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Flavius Iustinus Iunior Augustus or Justin II ( Ιουστίνος Β' )(c. 520 - 578) was a Eastern Roman emperor (565 - 578) He was the nephew of Justinian I, and husband of Sophia, the niece of the late empress Theodora.
The historian C.W. Previte-Orton describes Justin as "a rigid man, dazzled by his predecessor's glories, to whom fell the task of guiding an exhausted, ill-defended Empire through a crisis of the first magnitude and a new movement of peoples." Previte-Orton continues,
In foreign affairs he took the attitude of the invincible, unbending Roman, and in the disasters which his lack of realism occasioned, his reason ultimately gave way. It was foreign powers which he underrated and hoped to bluff by a lofty inflexibility, for he was well aware of the desperate state of the finances and the army and of the need to reconcile the Monophysites.1
The first few days of his reign--when he paid his uncle's debts, administered justice in person, and proclaimed universal religious toleration--gave bright promise, but in the face of the lawless aristocracy and defiant governors of provinces he effected few subsequent reforms.
The most important event of his reign was the invasion of Italy by the Lombards, who, entering in 568, under Alboin, in a few years made themselves masters of nearly the entire country. Justin's attention was distracted from Italy towards the North and East frontiers. After refusing to pay the Avars tribute, he fought several unsuccessful campaigns against them. In 572 his overtures to the Turks led to a war with Persia. After two disastrous campaigns, in which the Persians overran Syria, Justin bought a precarious peace by payment of a yearly tribute. The temporary fits of insanity into which he fell warned him to name a colleague. Passing over his own relatives, he raised, on the advice of Sophia, the general Tiberius to be Caesar in December 574 and withdrew into retirement. Sophia and Tiberius ruled together as joint regents for four years, while Justin sank into growing insanity.
C.W. Previte-Orton, The shorter Cambridge medieval history (Cambridge: University Press, 1952), p. 201.
This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.
Medieval Greece / Byzantine Empire
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