JUSTINIAN I (/dʒʌˈstɪniən/ ;
Latin : _Flavius Petrus Sabbatius
Iustinianus Augustus_; Greek : Φλάβιος Πέτρος
Σαββάτιος Ἰουστινιανός _Flávios Pétros
Sabbátios Ioustinianós_) (c. 482 – 14 November 565), traditionally
known as JUSTINIAN THE GREAT and also SAINT JUSTINIAN THE GREAT in the
Eastern Orthodox Church , was the Byzantine (East Roman) emperor from
527 to 565. During his reign, Justinian sought to revive the empire's
greatness and reconquer the lost western half of the historical Roman
Empire. Justinian's rule constitutes a distinct epoch in the history
Later Roman empire
Later Roman empire , and his reign is marked by the ambitious
but only partly realized _renovatio imperii_, or "restoration of the
Because of his restoration activities, Justinian has sometimes been
called the "last Roman " in modern historiography . This ambition was
expressed by the partial recovery of the territories of the defunct
Roman Empire . His general,
Belisarius , swiftly conquered
the Vandal kingdom in North Africa. Subsequently, Belisarius,
and other generals conquered the
Ostrogothic kingdom , restoring
Italy , and
Rome to the empire after more than
half a century of rule by the Ostrogoths. The prefect Liberius
reclaimed the south of the
Iberian peninsula , establishing the
Spania . 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 that had never
been under Roman rule before.
A still more resonant aspect of his legacy was the uniform rewriting
of Roman law, the _
Corpus Juris Civilis _, which is still the basis of
civil law in many modern states. His reign also marked a blossoming
of Byzantine culture, and his building program yielded such
masterpieces as the church of
Hagia Sophia . A devastating outbreak of
bubonic plague in the early 540s marked the end of an age of
* 1 Life
* 2 Reign
* 2.1 Legislative activities
* 2.3 Military activities
* 2.3.1 War with the Sassanid Empire, 527–532
* 2.3.2 Conquest of North Africa, 533–534
* 2.3.3 War in Italy, first phase, 535–540
* 2.3.4 War with the Sassanid Empire, 540–562
* 2.3.5 War in Italy, second phase, 541–554
* 2.3.6 Other campaigns
* 2.4 Results
* 2.5 Religious activities
* 2.5.1 Religious policy
* 2.5.2 Religious relations with
* 2.5.3 Suppression of other religions and philosophies
* 2.6 Architecture, learning, art and literature
* 2.7 Economy and administration
* 3 Natural disasters
* 4 Cultural depictions
* 5 Historical sources
* 6 Primary sources
* 7 See also
* 8 Notes
* 9 References
* 10 Bibliography
* 11 External links
The ancient town of
Tauresium , the birthplace of Justinian I,
located in today's
Republic of Macedonia
Justinian was born in
Tauresium around 482. A native speaker of
Latin (possibly the last Roman emperor to be one ), he came from a
peasant family believed to have been of
Thraco-Roman origins. The cognomen _Iustinianus_, which he took
later, is indicative of adoption by his uncle Justin . During his
reign, he founded
Justiniana Prima not far from his birthplace, which
today is in South East Serbia. His mother was Vigilantia, the
sister of Justin. Justin, who was in the imperial guard (the
Excubitors ) before he became emperor, adopted Justinian, brought him
Constantinople , and ensured the boy's education. As a result,
Justinian was well educated in jurisprudence , theology and Roman
history. Justinian served for some time with the
Excubitors but the
details of his early career are unknown. Chronicler
John Malalas ,
who lived during the reign of Justinian, tells of his appearance that
he was short, fair skinned, curly haired, round faced and handsome.
Another contemporary chronicler,
Procopius , compares Justinian's
appearance to that of tyrannical Emperor
Domitian , although this is
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 much ambition, and it has been thought that he was functioning
as virtual regent long before Justin made him associate emperor on 1
April 527, although there is no conclusive evidence for this. As
Justin became senile near the end of his reign, Justinian became the
_de facto_ ruler. Justinian was appointed consul 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" on account of 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 a courtesan and some twenty years his junior. In earlier
times, Justinian could not have married her because of her class, but
his uncle, Emperor Justin I, had passed a law allowing intermarriage
between social classes. Theodora would become very influential in
the politics of the Empire, and later emperors would follow
Justinian's precedent in marrying outside the aristocratic class. The
marriage caused a scandal, but Theodora would prove to be a shrewd
judge of character and Justinian's greatest supporter. Other talented
Tribonian , his legal adviser; Peter the
Patrician , the diplomat and longtime head of the palace bureaucracy;
Justinian's finance ministers
John the Cappadocian and Peter Barsymes
, who managed to collect taxes more efficiently than any before,
thereby funding Justinian's wars; and finally, his prodigiously
Justinian's rule was not universally popular; early in his reign he
nearly lost his throne during the
Nika riots , 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. When
he died on 14 November 565, he left no children, though his wife
Theodora had given birth to a stillborn son several years into his
reign. He was succeeded by
Justin II , who was the son of his sister
Vigilantia and married to Sophia, the niece of Empress Theodora.
