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What was the Nika Rebellion and what caused it?

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The Nika Rebellion, or rather the Nika Riots as it is more often called, started off as a disagreement over chariot racing. However, this was no ordinary sports-related hooliganism. In the sixth Century, chariot racing and political issues were closely tied together. Emperor Justinian was often in attendance at the races, and spectators frequently took the opportunity to shout political demands at him between the matches.

Emperor Justinian was a supporter of the Blues. When a supporter of the Blues and one of the rival Greens escaped execution (they were to be killed for their part in a separate but smaller riot) and took refuge in a nearby church, a large mob gathered at the racetrack (hippodrome). Unified under the common cry of "nika" (victory), angry members of both the Blues and the Greens began assaulting the neighboring palace complex.

Over the next five days, the resulting fires caused extensive damage throughout the city and reflected terribly on Justinian, who was seen as too...

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