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date: 22 October 2019

Justin II, Emperor of Byzantiumlocked

(reg 565–78; d Constantinople [now Istanbul], 4–5 Oct 578).
  • Kara Hattersley-Smith

Extract

(reg 565–78; d Constantinople [now Istanbul], 4–5 Oct 578).

Byzantine ruler and patron. He was a nephew of Justinian I and his successor; his wife Sophia (before 530–after 600) was the niece of Justinian’s wife Theodora (d 548). Sophia had considerable influence over Justin and with the onset of his attacks of insanity persuaded him to appoint his successor, Tiberios I (reg 578–82). Although few datable works survive from his reign, literary sources indicate that Justin commissioned numerous buildings, sculptures and smaller objects. Sophia was influential in most of these projects and was the first empress to appear on Byzantine coins with the emperor. Among the small objects attributed to the couple are the cross of Justin II (Rome, Vatican, Mus. Stor. A. Tesoro S Pietro; see Cross §III 1., (i)) and a reliquary of the True Cross, which was sent to Radegund, Queen of France (d 587); it has been identified by some with an enamelled plaque framing a Byzantine cross (Poitiers, Ste Radegonde). Statuary and buildings (largely destr.) erected by Justin in Constantinople included a group of statues placed at the harbour of Sophia depicting ...

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