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Justin I (518-527 A.D.).

James Allan Evans

University of British Columbia

Coin with the

image of Justin I (c)1999, Lawrence University.(c)1999, Lawrence University.

The emperor Justin I has been completely overshadowed by his eminent nephew who succeeded him, Justinian I (527-565).[[1]] The foremost historian of the age, Procopius of Caesarea, in his Secret History written in mid-century, began Justinian's regime in 518, when Justin ascended the throne, and in his De Aedificiis on Justinian's building program, he treated as part of it the buildings constructed in Justin's reign. But without Justin there would have been no Justinian. It was Justin who came to Constantinople, joined the Excubitors and rose through the ranks, evidently thanks to his own merits for we know of no friends in high places. He shared his good fortune with family members: his sister's son, Flavius Petrus Sabbatius was not the only one whom he brought to Constantinople and launched on a career, but it was he whom Justin adopted as his heir. When the adoption took place is uncertain, but all contemporary sources refer to him by his adoptive cognomen, "Iustinianus", and we would not know his full name except that it is preserved on the diptychs for his first consulship. Thus Justin may have adopted his nephew even before he became emperor in 518; if not, it cannot have been long after.

Yet Justin's reign was more than simply the preface for the age of Justinian. Both Justin and Justinian defended the creed of Chalcedon, but there was, I believe, a pragmatism to Justin's approach which his nephew lacked. Both championed imperial interests beyond the empire's frontiers, but I doubt if Justin would have fully shared Justinian's ambitions in the west. Moreover Justinian's politicking with Hippodrome parties and his favoritism for the Blues does not seem to have been shared by Justin. In the final period of his life, Justin, overcome by illness and old age, fell completely under the influence of his ambitious nephew and his wife, he was capable of independent judgement. In retrospect, Justin's reign and Justinian's which followed, may have appeared a seamless web, but I am not sure that his contemporaries thought so, or even believed that Justinian's succession was inevitable.


Justin was born in the province of Dardania belonging to the diocese of Dacia, which along with Macedonia made up the prefecture of Illyricum. It was an area which had suffered severely from barbarian attacks: in 447 a devastating raid of the Huns, which reached as far south as Thermopylae, left a wake of destruction through Illyricum and forced the praetorian prefect to flee from Sirmium to Thessaloniki. Then it was the turn of the Ostrogoths who ravaged the land until the emperor Leo I made peace in 461. It must have been about this time that Justin and two companions with Thracian names, Zimarchus and Dityvistus, all of them young men with good physiques, set out for Constantinople with only the clothes they had on their backs and a little bread in their pockets, trying to escape the grinding poverty of their homeland. The emperor Leo was organizing a new corps of palace guards, the excubitors, 300 in number, who were intended to counterbalance German predominance at court. These three young Thracians were enrolled.[[2]] We hear no more of Justin's companions, but Justin himself was evidently a competent soldier who rose through the ranks, and in 518, when the emperor Anastasius died, he was commander of the excubitors, the only effective troops on the scene.

The death took place on the night of 8 July, and the silentarii (gentlemen ushers at court) immediately summoned the master of offices, Celer, and Justin. Celer commanded the scholarians, but they were ornamental soldiers; Justin, whose palace guard could fight if necessary, was in a pivotal position. In the morning of 9 July, the people assembled in the Hippodrome, and the high officials, including the patriarch, met in the Great Palace to choose a successor. Anastasius had no immediate heir though he had nephews, one of whom, Hypatius, an experienced soldier of mediocre accomplishment, might have been an obvious candidate for the throne. But he held the office of master of soldiers in the east and was probably in Antioch when his uncle died. Justin was not considered at first. We may be certain that his nephew Justinian, a lowly candidatus at the time, was not considered at all, although a later tradition claimed that some put him forward. But the people in the Hippodrome grew impatient, and the high officials, becoming a little panicky, eventually put forward Justin. He was taken to the imperial loge in the Hippodrome and invested there with the imperial robes. The donative he offered the troops on his inauguration was exactly the same as that offered by Leo I in 457 and Anastasius I in 491: 5 nomismata and one pound of silver to each soldier.[[3]] On 1 August, Justin wrote to Pope Hormisdas in Rome, announcing his elevation and saying that he had been chosen against his will.