Justinian's body was entombed in a specially built mausoleum in the
Church of the Holy Apostles until it was desecrated and robbed during
the pillage of the city in 1204 by the
Latin States of the Fourth
Corpus Juris Civilis The
Barberini Ivory , which
is thought to portray either Justinian or Anastasius I
Justinian achieved lasting fame through his judicial reforms,
particularly through the complete revision of all
Roman law ,
something that had not previously been attempted. The total of
Justinian's legislature is known today as the _
Corpus juris civilis _.
It consists of the _
Codex Iustinianus _, the _Digesta_ or _Pandectae
_, the _Institutiones _, and the _Novellae _.
Early in his reign, Justinian appointed the _quaestor _
oversee this task. The first draft of the _
Codex Iustinianus _, a
codification of imperial constitutions from the 2nd century onward,
was issued on 7 April 529. (The final version appeared in 534.) It was
followed by the _Digesta_ (or _
Pandectae _), a compilation of older
legal texts, in 533, and by the _Institutiones _, a textbook
explaining the principles of law. The _Novellae _, 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 ,
the common language of the Eastern Empire.
The _Corpus_ forms the basis of
Latin jurisprudence (including
ecclesiastical Canon Law ) 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 ,
and jurists' opinions and interpretations (_responsa prudentum_).
Tribonian's code ensured the survival of Roman law. It formed the
basis of later Byzantine law, as expressed in the _
Basilika _ of Basil
Leo VI the Wise . The only western province where the
Justinianic code was introduced was
Italy (after the conquest by the
Pragmatic Sanction of 554), from where it was to pass to
Western Europe in the 12th century and become the basis of much
European law code. It eventually passed to
Eastern Europe where it
appeared in Slavic editions, and it also passed on to
Russia . 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.
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 factions in Constantinople, normally
divided among themselves, united against Justinian in a revolt that
has become known as the
Nika riots . They forced him to dismiss
Tribonian 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,
but eventually decided to stay, apparently on the prompting of
Theodora, who refused to leave. In the next two days, he ordered the
brutal suppression of the riots by his generals
Belisarius and Mundus
Procopius relates that 30,000 unarmed civilians were killed in the
Hippodrome. On Theodora's insistence, and apparently against his own
judgment, Justinian had Anastasius' nephews executed.
The destruction that had taken place during the revolt provided
Justinian with an opportunity to tie his name to a series of splendid
new buildings, most notably the architectural innovation of the domed
Hagia Sophia .
* Sena Gallica
* Mons Lactarius
CONQUEST OF SPANIA
* Mammes and Bourgaon
* Babosis and Zerboule
* Fields of Cato
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
Roman Empire 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
War With The Sassanid Empire, 527–532
From his uncle, Justinian inherited ongoing hostilities with the
Sassanid Empire . In 530 a Persian army was defeated at Dara , but
the next year saw the defeat of Roman forces under
Callinicum . When king
Kavadh I of Persia died (September 531),
Justinian concluded an "Eternal Peace " (which cost him 11,000 pounds
of gold) with his successor
Khosrau I (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
Western Roman Empire
Western Roman Empire .
Conquest Of North Africa, 533–534
Vandalic War An older Justinian; mosaic in
Basilica of Sant\'Apollinare Nuovo ,
Ravenna (possibly a modified
portrait of Theodoric )
The first of the western kingdoms Justinian attacked was that of the
North Africa . King
Hilderic , who had maintained good
relations with Justinian and the North African Catholic clergy, had
been overthrown by his cousin
Gelimer in 530. Imprisoned, the deposed
king appealed to Justinian.
Belisarius with a fleet of 92 dromons escorting 500
transports, landed at Caput Vada (modern Ras Kaboudia) in modern
Tunisia with an army of about 15,000 men, as well as a number of
barbarian troops. They defeated the Vandals, who were caught
completely off guard, at
Ad Decimum on 14 September 533 and Tricamarum
Carthage . King
Gelimer fled to Mount
Numidia , but surrendered the next spring. He was taken to
Constantinople, where he was paraded in a triumph .
Corsica , the
Balearic Islands , and the stronghold Septem Fratres
Gibraltar were recovered in the same campaign.
