the younger, emperor of the East, from A. D. 565-578, and nephew of the great Justinian. (See the genealogical table prefixed to the life of Justinian I.) His reign is signalized by important and extraordinary events. Justin had infinitely less merit than his cousins Justinus and Justinian, the sons of Germanus, who had distinguished themselves in the field against the Persians, and were universally beloved for the frankness of their character; but he was of a crafty disposition, and while his cousins exposed their lives in the defence of the empire, he prudently remained at Constantinople and courted the aged Justinian.
In order to insinuate himself the better into his uncle's favour, he married Sophia, the niece of the empress Theodora, a beautiful and clever woman, but ambitious, imperious and revengeful.
In the night that Justinian died (13th of November, 565), Justin had retired to his apartments, and was fast asleep, when he was suddenly awakened by a loud knocking against his door: it was a deputation of the senate, composed of some of its members who had witnessed the emperor's death, and now came to congratulate Justin, whom, according to their report, the dying monarch had appointed his successor. Whether this was true or not, no time was lost by Justin and his friends.
He went immediately to the senate, who were already waiting for him, and after a document had been read to him, which purported to be the will of Justinian, he was forthwith proclaimed emperor. Early in the following morning he repaired to the hippodrome, which was filled by an immense and anxious crowd. and after having delivered divers fine speeches, which met with boisterous acclamation, he issued a general pardon for all offenders, and, in order to convince the people the more completely of his vir tuous and generous sentiments, summoned the numerous creditors of Justinian to come forth with their claims. They obeyed eagerly, and their as tonishment was still greater when a file of porters made their appearance, each sighing under the weight of an enormous bag of gold: in a few hours the whole of Justinian's debts was discharged.
The people found no limits to their praise and delight, and their admiration of their new master was at its height, when Sophia, imitating the noble example set by her lord, opened her treasury and paid the debts of a host of poor people.
At the same time the orthodox Justin issued an edict of universal toleration; all persons exiled for their religion, except Eutychius, were recalled and restored to their families or friends; and the church enjoyed a state of peace for fifty years, unprecedented in the annals of the ecclesiastical history of the East.
The golden age seemed to have arrived in Constantinople and the provinces.
Too soon, however, did the real character of Justin show itself, and sadly disappointed the sanguine hopes of the Greeks.
An embassy of the khan of the Avars having solicited an audience, Justin dismissed them haughtily and provoked the resentment of their chief; and he exhibited an equally overbearing conduct in his negotiations with the Persians, whence an early rupture might easily be prognosticated. In 566 the indignation of the Greeks was provoked by the murder of Justin the younger, the emperor's cousin.
This distinguished prince excited the jealousy of both Justin and Sophia, and, from the Danube, where he commanded against the Avars, he was suddenly sent as governor to Egypt, but had scarcely put his foot on the shore of Alexandria, when he fell under the dagger of a hired assassin. His numerous friends were exasperated; it was said that they had conspired against the emperor, and the alleged conspiracy was stifled in blood.
The treasures Justin had spent in satisfying the creditors of Justinian, he recovered by a system of oppression and rapacity which surpassed even that of his predecessor, and the places under government were sold without shame or disguise. Italy, exhausted and ravaged by the Gothic war and its consequences famine and disease, was in a deplorable state. Alboin, king of the Longobards, coveted that fair conquest of Justinian, but his hopes were checked through fear of Narses, who still held the command at Ravenna. Yet Narses was approaching the extreme limits of human life, and Alboin resolved to wait, and to increase his power by breaking that of his troublesome neighbours the Gepidae, who reigned in Hungary.
He entered into an alliance with the Avars, and in 566 the Gepidae disappeared from among the independent barbarians in Europe. Every one could now foresee an invasion of Italy, and Justin ought consequently to have concentrated his power in the plains of the Po, and put both his treasures and soldiers at the free disposition of Narses. Narses, however, was hated by Sophia, and he had given just causes of complaint to the Italians, by his arbitrary government and his extreme rapacity. Justin, listening to the foolish advice of his wife, sent him an order to return to Constantinople, and bring with him his own riches and those of the public treasury; and Narses, having remonstrated, pointing out the imminent danger from the Longobards, Sophia sent him a most insulting letter, which so roused the fury of the old general that he invited Alboin to turn his arms against Italy, promising that he would not take the command of the Romans. Soon afterwards, however, he deeply regretted his faithlessness, and tried to dissuade Alboin from the undertaking.
But it was too late, the Longobards descended into Italy, and Narses died of grief. [NARSES.]
In 568 Alboin descended the Julian Alps, with his stern Longobards and numerous contingents of Bavarians, Suevians, and other Germans: 20,000 Saxons, the kinsmen and old confederates of the Longobards, joined the expedition with their wives and children. Longinus, the successor of Narses, was an incompetent general, who had neglected to fortify the passes through the Alps, and thus the barbarians rushed down into Italy like an Alpine torrent. Forum Julii, built by Caesar, was the first town they conquered, and, having been made by Alboin the seat of a feudal duchy, which extended over the adjacent districts, was the cause of that province being now called Friuli, or in German Friaul, which is a corruption of Forum Julii: Grasulf was its first duke. Aquileia soon followed the fate of Forum Julii, and its fugitive inhabitants took refuge on the Venetian islands. In 569 Alboin took Mantua, conquered Liguria as far as the Cottian Alps, and on the 5th of September of the same year, victoriously entered Milan (Mediolanum), where he was crowned king of Italy. Henceforth the country surrounding Milan was called Longobardia, or Lombardy, the name which it still bears.
