Famous People in the Byzantine Empire
by Zachary Leeson
| 6 Questions
Above: From left to right, Justinian holding a model of the Hagia Sophia, Mary holding the baby Jesus, and Constantine holding a model of the city of Constantinople.
Above: A mosaic of Justinian
From https://www.ancient.eu/Justinian_I/

Justinian I reigned as emperor of the Byzantine Empire from 527 to 565 CE. Born around 482 CE in Tauresium, a village in Illyria, his uncle Emperor Justin I was an imperial bodyguard who reached the throne on the death of Anastasius in 518 CE. Justinian is considered one of the most important late Roman and Byzantine emperors. He started a significant military campaign to retake Africa from the Vandals (in 533 to 534 CE) and Italy from the Goths (535 to 554 CE). He also ordered the rebuilding of the Hagia Sophiachurch (begun in 532 CE) as well as an empire-wide construction drive, resulting in new churches, monasteries, forts, water reservoirs, and bridges. His other great achievement was the completion of the legal reforms encapsulated in the Corpus Juris Civilis between 529 and 534 CE. This was the bringing together of all the Roman laws that had been issued from the time of Emperor Hadrian (117 - 138 CE) to the present. He is widely held as one of the greatest (and most controversial) late Roman/Byzantine emperors in history.
After reading the paragraph above, choose something from the paragraph to learn more about.
Hagia Sophia church
Justinian's construction drive
Corpus Jurs Civilis
Do some research on the computer about the item from the paragraph that you chose to learn more about. In the space below, copy and paste at least two web addresses of sources you looked at.

In your own words, tell us some interesting things you learned about the item you did research about in the space below. Use at least three complete sentences.

Justinian is credited as one of the greatest emperors in late Roman and Byzantine history. His achievements in the fields of art, architecture, legal reform, and conquest are remarkable by the standards of any leader in history. The works of Procopius have contributed greatly to this understanding as well as criticisms of his regime. His Christian faith was evident in all the spheres of his enterprise, marking a step in the transition of emperors from leaders in war and politics to leaders of faith and patronage as well.
After reading the paragraph above, find some more information on the Internet about one or more of Justinian's achievements. What are some specific things he accomplished?

Above: a bust of Constantine the Great
From: https://www.biographyonline.net/military/constantine.html

Constantine was a great military commander winning major victories over the Franks and Alamanni in 306-08, and later against the Visigoths in 332 and the Sarmatians in 334.

On 28 October 312, the forces of Maxentius met Constantine’s forces on the river Tiber. Constantine’s army was outnumbered 2:1. But, legends state that in the night he had a significant dream, where he had a vision of Jesus and was told to use the Christian cross. Constantine made his soldiers go into battle with the Christian cross and he made a promise that if successful in battle, he would adopt Christianity.
Eusebius, a Christian friend of Constantine describes this moment
“he saw with his own eyes in the heavens a trophy of the cross arising from the light of the sun, carrying the message, In Hoc Signo Vinces or “with this sign, you will conquer”
In the battle the following morning, Constantine was decisively victorious, and he was able to enter Rome on the next day. On entering Rome, Constantine embarked on a lengthy propaganda campaign to legitimise his rule and portray himself as a liberator over the tyrant Maxentius.

Constantine was able to consolidate his role, proving his military superiority over his rivals. In 313, he signed with Licinius the edict of Milan. This legalised Christianity and allowed freedom of worship. This edict was often ignored, but it was still an important moment with the principle of tolerating Christianity accepted within the Roman empire.
After reading the paragraph above, do some investigating. Who were the Franks, Visigoths, and Sarmatians? Why was Constantine fighting against them?

According to the video, what were some ways that the reign of Constantine changed life for Christians?

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