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 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
Gothic War (535–554)
As in Africa, dynastic struggles in
Ostrogothic Italy provided an
opportunity for intervention. The young king
Athalaric had died on 2
October 534, and a usurper,
Theodahad , had imprisoned queen
Amalasuntha , Theodoric 's daughter and mother of Athalaric, on the
island of Martana in
Lake Bolsena , where he had her assassinated in
Belisarius with 7,500 men invaded
Sicily (535) and
advanced into Italy, sacking
Naples and capturing
Rome on 9 December
536. By that time
Theodahad had been deposed by the Ostrogothic army,
who had elected
Vitigis as their new king. He gathered a large army
Rome from February 537 to March 538 without being able to
retake the city.
Justinian sent another general,
Narses , to Italy, but tensions
Belisarius hampered the progress of the campaign.
Milan was taken, but was soon recaptured and razed by the Ostrogoths.
Narses in 539. By then the military situation had
turned in favour of the Romans, and in 540
Belisarius reached the
Ravenna . 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 in Gothic hands.
Belisarius feigned to
accept the offer, entered the city in May 540, and reclaimed it for
the Empire. Then, having been recalled by Justinian, Belisarius
returned to Constantinople, taking the captured
Vitigis and his wife
Matasuntha with him.
War With The Sassanid Empire, 540–562
Modern or early modern drawing of a medallion celebrating the
Africa , c. 535
Belisarius had been recalled in the face of renewed hostilities by
the Persians . Following a revolt against the Empire in Armenia in the
late 530s and possibly motivated by the pleas of Ostrogothic
Khosrau I broke the "Eternal Peace" and invaded
Roman territory in the spring of 540. He first sacked Beroea and then
Antioch (allowing the garrison of 6,000 men to leave the city),
Daras , and then went on to attack the small but
strategically significant satellite kingdom of Lazica near the Black
Sea , exacting tribute from the towns he passed along his way. He
Justinian I to pay him 5,000 pounds of gold, plus 500 pounds of
gold more each year.
Belisarius arrived in the East in 541, but, after some success, was
again recalled to
Constantinople in 542. The reasons for his
withdrawal are not known, but it may have been instigated by rumours
of disloyalty on behalf of the general reaching the court. The
outbreak of the plague caused a lull in the fighting during the year
543. The following year Khosrau defeated a Byzantine army of 30,000
men, but unsuccessfully besieged the major city of Edessa . 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 in the North continued for several years, until a second truce in
557, followed by a Fifty Years\' Peace in 562. Under its terms, the
Persians agreed to abandon Lazica in exchange for an annual tribute of
400 or 500 pounds of gold (30,000 _solidi_) to be paid by the Romans.
War In Italy, Second Phase, 541–554
While military efforts were directed to the East, the situation in
Italy took a turn for the worse. Under their respective kings Ildibad
Eraric (both murdered in 541) and especially
Totila , the
Ostrogoths made quick gains. After a victory at
Faenza in 542, they
reconquered the major cities of Southern
Italy and soon held almost
the entire peninsula.
Belisarius was sent back to
Italy late in 544,
but lacked sufficient troops. Making no headway, he was relieved of
his command in 548.
Belisarius succeeded in defeating a Gothic fleet
with 200 ships. During this period the city of
Rome changed hands
three more times, first taken and depopulated by the
December 546, then reconquered by the Byzantines in 547, and then
again by the
Goths in January 550.
Totila also plundered
attacked the Greek coastlines.
Finally, Justinian dispatched a force of approximately 35,000 men
(2,000 men were detached and sent to invade southern Visigothic
Hispania ) under the command of
Narses . The army reached
June 552, and defeated the
Ostrogoths decisively within a month at the
battle of Busta Gallorum in the Apennines , 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,
garrisoned with an army of 16,000 men. The recovery of
Italy cost the
empire about 300,000 pounds of gold.
Visigothic gold tremisses in the name of emperor
Justinian I, 7th century. The
Christian cross on the breast defines
British Museum .
In addition to the other conquests, the Empire established a presence
Hispania , when the usurper
assistance in his rebellion against King
Agila I . In 552, Justinian
dispatched a force of 2,000 men; according to the historian
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 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 suffered from several
incursions by the Turkic and
Slavic peoples who lived north of the
Danube . 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
Emperor Justinian reconquered many former territories of the
Western Roman Empire, including
Dalmatia , Africa, and
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 its
population were deeply resented. The final victory in
Italy and the
Africa and the coast of southern
enlarged the area over which the Empire could project its power and
eliminated all naval threats to the empire. Despite losing much of
Italy soon after Justinian's death, the empire retained several
important cities, including Rome, Naples, and Ravenna, leaving the
Lombards 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 the
reign showed that
Constantinople itself was not safe from barbarian
incursions from the north, and even the relatively benevolent
Menander Protector 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.
