Justin I
Overview
 
Justin I was Byzantine Emperor from 518 to 527. He rose through the ranks of the army and ultimately became its Emperor, in spite of the fact he was illiterate and almost 70 years old at the time of accession. His reign is significant for the founding of the Justinian Dynasty
Justinian Dynasty
The Justinian Dynasty is a family who ruled over the Byzantine Empire from 518 to 602. It originated with Justin I and ended with Maurice. Patriarch Germanus I of Constantinople , whose father was named Justinian, might have been a descendant of the dynasty...

 that included his eminent nephew Justinian I
Justinian I
Justinian I ; , ; 483– 13 or 14 November 565), commonly known as Justinian the Great, was Byzantine Emperor from 527 to 565. During his reign, Justinian sought to revive the Empire's greatness and reconquer the lost western half of the classical Roman Empire.One of the most important figures of...

 and for the enactment of laws that de-emphasized the influence of the old Roman nobility.
Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
Justin I was Byzantine Emperor from 518 to 527. He rose through the ranks of the army and ultimately became its Emperor, in spite of the fact he was illiterate and almost 70 years old at the time of accession. His reign is significant for the founding of the Justinian Dynasty
Justinian Dynasty
The Justinian Dynasty is a family who ruled over the Byzantine Empire from 518 to 602. It originated with Justin I and ended with Maurice. Patriarch Germanus I of Constantinople , whose father was named Justinian, might have been a descendant of the dynasty...

 that included his eminent nephew Justinian I
Justinian I
Justinian I ; , ; 483– 13 or 14 November 565), commonly known as Justinian the Great, was Byzantine Emperor from 527 to 565. During his reign, Justinian sought to revive the Empire's greatness and reconquer the lost western half of the classical Roman Empire.One of the most important figures of...

 and for the enactment of laws that de-emphasized the influence of the old Roman nobility. His consort
Queen consort
A queen consort is the wife of a reigning king. A queen consort usually shares her husband's rank and holds the feminine equivalent of the king's monarchical titles. Historically, queens consort do not share the king regnant's political and military powers. Most queens in history were queens consort...

 was Empress Euphemia
Euphemia (empress)
Empress Euphemia , whose original name was Lupicina, was the consort of Justin I of the Byzantine Empire and founder of the Justinian Dynasty that lasted from 518 to 602....

.

Early career

Justin was a peasant and a swineherd by occupation from the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

ophone region of Dardania, which is part of the Diocese of Illyricum. He was born in a hamlet
Hamlet (place)
A hamlet is usually a rural settlement which is too small to be considered a village, though sometimes the word is used for a different sort of community. Historically, when a hamlet became large enough to justify building a church, it was then classified as a village...

 near Bederiana in Naissus (modern Niš
Niš
Niš is the largest city of southern Serbia and third-largest city in Serbia . According to the data from 2011, the city of Niš has a population of 177,972 inhabitants, while the city municipality has a population of 257,867. The city covers an area of about 597 km2, including the urban area,...

, South Serbia
Serbia
Serbia , officially the Republic of Serbia , is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, covering the southern part of the Carpathian basin and the central part of the Balkans...

). He was of Thraco-Roman
Thraco-Roman
The terms Thraco-Roman and Daco-Roman refer to the culture and language of the Thracian and Dacian peoples who were incorporated into the Roman Empire and ultimately fell under the Roman and Latin sphere of influence.-Meaning and usage:...

 stock, and bore, like his companions and members of his family (Zimarchus, Dityvistus, Boraides, Bigleniza, Sabatius, etc.) a Thracian name, and who never learned to speak more than rudimentary Greek. His sister Vigilantia (b. ca 455) married Sabbatius and had two children: Vigilantia
Vigilantia
Vigilantia was a sister of Byzantine emperor Justinian I , and mother to his successor Justin II .- Name :The name "Vigilantia" is Latin for "alertness, wakefulness". Itself deriving from "vigilia" and "vigil"...

 (b. ca 490), married to Dulcissimus and had Praejecta
Praejecta
Praejecta or Praiecta was a niece to Byzantine emperor Justinian I by blood and of his empress Theodora by marriage.She was a daughter of Vigilantia and Dulcidio , respectively the sister and brother-in-law of Justinian. She was also a sister of later emperor Justin II Praejecta or Praiecta was a...

