Justinian I.

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Justinian I, mosaic detail from the Church of San Vitale in Ravenna .
So-called Barberini diptych depicting an emperor, most likely Justinian, as the triumphator omnium gentium

Justinian , ancient Greek Ἰουστινιανός , Latin Iustinianus , in his consular diptychs from the year 521 as Flavius ​​Petrus Sabbatius Iustinianus (* around 482 in Tauresium ; † November 14, 565 in Constantinople ), was from April 1 (as co-emperor) or August 527 until his death Roman emperor . In some orthodox sources he is referred to as a saint, but not listed as a saint in the official church synaxarion .

Justinian is considered one of the most important rulers of late antiquity . His long reign marked an important phase in the transition from the ancient Roman Empire to the Byzantine Empire of the Middle Ages . The end of antiquity , which was looming under him , is represented by the closure of the Neoplatonic school of philosophy in Athens in 529 and the de facto abolition of the old Roman office of the consul in 542. On the other hand, he succeeded in long wars against Ostrogoths and Vandals , large parts of the 476 to regain lost Western Roman Empire , which had come under Germanic rule in the course of the so-called Great Migration . In the east, the empire found itself involved in difficult, changeful battles with the Persian Sassanids in its time . Justinian gained formative importance for legal history because he commissioned the compilation of Roman law , later known as the Corpus Iuris Civilis .

During his reign, the empire became increasingly sacralized. This destroyed the last remnants of the fiction once created by the principate that the emperor was only a primus inter pares . The most important narrative source for the time of Justinian are the works of the historian Prokopios of Caesarea , who strongly criticized the emperor's policies.

General information about the person of Justinian

Justinian was a farmer's son, born around 482, from the village of Tauresium (now Taor in the Republic of North Macedonia) in the Praetorian Prefecture of Illyria . His father's name, Sabbatius, has been interpreted as indicative of an Illyrian or Thracian origin of the family; however, this is problematic. Justinian's mother tongue was Latin , and Tauresium was under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome; both were probably reasons for Justinian's strong western orientation. Prokopios accuses the emperor of incorrect Greek, but in fact he was well-read and educated. Johannes Malalas writes correctly: He made many mistakes when speaking Greek, but he could write it with great ease. The social climber Justinian was to be exposed to hostility from the senatorial elite throughout his life.

Tremissis with the legend DN IVSTINIANVS PP AV ("Our Lord Justinian, Pater patriae , Augustus ")

Justinian was a nephew of the future Emperor Justin I , who had made a career in the army of Emperor Leo I and later under Zenon and Anastasius from around 470 . Even during the lifetime of his uncle, who brought him to the capital, enabled him to get a good education, adopted him before 520 and probably built up his successor early on after his accession to the throne (518), Justinian, in the opinion of most researchers, had a great influence on imperial politics. This traditional view, however, has recently been disputed, and Justinian's role should not be overstated, at least for the early years. What is certain, however, is that he quickly made a career after 518: in 519 Justinian was appointed comes , in 521 he became magister equitum et peditum praesentalis and held his first consulate (three others followed: 528, 533 and 534); since 525 he probably bore the title of Caesar and was therefore officially considered the heir to the throne. On April 1, 527 he was finally raised to co-emperor ( Augustus ), on August 1, after Justin's death, he rose to become sole ruler. From 524 or 525 he was married to Theodora , who also came from the simplest of backgrounds, who received the title Augusta in 527 and, according to some sources, is said to have had a great influence on Justinian. The marriage remained without offspring (at least one child died immediately after birth). Justinian had several cousins; the most important was Germanus , who was also a talented general and important confidante of Justinian.

Justinian died on November 14, 565 in Constantinople, where he had resided for most of his reign. In this context, the Chronicon Paschale provides a description of its appearance that is considered contemporary: stocky, but with a broad chest, pale; with thin hair and a bald head, a round, good-looking face with reddish cheeks, always smiling slightly; with graying hair and a clean-shaven chin according to Roman custom, a well-formed nose and light skin. After the death of the emperor, who had not appointed a co-ruler, a power struggle was initially threatened between two of his nephews, both named Justin: General Justin , a son of the above-mentioned Germanus, and the head of the court, later Emperor Justin II . The latter was finally able to prevail; he had his rival murdered soon after.

According to the eyewitness Niketas Choniates , Justinian's grave in the Apostle Church was looted by crusaders in April 1204 , although the emperor's body is said to have been unusually well preserved at that time.

Foreign policy

The Roman Empire at Justinian's Death 565


By the 5th century, the west of the Roman Empire had slipped out of direct imperial control. In 476/80 the Western Roman Empire had expired, and since Western and Eastern Current had never formally been two separate states (see division of the empire of 395 ), rule over the entire empire was from then on with the only remaining Augustus in Constantinople. From Justinian's point of view, his western policy was basically not foreign policy, because the (eastern) Roman rulers had never given up their claims to the western empire since then. They were actually formally recognized as overlords by almost all gentile empire formations, but the reges of the West acted de facto largely independently of the will of the East. Justinian, who spoke as the last Roman Emperor Latin as their mother tongue, was dealing with this condition is not satisfied and sought the restoration of the de facto rule of the emperor over the late antique Oikumene at ( Restauratio imperil ) . During his reign, therefore, large areas in the west of the old Roman Empire were subjected to military force.

Research has disputed whether these offensives had been planned for a long time. An already long-term concept has been increasingly doubted in recent years; rather, it was only after the unexpectedly rapid successes of Justinian's general Belisarius over the Vandals in 534 that one began to pursue more far-reaching goals. Justinian's wars were described in detail by the contemporary Prokopios of Caesarea in his eight books of Greek history ( Bella or Histories ).

Persian Wars

The main focus of Eastern Roman politics, however, was not on the West, but on the East, where the Romans had faced the mighty Persian Sassanid Empire for three centuries . Justinian's first Persian War was inherited from the reign of his predecessor Justin I ; there has been fighting since 526. In Mesopotamia, Belisarius 530/531 was able to achieve initial successes as the new magister militum per Orientem ( Battle of Dara ), but also suffered defeats (like 531 in the Battle of Callinicum ). The Emperor celebrated the victory at Dara by erecting an equestrian statue that has now been lost ; the inscription written by his then praefectus praetorio Flavius ​​Iulianus has survived ( Anthol. Palat. 16,63); she praises the emperor for having the "Medes [d. H. here to have "killed the Persians". In 531 Justinian had a great victory ceremony held to boast of the successes over the Persians and Proto- Bulgarians. In truth, however, the war ended without a clear winner. With the new Sassanid great king Chosrau I , Justinian concluded an agreement at the end of 532 which was accompanied by quite high (but one-off) payments to the Persians, the " Eternal Peace ". This calm in the east only made Justinian's subsequent policy towards the West possible, since the resources of the east were already heavily strained.

In 540, however, the fighting broke out again when the Persian king broke the peace. According to Prokopios, this was due to Chosrau's concern that a renewed Roman empire could mobilize stronger resources against Persia ; possibly an Ostrogothic request for help to Persia also played a role. The main reason for the Persian attack is probably to be seen simply in the favorable situation: Chosrau I was looking for military fame and needed money, and since Roman Syria was only poorly defended, he probably simply wanted to plunder and then make peace again . Moreover, around this time the power of the Hephthalites , who had threatened Persia in the northeast, collapsed, so that Chosrau had his hands free in relation to Rome.

