Justinian I (482-565)

Justinian I

482 This is the year when Flavius Petrus Sabbatius Justinianus was born, that who would become Justinian I, in Tauresium village (in a family of Thracian-Roman or Illyrian-Roman peasants), placed near Justiniana Prima (Serbia nowadays) in Roman Prefecture Illyria. His family was Latin speaking and Justinian was the grandson of the next emperor Justin I, who made after 470 the military career within Emperor Leon I’s army, the Eastern Roman Empire. He was educated at Constantinople, the capital of Eastern Roman Empire.

518 He was appointed as Justin I, his uncle’s successor and then changed his name.

523 Justinian married to a former dancer, Theodora. This relationship was surrounded by gossips and conflicts, but in the end it proved that the emperor was totally supported by Theodora in the crucial moments, especially during Nika uprising.

527 He was elected emperor when his uncle died. Justinian became Byzantian emperor and got the name of “the Great” succeeding to conquer the Western Roman Empire. But his greatest accomplishment was the codification of Roman law. His work, Codex Iustinianus is still the basis of the legal system in almost all European countries.

The active Justinian set an ambitious goal: to recapture the lost territories and to restore the crumbled Roman Empire in all its glory and splendour. Italy, Spain and the provinces in the North of Africa, which had belonged to Rome, were at that moment under the possession of Goths and Vandals tribes while slaves were coming from the Northern side, Persia was pressing from the East. Justinian was lucky when he chose the commander of his armies. General Belizary was the commander of military forces almost during all Justinian’s reign and it can be said that he was the perfect man for emperor’s ambitions.

532 Belizary bloody stifled the so called Nika uprising, revolt that started because of the rivalry of two fight teams: the Blues and the Greens and which turned into a high riot.

533 Belizary recaptured North Africa from the Vandals.

534 After a labour of more than ten years Codex Iustinianus work was done – Justinian’s Code that was published into four separated bundles. The work, which contained also a guide for those who studied the law, succeeded for the first time to logically systematize the Roman law so that each citizen had the possibility to find very easy a law regarding a subject. This codification was the most important of all Justinian’s achievements.

536 Then he landed to the South of Italy and recaptured Rome from Ostroghotics.

540 Almost the entire territory of Italy was again under Roman control.

552The last Ghotic fortresses were conquered.

565 Justinian died. He was an exceptional constructer, he succeeded more than anybody else to refine and improve Byzantian architecture. He raised wonderful monuments all over the empire, from Ravenna to Damascus, monuments among which we mention: Church of Our Lady in Jerusalem (nowadays Al-Aqsa Mosque) and Hagia Sophia in Constantinople. A bright portrait of the Emperor standing, wrapped in his gown and surrounded by the Court members is found in the magnificent mosaic from San Vitale Church in Ravenna.

Even if Justinian’s successors were not able to keep the wonderful conquest and Roman Empire’s reunification proved to be a short one and the Emperor’s contribution to law encoding and to Byzantin architecture’s improvement would never be forgotten.




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