Justinian

Warum bist du nur so unpersönlich?

Warum bist du nur so unpersönlich?

Die ihr überreichten Blumen lösten wenig Freude aus. Von einer grellen Lampe beleuchtet waren sie betrachtet worden nach den heftigen Worten. Die ausgelöst worden waren von Misstrauen, Verschlossenheit, der Unmöglichkeit, aus sich hinaus zu schauen und den Blickwinkel in das Innere einer anderen Person zu verpflanzen. Eine schwache Entschuldigung also.

– Justinian Belisar (© 2016)

(50 Wörter)

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Carved ivory panel, originally part of a diptych, showing the archangel Michael, and inscribed in Greek. 41.6x14.3 cm. Made in Constantinople. c. AD 525-550.

The inscription reads:
ΔΕΧΟΥ ΠΑΡΟΝΤΑ ΚΑΙ ΜΑΘΟΝ ΤΕΝ ΑΙΤΙΑΝ
(“Receive the suppliant before you, despite his sinfulness.”)

(Source: British Museum)

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January 13th 532: Nika riots begin

On this day in 532 AD one of the deadliest riots in history, the Nika riots, began in Constantinople, the capital of Byzantium (the Eastern Roman Empire). The chaos emerged from long-standing sporting rivalries between opposing chariot racing teams - the Blues and the Greens - each of whom attracted fanatical support that often spilled over into violence. The divisions may have gone further than sport, as it has often been suggested that the Blues and the Greens essentially represented opposing political parties in the Byzantine Empire. The riots occurred during the reign of the unpopular Emperor Justinian, whose military endeavors were having a heavy burden on increasingly disgruntled taxpayers. Justinian’s wife, the Empress Theodora, was a controversial figure because of her humble working class origins and her political influence over her husband. The tensions came to a head when Justinian sent in troops to quell fighting between Greens and Blues, and condemned the ringleaders to death, thus ending his support for the Blues. When both a Green and a Blue escaped their execution, the factions were united in the cause to have the men pardoned. On January 13th, during a race at Constantinople’s Hippodrome stadium, both factions vented their anger at the emperor with chants of “Nika!” (‘Conquer/Win’). Five days of rioting ensued, which saw the mob burn down large portions of the imperial capital and call for the emperor to be deposed. Justinian wanted to flee the city, but Theodora rebuked him for his cowardice, and he therefore stayed and approved a plan to isolate the rioting factions in the Hippodrome. The imperial forces descended on the stadium, killing 30,000 of the rioters, which was around 10% of the city’s population at the time. With the violence of the Nika riots in the past, change came to Byzantium in the form of a decline in both the power of the factions and the prominence of chariot-racing.

“Those who have worn the crown should never survive its loss. Never will I see the day when I am not saluted as empress”
- Theodora dissuading Justinian from fleeing the city

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Hagia Sophia facts:

1) The church was built between 532AD and 537AD and was the largest cathedral in Christendom until 1520, nearly 1000 years. The legend goes that when Justinian entered the temple proclaimed, “Solomon, I have outdone thee!” (Νενίκηκά σε Σολομών).

2)According to an early Slavic chronicle, Grand Prince Vladimir of Kiev adopted Byzantine Orthodoxy after his envoys visited Constantinople and were present to a Liturgy in Hagia Sophia. They convinced him that: ” God dwells there among the people and their service is fairer than the ceremonies of other nations”.

3) In the mosaic depicting empress Zoe and Constantine IX Monomachos, the face in the mosaic depicting the emperor changed 3 times in order to depict the 3 husbands of the empress.

4) Enrico Dandolo, Doge of Venice and one of the leaders of the 4th crusade was buried inside the church of Hagia Sophia after the church became Roman Catholic following the conquest of 1204. The Byzantines when recaptured the CIty, unburied him and threw his body to Bosporus. Today we can find his cenotaph which was placed later on the 19th century.

5) Many Ottoman mosques and the ottoman architecture in general was heavily influenced by the architecture of Hagia Sophia. Clear examples are the Blue mosque opposite Hagia Sophia, the Süleymaniye Mosque and the Kılıç Ali Paşa Mosque.

A mosaic of the Byzantine empress Theodora wearing an elaborate crown and pieces of jewelry. Her halo, averted gaze, and unusually large eyes are all motifs in Early Byzantine imperial portraiture that are meant to symbolize her rule by divine authority. 

Pieced together out of tesserae (glass crystal, rock, gold, etc).

Made in 546 in the Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna, Italy.

Theodora, detail of a Byzantine mosaic in Basilica of San Vitale, Ravenna

Probably one of the most recognizable figures of the byzantine millennium. Theodora left behind a legacy which formed all her successors in the imperial throne of Constantinople.

  Though from humble origins she managed to married Justinian and elevate to the highest byzantine rank for a woman of her age. The law which forbidden a patrician to get married to a common woman had to change first, and it was her courage and strength that backed Justinian during the Nika riots; when he suggested fleeing she replied : “ Purple makes a fine winding sheet." 

Although Procopius very often criticized her immoral habits of taking long baths and participating in orgies, it was her character that shaped an emperor and indeed a very important one.

Hagia #Sophia sparks in the #Istanbul #coast of the #Mediterranean #Sea to tell the world that the #Islamic #Ottoman Empire (now #Turkey) respected the magnificent #Justinian #church of the #Byzantine #Empire in #Constantinople, not destroying it but using it as a #mosque for centuries and now open as a #museum for you to #enjoy #Christian and #Muslim #art together.

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May 11, 482/483: Justinian I is born.

Justinian the Great was emperor of the Byzantine Empire for thirty-eight years. During his reign, he sought to reunite the Roman Empire - East and (the former) West - under his rule, and he came close to succeeding. His main general Flavius Belisarius (regarded, like Justinian, as one of the “last of the Romans”) invaded North Africa and Italy and launched partially successful campaigns against the Germanic Vandals and Ostrogoths, respectively. By 550, Italy and parts of North Africa and Hispania had been reconquered under Roman rule, although much of these lands would soon be lost during the Muslim Conquests.  

Justinian and his influential wife Theodora were also ambitious builders; most notably, they ordered the rebuilding of the “Great Church" after the it was burned down during the Nika riots. The result of their project was the Hagia Sophia - a masterpiece of Byzantine architecture and the center of the Orthodox Church until the 15th century. Although regarded by some as despotic, Justinian ruled over a Byzantine Empire revived in the arts and in culture, and his Corpus Juris Civilis ("the Code of Justinian”), a comprehensive attempt to organize Roman law, was heavily studied even after the fall of Constantinople.