Justinian seems to have known about the attack plans as early as 539, but was unable to send troops to the Euphrates in time due to the Gothic War - promised reinforcements arrived only in very small numbers. Germanus was sent to Antioch on the Orontes with only 300 men and was unable to achieve anything there. Belisarius's successor in the Orient, the magister militum Buzes, had to operate with the local Roman troops, which were vastly outnumbered by the great Persian army; he withdrew to a defensive position at Hierapolis and waited. The most important cities in the region submitted to Chosrau. The greatest catastrophe for the Romans was undoubtedly the conquest, sacking and subsequent destruction of the cosmopolitan city of Antioch, with Chosrau transferring huge treasures and numerous prisoners to Persia, where they were settled in a separate city near Ctesiphon . Chosrau is also said to have taken a ritual bath in the sea and sacrificed it to the sun god. Other cities were luckier than Antioch and could buy their way out or withstand the Persian attacks. In Apamea on the Orontes , which opened the gates for him, the king had chariot races carried out and presented himself in an imperial pose, which was an outrageous provocation of Justinian.

Chosrau offered the Romans a new peace treaty, but Justinian seems to have lost faith in the Sassanid treaty loyalty and refused. The war continued; but the Romans were slow to stabilize the situation. The Eastern Roman army, which was already heavily strained (according to Agathias, the strength of the crew was only about 150,000 men, but this information must be treated with great care - a number of a good 300,000 soldiers is much more likely) had to wage a two-front war: against the Ostrogoths in Italy and against the Persians in the east. In addition, the Balkans were threatened by raids by the Avars and Slavs .

The Roman-Persian border at the time of Justinian's death in 565.

The eastern theater of war finally extended from the Caucasus (especially in Armenia , where Justinian's general Sittas had operated very successfully until his death in 539, and the important fortress of Petra on the Black Sea had been bitterly fought since 541) to Mesopotamia . The main point of contention and a center of fighting between Romans and Persians was above all Lazika , a small kingdom on the Black Sea, identical to the former Colchis ; there Ostrom had expanded its influence since the early 6th century (see Tzath and Gubazes II. ). The war between Eastern and Persia was to last until 561/62 (interrupted by an armistice, which, tellingly, did not refer to Lazika) and put a heavy strain on the resources of Eastern Europe. Contrary to what is often claimed, Justinian by no means neglected the defense of the eastern border in favor of his conquests in the west. Since a military stalemate soon developed in the Orient and the Persians faced a new enemy, the Turks , around 560 , they were ready for peace with the Romans in 562. In this treaty, which was negotiated for Justinian by Petrus Patricius , the Persians left Lazika to the Romans - Justinian was ultimately able to hold the eastern border, although he now had to pay annual tribute to the Persians . It is ultimately unclear how much these payments burdened the Roman coffers - but the majority of the Romans were probably not happy with the tribute obligation. Justinian's successor Justin II then also tried to revise this treaty - but with a catastrophic result.

Since 540, the majority of Roman troops were deployed in the Orient. This contributed to the long duration of the war in Italy. In the Caucasus and Mesopotamia, at least two large imperial armies always operated simultaneously. Justinian was rather defensive in the east and devoted himself more to politics in the west, but he only sent troops to Italy when he believed he could do without them in the east. Through a mixture of diplomatic and military means, the emperor was ultimately able to maintain the Roman position vis-à-vis Persia; the obligation to pay annual tributes, on the other hand, was negligible, but felt as humiliation. His successor Justin II therefore again acted aggressively against the Sassanids from 572 - which only resulted in a war that lasted for years, which could only be temporarily ended under Maurikios in 591 , before Chosrau II began the last and largest Roman-Persian war in 602 (see Herakleios ).

Vandal war

The war against the Vandal Empire in North Africa (roughly congruent with modern Tunisia and north-eastern Algeria , see also Africa ) originally began as a punitive expedition. The Arian King Hilderic , who was not hostile to Catholicism and who also had imperial ancestors, had been deposed in 530 and replaced by Gelimer . Justinian, in his role as overlord of the West, insisted on the reinstatement of Hilderich, but this was rejected. Thereupon it was decided in Constantinople, after a long debate, to intervene militarily in the Vandal Empire and to appoint a suitable ruler there. Since the last vandal campaign had failed catastrophically half a century earlier, it was decided to leave it with limited intervention. In the opinion of many researchers (such as Mischa Meier or Hartmut Leppin ) , the campaign only acquired the character of a real campaign of conquest afterwards.

Belisarius finally began the campaign in 533, one year after the peace treaty with Persia, with an army of around 20,000 men (consisting of 15,000 imperial soldiers, 1,000 foederati and the roughly 5,000 buccelarii Belisarius) and 30,000 sailors. The battles could be completed within a very short time. According to Prokopios, the mounted buccelarii carried the main burden. It was helpful that the Vandal King did not expect an attack by the East Romans and had sent parts of his armed forces to Sardinia to put down a revolt there. Gelimer had Hilderic executed, but Belisarius defeated the vandals at Ad Decimum . On September 15, 533 Carthage fell . Belisarius won again at Tricamarum and finally took Gelimer prisoner in 534, who was led in a typical late antique " triumphal procession " through Constantinople , where he submitted to himself together with Belisarius Justinian and was pardoned. Instead of using a new rex as planned , the vandal empire was suddenly smashed. Probably only now, after this surprisingly easy victory, did the plan to subject Italy again to direct imperial rule emerged.

Justinian's gold medallion worth 36 solidi , which presumably celebrates “the salvation and glory of the Romans” (salus et gloria Romanorum) on the occasion of the victory of 534 (redrawing).

North Africa was taken back into regular imperial administration in 534; seven provincial governors stood under a new praefectus praetorio per Africam , while on the military side a magister militum per Africam held the supreme command of the duces of Tripolitania , Byzacena , Numidia , Mauretania Caesariensis and Sardinia .

The unexpected, swift victory over the dreaded Vandal Empire marked the early climax of Justinian rule; the emperor had not only achieved a seemingly lasting peace with the Persians, but had now also regained a heartland of the Roman Empire with an apparently light hand. In the preface of the final version of the Codex Justinian (see below) he called himself in December 534 therefore IMPERATOR CAESAR FLAVIUS IUSTINIANUS ALAMANNICUS GOTHICUS FRANCICUS GERMANICUS Anticus ALANICUS VANDALICUS AFRICANUS PIUS FELIX INCLITUS VICTOR AC TRIUMPHATOR SEMPER AUGUSTUS ( "self-confident The Imperator Caesar Flavius Justinian, victor over Alemanni , Goths , Franks , Teutons, Antes , Alans , Vandals and Africans, the pious, happy, famous, the victor and triumphant, always Augustus ”).

However, in North Africa there were soon fighting again with the Berbers (Moors), who represented a constant source of unrest, and also several mutinies by the Eastern Roman garrison troops, such as those under Stotzas . Justinian's general Johannes Troglita was able to put down the Berber rebellion after lengthy fighting and settle the remaining invaders peacefully; a vandal restoration attempt in 546 under Guntarith also failed. Research has long assumed that North Africa experienced a massive decline after the reconquest, but this assumption has been revised by new studies. Africa experienced a modest heyday in the decades around 600 and at least remained Roman and Christian until 698.