Justinian saw the orthodoxy of his empire threatened by diverging
religious currents, especially
Monophysitism , which had many
adherents in the eastern provinces of Syria and Egypt. Monophysite
doctrine, which maintains that Jesus Christ had one divine nature or a
synthesis of a divine and human nature, had been condemned as a heresy
Council of Chalcedon 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.
Justinian I, depicted on an AE Follis coin
As in his secular administration, despotism 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 and the
Incarnation ; 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 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
councils. The bishops in attendance at the Second Council of
Constantinople in 553 recognized that nothing could be done in the
Church contrary to the emperor's will and command; while, on his
side, the emperor, in the case of the Patriarch Anthimus , reinforced
the ban of the Church with temporal proscription. Justinian protected
the purity of the church by suppressing heretics. He neglected no
opportunity for securing the rights of the Church and clergy , for
protecting and extending monasticism . 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
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, et cetera. Justinian also rebuilt the
Hagia Sophia (which cost 20,000 pounds of gold), the
original site having been destroyed during the Nika riots. The new
Hagia Sophia, with its numerous chapels and shrines, gilded octagonal
dome, and mosaics , became the centre and most visible monument of
Eastern Orthodoxy in Constantinople.
Religious Relations With Rome
Consular diptych displaying Justinian's full name
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 .
Previous Emperors had tried to alleviate theological conflicts by
declarations that deemphasized the
Council of Chalcedon , which had
Monophysitism , 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
favoured 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 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 Monophysites unreservedly. In the
condemnation of the _Three Chapters_ , three theologians that had
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
Pope Vigilius , who was forcibly brought to
besieged at a champel, 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.
Suppression Of Other Religions And Philosophies
Justinian was one of the first Roman Emperors to be depicted
wielding the cross on the obverse of a coin.
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 orthodox (Nicaean) .
Those of a different belief were subjected to persecution, which
imperial legislation had effected from the time of
Constantius II and
which would now vigorously continue. The _Codex_ contained two
statutes that decreed the total destruction of paganism , even in
private life; these provisions were zealously enforced. Contemporary
John Malalas , Theophanes ,
John of Ephesus ) tell of severe
persecutions, even of men in high position. In 529, the Neoplatonic
Athens was placed under state control as paganism,
strangling this training school for this branch of Hellenistic
Asia Minor alone,
John of Ephesus reported to have converted
70,000 pagans. Other peoples also accepted Christianity: the
Huns dwelling near the Don , the Abasgi , and the
The worship of
Amun at oasis of
Awjila in the Libyan desert was
abolished; and so were the remnants of the worship of
Isis on the
Philae , at the first cataract of the
Nile . The Presbyter
Julian and the Bishop Longinus conducted a mission among the
Nabataeans , and Justinian attempted to strengthen
Yemen by despatching a bishop from
The civil rights of Jews were restricted and their religious
privileges threatened. Justinian also interfered in the internal
affairs of the synagogue , and encouraged the Jews to use the Greek
Septuagint 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 yet could
not prevent reprisals towards Christians from taking place in Samaria
toward the close of his reign. The consistency of Justinian's policy
meant that the
Manicheans too suffered persecution, experiencing both
exile and threat of capital punishment. At
Constantinople , on one
occasion, not a few Manicheans, after strict inquisition, were
executed in the emperor's very presence: some by burning, others by
ARCHITECTURE, LEARNING, ART AND LITERATURE
Hagia Sophia in 2013
Justinian was a prolific builder; the historian
witness to his activities in this area. Under Justinian's patronage
the San Vitale in Ravenna, which features two famous mosaics
representing Justinian and Theodora, was completed. Most notably, he
Hagia Sophia , originally a basilica -style church that had
been burnt down during the
Nika riots , splendidly rebuilt according
to a completely different ground plan, under the architectural
Isidore of Miletus and
Anthemius of Tralles
Anthemius of Tralles . According
to Procopius, Justinian stated at the completion of this edifice,
"Solomon I have outdone thee" (in reference to the 1st Jewish temple).
This new cathedral, with its magnificent dome filled with mosaics,
remained the centre of eastern
Christianity for centuries.
Another prominent church in the capital, the Church of the Holy
Apostles , which had been in a very poor state near the end of the 5th
century, was likewise rebuilt. Works of embellishment were not
confined to churches alone: excavations at the site of the Great
Constantinople 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
Constantinople in 543. Rivalry with
other, more established patrons from the Constantinopolitan and exiled
Roman aristocracy (like
Anicia Juliana ) 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
the East through the construction of fortifications, and ensured
Constantinople of its water supply through construction of underground
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 , 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 ,
which was intended to replace
Thessalonica as the political and
religious centre of Illyricum .
