Monday, January 30, 2012

Murphysboro Centuries, 6th secular

Justinian, 527-565
- the nephew of Justin - considered to be one of the outstanding Roman/Byzantine emperors - partially known because of his wife Theodora - from the lower classes (an actress, prostitute?) when Justinian fell for her, here persuaded her uncle to change the centuries old law forbidding the nobility (and royal family) from marrying one of the lower classes
- for the first few years of his reign, Justinian had to fight against the Persians, but in 532 a “Perpetual Peace” agreement was signed - that left Justinian free to look west (where the barbarians were in charge) - also in 532 was the “Nike” Insurrection, a rebellion in Constantinople amongst the “circus factions” - according to contemporary histories, Justinian wanted to flee from the revolt, but Theodora said that purple (the royal color) was a good color to die in - Justinian stayed, called in the army,and after 30,000 people were killed, things settled down
- 533-534, Justinian sent his best general, Belisarius, to conquer the Vandals, which was accomplished easily - 535-554, having taken Northern Africa back for the empire, Justinian sent Belisarius to try and take back Italy - most of Italy had been taken back from the Ostrogoths when Belisarius left to take care of other problems and the Ostrogoths took back what they had lost - Belisarius returned and retook Italy, but was then recalled again and the Ostrogoths retook it all - Justinian sent another army under Narses and the Ostrogoths were finally defeated, but Italy was completely devastated
- 540, the “Perpetual Peace” with Persia ended when Persia attacked, and peace on the eastern frontier wasn't restored until 562 - in the midst of the Persian war and attempting to retake Italy, in 542-546, a deadly form of bubonic plague struck the empire 
- Justinian also attempted to “interfere” with the church and though that, as emperor, he had the right and ability to make theological statements - he was also one of the great imperial builders, constructing many buildings - one of the most important things he did was to order a reform and  review of Roman law, and it was set down in a definite form in the Code of Justinian which became the form of Roman law that was inherited by the modern world - unfortunately, with his wars and building, he nearly bankrupted the empire and severely strained the Byzantine economy for decades

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