Justinian was born a shepherd, but at sixteen he walked all the way to Constantinople, to see his uncle, Justin. Justin was captain of the Emperor’s guard and gave young Justinian a good education. He was a smart, and good-looking young man, and was widely respected among his peers. Once the emperor of the time had died, his uncle became the new emperor. Justinian helped his uncle, and Justinian was made him co-emperor only a short time before Justin died. He became the sole emperor in 527. Justinian was very shrewd with who he put in as government officials, and that made some of the others quite angry. And in 532 that nearly lost him the empire. There was a revolt planned, and a lot of the city was burned, and 30,000 citizens were killed in the process. In the end, Justinian regained control and the city was got under control.
Justinian expanded the Eastern Roman Empire including Northern Africa, which he got by defeating the Vandal tribes. He did not do the fighting, but he had two generals that had control of his armies. Belisarius oversaw the conquests of North Africa. Those areas would remain Roman, but it was unstable until they fell to the Moors. While the empire was expanding, Justinian was in Constantinople making developments to the general culture. This time in Constantinople beginning a short time before Justinian’s reign, and lasting for 1000, is known as the Byzantium Empire. Justinian built a magnificent cathedral known as the Hagia Sophia in 537. But today it is a mosque. Justinian worked on many churches and organized the first codified Roman law, known as the Code of Justinian. He also encouraged industrious development, in many fields.
Justinian the Great as he was then known died in 565 AD at 83. And his legacy in the Byzantium empire lasted for 1000 years. But after his death, the empire did begin to weaken because of the difficulty of maintaining all of the territories that they controlled.