In Justinian's reign, and partly under his patronage, Byzantine
culture produced noteworthy historians, including
Agathias , and poets such as
Paul the Silentiary and Romanus the
Melodist flourished. On the other hand, centres of learning as the
Platonic Academy in
Athens and the famous
Law School of Beirut lost
their importance during his reign. Despite Justinian's passion for the
glorious Roman past, the practice of choosing
Roman consul was allowed
to lapse after 541.
ECONOMY AND ADMINISTRATION
Byzantine silk Gold coin of Justinian I
(527–565 CE) excavated in
India probably in the south, an example of
Indo-Roman trade during the period
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 where tin was
exchanged for Roman wheat. Within the Empire, convoys sailing from
Constantinople with wheat and grains. Justinian
made the traffic more efficient by building a large granary on the
island of Tenedos 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 , 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 back to Constantinople,
and silk became an indigenous product.
Gold and silver were mined in the Balkans, Anatolia, Armenia, Cyprus,
Egypt and Nubia. Scene from daily life on a mosaic from the
Great Palace of
Constantinople , early 6th century
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 . Under Justinian's rule, measures
were taken to counter corruption in the provinces and to make tax
collection more efficient. Greater administrative power was given to
both the leaders of the prefectures and of the provinces, while power
was taken away from the vicariates of the dioceses , of which a number
were abolished. The overall trend was towards a simplification of
administrative infrastructure. According to Brown (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
Throughout Justinian's reign, the cities and villages of the East
Antioch 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.
551 Beirut earthquake , Extreme weather events of
535–536 , and
Plague of Justinian
During the decade of 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 day, refused to give much
heat. This caused famine unlike anything those of the time had seen
before, weakening the people of Europe and the Middle East.
The cause of these disasters aren't precisely known, but the Rabaul
Lake Ilopango and
Krakatoa volcanoes or a collision with a
swarm of meteors are all suspected. Scientists have spent decades on
Seven years later, in 542, a devastating outbreak of
Bubonic Plague ,
known as the
Plague of Justinian and second only to that of the 14th
century, laid siege to the world, killing tens of millions. As ruler
of the Empire, Justinian, and members of his court, were physically
unaffected by famine. However, the Imperial Court did prove
susceptible to plague, with Justinian himself contracting, but
surviving, the pestilence.
In July 551, the eastern Mediterranean was rocked by the 551 Beirut
earthquake , which triggered a tsunami. The combined fatalities of
both events probably exceeded 30,000, with tremors being felt from
Antioch to Alexandria.
In the _Paradiso _ section of the _
Divine Comedy _ by Dante Alighieri
Justinian I is prominently featured as a spirit residing on the
sphere of Mercury , which holds the ambitious souls of
Heaven . His
legacy is elaborated on, and he is portrayed as a defender of the
Christian faith and the restorer of
Rome to the Empire. However,
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, in contrast to the
Italy of the Roman Empire.
_The Glittering Horn: Secret Memoirs of the Court of Justinian_ was a
novel written by
Pierson Dixon in 1958 about the court of Justinian.
Procopius provides the primary source for the history of Justinian's
reign. The Syriac chronicle of
John of Ephesus , which does not
survive, was used as a source for later chronicles, contributing many
additional details of value. Both historians became very bitter
towards Justinian and his empress, Theodora . Other sources include
the histories of
Menander Protector ,
John Malalas , the
Paschal Chronicle , the chronicles of
Marcellinus Comes and Victor of
Tunnuna . Justinian is widely regarded as a saint by Orthodox
Christians , and is also commemorated by some Lutheran churches on 14
* _Procopii Caesariensis opera omnia_. Edited by J. Haury; revised
by G. Wirth. 3 vols. Leipzig:
Teubner , 1962–64. Greek text.
* _Procopius_. Edited by H. B. Dewing. 7 vols. Loeb Classical
Library. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press and London,
Hutchinson, 1914–40. Greek text and English translation.
* Procopius, _The Secret History_, translated by G.A. Williamson.
Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1966. A readable and accessible English
translation of the _Anecdota_.
* Elizabeth Jeffreys, Michael Jeffreys, Roger Scott et al. 1986,
_The Chronicle of John Malalas: A Translation_, Byzantina
Australiensia 4 (Melbourne: Australian Association for Byzantine
Studies) ISBN 0-9593626-2-2
Edward Walford , translator (1846) _The Ecclesiastical History of
Evagrius: A History of the Church from AD 431 to AD 594_, Reprinted
2008. Evolution Publishing, ISBN 978-1-889758-88-6 .
Byzantine Empire portal
List of Byzantine emperors
* ^ _Britannica Concise Encyclopedia_, Encyclopædia Britannica,
Inc., 2008, ISBN 1593394926 , p. 1007.
