Justinian—Emperor with a Lasting Legacy
Justinian I was the emperor of the Byzantine State and ruled alongside his empress Theodora for nearly forty years (527-565 C.E). His reign foretold substantial territorial and military triumph, accompanied by a new modus operandi of architecture. Despite Theodora’s improvement of women’s rights, Justinian was more historically significant on account of the facts that he codified Roman law, affected present day architecture, and expanded the Byzantine Empire with conquest and territorial reorganization.
A particularly valuable achievement of Justinian was the act of revising all the laws of the Roman rulers before him. Many of the old laws were unnecessarily complex, disorganized, and no longer pertinent to the current way of life. Justinian appointed ten scholars lead by Tribonian to initiate the classification of the Roman laws. All the laws of the Roman Empire were consolidated into one uniform system, titled the Corpus Juris Civilis. The resulting work was more comprehensive, systematic, and thorough than any previous work of that nature and in later centuries it became the legal basis of all European laws.
The architecture from the time of Justinian’s supremacy majorly influenced pieces of architecture that can still be seen today. The Nika Riot, a period of massive public and civil upheaval, resulted in the abolishment of numerous imperial and religious buildings, including the Hagia Sophia or “Holy Wisdom”. This caused Justinian to assume the arduous task of reconstruction. The sovereign achievement of Justinian’s extensive reconstructive campaigns was the rebuilding of Hagia Sophia, and the architectural standard which remained would have a lasting effect of the Byzantine Empire. The element of the dome incorporated into the design of the Hagia Sophia can be observed in famous monuments of today, e.g.: the U.S. Capital building, St. Peter's Basilica, Taj Mahal, the Beijing National Stadium, the...
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“Mosaic Portrait of Emperor Justinian I”. Europe After the Fall of the Roman Empire. Palo Alto: Teachers Curriculum Institute, 2003. 82. Print.
Brooks, Sarah. “The Byzantine State under Justinian I (Justinian the Great)”. In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000—. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/just/hd_just.htm (originally published October 2001, last revised April 2009)
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