Key Points

Emperor Justinian the an excellent was responsible for considerable expansion that the oriental Empire, and for overcoming Africa, Spain, Rome, and also most that Italy.Justinian to be responsible because that the construction of the Hagia Sophia, the facility of Christianity in Constantinople. Even today, the Hagia Sophia is recognized as one of the greatest buildings in the world.Justinian likewise systematized the roman inn legal code that offered as the basis for regulation in the oriental Empire.After a plague lessened the oriental population, they lost Rome and also Italy to the Ostrogoths, and also several crucial cities to the Persians.

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Hagia Sophia

A church built by oriental Emperor Justinian; the center of Christianity in Constantinople and also one the the greatest structures in the civilization to this day. It is currently a mosque in the Muslim Istanbul.

Nika riots

When angry racing fans, already angry over climbing taxes, ended up being enraged in ~ Emperor Justinian because that arresting two popular charioteers, and also tried to depose the in 532 CE.

Byzantine realm from Constantine to Justinian

One of Constantine’s successors, Theodosius ns (379-395), was the critical emperor to ascendancy both the Eastern and Western halves that the empire. In 391 and also 392, the issued a series of edicts essentially banning pagan religion. Pagan festivals and also sacrifices were banned, together was accessibility to all pagan temples and also places of worship. The state that the empire in 395 might be explained in terms of the result of Constantine’s work. The dynastic principle was established so firmly the the emperor who died in that year, Theodosius I, could bequeath the imperial office together to his sons, Arcadius in the East and Honorius in the West.

The Eastern realm was largely spared the challenges faced by the west in the third and 4th centuries, due in component to a much more firmly created urban culture and better financial resources, which allowed it come placate invaders with tribute and also pay foreign mercenaries. Transparent the 5th century, various invading armies overran the west Empire but spared the east. Theodosius II further strengthened the wall surfaces of Constantinople, leave the city impervious to many attacks; the wall surfaces were no breached till 1204.

To fend off the Huns, Theodosius had actually to salary an enormous annual tribute come Attila. His successor, Marcian, refused to continue to salary the tribute, but Attila had already diverted his fist to the west. After ~ his death in 453, the Hunnic empire collapsed, and also many the the remaining Huns were frequently hired as mercenaries through Constantinople.

Leo I succeeded Marcian together emperor, and after the loss of Attila, the true cook in Constantinople to be the Alan general, Aspar. Leo I regulated to totally free himself indigenous the influence of the non-Orthodox chief by supporting the rise of the Isaurians, a semi-barbarian people living in southern Anatolia. Aspar and his son, Ardabur, were murdered in a lytic in 471, and henceforth, Constantinople restored Orthodox management for centuries.

When Leo died in 474, Zeno and Ariadne’s younger son succeeded to the throne together Leo II, with Zeno as regent. Once Leo II passed away later that year, Zeno ended up being emperor. The end of the Western realm is periodically dated come 476, at an early stage in Zeno’s reign, when the Germanic roman general, Odoacer, deposed the titular western Emperor Romulus Augustulus, but declined to change him with another puppet.

Emperor Justinian I

In 527 CE, Justinian I concerned the throne in Constantinople. He dreamy of reconquering the soil of the Western roman Empire and ruling a single, united Roman realm from his chair in Constantinople.


Emperor Justinian. Oriental Emperor Justinian I shown on one of the famed mosaics that the Basilica of san Vitale, Ravenna.

The west conquests started in 533, as Justinian sent his general, Belisarius, come reclaim the former province of Africa native the Vandals, who had been in control since 429 through their resources at Carthage. Belisarius successfully defeated the Vandals and also claimed Africa for Constantinople. Next, Justinian sent out him to take it Italy from the Ostrogoths in 535 CE. Belisarius defeated the Ostrogoths in a collection of battles and also reclaimed Rome. Through 540 CE, many of Italy was in Justinian’s hands. He sent another army to dominate Spain.

The oriental Empire in ~ its greatest extent, in 555 CE under Justinian the Great. 

