IN THEIR external as well as in their religious policy the successors of Zeno and Anastasius followed a path directly opposite to that of their two predecessors, for they turned their faces from the East to the West.

During the period from 518 to 578 the throne was occupied by the following persons: Justin the Elder (518–27), a chief of the Guard (Count of the Excubitors),1 who by a mere accident was elected to the throne after the death of Anastasius; his famous nephew, Justinian the Great (527–65); and a nephew of the latter, Justin II, known as the Younger (565–78). The names of Justin and Justinian are closely connected with the problem of their Slavonic extraction, which was long regarded by many scholars as a historical fact. This theory was based upon a Life of the Emperor Justinian written by the abbot Theophilus, a teacher of Justinian, and published by the keeper of the Vatican Library, Nicholas Alemannus, in the early part of the seventeenth century. This Life introduces special names for Justinian and his relatives, names by which they were known in their native land and which, in the opinion of the high authorities in Slavonic studies, were Slavonic names, as, for example, Justinian’s name Upravda, “the truth, justice.” When the manuscript used by Alemannus was found and studied at the end of the nineteenth century (1883) by the English scholar Bryce, he proved that it was composed in the early part of the seventeenth century and was purely legendary, without historical value. The theory of Justinian’s Slavonic origin must therefore be discarded at present.2 Justin and Justinian were probably Illyrians or perhaps Albanians. Justinian was born in one of the villages of upper Macedonia, not far from present-day Uskub, on the Albanian border. Some scholars trace Justinian’s family back to Roman colonists of Dardania, i.e., upper Macedonia.3 The first three emperors of this epoch, then, were Illyrians or Albanians, though of course they were Romanized; their native language was Latin.

The weak-minded and childless Justin II adopted the Thracian Tiberius, a commander in the army, whom he designated as Caesar. On this occasion he delivered a very interesting speech which made a deep impression on contemporaries for its tone of sincerity and repentance.4 Since the speech was taken down in shorthand by scribes, it is preserved in its original form. After the death of Justin II, Tiberius reigned as Tiberius II (578–82). With his death ended the dynasty of Justinian, for he was succeeded by his daughter’s husband, Maurice (582–602). Sources differ on the question of Maurice’s origin; some claim that his home and that of his family was the distant Cappadocian city of Arabissus,5 while others, though still calling him a Cappadocian, consider him the first Greek on the Byzantine throne.6 There is really no contradiction in terms here, for it is possible that he really may have been born in Cappadocia of Greek descent.7 Still another tradition claims that he was a Roman.8 J. A. Kulakovsky considered it possible that he was of Armenian origin, the native population of Cappadocia being Armenian.9 Maurice was dethroned by the Thracian tyrant, Phocas (602–10), the last emperor of this period.


Immediately after his accession, Justin I departed from the religious policy of his two predecessors by siding definitely with the followers of the Council of Chalcedon and by opening a period of severe persecutions against the Monophysites. Peaceful relations were established with Rome, and the disagreement between the eastern and western churches, dating back to the time of Zeno’s Henoticon, came to an end. The religious policy of the emperors of this period was based upon orthodoxy. This once more alienated the eastern provinces, and a very interesting hint of mildness appeared in a letter written to Pope Hormisdas in 520 by Justin’s nephew Justinian, whose influence was felt from the first year of his uncle’s reign. He tactfully suggested gentleness toward the dissidents: “You will conciliate the people to our Lord, not by persecutions and bloodshed but by patience, lest, wishing to gain souls, we may lose the bodies of many people and souls as well. For it is appropriate to correct errors of long duration with mildness and clemency. That doctor is justly praised who eagerly endeavors to cure old sicknesses in such a way that new wounds may not originate from them.”10 It is all the more interesting to hear such advice from Justinian since in later years he himself did not often follow it.

At first sight some inconsistency appears in Justin’s relations with the far-off Abyssinian kingdom of Axum. In his war against the King of Yemen, the protector of Judaism, the king of Abyssinia, with the effective backing of Justin and Justinian, gained a strong foothold in Yemen, located in southwestern Arabia across the Strait of Bab el Mandeb, and restored Christianity in this country. We are at first surprised that the orthodox Justin, who adhered to the Chalcedonian doctrine and took the offensive against Monophysites within his own empire, should support the Monophysite Abyssinian king. But outside the official boundaries of the Empire, the Byzantine Emperor protected Christianity in general, whether it was in accord with his religious dogmas or not. From the point of view of external policy, the Byzantine emperors regarded every gain for Christianity as an essential political, and perhaps economic, advantage.

This rapprochement between Justin and the Abyssinian king has had a rather unexpected reflection in later times. In Abyssinia in the fourteenth century was compiled one of the most important works of Abyssinian (Ethiopian) literature, the Kebra Nagast (The Glory of the Kings), containing a very interesting collection of legends. It proclaims that the Abyssinian reigning dynasty traces its lineage back to the time of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba; and indeed at the present day Abyssinia claims to be governed by the oldest dynasty in the world. The Ethiopians, according to theKebra Nagast, are an elect people, a new Israel; their kingdom is higher than the Roman Empire. The two kings, Justinus, the king of Rome, and Kaleb, the king of Ethiopia, shall meet together in Jerusalem and divide the earth between them. This extremely interesting legend shows clearly the deep impress left upon Abyssinian historical tradition by the epoch of Justin I.11


Justin’s successor, his nephew Justinian (527–65), is the central figure of this entire period. His name is closely connected with the name of his royal wife, Theodora, one of the very interesting and gifted women of the Byzantine period. The Secret History, which is from the pen of Procopius, the historian of Justinian’s epoch, paints in exaggerated colors the perverted life of Theodora in the days of her youth, when, as the daughter of the keeper of the bears in the amphitheater, she lived in the morally corrupt atmosphere of the stage of that period and became a woman who gave freely of her love to many men. Nature had endowed her with beauty, grace, intelligence, and wit. According to one historian (Diehl), “she amused, charmed, and scandalized Constantinople.”12 Procopius said that people who met Theodora in the street would shrink from getting close to her, fearing that a mere touch might sully their robes.13 But all these dark details about the early years of the future empress must be viewed with some skepticism, for they all come from Procopius, whose chief aim in The Secret History was to defame Justinian and Theodora. After the very stormy period of her early life, Theodora disappeared from the capital and remained in Africa for a few years. When she returned to Constantinople she was no more the former flighty actress. She had left the stage and was leading a solitary life, devoting much of her time to spinning wool and developing a great interest in religious questions, when Justinian saw her for the first time. Her beauty impressed him greatly and he took her to court, bestowed upon her the rank of patrician, and soon married her. With his accession to the throne she became empress of the Byzantine Empire. Theodora proved herself to be adequate to her new and lofty position. She remained a faithful wife and showed much interest in government affairs, exhibiting very keen insight and exerting much influence upon Justinian in all his undertakings. In the revolt of 532, which will be discussed later, Theodora played one of the most significant parts. By her coolheaded actions and unusual energy she perhaps saved the Empire from further commotions. In her religious preferences she openly favored the Monophysites and was thus the direct opposite of her wavering husband. He adhered to orthodoxy throughout his long reign, though he made some concessions to Monophysitism. She showed a better understanding than he of the significance of the eastern Monophysitic provinces, which were in reality the vital parts of the Empire and she definitely aimed to bring about peaceful relations with them. Theodora died of cancer in the year 548, long before Justinian’s death.14 In the famous mosaic in the Church of St. Vitale at Ravenna, dating back to the sixth century, Theodora is represented in imperial robes, surrounded by her court. Church historians contemporary with Theodora, as well as those of a later period, are very harsh with regard to her character. In spite of this, in the orthodox calendar under November 14 appears “The Assumption of the Orthodox King Justinian and the memory of the Queen Theo-dora.”15 She was buried in the Church of the Holy Apostles.

The external policy of Justinian and his ideology

The numerous wars of Justinian were partly offensive and partly defensive. The former were carried on against the barbarian Germanic states of western Europe; the latter were directed against Persia in the East and the Slavs in the north.

The main forces were directed to the west, where the military activities of the Byzantine army were crowned with triumphant success. The Vandals, the Ostrogoths, and to some extent the Visigoths were forced into subjection to the Byzantine emperor. The Mediterranean Sea was almost converted into a Byzantine lake. In his decrees Justinian called himself Caesar Flavius Justinian the Alamannicus, Gothicus, Francicus, Germanicus, Anticus, Alanicus, Vandalicus, Africanus. But this outer splendor had its reverse side. The success was attained at a price too dear for the Empire, for it involved the complete economic exhaustion of the Byzantine state. In view of the fact that the army was transferred to the west, the east and the north remained open to the attacks of the Persians, Slavs, and Huns.

The principal enemies of the Empire, in Justinian’s opinion, were the Germans. Thus the German question reappeared in the Byzantine Empire during the sixth century, with this difference only: in the fifth century the Germans were attacking the Empire; in the sixth century it was the Empire that pressed upon the Germans.

Justinian mounted the throne with the ideals of an emperor both Roman and Christian. Considering himself a successor of the Roman Caesars, he deemed it his sacred duty to restore a single Empire extending to the same boundaries it had had in the first and second centuries. As a Christian ruler he could not allow the German Arians to oppress the orthodox population. The rulers of Constantinople, as lawful successors of the Caesars, had historical rights to western Europe, occupied at this time by barbarians. The Germanic kings were but vassals of the Byzantine Emperor, who had delegated them to rule in the West. The Frankish king, Clovis, had received his rank of consul from Anastasius; it was Anastasius also who had given official recognition to the Ostrogothic king, Theodoric. When he decided to wage war against the Goths, Justinian wrote, “The Goths, having seized by violence our Italy, have refused to give it back.”16 He remained, he felt, the natural suzerain of all the rulers within the boundaries of the Roman Empire. As a Christian emperor, Justinian had the mission of propagating the true faith among the infidels, whether they were heretics or pagans. This theory, expressed by Eusebius in the fourth century was still alive in the sixth century. It was the basis of Justinian’s conviction of his duty to re-establish a united Roman Empire which, in the words of one Novel,17 formerly reached the shores of two oceans, and which the Romans had lost because of their carelessness. From this old theory arose also Justinian’s belief in his duty to introduce in the restored empire a sole Christian faith among the schismatics as well as among the pagans. Such was Justinian’s ideology, which made this all-embracing statesman and crusader dream of conquering the entire known world.

But it must be remembered that the Emperor’s broad claims to the old parts of the Roman Empire were not exclusively a matter of his personal views. They seemed quite natural to the population of the provinces occupied by the barbarians. The natives of the provinces which had fallen into the hands of Arians viewed Justinian as their sole protector. Conditions in northern Africa under the Vandals were particularly difficult, because these barbarians initiated severe persecutions against the native orthodox population and put many citizens and representatives of the clergy in jail, confiscating much of their property. Refugees and exiles from Africa, including many orthodox bishops, arrived at Constantinople and implored the Emperor to inaugurate a campaign against the Vandals, assuring him that a general revolt of the natives would follow.

A similar state of affairs prevailed in Italy, where the natives, in spite of a prolonged period of religious tolerance under Theodoric and his high regard for Roman civilization, continued to harbor hidden discontent and still turned their eyes to Constantinople, expecting aid from there in the cause of liberating their country from the newcomers and restoring the orthodox faith.

Still more interesting is the fact that the barbarian kings themselves supported the Emperor’s ambitious plans. They persisted in expressing signs of deep respect for the Empire, in demonstrating in many ways their subservience to the Emperor, in striving to attain high Roman ranks by any means, in imprinting the image of the Emperor on their coins, etc. The French scholar Diehl18 said that they would have willingly repeated the words of the Visigothic chief who said, “The emperor is undoubtedly God on earth and whoso raises a hand against him is guilty of his own blood.”19

However, in spite of the fact that the state of affairs in Africa and Italy was favorable for Justinian, the campaigns waged against the Vandals and the Ostrogoths were extremely difficult and long drawn out.

Wars with the Vandals, Ostrogoths, and Visigoths. The results of these wars. Persia. The Slavs—The expedition against the Vandals presented no easy problem. It involved the transfer of a vast army by sea to northern Africa, and this army would have to contend with a people who possessed a powerful fleet and who even in the middle of the fifth century had succeeded in raiding Rome. Besides, the transfer of the main military forces to the west was bound to have serious consequences in the east, where Persia, the most dangerous enemy of the Empire, waged continual war against Constantinople. Procopius gives an interesting account of the council at which the question of the African expedition was discussed for the first time.20 The most loyal magistrates of the Emperor expressed doubt about the possible success of the undertaking and considered it precipitate. Justinian himself was beginning to waver; in the end he overcame this temporary weakness and insisted upon his original project. The expedition was definitely decided upon. Meanwhile a change took place in the Persian ruling house, and in the year 532 Justinian succeeded in concluding an “endless” peace with the new ruler on the humiliating condition that the Byzantine Empire should pay a very large annual tribute to the king of Persia. This treaty, however, made it possible for Justinian to act more freely in the east and south. At the head of the vast army and fleet he placed the gifted general Belisarius, who was the most valuable assistant of the Emperor in his military undertakings and who shortly before this appointment had succeeded in quelling the dangerous internal Nika revolt, of which we shall speak later.

At this time the Vandals and Ostrogoths were no longer the dangerous enemies they had been in former days. Unaccustomed to the enervating southern climate and influenced by Roman civilization, they had rapidly lost their former energy and force. The Arian beliefs of these Germans caused unfriendly relations with the native Roman population. The continual uprisings of the Berber tribes also contributed much to the weakening of the Vandals. Justinian had a keen insight into existing conditions, and by skillful diplomacy he increased the internal discord among the Vandals, meanwhile feeling quite certain that the Germanic kingdoms would never unite to oppose him jointly, because the Ostrogoths were on bad terms with the Vandals, the orthodox Franks were constantly struggling with the Ostrogoths, and the Visigoths in Spain were too far distant to take a serious part in a war. All this encouraged Justinian in his hope of defeating each enemy separately.

The Vandal war lasted, with some peaceful intervals, from 533 to 548.21 Belisarius rapidly subjugated the entire Vandal kingdom by a number of brilliant victories so that Justinian could proclaim triumphantly: “God, in his mercy, gave over to us not only Africa and all her provinces, but also returned our imperial insignia which had been taken away by the Vandals when they took Rome.”22 Considering the war ended, the Emperor recalled Belisarius and the greater part of the army to Constantinople. Immediately the Moors (a native Berber tribe) rose in terrible rebellion, and the remaining troops were forced to engage in an overwhelming struggle. Belisarius’ successor, Solomon, was utterly defeated and slain. The exhausting war lasted until the year 548, when the imperial power was definitely restored by a decisive victory on the part of John Troglita, a diplomatist as well as a talented general. The third hero of the imperial reoccupation of Africa, he secured complete tranquillity there for nearly fourteen years. His deeds were narrated by the contemporary African poet, Corippus, in his historical work lohannis.23

These conquests did not entirely satisfy Justinian’s hopes, for, with the exception of the powerful fortress of Septum, near the Pillars of Hercules (now the Spanish fortress Ceuta), the western portion of northern Africa, reaching to the Atlantic Ocean, was not reannexed. Yet the greater part of northern Africa, Corsica, Sardinia, and the Balearic Islands became part of the Empire, and Justinian spent much energy in his efforts to restore order in these conquered lands. Even today the majestic ruins of numerous Byzantine fortresses and fortifications bear witness to the strenuous efforts of the Emperor for the defense of his land.

Still more exhausting was the Ostrogothic campaign, which lasted, also with peaceful intervals, from 535 to 554. During the first thirteen years this was contemporaneous with the Vandal war. Justinian opened military action by intervening in the internal strife of the Ostrogoths. One army began the conquest of Dalmatia, which at this time formed a part of the Ostrogothic kingdom. Another, transported by sea and headed by Belisarius, occupied Sicily without much difficulty. Later, when transferred to Italy, this army conquered Naples and Rome. Soon after this, in 540, the Ostrogothic capital, Ravenna, opened its gates to Belisarius, who shortly afterward left Italy for Constantinople, taking with him the captive Ostrogothic king. Justinian added “Gothicus” to his title “Africanus and Vandalicus.” Italy seemed definitely conquered by the Byzantine Empire.

However, at this time there appeared among the Goths an energetic and gifted king, Totila, the last defender of Ostrogothic independence. With speed and decision he reversed the state of affairs. His military successes were so great that Belisarius was recalled from Persia to cope with them and was sent to Italy to assume the supreme command. Belisarius, however, was unable to deal with the situation. In rapid succession the territories conquered by the Byzantine army in Italy and on the islands were reclaimed by the Ostrogoths. The unfortunate city of Rome, which several times passed back and forth from Romans to Ostrogoths, was transformed into a heap of ruins. After Belisarius’ failures had led to his recall from Italy, his successor, Narses, another gifted Byzantine general, finally succeeded in conquering the Goths by a number of actions displaying great strategic skill. Totila’s army was defeated in 552 in the battle of Busta Gallorum in Umbria. Totila himself fled, but in vain.24 “His blood-stained garments and the cap adorned with gems which he had worn were taken to Narses who sent them to Constantinople, where they were laid at the feet of the emperor as a visible proof that the enemy who had so long defied his power was no more.”25 In the year 554, after twenty years of devastating warfare, Italy, Dalmatia, and Sicily were reunited with the Empire. The Pragmatic Sanction, published by Justinian in the same year, returned to the large landed aristocracy of Italy and to the church the land taken away from them by the Ostrogoths and restored all their former privileges; it also outlined a number of measures intended to lessen the burdens of the ruined population. But the Ostrogothic wars for a long time prevented the development of industry and commerce in Italy and, as a result of the lack of laborers, many Italian fields remained uncultivated. For a time Rome became a second-rate ruined city of no political importance. The pope, however, chose it as his refuge.

Justinian’s last military undertaking was directed against the Visigoths in the Pyrenean peninsula. Taking advantage of civil war between different pretenders to the Visigothic throne, he sent a navy to Spain in 550. Although the armament must have been small, it achieved remarkable success. Many maritime cities and forts were captured, and finally Justinian succeeded in taking from the Visigoths the southeastern corner of the peninsula, with the cities of Carthage, Málaga, and Córduba, and then in extending the territory which eventually reached from Cape St. Vincent on the west to beyond Carthage on the east.26 With some modifications the imperial province thus established in Spain remained under the rule of Constantinople for about seventy years. It is not perfectly clear whether this province was independent or was subordinate to the governor of Africa.27 Some churches and other architectural monuments of Byzantine art have recently been discovered in Spain, but as far as one may judge, they are not of great value.28

The result of all these offensive wars was to double the extent of Justinian’s empire. Dalmatia, Italy, the eastern part of North Africa (part of present-day Algeria and Tunis), the southeast of Spain, Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica, and the Balearic Islands all became part of the Empire. The Mediterranean again became practically a Roman lake. The boundaries of the Empire extended from the Pillars of Hercules, or the Straits of Gades, to the Euphrates. But in spite of this enormous success, Justinian’s achievements fell far short of his hopes. He did not succeed in reconquering the entire Western Roman Empire. The western part of North Africa, the Pyrenean peninsula, the northern portion of the Ostrogothic kingdom, north of the Alps (the former provinces of Rhaetia and Noricum) still remained outside of his power. The entire province of Gaul not only was completely independent of the Byzantine Empire but even to a certain extent was victorious over it, for Justinian was forced to cede Provence to the King of the Franks. It must also be remembered that the power of the Emperor was not equally firm throughout the vast newly conquered territory. The government had neither the authority nor the means to establish itself more solidly. And yet these territories could be retained by force only. That is why the brilliant outward success of Justinian’s offensive wars brought with it the beginnings of serious future complications, both political and economic.