Gothic Wars

Course of the Gothic Wars

Shortly after defeating the Vandals, Justinian started another war in the west. The conquest of North Africa had fundamentally changed the strategic situation, and an attack on Italy promised success for the first time in decades. The intrigues and struggles for the throne after the death of the important Ostrogoth king Theodoric (526) formed the specific reason for the intervention of Eastern Europe on the peninsula . His daughter Amalasuntha sought a reference to Ostrom, while Theoderic's nephew Theodahad wanted to strengthen his own position. After the death of Amalasuntha's young son Athalaric in 534, Theodahad succeeded in obtaining the rex . The diplomatic game of intrigue that followed is hard to see through; it is only certain that Amalasuntha was killed and Justinian took this as an opportunity to initiate armaments. The tensions finally led to open war ( Gothic War ) in 535 , but the battles against the defensive Ostrogoths became more protracted than expected. An eastern Roman attack on Dalmatia failed, while Belisarius was able to take Sicily and, soon after, Naples . Theodahad failed completely, whereupon he was overthrown and replaced as rex by Witichis . He organized the resistance quite successfully, but at the end of 536 he lost Rome to Belisarius. Attempts to recapture the city, which still had around 100,000 inhabitants, failed. There were heavy fighting, which were very changeable and connected with great burdens for the population of Italy. Thus Milan , conquered by Eastern Roman troops, was cruelly recaptured by the Ostrogoths in 538; there were also famines in the country. In 538, Narses , Belisar's competitor, had also been sent to Italy with only minor reinforcements, but disputes between the two commanders led to the offensive against the Goths fizzled out and Narses soon returned to Constantinople.

The invasion of the Merovingian Franks , who invaded northern Italy under Theudebert I in 539 and thoroughly devastated this region, also claimed countless victims; the Franks fought against both the Goths and the Eastern Romans, although they had previously been wooed as possible allies by both sides. In this context, Theudebert managed to maintain his independent position of power in relation to Ostrom.

In May 540, Ravenna, besieged by Belisarius, fell . Ostrogoth nobles had offered him imperial dignity in the west, and Belisarius had accepted. Witichis went into captivity, where he died in 542 with the rank of patricius . It is unclear whether Belisarius only pretended to be imperial. In any case, this aroused the suspicion of Justinian, who anyway never really trusted his generals and would not have tolerated a second Augustus next to him. It is certain that Belisarius exceeded his powers when he captured Witichis, because Justinian had previously agreed with the Ostrogoths that they should settle in northern Italy as federates . Belisarius disregarded this agreement on his own initiative; perhaps history would have taken a different course if he had followed the imperial will: a Gothic empire north of the Po could have acted as a buffer against the Lombards and Franks invasions , and Italy would probably have been spared the second, bloodier phase of the Ostrogothic War.

Justinian's restoration work

Justinian immediately began sending Eastern Roman officials to Italy, who apparently often presented themselves as masters rather than liberators: Due to the very high taxes they levied, riots soon ensued in Italy, with 542 in Pavia , where the remains of the Ostrogoths had gathered, Totila (actually Baduila ) , who was raised to the rank of new king, proved to be a clever strategist (propaganda campaign, building a fleet). Only small troops were made available to Belisarius, who had taken command of the Italian theater of war again in 544, to suppress the "rebellion", as Justinian no longer trusted his best general and most of the Roman troops were needed in the east, where they have been since 540 came back to fighting with the Persians (see above). The so-called second Gothic War (541/42 to 552) turned out to be even tougher than the previous one. At the end of 546, Rome fell to Totila, who, however, soon lost it again. The fighting spread across Italy and was fought with great cruelty. In 549 Belisarius, whom Prokopios later accused of numerous failures, was recalled and initially replaced in 550 by Germanus , who after his sudden death was replaced by Narses. In the meantime, Totila had taken Rome a second time at the end of 549, but could not hold his own there again. This war also ruined the affluent Western Roman senate aristocracy, which until then had been a bearer of ancient culture. At the end of the century, the Senate in its previous ancient tradition should then disappear from the sources.

It was only when an armistice had been concluded with the Persians that Justinian was again able to do without enough men on the Eastern Front to decide the troublesome war against the Goths. With this new army, Narses succeeded in conquering the Gothic Ravenna at the beginning of June 552 and soon afterwards decisively defeating the Goths under Totila at Busta Gallorum ; Totila fell in the process, with which the Gothic army had lost its strategist. Under their last king, Teja , the Goths faced another fight in October 552 in the battle of Mons Lactarius within sight of Vesuvius , which they also lost. Individual Gothic garrisons were able to hold out for a few years, but that decided the war. A little later, Narses was able to put an end to the Frankish incursions in the Battle of Casilinus .

Like Africa before, Italy was again placed under a Roman praefectus praetorio ; the country, however, was devastated. The pragmatic sanction , with which it was administratively reintegrated into the Imperium Romanum by Justinian in 554 , abolished almost all offices that had previously been occupied by western Roman senators, and thus also contributed to the disappearance of this aristocracy. Italy lost its special status and was to be ruled from Constantinople like an ordinary province; the old heartland of the empire was now under direct imperial rule again after decades, but had largely lost its own weight. In a sense, it was only now that the Western Roman Empire ended with the elimination of the Western Roman court in Ravenna . The emperor only granted some privileges to the city of Rome, including the resumption of free grain donations (annona civica) to the now severely decimated population.

At first, Narses tried on an imperial order to rebuild the destroyed infrastructure of the peninsula. However, soon after Justinian's death, the Lombards invaded Italy in 568 - possibly in connection with a failed attempt by Narses to settle them as federates - and took most of it in possession. Genoa remained as parts of Eastern Rome until 650, the region around Ravenna (as Exarchate Ravenna ) until 751, Sicily until the 9th century and parts of southern Italy until 1071.

Other foreign policy

In Spain , the very old Western Roman Senator Liberius was able to take possession of the southern region around Cordoba and Gibraltar for the empire on behalf of Justinian in 552 as a result of internal turmoil in the Visigoth Empire. This area, which essentially corresponded to the old province of Baetica , was reorganized as Spania by Justinian , remained Eastern Roman for almost 80 years and was subject to its own magister militum . The exact boundaries of the area are unclear.

The Balkans did not come to rest throughout Justinian's reign. Avars , Slavs and Huns invaded again and again , so the fortress system was expanded and renewed with considerable effort. Among other things, the Singidunum legionary camp on the Danube , which was destroyed decades ago during the Huns and Goths, was rebuilt from 535 as an Eastern Roman castron , which established the medieval core of the city of Belgrade . Nevertheless, these measures turned out to be insufficient to ensure the security of the provinces of Moesia and Thrace : the hinterland was repeatedly exposed to raids, as the Danube border in particular was neglected. In 545, the Eastern Romans won the Anten as allies, who from then on secured part of the Danube border.

