Justin I - Emperor

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Emperor

Thanks to his position commanding the only troops in the city and making gifts of money, Justin was able to secure election as emperor in 518.

A career soldier with little knowledge of statecraft, Justin wisely surrounded himself with trusted advisors. The most prominent of these, of course, was his nephew Flavius Petrus Sabbatius, whom he adopted as his son and invested with the name Iustinianus (Justinian).

Justin's reign is noteworthy for the resolution of the Acacian Schism between the eastern and western branches of the Christian church. As a devout Catholic, Justin endorsed Rome's view on the question of the dual nature of Christ and the more general principle of Roman supremacy. This temporary eastern deferral to the western church did not endure.

Relying upon the accounts of the historian Procopius, it often has been said that Justinian ruled the Empire in his uncle's name during the reign of Justin, however, there is much evidence to the contrary. The information from the Secret History of Procopius was published posthumously. Critics of Procopius (whose work reveals a man seriously disillusioned with his rulers) have dismissed his work as a severely biased source, being vitriolic and pornographic, but without other sources, critics have been unable to discredit some of the assertions in the publication. However, contrary to the secret history, Justinian was not named as successor until less than a year before Justin's death and he spent 3,700 pounds of gold during a celebration in 520.

In 525, Justin repealed a law that effectively prohibited a member of the senatorial class from marrying a woman from a lower class of society, including the theatre, which was considered scandalous at the time. This edict paved the way for Justinian to marry Theodora, a former mime actress, and eventually resulted in a major change to the old class distinctions at the Imperial court. She became an equal to Justinian, participating in the governance with significant influence.

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