The defensive wars of Justinian were far less successful and at times were even humiliating. These wars were carried on with Persia in the east and with the Slavs and the Huns in the north.

The two great powers of the sixth century, the Byzantine Empire and Persia, had been engaged for centuries in bloody wars on the eastern border. After the “endless” peace with Persia, the Persian king, Chosroes Nushirvan, a gifted and skillful ruler, recognized the high ambitions of Justinian in the West and took advantage of the situation.29 Aware of his own important interests in the border provinces, he seized upon a plea for help from the Ostrogoths as an opportunity to break the “endless” peace and open hostilities against the Byzantine Empire.30 A bloody war ensued, with apparent victory for the Persians. Belisarius was recalled from Italy but was unable to stop the advance of Chosroes, who forced his way into Syria and sacked and destroyed Antioch, “the city which was both ancient and of great importance and the first of all the cities which the Romans had throughout the East both in wealth and in size and in population and in beauty and in prosperity of every kind.”31 In his onward march Chosroes reached the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. In the north the Persians attempted to force their way to the Black Sea but encountered an obstacle in the Lazi of the Caucasian province of Lazica (now Lazistan), which at the time was dependent on the Byzantine Empire. It was only after great difficulty that Justinian finally succeeded in buying a truce for five years, and then he was forced to pay a large sum of money for it. But even Chosroes wearied of the endless collisions, and in the year 561 or 562 the Byzantine Empire and Persia reached an agreement establishing peace for fifty years. The historian Menander32 contributed accurate and detailed information about the negotiations and the terms of this treaty. The Emperor undertook to pay Persia annually a very large sum of money, while the king of Persia promised to preserve religious toleration for Christians in Persia on the strict condition that they refrain from proselytizing. Roman and Persian merchants, whatever their wares, were to carry on their traffic solely at certain prescribed places where customhouses were stationed. In this treaty the most important point for the Byzantine Empire was the agreement of the Persians to leave Lazica, the province on the southeastern coast of the Black Sea, and to resign it to the Romans. In other words, the Persians did not succeed in gaining a stronghold on the shores of the Black Sea; it remained in complete possession of the Byzantine Empire, a fact of great political and economic importance.33

Quite different was the nature of the defensive wars in the north, in the Balkan peninsula. The northern barbarians, the Bulgarians, and the Slavs had devastated the provinces of the peninsula even as far back as the reign of Anastasius. In the time of Justinian the Slavs appear for the first time under their own name, “Sclavenes,” in Procopius. Large hordes of Slavs and Bulgarians, whom Procopius calls Huns, crossed the Danube almost every year and penetrated deep into the Byzantine provinces, destroying everything with fire and sword. On one side they reached the outskirts of the capital and penetrated to the Hellespont; on the other they went through Greece as far as the Isthmus of Corinth and the shores of the Adriatic Sea in the west. During Justinian’s reign also the Slavs began to show a clearly defined movement toward the shores of the Aegean Sea. In their effort to reach this sea they menaced Thessalonica, one of the most important cities of the Empire, which, together with its environs, soon became one of the main Slavic centers in the Balkan peninsula. The imperial troops fought desperately against the Slavic invasions and often forced the Slavs to retreat beyond the Danube. But not all the Slavs went back. Justinian’s troops, occupied in other important campaigns, could not put a decisive end to the yearly incursions of the Slavs in the Balkan peninsula, and some Slavs remained there. The beginning in this period of the Slavonic problem in the Balkan peninsula should be emphasized; the problem was to become one of very great significance for the Empire during the late sixth and early seventh centuries.

Besides the Slavs, the German Gepids and Kotrigurs, a branch of the Hunnic race, invaded the Balkan peninsula from the north. In the winter of 558–59 the Kotrigurs under their chieftain, Zabergan, entered Thrace. From there one band was sent to ravage Greece, another invaded the Thracian Chersonese, and the third, consisting of cavalry, rode under Zabergan himself to Constantinople. The country was devastated. Panic reigned in Constantinople. The churches of the invaded provinces sent their treasures to the capital or shipped them to the Asiatic side of the Bosphorus. Justinian appealed to Belisarius to save Constantinople in this crisis. The Kotrigurs eventually were defeated in all three points of attack, but Thrace, Macedonia, and Thessaly suffered a terrible economic blow from the invasion.34

The Hunnic danger was felt not only in the Balkan peninsula but also in the Crimea in the lonely Tauric peninsula, which was located in the Black Sea and which belonged in part to the Empire. Two cities there, Cherson and Bosporus, were famous for preserving Greek civilization for centuries in barbarous surroundings, and they also played an important part in the trade between the Empire and the territory of present-day Russia. Toward the close of the fifth century the Huns had occupied the plains of the peninsula and had begun to threaten the Byzantine possessions there, as well as a small Gothic settlement centered around Dory in the mountains under Byzantine protection. Under the pressure of the Hunnic danger, Justinian built and restored several forts and erected long walls whose traces are still visible,35 a sort of limes Tauricus, which proved successful protection.36

Lastly, the missionary zeal of Justinian and Theodora did not overlook the African peoples who lived on the Upper Nile between Egypt and Abyssinia, above the First Cataract, the Blemyes, and the Nobadae (Nubians), their southern neighbors. Through the energy and artfulness of Theodora, the Nobadae with their king, Silko, were converted to Monophysite Christianity, and the convert king joined with a Byzantine general to force the Blemyes to adopt the same faith. In order to celebrate his victory, Silko set up in a temple of the Blemyes an inscription about which Bury remarked: “The boast of this petty potentate might be appropriate in the mouth of Attila or of Tamurlane.”37 The inscription was: “I, Silko, kinglet (βασιλίσκος) of the Nobadae and of all the Ethiopians.”38

Significance of Justinian’s external policy.—To summarize Justinian’s entire external policy we must say that his endless and exhausting wars, which failed to realize all his hopes and projects, had a fatal effect upon the Empire in general. First of all, these gigantic undertakings demanded enormous expenditures. Procopius in his Secret History estimated, perhaps with some exaggeration, that Anastasius left a reserve, enormous for that time, which amounted to 320,000 pounds of gold (about $65,000,000 or $70,000,000), and this Justinian is supposed to have spent in a short time, even during his uncle’s reign.39 According to another source of the sixth century, the Syrian John of Ephesus,40 Anastasius’ reserve was not completely exhausted until the reign of Justin II, after the death of Justinian; this statement, however, is incorrect. The fund left by Anastasius, admittedly smaller than Procopius would have us believe, must have been of great value to Justinian in his undertakings. Yet it alone could not suffice. The new taxes were greater than the exhausted population could pay. The Emperor’s attempts to curtail the expenditures of the state by economizing on the upkeep of the army brought about a reduction in the number of soldiers, which naturally made the western conquered provinces very unsafe.

From Justinian’s Roman point of view, his western campaigns are comprehensible and natural, but from the point of view of the welfare of the Empire they must be recognized as superfluous and pernicious. The gap between the East and the West in the sixth century was already so great that the mere idea of uniting the two was an anachronism. A real union was out of the question. The conquered provinces could be retained by force only, and for this the Empire had neither power nor means. Allured by his delusive dreams, Justinian failed to grasp the importance of the eastern border and the eastern provinces, which embodied the really vital interests of the Byzantine Empire. The western campaigns, displaying only the personal will of the Emperor, could not bring about lasting results, and the plan of restoring a united Roman Empire died with Justinian, though not forever. Meanwhile, his general external policy brought about an extremely severe internal economic crisis within the Empire.

The legislative work of Justinian and Tribonian

Justinian became universally famous because of his legislative work, remarkable for its sweeping character. It was his opinion that an emperor “must be not only glorified with arms, but also armed with laws, so that alike the time of war and the time of peace may be rightly guided; he must be the strong protector of law as well as the triumpher over vanquished enemies.”41 Furthermore, he believed, it was God who bestowed upon the emperors the right to create and interpret laws, and an emperor must be a lawgiver, with his rights sanctified from above. But, quite naturally, in addition to all these theoretical foundations, the Emperor was guided also by practical considerations, for he realized fully that Roman law of his time was in a very chaotic state.

Back in the days of the pagan Roman Empire, when the legislative power was entirely in the hands of the emperor, the sole form of legislation was the issuing of imperial constitutions, called laws or statute laws (leges). In contrast with these, all laws created by earlier legislation and developed by the jurists of the classical period were called jus vetus or jus antiquum. From the middle of the third century A.D., jurisprudence declined very rapidly. Juridical publications were limited to pure compilations, which aimed to assist judges unable to study the entire juridical literature by providing them with collections of extracts from imperial constitutions and the works of universally famous old jurists. But these collections were of a private nature and had no official sanction whatever, so that in real practice a judge had to look into all the imperial constitutions and into all of the classical literature, a task quite beyond the powers of any one man. There was no one central organ for the publication of the imperial constitutions. Increasing in quantity annually, scattered in various archives, they could not be used easily in practice, especially since new edicts very often repealed or changed old ones. All this explains the acute need for a single collection of imperial edicts accessible to those who had to use it. Much had been done in this direction before Justinian. In his own legislative work he was greatly aided by the earlier Codex Gregorianus, Codex Hermogenianus, and Codex Theodosianus. In order to facilitate the use of classical literature (the jus vetus), a decree was issued during the reign of Theodosius II and his western contemporary, Valentinian III, which granted paramount authority only to the works of the five most famous jurists. The remaining juridical writers could be disregarded. Of course, this was only a formal solution of the problem, especially since in the works of the five chosen jurists it was not at all easy to find suitable decisions for a given case, because the jurists often contradicted one another and also because the decisions of the classical jurists were often too much out of date to be practical for the changed living conditions. Official revision of the entire legal system and a summing up of its development through many centuries was greatly needed.

The earlier codes contained only the imperial constitutions issued during a certain period and did not touch upon juridical literature. Justinian undertook the enormous task of compiling a code of imperial constitutions up to his own time as well as revising the old juridical writings. His main assistant in this task and the soul of the entire undertaking was Tribonian.

The work progressed with astonishing rapidity. In February, 528, the Emperor gathered a commission of ten experts, including Tribonian, “the Emperor’s right hand in his great legal enterprise, and perhaps partly their inspirer,” and Theophilus, professor of law at Constantinople.42 The problem of the commission was to revise the three older codes, to eliminate from them all the obsolete material, and to systematize the constitutions which had appeared since the publication of the Theodosian code. The results of all these labors were to be gathered in one collection. As early as April, 529, the Justinian code (Codex Justinianus) was published. It was divided into ten books, containing the constitutions from the reign of the Emperor Hadrian to the time of Justinian; it became the sole authoritative code of laws in the Empire, thus repealing the three older codes. Although the compilation of Justinian’s code was greatly aided by the older codes, the attempt to revise the jus vetus was an original undertaking of the Emperor. In the year 530 Tribonian was instructed to gather a commission which would revise the works of all the classical jurists, make excerpts from them, reject all obsolete materials, eliminate all contradictions, and, finally, arrange all the materials collected in some definite order. For the purpose of doing this the commission had to read and study about two thousand books, containing over three million lines. This enormous work, which in Justinian’s own words, “before his command none ever expected or deemed to be at all possible for human endeavor”43and “which freed all jus vetus of superfluous redundance,”44 was completed in three years. The new code, published in the year 533, was subdivided into fifty books and was called the “Digest” (Digestum), or the “Pandects” (Pandectae). It found immediate application in the legal practices of the Empire.45

Though this Digest of Justinian is of very great importance, the haste with which it was compiled necessarily caused the work to be defective in certain respects. It contained many repetitions, contradictions, and some quite obsolete decisions. In addition to this, the full power given to the commission in the matter of abbreviating texts, interpreting them, and combining several texts into one, produced a certain arbitrariness in the final results, which sometimes even mutilated the ancient texts. There was a decided lack of unity in this work. This fault is responsible for the fact that the learned jurists of the nineteenth century, who had high regard for Roman classical law, judged Justinian’s Digest very harshly. Still, the Digest, in spite of all its shortcomings, was of great practical value. It also preserved for posterity a wealth of material extracted from the classical Roman juridical writings which have not been preserved.

During the time of the compiling of the Digest, Tribonian and his two learned coadjutors, Theophilus, professor in Constantinople, and Dorotheus, professor at Beirut (in Syria), were charged with the solution of another problem. According to Justinian, not all “were able to bear the burden of all this mass of knowledge,” i.e., the Code and the Digest. The young men, for instance, “who, standing in the vestibules of law, are longing to enter the secrets thereof,”46 could not attempt to master all the contents of the two large works, and it was necessary to make up a usable practical manual for them. Such a handbook of civil law, intended primarily for the use of students, was issued in the year 533. It was divided into four books and was called the “Institutions” (Institutiones), or the “Institutes.” According to Justinian, these were supposed to conduct “all muddy sources of the jus vetus into one clear lake.”47 The imperial decree which sanctioned the Institutions was addressed to “youth eager to know the laws” (cupidae legum juventuti)48

During the time that the Digest and the Institutions were being compiled, current legislation did not come to a standstill. Many new decrees were issued and a number of matters needed revision. In short, the Code, in its edition of the year 529, seemed out of date in many parts, and a new revision was undertaken and completed in the year 534. In November the second edition of the revised and enlarged Code, arranged in twelve books, was published under the title Codex repetitae praelectionis. This edition nullified the earlier edition of 529 and contained the decrees of the period beginning with Hadrian and ending with the year 534. This work concluded the compilation of the Corpus. The first edition of the Code has not been preserved.

The decrees issued after the year 534 were called “Novels” (Novellae leges). While the Code, the Digest, and the Institutions were written in Latin, a great majority of the Novels were drawn up in Greek. This fact was an important concession to the demands of living reality from an emperor steeped in Roman tradition. In one Novel, Justinian wrote, “We have written this decree not in the native language, but in the spoken Greek, in order that it may become known to all through the ease of comprehension.”49 In spite of Justinian’s intention to collect all the Novels in one body, he did not succeed, though some private compilations of Novels were made during his reign. The Novels are considered the last part of Justinian’s legislative work and serve as one of the main sources on the internal history of his epoch.

Justinian felt that the four indicated parts, namely, the Code, the Digest, the Institutions, and the Novels, should form one Corpus of law, but during his reign they were not combined into such a collection. Only much later, in the Middle Ages, beginning with the twelfth century, during the revival of the study of Roman law in Europe, all of Justinian’s legislative works became known as the Corpus juris civilis, i.e., the “Corpus of Civil Law.” Today they are still known by this name.

The bulkiness of Justinian’s legislative work and the fact that it was written in Latin, little understood by the majority of the population, were responsible for the immediate appearance of a number of Greek commentaries and summaries of certain parts of the Code as well as some more or less literal translations (paraphrases) of the Institutions and the Digest with explanatory notes. These small legal collections in Greek, called forth by the needs of the time and by practical considerations, contained numerous mistakes and oversights with regard to their original Latin text; even so they thrust the original into the background and almost completely supplanted it.50

In conformity with the new legislative works the teaching of legal studies was also reformed. New programs of study were introduced. The course was announced to be of five years’ duration. The main subject for study during the first year was the Institutions; for the second, third, and fourth years, the Digest; and finally, in the fifth year, the Code. In connection with the new program Justinian wrote, “When all legal secrets are disclosed, nothing will be hidden from the students, and after reading through all the works put together for us by Tribonian and others, they will turn out distinguished pleaders and servants of justice, the ablest of men and successful in all times and places.”51 In addressing the professors Justinian wrote, “Begin now under the governance of God to deliver to the students legal learning and to open up the way found by us, so that they, following this way, may become excellent ministers of justice and of the state, and the greatest possible honor may attend you for all ages to come.”52 In his address to the students the Emperor wrote, “Receive with all diligence and with eager attention these laws of ours and show yourselves so well versed in them that the fair hope may animate you of being able, when the whole course of your legal study is completed, to govern our Empire in such regions as may be attributed to your care.”53 The teaching itself was reduced to a simple mastery of the materials taught and to the interpretations based on these materials. Verifying or reinterpreting the text by citing original works of the classical jurists was not permitted. The students were allowed only to make literal translations and to compose brief paraphrases and extracts.

In spite of all the natural shortcomings in the execution and the numerous defects in method, the stupendous legislative work of the sixth century has been of unceasing and universal importance. Justinian’s code preserved the Roman law, which gave the basic principles for the laws regulating most of modern society. “The will of Justinian performed one of the most fruitful deeds for the progress of mankind,” said Diehl.54 In the twelfth century, when the study of Roman law, or, as this phenomenon is usually called, the reception of Roman law, began in western Europe, Justinian’s code of civil law became the real law for many places. “Roman law,” said Professor I. A. Pokrovsky, “awoke to new life and for a second time united the world. All legal developments in western Europe, even those of the present day, continue under the influence of Roman law. . . . The most valuable contents of Roman legislation were introduced into paragraphs and chapters of contemporary codes and functioned under the name of these codes.”55

An interesting shift of viewpoint in the study of the legislative work of Justinian has occurred recently. Up to now this work, with the exception of the Novels, has been considered primarily as an aid for a closer acquaintance with Roman law, that is, as of auxiliary, not primary, significance. The Code was not studied for itself and never served as a subject for “independent” investigation. From this viewpoint it was objected that Justinian, or rather Tribonian, distorted classical law by either abbreviating or enlarging the text of the original. At present, however, emphasis is placed on whether or not Justinian’s work met the needs of his time and to what extent it did so. The changes in the classical text are properly ascribed not to the arbitrariness of the compiler but to a desire to adapt Roman law to living conditions in the Eastern Empire in the sixth century. The success of the Code in accomplishing this purpose must be studied with reference to the general social conditions of the time. Both Hellenism and Christianity must have influenced the work of the compilers, and the living customs of the East must have been reflected in the revisions of the ancient Roman law. Some scholars accordingly speak of the eastern character of the legislative work of Justinian. The problem of contemporary historical-juridical science, then, is to determine and evaluate Byzantine influences in Justinian’s Code, Digest, and Institutions.56 The Novels of Justinian, as products of current legislation, naturally reflected the conditions and needs of contemporary life.

In Justinian’s time three law schools were flourishing, one in Constantinople, one in Rome, and one in Beirut. All other schools were suppressed lest they serve as bases for paganism. In 551 the city of Beirut (Berytus) was destroyed by a terrific earthquake followed by a tidal wave and fire. The school of Beirut was transferred to Sidon but had no further importance.

