In an essay (800 words), compare and contrast the reigns of Theodosius and Justinian. 1. Explain the significance of the Nika riots. 2. Discuss the continuation of the Eastern Roman Empire and the importance of its geographic location. 3. Explain the influences the Eastern Empire had on the Near East politically and religiously. 4. Describe how the Eastern Roman Empire became the Byzantine Empire? Prepare this assignment according to the APA guidelines

Theodosius, Justinian and the Byzantium Empire

Theodosius was the last emperor to rule a united Roman empire. Under his reign, Christianity was established as the state religion. He protected the religion from the threats of paganism and Arianism. Theodosius became the emperor of Rome in AD 379. After spending a few years of military campaign against the Goths, he reached to a settlement with them on 382. During his reign, the Goths were allowed to live in Thrace under their own ruler. Theodosius was baptized in 380 following a severe illness. The Arian bishop was replaced by an orthodox Catholic bishop on 380. During the early period of his rule, he had a moderate attitude towards paganism but later made all temples and churches under the authority of Nicene Catholics. During his reign, Theodosius won two civil wars which he fought against the usurpers Maximus and Eugenius. He also won wars against pagan forces. Under his rule, he brought peace to the Eastern Empire with his diplomatic involvements and also used his rebuilt military to defend it. He modified Constantinople beautifully and won the admiration of his people for that. After his death, the prevalence of Nicene Christianity was continued and it lasted all through the middle ages. (Hobart, R, 2000).

Justinian ruled the Roman Empire during the period of AD 527-565. His period is significant in roman history as it marked the end of the Roman Empire. The new Byzantium Empire was established during this period. The spread of Islam and the rise of Franks are two important aspects during his reign. (Nelson, L.H., n.d). He was the first powerful ruler of the Byzantine Empire. Under his reign, the Byzantine Empire included most of the land surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. His armies captured some parts of the former Western Roman Empire comprising North Africa. The architectural tradition of the ancient Rome and Greek empires was continued under his rule. The domed Church of Holy Wisdom or Hagia Sophia was one among the monuments that was built during his period. Another important element of his period was that he reformed and codified the Roman law. This modified legal code established the famous Byzantine legal code which continued for centuries and even helped in framing the modern concept of state. (Byzantine Empire, 2013).

The Nika riot was one of the most fatal riots in history that happened during the time of Justinian. In the riot, almost half of the city of Constantinople was burned and thousands of people were killed. Ancient romans had a practice of enjoying sporting events taking sides based on different factions. Some of the murderers from the Blues and Greens escaped from prison before hanging them to death. As part of a chariot race announced on 10 January 532, a riot broke out and the mob demanded the escaped murderess be pardoned. On that day, the people were not grouped as Blues or Greens, instead they had a unified slogan ‘Nika’ which meant “Win!” or “Conquer!”. Some of the senators of Justinian worked as conspirators behind the spreading of the riot. They also wanted to coronate Hypatius. The riot was however controlled by working out a plan to separate the two groups. Nearly thirty thousand rioters were killed in the riot. The significance of the Nika riot was that Justinian could eliminate his enemies and could pursue his vision for a united Roman Empire. He rebuilt Constantinople and the Hagia Sophia after the riot. (Nika riots)

During the course of time, the united Roman Empire was declining and rulers felt that it would be better to divide the empire into two for effective governance. The East –West split of the empire happened in the time period of AD 379 to 395. Though Emperor Theodosius unified the Empire, the unity couldn’t last long after his reign. His two sons Arcadius and Honorius again divided the empire and became the rulers in the East and West respectively. Over the years, civil wars broke out in the Western Empire while the Eastern Empire was stable. In AD 330, Emperor Constantine had inaugurated a new city at Byzantium, a former Greek city. It was named as Constantinople and was declared as the new capital of the empire. In AD 476, the western half of the Roman Empire collapsed while the Eastern half continued and flourished. The Eastern half of the Roman Empire was later known as the Byzantine Empire. The geographic location of Byzantine Empire and its capital of Constantinople were tactically significant for the empire. Constantinople was positioned between the Black Sea and the entry to the Mediterranean Sea. It means that most of the trade relations between North Africa, Asia and Europe had to pass through the Byzantine Empire. Thus the geographic location helped the empire to develop as a wealthy empire for a long period. (Global History II Regents Review).

After the decline and collapse of the Western Roman Empire, the eastern half of the Roman Empire continued the tradition of the Roman Empire.  The eastern empire continued to preserve the plentiful advancements of the Greek and Romans for Western Europe. For example, they preserved the Roman legal code for centuries. They preserved and protected the Roman and Greek culture and Christianity and also tried to spread the ideas into other parts of the world. The Byzantium Empire, during its height influenced the Near East both religiously and politically. Most parts of the ancient Near East followed the Orthodox Christianity of the Byzantium Empire. The governance and tax systems were also influenced by the practices of the Byzantium Empire. However this influence lasted only until the rise of Islamic civilization in the Middle East. (Global History II Regents Review)





Byzantine Empire (2013). In Retrieved on June 29, 2013 from

Global History II Regents Review. Byzantine Empire. Retrieved on June 29, 2013 from

Hobart, R (2000). Theodosius the Great. Retrieved on June 29, 2013 from

Nelson, L.H. (n.d). Lectures for a Medieval Survey. Retrieved on June 29, 2013 from

Nika riots. In Wikipedia. Retrieved on June 29, 2013 from





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