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Emperor Justinian I during the Nika Riots, in which Empress Theodora persuades him to fight instead of flee. Art by Andre Durenceau, National Geographic Magazine Vol. 122, no. 6, Dec. 1962.


War on the Terraces: The Nika Riots. First the stewards and then the riot squad had been unable to deal with the supporters when trouble flared on the stands, and eventually, after they had occupied the entire stadium in their tens of thousands, the decision was made to send in troops and declare martial law. Order was to be restored, and anyone still disobeying the command to vacate did so at their own risk.


Those who have worn the crown should never survive its loss. Never will I see the day when I am not saluted as empress. — Empress Theodora to Emperor Justinian I when he considered fleeing from Constantinople during the Nika Riots

The Emperor Justinian, who expanded the boundaries of Byzantine Empire to a double amount, had Hagia Sophia built and reigned for 38 years, could have lost his throne because of the riots on the fifth year of his reign. If the riots had been successful in its aim, Hagia Sophia would not have ever existed.