History, Politics & Society

What happened from 527ad to565ad?

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2010-01-17 19:56:39
2010-01-17 19:56:39

During this time North Africa witnessed the extinction of the Vandal kingdom by the Byzantine General Belisarius. Sicily, Corsica, and Sardinia all were reconquered by the Byzantines, either under the General Belisarius or the eunuch chamberlain Narses. Italy was the home to a long, brutal war between the Ostrogothic Kingdom and the Byzantine forces. Eventually the Byzantines conquered the Kingdom and for a short while Italy was again held by their Empire. The Franks established themselves in modern day France while the Visigoths strengthened their hold on Spain. In the East there was a continuing war with the Sassanid Persian Empire. Also the great former Orthodox Church the Hagia Sophia was built during this time. It would be the largest Christian church until the late middle ages. Previous to these conquests however, there as also an event known as the Nika riots.

In the city of Constantinople, capital of the eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantine Empire, there were two primary chariot teams, the Blues and the Greens. By this time in history those two parties were also political factions that had their own armies and faction houses throughout the Empire. During one particular race things got out of hand between some fans and a brawl erupted, resulting in a number of deaths once the soldiers were called in to restore the peace. Justinian ordered a number of ring leaders to be executed as examples. As it so happens, two of the people to be executed survived and were quickly taken into sanctuary at a nearby church. One of those men was a high ranking member of the Blues, the other a high ranking member of the Greens.

Justinian ordered them to be executed, but rioting broke out in the city, for once the two factions having a common cause. They demanded that the men be released but Justinian would not allow it. The next day he wanted to start the games in the Hippodrome, and as he took his seat in the Imperial Box, the crowd was screaming "NIKA, NIKA!" the Greek word for win, or victory. Soon more rioting began as it spilled into the streets buildings began to be burnt and the mob was running wild. Justinian was almost ready to flee the city when his wife, the Empress Theodora demanded that he and his retinue stay.

Justinian luckily had Belisarius in the capital with some soldiers who were just returning from the Persian front, and another general, the Gepid Prince Mundus was passing through the capital with 10,000 Herulian soldiers. Justinian ordered these two to take separate routs through the ruined city towards the Hippodrome, were Justinian had told the mob to assemble and he would step down from the throne.

As Justinian entered the Imperial box, the mob produced Hypastius, a friend of Justinian and nephew to the former emperor Anastasius. They demanded that he be made Emperor and as Justinian distracted the crowd, Narses with the Imperial Guard blocked the exits and the Imperial troops under Belisarius and Mundus entered the Hippodrome and attacked the mob. In a matter of minutes over 30,000 Blues and Greens were dead across the Hippodrome and the Nika riots were over. Hypastius was executed along with some other serious leaders, and never again was Justinian questioned by his subjects.

Then there was the plague of Justinian, so named after the great Byzantine Emperor Justinian I who presided over the above mentioned conquests. This plague at its height saw thousands die a day and would eventually spell the end of over 25 million lives throughout the Empire. Even the Emperor Justinian himself was afflicted with what was then known as "the demon", although he recovered, he would for the rest of his long life be sickly.

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