Justinian I

Justinian I
   Emperor (q.v.) from 527-565. His accomplishments, even those that ultimately failed, rank him among the greatest of Byzantine emperors. His codification of Roman law, the Corpus Juris Civilis (q.v.) and the construction of Hagia Sophia (q.v.) are his enduring achievements. However, his reconquest of the West was eventually reversed. The war against the Ostrogoths (q.v.) dragged on until 552; three years after Justinian died much of Italy (q.v.) was conquered by the Lombards (q.v.). However, his conquest of the Vandals (q.v.) in 533, despite a long war with the Moors (q.v.) from 536-548, lasted until the Arabs conquered Carthage (qq.v.) in 698. Intermittent war with Persia (q.v.) disturbed trade, forcing Justinian to create an indigenous silk (q.v.) industry on Byzantine territory. Altogether, the demands of war on two fronts created a ruthless fiscal policy that led to the Nika Revolt (q.v.). The emperor was fortunate to have great generals like Belisarios and Narses (qq.v.), and capable ministers like Tribonian and John of Cappadocia (qq.v.), hated though John was by Empress Theodora (q.v.) and the populace. He was not so fortunate in his historian, Prokopios of Caesarea (q.v.), whose Anekdota (Secret History) (q.v.) portrays Justinian and Theodora as virtual demons. The image Justinian chose for himself is seen on the mosaic panel at the church of San Vitale in Ravenna (q.v.), where Justinian appears enshrined with a halo as God's viceroy on earth, and the protector of Orthodoxy (q.v.) in the West. It is also the image of an emperor who closed down the Academy of Athens in 529, condemned the Three Chapters (q.v.), and called the Fifth Ecumenical Council at Constantinople (qq.v).

Historical Dictionary of Byzantium . .

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