Justinian I
Historical Figure
Nationality: Byzantine Empire
Date of Birth: 483
Date of Death: 565
Cause of Death: Natural causes
Religion: Eastern Orthodox
Occupation: Emperor, Soldier
Spouse: Theodora
Relatives: Justin II (nephew)
House: Justinian Dynasty
Political Office(s): Byzantine Emperor
Consul of Rome
Fictional Appearances:

Flavius Petrus Sabbatius Iustinianus (AD 482 or 483 – 14 November 565), known in English as Justinian I or Justinian the Great, was the second member of the Justinian Dynasty to rule the Eastern Roman Empire. He ascended to the throne in 527 and ruled until his death.

His reign is marked by the ambitious but only partly realized renovatio imperii, or "restoration of the Empire". This ambition was expressed by the partial recovery of the territories of the defunct Western Roman Empire. His generals conquered the Vandal Kingdom in North Africa, the Ostrogothic kingdom in Italy, and the Iberian peninsula., establishing the province of Spania. These campaigns re-established Roman control over the western Mediterranean Sea, increasing the Empire's annual revenue by over a million solidi. During his reign, Justinian also subdued the Tzani, a people on the east coast of the Black Sea that had never been under Roman rule before. He engaged the Sasanian Empire in the east during Kavad I's reign, and later again during Khosrau I's; this second conflict was partially initiated due to his ambitions in the west.

A still more resonant aspect of his legacy was the uniform rewriting of Roman law, the Corpus Juris Civilis, which is still the basis of civil law in many modern states. His reign also marked a blossoming of Byzantine culture, and his building program yielded works such as the Hagia Sophia. He is called "Saint Justinian the Emperor" in the Eastern Orthodox Church.

His wife Theodora, was a professional actress (which meant she was also likely a prostitute). She began as his mistress, and so their marriage caused a scandal. However, she proved competent and talented in her own right, and is credited by Procopius with convincing Justinian to put down the Nikia riots rather than flee Constantinople. She died in 548. Justinian outlived her by nearly twenty years.

Other notable figures associated with Justinian include Tribonian, who oversaw the Corpus Juris Civilis; Belisarius, the general who oversaw most of conquest of the western territories, and; Procopius, barrister and historian, whose writings give extensive and wildly contradictory accounts of Justinian and Theodora.

Justinian I in Justinian[]

Set in OTL
Type of Appearance: Posthumous reference

Justinian I was the namesake of the latter Justinian II. When the second Justinian was four, his father Constantine IV informed him of the origin of his name. Justinian II was initially jealous, and then confident that he would eclipse his namesake in posterity. When his father heard this, he laughed harder and louder than his son had ever heard.[1]

In later life, Justinian II would look to the reign of his namesake to guide him.

Justinian I in "The Fake Pandemic"[]

Shared Universe Story
"The Fake Pandemic"
POD: 535 C.E.
Type of Appearance: Direct
Political Office(s): Byzantine Emperor

Emperor Justinian's plans to conquer Ostrogothic Italy were thwarted by the mysterious Martinus Paduei, who was able to stabilize Italy under the reign of King Urias, while inexplicably predicting the Romans' plan of attack. Adding insult to injury, Martinus even secured the services of Belisarius, Justinian's most talented general, after Justinian rashly released Belisarius from his oath of service when Belisarius refused a parole.[2]

In 538, Justinian accepted reality, and opened up negotiations with Urias. He sent his quaestor, Tribonian to Italy to meet with Martinus.[3] He also followed Martinu's suggestion, and decided to drive on the Arabian Peninsula and take Mecca to prevent the eventual rise of Muhammad. When Tribonian asked Justinian why he was following Padeui's recommendation, Justinian told Tribonian that it was better to be safe than sorry, a conversation Tribonian later shared with Paduei.[4]

When Tribonian returned to Constantinople, he wrote Justinian to let him know he'd returned, and that Paduei had matters of additional concern, although he did not go into detail. Justinian summoned him the following day. In an audience with Justinian and Empress Theodora both, Tribonian explained Paduei's warning about the plague, and his proposal for stopping it.

Both Justinian and Theodora thought Martinus was lying and that Tribonian was foolish for believing him. Justinian proclaimed Martinus and his plague fake. Tribonian carefully reminded Justinian that the emperor was moving against the Arabian Peninsula on Paduei's recommendation. Justinian presented Tribonian with the choice of finishing the Corpus Iuris Civilis or going to Pelusium. While Tribonian wanted to finish the legal text, he knew the danger of the plague was more important. So he asked leave to go to Pelusium with the authority and resources to put Martinus' plan into action. Surprised, Justinian grudgingly agreed to allow Tribonian to go to Pelusium. Theodora then convinced Justinian to give Tribonian the resources he needed; while she didn't believe Paduei either, she saw no harm in letting Tribonian "play sea captain at the end of the world." Justinian agreed and dismissed Tribonian.[5]

Tribonian wound up in Clysma. While Justinian provided men and materiel as promised, he did not hide his contempt for the whole enterprise, even after a ship carrying sick men was sunk. By letter, Justinian assured Tribonian that he wasn't missed in Constantinople, and could stay in Clysma as long as he liked.[6] Upon his return to Constantinople, Tribonian sent Justinian a recommendation that the emperor post the various naval officers who'd helped him be allowed to return to the Mediterranean. Justinian responded a few days later, reminding him that the navy was Justinian's to do with as he pleased. The letter also informed Tribonian that Justinian had no need for him. When Tribonian completed his final report and sent it to the emperor, Justinian merely replied with a terse "Received". While these responses were what Tribonian expected, they stung all the same.[7]

See also[]


  1. Justinian, pgs. 5-6.
  2. See, Lest Darkness Fall by L. Sprague de Camp, generally.
  3. Lest Darkness Fall & Timeless Tales Written in Tribute (second edition), pgs. 376-379, loc. 4911-4961, ebook.
  4. Ibid. pgs. 382, loc. 4995.
  5. Ibid., pgs. 392-396, loc. 5140-5194.
  6. Ibid. pgs. 397-412, loc. 5210-5421.
  7. Ibid., pg. 413-414, loc. 5438-5454.
Royal offices
Preceded by
Justin I
Byzantine Emperor
with Justin I (527)
Succeeded by
Justin II
Political offices
Preceded by
Flavius Rusticius,
Flavius Vitalianus
Consul of the Roman Empire
with Flavius Valerius
Succeeded by
Flavius Symmachus,
Flavius Boethius
Preceded by
Vettius Agorius Basilius Mavortius
Consul of the Roman Empire
Succeeded by
Flavius Decius,
II post consulatum Mavortii (West)
Title last held by
Rufius Gennadius Probus,
Consul of the Roman Empire
With: Decius Paulinus
Succeeded by