Happy Anniversary – Justinian “the Great”

On August 1st 527, the old warrior and Roman Emperor, Justin I died in the Imperial capital of Constantinople.

Justin had risen to the throne in 518.  He had previously held the position of Commander of the Excubitors, the elite palace guard, and upon the death of the Emperor Anastasius, Justin was nominated to the purple with the considerable help of his brilliant young nephew, Pietrus Sabbatius.

As Justin’s health failed he named his nephew (now re-christened “Justinian” in honor of his uncle) as co-Emperor in April of 527.

And when Justin died on August 1st, Justinian became sole Emperor, a position that he would hold until his death in November of 565.

So began the Age of Justinian (though he also exerted tremendous influence behind the throne while his Uncle reigned) – a period which continues to impact the world that we live in today.

He would be the last Roman Emperor to speak Latin as his first language, and the last Caesar to rule over an Empire that included the city of Rome in its domains.  Justinian would count many other “lasts”, and many “firsts” amongst his accomplishments though for me what continues to resonate is that as Justinian ascends, the world stands on a razor’s edge, with the Ancient World on one side and the Dark Ages on the other.  Upon his death the passage to the Dark Ages was irrevocably made.

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