In fact, John Malalas[[4]] preserves a tradition that Justin was more willing than he claimed. The chamberlain Amantius had a candidate of his own for the throne, Theocritus, the count of his Domestics, and he gave Justin money with which he was to buy support. But Justin used the money to purchase support for himself. On the ninth day after his acclamation, he put Amantius and Theocritus to death.[[5]]


Justin broke sharply with the Monophysitism of his predecessor, Anastasius. Vitalian, the champion of the Chalcedonians, who was still lurking in the Dobrudja after his defeat by the imperial army, was recalled. Until his murder in July, 520, he overshadowed the emperor's nephew, Justinian. Justinian was given the rank of patrician on his uncle's accession and appointed Count of the Domestics, but Vitalian was consul for 520; Justinian's first consulship took place the year following.[[6]] In the east, the Monophysites suffered a vigorous persecution which is well documented by John of Ephesus, who was born in Amida (modern Diyarbakir in Turkey) and knew the Monophysite monasteries and holy men in Syria at first hand. Severus, the patriarch of Antioch and the leading theologian of the Monophysites, escaped to Egypt where the patriarch of Alexandria Timothy III gave him refuge. Monophysitism had become almost a national religion in Egypt since the Council of Chalcedon in 451, and Justin never extended his persecution there.

Elsewhere the new regime moved swiftly to restore orthodoxy as defined by the Creed of Chalcedon. On 20 July, 518, a synod was held in Constantinople of the bishops in the region. It pronounced anathema against Severus of Antioch, and the patriarch John of Constantinople sent letters to all bishops of importance with copies of the synodal decrees. Upon receipt of his letter, the patriarch John of Jerusalem summoned a synod, attended by Mar Saba, the archimandrite of the lauras in Palestine and a strong Chalcedonian, which followed the examples of Constantinople. In the province of Syria Secunda, a synod was also held which excommunicated Severus of Antioch who narrowly escaped arrest. Letters were dispatched from Constantinople to Pope Hormisdas: one from Justin, another, more peremptory in tone, from Justinian, and a third from the patriarch. The letters took more than three months to reach Rome and Hormisdas' reply was not returned until the new year. The pope declined the invitation to come to Constantinople in person, but he sent a delegation to set forth Rome's non-negotiable position. The papal legates were forbidden to discuss the issues, but they took with them as interpreter and observer a deacon named Dioscorus, a Greek from Alexandria. When it was necessary to explain the guilt of Acacius, the patriarch of Alexandria who was author of the Henotikon which had led to the so-called 'Acacian schism' in the reign of Zeno, Dioscorus, who was not an official legate, was free to speak and put forth the papal position that Hormisdas suggested that Justin make him patriarch of Alexandria: advice which Justin ignored. The pope demanded surrender: the condemnation of Acacius, his heretical successors on the patriarchal throne, all prelates who had remained in communion with them, and the emperors Zeno and Anastasius as well. The patriarch John of Constantinople was unhappy, but under pressure he signed the papal libellus on Maundy Thursday (28 March, 519) in the presence of Justin, the senate and clergy.

The pope had gone too far. Excommunicating the prelates who had remained in communion with Acacius and his successors meant the excommunication of all the bishops in the east after 484 when the emperor Zeno's Henotikon was issued. The first sign of resistance came from Thessaloniki where the bishop refused to sign the papal libellus. Justin was soon aware of grassroots dissatisfaction elsewhere, and he became more flexible. Justin was a stout defender of the creed of Chalcedon but we may suppose that his years as an army officer had taught him the advantages of a reasonable approach. At the beginning of the year 519, a delegation of monks arrived in the capital from Scythia Minor (Dobrudja) with a new solution. They won Vitalian's support, for Vitalian himself came from that province and one of the delegation was a relative of his. What the monks prescribed was the formula stating that 'one of the Holy Trinity had suffered in the flesh'. It was a nearly identical formula, added to the Trisagion in the liturgy of Hagia Sophia, which had nearly cost the emperor Anastasius his throne in 512. When the Scythian monks proposed it, they were denounced immediately by the 'Sleepless Monks', the watchdogs of Chalcedonianism who were eventually to become more orthodox than the pope and were excommunicated. However, repackaged by the Scythian monks, the formula became known as the 'Theopaschite doctrine' and it interested Justinian. He sent the monks off to Rome where they tried to propagate their doctrine, but Hormisdas was unmoved and eventually sent them packing. Yet his victory of 519 solved nothing; if anything it proved the futility of Rome's policy of intransigence in the face of the Monophysite problem. When Hormisdas died in 523, his son Silverius who was eventually to become a pope himself, wrote his epitaph, one line of which reads, "Greece, vanquished by pious power, has yielded to you." Not quite.

