Justinian I the Great (Flavius Justinianus) (483-565).
Born near Skopje to latinized Illyrian peasant parents (483); traveled to Constantinople as a young man (c. 500) to receive an education, owing his preferment to the offices of his uncle Justin, an army officer who became emperor on the death of Anastasius I (518); Justinian served as an adviser to his childless uncle and was legally adopted as Justin I's heir; received the title of Caesar (525) and was made co-emperor with the title of Augustus (April 4, 527) before becoming emperor in his own right on the death of Justin I (August 1, 527); concluded a truce with the Persians following the victories of Belisarius (September 531) and made formal peace with Chosroes I (September 532); weathered the Nika revolt (532) through the courage of his wife, Theodora, and the loyalty of his generals Belisarius and Narses; directed Belisarius to invade and conquer the Vandal kingdom in North Africa (533-534) and then to invade the Gothic kingdom in Italy (535); the progress of the campaign in Italy, hampered by Justinian's niggardly allocation of reinforcements, suffered a further setback with the renewal of war with Persia (539) and the transfer of Belisarius to the Persian front (541-544), but was eventually brought to a successful conclusion by Belisarius (544-549) and the equally able eunuch Narses (551-554); despite a brief truce (545-549), the Persian war dragged on until a final peace settlement was reached (562); in the meantime, Justinian consolidated Byzantine control over North Africa, subduing the Berber tribes (543-548), and expanded Byzantine authority into Spain in the wake of a brief campaign by Belisarius (554), whom he rudely dismissed afterward; erected many new fortifications in the Balkans, notably along the Danube and at Thessalonika and Thermopylae, to keep out the Slavs and Bulgars (540-560); also directed the construction of many new public buildings, including the magnificent cathedral of St. Sophia (Hagia Sophia) in Constantinople; supervised the restructuring of Roman law, producing the Codex (a collection of existing laws), the Digest (a collation of jurists' opinions), and the Institutes (a handbook for use in law schools), which together presented a Christianized and more humane body of Roman civil law for the empire; his attempts to bring the Monophysites of the Levant and Egypt back into the Orthodox fold (540-560) were unsuccessful; repelled a serious incursion by the Bulgars and their allies only by calling Belisarius out of retirement (559); jailed Belisarius on unfounded charges of treason (562) but rehabilitated him (563); died in Constantinople (November 14, 565) and was succeeded by his nephew Justin II.
Vigorous, ambitious, highly intelligent, and hardworking, Justinian was notable for his ability to go without food or rest for long periods (hence his nickname), and despite his humble origins he was very well educated, though some said his Greek was bad; his treatment of the loyal and extremely capable Belisarius was shameful, although Justinian was probably wary of giving too much power to a successful and popular general; his ambition to restore the empire to its former greatness was ultimately futile, but his achievements as an administrator and ruler were nonetheless remarkable. <BL>
Sources: Becker, George Phillip, Justinian. New York, 1931. Bury, J. B., A History of the Later Roman Empire from the Death of Theodosius I to the Death of Justinian. 2 vols. London, 1923. Diehl, Charles, Justinien et la civilisation byzantine au VIeme siecle. Paris, 1901. Ostrogorsky, George, A History of the Byzantine State. Translated by Joan Hussey. New Brunswick, N.J., 1969. Procopius, History of the Wars. Translated by H. B. Dewing. London, 1914. Procopius, Secret History. Translated by R. Atwater. Ann Arbor, Mich., 1966. Vasiliev, Alexander Alexandrovich, Justin the First: An Introduction to the Epoch of Justinian the Great. Cambridge, Mass., 1950.
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|Author:||Bongard, David L.|
|Publication:||The Harper Encyclopedia of Military Biography|
|Article Type:||Reference Source|
|Date:||Jan 1, 1992|
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