* ^ _History of the Later
Roman Empire from
Arcadius to Irene_,
Volume 2, J. B. Bury, Cosimo, Inc., 2008, ISBN 1605204056 , p. 7.
* ^ J. F. Haldon, _Byzantium in the seventh century_ (Cambridge,
* ^ For instance by G. P. Baker (_Justinian_, New York 1938), or in
the _Outline of Great Books_ series (_Justinian the Great_).
* ^ On the western Roman Empire, see now H. Börm, _Westrom_
* ^ "History 303: Finances under Justinian". Tulane.edu. Retrieved
* ^ Evans, J. A. S., _The Age of Justinian: the circumstances of
imperial power_. pp. 93–94
* ^ John Henry Merryman and Rogelio Pérez-Perdomo, _The Civil Law
Tradition: An Introduction to the Legal Systems of Europe and Latin
America_, 3rd ed. (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2007), pp.
* ^ The precise location of this site is disputed; the possible
Justiniana Prima near the modern town of
Serbia and Taor near
Skopje , Macedonia
* ^ _The Inheritance of Rome_, Chris Wickham, Penguin Books Ltd.
2009, ISBN 978-0-670-02098-0 (page 90). Justinian referred to
his native tongue in several of his laws. See Moorhead (1994), p. 18.
* ^ Michael Maas (2005-04-18). _The Cambridge Companion to the Age
of Justinian_. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781139826877 .
* ^ Treadgold, Warren T. (1997). A history of the Byzantine state
and society. Stanford University Press. p. 246. ISBN 978-0-8047-2630-6
. Retrieved 12 October 2010.
* ^ Barker, John W. (1966). _Justinian and the later Roman Empire_.
University of Wisconsin Press. p. 75. ISBN 978-0-299-03944-8 .
Retrieved 28 November 2011.
* ^ Robert Browning (2003). _Justinian and Theodora_. Gorgias
Press. ISBN 9781593330538 .
* ^ Shifting Genres in Late Antiquity, Hugh Elton, Geoffrey
Greatrex, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2015, ISBN 1472443500 , p. 259.
* ^ Pannonia and Upper Moesia: A History of the Middle Danube
Provinces of the Roman Empire, András Mócsy, Routledge, 2014, ISBN
1317754255 , p. 350.
* ^ The sole source for Justinian's full name_, Flavius Petrus
Sabbatius Iustinianus_ (sometimes called _Flavius Anicius
Iustinianus_), are consular diptychs of the year 521 bearing his name.
* ^ Sima M. Cirkovic (7 June 2004). _The Serbs_. Wiley. ISBN
* ^ _
Justiniana Prima Site of an early Byzantine city located 30 km
south-west of Leskovci in Kosovo_. Grove's Dictionaries. 2006.
* ^ _Byzantine Constantinople: Monuments, Topography and Everyday
Life_. BRILL. 2001. ISBN 9004116257 .
* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ _E_ _F_ _G_ _H_ _I_ Robert Browning. "Justinian
I" in _
Dictionary of the Middle Ages _, volume VII (1986).
* ^ _Cambridge Ancient History_ p. 65
* ^ Moorhead (1994), pp. 21–22, with a reference to Procopius,
Secret History 8.3.
* ^ This post seems to have been titular ; there is no evidence
that Justinian had any military experience. See A.D. Lee, "The Empire
at War", in Michael Maas (ed.), _The Cambridge Companion to the Age of
Justinian_ (Cambridge 2005), pp. 113–133 (pp. 113–114).
* ^ See Procopius, _Secret history_, ch. 13.
* ^ M. Meier, _Justinian_, p. 57.
* ^ P. N. Ure, _Justinian and his age_, p. 200.
* ^ "DIR Justinian". Roman Emperors. 1998-07-25. Retrieved
* ^ Robert Browning, _Justinian and Theodora_ (1987), 129; James
Allan Evans, _The Empress Theodora: Partner of Justinian_ (2002), 104
* ^ Theological treatises authored by Justinian can be found in
Patrologia Graeca _, Vol. 86.
* ^ Crowley, Roger (2011). _City of Fortune, How Venice Won and
Lost a Naval Empire_. London: Faber & Faber Ltd. p. 109. ISBN
* ^ "S. P. Scott: The Civil Law". Constitution.org. 2002-06-19.
* ^ Kunkel, W. (translated by J. M. Kelly) _An introduction to
Roman legal and constitutional history_. Oxford, Clarendon Press,
* ^ Darrell P. Hammer. "
Russia and the Roman Law". JSTOR. JSTOR
* ^ Garland (1999), pp. 16–17
* ^ J. Norwich, _Byzantium: The Early Centuries_, 200
* ^ Diehl, Charles. _Theodora, Empress of Byzantium_ ((c) 1972 by
Frederick Ungar Publishing, Inc., transl. by S.R. Rosenbaum from the
original French _Theodora, Imperatice de Byzance_), 89.