The Monophysite persecution in the east continued until 520, when Vitalian was assassinated. Orthodoxy extended even to the army: soldiers were ordered to subscribe to the creed of Chalcedon or be deprived of their rations.[[7]] After 520, Justin followed a more tolerant policy until the end of his life, when he was old and ill and no longer in control. In the last four months of his reign, when Justinian was co-emperor, imperial policy reverted to coercion. Yet, if Justin's application of the regulations against heresy was pragmatic, his devotion to orthodoxy remained the same. There is some irony to the fact that Pope Hormisdas' successor John did visit Constantinople to solicit for tolerance of heresy: Theodoric the Ostrogoth, who ruled Italy with a firm hand, was disquieted at the anti-heretical policies of the new regime in Constantinople and dispatched John to plead on behalf of Arianism, which was the faith of the Ostrogoths. Justin gave the pope a warm welcome, so warm that it roused Theodoric's suspicions. But the pope's efforts on behalf of the persecuted Arians had little result. When he arrived back in Ravenna, Theodoric made his disappointment clear. Theodoric's coldness may have contributed to the pope's death soon afterwards.


a). Relations with Ostrogothic Italy.

The accession of an orthodox emperor anxious to repair relations with the papacy must have roused some disquiet in the Ostrogothic court. With the old emperor Anastasius Ostrogothic Italy had an amicable arrangement which had been regularized in 497: Italy was still part of the empire, and Theodoric ruled the Romans as the emperor's deputy and the Ostrogoths as their hereditary king. Greek distinguished between emperors and kings such as Theodoric: for the latter the title was rex, borrowed from the Latin, whereas for the former the title was . As long as the emperor in Constantinople was Monophysite, religious schism drove a wedge between him and his Roman subjects, who were firm Chalcedonians. But once the emperor was Chalcedonian and the Acacian schism was healed, the situation changed. The Romans returned to their old allegiance and Theodoric grew suspicious of their loyalty. The Ostrogoths lived in Italy as an immigrant ruling class, maintained by property appropriated from the Roman landowners - one-third of their estates, it is reported - but separated from the Romans by their religion, for the Goths were Arians, and worshipped in separate Arian churches. The situation was unstable and Theodoric was aware of it, all the more so since he had no able son to succeed him.

Theodoric was anxious for good relations with the new emperor, and Justin responded positively. In 519, Justin nominated Theodoric's son-in-law Eutharic as consul to serve as Justin's colleague. Eutharic who had married Theodoric's daughter Amalasuintha, was an uncouth man who disliked Catholics, but Justin made him the first Goth to become a consul and adopted him according to Gothic customs, thereby recognizing him as Theodoric's heir. But in 522, Eutharic died, leaving a young son Athalaric, born in 518. Meanwhile Justin's anti-heretical policies bore more heavily against Arianism. After 523, Arians in the east suffered active persecution.

In 524, Theodoric executed his Master of Offices, Boethius who was suspected of treasonable correspondence with the imperial court in Constantinople.[[8]] While in prison he wrote the book which was the favorite of the Latin Middle Ages, the Consolation of Philosophy. There can be no doubt that Boethius was a Christian, but the Consolation could have been written by a pagan: the "Philosophia" who comforts Boethius owes more to Neoplatonism than she does to Christianity. Some scholars have suggested that in his final months, Boethius turned to the solace offered by the older religion, but the truth is probably that Boethius never recognized the antithesis between pagan philosophy and Christian theology which modern academics do. Yet we should not imagine that his attitude was shared by many: Boethius belonged to an educated upper crust which had become very thin indeed.

