Justinian and Theodora     Justinian's reign     Imperial iconography

Justinian and Theodora, the imperial couple
  Born in 482 in the village Bederiana, Justinian (his given name was Flavius Petrus Sabbatius) came from a family of romanized thracian peasants. As a young officer, he made a brilliant career under his uncle, Justin I (518-527), who appointed him co-emperor in 527. Prokopios, an official in the Justinianic administration, describes the emperor as a rather plain individual, with simple tates, approachable and hard-working, crafty and vindictive. A man of low origin, Justinian was surrounded by loyal people who did not belong to the crust of society - his wife Theodora, his nephew Germanos, the generals Belisarios and Narses, and the administrators John of Cappadocia and Tribonian. Theodora was a woman of great charm and wit, who, in her youth, had been an actress, a dishonorable occupation involving mime and nudity. She led a quiet, independent life in Constantinople, when she became involved with Justinian, whom she married in 524. Mutual devotion, trust and support made their mariage a strong and long-lasting one. Theodora favored Monophysitism, and endowed numerous religious and welfare establishments.