In 548 and 550 Slavic tribes penetrated the Danube for the first time into the interior of the Balkan Peninsula and reached the Gulf of Corinth, the Adriatic Sea and the Aegean coast. The infiltration of Slavic tribes was to show itself in the following decades as a momentous result of Justinian politics, which led to a completely new demographic-sociological character of the Balkan Peninsula and demanded costly military operations from the empire over centuries as well as missionary activities competing with the curia. In 559 "Hunnish" attackers (probably Kutriguren ) penetrated under their chief Zabergan as far as the vicinity of Constantinople and threatened the capital, but they could be repulsed by the once again reactivated Belisarius. However, only recently, in a comprehensive study, Alexander Sarantis assessed the Justinian Balkan policy more positively than was the case in the past; the subsequent loss of the Balkans does not seem inevitable.

A few years after Justinian's death, in 582 the key fortress Sirmium (today Sremska Mitrovica ) fell victim to the onslaught of the Avars and subjugated Slavic tribes. Although one of his successors, Emperor Maurikios , tried to consolidate the situation with numerous campaigns , he was ultimately only able to delay the conquest of the Slavs in the Balkans , because his successors did not pay the necessary attention to the defense of the Balkans . As a result of the migrations of the Slavs in the 6th century and the later Byzantine mission, the Byzantine culture had its natural border with the Drina and the Save .

Emperor Justinian managed to establish contacts with the Christian empire of Aksum (in today's Ethiopia , see also Ella Asbeha ), whereby the Aksumites had already intervened against the Himyars in Yemen in 525 , much to the annoyance of the Sassanids who lived in this region pursued their own interests and conquered the south coast of the Persian Gulf soon after the emperor's death. On the southern border of the province of Egypt there were also fights with the Blemmyans . From the empire of China , under Justinian, silkworms could be imported, which reduced the dependence on imports and led to the establishment of an own silk production. Even in those regions of the Mediterranean that were not subject to direct rule of the East, the primacy of the emperor was generally recognized at this time. As with the Huns, there were repeated battles with the Franks , but these were not of decisive importance (see Gothic Wars in Italy ).

Domestic politics


Justinian was considered a "sleepless emperor" who took care of many matters personally. Justinian only very rarely left the capital and was a true “domestic politician”, although he was fortunate to have not only competent civilian employees ( Tribonian , John the Cappadocian ), but also several very capable generals ( Belisarius , Narses , Germanus) , Sittas , Mundus , Johannes Troglita ) who fought his wars for him.

Halbfollis Justinian I.

The late Roman ideology of rulers reached its highest level under the social climber Justinian; Although he could not completely detach himself from the older roots of the Empire, he emphasized more than his predecessors that he had received his power directly from God (ek theou) . However, he also suffered setbacks such as the Nika uprising discussed below, in which he could only secure his throne through excessive force. His adviser, the influential praefectus praetorio John the Cappadocian, he dropped in 541 because the imperial couple, especially Theodora, classified his power as a danger factor. Something similar happened a little later to Belisarius, who threatened to become a rival of the emperor through his military victories, but did not fall as low as John. It is significant that Justinian never shared his power with an Augustus or Caesar , nor did he designate a successor.

Justinian also worried about the cities and the provincial administration and - especially in the second half of his government - about theological questions. Through numerous laws and ordinances, he tried to tighten the late Roman administration of the empire and adapt it to current requirements - not always with success, but with remarkable energy. The legal compilation he initiated was groundbreaking and was to continue to have an effect up to modern times . The archives of the official Dioskoros , who held important positions in Egypt under Justinian and his successors, represent an important source for this last phase of the late antique administrative history. Even more important is the writing De magistratibus by the former imperial official Johannes Lydos , in which he also offers insights into the higher ranks of the late antique administration.

However, the wars - especially those in the Orient - put a considerable strain on public finances. This, the unchecked building frenzy and especially the consequences of the plague epidemic increased the burden, which eventually led to the impoverishment of parts of the population. On the other hand, Asia Minor, Egypt and the areas of Syria and Palestine not affected by Persian invasions experienced an economic boom under Justinian. Here, the cities preserved their classic, ancient character, which they have already lost, especially south of the Danube. To what extent Justinian really overused the powers of the empire is hard to say and is very controversial. All in all, the late Roman senate aristocracy in the east was able to maintain its enormous social prestige, its classical education ( paideia ) and a sometimes enormous fortune (an example of this is the noble Anicia Juliana ), but there were apparently tensions between the politically largely disempowered senators and the emperor.

Consular diptych from 521 with Justinian's full name - Fl (avius) Petr (us) Sabbat (ius) Iustinian (us) - before his imperial ascension.

Nika uprising

The most significant domestic political event in Justinian's reign was the so-called Nika uprising in Constantinople in 532, in which the rival circus parties of the Blue and Green, angered by Justinian's efforts to restrict their power, united against him and met an opposing emperor, Flavius ​​Hypatius , the nephew of the emperor Anastasius , who died in 518 , called out. Other high-ranking senators were likely also involved in the revolt. While Justinian is said to have viewed the situation as lost, Justinian's wife, Augusta Theodora , a former actress, reportedly refused to flee the capital (according to Prokopios) . Through negotiations of the praepositus Narses with the insurgents and above all through Belisarius surprising intrusion (with troops loyal to the emperor) into the circus , where the insurgents had gathered, the uprising was bloodily suppressed. Hypatius and his brother Pompey were executed, and numerous aristocrats were also killed. In total, around 30,000 people are believed to have died in the riots, and parts of the capital burned down.

After the end of the uprising, Constantinople remained quiet for years; Justinian's rule was no longer threatened internally. An attempt at usurpation by Johannes Cottistis collapsed within days in 537. It was only in the last few years of Justinian that civil unrest broke out again.

The plague and its consequences

Since 541 the so-called Justinian plague raged throughout the empire, from which Justinian himself also fell ill; His most important lawyer Tribonian even died - and countless others with him. Prokopios has left a harrowing account of the raging epidemic in Constantinople. The consequences were evidently far-reaching: there were famines and an apocalyptic mood evidently developed, which was intensified by other factors such as wars and numerous earthquakes. How serious the effects of the disease really were is controversial.

In 2019, an international team of researchers succeeded in detecting Yersinia pestis as the causative agent of the plague in a grave dated to the 6th century in Edix Hill, England, which at the same time documented an occurrence of the late ancient epidemic in Britain for the first time.

Perhaps as a consequence of the catastrophes (see also the hypothesis on the weather anomaly of 535/536 ) Justinian now turned increasingly to theological questions. There was a certain turning point in his reign; Due to the setbacks in the wars, his policy was all in all less dynamic than at the beginning. Overall, the enormous human losses caused by the plague can be seen as one of the most important individual factors for the downfall of ancient civilization.

Legal compilation

One of Justinian's greatest and most important achievements in the long term was undoubtedly the codification of Roman law . The Codex Iustinianus , compiled from earlier private and public collections, was published as early as 529, while the Digest (also called Pandekten), a collection of writings by classical Roman jurists , used as a textbook for advanced students, appeared in 533 . The institutions served the teaching company as a legal textbook for beginners , already conceptually they were borrowed from the template from Gaian law. The leading compiler is Tribonianus , who was also responsible for the drafting of the current imperial novellas , legal edicts and ordinances. After the second and final version of the Codex Iustinianus had been presented at the end of 534, the aforementioned novellas formed the end of the four-part, later so-called Corpus iuris civilis (CIC). The codex was still entirely in Latin; the novels, however, were also published in Greek. Despite the increasing Graecization, however, according to the latest research, there was always at least a Latin version as well.