In Russia under the Tsar Fedor Alekseievich (1676–1682) a project was organized to translate Justinian’s Corpus Juris into Russian. A German scholar published a contemporary report on the subject and called the project “a deed worthy of Hercules” (hoc opus Hercule dignum), but unfortunately it was not carried out.57

The ecclesiastical policy of Justinian

As the successor of Roman Caesars, Justinian considered it his duty to restore the Roman Empire, and at the same time he wished to establish within the Empire one law and one faith. “One state, one law, and one church”— such was the brief formula of Justinian’s entire political career. Basing his conceptions on the principle of absolute power, he assumed that in a well-ordered state everything is subject to the authority of the emperor. Fully aware of the fact that the church might serve as a powerful weapon in the hands of the government, he used every effort to bring it into subjection. Historians have tried to analyze the motives which guided Justinian’s church policy; some have concluded that with him politics was foremost and religion only a servant of the state,58 others that this “second Constantine the Great was ready to forget his direct administrative duties wherever church matters were concerned.”59 In his desire to be full master of the church, Justinian not only aimed to keep in his own hands the internal administration and die fate of the clergy, even those of highest rank, but he also considered it his right to determine a specific dogma for his subjects. Whatever religious tendency was followed by the Emperor had to be followed also by his subjects. The Byzantine Emperor had the right to regulate the life of the clergy, to fill the highest hierarchic posts according to his own judgment, to appear as mediator and judge in the affairs of the clergy. He showed his favorable attitude toward the church by protecting the clergy and by promoting the erection of new churches and monasteries, to which he granted special privileges. He also exerted much effort in attempting to establish a unity of faith among his subjects. He frequently participated in dogmatical disputes, passing final decisions on debatable questions of doctrine. This policy of temporal authority in religious and ecclesiastical affairs, penetrating even the deepest regions of inner religious convictions of individuals, is known in history as Caesaropapism, and Justinian may be considered one of the most characteristic representatives of the Caesaropapistic tendency.60 In his conception the ruler of the state was to be both Caesar and pope; he was to combine in his person all temporal and spiritual power. The historians who emphasize the political side of Justinian’s activities claim that the chief motive in his Caesaropapism was a desire to make secure his political power, to strengthen the government, and to find religious support for the throne which he had procured by chance.

Justinian had received a good religious education. He knew the Scriptures very well, was fond of participating in religious discussions, and wrote a number of church hymns. Religious conflicts seemed dangerous to him, even from a political point of view, for they menaced the unity of the Empire.

Although two predecessors of Justin and Justinian, Zeno and Anastasius, had followed the path of peaceful relations with the eastern Monophysitic church, thereby breaking away from the Roman church, Justin and Justinian definitely favored the Roman church and renewed friendly relations with it. This state of affairs was bound to alienate the eastern provinces, a fact that did not harmonize with the projects of Justinian, who was exceedingly anxious to establish a uniform faith throughout his vast Empire. The achievement of a church unity between the East and the West, between Alexandria, Antioch, and Rome, was impossible. “Justinian’s government,” said one historian, “was in its church policy a double-faced Janus with one face turned to the west, asking for direction from Rome, while the other, looking east, sought the truth from the Syrian and Egyptian monks.”61

The fundamental aim of Justinian’s church policy from the very beginning of his reign was the establishment of closer relations with Rome; hence he had to appear as the defender of the Council of Chalcedon, the decisions of which were strongly opposed by the eastern provinces. During Justinian’s reign the see of Rome enjoyed supreme church authority. In his letters to the bishop of Rome, Justinian addressed him as “Pope,” “Pope of Rome,” “Apostolic Father,” “Pope and Patriarch,” etc., and the title of pope was applied exclusively to the bishop of Rome. In one epistle the Emperor addressed the Pope as the “head of all holy churches” (caput omnium sanctorum ecclesiarum),62 and in one of his Novels he definitely stated that “the most blessed see of the archbishop of Constantinople, the New Rome, ranks second after the most holy apostolic see of Old Rome.”63

Justinian came into collision with the Jews, the pagans, and the heretics. The latter included the Manichaeans, the Nestorians, the Monophysites, the Arians, and representatives of other less significant religious doctrines. Arianism was widely spread in the West among the Germanic tribes. Survivals of paganism existed in various parts of the Empire, and the pagans still looked upon the Athenian school as their main center. The Jews and the followers of minor heretical movements were centered primarily in the eastern provinces. The widest following was, of course, the Monophysitic. The struggle with the Arians in the West assumed the form of military undertakings, which ended in the complete or partial subjection of the Germanic kingdoms. In view of Justinian’s conviction of the necessity of a unified faith in the Empire there could be no tolerance toward the leaders of other faiths and heretical teachings, who consequently were subjected during his reign to severe persecution carried out with the aid of military and civil authorities.

The closing of the Athenian school.—In order to eradicate completely the survivals of paganism, Justinian in the year 529 closed the famous philosophic school in Athens, the last rampart of effete paganism, the decline of which had been already precipitated by the organization of the University of Constantinople in the fifth century during the reign of Theodosius II. Many of the professors were exiled and the property of the school was confiscated. One historian writes, “The same year when St. Benedict destroyed the last pagan national sanctuary in Italy, the temple of Apollo in the sacred grove of Monte Cassino, saw also the destruction of the stronghold of classical paganism in Greece.”64 From this period onward Athens definitely lost its former importance as a cultural center and deteriorated into a quiet, second-rate city. Some of the philosophers of the closed school decided to migrate to Persia, where, they had heard, King Chosroes was interested in philosophy. They were received in Persia with great esteem, but life in a foreign country was unbearable to these Greeks, and Chosroes determined to let them go back to their land, first arranging a treaty with Justinian by which the latter promised not to persecute them or force them to embrace the Christian faith. Justinian kept this promise and the pagan philosophers spent the rest of their lives in the Byzantine Empire in complete peace and safety. Justinian failed to bring about the complete eradication of paganism; it continued to exist secretly in remote localities.

The Jews and their religious kinsmen, the Samaritans of Palestine, unable to be reconciled to the government persecutions, rose in rebellion but were soon quelled by cruel violence. Many synagogues were destroyed, while in those which remained intact it was forbidden to read the Old Testament from the Hebrew text, which had to be replaced by the Greek version of seventy translators (the so-called “Septuagint”). The civil rights of the population were curtailed. The Nestorians were also severely persecuted.

Religious problems and the Fifth Ecumenical Council.—Most important of all, of course, was Justinian’s attitude toward the Monophysites. First of all, his relations with them were of great political importance and involved the extremely significant problem of the eastern provinces, Egypt, Syria, and Palestine. In the second place, the Monophysites were supported by Justinian’s wife, Theodora, who had a powerful influence over him. One contemporary Monophysitic writer (John of Ephesus) called her a “Christ-loving woman filled with zeal” and “the most Christian empress, sent by God in difficult times to protect the persecuted.”65

Following her advice, Justinian attempted at the beginning of his reign to establish peaceful relations with the Monophysites. He permitted the bishops who had been exiled during the reign of Justin and at the beginning of his own reign to return home. He invited many Monophysites to the capital to a conciliatory religious conference, at which, according to an eyewitness, he appealed to them to discuss all doubtful questions with their antagonists “with all mildness and patience as behooves orthodox and saintly people.”66He gave quarters in one of the palaces in the capital to five hundred Monophysitic monks; they were likened to “a great and marvelous desert of solitaries.”67 In 535 Severus, the head and “true legislator of Monophysitism,” arrived in Constantinople and remained there a year.68 “The capital of the Empire, at the beginning of the year 535, was assuming somewhat the aspect which it had presented under the reign of Anastasius.”69 The see of Constantinople was entrusted to the bishop of Trapezus (Trebizond), Anthimus, famous for his conciliatory policy towards the Monophysites. The Monophysites seemed triumphant.

However, things changed very soon. Pope Agapetus and a party of the Akoimetoi (extreme orthodox), upon arriving at Constantinople, raised such an uproar against the religious pliancy of Anthimus that Justinian was forced regretfully to change his policy. Anthimus was deposed and his place was taken by the orthodox presbyter, Menas. One source relates the following conversation between the Emperor and the pope: “I shall either force you to agree with us, or else I shall send you into exile,” said Justinian, to which Agapetus answered, “I wished to come to the most Christian of all emperors,. Justinian, and I have found now a Diocletian; however, I fear not your threats.”70 It is very likely that the Emperor’s concessions to the pope were caused partly by the fact that the Ostrogothic war began at this time in Italy and Justinian needed the support of the West.

In spite of this concession, Justinian did not forsake further attempts of reconciliation with the Monophysites. This time he raised the famous question of the Three Chapters. The matter concerned three church writers of the fifth century: Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theodoret of Cyrus, and Ibas of Edessa. The Monophysites accused the Council of Chalcedon because in spite of the Nestorian ideas of these three writers, it had failed to condemn them. The pope and the Akoimetoi advanced very strong opposition. Justinian, greatly provoked, declared that in this case the Monophysites were right and the orthodox must agree with them. He issued in the early forties a decree which anathematized the works of the three writers and threatened to do the same to all people who might attempt to defend or approve them.71

Justinian wished to make this edict obligatory on all churches and demanded that it be signed by all the patriarchs and bishops. But this was not easy to accomplish. The West was troubled by the fact that the willingness to sign this imperial edict might mean an encroachment upon the authority of the Council of Chalcedon. One learned deacon of Carthage wrote, “If the definitions of the Council of Chalcedon are being disputed, then is it not possible that also the Council of Nicaea might be subject to a similar menace?”72In addition to this the question was raised as to whether it was permissible to condemn dead men, since all three writers had died in the preceding century. Finally, some leaders of the West were of the opinion that by this edict the Emperor was violating the conscience of members of the church. This view was not held in the eastern church, where the intervention of the imperial power in deciding dogmatical disputes was approved by long practice. The eastern church also cited King Josiah in the Old Testament, who not only put down the living idolatrous priests, but also opened the sepulchers of those who died long before his reign and burned their bones upon the altar (II Kings 23:16). Thus the eastern church was willing to accept the decree and condemn the Three Chapters; the western church was not. In the end, Justinian’s decree never received general church recognition.

In order to attract the western church to his support Justinian had to secure first the approval of the Pope of Rome. Consequently the pope of that period, Vigilius, was summoned to Constantinople, where he remained for more than seven years. Upon his arrival he declared openly that he was against the edict and excommunicated the Patriarch of Constantinople, Menas. But gradually he yielded to the influence of Justinian and Theodora, and in the year 548 he issued the condemnation of the Three Chapters, or the so-called “Judicatum,” thus adding his voice to the votes of the four eastern patriarchs. This was the last triumph of Theodora, who was convinced of the inevitable final victory of Monophysitism. She died in the same year. Upon the invitation of Virgilius, the priests of western Europe had to put up incessant prayers for “the most clement princes, Justinian and Theodora.”73

The western church, however, did not approve of the concession made by Vigilius. The African bishops, having summoned a council, went even so far as to excommunicate him. Stirred by these events, the pope wavered in his decision and revoked the Judicatum. Justinian decided to resort to the aid of an ecumenical council, which was convoked in Constantinople in the year 553.

The problem of this Fifth Ecumenical Council was much simpler than the problems of the earlier councils. It did not have to deal with any new heresy; it was faced only with the problem of regulating some questions connected with the decisions of the third and fourth councils, relative partly to Nestorianism, but concerning primarily the Monophysitic faith. The Emperor was very desirous that the pope, who was in Constantinople at the time, be present at the Council, but under various excuses Vigilius avoided attending it, and all the sessions of the Council took place without him. The Council looked into the works of the three disputed writers and agreed with the opinion of the Emperor. The resolution of the Council condemned and anathematized “the impious Theodoret who was bishop of Mopsuestia, together with his impious works, and all that Theodoret had written impiously, and the impious letter, attributed to Ibas, and those who have written or are writing to defend them (ad defensionem eorum)”74 The decrees of this Council were declared obligatory, and Justinian instituted a policy of persecuting and exiling the bishops who did not agree with the condemnation of the Three Chapters. Pope Vigilius was exiled to one of the islands of the Sea of Marmora. In the end he consented to sign the condemnation and was then permitted to return to Rome, but he died on his way at Syracuse. The West did not accept the decisions of the Council of 553 until the end of the sixth century, and only when Gregory I the Great (590–604) proclaimed that “at the Synod, which was concerned with the Three Chapters, nothing was violated or in any way changed in the matter of religion,”75 was the Council of 553 recognized throughout the West as an ecumenical council on a par with the first four councils.

The intense religious struggle which Justinian expected would reconcile the Monophysites with the orthodox, did not bring the results he hoped for. The Monophysites did not seem satisfied with the concessions made to them. In the last years of his life Justinian apparently favored the Monophysites. The bishops who disagreed with him were exiled. Monophysitism might have become the state religion, obligatory on all, and this would have led to new and very serious complications. But at this time the aged Emperor died, and with his death came a change in the religious policy of the government.

In summarizing the religious and ecclesiastical policy of Justinian the question might be asked whether or not he succeeded in establishing a united church in the Empire. The answer must, of course, be in the negative. Orthodoxy and Monophysitism did not become reconciled; Nestorianism, Manichaeism, Judaism, and, to some extent, paganism, continued to exist. There was no religious unity, and Justinian’s attempt to bring it about must be admitted a failure.

But in speaking of Justinian’s religious policy we must not disregard his missionary activities. As a Christian emperor he considered it his duty to spread Christianity beyond the boundaries of his empire. The conversion of the Heruli on the Danube, and of some Caucasian tribes, as well as of the native tribes of Northern Africa and the Middle Nile occurred in Justinian’s time.76

The internal policy of Justinian

The Nika revolt.—At the time of Justinian’s accession to the throne the internal life of the Empire was in a state of disorder and disturbance. Poverty was widespread, especially in the provinces; taxes were not paid regularly. The factions of the circus, the large landowners, the relatives of Anastasius, robbed of their right to the throne, and finally, the dissenting religious groups increased the internal troubles and created an alarming situation.

When he mounted the throne, Justinian understood clearly that the internal life of the Empire was greatly in need of wide reforms, and he attacked this problem courageously. The main sources of information on this phase of Justinian’s activity are his Novels, the treatise of John the Lydian, On the Administration (Magistrates) of the Roman State, and The Secret History of his contemporary, Procopius. In recent times much valuable material has been found also in the papyri.

At the very beginning of his reign Justinian witnessed a frightful rebellion in the capital which nearly deprived him of the throne. The central quarter in Constantinople was the circus or the Hippodrome, the favorite gathering place of the inhabitants of the capital, so fond of chariot races. A new emperor, after his coronation, usually appeared at this Hippodrome in the imperial box, the Kathisma, to receive the first greetings of the mob. The charioteers wore robes of four colors: green, blue, white, and red. The chariot races had remained the favorite spectacle at the circus since the time when the early Christian church had prohibited gladiatorial combats. Well-organized factions were formed around the charioteers of each color. These groups had their own treasury for financing the charioteers, their horses and chariots, and always competed and struggled with the parties of other colors. They soon became known under the names of Green, Blue, White, and Red. The circus and the races, as well as the circus factions, came to the Byzantine Empire from the Roman Empire, and later literary tradition attributes their origin to the mythical times of Romulus and Remus. The original meaning of the names of the four parties is not very clear. The sources of the sixth century, Justinian’s period, claim that these names corresponded to the four elements: the earth (green), water (blue), air (white), and fire (red). The circus festivities were distinguished by extreme splendor and the number of spectators sometimes reached 50,000.

The circus factions, designated in the Byzantine period as demes, gradually changed into political parties expressing various political, social, or religious tendencies. The voice of the mob in the circus became a sort of public opinion and voice of the nation. “In the absence of the printing press,” said Th. I. Uspensky, “the Hippodrome became the only place for a free expression of public opinion, which at times imposed its will upon the government.”77 The emperor himself was sometimes obliged to appear in the circus to offer the people explanation of his actions.

In the sixth century the most influential factions were the Blues (Venetoi), who stood for orthodoxy, hence also called Chalcedonians, adherents of the Council of Chalcedon; and the Greens (Prasinoi), who stood for Monophysitism. In the time of Anastasius a rebellion had arisen against the Greens, whom the Monophysite emperor favored. After terrible raids and destruction the orthodox party proclaimed a new emperor and rushed to the Hippodrome, where the frightened Anastasius appeared without his diadem and ordered the heralds to announce to the people that he was ready to renounce his title. The mob, mollified at seeing the emperor in such a pitiful state, calmed down and the revolt subsided. But the episode illustrates the influence exerted by the Hippodrome and the mob of the capital upon the government and even the emperor himself. With the accession of Justin and Justinian orthodoxy prevailed, and the Blues triumphed. Theodora, however, favored the Greens, so that even on the imperial throne itself there was division.

It is almost certain that the demes represented not only political and religious tendencies, but also different class interests. The Blues may be regarded as the party of the upper classes, the Greens of the lower. If this is true, the Byzantine factions acquire a new and very important significance as a social element.78

An interesting recurrence of pattern is to be found in the fact that early in the sixth century in Rome under Theodoric the Great two rival parties, the Greens and the Blues, continued to fight, the Blues representing the upper classes and the Greens the lower.79

An important new approach to this question has recently been emphasized and discussed. A Russian scholar, the late A. Dyakonov, pointed out “the error in method” of Rambaud, Manojlović, and others who fail to differentiate between the demes and the factions, which of course are not identical at all and must be dealt with separately. The object of Dyakonov’s study was not to solve the problem, but to raise it again, so that this new approach may be considered in future more highly specialized works.80

The causes of the formidable rebellion of 532 in the capital were numerous and diverse. The opposition directed against Justinian was threefold: dynastic, public, and religious. The surviving nephews of Anastasius felt that they had been circumvented by Justin’s, and later Justinian’s, accession to the throne, and, supported by the Monophysitical-minded party of the Greens, they aimed to depose Justinian. The public opposition arose from general bitterness against the higher officials, especially against the famous jurist, Tribonian, and the praetorian prefect, John of Cappadocia, who aroused great dissatisfaction among the people by their violation of laws and their shameful extortions and cruelty. Finally, the religious opposition was that of the Monophysites, who had suffered great restrictions during the early years of Justinian’s reign. All these causes together brought about a revolt of the people in the capital, and it is interesting to note that the Blues and the Greens, abandoning for a time their religious discrepancies, made common cause against the hated government. The Emperor negotiated with the people through the herald in the Hippodrome, but no settlement was reached.81 The revolt spread rapidly through the city, and the finest buildings and monuments of art were subjected to destruction and fire. Fire was also set to the basilica of St. Sophia, the site of which was later chosen for the famous cathedral of St. Sophia. The rallying cry of the rioters, Nika, meaning “victory” or “vanquish,” has given this uprising the name of the Nika revolt. Justinian’s promise to dismiss Tribonian and John of Cappadocia from their posts and his personal appeal to the mob at the Hippodrome were of no effect. A nephew of Anastasius was proclaimed emperor. Sheltered in the palace, Justinian and his councilors were already contemplating flight when Theodora rose to the occasion. Her exact words appear in The Secret History of Procopius: “It is impossible for a man, when he has come into the world, not to die; but for one who has reigned, it is intolerable to be an exile. . . . If you wish, O Emperor, to save yourself, there is no difficulty: we have ample funds; yonder is the sea, and there are the ships. Yet reflect whether, when you have once escaped to a place of security, you will not prefer death to safety. I agree with an old saying that the purple is a fair winding sheet.”82 The Emperor rallied and entrusted to Belisarius the task of crushing the revolt, which had already lasted for six days. The general drove the rioters into the Hippodrome, enclosed them there, and killed from thirty to forty thousand. The revolt was quelled, the nephews of Anastasius were executed, and Justinian once more sat firmly on the throne.83

Taxation and financial problems.—One of the distinguishing features of Justinian’s internal policy was his obstinate, still not fully explained, struggle with the large landowners. This strife is discussed in the Novels and the papyri, as well as in The Secret Historyof Procopius, who, in spite of defending the views of the nobility and in spite of crowding into this libel a number of absurd accusations against Justinian, in his eyes an upstart on the imperial throne, still paints an extremely interesting picture of the social struggle in the sixth century. The government felt that its most dangerous rivals and enemies were the large landowners, who conducted the affairs of their large estates with complete disregard for the central power. One of Justinian’s Novels, blaming the desperate condition of state and private landownership in the provinces upon the unrestrained conduct of local magnates, directed to the Cappadocian proconsul the following significant lines: “News has come to us about such exceedingly great abuses in the provinces that their correction can hardly be accomplished by one person of high authority. And we are even ashamed to tell with how much impropriety the managers of landlords’ estates promenade about, surrounded by body-guards, how they are followed by large mobs of people, and how shamelessly they rob everything. . . . State property has almost entirely gone over into private ownership, for it was robbed and plundered, including all the herds of horses, and not a single man spoke up against it, for all the mouths were stopped with gold.”84 It appears that the Cappadocian magnates had full authority in their provinces and that they even maintained troops of their own, armed men and bodyguards, and seized private as well as state lands. It is interesting to note also that this Novel was issued four years after the Nika revolt. Similar information about Egypt in the time of Justinian is found in the papyri. A member of a famous Egyptian landowning family, the Apions, possessed in the sixth century vast landed property in various parts of Egypt. Entire villages were part of his possessions. His household was almost regal. He had his secretaries and stewards, his hosts of workmen, his own assessors and tax collectors, his treasurer, his police, even his own postal service. Such magnates had their own prisons and maintained their own troops.85 Large estates were concentrated also in the hands of the churches and monasteries.

