Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Emperor Justinian

The results of Justinian's plan for re-unifying the Empire
The Byzantine Emperor Justinian was known for—among other things—establishing a code of justice. His reign, from 1 August 527 until 14 November 565, was sufficiently long that he managed to achieve many other things—enough that he earned the title Justinian the Great.

When I call him a Byzantine Emperor, I refer to a geographical designation; technically, he was emperor of the Roman Empire, albeit he ruled from the Eastern Empire. The division of the vast Roman Empire made it difficult to manage the entire territory; Justinian, however, decided during his reign that it was time to bring the empire back together.

Now, this might have been easy if the Western Empire were still under Roman rule. The Western Empire, however, had been overrun by Goths and Vandals. Justinian, who is sometimes referred to as the "Last Roman Emperor" because he was the last ruler who spoke Latin as his first language (as opposed to Greek), instituted a renovatio imperii ["restoration of the empire].

This restoration plan produced the Gothic Wars, lasting 20 years, Not only did he bring much of the old Roman territory around the Mediterranean back under one rule, but he also brought new territory to the Empire. The Tzani (now called the Zans, a subtonic group of the Georgians) on the east coast of the Black Sea had never known Roman rule, but were included in his military campaigns.

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