The effect of the (until the early Middle Ages, so-called) Corpus Juris was extensive: In the 12th century, the corpus was at the law school of Bologna rezipiert and formed the basic framework for the program of the Staufer which emulated at the late antique imperial idea. At the end of the Middle Ages it was considered a generally recognized law and continues to influence legislation and teaching in the field of law to this day. With Otto Lenel and Otto Gradenwitz , however, a much-noticed interpolation criticism began in the late 1880s. The classical original texts edited in the CIC under Justinian were searched for changes that had arisen during late antiquity, be it that passages were deleted or reworked, or that additions were made. In addition to preserving the wealth of legal knowledge, Justinian also ensured that the traditional source material was adapted to the prevailing reality of life. The interpolation research ultimately had to attest that the classic originals had lost a lot of quality during late antiquity.

Construction activity

Hagia Sophia today. The minarets were erected after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453.

Justinian developed a brisk construction activity. Among other things, he had the old Church of Holy Wisdom , the Hagia Sophia , in Constantinople replaced by a magnificent new building after its destruction in the Nika uprising , the huge dome of which had to be renewed again after an earthquake before Justinian's death. This world-famous building, which was significantly shaped by the architects Anthemios von Tralleis and Isidor von Milet , is considered the last masterpiece of late antique architecture. Justinian's Hagia Sophia was the largest church of all for seven centuries; the size of the dome was only surpassed by St. Peter's Basilica after more than a millennium . The emperors were crowned there from 641, and in 1453 it became a mosque. To this day it is the symbol of Istanbul. In the course of the redesign of Constantinople after the Nika uprising, the emperor also had a victory column with his equestrian statue built on the Augusteum (southwest of Hagia Sophia), the so-called Justinian column ; the now lost equestrian statue was created as early as 530 after the victory at Dara, but has now been repositioned.

Also Antioch was rebuilt after a major earthquake and the conquest by the Sassanian 540 again. Justinian had a magnificent church built in Ephesus , among other things, and the famous Sinai monastery can also be traced back to him. The number of large and small towns in the Eastern Roman Empire is estimated at around 900 at the time, and in the provincial capitals in particular building and renovation activity was again brisk. Justinian regulated by law what proportion of the taxes should go to the poleis in order to guarantee the maintenance of public buildings (theaters, baths, etc.). However, the crises that hit the empire from 540 onwards ultimately failed the imperial policy to promote the cities: they finally lost their ancient character.

The Roman fortress system was greatly expanded, especially on the Danube, in particular Singidunum , today's Belgrade , was fortified by a new castle, but in the long term did not withstand the onslaught of the Slavs and the Avars , which a few years after Justinian's death in 582 The key city of Sirmium on the Save should take. Several new fortifications were also built on the border with the Sassanid Empire , especially after 540. However, we have only incomplete information about the construction work that Narses carried out after the victory over the Ostrogoths in Italy (e.g. ILS 832).

The monumental Sangarius Bridge in Bithynia should be mentioned among the secular engineering structures , the construction of which was initiated by the emperor from a strategic point of view. Furthermore, the city of Justiniana Prima (530–615) in today's Serbia was magnificently expanded as a new episcopal city ​​on imperial orders ; either his home town or, more likely, a nearby town; its modern name is Caricin Grad (Serbian = imperial city). The facility is small, but still imposing. According to an inscription now in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, the emperor also had the famous market gate of Miletus renewed in 538 ; the fact that he had a new city wall built at the same time, which only enclosed a fraction of the city area, is today considered to be an error of older research - the fortification was not made until the 7th century.

The extensive construction activities of Justinian, which Prokopios celebrated in his own factory, could only be financed by abundant taxes. The high fiscal burden was perhaps a trigger for the Nika uprising in 532, but this is questionable as the height of the emperor's construction work did not fall until later years.

Religious politics

Justinian played a dominant role in the Christian church of his time. He allegedly wrote theological treatises himself and led church meetings. The interplay (the symphonia ) between the late antique state and the Christian church reached its climax during this period; the emperor claimed to have received his rule directly from God (ek theou) . Justinian also took decisive action against the remaining non-Christians in the kingdom, especially in southern Egypt. In 529, eager for Christianization , the emperor also closed the Neoplatonic school of philosophy in Athens, a refuge of religiously influenced Pagan philosophy - presumably to reduce the influence of paganism on science and education, perhaps just to set an example. Seven pagan philosophers (including Damascius and Simplikios ) moved to Persia for a short time in 531, but returned to the empire in 532. Although 80,000 "Gentiles" or "Hellenes" from Asia Minor are said to have been baptized and their temples destroyed in the 540s, the number of followers of the old religion is now likely to have been rather small. However, there were still some important pagan "islands" in the Christian empire, for example the city of Carrhae in today's Turkey or the Syrian city of Baalbek . The famous Isis - Temple of Philae in Egypt until then, the last officially tolerated pagan sanctuary in the empire, was closed about 536 by imperial troops. How strong the pre-Christian cults were under Justinian can hardly be conclusively assessed. The accusation of secret paganism developed into a popular instrument to incriminate undesirable members of the upper class.

Justinian ordered the persecution of non-Christian grammarians, rhetors, doctors and lawyers in 545/6 and had pagan books burned in public in 562. Child baptism was compulsorily introduced, non-observance was punished with loss of property and citizenship, adherence to the "Hellenic" faith or apostasy after baptism was punished with the death penalty. This was a decisive step, since practically every inhabitant of the Reich was baptized as a child and an apostasy from Christianity was regarded as a fundamentally death-worthy crime. The Manicheans in particular were severely persecuted not only by Justinian but also in Persia and subsequently had to emigrate to India and China . The legal situation of the Jews deteriorated, but their religion was the only one that was officially tolerated apart from Christianity.

A good overview of the eschatological expectations in the “Age of Justinian” (e.g. with regard to the plague epidemic and several natural disasters) is provided by Mischa Meier , The Other Age of Justinian . To what extent the disappointed parousia expectations of the years around 500 but actually also for the period around 540 were of importance and whether the sources that Meier cites are really representative, still needs further discussion.

On the question of heresies within the church , Justinian's efforts to compensate failed; His condemnation of the Monophysite (Miaphysite) doctrine , which, among other things, even Empress Theodora followed, only exacerbated the already existing tensions between the Monophysite churches of Syria and Egypt and the Antimonophysite or Chalcedonian- minded Roman and Constantinople churches.

Justinian's tough religious policy led to an uprising by the Samaritans , a splinter group of Judaism , in Palestine in the summer of 529 , which was bloodily suppressed (for the background, see Julian ben Sabar ). Survivors were forcibly Christianized. The Montanists , Christians with differing end-time expectations, committed collective suicide by locking themselves in their churches and setting them on fire, their literature was lost. Justinian personally was considered to be very pious and a staunch supporter of the Orthodox Church, who, as emperor, strictly adhered to the strict fasting periods . The hymn supposedly written by Justinian himself , “O only-begotten Son and Word of God” is still part of the liturgy of the Orthodox Church today . It was also important that Justinian promoted the veneration of St. Nicholas of Myra , to whom a church in Constantinople was consecrated around 550 and whose cult gained great popularity in the following years.

Justinian had a decree against Origen (185-254) published in January 543 , which also contained nine doctrinal anathematisms , which had the teaching of Origen as their content; a tenth anathematism targeted the person of Origen, whose teachings had been controversial for centuries. The decree was confirmed shortly afterwards by the permanent synod.