 (b. ca 520), married to the senator Areobindus and Justin II
Justin II
Justin II was Byzantine Emperor from 565 to 578. He was the husband of Sophia, nephew of Justinian I and the late Empress Theodora, and was therefore a member of the Justinian Dynasty. His reign is marked by war with Persia and the loss of the greater part of Italy...

 (b. ca 520); Justinian I
Justinian I
Justinian I ; , ; 483– 13 or 14 November 565), commonly known as Justinian the Great, was Byzantine Emperor from 527 to 565. During his reign, Justinian sought to revive the Empire's greatness and reconquer the lost western half of the classical Roman Empire.One of the most important figures of...

.

As a teenager, he and two companions fled from a barbaric invasion, taking refuge in Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

 possessing nothing more than the ragged clothes on their backs and a sack of bread between them. Justin soon joined the army and, because of his ability, rose through the ranks to become a general and under the Emperor Anastasius I
Anastasius I (emperor)
Anastasius I was Byzantine Emperor from 491 to 518. During his reign the Roman eastern frontier underwent extensive re-fortification, including the construction of Dara, a stronghold intended to counter the Persian fortress of Nisibis....

; by the time of Anastasius' death in 518, he held the influential position of comes excubitorum, commander of the palace guard.

Emperor

Thanks to his position commanding the only troops in the city and making gifts of money, Justin was able to secure election as emperor in 518.

A career soldier with little knowledge of statecraft, Justin wisely surrounded himself with trusted advisors. The most prominent of these, of course, was his nephew Flavius Petrus Sabbatius, whom he adopted as his son and invested with the name Iustinianus (Justinian).

Relying upon the accounts of the historian Procopius
Procopius
Procopius of Caesarea was a prominent Byzantine scholar from Palestine. Accompanying the general Belisarius in the wars of the Emperor Justinian I, he became the principal historian of the 6th century, writing the Wars of Justinian, the Buildings of Justinian and the celebrated Secret History...

, it often has been said that Justinian ruled the Empire in his uncle's name during the reign of Justin, however, there is much evidence to the contrary. The information from the Secret History
Secret history
A secret history is a revisionist interpretation of either fictional or real history which is claimed to have been deliberately suppressed, forgotten, or ignored by established scholars.-Secret histories of the real world:...

 of Procopius was published posthumously. Critics of Procopius (whose work reveals a man seriously disillusioned with his rulers) have dismissed his work as a severely biased source, being vitriolic and pornographic, but without other sources, critics have been unable to discredit some of the assertions in the publication. However, contrary to the secret history, Justinian was not named as successor until less than a year before Justin's death and he spent 3,700 pounds of gold during a celebration in 520.

In 525, Justin repealed a law that effectively prohibited a member of the senatorial class from marrying a woman from a lower class of society, including the theatre, which was considered scandalous at the time. This edict paved the way for Justinian to marry Theodora
Theodora (6th century)
Theodora , was empress of the Roman Empire and the wife of Emperor Justinian I. Like her husband, she is a saint in the Orthodox Church, commemorated on November 14...

, a former mime
Mime artist
A mime artist is someone who uses mime as a theatrical medium or as a performance art, involving miming, or the acting out a story through body motions, without use of speech. In earlier times, in English, such a performer was referred to as a mummer...

 actress, and eventually resulted in a major change to the old class distinctions at the Imperial court. She became an equal to Justinian, participating in the governance with significant influence.

Later years

The latter years of the reign of Justin were marked by strife among the Empire, the Ostrogoths, and the Persians. In 526, Justin's health began to decline and he formally named Justinian as co-emperor and, on April 1, 527 as his successor. On August 1 of that year, Justin died and was succeeded by Justinian.

Legacy

The town of Anazarbus
Anazarbus
Anazarbus in Ancient Cilicia was an ancient Cilician city, situated in Anatolia in modern Turkey, in the present Çukurova about 15 km west of the main stream of the present Ceyhan River and near its tributary the Sempas Su.A lofty isolated ridge formed its acropolis...

 was re-named Justinopolis in 525, in honour of Justin I.

External links

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