Academic Master



Comparing these two accounts of Justinian’s reign by Procopius, which of the two would you consider to be the more BIASED account?

Justinian is considered as the last greatest emperor of East Rome and he ruled over the Byzantine Empire. His life was documented by Procopius of Caesarea in the books; Secret History, the History of War, and The History of Building. Justinian married Theodora who was an actress, for this, he changed the law that forbade the royalty from marrying a commoner and Procopius was not pleased with this. Procopius was the royal historian but he could not openly share his disdain so he wrote about it in his book “Secret History”, in which he wrote about Empress Theodora with negative bias. Meanwhile, when writing about matters of the kingdom, Procopius wrote through observation. For instance; when the Plague of Justinian arrived in Byzantine, he wrote that as not much was known about the disease, the fatalities were imminent. So his accounts about Empress Theodora presented a more biased opinion.

What is one sentence that you would consider to be evidence of more bias? What is one phrase that you would consider to be evidence of less bias?

“As soon as Justinian came into power he turned everything upside down. Whatever had before been forbidden by law he now introduced into the government…” (Procopius, Secret History). This phrase shows Procopius’ displeasure of Justinian for changing the marriage law so that he could marry Theodora.

How did Justinian attempt to address the plague as a public crisis?

“And, to put all in a word, it was not possible to see a single man in Byzantium clad in the chlamys, and especially when the emperor became ill…” (Procopius). This phrase shows pure observation by Procopius regarding the plague without any bias.

How would you compare Justinian’s approach to the plague to the approach taken by Pope Gregory the Great as described by Bishop Gregory of Tours?

When the plague entered the Byzantine Empire, it affected everyone even Justinian contracted it, however; he survived. As not much was known about the disease and it was widespread so Justinian ordered his troops to assist in body disposal so that the healthy people did not have to come in contact with the infected body. The people knew about the plague well before it came to the empire but did nothing to prepare against it. Even Justinian took no precautionary measures and when the plague moved on, he spent his time gathering taxes from his emaciated citizens so that he could build churches to please God so that He would give His protection from future plagues. In contrast, Pope Gregory the Great led prayers and processions so that everyone would ask God his forgiveness and plead with him to put a stop to this plague. He then received a vision in which he saw Archangel Micheal sheathing his sword, atop the Tomb of Hadrian. After this vision, he announced that Rome had been spared (Seville).

Based upon what you have read in the descriptions of Procopius, Paul the Silentiary and Gregory of Tours, and seen in the two videos on Hagia Sophia and San Vitale, and the city of Constantinople what are two comparative conclusions you can draw about the difference between life in the Byzantine Empire and life in early medieval Europe?

The main difference in the lies of the Byzantine Empire and Early Medieval Europe was that when Byzantine Empire was established as a Christian empire where the official religion was Christianity. Early Medieval Europe had many pagan religions but slowly the people started to convert towards Christianity. The similarity in both was that the emperors had a heredity rule and were revered by the public.

Based upon the videos you have seen and the description of Baghdad furnished by Yakut, what are two comparative conclusions you can draw about the difference between life in the Islamic world and early medieval Europe?

The biggest difference between the Islamic world and Early Medieval Europe was the religious practices, however; the similarity was that both controlled the religious aspects and the political aspects of their territory.

Based upon the sources you have reviewed in the last two modules, which of these three societies do you believe was most advanced? Where would you have preferred to have lived?

Byzantine Empire was the most advanced empire as they had advanced cities, complex institutions, advanced technology, record keeping, and specialized workers. The empire also had great innovations in a subject such as; mathematics, physics, and medicine. The military was also equipped with advanced technology which made them formidable and their architecture such as; Pointed Arch bridge, Cross in Square, and Pendentive Dome was also extremely incredible. If I was born during those times and I would have preferred to live in Byzantine Empire.

Works Cited

Procopius. Secret History. Translated by Richard Atwater, University of Michigan Press, 1961,

—. History of the Wars, translated by H. B. Dewing, vol. 1, Harvard University Press, 1914, pp. 451–73,

Seville. “Gregory of Tours Describes the Plague at Rome 590 A.D.” Plague Anthology, 17 Apr. 2020,



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