Who was a better Emperor: Nero or Justinian

Better Roman Emperor?

  • Nero

    Votes: 4 19.0%
  • Justinian

    Votes: 17 81.0%

  • Total voters
    21

Rodger

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,549
US
#4
Justinian. At a time when the western portion of the empire was in collapse he actually expanded his portion of the empire and created relative stability, minus the plague which afflicted the empire (not his fault).
 
Sep 2012
3,680
Bulgaria
#7
Justinian taxed heavily his subjects due to his expensive wars ergo he was not very popular among lower classes, especially his subjects from the eastern provinces, their homes sacked and pillaged by the persians.

In contrast the contemporary writers Josephus and Dio Chrysostom, from the time of Nero, portray him as popular among the lower classes. Tacitus and Suetonius described him as a fiend from hell, but these wrote after Nero's reign.
 

MAGolding

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,674
Chalfont, Pennsylvania
#9
Justinian taxed heavily his subjects due to his expensive wars ergo he was not very popular among lower classes, especially his subjects from the eastern provinces, their homes sacked and pillaged by the persians.

In contrast the contemporary writers Josephus and Dio Chrysostom, from the time of Nero, portray him as popular among the lower classes. Tacitus and Suetonius described him as a fiend from hell, but these wrote after Nero's reign.
If you talk about heavy taxation, think about the states of early modern and modern Europe, taxing their subjects heavily for years, decades, and centuries straight to pay for wars with their neighbors, which also taxed their subjects heavily for centuries straight to pay for wars with their neighbors. People who lived near the borders of their states were in constant danger of destructive invasions by armies of neighboring states. The only way to be safe from marauding invading armies is to live too far from the borders and too deep inside your state for foreign armies to ever reach that far. And if you live in a strong modern state the only way to avoid being taxed heavily for military expenses is for there to not be significant foreign threats to demand large defense forces, nor significant tempting foreign targets to justify large spending for aggression.

The bigger a state is, both absolutely and relatively compared to potential enemies, the less it needs heavy taxation to support its military machine.

Therefore the wars of Justinian to reconquer the rebellious western provinces offered hope for a more peaceful and less heavily taxed world in his era, as well as hope that the evil nations of Italy, Spain, Portugal, France and England would never arise to afflict an unhappy world with their wars and heavy taxes in future ages.

The main problems of Justinian's reign were not of his creation.

They were:

1) The great plague, a pandemic with killed a large percentage of the population in the empire and in other realms. It may have killed up to a quarter of the population of the empire, and recurred several times in the next 2 centuries up to AD 750. Plague of Justinian - Wikipedia

2) The extreme weather events of 535-536. There was a very sharp temperature drop worldwide in 535-536 causing famines in which probably millions of people died worldwide, disrupting economies and perhaps leading to social instability and the collapse of governments and societies. it was clearly a major stress on the Roman Empire. The temperature drop is believed to have been caused by a thick layer of dust in the atmosphere, theorized to have been caused by one or more volcanic eruptions and/or by one or more asteroid and/or comet impacts.

3) Khosrow I Anushiruwan, King of Kings of Iran, who decide to invade and attack the Roman Empire. Justinian and Khosrow I failed to create an eternal peace between their two mighty empires, just as previous Roman and Persian rulers had failed to create a permanent peace for 600 years already.

4) Baudilla/Totila, a Gothic nobleman was was elected king of the Ostrogoths in 541 when they had been almost totally defeated by the Romans. Totila turned the tide of the war and regained control over almost all of Italy. Italy was devastated by the war which dragged for 11 years until Totila was killed in 552. Totila ruined Italy. If it hadn't been for Totila, Italy would have remained a prosperous province of the Roman Empire.

So if a time traveler wants to prevent the disasters of that era, he should stop volcanoes or asteroids from causing the extreme weather events of 535-536, prevent the plague of Justinian, and change the actions of Khosrow i Anshiruwan and Totila.