The Age of Justinian
Social Studies for 10th EBG
Teacher: Mauricio Torres
• 527 – 565: The Byzantine Empire reached its greatest size under the emperor
• He was determined to revive the ancient glory of Rome by recovering the provinces
that had been lost to barbarians.
• He brilliantly fought and recovered much of Italy, Africa and southern Spain.
• This wars exhausted his treasury and also weakened his eastern flank.
• His successors lost all the lands he had recovered.
• His longest lasting achievement was the
construction of Hagia Sophia (“Holy
• This was made to restore the old Roman
glory through a program to beautify
• Hagia Sophia was a great church with an
enormous giant dome. Its interiors glowed
with colored marble and embroidered silk
• When it was completed, Justinian marveled
at it an evoked Solomon´s Temple:
“Solomon, I have surpassed you!”.
Code of Laws
• Even though Hagia Sophia was a gigantic
achievement, his biggest accomplishment was his
“code” of laws.
• He set up a commission to collect, revise and
organize all the laws from ancient Rome. Some
old laws that were obsolete were discarded and
• The final result of this endeavour was the
Corpus Juris Civilis, also known as the “Body of
• Today we call it Justinian’s Code.
• In later years, it was adopted all over Europe
and it is a basis for international law today!
• With the law, Justinian united and ruled
the empire under his control.
• He ruled as an autocrat, or sole ruler
with complete authority.
• His power stretched so far that he even
ruled over the Church. He was called
Christ’s co-ruler on Earth.
• His right-hand “man” was his wife,
• She was a shrewd politician, who served
alongside with Justinian and even
pursued her own policies.
• After Justinian, the empire’s fortune rose and fell.
• Persians, Slavs, Vikings, Mongols and Turks attacked the empire, but
they were not successful.
• This way, the empire served as a buffer state.
• a country lying between two rival or potentially hostile greater
powers, which by its existence is thought to prevent conflict
• In the 600 and 700s the Arabs invaded and threatened the Byzantine
• Constantinople itself was attacked, but the empire held on to their
heartland and their territories in the Balkans and Asia Minor.
• Their strength came from a central government and strong economy.
• Peasants were the backbone of the economy: they worked the land,
served as soldiers and they would also pay taxes.
• While Western Europe crumbled, Byzantium flourished!
• What does Hagia Sophia mean?
• What was Justinian’s Code?
• What is an autocrat?
• Why did Byzantium serve as a buffer state between Europe
and the Arabs?
• Which of Justinian’s accomplishments had the longest
lasting effect on humanity? Why?
• In what conditions did the Byzantine empire flourish?
• Ellis, E. G., & Esler, A. (2009). World History. (P.
Hall, Ed.) Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, US:
Pearson Education INC.
• Burstein, S. M., & Shek, R. (2012). World History
(Teacher´s Edition) (1st Edition ed.). (H. McDougal,
Ed.) Orlando, Florida, US.: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
• Images taken from Google.
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