Emperor Justinian (A.D. 483 – A.D. 565)

Justinian was born around 483 near present day Bulgaria. His immediate family was poor but his uncle was a Senator. He mentored Justinian and guided him through education and military service. This uncle became Emperor Justin I in 518 with Justinian as his understudy.

With Justin’s death in 527, Justinian assumed the throne as Justinian I. He succeeded in recapturing much of the old Roman Empire taking Italy and North Africa, as well as parts of Spain. But, his real interests were in architecture, theology, philosophy, poetry and law.

It was these qualities that Theodora, his future wife and love, found so appealing in him.

Empress Theodora (A.D. 500 – A.D. 548)

Theodora was born around 500, one of 3 daughters of a father who was a bear trainer, and a mother who was a dancer and actress, both performing in the Hippodrome in Constantinople. Theodora herself, taking after her mother, became a mime actress.

It was at this time Justinian met his soon-to-be wife Theodora. He was just as smitten with her, especially for her beauty and intelligence, as well as her witty and amusing demeanor, so much that he even petitioned for imperial law to be changed so he could marry her. But, he met great objections from Justin’s wife who objected to his marriage to a performer, for in that age prostitutes and performers were mistakenly considered the same. Nonetheless, Justinian's persistence prevailed and Justin passed a law, allowing actresses to abandon their profession and revert to their previous lives.

This allowed Justinian and Theodora to marry in 525, being destined to live happily ever after. So, the story goes....

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