The Age of Justinian
Social Studies for 9th 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.
Justinian´s Life and Personality
• Life and Traits:
• Born around 482
• The last Roman
Emperor to speak Latin
as a first language.
• Justinian was well
and Roman history.
• Short, fair skinned, curly
haired, round faced and
• His reign:
• He was Byzantine
Emperor from 527 to
• He was known as "the
Emperor who never
sleeps" because he
hardly gives up on
task, on account of his
Nevertheless, he seems
to have been amiable
and easy to approach.
• 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
• She was a shrewd politician, who served
alongside with Justinian and even
pursued her own policies.
Theodora is perhaps the most influential and powerful woman
in the Roman Empire's history.
She was born around 500 AD, but no one knows the exact
• Her father was a bear trainer and her mother was a dancer!
Despite resistance due to her low class, she married Justinian.
Theodora proved herself a worthy and able leader during the
Nika riots; where she convinced her husband not to abandon
She carefully supervised the magistrates, much more so than
previous emperors, possibly to reduce bureaucratic corruption.
Theodora participated in Justinian's legal and spiritual
reforms, and her involvement in the increase of the rights of
women was substantial.
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.