The East Roman Empire under Justinian I, Mid-6th Century
Following the Germanic migrations, the last concerted effort to reestablish a unified Christian Roman Empire within its classical borders was made in the mid-6th century by East Roman emperor Justinian I the Great (527–65). He came to the throne a somber and bookish man of humble origins, and seemed an easy target for manipulation by the popular factions in Constantinople. In 532 the factions attempted to force Justinian to make governmental changes and to reform taxes by rioting in the streets, setting fire to much of the city, and proclaiming his overthrow. (See Map 11.) Bolstered by his empress, Theodora, Justinian ruthlessly ordered his military to crush the uprising. Over the bodies of 30,000 of his subjects, Justinian emerged as a ruler determined to solidify the autocratic power of his office and to realize the grandiose pretensions implied by the official imperial ideology of the post-Nicæan Christian Roman Empire: one God, one Emperor, one Empire.