Justinian II: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Did you know ...

More interesting facts on Justinian II

Include this on your site/blog:


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Justinian II
Ιουστινιανός Β'
Emperor of the Byzantine Empire
Justinian, on the reverse of this coin struck during his second reign, is holding a patriarchal globe with PAX, "peace"
1st reign
2nd reign
685 – 695
705 - December, 711
Predecessor Constantine IV
Tiberius III
Successor Leontios
Spouse Eudokia
Theodora of Khazaria
Father Constantine IV
Mother Anastasia
Born 669
Died 11 December, 711 (aged 42)

Justinian II (Greek: Ιουστινιανός Β΄, Ioustinianos II; 669– 11 December 711), known as Rinotmetos or Rhinotmetus (Ρινότμητος, Rinotmētos, "the Slit-nosed"), was the last Byzantine emperor of the Heraclian Dynasty, reigning from 685 to 695 and again from 705 to 711. Justinian unified the office of consul with that of emperor thus making emperor the head of state not only de facto but also de jure, and effectively abolished the consulate. He was appointed Roman consul in 686[1].



Justinian II was the first son of Emperor Constantine IV and Anastasia. His father raised him to the throne as joint emperor in 681. In 685, at the age of sixteen, Justinian II succeeded his father as sole emperor. Justinian II is described as an ambitious and passionate ruler, who responded poorly to opposition to his will and lacked the finesse of his father, Constantine IV.[2] Though at times done in by his own despotic tendencies, he was a talented and perceptive ruler who succeeded in improving the standing of the Byzantine Empire. A pious ruler, Justinian was the first emperor to include the image of Christ on coinage issued in his name and attempted to outlaw various pagan festivals and practices that persisted in the Empire.[2] He may have self-consciously modeled himself on his namesake, Justinian I, as seen in his enthusiasm for large-scale construction projects and the re-naming of his Khazar wife.[2]

First reign

Due to Constantine IV's victories, the situation in the Eastern provinces of the Empire was stable when Justinian became emperor. After a preliminary strike against the Arabs in Armenia, Justinian managed to augment the sum paid by the Umayyad Caliphs as an annual tribute, and to regain control of part of Cyprus. The incomes of the provinces of Armenia and Iberia were divided among the two empires. [2] In 687, as part of his agreements with the Caliphate, Justinian removed from their native Lebanon 12,000 Christian Maronites, who continually resisted the Arabs. Additional resettlement efforts, aimed at the Mardaites and inhabitants of Cypress allowed Justinian to reinforce naval forces depleted by earlier conflicts.[2]

Justinian took advantage of the peace in the East to regain possession of the Balkans, which were before then almost totally under the heel of Slavic tribes. In 687 Justinian transferred cavalry troops from Anatolia to Thrace. With a great military campaign in 688–689, Justinian defeated the Bulgars of Macedonia and was finally able to enter Thessalonica, the second most important Byzantine city in Europe.[2]

The subdued Slavs were resettled in Anatolia, where they were to provide a military force of 30,000 men.[2] Emboldened by the increase of his forces in Anatolia, Justinian now renewed the war against the Arabs. With the help of his new troops, Justinian won a battle against the enemy in Armenia in 693, but they were soon bribed to revolt by the Arabs. The emperor defeated the rebel Slavs, but the war against the Arabs was lost, and the Arabs conquered Armenia in 694–695.[2]

Meanwhile the emperor's bloody persecution of the Manichaeans and suppression of popular traditions of non-Orthodox origin caused dissension within the Church. In 692 Justinian convened the so-called Quinisext Council at Constantinople to put his religious policies into effect The Council expanded and clarified the rulings of the Fifth and Sixth ecumenical councils, but by highlighting differences between the Eastern and Western observances (such as the marriage of priests and the Roman practice of fasting on Saturdays) the council compromised Byzantine relations with the Roman Church. The emperor ordered Pope Sergius I arrested, but the militias of Rome and Ravenna rebelled and took the Pope's side.[2]

Justinian contributed to the development of the thematic organization of the Empire, creating a new theme of Hellas in central Greece and numbering the heads of the five major themes- Thrace in Europe, Opsikion, the Anatolikon, and Armeniakon themes in Asia Minor, and the maritime theme of Carabisiani- among the senior administrators of the Empire.[2] He also sought to protect the rights of peasant freeholders, who served as the main recruitment pool for the armed forces of the Empire, against attempts by the aristocracy to acquire their land- putting him in direct conflict with some of the largest landholders in the Empire.[2]

If his land policies threatened the aristocracy, his tax policy was no more popular with the common people.[2] Through his agents Stephen and Theodotos, the emperor raised the funds to gratify his sumptuous tastes and his mania for erecting costly buildings.[2] This, ongoing religious discontent, conflicts with the aristocracy, and displeasure over his resettlement policy eventually drove his subjects into rebellion. In 695 the population rose under Leontius, the strategus of Hellas, and proclaimed him Emperor.[2] Justinian was deposed; his nose was cut off to prevent his again seeking the throne (an unblemished appearance being a requirement of Imperial rule), and he was exiled to Cherson in the Crimea.[2] Leontius, after a reign of three years, was in turn dethroned and imprisoned by Tiberius Apsimarus, who next assumed the throne.


While in exile, Justinian began to plot and gather supporters for an attempt to retake the throne. [3] Justinian became a liability to Cherson and the authorities decided to return him to Constantinople in 702 or 703. He escaped from Cherson and received help from Ibusirus Gliabanus (Busir Glavan), the khagan of the Khazars, who received him enthusiastically and gave him his sister as a bride.[3] Justinian renamed her Theodora, after the wife of Justinian I. They were given a home in the town of Phanagoria, at the entrance to the sea of Azov. Busir was offered a bribe by Tiberios to kill his brother-in-law, and dispatched two Khazar officials, Papatzys and Balgitzin, to do the deed. Warned by his wife, Justinian strangled Papatzys and Balgatzin with his own hands. He sailed in a fishing-boat to Cherson, summoned his supporters, and they all sailed westwards across the Black Sea.

Justinian sailed to Tervel of Bulgaria. Tervel agreed to provide all the military assistance necessary for Justinian to regain his throne in exchange for financial considerations, the award of a Caesar's crown, and the hand of Justinian's daughter, Anastasia, in marriage.[3] In spring 705, with an army of 15,000 Bulgar horsemen Justinian appeared before the walls of Constantinople. Unable to take the city by force, he and some companions entered through an unused water conduit under the walls of the city, roused their supporters, and seized control of the city in a midnight coup d'état.[3] Justinian once more ascended the throne, breaking the tradition preventing the mutilated from Imperial rule, and then had his rivals Leontius and Tiberius executed along with many of their partisans, and deposed and blinded Patriarch Kallinikos I of Constantinople.

Second reign

His second reign was marked by unsuccessful warfare against Bulgaria and the Caliphate, and by cruel suppression of opposition at home. In 708 Justinian turned on Bulgarian Khan Tervel, whom he had earlier crowned Caesar of Byzantium, and invaded Bulgaria, apparently seeking to recover the territories ceded to Tervel as a reward for his support in 705. The emperor was defeated, blockaded in Anchialus, and forced to retreat. Peace between Bulgaria and Byzantium was quickly restored. This defeat was followed by Arab victories in Asia Minor, where the cities of Cilicia fell into the hands of the enemy, who penetrated into Cappadocia in 709–711.

Justinian was more interested in punishing his subjects at Ravenna and Cherson. He ordered Pope John VII to recognize the decisions of the Quinisext Council and simultaneously fitted out a punitive expedition against Ravenna in 709. The repression succeeded, and the new Pope Constantine visited Constantinople in 710, giving in to some of the emperor's demands and restoring relations between the emperor and the Papacy. This would be the last time a Pope visited the city until the visit of Pope Paul VI to Istanbul in 1967.

Justinian's tyrannical rule provoked another uprising against him. Cherson revolted and under the leadership of the exiled general Bardanes, the city held out against a counter-attack and soon the forces sent to suppress the rebellion joined it. The rebels then seized the capital and proclaimed Bardanes as Emperor Philippicus; Justinian had been on his way to Armenia, and was unable to return to Constantinople in time to defend it. He was arrested and executed outside the city in December 711, his head being sent to Bardanes as a trophy.

On hearing the news of his death, Justinian's mother took his six-year-old son and co-emperor, Tiberius, to sanctuary at St. Mary's Church in Blachernae, but was pursued by Philippicus' henchmen, who dragged the child from the altar and, once outside the church, murdered him, thus eradicating the line of Heraclius.


By his first wife Eudokia, Justinian II had at least one daughter:

By his second wife, Theodora of Khazaria, Justinian II had a son:

  • Tiberios, co-emperor from 706 to 711.

Fictional Account


  1. ^ Bede, Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation, Book V (Chapter VII)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Ostrogorsky, George; Hussey (trans.), Joan (1957), History of the Byzantine state, New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, p. 116–22, ISBN 0813505992  
  3. ^ a b c d Ostrogorsky, George; Hussey (trans.), Joan (1957), History of the Byzantine state, New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, p. 124–26, ISBN 0813505992  


External links

Justinian II
Born: 669 Died: December 711
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Constantine IV
Byzantine Emperor
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Tiberius III
Byzantine Emperor
Succeeded by


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address