* ^ Vasiliev (1958), p. 157.
* ^ For an account of Justinian's wars, see Moorhead (1994), pp.
22–24, 63–98, and 101–9.
* ^ See A. D. Lee, "The Empire at War", in Michael Maas (ed.), _The
Cambridge Companion to the Age of Justinian_ (Cambridge 2005), pp.
113–33 (pp. 113–14). For Justinian's own views, see the texts of
_Codex Iustinianus_ 1.27.1 and _Novellae_ 8.10.2 and 30.11.2.
* ^ Justinian himself took the field only once, during a campaign
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.)
* ^ See Geoffrey Greatrex, "Byzantium and the East in the Sixth
Century" in Michael Maas (ed.). _Age of Justinian_ (2005), pp.
* ^ J. Norwich, _Byzantium: The Early Centuries_, p. 195.
* ^ Moorhead (1994), p. 68.
* ^ Moorhead (1994), p. 70.
* ^ Procopius. "II.XXVIII". _De Bello Vandalico_.
* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ "Early Medieval and Byzantine Civilization:
Constantine to Crusades". Tulane.
* ^ J. Norwich, _Byzantium: The Early Centuries_, 215
* ^ Moorhead (1994), pp. 84–86.
* ^ See for this section Moorhead (1994), p. 89 ff., Greatrex
(2005), p. 488 ff., and especially H. Börm, "Der Perserkönig im
Imperium Romanum", in _Chiron_ 36, 2006, p. 299 ff.
* ^ _A_ _B_ J. Norwich, _Byzantium: The Early Centuries_, 229
Procopius mentions this event both in the _Wars_ and in the
_Secret History_, but gives two entirely different explanations for
it. The evidence is briefly discussed in Moorhead (1994), pp. 97–98.
* ^ J. Norwich, _Byzantium: The Early Centuries_, 235
* ^ Moorhead ((1994), p. 164) gives the lower, Greatrex ((2005), p.
489) the higher figure.
* ^ J. Norwich, _Byzantium: The Early Centuries_, 251
* ^ J. Norwich, _Byzantium: The Early Centuries_, 233
* ^ _Getica_, 303
* ^ See Lee (2005), p. 125 ff.
* ^ W. Pohl, "Justinian and the Barbarian Kingdoms", in Maas
(2005), pp. 448–476; 472
* ^ See Haldon (2003), pp. 17–19.
* ^ Meyendorff 1989 , pp. 207–250.
* ^ Treatises written by Justinian can be found in Migne's
_Patrologia Graeca_, Vol. 86.
* ^ _Cod._, I., i. 5.
* ^ _MPG_, lxxxvi. 1, p. 993.
* ^ _Cod._, I., i. 7.
* ^ _Novellae_, cxxxi.
* ^ Mansi, _Concilia_, viii. 970B.
* ^ _Novellae_, xlii.
* ^ P. Heather, _The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History of
Rome and the Barbarians_, 283
* ^ cf. _Novellae_, cxxxi.
* ^ _Cod._, I., xi. 9 and 10.
François Nau , in _Revue de l'orient chretien_, ii., 1897,
Procopius , _Bellum Gothicum_, ii. 14; Evagrius , _Hist.
eccl._, iv. 20
* ^ Procopius, iv. 4; Evagrius, iv. 23.
* ^ Procopius, iv. 3; Evagrius, iv. 22.
* ^ Procopius, _Bellum Persicum_, i. 15.
* ^ Procopius, _De Aedificiis_, vi. 2.
* ^ Procopius, _Bellum Persicum_, i. 19.
* ^ _DCB_, iii. 482
* ^ John of Ephesus, _Hist. eccl._, iv. 5 sqq.
* ^ Procopius, _Bellum Persicum_, i. 20; Malalas, ed. Niebuhr ,
Bonn , 1831, pp. 433 sqq.
* ^ _Cod._, I., v. 12
* ^ Procopius, _Historia Arcana_, 28;
* ^ _Nov._, cxlvi., 8 February 553
* ^ Michael Maas (2005), _The Cambridge companion to the Age of
Justinian_, Cambridge University Press, pp. 16–, ISBN
978-0-521-81746-2 , retrieved 18 August 2010
* ^ _Cod._, I., v. 12.
* ^ F. Nau, in _Revue de l'orient_, ii., 1897, p. 481.
* ^ See Procopius, _Buildings_.
