The reign of Justinian the Great was the period of the greatest territorial expansion in the history of the Eastern Roman Empire, also known as the Byzantine Empire. The greatest gains in the history of this interesting country turned out to be very unstable. This fact meant that the assessment of the main perpetrator of these actions, i.e. Emperor Justinian and his beloved wife Theodora, with whom he held the helm of the state for many years, was and is ambiguous, and often even extremely negative, both by his contemporaries and current researchers of the past. Contemporary to his reign, the historian Procopius in his historic work “Secret History” drew an extremely negative picture of both the imperial couple and their rule. Despite the bad memory of the reign of Justinian and Theodora, the conqueror of Constantinople, Mehmed II, called the “Conqueror”, referring to the Byzantine legacy he took over, referred to the aforementioned imperial couple, symbolizing the greatest splendor of the state he conquered long ago.
Attempts to assess Emperor Justinian and his reign were undertaken by the British historian James Allan Evans in the book “The Emperor Justinian and the Byzantine Empire”. In a relatively small work in terms of volume, the author provides the reader with a very accurate picture of the Byzantine Empire and its relations with neighboring states and peoples in the first half of the 6th century CE. The pages of the discussed monograph also contain a detailed description of the most important commanders and imperial officials and their actions. The reading of this study is facilitated by the glossary of characters appearing in it at the end, which is very well prepared because in a few nicely composed sentences the author offers us a large dose of structured information. Mr. Evans relied heavily on a variety of historical sources in his work, from which well-chosen quotations often adorn the text.
After reading such a well-composed work, the reader can form his own opinion about the extraordinary imperial couple who were united by love for each other and power.