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Justin II
Emperor of the Byzantine Empire
Solidus-Justin II-sb0391.jpg
Flavius Iustinus Iunior Augustus
Reign November 15, 565 – 578
Full name Flavius Iustinus Iunior Augustus
Born 520
Died 5 October 578 (aged 58)
Predecessor Justinian I
Successor Tiberius II Constantine
Consort Sophia
Offspring Arabia
Dynasty Justinian Dynasty

Justin II, Latin Flavius Iustinus (Iunior) Augustus[1] (c. 520 - 5 October 578), was Eastern Roman Emperor from 565 to 578. He was the husband of Sophia, nephew of Justinian I and the late Empress Theodora, and was therefore a member of the Justinian Dynasty. His reign is marked by war with Persia and the loss of the greater part of Italy. He presented the Cross of Justin II to Saint Peter's, Rome.

Contents

Family

He was a son of Vigilantia and Dulcidio (or Dulcissimus), respectively the sister and brother-in-law of Justinian. His siblings included Marcellus and Praejecta. There are brief mentions of a nephew called Marcianus and a niece called Helena. Which sibling of Justin was their parent is unknown. [2]

Reign

When Justinian died on November 14, 565, Justin was elevated to the imperial throne by a group of court officials claiming that Justinian had named him as his successor on his deathbed, thus passing by another possible candidate for imperial succession, a nephew of Justinian also called Justin, who was not present in the capital at the time of the emperor's death.

In the first few days of his reign Justin paid his uncle's debts, administered justice in person, and proclaimed universal religious toleration. Contrary to his uncle, Justin relied completely on the support of the aristocratic party.

100 nummi coin (16mm, 1.12 g, 6h), minted in Carthage in 565-578 AD during the reign of the Justin II. Helmeted and cuirass-wearing facing bust, holding shield / Monogram; cross above, C (100) below.

Proud of character, and faced with an empty treasury, he discontinued Justinian's practice of buying off potential enemies. Immediately after his accession, Justin halted the payment of subsidies to the Avars, ending a truce that had existed since 558. After the Avars and the neighbouring tribe of the Lombards had combined to destroy the Gepids, from whom Justin had obtained the Danube fortress of Sirmium, Avar pressure caused the Lombards to migrate West, and in 568 they invaded Italy under their king Alboin. They quickly overran the Po valley, and within a few years they had made themselves masters of nearly the entire country. The Avars themselves crossed the Danube in 573 or 574, when the empire's attention was distracted by troubles on the Persian frontier. They were only placated by the payment of a subsidy of 60,000 silver pieces by Justin's successor Tiberius.[3]

The North and East frontiers were the main focus of Justin's attention. In 572 his refusal to pay tribute to the Persians in combination with overtures to the Turks led to a war with the Sassanid Empire. After two disastrous campaigns, in which the Persians overran Syria and captured the strategically important fortress of Dara, Justin reportedly lost his mind. The temporary fits of insanity into which he fell warned him to name a colleague. Passing over his own relatives, he raised, on the advice of Sophia, the general Tiberius to be Caesar in December 574 and withdrew into retirement. In 574, Sophia paid 45,000 solidi to Chosroes in return for a year's truce.[3] Sophia and Tiberius ruled together as joint regents for four years, while Justin sank into growing insanity. When he died in 578 Tiberius succeeded him as Tiberius II Constantine.

Personal traits

The historian Previte-Orton describes Justin as "a rigid man, dazzled by his predecessor's glories, to whom fell the task of guiding an exhausted, ill-defended Empire through a crisis of the first magnitude and a new movement of peoples". Previte-Orton continues,

In foreign affairs he took the attitude of the invincible, unbending Roman, and in the disasters which his lack of realism occasioned, his reason ultimately gave way. It was foreign powers which he underrated and hoped to bluff by a lofty inflexibility, for he was well aware of the desperate state of the finances and the army and of the need to reconcile the Monophysites."[4]

Speech at abdication

The tardy knowledge of his own impotence determined him to lay down the weight of the diadem; he showed some symptoms of a discerning and even magnanimous spirit when he addressed his assembly,