In 525 the severe measures taken against the Arians in the east became known in Italy. Theodoric dispatched Pope John to Constantinople to remonstrate and report Theodoric's threat to persecute Italian Catholics in reprisal. John was received cordially. While in Constantinople, he performed a coronation ceremony for Justin, thereby making clear his recognition of Justin as his sovereign. But his actions fueled Theodoric's paranoia and John got a cold reception when he returned to Ravenna. He died soon after (May 18, 526). His successor, Felix IV, chosen after two months of contention, was a prelate who met Theodoric's approval. Shortly afterwards, on 30 August, Theodoric himself died, leaving the boy Athalaric as his heir.

Theodoric's relations with Constantinople were not the only ones to turn sour in his last years. He had built up a network of marriage alliances in the western Mediterranean: his own second wife was a Frankish princess, a daughter had married a Burgundian prince, another had married Alaric II, the king of Visigothic Spain, and in 500 he had given his sister Amalfrida as his wife to the Vandal king Trasamund. Relations between these two Arian kingdoms were close as long as Trasamund was alive, but his successor Hilderic favored the Catholics. Trasamund's widow Amalfrida protested, and Hilderic retorted by throwing her into prison and killing her Gothic entourage. When he died, Theodoric was planning an attack on Africa that would have further clouded relations with Constantinople, which looked on Hilderic as a friend of orhodoxy.[[9]]

b) Relations with Sassanid Persia.

At the eastern end of the Black Sea, Lazica, the ancient Colchis between the Rioni and Chorokhi rivers was a bone of contention between the Roman empire and Persia. Persia regarded it as a satellite and yet it was Christian in religion. In 522, Tzath, the Lazic king broke with the custom of going to Persia for coronation and instead went to Constantinople, where he asked Justin to proclaim him king and baptize him. Childhood baptism, it should be remembered, was not yet universally practised: emperors in earlier centuries such as Constantine I and his son Constantius II waited until just before their deaths before being baptized. Thus Tzath, though a Christian, had probably not yet been baptized and his trip to Constantinople to receive the rite conveyed a message to Persia. Justin welcomed Tzath cordially and found him a Roman lady for his wife.

The king of Persia Kawad was incensed but for the moment could not take direct action. However he got in touch with the Sabiric Huns in the northern Caucasus and negotiated an alliance with their king Zilgibi to attack the empire. But Zilbigi was too clever; he negotiated with both sides. Justin made a point of disclosing Zilgibi's treachery to Kawad. It was, he pretended, a friendly gesture: a word to the wise. Kawad confronted Zilbigi with his perfidy and when Zilbigi admitted it, Kawad slew him and most of the 20,000 Huns in the force he had brought with him.[[10]]

Impressed, it seems, with Justin's transparency, Kawad sought his help in a domestic problem. He had four sons and ordinarily the eldest should have succeeded him. But Kawad did not want him, probably because he had favored the Mazdakites, followers of a religious leader Mazdak who had tried to impose a radical social system on Persia; Kawad earlier in his reign had suppressed them by force. Kawad's second son had lost an eye which made him ineligible, but the Persian nobles admired his military ability and some favored him, his physical disability notwithstanding. Kawad wanted his third (or fourth?) son Khusro to succeed him and to secure the succession, he asked Justin to adopt him.

Justin was willing, but it was pointed out to him by an advisor that if Khusro were adopted according to Roman law, it would give him a claim to the imperial throne. Thus Justin offered adoption according to barbarian custom: the same adoption which he had accorded Theodoric's son-in-law. The Persians found the proposal insupportable. It should also be added that negotiations to settle the differences between Persia and the empire did not go well. The opportunity for peace was lost.

Kawad then moved against Iberia, modern Georgia, a Christian kingdom on the borders of the Sassanid empire: he demanded that they adopt the rites of Zororastrianism, the religion of Persia. Justin retorted by sending Probus, a nephew of the old emperor Anastasius to Bosporus (classical Panticapaeum) in the Crimea to bribe the Huns, who controlled Bosporus at that time, to help the Iberians. But the Huns were too occupied by their own internal problems to assist. Justin did, however, send a small force of Hun troops under a Byzantine officer to defend the Iberian king, Gurgenes, but the force was too weak, and the Iberian royal family was forced to flee. Iberia lost its independence and Justin lost prestige.

