This page cannot be viewed in frames

Go to page

If you have found a spelling error, please, notify us by selecting that text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

Nika riots

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

The rise of Nik
Roman mosaic depicting a chariot race, dated to the 3rd-4th century CE, found in Spain. | Photo: DEA PICTURE LIBRARY / De Agostini/Getty Images

Riots from supporters of chariot-racing teams in 532 CE almost brought down Constantinople. Chariot racing party riots in 532 CE nearly brought Constantinople down.

Increasing social tension, caused by rising taxes and spreading corruption among the imperial officials, found its outlet on the evening of January 13, when angry fans of the Green and Blue parties, instead of the usual shouts of cheering for their teams, began to chant the word “Nika”, meaning “win”, and “go ahead”, and they launched an assault on the palace.

In the days leading up to this event, the people’s discontent culminated when some of the supporters of both teams accused of murder during the fight escaped from prison and hid in the church, and Emperor Justinian ordered them captured despite the intercession of their factions, which demanded complete acquittal. As a result of the incident, a great fire broke out, which led to the destruction of the Basilica of God’s Wisdom. Some senators were determined to take advantage of the situation and overthrow the emperor. It was only thanks to the alleged intervention of his wife that Emperor Justinian did not escape from the city and faced his opponents. According to Procopius, Empress Theodora appealed to the dignity of the imperial office and persuaded her husband, declaring that she would not leave Constantinople and would rather die than lose the imperial purple.

The Emperor had the situation under control with general Belisarius. Historians mention about 30,000 insurgents killed in the hippodrome. This figure also includes Hypatius, proclaimed new emperor by the crowd, nephew of one of the emperors. Senators supporting the uprising were expelled and Hagia Sophia rebuilt.

Author: Jakub Ernt (translated from Polish: Jakub Jasiński)
  • Procopius, Wars
  • Encyklopedia PWN

IMPERIUM ROMANUM needs your support!

Your financial help is needed, in order to maintain and develop the website. Even the smallest amounts will allow me to pay for further corrections, improvements on the site and pay the server. I believe that I can count on a wide support that will allow me to devote myself more to my work and passion, to maximize the improvement of the website and to present history of ancient Romans in an interesting form.


News from world of ancient Rome

If you want to be up to date with news and discoveries from the world of ancient Rome, subscribe to the newsletter.

Subscribe to newsletter!

Roman bookstore

I encourage you to buy interesting books about the history of ancient Rome and antiquity.

Check out bookstore

Spelling error report

The following text will be sent to our editors: