Justinian was emperor of the Byzantine Empire from 527 A.D. to 565 A.D.
Justinian ruled from Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire, the richest city in the world, and the capital of Christendom.
Constantinople was surrounded on three sides by water, and its land facing side was protected by wall 40 feet high and 4 miles long. That wall would successfully protect the city from invasion for 1,100 years.
In addition, the Byzantines had Greek Fire, the best kept secret and most powerful weapon of the medieval world, and only the Byzantines had it. It was the medieval equivalent of a nuclear weapon.
In 533 A.D. Justinian published the Institutes of Justinian, a codification of Roman law considered one of the great achievements in legal history, was published.
Then in 537 A.D. Justinian completed construction of the Hagia Sophia, the largest church in the world. It would remain the largest church in the world for the next 1,000 years.
I’m guessing then that by 537 A.D., Justinian was feeling pretty good about himself, his city, and his empire.
Then, in 542 A.D., the plague hit. As Julius Norwich described it in his History of Byzantium: Continue reading