Against these large landowners Justinian waged a merciless struggle. By intervention in problems of heredity, forced and sometimes false donations to the Emperor, confiscation on the basis of false evidence, or the instigation of religious trials tending to deprive the church of its landed property, Justinian consciously and persistently aimed at the destruction of large land-ownership. Particularly numerous confiscations were made after the revolutionary attempt of the year 532. Justinian did not succeed, however, in completely crushing large landownership, and it remained one of the unfailing features of the life of the Empire in later periods.

Justinian saw and understood the defects of the administration expressed in the venality, theft, and extortions which caused so much poverty and ruin, and which inevitably aroused internal troubles. He realized that such a state of things within the Empire had evil effects upon social security, city finance, and agricultural conditions, and that financial disorder introduced general confusion into the life of the Empire. He was truly anxious to remedy the existing situation. He conceived it to be the emperor’s duty to introduce new and great reforms, which he viewed as an obligation of imperial service and an act of gratitude to God, who bestowed upon the emperor all his favors. But as a convinced representative of absolute imperial power, Justinian considered a centralized administration with an improved and completely obedient staff of bureaucrats the only means of ameliorating conditions in the Empire.

His attention turned first of all to the financial situation in the Empire, which very justly inspired extremely serious fears. The military undertakings demanded enormous means, yet taxes were coming into the treasury with constantly increasing difficulties. This fact alarmed the Emperor, and in one of his Novels he wrote that in view of the large war expenses his subjects “must pay the government taxes willingly and in full.”86 Thus, on the one hand, he was the champion of the inviolability of the rights of the treasury, while on the other hand he proclaimed himself the defender of the taxpayer against the extortions of officials.

Two great Novels of the year 535 are exceedingly important for the study of Justinian’s reforms. They contain the principal foundations of the administrative reforms and the definitions of the new duties of government officials. One Novel orders the rulers “to treat with fatherly consideration all the loyal citizens, to protect the subjects against oppression, to refuse all bribes, to be just in sentences and administrative decisions, to persecute crime, protect the innocent, and punish the guilty according to law, and, on the whole, treat the subjects as a father would treat his own children.”87 But at the same time officials, “while keeping their hands clean [of bribes] everywhere,” must vigilantly look after the government income, “increasing the state treasury and exerting all possible effort for its benefit.”88 Taking into consideration the conquest of Africa and the Vandals, as well as the newly contemplated campaigns, says the Novel, “it is imperative that the government taxes be paid in full and willingly at definite dates. Thus, if you will meet the rulers reasonably and help them collect for us the taxes with ease and dispatch, then we will laud the officials for their zeal and you for your wisdom; and beautiful and peaceful harmony will reign everywhere between the rulers and the ruled.”89 The officials had to take a solemn oath to administer their duties honestly, but were at the same time made responsible for the complete payment of taxes in the provinces entrusted to them. The bishops were supposed to watch the behavior of the officials. Those who were found guilty of offense were subject to severe punishment, while those who carried out their duties honestly were promised promotion. Thus, the duty of government officials and government taxpayers is very simple in Justinian’s conception: the former must be honest men; the latter must pay their taxes willingly, fully, and regularly. In subsequent decrees the Emperor often cited these basic principles of his administrative reforms.

Not all the provinces of the Empire were governed alike. There were some, especially those along the borders, populated by restless natives, which demanded firmer administration than others. The reforms of Diocletian and Constantine increased excessively the provincial division and established a vast staff of bureaucracy, separating very distinctly civil and military authority. In Justinian’s time, in some instances, there was a break with this system and a return to the former pre-Diocletian system. Justinian introduced the practice of combining several small provinces, particularly in the East, into larger units; while in some provinces of Asia Minor, in view of frequent disagreements and conflicts between military and civil authorities, he ordered the combining of the two functions in the hands of one person, a governor, who was called praetor. The Emperor’s particular attention was directed to Egypt, mainly to Alexandria, which supplied Constantinople with corn. According to one Novel, the organization of the trade in Egypt and the delivery of corn to the capital was in great disorder.90 With the aim of re-establishing this highly important branch of government life, Justinian entrusted a civil official, the Augustalis (vir spectabilis Augustalis), with military authority over the two Egyptian provinces91 as well as over Alexandria, that densely populated and restless city. But these attempts to centralize territories and power in the provinces were not systematic during his reign.

While carrying out the idea of combining authority in some of the eastern provinces, Justinian retained the former separation of civil and military power in the West, especially in the recently conquered prefectures of North Africa and Italy.

The Emperor hoped that his numerous hasty decrees had corrected all internal shortcomings of the administration and “given the empire, through his brilliant undertakings, a new period of bloom.”92 He was mistaken. All his decrees could not change mankind. It is very evident from later novels that rebellions, extortion, and ruin continued. It became necessary to republish constantly imperial decrees to remind the population of their existence, and in some provinces it was occasionally necessary to proclaim martial law.

At times, when the need for money was very urgent, Justinian used the very measures which were prohibited in his decrees. He sold offices at high prices and, regardless of his promise to the contrary, introduced new taxes, though his Novels show clearly that he was fully aware of the incapacity of the population to meet them. Under the pressure of financial difficulties he resorted to the corruption of money and issued debased coin; but the attitude of the populace became so threatening that he was forced almost immediately to revoke his measure.93 All possible means were used to fill the government treasury, the fisc, “which took the place of a stomach feeding all parts of the body,” as Corippus, a poet of the sixth century, puts it.94 The strict measures which accompanied the collection of taxes reached their extreme limits and had a disastrous effect upon the exhausted population. One contemporary says that “a foreign invasion seemed less formidable to the taxpayers than the arrival of the officials of the fisc.”95 Villages became impoverished and deserted because their inhabitants fled from government oppression. The productivity of the land was reduced to nothing. Revolts sprang up in various localities.

Realizing that the Empire was ruined and that economy was the only means of salvation, Justinian resorted to economy in the most dangerous directions. He reduced the army in numbers, and frequently kept back its pay. But the army, consisting mainly of mercenaries, often revolted against this practice and took vengeance on the unprotected people. The reduction of the army had other serious consequences: it left the borders unprotected and the barbarians crossed the Byzantine boundaries freely to carry on their devastating raids. The fortresses constructed by Justinian were not maintained. Unable to oppose the barbarians by force, Justinian had to resort to bribes, which involved very large new expenditures. According to the French scholar, Diehl, this formed a vicious circle. Lack of money forced a decrease of the army; the absence of soldiers necessitated more money to buy off enemies.96

When to all this was added the frequent famines, epidemics, and earthquakes which ruined the population and increased the demands for government aid, the state of the Empire at the end of Justinian’s reign was truly lamentable. Among these calamities the devastating plague of 542 must be mentioned. It began near Pelusium, on the borders of Egypt. The suggested Ethiopian origin is vague; there was a sort of ancient and traditional suspicion that disease usually came out of Ethiopia. As Thucydides studied the plague at Athens at the beginning of the Pelôponnesian war, so the historian Procopius, who witnessed its course at Constantinople, detailed the nature and effects of the bubonic disease. From Egypt the infection spread northward to Palestine and Syria; in the following year it reached Constantinople, then spread over Asia Minor and through Mesopotamia into Persia. Over the sea it invaded Italy and Sicily. In Constantinople the visitation lasted four months. The mortality was enormous; cities and villages were abandoned, agriculture stopped, and famine, panic, and the flight of large numbers of people away from the infected places threw the Empire into confusion. All court functions were discontinued. The Emperor himself was stricken by the plague, although the attack did not prove fatal.97 This was only one contributing factor to the gloomy picture reflected in the first Novel of Justin II, where he speaks of “the government treasury overburdened with many debts and reduced to extreme poverty,” and “of an army so desperately in need of all necessaries that the empire was easily and frequently attacked and raided by the barbarians.98

Justinian’s attempts in the field of administrative reform were a complete failure. Financially the Empire stood on the verge of ruin. There was a close connection between the internal and external policies of the Emperor; his sweeping military undertakings in the West, which demanded colossal expenditure, ruined the East and left his successors a troublesome heritage. As evinced by the early Novels, Justinian sincerely intended to bring order into the Empire and to raise the moral standards of government institutions, but these noble intentions gave way to the militarism dictated by his conception of his duties as heir of the Roman Caesars.

Commerce during the reign of Justinian

The period of Justinian left distinct traces in the history of Byzantine commerce. In the Christian period, as in the days of the pagan Roman Empire, the main trade was carried on with the East. The rarest and most valuable articles of trade arrived from the distant lands of China and India. Western Europe of the earlier Middle Ages, in the period of the formation of new Germanic states, some of which were conquered by Justinian’s generals, lived under conditions extremely unfavorable for the development of its own economic life. The Eastern Roman Empire, with its advantageously situated capital became, by force of circumstances, the mediator between the West and the East, and kept this position until the period of the Crusades.

But the commercial relations of the Byzantine Empire with the peoples of the Far East were not direct; the mediating agent here was the Persian Empire of the Sassanids, which gained enormous profits on the commercial transactions of the Byzantine merchants. There were at this time two main trade routes: one by land, the other by sea. The overland caravan route led from the western borders of China through Sogdiana (now Bokhara or Bukhara) to the Persian border, where the wares were transferred by Chinese merchants to the Persians, who transported them to the customhouses on the Byzantine border. The sea route used was as follows: Chinese merchants transported their wares on vessels as far as the island of Taprobane (now Ceylon), south of the peninsula of Hindostan. There Chinese goods were reloaded, chiefly into Persian vessels, which carried their cargo by way of the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf to the mouths of the Tigris and Euphrates, whence they were forwarded along the Euphrates to the Byzantine customhouse situated on this river. Byzantine commerce with the East, therefore, depended very closely upon the relations between the Empire and Persia, and since wars with Persia were a regular occurrence in Byzantine life, trade relations with the East suffered constant interruptions and great harm. The main article of trade was Chinese silk, the production of which was guarded in deep secrecy by China. In view of the difficulties involved in its production, its prices and the prices of silk stuffs greatly in demand on Byzantine markets rose at times to unbelievable figures. Besides Chinese silk, China and India exported to the West perfumes, spices, cotton, precious stones, and other articles demanded primarily in the Byzantine Empire. Unreconciled to the economic dependence of the Byzantine Empire upon Persia, Justinian set himself the goal of finding a trade route to China and India which would lie outside of the realm of Persian influence.

Cosmas Indicopleustes.—During this period a remarkable literary work made its appearance, the Christian Topography or Cosmography, written by Cosmas Indicopleustes99 in the middle of the sixth century. This work is extremely valuable for the information it contains about the geography of the basins of the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean as well as about the commercial relations with India and China.


Cosmas was born in Egypt, very likely in Alexandria. He engaged in commerce from his early youth, but, discontented with the trade conditions in his country, he undertook a number of distant journeys during which he visited the shores of the Red Sea, the Sinaitic peninsula, Ethiopia (Abyssinia), and perhaps reached as far as Ceylon. He was a Christian of the Nestorian faith, and in his later life became a monk. His Greek surname, Indicopleustes, is found even in very old versions of his work.

The fundamental aim of The Christian Topography is to prove to the Christians that, regardless of the system of Ptolemy, the earth does not have the shape of a globe, but rather that of an oblong rectangular box similar to the sanctuary in the tabernacle of Moses, while the entire universe is analogous in form to the general form of the tabernacle. But it is the great historical importance of this work, which lies in the information about geography and commerce, which is relevant here. The author conscientiously informed his reader about the sources used and evaluated each of them thoroughly. He discriminated between his own observations as an eyewitness and the information obtained from eyewitnesses, and facts learned by hearsay. From his own experience he described the palace of the Abyssinian king in the city of Axum (in the so-called Kingdom of Axum), and gave an accurate account of several interesting inscriptions in Nubia and on the shores of the Red Sea. He told also of Indian and African animals, and, most important of all, gave very valuable information about the island Taprobane (Ceylon), explaining its commercial importance during the early Middle Ages. It appears from this account that in the sixth century Ceylon was the center of world commerce between China on one hand and eastern Africa, Persia, and through Persia the Byzantine Empire, on the other hand. In Cosmas’ words, “the island, being as it is in a central position, is much frequented by ships from all parts of India and from Persia and Ethiopia.”100 The Persian Christians who remained permanently on this island were of the Nestorian faith and had their own church and clergy.

It is interesting to note that in spite of an almost complete absence of direct trade relations between the Byzantine Empire and India, Byzantine coins from the epoch of Constantine the Great appear in Indian markets, carried there apparently, not by Byzantine merchants, but by the mediating Persians and Abyssinians (Axumites). Coins with the names of the Byzantine emperors of the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries—Arcadius, Theodosius, Marcian, Leo I, Zeno, Anastasius I, Justin I—have been found in southern and northern India.101 In the international economic life of the sixth century the Byzantine Empire played a role so important that, according to Cosmas, “all the nations carry on their trade in Roman money (the Byzantine gold coin, nomisma or solid us), from one extremity of the earth to the other. This money is regarded with admiration by all men to whatever kingdom they belong, since there is no other country in which the like of it exists.”102

Cosmas told a very interesting story which shows the profound respect commanded in India by the Byzantine gold coin (nomisma):

The King of Ceylon, having admitted a Byzantine merchant, Sopatrus, and some Persians to an audience and having received their salutations, requested them to be seated. He then asked them: “In what state are your countries, and how go things with them?” To this they replied: “They go well.” Afterward, as the conversation proceeded, the King inquired: “Which of your kings is the greater and the more powerful?” The elderly Persian, snatching the word, answered: “Our king is both the more powerful and the greater and richer, and indeed is King of Kings, and whatsoever he desires, that he is able to do.” Sopatrus, on the other hand, sat mute. So the King asked: “Have you, Roman, nothing to say?” “What have I to say,” he rejoined, “when he there has said such things? But if you wish to learn the truth you have the two kings here present. Examine each and you will see which of them is the grander and the more powerful.” The King, upon hearing this, was amazed at his words and asked: “How say you that I have both kings here?” “You have,” replied Sopatrus, “the money of both—the nomisma of one, and the drachma, that is, the miliarision of the other. Examine the image of each and you will see the truth. . . .” After having examined them, the King said that the Romans were certainly a splendid, powerful, and sagacious people. So he ordered great honor to be paid to Sopatrus, causing him to be mounted on an elephant and conducted round the city with drums beating and high state. These circumstances were told us by Sopatrus himself and his companions, who had accompanied him to that island from Adule; and as they told the story, the Persian was deeply chagrined at what had occurred.103

In addition to the historical-geographical value, the work of Cosmas is also of great artistic value because of the numerous pictures (miniatures) which adorn his text. It is likely that some of these pictures were the work of the author himself. The original manuscript of the sixth century has not survived, but the later manuscripts of The Christian Topography contain copies of the original miniatures and thus serve as a valuable source for the history of early Byzantine, especially Alexandrine, art. “The miniatures in the work of Cosmas,” said N. P. Kondakov, “are more characteristic of Byzantine art of the period of Justinian, or rather of the brilliant part of his reign, than any other monument of that period, except some of the mosaics at Ravenna.”104

The work of Cosmas was later translated into Slavonic and became widely spread among the Slavs. There exist numerous Russian versions of The Christian Topography supplemented with the portrait of Cosmas Indicopleustes and numerous pictures and miniatures which are of much interest in the history of old Russian art.105

Protection of Byzantine commerce.—Justinian made it his aim to free Byzantine commerce of its dependence on Persia. This involved establishing direct communication with India by way of the Red Sea. The northeastern corner of the Red Sea (in the Gulf of Akaba) was occupied by the Byzantine port, Ayla, whence Indian wares could be transported by a land route through Palestine and Syria to the Mediterranean Sea. Another port, Clysma (near present-day Suez), was situated on the northwestern shore of the Red Sea, and from it was directly connected with the Mediterranean Sea. On one of the islands at the entrance to the Gulf of Akaba, Iotabe (now Tiran), near the southern extremity of the Sinai peninsula, a customhouse for bygoing vessels was established during Justinian’s reign.106 But the number of Byzantine ships in the Red Sea was not sufficient for carrying on a regulated commerce. This fact forced Justinian to establish close relations with the Christian Abyssinians in the Kingdom of Axum, urging them to buy silk in India and then resell it to the Byzantine Empire. He apparently wanted them to play the part of trade mediators between the Byzantine Empire and India, as the Persians had done up to that time. But these attempts on the part of the Emperor were not successful, for the Abyssinian merchants could not compete with Persian influence in India and the monopoly of silk buying still remained in the hands of Persian merchants. In the end Justinian did not succeed in opening up new routes for direct trade with the East. In intervals of peace the Persians still remained the mediators in the most important trade, and continued to make large profits.

Chance came to the aid of Justinian and helped him solve the highly significant problem of the Empire’s silk trade. Some person or persons107 successfully evaded the watchfulness of the Chinese inspectors and smuggled into the Byzantine Empire some silkworm eggs from Serinda, which formed the basis of a new industry for the Greeks. They made rapid progress. Large plantations of mulberry trees sprang up and many factories for weaving silk stuffs were quickly established. The most important of these silk factories were situated in Constantinople; others were founded in the Syrian cities of Beirut, Tyre, and Antioch, and later in Greece, mainly at Thebes. One existed in Alexandria in Egypt, for Egyptian clothes were sold in Constantinople.108 The silk industry became a state monopoly and yielded the government a large income, which was not sufficient, however, to ameliorate the critical financial situation of the empire. Byzantine silk stuffs were carried to all parts of western Europe and adorned the palaces of western kings and the residences of rich merchants. This caused some highly significant changes in the commerce of Justinian’s period, and his successor, Justin II, could show to a Turkish ambassador visiting his court the industry in full swing.109

Justinian undertook the colossal task of defending the Empire from the attacks of enemies by constructing a number of fortresses and well-protected border lines. In a few years he erected on all the borders of the Empire an almost uninterrupted line of fortifications (castella) in northern Africa, on the shores of the Danube and Euphrates, in the mountains of Armenia, and on the distant Crimean peninsula, thus restoring and enlarging the remarkable defensive system created by Rome during an earlier period. By this constructive work Justinian, according to Procopius, “saved the empire.”110 “If we were to enumerate the fortresses,” Procopius wrote in On Buildings, “which were erected here by the Emperor Justinian, to people living in distant foreign lands, deprived of the opportunity to verify personally our words, I am convinced that the number of constructions would seem to them fabulous and completely incredible.”111 Even today the existing ruins of numerous fortresses along the borders of the former Byzantine Empire astonish the modern traveler. Nor did Justinian limit his construction to fortifications alone. As a Christian emperor he fostered the building of many temples, of which the incomparable St. Sophia of Constantinople stands out as an epoch-making mark in the history of Byzantine art. St. Sophia is described later. In all likelihood he carried his construction even to the mountains of the far-off Crimea, and erected there a great church (basilica), in Dory, the chief center of the Gothic settlement. A fragment of an inscription with his name has been excavated there.112


When the powerful figure of Justinian disappeared from the stage of history, his entire artificial system of government, which had temporarily kept the empire in proper balance, fell to ruin. “At his death,” said Bury, “the winds were loosed from prison; the disintegrating elements began to operate with full force; the artificial system collapsed; and the metamorphosis in the character of the empire, which had been surely progressing for a long time past, though one is apt to overlook it amid the striking events of Justinian’s busy reign, now began to work rapidly and perceptibly.”113The time between the years 565 and 610 belongs to one of the most cheerless periods in Byzantine history, when anarchy, poverty, and plagues raged throughout the Empire. The confusion of this period caused John of Ephesus, the historian of the time of Justin II, to speak of the approaching end of the world.114 “There is perhaps no period of history,” said Finlay, “in which society was so universally in a state of demoralization.”115 The events of this period, however, show that this deplorable picture is somewhat exaggerated and therefore is to be rectified.

