A separate government and difficult communications with the West gave the Byzantine Empire its own character, different from that of the Western Empire.
The citizens thought of themselves as sharing in the Roman tradition, but few spoke Latin anymore. Most Byzantines spoke Greek.
Justinian set up a panel of legal experts to regulate Byzantium’s increasingly complex society. The panel combed through 400 years of Roman law. It was called the Justinian Code
The Justinian Code decided legal questions that regulated whole areas of Byzantine life. Marriage, slavery, property, inheritance, women’s rights, and criminal justice were just some of those areas. His code served the Byzantine Empire for 900 years.
Justinian launched the most ambitious public building program ever seen in the Roman world. He rebuilt the crumbling fortifications of Constantinople, as workers constructed a 14-mile stone wall along the city’s coastline and repaired the massive fortifications along its western land border.
Justinian viewed churches as the most visible sign of the close connection between church and state in his empire. The crowning glory of his reign was Hagia Sophia , which means “Holy Wisdom” in Greek.
As part of his building program, Justinian enlarged his palace into a vast complex. He also built baths, aqueducts, law courts, schools, and hospitals. By the time the emperor was finished, the city teemed with an almost visible excitement.