Almost at the same time the bitterly led three-chapter dispute broke out; both conflicts were partly conducted at the same time, but in terms of content they had nothing in common. The three-chapter dispute concerned the writings of three Christian authors from the 5th century who were suspected of adhering to Nestorianism , which had already been rejected in 431 . These were in particular Ibas von Edessa , Theodor von Mopsuestia and the church historian Theodoret . Justinian also had a pamphlet written against them in 544/45, against which considerable resistance also formed in the ranks of the patriarchs; even the Roman bishop Vigilius , who initially hesitantly approved the script, had to withdraw his approval under pressure from several western churches (including that of Africa ). In 546 Justinian had him arrested in Rome and brought to Constantinople. In 548, Vigilius again agreed to the imperial position in the text Iudicatum , only to turn around again in view of the massive resistance of the North African Christians.

The emperor therefore convened the Second Council of Constantinople in 553 , which went down in history as the Fifth Ecumenical Council (the last of late antiquity). Here, too, the controversy surrounding Origen and the three-chapter dispute came up again; Justinian left no doubt that he wanted the three authors to be convicted, and to that end he also put Vigilius under massive pressure. He finally agreed to the decisions of the council, which gave them ecumenical status. A compromise with the Monophysites could not be achieved, and despite the recognition of the Council decisions by Vigilius, who died on the way back to Rome, they met with resistance in the West for a long time. Shortly before his death, the emperor himself distanced himself from orthodoxy by propagating aphthartodocetism .

In theological questions, Ostrom under Justinian was already visibly approaching the Byzantine Middle Ages . Justinian is sometimes accused of having contributed to a hardening of the fronts, for example in the dispute with the Monophysites, and thus indirectly weakened the strength of the empire. The emperor himself, who strived for a close link between empire and church, wanted to strengthen the empire through a common religion or denomination - and as is typical of late antiquity, the question of the "correct" dogma was of decisive importance, otherwise Damnation instead of redemption threatened.

In the Orthodox Church , Justinian and his wife Theodora I (although she advocated Monophysitism) are venerated as saints. Justinian's memorial day on the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and Orthodox Church calendar is his presumed death, November 14th.


Justinian has been celebrated as a shining ruler of late antiquity , and there is no question that he is one of the most important late Roman emperors alongside Diocletian, Constantine and Theodosius I. Nevertheless, a fundamental assessment is difficult.

Under Justinian the last remnants of the old Roman popular sovereignty (which, however, had only existed on paper for a long time) were removed and replaced by a consistent divine right. However, the silent approval (the silentium ) of the representatives of the people and the army remained an indispensable legitimation of imperial rule even under Justinian . As far as the foreign policy successes were concerned, they were of very different sustainability: Africa remained Roman for 160, Spania for 70 years; in Italy, on the other hand, the recaptured areas were largely lost again from 568 onwards. In the east, the empire had to fight for bare survival and buy peace dearly, although the accusation that Justinian had neglected the Persian front in order to be active in the west is based on very weak arguments: on the contrary, the main power of the Roman ones Troops dedicated themselves to repelling the Sassanid attacks before 532 and after 540.

The still numerous cities of the Eastern Roman Empire seem to have flourished to a certain extent, at least until the plague, and rural regions in Egypt, Syria and Asia Minor also prospered. However, the plague epidemic turned out to be devastating from 541 onwards. Large parts of the empire were affected; the financial strength was also affected and the military potential of the empire was reduced. However, the emperor was not to blame for this catastrophe, the consequences of which are difficult to assess. His reign was undoubtedly connected with heavy burdens for the population and characterized by an increasingly intolerant religious policy (the goal of religiously unifying the empire according to the Council of Chalcedon, Justinian achieved as little as his predecessors).

Contemporaries had already criticized the emperor, especially Prokopios in his secret history. The question still needs to be answered as to whether Justinian's policies are actually significantly different from those of his predecessors and whether in many ways his actions can only be explained as pragmatism. The picture that Prokopios creates of Justinian is filled with deep hatred for the emperor:

“And that he was not a human being, but, as has been assumed, the embodiment of a demon in human form, can be deduced if one gauges the gravity of the crimes that he committed against humanity. For to the extent that a man's deeds are superior, the power of those who do them is revealed. Now, to determine the exact number of those who were destroyed by him would not be possible, I think, neither for a person nor for God. Because I think one could count all the grains of sand faster than the immeasurable number of those which this emperor destroyed. "

Justinian was pioneering in the field of jurisprudence, while the culture of late antiquity experienced a final heyday under him: Prokopios of Caesarea, Agathias , Simplikios and Gorippus wrote important works in the classical tradition. At the same time, other developments were forward-looking: the church history of Euagrios Scholastikos , the world chronicle of John Malalas and the - only partially survived - works of John of Ephesus , which were written soon after Justinian's death.

A certain turning point can be seen in the 540s. If the time was previously characterized by dynamism (legal codification, building activity, restoration policy), a phase of declining activity followed, also due to the catastrophes of the plague and the ongoing wars in the west and east, and the emperor turned increasingly to religious policy - at least is This is the core thesis of the widely acclaimed monograph by Mischa Meier (The Other Age of Justinian) . However, three spectacular foreign policy successes - the victory over the Ostrogoths, the conquest of parts of Spain and the conclusion of peace with Persia - were still achieved at the beginning of the 550s and 560s, so perhaps one should not overestimate the turning point in the years around 542. At the end of Justinian's reign, Ostrom was undoubtedly the supreme power in the Mediterranean again, following the ancient ideal of the empire, but at the cost of high sacrifices.

In Justinian's time the way for the Byzantine Empire was prepared in many areas, even if it was still a long process. Especially at the beginning of his reign the empire was still clearly Roman, towards the end an increase in “Byzantine” traits (especially in the religious field) can be seen. Under Justinian, however, the administration of the empire mostly still adhered to the typical late antique division of military and civil power, and the increasing displacement of the Latin language from administration, military and society was not yet over by Justinian's death. There were already signs of a change, but the final break with ancient traditions did not take place until the course of the seventh century.

The question of to what extent the emperor was actually personally responsible for the setbacks and catastrophes that hit the empire in his later years and after his death can be answered in different ways. Perhaps one should not overestimate the actual scope of action of a late antique ruler and consider Justinian as an unusually committed and capable monarch within this framework - as the last Roman emperor who really was right to bear this name and who once again made the Imperium Romanum the supremacy of the Mediterranean world . While the gradual collapse of the Justinian order soon after his death cannot be ignored, researchers such as Chris Wickham have recently emphasized that the emperor left a considerable record at the end of his life, while assuming that his politics had the strength of the empire is decisively overwhelmed, can hardly be proven and only emerges from the retrospective. The outcome of the discussion is open.


The most important source for the reign of Justinian I are the works of Prokopios of Caesarea . In his histories, he describes in detail the wars of Justinian, in the buildings the building policy of the emperor. The image of the emperor in posterity is strongly influenced by Prokop, whose works are of a high standard. Prokop did indeed criticize the Kaiser, but this was very subtle; it is sometimes not always easy to separate Prokop's precise intention from the actual description. Prokop's secret story is even more problematic ; it is to be read with extreme caution, as it is heavily polemicized. Agathias followed Prokop without, however, reaching his level. Furthermore, reference should be made to Menander Protektor (whose work has only been preserved in fragments, but provides important information), Johannes Malalas , the church historian Euagrios Scholastikos and the various chronicles (e.g. Victor von Tunnuna ). An important source is the so-called Corpus Iuris Civilis , the emperor's collection of laws, especially since Justinian's conception of rule becomes tangible in the prefaces. There are also inscriptions, coins and archaeological finds.