Accomplishments in Byzantium

Justinian additionally undertook plenty of important projects at home. Much of Constantinople was melted down beforehand in Justinian’s reign after a collection of riots referred to as the Nika riots, in 532 CE, as soon as angry racing fans came to be enraged at Justinian for arresting two famous charioteers (though this to be really simply the last straw because that a populace increasingly angry over increasing taxes) and tried come depose him. The riots were placed down, and also Justinian collection about rebuilding the city on a grander scale. His greatest accomplishment was the Hagia Sophia, the most crucial church of the city. The Hagia Sophia to be a staggering work-related of oriental architecture, intended to awe all who set foot in the church. It to be the biggest church in the civilization for virtually a thousands years, and also for the remainder of Byzantine background it to be the center of Christian prayer in Constantinople.


The Hagia Sophia. Oriental Emperor Justinian developed the Greek Orthodox Church that the divine Wisdom the God, the Hagia Sophia, which to be completed in just four and also a fifty percent years (532 CE-537 CE). Even now, the is universally acknowledged as one of the greatest structures in the world.

Emperor Justinian’s most important contribution, perhaps, was a linked Roman legitimate code. Prior to his reign, roman inn laws had actually differed from an ar to region, and many contradicted one another. The Romans had actually attempted to systematize the legal code in the 5th century but had not completed the effort. Justinian collection up a board of directors of lawyers to put together a solitary code, listing each regulation by topic so the it might be quickly referenced. This not just served as the communication for regulation in the oriental Empire, however it to be the main affect on the Catholic Church’s breakthrough of canon law, and also went ~ above to end up being the basis of regulation in numerous European countries. Justinian’s legislation code continues to have a major influence on public international law come this day.

The influence of a more unified legitimate code and also military disputes was the increased ability for the oriental Empire to develop trade and also improve their economic standing. Oriental merchants traded not only all over the Mediterranean region, but additionally throughout regions to the east. These consisted of areas roughly the black color Sea, the Red Sea, and also the Indian Ocean.


Theodora was empress of the oriental Empire and also the mam of Emperor Justinian I. She was one of the most significant and an effective of the oriental empresses. Part sources point out her together empress regnant, with Justinian I together her co-regent. In addition to her husband, she is a saint in the east Orthodox Church, commemorated top top November 14.

Theodora participated in Justinian’s legal and spiritual reforms, and her involvement in the increase of the rights of women was substantial. She had actually laws passed that prohibited required prostitution and closed brothels. She developed a convent ~ above the oriental side of the Dardanelles dubbed the Metanoia (Repentance), whereby the ex-prostitutes can support themselves. She likewise expanded the rights of women in divorce and also property ownership, describe the death penalty for rape, forbade exposure of unwanted infants, gave mothers part guardianship rights over their children, and also forbade the death of a wife who committed adultery.

Justinian’s Difficulties

A damaging plague brushed up through the empire, death Theodora and practically killing him. The torment wiped out large numbers that the empire’s population, leaving towns empty and crops unharvested. The military was likewise afflicted, and also the Ostrogoths were able to properly regain Italy in 546 CE, with guerrilla warfare versus the byzantine occupiers.

With Justinian’s military bogged down fighting in Italy, the empire’s defenses versus the Persians on its east frontiers were weakened. In the Roman-Persian Wars, the Persians invaded and also destroyed a number of important cities. Justinian was compelled to establish a humiliating 50-year peace treaty with them in 561 CE.

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Still, Justinian maintained the realm from collapse. He sent a new general, Narses, to Italy with a tiny force. Narses finally defeated the Ostrogoths and drove them back out that Italy. By the moment the battle was over, Italy, once one that the most prosperous floor in the ancient world, to be wrecked. The city that Rome adjusted hands lot of times, and most the the urban of Italy were abandoned or dropped into a long period of decline. The impoverishment of Italy and also the weakened byzantine military make it impossible for the realm to host the peninsula. Soon a new Germanic tribe, the Lombards, come in and conquered most of Italy, despite Rome, Naples, and also Ravenna stayed isolated pockets of oriental control. At the very same time, another brand-new barbarian enemy, the Slavs, showed up from north of the Danube. They devastated Greece and also the Balkans, and in the absence of strong Byzantine military might, they resolved in little communities in these lands.