Thursday, 22 December 2016

Theodora I and Justinian I (Italy, Turkey)

Theodora I was born around 500. During her early years she worked as actress, but in 525 she married Justinian I and thus became empress of the Byzantine Empire in 527. Theodora proved herself a worthy and able leader, when she saved her husband's throne by convincing him to stay in Constantinople during the Nika riots. Later she participated in Justinian's legal and spiritual reforms and had a big influence on the increase of the rights of women. Theodora I died in 548. 

Justinian I was born around 482. He was adopted by his uncle Justin, a member of the imperial guard, who ensured the boy's education. Justin became Byzantine Emperor in 518 and Justinian his close confidant. When Justin died in 527, Justinian became emperor himself. He is considered to have been one of the most important emperors of the Late Antiquity, as his reign marked a blossoming of Byzantine culture and a reviving of the empire's greatness. But he is also said to have caused to beginning of the Middle Ages. He died in 565.

Justinian was also a prolific builder. For example the Hagia Sophia and the Basilica Cistern were built during his reign.

Emperor Justinian I reconquered many former territories of the Western Roman Empire including Italy, Dalmatia, Africa and southern Hispania.

During the Gothic War (535 - 554) the Byzantine Empire reconquered big parts of Italy from the Ostrogoths. Justinian's general Belisarius quickly conquered Sicily and Dalmatia. In 536 they captured Naples and Rome, in 537 Ariminum. In 540 the Ostrogothic capital Ravenna was captured. In 541 the new Ostrogothic King Totila started a try to restore the Gothic realm and was quite successful at the beginning, but was already killed during a new Byzantine campaign starting in 551. Also after this conquest the Byzantine Empire was not able to hold Italy for a long time. Three years after Justinian's death mainland Italy was conquered by the Lombards and no new attempts to reconquer it were made.

The Church of San Vitale in Ravenna was begun in 527 and was finished in 548, after the city was captured by the Byzantine Empire. It is one of the most important examples of early Christian Byzantine architecture in Europe and houses the largest and best preserved Byzantine mosaics outside of Istanbul. It is also the only major church from the period of the Emperor Justinian I to survive until today. As one of the Early Christian Monuments of Ravenna it is since 1996 on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

No comments:

Post a Comment