Emperor Justinian


Justinian 1

After Constantine died, his sons ruled the empire. First to ascend to the throne was a general named Julian and then by a series of other emperors. In 527, a Macedonian named Justinian became emperor. He married Theodora, an actress who had a much greater influence on the Byzantine government than other empresses. He was a strong ruler, is considered the greatest Byzantine emperor, and an autocrat: a ruler with complete authority. 

Justinian's Code

Justinian had studied laws made by other emperors, but decided that the old legal system was too complicated and disorganized. He chose ten men to work out a better system, lead by a legal scholar named Tribonian. After studying the existing laws, they did away with those that were not needed. They organized and rewrote the remaining laws. In six years, this became known as the Justinian Code.

Byzantium Flourishes under Justinian

Difference between East and West

The Great Schism

During the Middle Ages, the two branches of Christianity grew farther apart. They fought over the use of icons. The Byzantine Christians used icons of Jesus, Mary and other saints. From the west, the pope joined in dispute by condemning the Byzantine emperor. This left restrictions against the pope in Byzantine. In 1054, other controversies provoked a schism, or split, between th eastern and western Christianity.

Art and Learning

Art includes mosaics, painting and some forms of jewelry-making. Women were more educated in the Byzantine empire, even if they were not noble.