In 526, the empire opened hostilities by launching two unsuccessful raids into Persarmenia, the part of Armenia under Persian control. By this time Justin was feeble with age and the pain of an old wound: the author of this move was certainly his nephew Justinian. The young officers leading the expeditions were members of Justinian's entourage, Sittas and Belisarius. At the same time an army was dispatched into Mesopotamia near Nisibis which probed the frontier and then pulled back, achieving nothing. It may be that Justinian thought the time was ripe to take the measure of Persia. But Justin was not the author of this change in policy, if that is what it was.


Himyar, modern Yemen was an area where Christianity, Judaism and paganism competed for religious allegiance and where Ethiopia, Persia and the eastern Roman Empire competed for political advantage. In October of 523, the Christians were massacred in Najran, the center of Christianity in south Arabia. The author of the massacre was a Jew (or Jewish convert) Dhu Nuwas who had seized power in Himyar, and undertook a campaign against Christianity there. The events were to give birth to a rich martyr literature; Vasiliev notes that a thousand years later, a sixteenth-century Russian source, the Stepennaya Kniga relates the story of Najran's capture by "Dunas the Zhidovin (Jew)" and compares "Dunas" to the Tartar khan Takhtamysh who captured Moscow by cunning.[[12]] The multiplicity of traditions make it difficult to discern what actually happened, and the cast of characters have names that vary: Dhu Nuwas is also known as Masruq, and the king of Abyssinia whose name in Ethiopic was Ela Atzheba is known as Elesboas (in Malalas), Hellesthaeus (in Procopius) and sometimes as Kaleb which may have been his Christian name. It appears that a Christian from Najran escaped and brought news of the massacre to Ela Atzheba along with a half-burnt copy of the Gospel. Ela Atzheba had troops with which to intervene but no ship transports; he got in touch with Justin through the patriarch of Alexandria, Timothy III. It should be noted that both Ela Atzheba and Timothy were Monophysite Christians whereas Justin was a devout Chalcedonian, but where the interests of Christianity outside the borders of the empire were concerned, theological differences did not matter. Justin mustered transport ships for the Ethiopian army. In two campaigns Ela Atzheba took the Himyarite capital, killed Dhu Nuwas and set up a Christian king as an Ethiopian client. One tradition had it that Dhu Nuwas, facing defeat, rode his horse into the sea and was never seen again. The situation in Yemen, however, remained volatile and in 570-72, after Justinian's death, Persia succeeded in occupying it.


The society of sixth-century Byzantium was a fluid one, but by every standard of the time, Theodora was an unsuitable consort for Justin's nephew, Justinian. Justin's other nephew Germanus made a "society" marriage into the noble family of the Anicii, a Roman family which had moved to Constantinople, [[13]] but Justinian's marriage was quite the reverse. Theodora had a background in popular theatre, which specialized in pornographic mimes.[[14]] This was, in fact, the only type of theatre which allowed women on stage. Actresses were on the level of prostitutes, denied the rites of the church except after a deathbed repentance. Theodora had left the stage, however, by the time Justinian met her. She had become a devout Christian during a stay in Alexandria: there is a tradition that she met and received much kindness from the patriarch, Timothy III. However her creed was Monophysite which cannot have made her a more suitable consort for Justin's heir, Justinian.