"You behold", said the emperor, "the ensigns of supreme power. You are about to receive them, not from my hand, but from the hand of God. Honor them, and from them you will derive honor. Respect the empress your mother: you are now her son; before, you were her servant. Delight not in blood; abstain from revenge; avoid those actions by which I have incurred the public hatred; and consult the experience, rather than the example, of your predecessor. As a man, I have sinned; as a sinner, even in this life, I have been severely punished: but these servants, (and we pointed to his ministers,) who have abused my confidence, and inflamed my passions, will appear with me before the tribunal of Christ. I have been dazzled by the splendor of the diadem: be thou wise and modest; remember what you have been, remember what you are. You see around us your slaves, and your children: with the authority, assume the tenderness, of a parent. Love your people like yourself; cultivate the affections, maintain the discipline, of the army; protect the fortunes of the rich, relieve the necessities of the poor."

In silence and in tears, the assembly applauded the counsels, and sympathized with the repentance of their prince. Tiberius received the diadem on his knees; and Justin, who in his abdication appeared most worthy to reign, addressed the new monarch in the following words: "If you consent, I live; if you command, I die: may the God of heaven and earth infuse into your heart whatever I have neglected or forgotten." The four last years of the emperor Justin were passed in tranquil obscurity: his conscience was no longer tormented by the remembrance of those duties which he was incapable of discharging; and his choice was justified by the filial reverence and gratitude of Tiberius.[5]

Justin's insanity

According to John of Ephesus, as Justin II slipped into the unbridled madness of his final days he was pulled through the palace on a wheeled throne, biting attendants as he passed. He reportedly ordered organ music to be played constantly throughout the palace in an attempt to soothe his frenzied mind, and it was rumoured that his taste for attendants extended as far as devouring a number of them during his reign.[6]

External links

Notes

  1. ^ Called Junior, "the Younger", to distinguish him from Justin I
  2. ^ Profile of the Justinian Dynasty in "Medieval Lands" by Charles Cawley
  3. ^ a b Norwich, John J. Byzantium: the Early Centuries (London:Penguin 1988) p.571 gives this subsidy to Avars as 80,000 silver pieces.
  4. ^ Previte-Orton, Charles William, The shorter Cambridge medieval history (Cambridge: University Press, 1952), p. 201.
  5. ^ Gibbon, Edward, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Chapter XLV, Part II
  6. ^ John of Ephesus, Ecclesiastical History, Part 3, Book 3

Primary sources

  • Edward Walford, translator (1846) The Ecclesiastical History of Evagrius: A History of the Church from AD 431 to AD 594, Reprinted 2008. Evolution Publishing, ISBN 978-1-889758-88-6. [1]

References

Justin II
Born: c. 520 Died: 578
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Justinian I
Byzantine Emperor
565 - 578
with Tiberius II Constantine (574-578)
Succeeded by
Tiberius II Constantine
Political offices
Preceded by
Anicius Faustus Albinus Basilius in 541, then lapsed
Consul of the Roman Empire
566
Succeeded by
Lapsed, Imp. Caesar Flavius Tiberius Constantinus Augustus in 579
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

JUSTIN H. (d. 578), East Roman emperor (565-578), was the nephew and successor of Justinian I. He availed himself of his influence as master of the palace, and as husband of Sophia, the niece of the late empress Theodora, to secure a peaceful election. The first few days of his reign - when he paid his uncle's debts, administered justice in person, and proclaimed universal religious toleration - gave bright promise, but in the face of the lawless aristocracy and defiant governors of provinces he effected few subsequent reforms. The most important event of his reign was the invasion of Italy by the Lombards, who, entering in 568, under Alboin, in a few years made themselves masters of nearly the entire country. Justin's attention was distracted from Italy towards the N. and E. frontiers. After refusing to pay the Avars tribute, he fought several unsuccessful campaigns against them. In 572 his overtures to the Turks led to a war with Persia. After two disastrous campaigns, in which his enemies overran Syria, Justin bought a precarious peace by payment of a yearly tribute. The temporary fits of insanity into which he fell warned him to name a colleague. Passing over his own relatives, he raised, on the advice of Sophia, the general Tiberius (q.v.) to be Caesar in December 574 and withdrew for his remaining years into retirement.

See E. Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (ed. Bury, 1896), v. 2-17; G. Finlay, History of Greece (ed. 1877), i. 291-297; J. Bury, The Later Roman Empire (1889), ii. 67-79. (M. O. B. C.)


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