In the following year Alboin made himself master of a large portion of Central Italy, and founded a second feudal duchy at Spoleto, where Faroald reigned under his supremacy.
The establishment of a third duchy at Benevento was the fruit of the campaign of 570: Alboin found a strong colony of Longobards in that place, who had settled there nineteen years previously, having received the town with its territory from Narses, in reward for their services in the Greek armies; their chief, Zotto, was made duke. In 571 Calabria fell into the hands of the Longobards, and now the name of Calabria was given by the Greek government to the narrow peninsula of Bruttium and part of Lucania, countries which are still called Calabria. Rome and Ravenna, however, as well as different other portions of Italy in the north and in the south, withstood the conqueror, and remained under the sway of the emperor.
While the most splendid conquest of Justinian was thus wrested from the Greeks, Justin found consolation in pleasures and, luxury, leaving the government in the hands of his wife, his ministers, and his eunuchs.
At the very time that Italy was taken from him, he was involved in a dangerous war with the Persians, which broke out under the following circumstances. The Turks having by this time made great conquests in the countries to the north of Persia, gave umbrage to the Persian king Chosroes, especially since they concluded an alliance with Justin, and Chosroes began hostilities by invading and subjugating the kingdom of the Homeritae, in Southern Arabia. Encouraged by the approach and success of the Turks, the Iberians and Persarmenians threw off the Persian yoke, and submitted to Justin, on condition of his defending them against Chosroes.
The emperor promised to do so, and at the same time refused to pay the annual tribute of 30,000 pieces of gold, which had been fixed by former treaties. Thus war broke out in 572. Justin sent Marcian against the Persians, an able general, who found no army on his arrival at the frontiers, but created one in a short time, and did more than could have been expected under such circumstances.
He was shut up for some time in the important fortress of Dara. Reinforced by the contingents of the Lazians and other Caucasian nations, he suddenly sallied forth, laid siege to Nisibis, and offered battle to Chosroes, who approached with an army of 100,000 men.
At this critical moment Acacius arrived from Constantinople with an order for Marcian to hasten directly to the capital, and surrender the command to him. Marcian obeyed, but no sooner was he gone than the whole Greek army disbanded, as Acacius was known to be destitute of all military talent.
The consequence was that Syria was ravaged by the Persians with fire and sword, Dara, the bulwark of the empire, was taken by Chosroes, after a long and gallant resistance. When this news reached Constantinople, Justin showed all the symptoms of insanity, and his mental disorder increased so much as to make him unfit for any business (574).
The entire government now devolved upon the empress Sophia.
Two years previously Alboin had been assassinated, shortly after he had taken Pavia, where his successor Clepho took up his residence.
This king was slain a short time after his accession, but the Longobards, nevertheless, maintained themselves in the greater part of Italy.
These events were coincident with a war against the Avars, who worsted the Greek commander Tiberius, a great general at the head of a bad army.
The state of the empire was so critical that Sophia persuaded Justin to adopt Tiberius and to make him Caesar.
The emperor followed the advice, and in 574 the new Caesar was presented to the senate. Sophia acted wisely in buying a truce of one year from the Persians for the sum of 45,000 pieces of gold, which was soon afterwards prolonged for three years, by an annual tribute of 30,000 pieces.
But this truce did not include Armenia, and thus Chosroes set out in 576, or more probably as early as 574, with a large army to extend the frontiers of his realm in the north-west.
With great exertions and sacrifices Tiberius succeeded in raising an army of 150,000 foreign mercenaries, with whom he despatched Justinian,the emperor'scousin, against the Persians, thus leaving Italy unprotected and Greece open to the inroads of the Slavonians.
The details of this remarkable campaign are narrated in the lives of Tiberius and Justinian. Justinian obtained splendid victories, and sent 24 elephants to Constantinople; but he sustained in his turn severe defeats, and was succeeded in the supreme command by Mauricius, who, in 578, penetrated as far as the Tigris.
The war was still raging with unabated fury, when Justin, whose mental sufferings were increased by an ulcer on his leg, felt his dissolution approaching, and consequently created Tiberius Augustus on the 26th of September, 578, and had him crowned and publicly acknowledged as his successor. Justin died on the 5th of October following; the best action of his life was the choice of his successor. (Corippus, De Laud. Justini;
Evagrius, 5.1-13; Theophan. p. 198, &c.; Cedren. p. 388, &c.; Zonaras, vol. ii. p. 70, &c.; Glycas, p. 270, &c.; Const. Manasses, p. 68 &c.; Joel, p. 173, in the Paris edit.; Paul. Diacon. 2.5, &c., 3.11, 12; Theophylact. 3.9, &c.; Menander, in Excerpt. Legation.