* ^ Vasiliev (1952), p. 189
* ^ Brian Croke, "Justinian's Constantinople", in Michael Maas
(ed.), _The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Justinian_ (Cambridge
2005), pp. 60–86 (p. 66)
* ^ See Croke (2005), p. 364 ff., and Moorhead (1994).
* ^ Following a terrible earthquake in 551, the school at Beirut
was transferred to Sidon and had no further significance after that
date. (Vasiliev (1952), p. 147)
* ^ Vasiliev (1952), p. I 192.
* ^ John F. Haldon, "Economy and Administration", in Michael Maas
(ed.), _The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Justinian_ (Cambridge
2005), pp. 28–59 (p. 35)
* ^ John Moorhead, _Justinian_ (London/New York 1994), p. 57
* ^ Peter Brown, _The World of Late Antiquity_ (London 1971), pp.
* ^ Vasiliev (1952), p. 167
* ^ See Moorhead (1994), p. 167; Procopius, _Wars_, 8.17.1–8
* ^ "Justinian\'s Gold Mines – Mining Technology TechnoMine".
Technology.infomine.com. 2008-12-03. Retrieved 2012-11-14.
* ^ Haldon (2005), p. 50
* ^ Brown (1971), p. 157
* ^ Kenneth G. Holum, "The Classical City in the Sixth Century", in
Michael Maas (ed.), _Age of Justinian_ (2005), pp. 99–100
* ^ Moorhead (1994), pp. 100–101
* ^ John L. Teall, "The Barbarians in Justinian's Armies", in
_Speculum_, vol. 40, No. 2, 1965, 294–322. The total strength of the
Byzantine army under Justinian is estimated at 150,000 men (J.
Norwich, _Byzantium: The Early Centuries_, 259).
* ^ Brown (1971), p. 158; Moorhead (1994), p. 101
* ^ _Paradiso_, Canto VI verse 10
* ^ Dorothy L. Sayers, Paradiso, notes on Canto VI.
* ^ 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.
* ^ In various Eastern Orthodox Churches, including the Orthodox
Church in America , Justinian and his empress Theodora are
commemorated on the anniversary of his death, 14 November. Some
denominations translate the
Julian calendar date to 27 November on the
Gregorian calendar . The Calendar of Saints of the Lutheran
Church–Missouri Synod and the
Lutheran Church–Canada also remember
Justinian on November 14.
* ^ "The Christian
Roman Empire series". Evolpub.com. Retrieved
* This article incorporates text from the _Schaff–Herzog
Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge _.
* Ostrogorsky, George (1956). _History of the Byzantine State_.
Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
* Bury, J. B. (1958). _History of the later Roman Empire_. 2. New
* Meyendorff, John (1989). _Imperial unity and Christian divisions:
The Church 450–680 A.D._ The Church in history. 2. Crestwood, NY:
St. Vladimir's Seminary Press. ISBN 978-0-88-141056-3 .
* Cameron, Averil et al.(eds.) (2000). "Justinian Era". _The
Cambridge Ancient History_ (Second ed.). Cambridge. 14. CS1 maint:
Extra text: authors list (link )
* Cumberland Jacobsen, Torsten (2009). _The Gothic War_. Westholme.
* Dixon, Pierson (1958). _The Glittering Horn: Secret Memoirs of the
Court of Justinian_.
* Evans, James Allan (2005). _The Emperor Justinian and the
Byzantine Empire_. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-32582-0 .
* Garland, Lynda (1999). _Byzantine empresses: women and power in
Byzantium, AD 527–1204_. London: Routledge.
* Maas, Michael (ed.) (2005). _The Cambridge Companion to the Age of
Justinian_. Cambridge. CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link )
* Meier, Mischa (2003). _Das andere Zeitalter Justinians. Kontingenz
Erfahrung und Kontingenzbewältigung im 6. Jahrhundert n. Chr._ (in
* Meier, Mischa (2004). _Justinian. Herrschaft, Reich, und Religion_
(in German). Munich.
* Moorhead, John (1994). _Justinian_. London.
* Rosen, William (2007). _Justinian's Flea: Plague, Empire, and the
Birth of Europe_. Viking Adult. ISBN 978-0-670-03855-8 .
* Rubin, Berthold (1960). _Das Zeitalter Iustinians_. Berlin. –
German standard work; partially obsolete, but still useful.
* Sarris, Peter (2006). _Economy and society in the age of
* Ure, PN (1951). _Justinian and his Age_. Penguin, Harmondsworth.
* Vasiliev, A. A. (1952). _History of the Byzantine Empire_ (Second
* Sidney Dean, Duncan B. Campbell , Ian Hughes, Ross Cowan, Raffaele
D'Amato, and Christopher Lillington-Martin, eds. (Jun–Jul 2010).
Belisarius and the Byzantine empire". _Ancient
Warfare _. IV (3). CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link )
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