was a plebeian family at ancient Rome In modern historiography, ancient Rome refers to Roman civilisation from the founding of the city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th ...
* International Roman Law Moot Court


Notes


References

* This article incorporates text from the '' Schaff–Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge''.


Primary sources

*
Procopius Procopius of Caesarea ( grc-gre, Προκόπιος ὁ Καισαρεύς ''Prokópios ho Kaisareús''; la, Procopius Caesariensis; – after 565) was a prominent late antique Greek scholar from Caesarea Maritima. Accompanying the Roman ge ...
, ''Historia Arcana''. **
The Anecdota or Secret History
'. Edited by H. B. Dewing. 7 vols.
Loeb Classical Library The Loeb Classical Library (LCL; named after James Loeb; , ) is a series of books originally published by Heinemann_(publisher), Heinemann in London, but is currently published by Harvard University Press. The library contains important works ...
. Harvard University Press and London, Hutchinson, 1914–40. Greek text and English translation. **
Procopii Caesariensis opera omnia
'. Edited by J. Haury; revised by G. Wirth. 3 vols. Leipzig:
Teubner The Bibliotheca Teubneriana, or ''Bibliotheca Scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana'', also known as Teubner editions of Ancient Greek literature, Greek and Latin literature, Latin texts, comprise one of the most thorough modern Collecti ...
, 1962–64. Greek text. ** '' The Secret History'', translated by G.A. Williamson. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1966. A readable and accessible English translation of the ''Anecdota''. *
John Malalas John Malalas ( el, , ''Iōánnēs Malálas'';  – 578) was a Byzantine Empire, Byzantine chronicler from Antioch (now Antakya, Turkey). Life Malalas was of Assyrian people, Syrian descent, and he was a native speaker of Syriac language ...
,
Chronicle
', translated by Elizabeth Jeffreys, Michael Jeffreys & Roger Scott, 1986. Byzantina Australiensia 4 (Melbourne: Australian Association for Byzantine Studies) *
Evagrius Scholasticus Evagrius Scholasticus ( el, Εὐάγριος Σχολαστικός) was a Syrian people, Syrian scholar and intellectual living in the 6th century AD, and an aide to the patriarch Gregory of Antioch. His surviving work, ''Ecclesiastical History ...
, '' Ecclesiastical History'', translated by Edward Walford (1846), reprinted 2008. Evolution Publishing, .


Bibliography

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * – German standard work; partially obsolete, but still useful. * * * * *


External links

*
St Justinian the Emperor
Orthodox Icon and Synaxarion (14 November)

* ttp://openn.library.upenn.edu/Data/0023/html/lewis_e_244.html Lewis E 244 Infortiatum at OPenn
The ''Buildings'' of Procopius in English translation.

''The Roman Law Library'' by Professor Yves Lassard and Alexandr Koptev

Lecture series covering 12 Byzantine Rulers, including Justinian
– by Lars Brownworth

* ttp://www.byzantium1200.com/justinia.html Reconstruction of column of Justinian in Constantinople
Opera Omnia by Migne ''Patrologia Graeca'' with analytical indexes



Annotated Justinian Code (University of Wyoming website)


{{DEFAULTSORT:Justinian 01 480s births 565 deaths 6th-century Christian saints 6th-century Byzantine emperors 6th-century Roman consuls Medieval legislators Burials at the Church of the Holy Apostles Gothicus Maximus Thracian people Illyrian people Justinian dynasty Theocrats Christian royal saints Pre-Reformation saints of the Lutheran liturgical calendar People of the Roman–Sasanian Wars People from Zelenikovo Municipality Military saints Last of the Romans Nobilissimi Eastern Orthodox royal saints Roman Catholic royal saints Iberian War Lazic War Illyrian emperors 6th-century Byzantine people