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Justin succeeded his uncle Justinian in 565, raised to the top job by his fans carrying him head high from the Imperial palace in Constantinople to the Hippodrome. After the long rancid years of Justinian, the Byzantines were keen to see a new emperor and hoped to benefit from job offers and re-decoration contracts. At first it all went very well but then like a slow-mo Chariot car crash - it all went terribly wrong and Justin was pushed off his throne by a pushy wife and a much more muscular successor.
edit Early Career
Justin was named in honour of his great uncle Justin I, a wood cutter from the Danube. Young Justin looked like the senior Justin except he could write his own name - a feat that forever escaped his great uncle. Justin's father was called Dulcidonus - ruling him out of the imperial running for having a boring name. Justin's mother reveled in the name Vigilanta and headed the local Watch Committee to execute neighbours with terrible villa extensions. There was also another Justin - his cousin Justinus Timberjackus. Their uncle Justinian was forever getting them confused and when he died, it wasn't certain which one was meant to succeed. Justinus Canuckus got their first and exiled his loser-cousin and then had him chained to his sister Britnus Cannuckus Spearus for life. About six months as it turned out.
In an attempt to beat more sense into the emperor, he was married to Sophia Gold-Solidus Kredit Kardos. She was the niece of Empress Theodora (wife of Justinian). Contemporaries say she was very holy but that is probably monastic white wash for very horny as her auntie had once been. She also brought along a man who was her 'exhibitor', a muscled thigh he-man called Tiberius - later Byzantine emperor Tiberius II. It was an unusual arrangement as Justin wasn't sure what an exhibitor was.
The Byzantine Empire was in good shape. It now included Italy, the Costa del Sol in Spain and the complete coast of North Africa from the territories first inherited by Justinian. The new emperor got plenty of favourable 6th century press coverage from the Christian church but then it all went wrong as it was soon obvious, Justin couldn't cut the mustard.
edit Italian Tour
In 568 Justin and Sophia left Constantinople for an intended tour of Italy. The organiser/fixer of the event - a general called Narses was sacked for 'lacking the balls to make it happen' - a deliberate insult as Narses was a eunuch. A concert was booked in Milan for Justin to attend and perform in front of an audience of grateful Italians. Having put up with the Ostrogoths and their dirty ways, it should have been an easy audience to work with.
But come the day of the gig and with Justin resting back stage with his dealer, an army of Lombards from beyond the Alps arrived. Barely Christian and with a leader Audoin who liked to drink beer out of his dead father-in-law's skull, the Lombards claimed they were there to revenge the insult to Narses about his lack of wedding tackle. Justin scuttled away and back to Constantinople.
This marked a general rejection of all things Byzantine and Justin as Lombard gangs rode up and down Italy looking for plunder and posters of Justin to deface. The surviving 'Beliebers' hid out in Ravenna and Rome but Italy was otherwise lost to the Byzantine popster.
edit Persian Tour
For many years the Byzantines had been bribing the Persians not to come over from their side of the Euphrates and act bad. Justin refused the bribe as he needed the gold for partying. When the emperor offered to play at a joint Byzantine-Persian Peace and Harmony concert - the Persians invaded and messed up the entire frontier. Then they asked for more money which the miserable Justin was obliged to find.
According to the chroniclers this humiliation pushed Justin over the edge. He refused all advice and instead spent months partying, racing chariots around Constantinople and crashing them into unlucky pedestrians. They couldn't sue Justin, he was after all emperor and exempt from all fines and speeding tickets.
Young fans who came to see Justin for an audience were found the next day with missing limbs or worse after the emperor had tried to eat them. This was pushing the envelope even for the normally supine Byzantines. Sophia made sure she never slept with Justin again after that but realised she had to do something or end up on the emperor's dinner plate.
One night after he came back from his latest partying, Sophia had her husband slipped into a strait jacket and announced the emperor was taking an extended break from governing.
edit Locked away
Justin remained emperor but now no one took any notice of him. Sophia acted in his name and got her advisor Tiberius to become 'Caesar' - i.e. Deputy Emperor. She couldn't marry him as Tiberius had his own family. Justin withdrew to his room and then found he couldn't leave it when Sophie took all the handles off.
For the next four years the Byzantine Empire was ruled by this odd threesome. Sophia and Tiberius in practise ran the empire and only required Justin to sign for parcels or stationary when they were out on a long Bosphorus cruise. Curiously, no one else seemed to be too bothered having a madman as emperor. Sometimes Justin's old fan club would come to the palace to attempt to see their old idol and would leave with signed copies of his underpants. By now Justin was well truly lost in his own world and spent weeks on end lying on his bed and stare at the mirrored ceiling, wondering who that handsome chap was looking down at him.
Finally in 578 Sophia got Justin to 'approve' of Tiberius as co-emperor and when that insult didn't kill the wretch, she had him drowned in a bowl of soup. Officially, the story was that Justin had been so happy to resign that death had come up from behind him and snatched his tormented soul. It was a comparatively humane way to get sacked, at least Justin didn't have his eyes, ears, tongue or nose cut off - a fate that was to await a lot of his successors.