The successors of Justinian were: Justin II the Younger (565–78), Tiberius II (578–82), Maurice (582–602), and Phocas (602–10). The most outstanding of these four rulers was the energetic soldier and able leader, Maurice. Sophia, the strong-willed wife of Justin II who greatly resembled Theodora, exerted much influence on government affairs. The most significant events in the external affairs of the Empire during this period were the Persian War, the struggle with the Slavs and Avars in the Balkan peninsula, and the Lombard conquest of Italy. In the internal life of the Empire the firmly orthodox policy of the emperors and the formation of two exarchates were significant.

The Persian wars

The fifty years’ truce with Persia established by Justinian in 562 was broken by Justin II, who refused to continue the payment of the set annual sum. A common hostility to Persia developed interesting relations between the Byzantine Empire and the Turks, who had appeared shortly before this period in Western Asia and along the shores of the Caspian Sea. They occupied the territory between China and Persia; the latter they viewed as their main enemy. Turkish ambassadors crossed the Caucasian Mountains, and after a long journey reached Constantinople, where they were accorded an amiable reception. Tentative plans began to develop for an offensive and defensive Turco-Byzantine alliance against Persia. The Turkish embassy made a very interesting proposal to the Byzantine government to mediate in the silk trade with China, avoiding Persian interference—the very thing Justinian had striven to attain, the only difference being that Justinian had hoped to arrange this by a southern sea route with the aid of the Abyssinians while the Turks were considering the northern land route. Negotiations however did not culminate in the formation of a real alliance for combined action against Persia, because the Byzantine Empire at the end of the sixties was more concerned with western developments, particularly in Italy where the Lombards were attacking. Besides, Justin considered the Turkish military forces rather inadequate.

The result of the short-lived Roman-Turkish friendship was tension between Byzantium and Persia.116 During the reigns of Justin, Tiberius, and Maurice an almost continuous war was conducted against the Persians. During the reign of Justin II this was very unsuccessful for Byzantium. The siege of Nisibis was abandoned, the Avars from beyond the Danube invaded the Byzantine provinces in the Balkans, and Daras, an important fortified border town, after a siege of six months passed into the hands of the Persians. This loss so deeply impressed the weak-minded Justin that he became insane, and it was the Empress Sophia who, by paying 45,000 pieces of gold, obtained the respite of a year’s truce (574).117 A Syrian chronicle of the twelfth century, based of course on an earlier source, remarked: “On learning that Daras had been captured . . . the emperor was in despair. He ordered shops to be closed and commerce to cease.”118

The Persian war under Tiberius and Maurice was more successful for the Byzantine Empire because Maurice’s able leadership was aided by internal dispute in Persia for the throne.119 Maurice’s peace treaty was of great importance: Persarmenia and eastern Mesopotamia, with the city of Daras, were ceded to Byzantium; the humiliating condition of annual tribute was canceled; and finally, the Empire, free of the Persian menace, was able to concentrate its attention on western affairs, especially on the unceasing attacks of the Avars and Slavs in the Balkan peninsula.120 Another war with Persia began under the reign of Phocas, but the discussion of this war is deferred because, while it was of exceedingly great importance to the Byzantine Empire it was not concluded until the reign of Heraclius.

Slavs and Avars

Very important events took place in the Balkan peninsula after the death of Justinian, although unfortunately present knowledge of them is limited by the fragmentary material that appears in the sources. During Justinian’s reign the Slavs frequently attacked the provinces of the Balkan peninsula, penetrating far into the south and threatening at times even the city of Thessalonica. These irruptions continued after Justinian’s death. There were then large numbers of Slavs remaining in the Byzantine provinces, and they gradually occupied the peninsula. They were aided in their aggression by the Avars, a people of Turkish origin living at that time in Pannonia. The Slavs and Avars menaced the capital and the shores of the Sea of Marmora and the Aegean, and penetrated into Greece as far as the Peloponnesus. The rumor of these invasions spread to Egypt, where John, bishop of Nikiu, wrote in the seventh century, during the reign of the Emperor Phocas: “It is recounted that the kings of this epoch had by means of the barbarians and the foreign nations and the Illyrians devastated Christian cities and carried off their inhabitants captive, and that no city escaped save Thessalonica only; for its walls were strong, and through the help of God the nations were unable to get possession of it.”121 A German scholar of the early nineteenth century held the theory, discussed at length later, that at the end of the sixth century the Greeks were completely destroyed by the Slavs. Studies of the problem of Slavic settlement in the Balkan peninsula depend greatly upon the Actsof the martyr Demetrius, the protector of Thessalonica, one of the main Slavonic centers in the peninsula.122

At the end of the sixth and the beginning of the seventh century the persistent southward movement of the Slavs and Avars, which Byzantine troops were unable to stop, produced a profound ethnographic change in the peninsula, since it became occupied largely by Slavonic settlers. The writers of this period were, in general, poorly acquainted with the northern tribes and they confuse the Slavs and Avars because they attacked the Empire jointly.

After the death of Justinian, Italy was insufficiently protected against the attacks of enemies, which explains the ease and speed with which it was again conquered by a new German barbarian tribe, the Lombards, who appeared there only a few years after Justinian had destroyed the Ostrogothic kingdom. In the middle of the sixth century the Lombards, in alliance with the Avars, destroyed the kingdom of the barbarian tribe of the Gepids (Gepidae) on the Middle Danube. Later, perhaps in fear of their own allies, they advanced from Pannonia into Italy under the leadership of their king(konung), Alboin, moving with their wives and children. They included many different tribes, among whom the Saxons were particularly numerous. Popular tradition has accused Narses, a former general in Justinian’s army and the aged ruler of Italy, of having invited the Lombards into his country, but this accusation must be considered unfounded. After the accession of Justin II he retired because of old age and died shortly after in Rome.

In the year 568 the Lombards entered northern Italy. A wild barbaric horde, Arian by faith, they laid waste all the localities through which they passed. They soon conquered northern Italy, which became known as Lombardy. The Byzantine ruler, lacking sufficient means for resisting them, remained within the walls of Ravenna, which the barbarians by-passed as they moved on to the south. Their large hordes dispersed over almost the entire peninsula, occupying the unprotected cities with great ease. They reached southern Italy and soon occupied Benevento (Beneventum). Though they did not capture Rome, they surrounded the Roman province on three sides: from the north, east, and south. They cut off all connections between Ravenna and Rome, so that Rome could hope for no help there and still less for help from the even more distant rulers of Constantinople, who were passing through one of the most difficult and troubled periods in the history of the East. The Lombards had soon founded in Italy a large Germanic kingdom. Tiberius, and even more earnestly Maurice, tried to establish an alliance with the Frankish king Childebert II (570–595) in the hope of inducing him to open hostilities against the Lombards in Italy, but the effort ended in failure. Several embassies were exchanged, and Childebert did several times send troops to Italy, but always with the aim of reconquering the ancient Frankish possessions for himself rather than with the intention of helping Maurice. More than a century and a half was to elapse before the Frankish kings, summoned by the pope not the Emperor, were able to destroy the Lombard domination in Italy.123 Left to its own fate, Rome, which withstood more than one Lombard siege, found its protector in the person of the pope, who was forced not only to care for the spiritual life of his Roman flock but also to organize the defense of the city against the Lombards. It was at this time, at the end of the sixth century, that the Roman Church produced one of its most remarkable leaders, pope Gregory I, the Great. He had earlier been papal apocrisiarius or nuncio at Constantinople, where he resided some six years without succeeding in mastering even the rudiments of the Greek language.124 But in spite of this linguistic deficiency he was very well acquainted with the life and policies of Constantinople.

The Lombard conquest of Italy demonstrated clearly the impotence of Justinian’s external policy in the West, where the Empire did not possess sufficient forces for maintaining the conquered Ostrogothic kingdom. It also laid the foundation for the gradual alienation of Italy from the Byzantine Empire and for the weakening of the imperial political authority in Italy.

Religious problems

The successors of Justinian favored orthodoxy and the Monophysites were at times—as during the reign of Justin II—subjected to extremely severe persecution. Relations between the Byzantine Empire and the Roman Church during the reign of Maurice and Phocas are interesting to consider. Gregory protested against the assumption by the Bishop of Constantinople of the title “ecumenical” and, in a letter to Maurice, Gregory accused the patriarch, John the Faster, of haughtiness:

I am compelled to cry aloud and say O tempora! O mores! When all of Europe is given over to the power of barbarians, when cities are destroyed, camps overthrown, provinces depopulated, when the husbandman no longer tills the soil, when idol-worshippers are raging and contending for the slaughter of the faithful —and then priests, who ought to lie weeping on the ground and in ashes, seek for themselves names of vanity and glory in new and profane titles. Do I, in this matter, most pious Lord, defend my own cause? Do I resent my own special wrong? Nay, I defend the cause of Almighty God and the cause of the Universal Church. He is to be coerced, who does wrong to the Holy Universal Church, who swells in heart, who covets in a name of singularity, who also puts himself above the dignity of your Empire through a title peculiar to himself.125

The pope did not attain the desired concession, and for a time even ceased to send his representative to Constantinople. When in the year 602 a revolution broke out in the capital against Maurice, Pope Gregory addressed a letter to the new emperor, Phocas, in terms quite unbefitting this foolish tyrant on the Byzantine throne:

Glory be to God in the highest. . . . Let the heaven rejoice, and let the earth be glad (Ps. 95:11). Let the whole people of the republic hitherto afflicted exceedingly, grow cheerful for your benignant deeds! . . . Let every single person’s liberty be now at length restored to him under the yoke of the pious empire. For there is this difference between the kings of other nations and the emperors: that the kings are lords of slaves, but the emperors of the Roman state are lords of freemen.126

Phocas was apparently pleased, for later he forbade the patriarch of Constantinople to bear the ecumenical title, declaring that “the apostolic throne of the blessed apostle Peter was the head of all churches.”127

Thus while Phocas suffered defeat in all his external and internal undertakings and inspired the deep wrath and irritation of his subjects, his relations with Rome, based on his concessions to the pope, were peaceful and friendly throughout his reign. In memory of these friendly relations the exarch of Ravenna erected in the Roman Forum a column with laudatory inscriptions to Phocas. This monument is still in existence.

Formation of the exarchates and the revolution of 610

In connection with the Lombard conquest an important change took place in the government of Italy, which, together with a similar contemporary innovation in the administration of North Africa, laid the foundation for the new provincial administration of the Empire: the so-called system ofthemes.

The Byzantine authorities in Italy had not been able to offer the proper resistance to the Lombards, who conquered two-thirds of the peninsula with great ease. Therefore in the face of great danger, the Byzantine government determined to strengthen its power in Italy by placing the civil administrative functions in the hands of the military rulers. Byzantine administration in Italy was to be headed by a military governor-general, the exarch, who was to direct the activities of all civil officials from his residence at Ravenna. The formation of the Ravenna exarchate dates back to the end of the sixth century, to the period of Emperor Maurice. This combination of administrative and judicial functions with military authority did not involve the immediate abolition of civil officials. They continued to exist along with the military rulers, but acted under the guidance of the military exarch. Only later the civil officials seem to have been completely replaced by military authorities. The exarch, as a representative of imperial power, followed in his administration certain principles of Caesaropapism, so much favored by the emperors. This policy was expressed in such acts, for example, as the interference as a final authority in the religious affairs of the exarchate. Unlimited in his power, the exarch was given imperial honors. His palace at Ravenna was considered sacred and called Sacrum palatium, a name usually applied only to an imperial residence. Whenever he arrived at Rome, he was accorded an imperial reception: the senate, the clergy, and the populace met him outside the city walls in triumphant procession. All military affairs, the entire administration, judicial and financial matters—all were at the full disposal of the exarch.128

Just as the Ravennese exarchate arose because of the attacks of the Lombards in Italy, so the formation of the African exarchate in the place of the former Vandal kingdom was called forth by a similar menace on the part of the native African Moors, or, as they are sometimes called in sources, the Maurusii (Berbers), who frequently engaged in serious uprisings against the Byzantine troops who occupied that country. The beginning of the African, or Carthaginian, exarchate (often called so because the residence of the exarch was at Carthage) dates also from the end of the sixth century, the time of Emperor Maurice. The African exarchate was founded on the same principles as its predecessor at Ravenna, and was endowed with similar unlimited power.129

Naturally, it was only extreme necessity that could force the Emperor to create such an unlimited office as that of the exarch, who, granting the desire and the presence of certain conditions, could become a very dangerous rival of the Emperor himself. And in reality the African exarch was to raise the banner of sedition against Phocas, and the son of the exarch was to become emperor in the year 610. In Africa the exarchs were chosen very wisely by Maurice and demonstrated much skill and energy in governing the land, defending it successfully against the attacks of the natives. On the other hand, the exarchs of Ravenna were unable to overcome the Lombard menace.

According to the French scholar, Diehl,130 the two exarchates must be viewed as the beginning of the theme (province or district) organization, that provincial reform in the Byzantine Empire which started in the seventh century and spread gradually through the entire territory of the Empire. Its distinguishing feature was the gradual dominance of the military authority over the civil. While the attacks of the Lombards and Moors produced significant changes in the West and the South at the end of the sixth century, the attacks of the Persians and Arabs caused later the introduction of similar measures in the East, and the onslaught of the Slavs and Bulgars resulted in the same reforms in the Balkan peninsula.

The unsuccessful external policy of Phocas in regard to the Avars and the Persians, as well as the bloody terror which was his only means of maintaining his position, finally resulted in the revolt of the African exarch, Heraclius. Egypt soon joined in this revolt, and the African fleet under the direction of the exarch’s son, also named Heraclius, sailed forth to the capital, which deserted Phocas and came over to the side of Heraclius. Phocas was captured and executed. Heraclius, the son, ascended the Byzantine throne and thus started a new dynasty.

The problem of the Slavs in Greece

As a result of the investigation of sources on the Slavonic invasions into the Balkan peninsula in the second half of the sixth century, a theory of the complete Slavonization of Greece arose in the early part of the nineteenth century and aroused heated disputes among scholars.

In the twenties of the last century, when all of Europe was seized with deep sympathy for the Greeks who had raised the banner of revolt against the Turkish yoke, when these champions of freedom, through their heroic resistance, succeeded in maintaining their independence and created, with the help of European powers, an independent Greek kingdom, when enthusiastic European society viewed these heroes as sons of ancient Hellas and recognized in them the traits of Leonidas, Epaminondas, and Philopoemen— then it was that from a small German town came a voice which astonished Europe by declaring that not one drop of real Hellenic blood runs through the veins of the inhabitants of the new Greek kingdom; that all the magnanimous impulse of Europe to aid the cause of the children of sacred Hellas was founded on a misunderstanding; and that the ancient Greek element had long ago disappeared and been replaced by new, entirely alien ethnographical elements, chiefly of Slavonic and Albanian origin. The man who ventured to advance openly and boldly this new theory, which shocked to the utmost the beliefs of contemporary Europe, was Fallmerayer, at that time professor of general history in one of the German lyceums.

In the first volume of his History of the Peninsula of Morea in the Middle Ages, which appeared in 1830, Fallmerayer wrote:

The Hellenic race in Europe is completely exterminated. The physical beauty, the sublimity of spirit, the simplicity of customs, the artistic creativeness, the races, cities, and villages, the splendor of columns and temples, even the name of the people itself, have disappeared from the Greek continent. A double layer of ruins and the mire of two new and different races cover the graves of the ancient Greeks. The immortal works of the spirit of Hellas and some ancient ruins on native Greek soil are now the only evidence of the fact that long ago there was such a people as the Hellenes. And were it not for these ruins, grave-hills and mausoleums, were it not for the site and the wretched fate of its inhabitants, upon whom the Europeans of our day in an outburst of human emotions have poured all their tenderness, their admiration, their tears, and their eloquence, we would have to say that it was only an empty vision, a lifeless image, a being outside the nature of things that has aroused the innermost depths of their souls. For not a single drop of real pure Hellenic blood flows in the veins of the Christian population of modern Greece. A terrific hurricane has dispersed throughout the space between the Ister and most distant corner of the Peloponnesus a new tribe akin to the great Slavonic race. The Scythian Slavs, the Illyrian Arnauts, children of Northern lands, the blood relations of the Serbs and Bulgars, the Dalmatians and Moscovites—those are the people whom we call Greeks at present and whose genealogy, to their own surprise, we have traced back to Pericles and Philopoemen. … A population with Slavonic facial features and with bow-shaped eyelashes and sharp features of Albanian mountain shepherds, of course, did not come from the blood of Narcissus, Alcibiades, and Antinous; and only a romantic eager imagination can still dream of a revival in our days of the ancient Hellenes with their Sophocleses and Platos.131

It was Fallmerayer’s opinion that the Slavonic invasions of the sixth century created a situation in which the Byzantine Empire, without actually having lost a single province, could consider as its subjects only the population of the seacoast provinces and fortified cities. The appearance of the Avars in Europe was an epoch-making event in the history of Greece because they brought with them the Slavs and spurred them on to conquer the sacred soil of Hellas and the Peloponnesus.

Fallmerayer based his theory primarily on the data found in the writings of the church historian of the late sixth century, Evagrius, who wrote: “The Avars twice made an inroad as far as the Long Wall and captured Singidunum [Belgrade], Anchialus, and all of Greece, with other towns and fortresses, laying everything waste with fire and sword, while the greater part of the forces were engaged in the East.”132 It was this mention of all of Greece in Evagrius that gave Fallmerayer a basis for speaking of the extermination of the Greek nation in the Peloponnesus. The “Avars” of Evagrius did not confuse this German scholar, for at that period the Avars attacked the Byzantine Empire conjointly with the Slavs. This particular invasion which Fallmerayer referred to the year 589, did not exterminate the Greeks completely. The final blow to the Greek population came, as Fallmerayer believed, with the importation of the plague from Italy in the year 746. Reference to this is found in the famous quotation from the imperial writer of the tenth century, Constantine Porphyrogenitus, who remarked that after this terrible plague “the entire land was slavonized and became barbarian.”133 The year when Emperor Constantine Copronymus died (775) Fallmerayer estimated, may be considered the final date when the desolate land became once more, and at this time completely, filled with Slavs, who gradually covered Greece with their new cities, towns, and villages.134

In a later work Fallmerayer applied his conclusions to Attica without any real basis. In the second volume of his History of the Peninsula of Morea he advanced a new Albanian theory, according to which the Greek-Slavs who inhabited Greece were displaced and crushed by Albanian settlers during the second quarter of the fourteenth century, so that the Greek revolution of the nineteenth century was in reality the work of Albanian hands.

