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Emperor Justinian I [Image source:

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1 Emperor Justinian I [Image source:

2 At its height, the Byzantine Empire was ruled by Justinian I (r ). [Image source:

3 Justinian was the son of prosperous peasants from Macedonia. [Image source:

4 As a young man in the court of his uncle, Emperor Justin I, Justinian was a very conscientious student. [Image source:

5 Justinian’s enthusiasm for knowledge and hard work continued throughout his entire life. [Image source:

6 Justinian was 44 years-old when he was crowned emperor of the Byzantine Empire in A.D [Image source: city.org/images/city/history/justinian.jpg]

7 [Image source:

8 Over the objections of his court, Justinian married an ambitious circus prostitute by the name of Theodora. [Image source: AGES/Theodora.jpg]

9 Theodora proved to be a capable empress, actively assisting Justinian in running the government. [Image source:

10 Concerned with improving the social standing of women, Theodora persuaded her husband to issue a decree giving a wife the right to own land equal in value to the wealth she brought to the marriage. [Image source:

11 Empress Theodora also managed to promote other social changes: women gained the right to sue for divorce prohibition against forced prostitution death penalty in cases of rape

12 Theodora’s determination inspired Justinian to be a more resolute ruler. [Image source:

13 Political factions derived their names from the colours worn by charioteers.

14 The Greens represented Monophysitism and the lower class. [Image source:

15 [Image source: Monophysitism is the belief that Jesus Christ was divine.

16 The Blues represented orthodoxy and the upper class. [Image source:

17 In A.D. 532 a revolt erupted among the spectators at a chariot race. [Image source:

18 The Nika Revolt resulted from anger over excessive taxation. [Image source:

19 When Empress Theodora refused to evacuate the capital, Emperor Justinian I decided to remain and fight the rebels. [Image source: L]

20 The Byzantine generals Narses and Belisarius ultimately led the Imperial Guard in fighting the rebels. [Image source:

21 Eventually 30,000 subjects would perish during the suppression of the rebellion.

22 The Sassanian Empire of Persia threatened to conquer the eastern provinces of the Byzantine Empire.

23 Although the Byzantines managed to rally their forces and repel the invaders, Justinian had to agree to pay tribute in exchange for peace. [Image source:

24 With his eastern flank temporarily secure, Justinian turned his attention to restoring the Roman empire. [Image source: pg]

25 Under the leadership of the General Belisarius, the Byzantine armies were strengthened and reorganized. [Image source:

26 Belisarius then sailed to North Africa with a fleet of 500 ships. Feigning an attack near Egypt, he sailed on to land farther west along the coast.

27 Between A.D. 533 and A.D. 555, the Byzantines fought a series of wars against the Vandals of North Africa, the Ostrogoths in Italy, and Visigoths in southern Spain. [Image source:

28 A Visigoth Christ [Image source:

29 The Byzantines succeeded in conquering these Germanic groups and extended their rule in the west. [Image source:

30 The wars of re-conquest exhausted Byzantium’s resources, leaving it vulnerable to attacks in the East by an expanding Persian Empire. [Image source:

31 The success of the Roman campaign allowed Justinian to send Belisarius to the East in order to suppress several eastern barbarian uprisings. Remember: loot, pillage, THEN burn!

32 Within a generation of Justinian’s death, the empire lost many of its outlying territories. [Image source:

33 Emperor Justinian I appointed a commission of ten scholars to codify the empire’s Roman laws. [Image source:

34 Under the distinguished jurist Tribonian, the commission took six years to collect and organize the Byzantine legal code. [Image source:

35 Justinian’s legal reforms reduced the bulky old codes into one easy to read codex created a book of legal precedents standardized legal training in the empire [Image source:

36 This work preserved Rome’s legal heritage and became the basis for most European legal systems. [Image source:

37 Justinian was very aggressive in the construction of roads,... [Image source:

38 fortresses,... [Image source:

39 aqueducts,... [Image source:

40 ... and monasteries. [Image source:

41 Justinian’s most famous project was the church of Hagia Sophia in Constantiople. [Image source:

42 Hagia Sophia means “Holy Wisdom”. [Image source:


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