  • Corpus Iuris Civilis. Various editions, e.g. B. ISBN 3-8252-1764-7 .
  • Prokopios: works gr.-dt. (Tusculum library), 5 volumes, edited by Otto Veh , Munich 1961ff.
  • Anthony Kaldellis (Ed.): Prokopios. The Wars of Justinian. Hackett, Indianapolis 2014. [Revised and annotated translation of the histories based on the older standard Dewings translation ]


Overview works

  • John Bagnell Bury : History of the Later Roman Empire . 2 volumes, New York 1958 (reprinted 1923). Vol. 1, ISBN 0-486-20398-0 , Vol. 2, ISBN 0-486-20399-9 . [older standard work, albeit partly out of date; in volume 2 the government of Justinian is discussed in detail]
  • Averil Cameron et al. a. (Ed.): The Cambridge Ancient History . 2nd Edition. Vol. 14, Cambridge 2000, ISBN 0-521-32591-9 . [English standard work on late antiquity with contributions from recognized experts]
  • James AS Evans: The Emperor Justinian and the Byzantine Empire . Greenwood Guides to Historic Events of the Ancient World. Greenwood, Westport Con 2005, ISBN 0-313-32582-0 . [with an appendix of selected source excerpts translated into English]
  • Michael Maas (Ed.): The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Justinian . Cambridge 2005, ISBN 0-521-52071-1 . (Collection of essays on central topics (cities, plague, war, administration, ideology, relations with the neighbors of the Reich and with the Jews, etc.), which also offers a comprehensive bibliography and can be particularly recommended) ( discussion in Bryn Mawr Classical Review )
  • Cécile Morrisson et al. a. (Ed.): L'empire romain d'Orient 330-641. Le Monde Byzantin, Tome I . Paris 2004 (2nd edition 2006). (Part of the French manual on Byzantium, cf. the review by H. Leppin in Byzantinische Zeitschrift 102, 2009, pp. 253–255)
  • Berthold Rubin : The Age of Justinian . Vol. 1, Berlin 1960 (2nd volume published from the estate in 1995).


  • Klaus Bringmann : Justinian . In: Manfred Clauss (Ed.): The Roman Emperors. CH Beck, Munich 1997, pp. 431-450, ISBN 3-406-47288-5 . [brief biographical sketch]
  • Robert Browning : Justinian and Theodora . Lübbe, Bergisch Gladbach 1988 ( Justinian and Theodora . London 1971; several reprints).
  • James AS Evans: The Age of Justinian. The Circumstances of Imperial Power . London and New York 1996, ISBN 0-415-23726-2 . [standard English biography]
  • Hartmut Leppin : Justinian. The Christian experiment . Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 2011, ISBN 978-3-608-94291-0 . [current biography; Review at H-Soz-u-Kult / Review at sehepunkte ]
  • Hartmut Leppin: Justinian and the restoration of the Roman Empire. The mirage of renewal . In: Mischa Meier (Ed.): You created Europe , CH Beck, Munich 2007, pp. 176–194.
  • Otto Mazal : Justinian I and his time . Böhlau, Cologne / Weimar / Vienna 2001. [conservative, comprehensive and partly already outdated overall presentation]
  • Mischa Meier : Justinian. Rule, empire and religion . CH Beck, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-406-50832-4 [brief, problem-oriented introduction, with Justinian's reign being rated rather negatively]
  • David Potter: Theodora. Actress, Empress, Saint . Oxford 2015, ISBN 978-0-19-974076-5 .
  • Georges Tate: Justinien. L'épopée de l'Empire d'Orient (527-565) . Fayard, Paris 2004.

Special literature

  • Ján Bakyta: Justinianos - the new Augustus? Adoption, name and propaganda of a future emperor . In: Acta Universitatis Carolinae Philologica 2017/2, pp. 201–223.
  • Peter Bell: Social Conflict in the Age of Justinian. Oxford University Press, Oxford 2013.
  • Brian Croke: Justinian under Justin. Reconfiguring a Reign . In: Byzantinische Zeitschrift 100, 2007, pp. 13–56, ISSN  0007-7704 .
  • Peter Heather: Rome Resurgent. War and Empire in the Age of Justinian. Oxford University Press, Oxford 2018 (also German: The last bloom of Rome. The age of Justinian. Wbg Theiss, Darmstadt 2019).
  • Clemens Koehn: Justinian and the army of early Byzantium. De Gruyter, Berlin 2018.
  • Mischa Meier: The 'Justinianic Plague': the economic consequences of the pandemic in the eastern Roman empire and its cultural and religious effects. In: Early Medieval Europe 24, 2016, pp. 267–292.
  • Mischa Meier (Ed.): Justinian. WBG, Darmstadt 2011, ISBN 978-3-534-23001-3 .
  • Mischa Meier: The other age of Justinian. Experience of contingency and coping with contingency in the 6th century AD (= Hypomnemata. Investigations into antiquity and its afterlife . Volume 147). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2003, ISBN 3-525-25246-3 [detailed, not unproblematic study, which uses an unusual approach to illuminate the reign of Justinian, the fear of catastrophe and the end-time expectations of the population]
  • Günter Prinzing : The image of Justinian I in the later tradition of the Byzantines from the 7th to the 15th century. In: Fontes Minores 7th ed. By D. Simon. Research on Byzantine legal history, Vol. 14. Frankfurt am Main 1986, pp. 1-99 online
  • Alexander Sarantis: Justinian's Balkan Wars. Campaigning, Diplomacy and Development in Illyricum, Thace and the Northern World AD 527-65. Francis Cairns, Prenton 2016 [comprehensive account of Justinian's Balkan policy and the associated research problems]
  • Peter Sarris : Economy and Society in the Age of Justinian. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2006, ISBN 0-521-86543-3 .
  • Edward Watts: Justinian, Malalas, and the End of Athenian Philosophical Teaching in AD 529 . In: Journal of Roman Studies 94, 2004, pp. 168-182, ISSN  0075-4358 .