The first serious opponent of Fallmerayer was the German historian, Carl Hopf, who had studied thoroughly the problem of the Slavs in Greece and published a History of Greece from the Beginning of the Middle Ages to Our Own Times, in 1867. But Hopf fell into the other extreme because of his desire to reduce the significance of the Slavonic element in Greece at all costs. In his judgment, Slavonic settlements in Greece proper existed only from the year 750 until 807; previous to 750 there were none. Hopf showed that Fallmerayer’s opinions on the Slavonization of Attica were based on a false document.135

The abundant literature on this subject, often contradictory and inconsistent in its nature, gives enough basis, however, for concluding that Slavonic settlements of very considerable size existed in Greece from the end of the sixth century, though they resulted neither in pan-Slavonization nor in the complete extermination of the Greeks. Moreover, various sources mention the presence of Slavs in Greece, primarily in the Peloponnesus, during all of the Middle Ages up to the fifteenth century.136 The most important source on the Slavonic penetration of the Balkan Peninsula is the Actaof St. Demetrius, mentioned above. This was properly used neither by Fallmerayer nor by Hopf; in fact, it has not been adequately investigated up to the present day.137

Scholars have frequently disputed the originality of Fallmerayer’s theory. His opinion was nothing new. Slavonic influence in Greece had been spoken of before his time, though he was the first to express his judgments decisively and openly. In 1913 a Russian scholar stated on good grounds that the real originator of Fallmerayer’s theory was Kopitar, a scholar of Slavonic studies in Vienna in the nineteenth century, who developed in his writings the idea of the significant part played by the Slavic element in the formation of the new Greek nation. He did not, it is true, develop this theory in detail; but neither did he create a sensation by an unscholarly paradox.138 “The extremes of Fallmerayer’s theory,” Petrovsky said, “cannot at present be defended after a thorough study of the problems pertaining to it; but the theory itself, harmoniously and vividly expounded by the author, has a right to claim the attention even of those historians who disagree with it either entirely or partially.”139 Without question, this theory, in spite of some very obvious exaggerations, has played a very important part in the science of history by directing scholarly attention to a most interesting and at the same time most obscure question, the problem of the Slavs in Greece during the Middle Ages. The writings of Fallmerayer assume still wider general historical significance when viewed as the work of the first scholar who devoted his attention to the ethnographical transformations during the Middle Ages, not only in Greece, but in the Balkan Peninsula in general. At present in Soviet Russia the thesis of early penetration and settlement of the Slavs in the Balkan Peninsula is strongly supported. In contemporary Russian magazines, such as the Historical Journal and the Messenger of Ancient History, several articles on this subject have appeared. Fallmerayer is very popular with Russian historians, who proclaim that his work has not been adequately appreciated. The modern Slavophile movement in Soviet Russia seems even stronger than the similar movement of some hundred years ago, mentioned in the first chapter of this book.


Reflecting Justinian’s multifarious activities, which amazed even his contemporaries, the epoch between 518 and 610 resulted in an abundant heritage in various branches of learning and literature. The Emperor himself attempted literary creation in the fields of dogmatics and hymnology. Maurice also displayed a taste for letters; he not only patronized but also stimulated literature, and often spent a great part of the night discussing or meditating on questions of poetry or history.140 This period produced several historians, whom Justinian’s enterprises provided with a wealth of material.

The special historian of Justinian’s period was Procopius of Caesarea, who has given a complete and well-rounded picture of the reign. Educated for the law, Procopius was appointed adviser and secretary to the famous general Belisarius, with whom he shared the campaigns against the Vandals, the Goths, and the Persians. He stands out both as historian and as writer. As a historian he was in a most advantageous position with regard to sources and firsthand information. His closeness to Belisarius gave him access to all official documents kept in the offices and archives, while his active participation in the campaigns and his excellent knowledge of the country gave him highly valuable living material based on personal observation and on information obtained from contemporaries.

In style and presentation Procopius frequently followed the classical historians, especially Herodotus and Thucydides. In spite of his dependence upon the Old Greek language of the ancient historians, and in spite of some artificiality of exposition, Procopius had a figurative, lucid, and vigorous style. He wrote three main works. The largest of these is The History in Eight Books, containing accounts of Justinian’s wars with the Persians, Vandals, and Goths as well as accounts of many other sides of government life. The author spoke of the Emperor in a slightly laudatory tone, but in numerous instances he expresses the bitter truth. This work may be called a general history of Justinian’s time. The second work of Procopius, On Buildings, is an unmitigated panegyric of the Emperor, probably written at his command, the main object of which is to give an account and description of the multitude of edifices erected by Justinian in all parts of his vast empire. In spite of rhetorical exaggerations and excessive praise, this work contains an abundance of geographical, topographical, and financial material, and serves therefore as a valuable source in the study of the social and economic history of the Empire. The third work of Procopius, Anecdota, or The Secret History (Historia Arcana), is distinctly different from the other two. It is a vicious libel upon the despotic rule of Justinian and his wife Theodora in which the author flings mud not only at the imperial couple but also at Belisarius and his wife, and in which Justinian is represented as the author of all the misfortunes which occurred in the Empire during this period. The contrast between this work and the other two is so striking that some scholars began to question the authenticity ofThe Secret History, for it seemed impossible that all three works had been composed by one and the same man. Only after a careful comparative study of The Secret History with all other sources pertaining to Justinian’s epoch was it definitely decided that the work was really an authentic work of Procopius. When properly used, this work serves as an extremely valuable source on the internal history of the Byzantine Empire in the sixth century. Thus, all the works of Procopius, in spite of their exaggerations of the virtue or vice of Justinian’s deeds, constitute a highly significant contemporary source for a closer acquaintance with the life of the period. But this is not all. Slavonic history and Slavonic antiquity find in Procopius invaluable information about the life and beliefs of the Slavs, while the Germanic peoples gather from him many facts about their early history.

A contemporary of Justinian and Procopius, the historian Peter the Patrician, a brilliant lawyer and diplomat, was repeatedly sent as ambassador to the Persian Empire and to the Ostrogothic court, where he was kept as prisoner for three years. His writings consisted of Histories, or A History of the Roman Empire, narrating, if one may judge by the extensive fragments in which alone it has survived, events from the second Triumvirate (from Augustus) to the time of Julian the Apostate, and a treatise On the State Constitution (Katastasis or Book of Ceremonies), part of which was included in the famous work of the time of Constantine Porphyrogenitus in the tenth century, The Book of Court Ceremonies.

From Procopius until the early part of the seventh century there was a continuous line of historical writings, and each historian carried on the work of those who preceded him.

Procopius was followed directly by the well-educated lawyer, Agathias, of Asia Minor, who left, in addition to some short poems and epigrams, the somewhat artificially written work, On the Reign of Justinian, which embraces the period from 552 to 558. Following Agathias, Menander the Protector wrote in the time of Maurice, his History which was a continuation of Agathias’ work and related events from the year 558 until 582, i.e., up to the year of the accession of Maurice. Only fragments of this work are in existence today, but they give a sufficient basis for judging the importance of this source, particularly from the geographic and ethnographic point of view; they offer sufficient indication that he was a better historian than Agathias. The work of Menander was continued by Theophylact Simocatta, an Egyptian, who lived during the period of Heraclius and occupied the position of imperial secretary. Besides a small work on natural science and a collection of letters, he also wrote a history of the period of Maurice (582–602). The style of Theophylact is overcharged with allegories and artificial expressions to a much greater extent than that of his immediate predecessors. “In comparison with Procopius and Agathias,” says Krumbacher, “he is the peak of a rapidly rising curve. The historian of Belisarius, in spite of bombast, is still simple and natural; more abounding in poetical flowery expressions is the poet Agathias; but both these writers seem quite unaffected in comparison with Theophylact, who surprises the reader at every turn with new, unexpected flashes of farfetched images, allegories, aphorisms, and mythological and other subtleties.”141 But in spite of all this Theophylact is an excellent major source on the time of Maurice, and he also gives extremely valuable information about Persia and the Slavs in the Balkan peninsula at the end of the sixth century.

Justinian’s ambassador to the Saracens and Abyssinians, Nonnosus, wrote a description of his distant journey. Time has preserved only one fragment, which is found in the works of the Patriarch Photius; but even this fragment gives excellent data on the nature and ethnography of the countries he visited. Photius also preserved a fragment of the history of Theophanes of Byzantium, who wrote at the end of the sixth century and probably covered in his work the period from the time of Justinian to the first years of the reign of Maurice. This fragment is important because it contains evidence bearing on the introduction of sericulture in the Byzantine Empire and includes also one of the earliest references to the Turks. Another source particularly valuable for church history of the fifth and sixth centuries is the work of Evagrius of Syria, who died at the end of the sixth century. His Ecclesiastical History in six books is a continuation of histories written by Socrates, Sozomen, and Theodoret. It contains an account of events from the Council of Ephesus, in the year 431, to the year 593. In addition to information on ecclesiastical events, it contains also interesting data on the general history of the period.

John the Lydian was distinguished for his excellent education, and Justinian thought so highly of him that he commissioned him to write an imperial panegyric. Besides other works, John left a treatise On the Administration (magistrates) of the Roman State,which has not yet been sufficiently studied and evaluated. It contains numerous interesting facts about the internal organization of the Empire and may serve as a valuable supplement to The Secret History of Procopius.142

The manifold significance of The Christian Topography of Cosmas Indicopleustes, the broad geographical scale of which so closely corresponded to Justinian’s sweeping projects, has been discussed. To the field of geography also belongs the statistical survey of the Eastern Roman Empire of Justinian’s period, which came from the pen of the grammarian Hierocles, and bears the title of A Fellow-Traveler of Hierocles (Συνέκδημoς; Synecdemus; Vademecum). The author does not center his survey about the ecclesiastical, but rather about the political, geography of the Empire, with its sixty-four provinces and 912 cities. It is impossible to determine whether this survey was a product of Hierocles’ own initiative or a result of a commission received from some high authority. In any event, in the dry survey of Hierocles exists an excellent source for determining the political position of the Empire at the beginning of Justinian’s reign.143 Hierocles was the principal source for geographical matters for Constantine Porphyrogenitus.

In addition to these historians and geographers, the sixth century also had its chroniclers. Justinian’s epoch was still closely connected with classical literature, and the dry universal chronicles, which developed greatly in the later Byzantine period, appeared only as rare exceptions in this period.

A middle position between the historians and chroniclers was occupied by Hesychius of Miletus, who lived, in all likelihood, in the time of Justinian. His works survive only in fragments preserved in the writings of Photius and the lexicographer of the tenth century, Suidas. On the basis of these fragments it appears that Hesychius wrote a universal history in the form of a chronicle embracing the period from the time of ancient Assyria to the death of Anastasius (518). A large fragment of this work has survived, which is concerned with the early history of Byzantium even before the time of Constantine the Great. Hesychius was also the author of a history of the time of Justin I and the early reign of Justinian which differed greatly in style and conception from the first work, and contained a detailed narrative of events contemporary with the author. The third work of Hesychius was a dictionary of famous Greek writers in different branches of knowledge. Since he did not include the Christian writers, some scholars affirm that Hesychius was probably a pagan; this opinion, however, is not generally accepted.144

The true chronicler of the sixth century was the uneducated Syrian of Antioch, John Malalas, the author of a Greek chronicle of the history of the world, which, judging by the only surviving manuscript, relates events from the fabulous times of Egyptian history to the end of Justinian’s reign. But it probably contained also accounts of a later period.145 The chronicle is Christian and apologetic in its aims, exposing very clearly the monarchistic tendencies of the author. Confused in content, mixing fables and facts, important events and minor incidents, it is clearly intended not for educated readers but for the masses, ecclesiastical and secular, for whom the author put down many varied and amusing facts. “This work represents a historical booklet for the people in the fullest sense of the term.”146 The style is particularly worthy of attention, for this work is the first considerable one written in the spoken Greek language, that vulgate Greek dialect, popular in the East, which mixed Greek elements with Latin and eastern expressions. Since it suited the taste and mentality of the masses, this chronicle exerted an enormous influence upon Byzantine, eastern, and Slavonic chronography. The large number of Slavonic selections and translations of the writings of Malalas are of great value in restoring the original Greek text of his chronicle.147

In addition to the large number of works written in Greek, to this epoch (518–610) belong also the Syrian writings of John of Ephesus, who died in the latter part of the sixth century (probably in the year 586).148 Born in Upper Mesopotamia and a convinced Monophysite by faith, John spent many years of his life in Constantinople and in Asia Minor, where he occupied the see of Ephesus and made the personal acquaintance of Justinian and Theodora. He was the author of the Lives of the Eastern Saints or Histories Concerning the Ways of Life of the Blessed Easterns (Commentarii de Beatis Orientalibus), and the Ecclesiastical History (in Syriac), which embraced originally the period from Julius Caesar to the year 585. Of the latter only the most important and original part has survived, which deals with events from 521 to 585. It is an invaluable source for the period. Written from a Monophysitic point of view, this history of John of Ephesus reveals, not so much the dogmatic foundations of the Monophysitic disputes, as their national and cultural background. According to a scholar who has devoted himself to the special study of John’s work, theEcclesiastical History “throws much light upon the last phases of the struggle between Christianity and paganism by revealing also the cultural foundations of this struggle.” It is also “of great value to the political and cultural history of the Byzantine Empire in the sixth century, especially with regard to determining the extent of eastern influences. In his narrative the author enters into all the details and minutiae of life, thus giving abundant material for a close acquaintance with the manners and customs and the archeology of the period.”149

The Monophysitic disputes, which continued throughout the sixth century, aroused much literary activity in the realm of dogmatics and polemics. Even Justinian did not abstain from participating in these literary disputes. The writings of the Monophysitic side in the Greek original have not been preserved. They can be judged either by citations found in the writers of the opposing camp or by the translations preserved in Syriac and Arabic literature. Among the writers of the orthodox side was a contemporary of Justin and Justinian, Leontius of Byzantium, who left several works against the Nestorians, Monophysites, and others. On the life of this dogmatist and polemic there is very scanty information.150 He stands out as an example of an interesting phenomenon in the time of Justinian, namely, the fact that Plato’s influence upon the church fathers was already beginning to give way to that of Aristotle.151

The development of monastic and eremitical life in the East during the sixth century left its traces in the works of ascetic, mystical, and hagiographie literature. John Climacus (ὁ τῆς κλίμακoς) lived in solitude on Mount Sinai for a long period of years and wrote what is known as the Climax—“Spiritual ladder” (Scala Paradisi),152 consisting of thirty chapters, or “rungs,” in which he described the degrees of spiritual ascension to moral perfection. This work became favorite reading among the Byzantine monks, serving as a guide to the attainment of ascetic and spiritual perfection. But the remarkable popularity of the Climax was by no means confined to the East; there are many translations into Syriac, Modern Greek, Latin, Italian, Spanish, French, and Slavonic. Some of the manuscripts of the Climax contain many interesting illustrations (miniatures) of religious and monastic life.153

At the head of the hagiographic writers of the sixth century one must place Cyril of Scythopolis, a Palestinian, who spent the last years of his life in the famous Palestinian Laura of St. Sabas. Cyril wanted to compile a large collection of monastic “Lives,” but did not succeed in completing this project, probably because of his premature death. Several of his works have survived. Among these are the lives of Euthymius and St. Sabas, and also several minor lives of saints. Because of the accuracy of narrative and the author’s precise understanding of ascetic life, as well as the simplicity of his style, all the surviving works of Cyril serve as very valuable sources for the cultural history of the early Byzantine period.154 John Moschus, also a Palestinian, who lived at the end of the sixth and early part of the seventh centuries, produced his famous work in Greek, Pratum Spirituale(Λειμών), “The spiritual meadow,” on the basis of the experience gained during numerous journeys to the monasteries of Palestine, Egypt, Mount Sinai, Syria, Asia Minor, and the islands of the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas. The work contains the author’s impressions of his journeys and much varied information about monasteries and monks. In some respects the contents of the Pratum Spirituale are of great interest for the history of civilization. It later became a favorite book, not only in the Byzantine Empire, but also in other lands, especially in Old Russia.

The poetical literature of this time also had several representatives during this period. It is quite certain that Romanus the Melode (“hymn-writer”), famous for his church songs, was at the height of his creative career in the time of Justinian. In the same period Paul the Silentiary composed his two poetical descriptions (in Greek verse) of St. Sophia and its beautiful pulpit (ambo). These works are of great interest in the history of art,155 and were praised by his contemporary, the historian Agathias,156 mentioned earlier. Finally, Corippus of North Africa, who later settled in Constantinople, a man of limited poetical ability, wrote two works in Latin verse. The first of these, Johannis, written in honor and praise of the Byzantine general, John (Johannes) Troglita, who quelled the revolt of the north African natives against the Empire, contains invaluable data about the geography and ethnography of North Africa as well as about the African War. The facts related by Corippus are at times more dependable than those given by Procopius. The second work of Corippus, the Panegyric or Eulogy of Justin (in laudem Jus-tint), describing in bombastic style the accession of Justin II the Younger and the first events of his reign, is inferior to the first poem, yet it contains many interesting facts about the ceremonial of the Byzantine court in the sixth century.

Papyri have revealed a certain Dioscorus, who lived in the sixth century in a small village of upper Egypt, the Aphrodito. A Copt by birth, he seems to have received a good general education with a thorough training in law; he also entertained literary ambitions. Though his large collection of deeds and other papyri furnish much precious information concerning the social and administrative history of the period, his poems contribute nothing to the glory of Hellenistic poetry; they represent the work of an amateur which is “full of the most glaring blunders, alike in grammar and prosody.” According to H. Bell, he read at least a fair amount of Greek literature but wrote execrable verses.157 J. Maspero calls Dioscorus the last Greek poet of Egypt, as well as one of the last representatives of Hellenism in the valley of the Nile.158

The closing of the Athenian pagan academy during Justinian’s reign could result in no very serious harm to the literature and education of this period because the academy had already outlived its purpose. It was no longer of great import in a Christian empire. The treasures of classical literature penetrated gradually, often externally only, into the products of Christian literature. The university of Constantinople organized by Theodosius II continued to be active in Justinian’s epoch. New works on jurisprudence show the importance of the study of law during this period. It was confined, however, to the formal mastery of literal translations of juridical texts and the writing of brief paraphrases and excerpts. We have no exact information as to how juridical instruction developed after the death of Justinian. While Emperor Maurice showed much interest in learning, his successor, Phocas, apparently halted the activities of the university.159

In the realm of art the epoch of Justinian bears the name of the First Golden Age. The architecture of his time created a monument unique in its kind— the Church of St. Sophia.160

St. Sophia or the Great Church, as it was called throughout the East, was constructed by the orders of Justinian on the site of the small basilica of St. Sophia (“divine wisdom”) which was set on fire during the Nika revolt (532). In order to make this temple a building of unusual splendor, Justinian, according to late tradition, ordered the governors of the provinces to furnish the capital with the best pieces of ancient monuments. Enormous quantities of marble of various colors and shades were also transported to the capital from the richest mines. Silver, gold, ivory, and precious stones were brought in to add further magnificence to the new temple.

