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5 Nummia Ancient Coin
The most famous of all the Byzantine emperors, the reign of Justinian saw the empire reach from Spain to Mesopotamia. By his death, Justinian had re-conquered nearly the entire Mediterranean empire once held by Rome. His patronage produced many of the greatest Byzantine monuments and his influence was felt for centuries. By the time he gained the throne in 528, Justinian already had years of experience as the de facto ruler of the empire for his uncle, Justin I. Born Flavius Peter Sabbatios in Bederiana in the province of Dardenia around 482, Justinian is said to have been a ruddy faced man of average height. Approachable and gentle, he never displayed his anger, and kept his voice quiet, even when ordering the death of thousands of innocent civilians.
From the start, Justinian surrounded himself with strong cohorts, but none held the power of his wife Theodora. Born into a poor family of circus performers, Theodora was making her living from prostitution from even before she reached puberty. Justinian cared less about the outrage of the senatorial aristocracy at his proposed marriage to her, and overrode their objections to remove the law banning marriage between the nobility and circus performers and actresses. Throughout his reign, until her death in 548, she remained his strongest ally and the bulwark of his rule.