Nika rebellion

car bottom plate on a Roman mosaic

the Nika rebellion was a rising of the people in Konstantinopel, to that it 532 during the reign of the eastRoman emperor Justinian I. came. It is considered as the heaviest Circusunruhe of late ancient times.

Table of contents


around the special violence of the rebellion understanding, is necessary it, itself the climate in the eastRoman societyto call this time before eyes. The ambitious plans Justinians and the war against Persia obviously caused him to a particularly rigiden tax policy, by which both the simple people and the dominant layers were affected. The moreover one Justinians began under the regimespecial austerity course, by which many national employees lost their work. Thus for example the post office system up to the connection to Persia and the most important army roads was strongly limited. Above all however the emperor presented himself more strongly as its a predecessor than “rulers of God grace” andstraight among the senators encountered resistance with its almost absolutist conception of the Kaisertum. In addition still the strict course Justinians came against the circus parties, which in the glaring contrast to its promotion of the parliamentary group of the blue ones before its collection to the emperor .


the representation of the process of the rebellion depends in the following on the data in the sources. With possible of far interpretation possibilities is to be dealt under the point for Rezeption.


in the apron the rebellion became several troublemakers, who were party men of the circus parliamentary groups,to death condemns. After the first executions were executed, several times the Galgen or the cord failed with two Delinquenten. Therein the present people saw an indication of God. This proved as particularly fatal, since the two criminals were to be added to the disliked circus parties in each case. Thoseapplied quantity supported in the following tumult a group of monks, which brought the condemned ones into the protection of a monastery.


three days later, to 13. January in the Hippodrom the Zirkuspiele was held to the Iden. After 22 runs the circus parties beganto demand the release of the prisoners. With Theophanes minutes are delivered, which probably belong into this connection: When Justinian did not answer (an unusual behavior for an lateantique emperor), rang out the outrageous acclamation „humans the loving blue one and Green many years! “. The opposing parliamentary groupsagainst the emperor had united. As password among themselves one used the word „Nika “(“victories! ”), which gave the name to the collection. In the consequence it still came on the same day to an attack on the Prätorium of the Stadtpräfekten.

Probably around an impression of normalityto arouse and around the people calm down, those became running to 14. January not called off. The masses, which appeared themselves in the Hippodrom, randalierten however soon, whereby the wood banks of the Hippodroms and the arcades of the main street up to the hot springs of the Zeuxippos in flamescame up. As reaction the remaining emperor-faithful units under Mundus, Constantiolus and Basilides proceeded against the insurgent ones.

Justinian I., mosaic picture from pc. It found, became
ruchbar vital protest


unrests no end, political in Ravenna [works on] wherein the demands of the insurgent ones lain. Itthe dismissals of the high officials Johannes of the Kappadokiers, Eudamions, the Stadtpräfekten and Tribonianus, the leading lawyer of the emperor were demanded. When Justinian fulfilled these demands, unrests continued however nevertheless. Thereupon the straight field gentleman Belisar returned by the war with the Persern went with its body guard from Goten against the insurgent ones forwards.

open rebellion

as the demands of the insurgent ones fulfilled were, showed up that unrests had changed themselves to an open rebellion, whose exit was still perfectly open. At the night of the 14. January to 15. January in the palace quarter the Chalke, the Senatscuria, the accommodations of the palace guards was ignited scholarii , protectores and candidati, the emperor forum (Augusteum) and the church of the Hagia Sophia. The fronts had hardened. Possibly falls one ofProkop delivered speech of the empress Theodora I., which called Justinian to the strength, into this phase. The authenticity of this speech is however at all very questionable.

The Aufrührer began to play at the latest in this phase with the thought to a new emperor. Thus pulled to 15. January a quantity to the house of the pro bus, a nephew former emperor Anastasios I., and pro bus, emperor for Rome “weapons for the insurgent ones required with the calls „. When the answer was missing, they put to fire to the house.

To 16. January devastated insurgent that Archives of the Praetoriums to probably destroy in order loading case records. The fire that they put thereby, seized the hot springs of the Alexander, two imperial mansions, the Basilika of the Illus and the Hospiz of the Samson by an unfavorable wind around itself and burned the church of the Hagia Eirene,as well as that of the Eubulus.

Since the troops of the palace guard behaved neutrally, Justinian had apparent requested further troops from the close garrisons of Hebdomon, Rhegio, Athyras and Calabria, to 17. January with the insurgent ones collided. Parts of the Octagons of building mentioned, the Portikus burned the silver silberschmiede, the house of the Symmachus, the churches of the pc. Aquilian and those of the pc. Theodor, as well as an elbow on the forum constant in. With a further action Liburnon and liking aura were ignited. The result of the following road and house fight was undecided. At the latestsince the new troops were in the city, thrashing the rebellion was however probably only a question time.