The Emperor chose for the execution of this grandiose project two gifted architects, Anthemius and Isidore. Both were natives of Asia Minor, Anthemius from the city of Tralles, and Isidore from Miletus. They attacked their great task with enthusiasm and skillfully guided the work of ten thousand laborers. The Emperor visited the construction personally, watching its progress with keen interest, offering advice, and arousing the zeal of the workers. In five years the construction was completed. On Christmas Day of the year 537 the triumphant dedication of St. Sophia took place in the presence of the Emperor. Later sources related that the Emperor, overwhelmed by his attainment, said upon entering the temple: “Glory be to God who deemed me worthy of this deed! I have conquered thee, Solomon!”161 On this triumphant occasion the population was granted many favors and great celebrations were arranged in the capital.

Externally St. Sophia is very simple because its bare brick walls are void of any ornamentation. Even the famous dome seems somewhat heavy from the outside. At present St. Sophia is lost among the Turkish houses which surround it. In order to appreciate fully all the grandeur and splendor of the temple one must see it from the inside.

In former days the temple had a spacious court, the atrium, surrounded by porticoes in the center of which stood a beautiful marble fountain. The fourth side of the atrium adjoining the temple was a sort of outer porch or closed gallery (narthex) connected by five doors with the second inner porch. Nine bronze doors led from this porch into the temple; the central widest and highest royal door was intended for the emperor. The temple itself, approaching in its architecture the type of “domed basilicas,” forms a very large rectangle with a magnificent central nave over which rises an enormous dome 31 meters in circumference, constructed with unusual difficulty at the height of 50 meters above the earth’s surface. Forty large windows at the base of the dome let abundant light spread through the entire cathedral. Along both sides of the central nave were constructed two-storied arches richly decorated with columns. The floor and the columns are of many-colored marble, which was used also for parts of the walls. Marvelous mosaics, painted over in the Turkish period, formerly enchanted the eyes of the visitors. Particularly deep was the impression made upon pilgrims by the enormous cross at the top of the dome shining upon a mosaic-starred sky. And even today one can distinguish, under the Turkish painting in the lower part of the dome, the large figures of winged angels.

The most difficult task of the builders of St. Sophia, a feat yet unsurpassed even in modern architecture, was the erection of an enormous, and at the same time very light, dome. The task was accomplished, but the remarkable dome did not last very long; it caved in even during Justinian’s period and had to be rebuilt on less daring lines at the end of his reign. Justinian’s contemporaries spoke of St. Sophia with as much transport as did later generations, including the present. The Russian pilgrim of the fourteenth century, Stephen of Novgorod, wrote in his Travels to Tsargrad(Constantinople), “As for St. Sophia, Divine Wisdom, the human mind can neither tell it nor make description of it.”162 In spite of frequent and violent earthquakes, St. Sophia stands firm even today. It was transformed into a mosque in 1453. Strzygowski said: “In conception the church [St. Sophia] is purely Armenian.”163

As time went on the true story of the erection of St. Sophia was transformed in literature into a sort of legend with a large number of miraculous details. From the Byzantine Empire these legends found their way into south-Slavic and Russian as well as into Muhammedan, Arabic, and Turkish literature. The Slavonic and Muhammedan versions present very interesting material for the history of international literary influences.164

The second famous church of the capital erected by Justinian was the Church of the Holy Apostles. This church had been built by Constantine the Great or by Constantius, but toward the sixth century it was in a state of complete dilapidation. Justinian pulled it down and rebuilt it on a larger and more magnificent scale. It was a cruciform church with four equal arms and a central dome between four other domes. Again the architects of the Church were Anthemius of Tralles and Isidore the Younger. When Constantinople was taken by the Turks in 1453 the church was destroyed to make room for the mosque of Muhammed II the Conqueror. A clearer conception of what the Church of the Holy Apostles was like can be obtained from St. Mark’s at Venice, which was built on its model. It was copied also in St. John at Ephesus, and on French soil in St. Front at Perigueux. The beautiful lost mosaics of the Church of the Apostles have been described by Nicholas Mesantes, a bishop of Ephesus, at the beginning of the thirteenth century, and were thoroughly discussed by A. Heisenberg.165 The Church of the Apostles is known to have been the burial place of the Byzantine emperors from Constantine the Great to the eleventh century.

The influence of Constantinopolitan construction was felt in the East, for instance, in Syria, and in the West in Parenzo, in Istria, and especially at Ravenna.

St. Sophia may impress and charm now by its dome, by the sculptural ornaments of its columns, by the many-colored marble facing of its walls and floor, and still more by the ingenuity of its architectural execution; but the marvelous mosaics of this remarkable temple have heretofore been inaccessible, because they were painted over during the Turkish period. A new era in the history of St. Sophia, however, started recently through the enlightened policy of the modern Turkish republic under the leadership of Mustapha Kemal Ataturk. The building was first of all thrown open to foreign archeologists and scholars. In 1931 an order of the Turkish government was issued enabling the Byzantine Institute of America to lay bare and conserve the mosaics of St. Sophia. Professor Thomas Whittemore, director of the Institute, secured permission to uncover and restore mosaics, and in 1933 work began in the narthex. In December 1934, Mustapha Kemal announced that the building had been closed as a mosque and would henceforth be preserved as a museum and monument of Byzantine art. Owing to Whittemore’s untiring and systematic work the marvelous mosaics of St. Sophia are gradually reappearing in all their brilliance and beauty. Since Whittemore’s death in 1950, his work has been continued by Professor Paul A. Underwood.

An excellent conception of Byzantine mosaics exists in the West in the northern Italian city of Ravenna. Fifteen hundred years ago Ravenna was a prosperous city on the Adriatic coast. During the fifth century it served as a refuge of the last Western Roman emperors; in the sixth century it became the capital of the Ostrogothic kingdom, and finally, from the middle of the sixth century to the middle of the eighth century, it was the administrative center of Byzantine Italy reconquered from the Ostrogoths by Justinian. It was the home of the Byzantine viceroy or exarch. This last period was the brilliant period of Ravenna, when political, economic, intellectual, and artistic activity poured forth in an abundant stream.

The artistic monuments of Ravenna are bound up with the memory of three persons: first, Galla Placidia, the daughter of Theodosius the Great and the mother of the western emperor, Valentinian III, second, Theodoric the Great, and third, Justinian. Putting aside the earlier monuments of the time of Galla Placidia and Theodoric, we shall speak briefly only about the Ravenna monuments of Justinian’s time.

Throughout his long reign Justinian was greatly interested in promoting the construction of monuments of civil and religious architecture in various places of his enormous empire. Upon conquering Ravenna he finished the construction of those churches which had been begun under the Ostrogothic sway. Among these churches two are of particularly great importance from an artistic point of view. They are the Church of St. Vitale and the Church of St. Apollinare in Classe (the Ravennan port, Classis). The main artistic value of these churches lies in their mosaics.

About three miles from the city of Ravenna, in the deserted marshy locality occupied in the Middle Ages by the prosperous trading port of the city, rises the simple outline of the Church of St. Apollinare in Classe, representing in shape a genuine ancient Christian basilica. On one side of this church stands the round campanile constructed later. The interior has three naves. The ancient sarcophagi, decorated by sculptural images and situated along the church walls, contain the remains of the most famous archbishops of Ravenna. The mosaic of the sixth century can be seen in the lower part of the apse. It represents St. Apollinare, the protector of Ravenna, standing with raised arms, surrounded by lambs, in the midst of a peaceful landscape; above him, on the blue starred sky of the large medallion, beams a jeweled cross. The other mosaics of this church date from a later period.166

For the study of the artistic achievements of Justinian’s period the church of St. Vitale in Ravenna contains the most valuable material. Here the mosaics of the sixth century have been preserved almost intact. The domed church of St. Vitale is covered on the inside from top to bottom with marvelous sculptural and mosaic decorations. The apse of this church is particularly well known because the two most famous mosaics are found on its two side walls. One of them represents Justinian surrounded by the bishop, the priests, and his court; the other is a picture of his wife, Theodora, with her ladies. The garb of the figures in these pictures is very striking in its splendor and magnificence. Ravenna, sometimes referred to as an “Italian-Byzantine Pompeii,” or “la Byzance occidentale,”167 offers the most valuable material for the evaluation of early Byzantine art of the fifth and sixth centuries.

The building activities of Justinian were not limited to the erection of fortifications and churches. He constructed also many monasteries, palaces, bridges, cisterns, aqueducts, baths, and hospitals. In the distant provinces of the Empire the name of Justinian is connected with the construction of the monastery of St. Catherine on Mount Sinai. In the apse of its church is a famous mosaic of a transfiguration ascribed to the sixth century.168

Several very interesting miniatures and textiles of that epoch have survived.169 And although under the influence of the church, sculpture in general was in a state of decline, there were a large number of exceedingly graceful and beautiful ivory carvings, particularly among the diptych-leaves and the special group of consular diptychs, the series beginning in the fifth century and ending with the abolition of the consulate in 541.

Almost all the writers of this period and the builders of St. Sophia and of the Apostles were natives of Asia or northern Africa. The Hellenistic civilized East still continued to fertilize the intellectual and artistic life of the Byzantine Empire.

A survey of the long, various, and complicated reign of Justinian shows that in the majority of his projects he did not attain the desired results. It is quite evident that the brilliant military undertakings in the West, a direct outcome of his ideology of a Roman Caesar obliged to reconquer the lost territories of the Empire, were not successful in the end. They were decidedly out of harmony with the true interests of the Empire, centering primarily in the East; hence they contributed much to the decline and ruin of the country. The lack of means followed by a reduction of the army made it impossible for Justinian to establish himself firmly in the newly conquered provinces, and the results became evident during the reign of his successors. The religious policy of the Emperor was also a failure, for it did not bring about religious unity and resulted only in additional disturbances in the eastern Monophysitic provinces. Justinian met with most complete failure in his administrative reforms, which were begun with pure and sincere intentions and which led to the impoverishment and depopulation of villages, particularly because of excessive taxation and extortions by local officials.

Two of Justinian’s achievements, however, left a deep mark in the history of human civilization and completely justify the surname of “Great.” These two achievements are his code of civil law and the cathedral of St. Sophia.

1 The Excubitors were a regiment of the Byzantine guard.

2 J. Bryce,’ “Life of Justinian by Theophilus,” Archivio della Reale Società Romana di Storia Patria, X (1887), 137–71; also in the English Historical Review, II (1887), 657–84.

3 c. Jireček, Geschichte der Serben, I, 36. J. B. Bury, History of the Later Roman Empire, II, 18, n. 3. On the origin of Justinian see A. A. Vasiliev, “The Problem of Justinian’s Slavic Origin,” Vizantiysky Vremennik, I (1894), 469–92. There are many recent articles on Justinian’s origin.

4 The text of the speech is reproduced in Theophylact Simocatta, Historia, III, 11; ed. C. de Boor, 132–33. Evagrius, Historia ecclesiastica, V, 13; ed. J. Bidez and L. Parmentier, 208–9. John of Ephesus, Ecclesiastical History, III, 5; trans. R. Payne-Smith, 172–76; trans. E. W. Brooks, 93–94. In an interesting article on this speech a Russian scholar, V. Valdenberg, suggests that the texts of these three writers are three different versions of the same speech: “An Oration of Justin II to Tiberius,” Bulletin de l’Académie des sciences de l’Union des Republiques socialistes sovietiques, No. 2 (1928), 129. English trans. Bury, Later Roman Empire, II, 77–78.

5 Evagrii, Historia ecclesiastica, V, 19. John of Ephesus, Ecclesiastical History, V, 21; trans. Payne-Smith, 361.

6 “Pauli Diaconti,” Historia Langobardorum, III, 15.

7 E. Stein, Studien aus Geschichte des byzantinischen Reiches vornehmlich unter den Kaisern Justinus II und Tiberius Constantinus, 100, n. 2.

8 Evagrii, Historia ecclesiastica, V, 19.

9 History of Byzantium, II, 419.

10 Collectio Avellana, no. 196, Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latin or um, XXXV (1895), 655–56.

11 See A. A. Vasiliev, “Justin I (518–27) and Abyssinia,” Byzantinische Zeitschrift, XXXIII (1933), 67–77. Also Justin the First, 299–302, by the same author.

12 Charles Diehl, Figures byzantines, I, 56; English trans. H. Bell, Byzantine Portraits, 54.

13 Historia arcana, 9, 25; ed. J. Haury, 60–61.

14 Victoris Tonnennensis Chronica, s. a. 549: Theodora Augusta Chalcedonsis synodi inimica canceris plaga corpore toto perfusa vitam prodigiose finivit; in Chronica Minora, ed. T. Mommsen, II, 202.

15 Arch. Sergius, The Complete Liturgical Calendar (Menelogion) of the Orient (2nd ed., 1901), II, 1, 354.

16 Procopius, De bello gothico, I, 5, 8; ed. J. Haury, II, 26.

17 Justinian, Novellae Constitutiones, No, 30 (44), II; ed. K. E. Zachariä von Lingenthal, I, 276.

18 Justinien et la civilisation byzantine au VIe siècle, 137.

19 Jordanis, Getica, XXVIII; ed. T. Momrasen, 95.

20 De bello vandalico, I, 10; ed. Haury, I, 355–60; English trans. H. B. Dewing, II, 90–101.

21 On this war see Charles Diehl, L’Afrique byzantine, 3–33, 333–81. Diehl, Justinien, 173–80. W. Holmes, The Age of Justinian and Theodora (2nd ed., 1912), II, 489–526. Bury, Later Roman Empire, II, 124–48.

22 Codex Justinianus, I, 27, 1, 7.

23 See Bury, Later Roman Empire, II, 147.

24 The most detailed record of this battle is in Bury, Later Roman Empire, II, 261–69, 288–91.

25 Chronicle of John Malalas, 486. Theophanes Chronographia s. a. 6044; ed. C. de Boor, 228. See Bury, Later Roman Empire, II, 268,

26 Diehl, Justinien, 204–6. Bury, Later Roman Empire, II, 287. Georgii Cyprii Descriptio Orbis Romani, ed. H. Gelzer, xxxii-xxxv. F. Görres, “Die byzantinischen Besitzungen an den Küsten des spanischwestgothischen Reiches (554–624),” Byzantinische Zeitschrift, XVI (1907), 516. E. Bouchier, Spain under the Roman Empire, 54–55. R. Altamira, The Cambridge Medieval History, II, 163–64. P. Goubert, “Byzance et l’Espagne wisigothique (554–711),” Études byzantines, II (1945), 5–78.

27 Bury, Later Roman Empire, II, 287. Goubert, “Byzance et l’Espagne,” Études byzantines, II (1945), 76–77 (until 624).

28 See J. Puigi i Cadafalch, “L’Architecture religieuse dans le domaine byzantin en Espagne,” Byzantion, I (1924), 530.

29 E. Stein ranked Chosroes very high, and not only him but his father Kawadh (Kavad), a man of genius. He compared Kawadh with Philip of Macedon and Frederick William I of Prussia, men whose famous sons by their own success overshadowed the less brilliant but perhaps more arduous achievements of the fathers on whose work they built. Stein, “Ein Kapitel vom persichen und vom byzantinischen Staate,” Byzantinisch-Neugriechische Jahrbücher, I (1920), 64.

30 On the Persian war under Justinian, see Diehl, Justinien, 208–17. Holmes, Justinian and Theodora, II, 365–419, 584–604. Bury, Later Roman Empire, II, 79–123. J. Kulakovsky, History of Byzantium, II, 188–208.

31 Procopius, De hello persico, II, 8, 23; ed. Haury, 1, 188; ed. Dewing, I, 330–31.

32 Menandri Excerpta; ed. B. G. Niebuhr, Corpus Scriptorum Historiae Byzantinae (Bonn, 1829), 346 ff. This collection is referred to hereafter as Bonn ed. Excerpta historica jussu imp. Constantini Porphyrogeniti confecta, ed. C. de Boor, I, 175 ff.

33 On the details of the treaty see K. Güter-bock, Byzanz und Persien in ihren diplomatisch-völkerrectlichen Beziehungen im Zeit-alter Justinians, 57–105. Bury, Later Roman Empire, II, 120–23; the year of the treaty, 562. Stein, Justinus II und Tiberius, 5–6; the year of the treaty, 561 (pp. 2 and 28 n. 3).

34 See Bury, Later Roman Empire, II, 298–308.

35 W. Tomaschck, Die Goten in Taurica, 15–16. A. A. Vasiliev, The Goths in the Crimea, 70–73. The remains of Justinian’s walls should be studied in situ.

36 Vasiliev, Goths in the Crimea, 75. J. Kulakovsky, The Past of the Tauris (2nd ed., 1914), 60–62. The Tauris is the ancient name of the Crimea. Bury, Later Roman Empire, II, 310–12.

37 Bury, ibid., 330.

38 Corpus Inscriptionum Graecarum, III, 5072 (p. 486). G. Lefebvre, Recueil des inscriptions grecques chrétiennes d’Egypte, 628.

39 Procopius, Historia arcana, 19, 7–8; ed. Haury, 121.

40 Ecclesiastical History, V, 20; trans. Payne-Smith, 358; trans. Brooks, 205.

41 Justinian, Institutiones, introduction; trans. J. T. Abdy and B. Walker, xxi.

42 Bury, Later Roman Empire, II, 396.

43 Constitutio Tanta, preface; ed. P. Krüger, 13; trans. C. H. Monro, I, xxv.

44 Codex Justiniani de emendatione Codicis, ed. Krüger, 4.

45 See A. A. Vasiliev, “Justinian’s Digest. In commemoration of the 1400th anniversary of the publication of the Digest (A .D. 533–1933),” Studi bizantini e neoellenici, V (1939), 711–34•

46 Constitutio Tanta, ii; ed. Krüger, 18; trans. Monro, xxx.

47 Constitutio Omnem, 2; ed. Krüger, 10; trans. Monro, xx.

48 Institutions, ed. Krüger, xix; trans. Abdy, xxi.

49 Novella 7 (15) a; ed. K. E. Zachariä von Lingenthal, I, 80.

50 See K. E. Zachariä von Lingenthal, Geschichte des griechisch-römischen Rechts (3rd ed., 1892), 5–7. Cf. P. Collinet, “Byzantine Legislation from Justinian (565) to 1453,” Cambridge Medieval History, IV, 707. Collinet, Histoire de l’école de droit de Beyrouth, 186–88, 303.

51 Constitutio Omnem, 6; ed. Krüger, 11; trans. Monro, xxiii.

52 Ibid., II; ed. Krüger, 12; trans. Monro, xxiv.

53 Constitutio Imperatoriam majestatem. 7; ed. Krüger, xix; trans. Abdy, xxiv. This is a decree concerning the Institutions.

54 Justinien, 248.

55 History of Roman Law (2nd ed., 1915), 4.

56 See P. Collinet, Études historiques sur le droit de Justinien, I, 7–44.

57 See G. Ostrogorsky, “Das Projekt einer Rangtabelle aus der Zeit des Caren Fedor Alekseevič,” Jahrbuch für Kultur und Geschichte der Slaven, IX (1933), 133 n. 131, with reference to L. Loewenson, Zeitschrift für Osteuropäische Geschichte, N.S. II, part 2, 234 ff.

58 See, e.g., A. Knecht, Die Religions -Politik Kaiser Justinians, 53, 147. J. Lebon, Le mono-physisme sévérien, 73–83, Kulakovsky, Byzantium, II, 233–62. Bury, Later Roman Empire, II, 360–94.

59 A. Lebedev, The Ecumenical Councils of the Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Centuries (3rd ed., 1904), 16.

