- Charles Murray
[Flavius Petrus Sabbatius Justinianus]
(b Tauresium, nr Naissus [now Nish, Serbia], c.ad 482; reg 527–65; d Constantinople, Nov 15, 565).
Byzantine ruler and patron. He was a nephew of Emperor Justin I (reg 518–27), upon whose accession he was brought to Constantinople. He was prepared for political power by receiving the rank of comes illustris and according to contemporary sources he was the real power behind the throne during Justin’s reign. In 521 he became consul and in 523 he married Theodora (d 548), who was to exercise considerable influence over him. He became Emperor on 4 April 527. Among his most lasting achievements was the codification of laws in the Corpus juris civilis, which he issued in 534. The most closely analysed aspect of his reign, however, is his artistic and architectural contribution during what has become known as the first golden age of Byzantine art.
Justinian aimed at the restoration and revival of the empire by re-establishing its political and religious unity. His imperial triumphs included the reconquests of Africa and eastern Spain from the Vandals (534) and Italy from the Ostrogoths (535). These events were recorded in two works of art (both lost): the ceiling mosaic in the Chalke Gate of the Great Palace (...