Author Topic: Was Justinian good or bad for the Byzantine Empire?  (Read 5594 times)

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Offline Phidippides

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Was Justinian good or bad for the Byzantine Empire?
« on: September 24, 2008, 03:11:19 PM »
So, do you think Justinian's administration was beneficial to the Byzantine Empire, or did it do more harm than good?  On the one hand, he codified Roman laws that would go on to be used in medieval Europe.  On the other hand, his decision to retake parts of the old Western Empire may have stretched his forces too thin and seemingly enticed the Persians to invade from the East. 

Final verdict - good or not so good?
"Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses" ~Juvenal

Offline DonaldBaker

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Re: Was Justinian good or bad for the Byzantine Empire?
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2008, 05:21:07 PM »
I think you answered your own question here. :)

Offline Phidippides

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Re: Was Justinian good or bad for the Byzantine Empire?
« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2008, 11:30:58 AM »
So the answer is "all of the above"? 

I used to think that Justinian's tenure was quite impressive, but recently I've heard that his power didn't necessarily translate into a benefit for the Byzantine Empire.  From what I heard about the book, the account of Procopius's views on Justinian and Theodora were - how shall we say - "less than flattering".  If the chapter titles in the book are any indication of the content therein, you can see why:

"Justinian's Misgovernment"

"The Destruction Wrought by a Demon-Emperor"

"The Crimes of Theodora"

"Everyone and Everything Sacrificed to the Emperor's Greed"

You get the point!
« Last Edit: September 25, 2008, 11:32:40 AM by Phidippides »
"Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses" ~Juvenal

Offline DonaldBaker

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Re: Was Justinian good or bad for the Byzantine Empire?
« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2008, 08:14:30 PM »
Procopius would flunk out of graduate school. :)  You now see why secondary sources are important especially when dealing with very old sources such as Procopius.  People wrote histories for reasons other than the love of History or to scientifically analyze their subject.  They wrote histories to slander or to laud people or events.  What Procopius is good for is learning about minute details of court life, civil policies etc....so that a socio-economic framework can be constructed for an actual empirical study.

Offline Phidippides

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Re: Was Justinian good or bad for the Byzantine Empire?
« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2008, 11:12:47 PM »
Right, I wasn't thinking that Procopius would offer an impartial look at Justian's reign, though this isn't to say that what he has to say isn't at least partially factual.  He did, after all, hold a high office within the Byzantine Empire which would have given him access to an important perspective on things.

Then again, I don't know why he said some of the things he did....like Justinian walking around at night with a head that morphed into a weird shape.  That was just weird.

« Last Edit: September 25, 2008, 11:16:15 PM by Phidippides »
"Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses" ~Juvenal

Offline DonaldBaker

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Re: Was Justinian good or bad for the Byzantine Empire?
« Reply #5 on: September 26, 2008, 01:40:48 PM »
Though Justinian believed in Christianity, he likely still believed in daemons and or jinns that influenced the world around him.  It might have been a talisman of somekind to channel them or ward them off.  Pagan elements died a slow death in the ancient world.

Offline Daniel

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Re: Was Justinian good or bad for the Byzantine Empire?
« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2009, 10:27:11 PM »
About 1/3 of the empire died of plague during Justinian's rule.  The plague had so much impact that it makes Justinian's actions almost irrelevant.  Without the plague he probably would have restored the "glory of Rome."  After the plague the Byzantine Empire couldn't sustain his accomplishments.