Figlio del doge Angelo dal quale era stato inviato in missione a Costantinopoli per rinsaldare i legami della Repubblica con il basileus Leone V l’Armeno, alla cui corte ricevette il titolo di ipato.

Ritornato a Rivoalto, Giustiniano recò con sé, come ulteriore segno dell’amicizia di Leone, le reliquie di san Zaccaria e denaro sufficiente ad erigere in onore del santo una chiesa e un convento.

Al suo arrivo constatò che durante la propria assenza il padre aveva nominato il fratello minore Giovanni come co-reggente. Giustiniano reagì rinchiudendosi in volontario esilio assieme alla moglie nel proprio palazzo vicino alla Chiesa di S. Severo. Il padre Angelo fu costretto a deporre Giovanni, nominando Giustiniano nuovo co-reggente (818). Giustiniano, però, pretese e ottenne che il fratello venisse esiliato e confinato a Zara. Da qui Giovanni fuggì, ma poi fu ripreso e inviato a Costantinopoli.

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