In the morning 18. January let the people call Justinian in the Hippodrom and offered the involved one in the rebellion exemption from punishment. First that seemedPeople with it to deal, but then tilted the tendency and Hypatius, another nephew of the Anastasius, on the forum constant in under participation of some senators to the Gegenkaiser was proclaimed.

striking down

the role of the Hypatius can be clarified not finally. Allegedly he tried afterto take up and to its grace submit its coronation/culmination with Justinian contact. Apparent the wrong message, Justinian gave on a boat it had fled, however the excursion that Hypatius finally accepted its (tragic) role. More probable it is however that Hypatius as a candidate of the senatorischen opposition the rebellionto use wanted, in order to arrive at power.

In the meantime was to be captivated however the yard treasurer Narses succeeded parts of the blue ones to favour Justinians. As the emperor-faithful units under Mundus, Belisar and Constantiolus thereupon in several places in the Hippodrom penetrated, relax a terrible Massacre and probably a mass panic, which probably around 30,000 humans to the victim fell. On the subsequent day Hypatius and with it arrested Pompeius executed and in the Marmarameer thrown their corpses.


the decided procedure caused consequences against the insurgent onesa stabilization of the emperor and a deprivation of power anyway all right of the weak senatorischen opposition. On the other hand Justinian remained with the städischen population still for a long time hated. Further the influence was apparent strengthened by Belisar, Narses and above all Theodora, those in the future politically particularly in featureto step should. Belisar, which was fallen due to a defeat against the Sassaniden in disgrace before, could attain the favour Justinians by its emperor-faithful behavior again and in the following year the line of the military expedition against the Vandalen was assigned. Narses, its rival, should into thatremain likewise most influential for the following decades.

The destruction in Konstantinopel, developed with the rebellion, offered Justinian in addition the possibility for ambitionierten building projects in the capital, in whose course above all the devastated and down-burned Hagia Sophia again one established.

After the events of the Nika rebellion becamein the subsequent years over longer time no running in the Hippodrom held.


defiance or straight source situation to the Nika rebellion by the eye-witnesses Prokopios and (perhaps ) Johannes Malalas, relatively close because of that , gives it among historians several interpretation ways. During Alan Cameron at least in thatInitial phase one typically late ancient times, of which outgoing unrest means to recognize circus parties, historians in the former Eastern Bloc ( probably false) of a spontaneous pure rising of the people went out. In recent time it was assumed several times that those and/or. some senators from the outset as driving Kraft behind the insurgent onesto constitute are. A further, however very disputed, theory sees being able to switch off even Justinian themselves than author, who wanted to use the rebellion, in order the unloved opposition (M. Meier).

Besides the Akta in such a way specified is diá Kalopódion a point at issue of the historians. During this description of an argumentthe circus parties with Justinian in the Hippodrom it is not clarified whether a connection with the Nika rebellion can be really manufactured.


primary literature

secondary literature

  • Franz Tinnefeld: The earlyByzantine society. Structure contrast tensions, 2,7 „the senate under Justinan since the Nikaaufstand “S. 83-85 and 5.1.2 „the people as political factor in the capital “(S. 194-199), Munich: 1977. Tinnefeld, in the Nika rebellion the secret opposition from senate circles means to the day would step.
  • Aleksandra A. Cekalova: Konstantinopol `v VI veke. Vosstanie Nika. [Konstantinopel in 6. Jh. The Nikaaufstand.] Moskva, Nauka 1986.175S., 1 map. Cekalova sees at least in the first days in the Nika rebellion a pureRising of the people, which was then manipulated from senators to own purposes.
  • Hans George Beck: Empress Theodora and Prokop. The historian and its victim, Munich 1986, S. 35-40. Beck accordingly to its topic stresses the increase in power Theodoras after the rebellion.
  • James A.S. Evans: The “Nika” rebellion andthe Empress Theodora, in: Byzantion 54 (1984), S. 380-82.
  • Alan Cameron: Circus factions. Blues and Greens RK Rome and Byzantium, Oxford 1976. Camerons book serves as basis for the analysis of events in those the circus parties is involved. In the chapter „Two special cases “(S.278-281) goesit more near on the Nika rebellion. It classifies it at least at the beginning as typical collection of the circus parties.
  • Geoffrey B. Greatrex: The Nika Riot: A Reappraisal, in: JHS 117 (1997), S. 60-86. Greatrex examined much details above all the changing dynamics in the processthe rebellion.
  • John B. Bury: The Nika Riot, in JHS 17 (1897), S. 92-119. These 100 years before Greatrex article developed is by its source comparison still reading and recommendable.
  • Mischa Meier: The production of a disaster: Justinian and the Nika rebellion, in:Magazine for Papyrologie and Epigraphik 142 (2003), S. 273-300.Meier theses are very disputed. It regards the rebellion as one of the emperor to produced act, whereby Justinian stabilized its rule and it unpleasant competition got rid of.

Web on the left of

Prokops description of the Nika rebellion (English)

The Akta diá Kalopódion (English)

see also


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