Justinian's hunger for power, mingled with a certain insecurity, was barely concealed during the early years of Justin's reign. At first, Vitalian was a competitor, but assassination had removed him in 520. Perhaps Justinian was responsible. Germanus and his brother Boraides, two other nephews whom Justin had brought to Constantinople, seem never to have been rivals. However during these early years of Justin's reign, without the knowledge of his uncle, Justinian seems to have encouraged street violence. The rivalry between the fans of the Blues and the Greens in the Hippodrome spilled out into the avenues and alleys of Constantinople. The young men who supported the Blue and Green factions affected Hunnic dress and hair-styles, and their gangs made life dangerous for the solid citizens of the capital. Justinian was a strong supporter of the Blues, as was Theodora. Procopius[[15]] accuses Justinian of instigating the street violence and although his Anekdota is not a completely reliable witness where Justinian is concerned, it was true that aficionados of the Blues who committed outrages could count on Justinian's support to help them evade punishment. The more numerous Greens, who had no such patron, harbored a sense of injustice. It is hard to make sense out of this. At one time, scholars considered the Greens supporters of Monophysitism and the Blues supporters of Chalcedonian orthodoxy,[[16]] but the evidence for that has been effectively disputed by Alan Cameron:[[17]] the general view now is that the Blue and Green fans were high-spirited youth who had few other outlets for their energy. In any case, Justinian's partisanship fueled the disorder until 524 or 525 when Justinian fell ill. During his illness Justin was informed of the dangers on the streets and the cause, which apparently had been kept from him until this time, and he ordered the urban prefect Theodotus Colocynthius (the 'Pumpkin') to restore order. Theodotus acted vigorously; some Blues were hanged or burned alive. When Justinian recovered, he took revenge on Theodotus who was deprived of his office and sent to Jerusalem, but his support for the Blues became more circumspect.[[18]] About the same time, in 525, he married Theodora, no doubt in the Great Church of Hagia Sophia.

There is probably no connection. But Justinian had to overcome opposition in order to wed Theodora. First, Justin's wife Euphemia would not accept Theodora although she was fond of Justinian and opposed him in nothing else as far as we know. Euphemia had been a former slave of Justin's named Lupicina, whom he had married. Once she became empress, however, she became respectable. She changed her name Lupicina for Euphemia which better fitted her altered station, and she refused to have a woman with Theodora's past as the wife of Justin's heir. The second problem was that Roman law forbade a senator to marry a woman from the theater. The first obstacle was removed by Euphemia's death in 524. Then, at Justinian's urging, Justin promulgated a law which removed all disabilities from actresses who repented of their past lives.[[19]] The way was cleared for Theodora's marriage and not only for her: about the same time, the army officer Sittas married Theodora's older sister Comito who had also been a mime actress. A little later, Justinian received the rank of nobilissimus, and on 1 April, 527, Justin proclaimed Justinian co-emperor. Three days later, in Hagia Sophia, the patriarch crowned Justinian and Theodora emperor and empress. The ex-actress had come a long way. Four months later, Justin died, and the future of the empire devolved into the eager hands of Theodora and Justinian.


Justin's brief regime was followed by the long reign of Justinian, and it is convenient for historians to treat the two reigns as one, all the more so since Justin was relatively uneducated, whereas his successor was a subtle theologian well-versed in the church fathers, a good legalist, and paid at least lip-service to the classics. Justin, reports Procopius, was an illiterate ignoramus who needed a wooden stencil to write his name, and to the well-educated and snobbish Procopius, that marked him as a member of the "Great Unwashed". But imperial signatures were ornate productions, and a person without training in calligraphy might well find a stencil useful: Theodoric the Ostrogoth also used one. To rise in the army ranks, as Justin did, required some degree of literacy. We can reject the charge of illiteracy.

Yet we may take it as true that Justinian, at any rate, saw Justin's reign as a stepping-stone towards his own. But in the early years of the reign, not everyone would have agreed. He needed his uncle to fast-track his career. In Justin's later years, however, his health was failing, he was troubled by an old wound, and perhaps the reports of encroaching senility were true. Yet he was an admirable old man. He had come to Constantinople from his native village with only the clothes on his back, he had had successful army career, he remained faithful to the woman whom he had bought as a slave, freed and married, and he brought family members to Constantinople to share his fortune and receive the education which he had never had. Without Justin there could have been no Justinian.


Brock, Sebastian and Harvey, Susan Ashbrook, Holy Women of the Syrian Orient. Berkeley, 1987.

Browning, Robert, Justinian and Theodora. 1st ed., London, 1971; 2nd ed. London, 1987.

Bury, J. B. A History of the Later Roman Empire from the Death of Theodosius I to the Death of Justinian. 2 vols., repr. New York, 1958.

Vasiliev, A. A., Justin the First. Dumbarton Oaks Studies I. Cambridge, Mass., 1950.