Web links

Commons : Justinian I.  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Flavius ​​Petrus Sabbatius Iustinianus  - Sources and full texts (Latin)

Primary sources

General links to Justinian


  1. While ancient historians usually only speak of "Justinian", it is common in Byzantine studies to refer to the ruler as "Justinian I": There was only one "Roman" emperor of this name, but two "Byzantine" ones.
  2. James AS Evans: Age of Justinian , pp. 1f.
  3. Ján Bakyta: Iustinianos - the new Augustus? , Pp. 213-214
  4. Cf. Bruno Rochette: Justinien et la langue latine . In: Byzantinische Zeitschrift 90 (1997), p. 413ff. Under Justinian, Latin experienced a renaissance in the upper class of the Eastern Empire, which referred to the great Roman past; see. Averil Cameron: Old and New Rome. Roman Studies in Sixth-Century Constantinople . In: P. Rousseau, M. Papoutsakis (Eds.): Transformations in Late Antiquity. Essays for Peter Brown , Aldershot 2009, p. 15ff.
  5. Malalas 18.1.
  6. On the evidence for the adoption cf. Ján Bakyta: Justinianos - the new Augustus? , Pp. 202-213
  7. Brian Croke: Justinian under Justin. Reconfiguring a Reign. In: Byzantinische Zeitschrift 100, 2007, pp. 13–56.
  8. The only contemporary source that mentions the elevation to Caesar is Victor von Tunnuna (ad ann. 525): Iustinus Augustus Iustinianum nepotem suum ad senatorum supplicationem invitus Caesarem facit (“At the urging of the senators, Emperor Justin reluctantly made his nephew Justinian Caesar "). See Brian Croke: Justinian under Justin , pp. 43–47. However, the information given by Victor is not beyond any doubt.
  9. Joachim Szidat: On Justinians dies imperii and on the problem of dating during Easter. Reflections on the ancient tradition, especially on Constantinus Porphyrogenitus, De cerimoniis aulae Byzantinae 1, 95 . In: Byzantinische Zeitschrift 107, pp. 877-891.
  10. Chron. Pasch. ad. ann. 566.
  11. On the successors of Justinian cf. Harry Turtledove : The Immediate Successors of Justinian: A Study of the Persian Problem and of Continuity and Change in Internal Secular Affairs in the Later Roman Empire during the Reigns of Justin II and Tiberius II Constantine (AD 565-582) , Diss. University of California 1977.
  12. See last Hartmut Leppin : Justinian . Stuttgart 2011, pp. 149f.
  13. Mischa Meier: The other age of Justinian. Experience of contingency and coping with contingency in the 6th century AD. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2003, p. 151 f.
  14. See Henning Börm : The Persian King in the Roman Empire . In: Chiron 36, 2006, pp. 299-328. ( online )
  15. Alexander Sarantis: Justinian's Balkan Wars. Campaigning, Diplomacy and Development in Illyricum, Thace and the Northern World AD 527-65. Prenton 2016.
  16. On the thesis that the payments were not economically significant, but were a symbol of Persian superiority, cf. Henning Börm: "It was not, however, that they received it in the sense of a tribute, as many thought ..." Occasions and function of the Persian monetary claims on the Romans In: Historia 57, 2008, pp. 327–346 ( online )
  17. On Justinian's Persian Wars, see Rubin: Das Zeitalter Justinians , Vol. 1, p. 245ff .; now summarized and with references to the current literature: Geoffrey Greatrex : Byzantium and the East. In: Michael Maas (Ed.), The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Justinian. Cambridge 2005, p. 486ff.
  18. On Justinian's vandal war Hartmut Leppin: Justinian . Stuttgart 2011, pp. 150-160.
  19. See Henning Börm: Justinian's Triumph and Belisars Humiliation . In: Chiron 43, 2013, pp. 63-91.
  20. See Yves Modéran: Byzantium 'last bastion in Africa . In: Badisches Landesmuseum (ed.), The Kingdom of Vandals , Mainz 2009, p. 376.
  21. See Andrew Gillett: Telling Off Justinian: Theudebert I, the Epistolae Austrasicae, and Communication Strategies in Sixth-Century Merovingian – Byzantine Relations. In: Early Medieval Europe 27, 2019, pp. 161–194.
  22. See Henning Börm: The Western Roman Empire after 476. In: Josef Wiesehöfer , Henning Börm, Norbert Ehrhardt (ed.): Monumentum et instrumentum inscriptum: inscribed objects from the imperial era and late antiquity as historical evidence. Festschrift for Peter Weiß on his 65th birthday. Stuttgart 2008, pp. 47-69 ( online )
  23. For example Henning Börm: Westrom. From Honorius to Justinian. Stuttgart 2013, pp. 135-139.
  24. ↑ In general on Justinian's wars, cf. including John B. Bury: History of the Later Roman Empire , Vol. 2, and James AS Evans: Justinian .
  25. Alexander Sarantis: Justinian's Balkan Wars. Campaigning, Diplomacy and Development in Illyricum, Thace and the Northern World AD 527-65. Prenton 2016.
  26. Alexander Sarantis: Justinian's Balkan Wars. Campaigning, Diplomacy and Development in Illyricum, Thace and the Northern World AD 527-65. Prenton 2016, p. 278ff.
  27. Richard Hennig: The introduction of silkworm breeding into the Byzantine Empire. In: Byzantinische Zeitschrift 33, 1933, pp. 295-312.
  28. Generally on questions of domestic politics, but also with regard to cultural life, the corresponding sections in the Cambridge Companion to the Age of Justinian , published by Michael Maas, are recommended , where a brief overview with references to sources and modern literature is offered.
  29. Theodora's speech handed down by Prokop is very probably unhistorical, cf. Mischa Meier : On the function of the Theodora speech in the historical work Prokops (BP 1,24,33–37) (PDF; 74 kB) . In: Rheinisches Museum für Philologie 147 (2004), p. 88ff.
  30. Ancient Yersinia pestis genomes from across Western Europe reveal early diversification during the First Pandemic , in: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2019).
  31. Herbert Hausmaninger , Walter Selb : Römisches Privatrecht provide a brief overview . (= Böhlau study books). Böhlau, 9th edition, Vienna 2001, ISBN 3-205-07171-9 , pp. 52–56 (Justinian's compilations).
  32. Max Kaser : Roman legal sources and applied legal method. In: Research on Roman Law , Vol. 36, Böhlau, Vienna / Cologne / Graz 1986, ISBN 3-205-05001-0 , pp. 112–154 (121 f.); Franz Wieacker : History of private law in modern times with special consideration of the German development. Vandenhoeck u. Ruprecht, Göttingen 1952, further edition 1967. P. 377 ff.
  33. See Edward Watts: Where to Live the Philosophical Life in the Sixth Century? Damascius, Simplicius, and the Return from Persia . In: Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 45 (2005) pp. 285-315.
  34. Cf. Johannes Hahn : The Destruction of the Cults of Philae. History and legend of the first cataract of the Nile. In: Johannes Hahn, Stephen Emmel, Ulrich Gotter (Eds.): From Temple to Church. Leiden 2008, pp. 203ff.
  35. ^ W. Speyer: Book destruction and censorship of the spirit among pagans, Jews and Christians (Library of the books 7). Stuttgart 1981, p. 136
  36. Codex Iustinianus I, 11.10.
  37. See Codex Iustinianus I, 5,12,3.
  38. Otto Mazal: Justinian I and his time . Cologne 2001, p. 203.
  39. Prokopios, Secret History 18.1.
  40. See Mischa Meier: Justinian. Rule, empire and religion ; However, see now also Michael Maas (Ed.), The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Justinian . See also Hartmut Leppin, (Not) an Age of Justinian - Remarks from an ancient historical point of view on Justinian in more recent research . Essay at the 21st International Congress of Byzantine Studies ; here online (PDF, 317 kB) ( Memento from October 9, 2007 in the Internet Archive ).
  41. See Chris Wickham: The Inheritance of Rome . London 2009, p. 94f .: Justinian's reign does not seem to have been a negative turning point for the empire. But the controversy over it does at least mark respect.
predecessor Office successor
Justin I. Eastern Roman Emperor
Justin II