Guide The Wars of Justinian

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However, this was not the end of the Gothic War. Though much of Italy was under Roman control, some towns and cities such as Verona remained under Gothic influence. Though soundly defeated, the remainder of the Gothic regime found a new leader in Totila. In the autumn of CE, he was proclaimed king, soon after leading a reconquest of Italy.


Though at the head of a relatively small force, Totila was helped in his goals by several problems in the Roman Empire. Around the same time, new hostilities opened between Justinian and the Sassanian Empire, which meant that resources had to be split between East and West. An outbreak of plague in CE later called the Justinianic Plague crippled the empire's ability to respond. Totila thus managed to defeat the first Roman counter-attacks and captured Naples by siege in CE. Rome itself changed hands three times in quick succession, ending up in CE in the hands of Totila.

Belisarius had attempted to defeat Totila on several occasions prior to this but was hampered by lack of supplies and support from Justinian.

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A new campaign was undertaken by Justinian's nephew Germanus Justinus, but he died in CE, succeeded by the general Narses. Justinian's reign lasted almost 40 years, but it was not always popular. In CE Julianus ben Sabar, a messianic figure in Palestine , led a revolt of the Samaritan people against the empire. In CE Constantinople was gripped by civil discontent; the Nika riots lasted a week, resulted in the deaths of thousands of citizens, and left much of the monumental centre of the city in ruins.

A second Samaritan revolt in CE, more significant and possibly involving elements of the Jewish population of Palestine, was not quelled until after the death of Justinian. Early on in his reign, Justinian commissioned a legal expert in his court, Tribonian, to gather together numerous legal notes, commentaries, and laws of the Roman legal system into a single text which would hold the force of law : this was the Codex Iustinianus.

The Wars of Justinian

In CE the first edition was published, followed in CE by a revised second edition which unlike the first, survives today. The text is divided into titles relating to specific aspects of the law, and was composed in Latin. It contained laws on heresy, orthodoxy and paganism as well. Justinian is unique among Roman emperors in that his life was recorded in two separate sources by the same author.

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Procopius of Caesarea , who was a legal secretary to General Belisarius, composed De Bellis "On the Wars [of Justinian]" between and CE, which records the successes and some failures of the military campaign the emperor launched. He also composed De Aedificiis "On the buildings [of Justinian]" between and CE, a work describing in great detail the many building projects the emperor undertook during his reign. Procopius also composed the Anecdota translated as "Secret History", less often as "Unpublished Things" between and CE that claims to reveal the reality of life in the imperial court.

It details the alleged sexual activities of the Empress Theodora , the weak determination of the emperor, and the power that women held in the imperial court. Considering the very negative tone of the text, it is unclear if Procopius intended the work to portray a satirical take on life at court or a truer account of imperial life than is portrayed in the De Bellis or De Aedificiis. What is almost certain is that the Anecdota reveals that Procopius had lost faith in the regime of Justinian, in contrast to the positive feelings expressed in his earlier works. Justinian is credited as one of the greatest emperors in late Roman and Byzantine history.

His achievements in the fields of art, architecture , legal reform, and conquest are remarkable by the standards of any leader in history. The works of Procopius have contributed greatly to this understanding as well as criticisms of his regime. His Christian faith was evident in all the spheres of his enterprise, marking a step in the transition of emperors from leaders in war and politics to leaders of faith and patronage as well.

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The Wars of Justinian

Wyeth, W. Justinian I. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Wyeth, Will. Last modified September 28, Ancient History Encyclopedia, 28 Sep This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon this content non-commercially, as long as they credit the author and license their new creations under the identical terms. Please note that content linked from this page may have different licensing terms. Justinian's Early Life Not a great deal is known about Justinian's early life.

The remaining three volumes comprise The Gothic War , the campaigns by Belisarius and others to recapture Italy, then under the rule of the Ostrogoths. This eighth book covers campaigns both in Italy and on the eastern frontier. It was a solid translation and proved quite useful. Why the new translation, then?

This is a fine volume overall, but there are some criticisms. While Prokopius is often regarded as the last great historian of antiquity, his successors Agathias and Menander Protector were in many ways as important. Edward Gibbon famously considered Agathias "a poet and rhetorician" whereas Procopius was "a statesman and soldier," but this oversimplifies things. Both should get more than a passing comment in the notes.

The more glaring issue is that despite the inclusion of several maps covering the Roman and Persian worlds, several of the events described occur in locations not shown on these maps.

Tracking Belisarius or Narses often required an atlas. Citation: Nathan D. Review of Dewing, H. H-War, H-Net Reviews. March, Wells Quincy College Published on H-War March, Commissioned by Margaret Sankey Historians, whether professionally trained or amateur, who strive to learn about a civilization and its leaders often rely on sources that were close to those who determined seminal events.

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