JUSTIN II. (d. 578), East Roman emperor (565-578), was the nephew and successor of Justinian I. He availed himself of his influence as master of the palace, and as husband of Sophia, the niece of the late empress Theodora, to secure a peaceful election. The first few days of his reign when he paid his uncle's debts, administered justice in person, and proclaimed universal religious toleration gave bright promise, but in the face of the lawless aristocracy and defiant governors of provinces he effected few subsequent reforms. The most important event of his reign was the invasion of Italy by the Lombards (q.ii.), who, entering in 568, under Alboin, in a few years made themselves masters of nearly the entire country. Justin's attention was distracted from Italy towards the N. and E. frontiers. After refusing to pay the Avars tribute, he fought several unsuccessful campaigns against them. In 572 his overtures to the Turks led to a war with Persia. After two disastrous campaigns, in which his enemies overran Syria, Justin bought a precarious peace by payment of a yearly tribute. The temporary fits of insanity into which he fell warned him to name a colleague. Passing over his own relatives, he raised, on the advice of Sophia, the general Tiberius (q.v.) to be Caesar in December 574 and withdrew for his remaining years into retirement.
See E. Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (ed. Bury, ~ v. 2-17; G. Finlay, History of Greece (ed. 1877), i. 291-297; J. Bury, The Later Roman Empire (1889), ii. 67-79. (M. O. B. C.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)