Justinian I or Justinian the Great (Latin: Flavius Petrus Sabbatius Iustinianus, Greek: Φλάβιος Πέτρος Σαββάτιος Ιουστινιανός; 482/483 – November 13 or November 14, 565) was Eastern Roman Emperor from 527 until his death, and second member of the Justinian Dynasty, after his uncle Justin I. He is considered a saint amongst Eastern Orthodox Christians, is also commemorated by the Lutheran Church, and is sometimes called the "Last Roman" in popular historiography.
One of the most important figures of Late Antiquity, Justinian's rule constitutes a distinct epoch in the history of the Byzantine Empire. The impact of his administration extended far beyond the boundaries of his time and empire. Justinian's reign is marked by the ambitious but ultimately failed renovatio imperii, or "restoration of the empire". This ambition was expressed in the partial recovery of the territories of the Western Roman Empire, including the city of Rome itself. A still more resonant aspect of his legacy was the uniform rewriting of Roman law, the Corpus Juris Civilis, which is still the basis of civil law in many modern states. His reign also marked a blossoming of Byzantine culture, and his building program yielded such masterpieces as the church of Hagia Sophia, which was to be the center of Eastern Orthodox Christianity for many centuries.
The devastating Plague of Justinian in the early 540s marked the end of an age of splendor. The empire entered a period of decline not to be reversed until the Ninth Century.
Procopius provides our primary source for the history of Justinian's reign. The Syriac chronicle of John of Ephesus, which does not survive, was used as a source for later chronicles, contributing many additional details of value. Both historians became very bitter towards Justinian and his empress, Theodora. Procopius also wrote the Anekdota (the so-called Secret History), which reports on various scandals at Justinian's court. Other sources include the...
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