Type: Justinian I, (527-565) AE Half-Follis.
Origin: Byzantine empire
Diameter: 24 mm
Mint: officina B (2ª), Theoupolis mint Antioch
Country: Byzantine empire
Obverse: DN IVSTINIANVS PP AVG, pearl diademed, draped, cuirassed bust right
Reverse: Large K, long cross to left with T/H- E/U/O/P in the four angles,
Justinian I (527-565)
Justinian was fortunate on two accounts. On the one hand he benefitted from Anastasius's shrewd financial administration which left his treasury full and the economy in great shape. On the other he had the good fortune of having at his command the incomparably able general Belisarius, a man whose military genius and personal character might have been the equal of Trajan.
Through the loyal Belisarius, the emperor went on an ambitious expedition to retake the lands lost to the Vandals in Africa; an effort last tried under the fiasco led by Basiliscus the previous century. After Belisarius ousted the Vandals he went on to push the various barbarian tribes out of Italy and for the most part succeeded on this challenging task. After retaking Rome he had to endure a withering siege by the barbarian king Vitiges who tried his hardest to retake the ancient capital. But Belisarius was the better commander and used his modest resources with supreme skill and eventually the barbarians retreated.
But all this glory belonged to Belisarius who by merit and character would have made a great military emperor. Justinian himself was a cowardly, greedy and otherwise lackluster ruler who was heavily influenced by his equally unremarkable wife Theodora.
Nonetheless, Justinian's reign marked the birth of a golden age for the Byzantine empire and during his lifetime it would see its greatest influence and the almost complete restoration of the territorial borders of the old Roman empire. He died in 565 of advanced age and was succeeded by Justin II.