[[1]]The only book in English devoted to Justin is A. A. Vasiliev, Justin the First. An Introduction to the Epoch of Justinian the Great (Cambridge, Mass., 1950). An example of the short shrift he receives is Edward Gibbon's treatment of him in his The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (J. B. Bury ed., 7 vols., London, 1897) IV (henceforth DF).

[[2]]Procopius, Anekdota 6.2 The names of Justin's two companions, Dityvistus and Zimarchus are recognizably Thracian and Justinian's family name, "Sabbatius," is of Thracian origin as well: Robert Browning, Justinian and Theodora (London,1971), pp. 36-37; Vasiliev, Justin the First, p. 60. Malalas 17, (130) (p. 410, Bonn ed.) identifies him as a "Thracian from Bederiana." The theory that the family was Slavic, once dear to Slavophiles, was disproved by James Bryce in 1898 ("Life of Justinian by Theophilus", EHR 2, pp. 657-84). These ethnic divisions probably meant nothing to contemporaries. More important, however, are the facts that Justin's family seems to have come from a Latin-speaking enclave (for Justinian claimed Latin as his native tongue), and that in spite of a law of Theodosius II assigning the prefecture of Illyricum to Constantinople, the prefecture still, for practical purposes belonged to the see of Rome.

[[3]]Vasiliev, Justin the First, p. 80.

[[4]]17 (130-32) (pp. 410-411 Bonn ed.).

[[5]]Vasiliev, Justin the First, pp. 107-8. See J. B. Bury, History of the Later Roman Empire II (repr. New York, 1958), pp. 16-19. Procopius, Anekdota 6.26 reports that Justinian, when not yet ten days in power, put Amantius, the officer in charge of the palace eunuchs, to death because he had spoken impolitely to the patriarch John which probably refers to a sharp exchange which took place between the two. Procopius assigns the execution to Justinian but he is simply following his practice in the Anekdota of treating Justin's reign as an extension of Justinian's.

[[6]]Vitalian must bear a large share of the responsibility for the harshness of the Monophysite persecution in Justin's first years: see Vasiliev, Justin the First p. 241. Malalas 17 (132) (p. 411: Bonn ed.) reports that the Monophysite patriarch fled from his see of Antioch out of fear of Vitalian.

[[7]]Vasiliev, Justin the First, p. 243, argues that this regulation has been wrongly attributed to Justinian.

[[8]] See Browning, Justinian and Theodora, p. 46.

[[9]]Procopius, History of the Wars of Justinian 3.8.11-14; Vasiliev, Justin the First, pp. 321-328.

[[10]]Malalas 17 (137-38) (pp. 414-415 Bonn. ed.).

[[11]]See Vasiliev, Justin the First, pp. 289-302; J. A. S. Evans, The Age of Justinian. The Circumstances of Imperial Power (London, 1996), pp. 112-114; Sebastian Brock and Susan Ashbrook Harvey, Holy Women of the Syrian Orient (Berkeley, 1987) passim.

[[12]]Justin the First, p. 293.

[[13]]Browning, Justinian and Theodora, p. 76.

[[14]]Procopius, Anekdota 9.1-28 is our source for Theodora's early life. See J. A. S. Evans, Theodora, forthcoing from University of Texas Press, Austin, Texas.

[[15]] Anekdota 7.1-7.

[[16]]This interpretation is accepted, for instance, by W. H. C. Frend in his classics study of Monophysitism: The Rise of the Monophysite Movement. Chapters in the History of the Church in the Fifth and Sixth Centuries (Cambridge, 1972).

[[17]]"Heresies and Factions," Byzantion 44 (1974), 92-120; Circus Factions: Blues and Greens at Rome and Byzantium (Oxford, 1976).

[[18]]Bury, LaterRoman Empire II, p. 22.

[[19]]See David Daube, "The Marriage of Justinian and Theodora. Logical and Theological Reflections," The Catholic University of America Law Review 16 (1967), 380-399.

Copyright (C) 1998, James Allan Evans. This file may be copied on the condition that the entire contents, including the header and this copyright notice, remain intact.

Comments to: James Allan Evans.

Updated:29 May 1999

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