Guide The Life of Belisarius: The Last Great General of Rome

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This gave Belisarius a chance to regroup, and he went on to win the battle and capture Carthage.

A second victory at the Battle of Tricamarum later in the year December 15 resulted in Gelimer's surrender early in at Mount Papua, permitting the lost provinces of north Africa to be restored to the empire. For this achievement Belisarius was granted a Roman triumph the last one ever given when he returned to Constantinople. Justinian now resolved to restore as much of the Western Roman Empire as he could. In , he commissioned Belisarius to attack the Ostrogoths.

Again, he chose well, as Belisarius quickly captured Sicily and then crossed into Italy proper, where he captured Naples and Rome in The following year, he successfully defended Rome against the Goths and moved north to take Mediolanum Milan and the Ostrogoth capital of Ravenna in , where the Goth king Witiges was captured. Shortly prior to the taking of Ravenna, the Ostrogoths offered to make Belisarius the western emperor.

Belisarius feigned acceptance and entered Ravenna via its sole point of entry, a causeway through the marshes, accompanied by his comitatus veterans. Once inside the city, Belisarius quickly seized Witiges and then capitalized on the resulting lack of leadership to secure the city. Thereupon, he proclaimed the capture of Ravenna in the name of the Emperor Justinian.

The Goths' offer perhaps raised suspicions in Justinian's mind and Belisarius was recalled to the East to deal with a Persian conquest of Syria, a crucial province of the empire. Belisarius took the field and waged a brief, inconclusive campaign against them in - He eventually managed to negotiate a truce aided with the payment of a large sum of money, 5, pounds of gold , in which the Persians agreed not to attack Byzantine territory for the next five years.

Belisarius returned to Italy in , where he found that the situation had changed greatly. In the Ostrogoths had elected Totila as their new leader and had mounted a vigorous campaign against the Byzantines, recapturing all of northern Italy and even driving the Byzantines out of Rome.

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Belisarius managed to recover Rome briefly but his Italian campaign proved unsuccessful, thanks in no small part to his being starved of supplies and reinforcements by a jealous Justinian. In , Justinian relieved him in favor of the eunuch Narses , who was able to bring the campaign to a successful conclusion. For his part, Belisarius went into retirement. The retirement of Belisarius came to an end in , when an army of Slavs and Bulgars crossed the Danube River to invade Byzantine territory for the first time and threatened Constantinople itself. Justinian recalled Belisarius to command the Byzantine army against the Bulgar invasion.

In his last, successful, campaign, Belisarius defeated the Bulgars and drove them back across the river.


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In , Belisarius stood trial in Constantinople on a charge of corruption. The charge was likely trumped-up, and modern research suggests that his bitter enemy, his former secretary Procopius of Caesarea, the author of the Secret History , [1] may have judged his case. Belisarius was found guilty and imprisoned. However, not long after the conviction, Justinian pardoned him, ordered his release, and restored him to favour at the imperial court.

Belisarius was featured in several works of art before the 20th century. The oldest of them is the historical treatise by his very own secretary, Procopius , the Anecdota , commonly referred to as the Arcana Historia or Secret History , it is an extended attack on Belisarius and Antonia, indicting him as a love-blind fool and his wife as unfaithful and duplicitous. As the highest-ranking military officer in the city at that time, Belisarius was responsible for suppressing the riots, and is said to have slaughtered between 20 and 30 thousand people.

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General Belisarius - Byzantine Military Hero

As a reward, in AD, Belisarius was sent to reclaim the African provinces from the Vandal Kingdom, which he succeeded within a year. When he returned to Constantinople, he was given a Roman triumph.


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It is said that this was the last ever Roman triumph that was given. All was not well for Belisarius, as his popularity amongst both his soldiers and his defeated enemies raised the suspicion of Justinian, and he was recalled to Constantinople after the capture of Ravenna. Belisarius was sent to the east to deal with the Sassanians again, but was back in Italy in AD to quell an uprising by the Ostrogoths.

In AD, Belisarius fell from grace, was accused of corruption, and sent to prison. He was, however, later pardoned by Justinian, and was restored to his previous honor and standing in the Byzantine court. A myth that was popular in the Middle Ages stated that Belisarius was blinded by Justinian, and became a beggar prior to his pardon by the emperor.

As a result, the blind Belisarius became a popular subject amongst painters of that period who saw a parallel between the action of Justinian and that of contemporary rulers.

Following the life and achievements of the last great Roman general

Gibbon, E. The J. Paul Getty Museum, The National Gallery, Belisarius receiving Hospitality from a Peasant. I am a university student doing a BA degree in Archaeology. I believe that intellectual engagement by advocates from both ends of the spectrum would serve to Read More.

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Belisarius

References ancienthistory. Login or Register in order to comment. Related Articles on Ancient-Origins. Flavius Belisarius - AD personified the perfect example of what a general of a powerful empire ought to have been. He was almost invincible in battle as he restored the influence of the