The Badass of the Week.

Justinian II


Emperor Justinian II of Byzantium wasn't a brilliant military strategist, a capable ruler, a benevolent dictator, or even a fucking half-decent human being.  He was a ruthless, merciless motherfucker who crushed all who opposed him, brutally eliminated his enemies, and let nothing stand in the way of his insane, over-the-top, possibly-misguided mission to stomp the lower intestines of anybody ballsy enough to think they could screw with him for any reason.  His entire existence was dedicated to one incredibly badass mission:  Live for Revenge.

Justinian inherited the throne of the Eastern Roman Empire in 685 at the age of 16, and immediately started more shit than a primadonna NFL wide receiver in his contract year.  During the early years of his reign he negotiated a peace treaty with the Umayyad Caliphate that resulted in the Caliph paying tribute to the mighty Emperor (this pretty much proved to everyone who had the hugest nuts in the land), and his army of crotch-stabbing warriors beat the crap out of some jackass rebels that were causing trouble in Armenia and the Balkan Peninsula.

But even though his armies were doing an excellent job of turning wild hordes of rampaging savages into sirloin chuck ground beef and the ruler of the most powerful nation in the Islamic World was sending him a fat welfare check every month, Justinian II was still pretty much utterly despised by the tightwad dickhead senators of the Byzantine Empire.  First off, they didn't really dig Justinian's economic strategy, which basically involved taxing the ever-loving pants off of the citizenry and then using that money to build incredibly huge buildings and massive statues of himself punching Minotaurs in the face or wrestling fire-breathing three-headed dragons.  On top of that, the populace was also a little pissed that Justinian once tried to have the Pope arrested for disagreeing with him on religious matters.  Now I don't care if you're Catholic or not - pretty much everyone can agree that signing an arrest warrant for the fucking Pope because he doesn't agree with your interpretation of Christianity takes some seriously colossal fucking brass testicles.  Unfortunately, the citizens of ancient Constantinople didn't really have the same appreciation for flagrant displays of testicular fortitude that you and I do, and eventually the Senate convened an emergency session so that they could do that which Roman Senators do best - plot an underhanded coup d'etat and depose the Emperor.  In 693, some fucking jackasses busted into the Imperial throne room and tackled Justinian like an over-enthusiastic police officer taking down a crackhead on Cops.  This group of usurpers, which was comprised mostly of escaped prisoners led by two former high-ranking Byzantine Generals and the goddamned Patriarch of Constantinople, roughed the Emperor up, punched him in the solarplexus a couple times, cut off part of his nose, slit his tongue down the middle, executed all of his closest advisors and exiled him to the shithole town of Cherson.

Well, not only did it fucking suck that Justinian just got humiliated, mutilated, and had his face jacked up by a bunch of convicted felons, but since the Emperor was supposed to be flawless and perfect in every way, his new disfigurement meant that he was pretty much out of the running to ever regain his throne.  But fuck that.  Justinian wasn't going to let something like a botched amateur nosejob stand in the way of his Palpatinian amibition.  His first order of business was to get a custom-made gold plate to cover his fucked-up nose, so he pretty much always looked like a mix between Rip Hamilton and the Phantom of the Opera.  I imagine that this made him look fucking awesome all of the time:





Years passed, but Darth Justinian never forgot what happened to him.  He just became more and more pissed.  Every day, he strapped on a red headband and trained for hours on a heavy bag in an old abandoned gym while awesome pump-up 80s hair band music played in the background and a grizzled old trainer yelled at him to push things to the limit.  Eventually, the false Emperor in Constantinople decided that it was too dangerous to have a ruthless, vengeful bastard like Justinian hanging around being not dead, so he sent some motherfuckers to arrest him and bring him into town for a proper execution.  Justinian figured out what was going on and was like, "fuck that", so he fled Cherson to go live with the Khazars, a badass tribe of Jewish-Turkic nomads known for being fucking hardcore all of the fucking time and for eating (Kosher) meat right off the fucking bone.  In the short time he was there, Justinian's badassitude, nunchuck skills and bench-pressing ability impressed the Khazar tribal leader so much that he offered his own sister to Justinian in marriage.  In 703, Justinian was married to the Khazar princess, a woman named Theodora, and was starting to adapt to life amongst the tough-ass warrior nomads.  It should also be mentioned that they lived in the town of Phangoria, a place so hardcore and insane that the magazine Fangoria was potentially named after it.  Well the false Emperor was still determined to turn Justinian into shark food, so he put a mafia hit out on him.  Luckily for our anti-hero, Theodora found out what was going on and tipped her husband off.  That night, two fucking goons busted into Justinian's bedroom to kill him, but Justinian got the drop on them and fucking choked them both to death with his bare hands.  Once the two thugs were sufficiently asphyxiated, Justinian stole a fishing boat and set out to seek his vengeance.

He soon arrived in the land of the Bulgars, an even more vicious race of lawless, badass warriors.  Justinian made peace with the Bulgar Khan and promised him truckloads of money and hookers in exchange for his help.  The Khan quickly assembled a well-trained, balls-out force of 15,000 bloodthirsty Bulgar cavalrymen ready to fucking kick serious asses.  Together with his new allies, Justinian rode out for the gleaming spires of Constantinople.  His force was too small to penetrate the massive walls of the heavily-fortified city, but like any good diabolical madman hell-bent on the destruction of his enemies, Justinian had a plan.  He knew about an old abandoned aqueduct that ran into the heart of downtown Constantinople, so in the middle of the night he and his men snuck into town through a series of secret passages and immediately started fucking shit up Trojan Horse-style, hacking up motherfuckers, burning shit, and generally just causing more havoc than a punch bowl of Red Bull at a birthday party full of eight year-olds being held in a Fabergé Egg museum.  The next morning, ten years after he had been deposed, Justinian once again took a seat on his blood-soaked throne.

Now the people that had messed with Justinian were fucked.  And by fucked, I mean seriously fucking fucked.  His first order of business was to march the false Emperor through the streets of Constantinople while a mob of angry citizens hurled rocks and rotten food at him, and then Justinian personally executed him in the public square by stabbing his head off with his boner.  Then he set out looking for the traitorous Generals that had used his face for a pincushion ten years ago.  In the time since Justinian was deposed, the two jackass traitor usurpers had themselves been overthrown and exiled, but the Emperor had his men travel to the farthest reaches of the Earth, find those bastards and bring them back to Constantinople.  Once he had them firmly in his kung fu grip, Justinian slashed their noses and tongues just like they had done to him, had them bound and trussed, and spent the next two weeks using these guys for footstools while he sat on his throne.  When he got bored of resting his feet on the backs of his enemies, he had them publicly executed for treason.  Justinian also found the Patriarch that was responsible for his ordeal, stripped him of his rank, and put out his eyes with a really sharp pencil.  Then he burned the town of Cherson to the ground, because it fucking sucked being exiled there for like eight years.

Well unfortunately Justinian spent so much time exacting cruel retribution on everyone who had ever fucked with him that he kind of lost track of what was going on in the Empire.  Towns soon revolted against him, foreign invasions threatened the borders, and he was eventually captured and executed by motherfuckers.  His severed head was placed on display outside the city of Ravenna, which is actually kind of awesome when you think about it.

Justinian II was a bad motherfucker.  He wasn’t the kind of guy that poets wrote epic works of literary genius about, or that history books remember fondly, but he was a seriously hardcore motherfucker who put vengeance first and everything else second.  In my opinion, you kind of have to respect a guy who would "go the extra mile" and let his entire Empire collapse around him just to ensure that no man escaped his bloody retribution.




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