Justinian the Great by Charles River Editors
This is a very short (60-100 pages?) account of late Roman emperor Justinian's life and accomplishments. Despite the book's brevity, it captures Justinian's accomplishments and conquests very well.
Justinian was the emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire from 527 until 565. When Justinian came to power, the Western Roman Empire had just fallen to barbarians, and the Eastern Empire was facing serious military challenges. Whether the Byzantine Empire could survive was entirely unclear.
Justinian re-established Mare Nostrem, conquering an impressive amount of territory. He retook Italy from the Ostrogoths, and liberated Rome from its barbarian overlords.
Justinian is now remembered for his tireless work habits. Many of his advisors report seeing him stay up very late at night to manage the empire's business.
He also was a pioneer of women's rights. His wife, empress Theodora helped him rule the empire and managed internal affairs. Other accomplishments include the construction of Haga Sofia. He also created incentives which would, over time, replace slavery with (much more humane) serfdom.
He also created the "Justinian Code," which later served as the progenitor for Common Law. The Justinian Code is the biggest de-regulation in history. Justinian went through all of the centuries of obscure and obsolete laws, and abolished them all. He codified a very lean and simple legal system into a book of about 1000 pages.
The brevity sadly prevents the authors from going into detail about the historical context in which Justinian operated, but that is perfectly understandable considering the length of the work.
I am a huge Roman history buff, and Justinian is my favorite emperor. He was a conqueror, but was just and fair. He also was a deregulator, perhaps one of the greatest in history. This book is an excellent short recap of the man's life.
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