60 On Caesaropapism in Byzantium see G. Ostrogorsky, “Relation between the Church and the State in Byzantium,” Annales de l’Institut Kondakov, IV (1931), 121–23. See also Biondo Biondi, Giustiniano Primo Principe e Legislature Cattolico, 11–13.

61 A. Dyakonov, John of Ephesus and His Ecclesiastical-Historical Works, 52–53.

62 Knecht, Die Religions-Politik Kaiser Justinians, 62–65.

63 Novella 131 β; ed. Zachariä von Lingenthal, II, 267.

64 Knecht, Die Religions -Politic Kaiser Justinians, 36.

65 Commentarii de Beatis Orientalibus, ed. W. J. van Douwen and J. P. N. Land, 114, 247; ed. E. W. Brooks, Patrologia Orientalis, XVIII (1924), 634 (432), 677 (475), 679 (477). See A. Dyakonov, John of Ephesus, 63.

66 J. D. Mansi, Sacrorum Conciliorum nova et amplissima collectio (1762), VIII, 817. Caesari Baronii, Annales ecclesiastici, ed. A. Theiner, IX, 32 (s. a. 532), 419.

67 John of Ephesus, Commentarii, 155; ed. Brooks, II, 677 (475). See Dyakonov, John of Ephesus, 58.

68 J. Maspero, Histoire des patriarches d’Alexandrie, 3, 100, 110. Lebon, Le Monophysisme sévérien, 74–77.

69 Maspero, Patriarches d’Alexandrie, 110.

70 Vita Agapeti papae, ed. L. Duchesne, Liber Pontificalis, I, 287. Mansi, Amplissima Collectio Conciliorum, VIII, 843.

71 The Edict of the Three Chapters was called this because it contained three chapters or paragraphs devoted to the three before-named writers, but the original meaning of this name was soon forgotten and the “Three Chapters” later signified Theodore, Theodoret, and Ibas.

72 Fulgentii Ferrandi Epistola, VI, 7; ed. J. P. Migne, Patrologia Latina, LXVII, 926.

73 Monumenta, Germaniae Historica, Epistolarum III, 62 (no. 41).

74 Mansi, Amplissima Collectio Conciliorum, IX, 376.

75 Epistolae Gregorii Magni, II, 36; Mansi, Amplissima Collectio Conciliorum, IX, 1105. Gregorii I papae Registrum epistolarum, ed. L. M. Hartmann, II, 49, in Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Epistolarum, I, 151.

76 See Maspero, Patriarches d’Alexandrie, 135. Maspero gives a very fine history of the Monophysitic problem under Justinian, 102–65. Also see Dyakonov, John of Ephesus, 51–87.

77 Th. I. Uspensky, History of the Byzantine Empire, I, 506.

78 See the extremely important monograph by M. Manojlović, originally published in Serbo-Croatian in 1904 and almost never referred to. H. Grégoire has translated it into French under the title “Le peuple de Constantinople,” Byzantion, XI (1936), 617–716. Manojlović’s thesis has not been universally accepted. F. Dolger accepts it (Byzantinische Zeitschrift, XXXVII [1937], 542); Ostrogorsky declines it (Geschichte des byzantinischen Staates, 41, n. 1). E. Stein declined it in 1920 (he had not himself read the original Serbo-Croatian text), but accepted it in 1930 (Byzantinische Zeitschrift, XXX [1930], 378). I myself believe that Manojlović has convincingly proved his thesis.

79 See E. Condurachi, “Factions et jeux de cirque à Rome au début du VIe siècle,” Revue historique du sudest européen, XVIII (1941), 95–102, especially 96–98. The source for this important conclusion is the contemporary work of Cassiodorus, the Variae. Cf. Manojlović’s casual remark, unsupported by any reference: “This ‘crystallization’ [of the classes] originated in the circus of the elder Rome.” Byzantion, XI (1936), 642, 711–12.

80 “The Byzantine Demes and Factions [τà μέρη] in the Fifth to the Seventh Centuries,” Vizantiysky Sbornik, 1945, ed. M. V. Levchenko, 144–227; introduction, 144–49. An excellent study which must serve as an indispensable foundation for further studies on this question. On the history of the demes and factions in later times, especially in the seventh century when the political importance of the factions was gradually waning, see G. Brătianu, “La Fin du regime des parties à Byzance et la crise antisemite du VIIe siècle,Revue historique du sudest européen, XVIII (1941), 49–57. Dyakonov, “Byzantine Demes,” Vizantiysky Sbornik, 1945, 226–27. Grégoire may be somewhat inexact in his statement: “It is a fact that after 641 one finds no further trace of the political role of the colors of the Circus [des couleurs du Cirque], “Notules epigraphique,” Byzantion, XIII (1938), 175. F. Dvornik, “The Circus Parties in Byzantium,” Byzantina Metabyzantina, I (1946), 119–133.

81 See a curious conversation between the Emperor and the Greens through a herald or mandator in Theophanes, Chronographia, ed. de Boor, 181–84; also Chronicon Paschale, 620–21. Cf. P. Maas, “Metrische Akklamationen der Byzantiner,” Byzantinische Zeitschrift, XXI (1912), 31–33, 46–51. Bury thinks that this may refer to some other period of Justinian’s reign; see Later Roman Empire, II, 40 and n. 3, 72. Bury gives an English translation of the conversation, 72–74.

82 De bello persico, I, 24, 35–37; ed. Haury, I, 130; ed. Dewing, I, 230–33.

83 On the Nika revolt see Dyakonov’s remarks in “The Byzantine Demes,” Vizantiysky Sbornik 1945, 209–12.

84 Novella, 30 (44), 5; ed. Zachariä von Lingenthal, I, 268.

85 See H. Bell, “The Byzantine Servile State in Egypt,” Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, IV (1917), 101–2. Bell, “An Epoch in the Agrarian History of Egypt,” Études égyptologiques dédiées à Jean-François Champollion, 263. M. Gelzer, Studien zur byzantinischen Verwaltung Aegyptens, 32, 83–90. A. E. R. Boak, “Byzantine Imperialism in Egypt,” American Historical Review, XXXIV (1928), 6.

86 Novella 8 (16), 10; ed. Zachariä von Lingenthal, I, 104.

87 Novella 8 (16), 8; ed. ibid., I, 102.

88 Novella 28 (31), 5; ed. ibid., I, 197.

89 Novella 8 (16), 10; ed. ibid., I, 106,

90 Edictum 13 (96), introduction; ed. ibid., I, 529–30.

91 Gelzer, Studien zur byzantinischen Verwaltung Aegyptens, 21–36. Bury, Later Roman Empire, II, 342–43. G. Rouillard, L’Administration civile de l’Egypte byzantine (2nd ed., 1928), 30.

92 Novella 33 (54), introduction; ed. Zachariä von Lingenthal, I, 360.

93 Chronicle of John Malalas, 486. If I am not mistaken Bury does not mention this text.

94 De laudibus Justini, II, vss. 249–50.

95 Joannis Lydi De Magistratibus, III, 70; ed. I. Bekker, Bonn edition, 264; ed. R. Wuensch, Bibliotheca scriptorum graecorum et romanorum Tcubneriana, 162.

96 Justinien, 311.

97 The best and principal authority is Procopius, who was living in Constantinople during the visitation. De bello persico, II, 22–23. See Bury, Later Roman Empire, 62–66; Procopius’ description is reproduced on 63–64. H. Zinsser, Rats, Lice and History, 144–49; translation from Procopius, 145–47.

98 K. E. Zachariä von Lingenthal, Jus graeco-romanum, III, 3.

99 Indicopleustes means “sailor to India,” or “sailor of the Indian Sea.” This work was translated into English by J. MacCrindle, The Christian Topography of Cosmas, an Egyptian Monk. See C. Beazley, The Dawn of Modern Geography, I, 190–96, 273–303. The fullest and most illuminating sketch of Cosmas’ work according to E. Winstedt, The Christian Topography of Cosmas Indicopleustes, vi. M. V. Anastos, “The Alexandrian Origin of the Christian Topography of Cosmas Indicopleustes,” Dumbarton Oaks Papers, III (1946), 75–80.

100 Cosmas Indicopleustes, Topographia Christiana, XI; ed. Migne, Patrologia Graeca, LXXXVIII, 445; ed. Winstedt, 322; ed. MacCrindle, 365.

101 See R. Sewell, “Roman Coins in India,” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, XXXVI (1904), 620–21. M. Khvostov, History of Oriental Commerce in Greco-Roman Egypt, 230. E. Warmington, The Commerce Between the Roman Empire and India, 140.

102 Topographia Christiana, II; ed. Migne, Patrologia Graeca, LXXXVIII, 116; ed. Winstedt, 81; ed. MacCrindle, 73.

103 Ibid., XXI; ed. Migne, 448–49; ed. MacCrindle, 368–70. This story appears to be traditional, as Pliny related a somewhat similar anecdote of the ambassadors from Ceylon in the reign of Claudius. Pliny, Naturalis Historia, VI, 85. See J. E. Tennent, Ceylon(5th ed., 1860), I, 566.

104 Histoire de l’art byzantin considéré principalement dans les miniatures, 1, 138; Russian ed. (1876), 88.

105 See E. Redin, The Christian Topography of Cosmas Indicopleustes, from Greek and Russian Versions, ed. D. V. Aïnalov.

106 See W. Heyd, Histoire du commerce du Levant au moyen âge, I, 10. Diehl, Justinien, 390. R. P. F.-M. Abel, “L’Isle de Jotabe,” Revue biblique, XLVII (1938), 520–24.

107 The sources differ on this point. Procopius (De bello gothico, IV, 17; ed. Haury, II, 576) ascribes the exploit to several monks. In Excerpta e Theophanis Historia (Bonn ed., 484; ed. L. Dindorf, Historici Graeci minores, I, 447) the person is given as one Persian. Complete confusion of facts and names exists in F. Richthofen, China. Ergebnisse eigener Reisen und darauf gegründeter Studien, I, 528–29, 550. The Serinda of Procopius is sometimes identified with Khotan. Richthofen, China, I, 550–51. Heyd, Histoire du commerce du Levant, I, 12. Bury, Later Roman Empire, II, 332 and n. 1. On the history of the silk industry in the Byzantine Empire in general see the very important article of R. E. Lopez,, “Silk Industry in the Byzantine Empire,” Speculum, XX (1945), 1–42 (with several illustrations).

108 J. Ebersolt, Les Arts somptuaries de Byzance, 12–13. G. Rouillard, L’Administration de l’Egypt (2nd e d., 1928), 83.

109 Excerpta e Theophanis Historia, Bonn ed., 484; Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum, IV, 270.

110 De aedificiis, II, 1, 3; Bonn ed., 209; ed, Haury, III, 2, 46.

111 Ibid., IV, 4, 1; Bonn ed., 277; ed. Haury, III, 2, 116.

112 Vasiliev, Goths in the Crimea, 71.

113 Later Roman Empire, II, 67.

114 Ecclesiastical History, I, 3; ed. Payne-Smith, 3; ed. Brooks, 1–2.

115 A History of Greece, ed. H. F. Tozer, I, 298. K. Amantos thinks that this deplorable picture is somewhat exaggerated. ‘Iστoρία τoῦ Bυζαντινoῦ κρáτoυς, I, 260.

116 Bury, Later Roman Empire, 97. Kulakovsky, Byzantium, II, 359. Stein, Justinus II und Tiberius, 21. S. Vailhé, “Projet d’alliance turco-byzantine au VIe siècle,” Échos d’Orient, XII (1909), 206–14.

117 On this war Bury, Later Roman Empire, II, 95–101. Kulakovsky, Byzantium, II, 360–69. Stein, Justinus II und Tiberius, 38–55.

118 Chronique de Michel le Syrien, trans. J. B. Chabot, II, 312.

119 On this war see Stein, Justinus II und Tiberius, 58–86 (under Tiberius as Caesar), 87–102 (under Tiberius as Augustus).

120 On the Persian war under Tiberius and Maurice, Kulakovsky, Byzantium, II, 383–94, 426–46. M. J. Higgins, The Persian War of the Emperor Maurice. I. The Chronology, with a Brief History of the Persian Calendar. Higgins, “International Relations at the Close of the Sixth Century,” The Catholic Historical Review, XXVII (1941), 279–315. Higgins’ hero is Tiberius, “a towering figure not unworthy to stand beside the greatest personalities in the long annals of the Empire” (p. 315). V. Minorsky, “Roman and Byzantine Campaigns in Atropatene,” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, XI (1944), 244–48 (campaign of A.D. 591). P. Goubert, By zance avant l’Istam, 80–117.

121 Chronicle of John, bishop of Nikiu, trans. M. Zotenberg, Notices et extraits des manuscrits de la Bibliothèque Nationale, XXIV (1883), ch. CIX, 430; trans. to English R. H. Charles, 175–76.

122 See, e.g., O. Tafrali, Thessalonique des origines au XIVe siècle, 101–8.

123 See Bury, Later Roman Empire, II, 160–66. G. Reverdy, “Les Relations de Childebert II et de Byzance,” Revue historique, CXIV (1913), 61–85.

124 On Gregory’s sojourn in Constantinople, see F. Dudden, Gregory the Great: His Place in History and Thought, I, 123–57. Probably Gregory was recalled to Rome in 586 (156–57).

125 Epistolae, V, 20; ed. Migne, Patrologia Latina, LXXVII, 746–47; Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Epistolarum, I, 322 (V, 37); English trans. Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, XII, 170–71.

126 Epistolae, XIII, 31; ed. Migne, Patrologia Latina, LXXVII, 1281–82; Mon. Germ. Hist., Epistolarum, II, 397 (XIII, 34); Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, XIII, 99.

127 Liber Pontificalis, ed. L. Duchesne, I, 316.

128 On the formation of the Ravenna exarchate see Charles Diehl, Études sur l’administration byzantine dans l’exarchat de Ravenne (568–751), 3–31.

129 Diehl, L’Afrique byzantine, 453–502.

130 Études byzantines, 277 (L’Origine du régime des thèmes).

131 Geschichte der Halbinsel Morea während des Mittelalters, I, iii–xiv.

132 Historia ecclesiastica, VI, 10; ed. Bidez and Parmentier, 228.

133 De Thematibus, II, 53. Sometimes we find another translation: “The entire land was reduced into slavery and became barbarian,” for Constantine Porphyrogenitus uses here an unusual verb, ‘εσθλαβώθη, which is interpreted either “was slavonized” or “was reduced into slavery.” I prefer the former.

134 Geschichte der Halbinsel Morea, I, 208–10.

135 Geschichte Griechenlands vom Beginn des Mittelalters bis auf die neuere Zeit, I, 103–19.

136 A. A. Vasiliev, “The Slavs in Greece,” Vizantiysky Vremennik, V (1898), 416–38. Since 1898, a vast literature on this debatable question has appeared; a detailed list of these publications can be found in the most recent book by A. Bon, Le Péloponnèse Byzantin (Paris, 1951), 30–31.

137 See a very interesting chapter on the importance of the Acta sancti Demetrii in Gelzer, Die Genesis der byzantinischen Themenverjassung, 42–64. Also Tafrali, Thessalonique, 101.

138 N. Petrovsky, “On the Problem of the Genesis of Fallmerayer’s Theory,” Journal of the Ministry of Public Instruction (1913), 143, 149.

139 Ibid., 104.

140 Menander, Excerpta, Bonn ed., 439; Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum, IV, 202. Theophylact Simocatta, Historia, VIII, 13, 16; ed. de Boor, 311. Bury, Later Roman Empire, II, 182.

141 K. Krumbacher, Geschichte der byzantinischen Litteratur, 249.

142 Much information on John the Lydian’s work and its importance may be found in E. Stein, Untersuchungen über das Officium der Prätorianenpräfektur seit Diokletian.

143 The work of Hierocles was written before the year 535. Krumbacher, Geschichte der byzantinischen Litteratur, 417. G. Montelatici, Storia della letteratura bizantina, 354–1453, 76.

144 Montelatici, Storia della letteratura bizantina, 63–64.

145 Perhaps the chronicle of John Malalas came down to the first year of Justinian’s reign, and in a new edition was added a continuation written either by the author himself or by another hand; see Bury, Later Roman Empire, II, 435.

146 Krumbacher, Geschichte der byzantinischen Litteratur, 326.

147 Books VIII–XVIII of Malalas’ Slavonic version have been translated into English by M. Spinka in collaboration with G. Downey. In his review A. T. Olmstead wrote: “John Malalas was undoubtedly the world’s worst chronicler. The historian may curse his chuckleheadedness, but he must use him, for Malalas has preserved a great amount of the most important data which otherwise would have been lost.” The Chicago Theological Seminary Register, XXXI, 4 (1942), 22.

148 E. W. Brooks in Patrologia Orientalis, XVII (1923), vi.

149 Dyakonov, John of Ephesus, 359.

150 See F. Loofs, Leontius von Byzanz, 297–303; W. Rügamer, Leontius von Byzanz, 49–72.

151 Rügamer, Leontius von Byzanz, 72.

152 The reference here is to the biblical “heavenly ladder” seen by Jacob in his dream (Gen. 28:12). The Greek genitive ὁ τῆς κλίμακoς was latinized into “Climacus,” so that Johannes Climacus is his traditional appellation in the west.

153 For the reproduction of many miniatures of the Climax, see C. R. Morey, East Christian Paintings in the Freer Collection, 1–30. See also O. M. Dalton, East Christian Art, 316.

154 See Eduard Schwartz, Kyrillos von Skythopolis.

155 See the recent edition of both works by P. Friedländer, Johannes von Gaza und Paulus Silentiarius, 227–65; commentary, 267–305.

156 Historiae, V, 9; Bonn ed., 296–97; ed. L. A. Dindorf, Historici Graeci Minores, II, 362.

157 “Byzantine Servile State,” Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, IV (1917), 104–5; Bell, “Greek Papyri in the British Museum,” Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, V (1917), iii–iv. See also W. Schubart, Einführung in die Papyruskunde, 145–47, 495.

158 “Un dernier poète grec d’Egypte: Dioscore, fils d’Apollôs,” Revue des études grecques, XXIV (1911), 426, 456, 469.

159 See F. Fuchs, Die höheren Schulen von Konstantinopel, 7–8.

160 The most recent work on St. Sophia is E. H. Swift, Hagia Sophia. See also Preliminary Reports on the Mosaics of St. Sophia at Istanbul by Thomas Whittemore, beginning with the year 1933.

161 See Scriptores originum Constantinopolitanarum, ed. T. Preger, I, 105.

162 “The Pilgrimage of Stephan of Novgorod,” Tales of the Russian People, ed. T. Sakharov, II, 52. M. N. Speransky, From the Ancient Novgorod Literature of the Fourteenth Century, 50–76; the words quoted, 53.

163 Ursprung der christlichen Kirchenkunst, trans. O. Dalton and H. Braunholtz, 46; see Dalton, East Christian Art, 93.

164 See, e.g., M. N. Speransky, “The South-Slavonic and Russian Texts of the Tale of the Construction of the Church of St. Sophia of Tzarigrad,” Memorial Volume in Honor of V. N. Zlatarsky, 413–22. V. D. Smirnov, Turkish Legends on Saint Sophia.

165 Die Apostelkirche in Konstantinopel, 10 ff.

166 Dalton, East Christian Art, 77–78.

167 See, e.g., Charles Diehl, Ravenne, 8, 132.

168 See the article on this subject by V. Beneševič, “Sur la date de la mosaïque de la Transfiguration au Mont Sinaï,” Byzantion, I (1924), 145–72.

169 See Diehl, Manuel d’art byzantin, I, 230–77.

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