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The decline and fall of the Roman Empire; (Volume 7) online

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A cilt 1












By The Rf.v. H. H. MILMAN







List of Illustrations zi


Elevation of Justin the Elder — Reign oj Jtistinian : — /. The Empress
Theodora — II. Factions oj the Circus, and Sedition of Constantinople
— ///. Trade and Manufacture of Silk — IV. Finances and Taxes —
V. Edifices of Justinian — Church of St. Sophia — Fortifications and
Frontiers of the Eastern Empire — Abolition of the Schools of Athens, and
the Consulship of Rome


482 or 483 Birth of the Emperor Justinian ..... i

518-527 Elevation and Reign of his Uncle Justin 1 3

520-527 Adoption and Succession of Justinian ..... 4

527-565 The Reign of Justinian . 7

Character and Histories of Procopius 7

Division of the Reign of Justinian g

Birth and Vices of the Empress Theodora 10

Her Marriage with Justinian 13

Her Tyranny 15

Her Virtues ........... 16

548 And Death 18

The Factions of the Circus , . .18

At Rome . . . . . . . • 2p

They distract Constantinople and the East 20

Justinian favours the Blues . . . . . . . .21

532 Sedition of Constantinople, surnamed Nika .... 23

The Distress of Justinian 25

Firmness of Theodora ........ 27

The Sedition is suppressed 28

Agriculture and Manufactures of the Eastern Empire . . 29

The Use of Silk by the Romans ....... 30

Importation from China by Land and Sea 33

Introduction of Silk-worms into Greece 36

State of the Revenue 39

Policy of Anastasius 40

Avarice and Profusion of Justinian 40

Pernicious Savings ......... 41

Remittances 41

Taxes . . . , 42

Monopolies 43

Venality . 44

Testaments . . . ........ 44

The Ministers of Justinian 46





John of Cappadocia 46

His Edifices and Architects 48

Foundation of the Church of St. Sophia 51

Description 53

Marbles 55

Riches 55

Churches and Palaces 56

Fortifications of Europe ........ 58

Security of Asia after the Conquest of Isauria .... 62

Fortifications of the Empire, from the Euxine to the Persian

Frontier 65

488 Death of Perozes King of Persia 69

502-505 The Persian War 70

Siege of Edessa 70

Fortifications of Dara 71

The Caspian or Iberian Gates 72

The Schools of Athens 73

They are suppressed by Justinian 78

Proclus 78

485-529 His Successors 79

The last of the Philosophers 81

541 The Roman Consulship extinguished by Justinian ... 81


Conquests of Justinian in the West — Character and first Campaigns of
Belisarius — He invades and subdues the Vandal Kingdom of Africa —
His triumph — The Gothic War — He recovers Sicily, Naples, and
Rome — Siege of Rome by the Goths — Their Retreat and Losses — Sur-
render of Ravenna — Glory of Belisarius — His Domestic Shame and

533 Justinian resolves to invade Africa 84

523-530 State of the Vandals. Hilderic 85

530-534 Gelimer 86

Debates on the African war 87

Character and Choice of Belisarius 89

529-532 His Services in the Persian war 89

533 Preparations for the African war 91

Departure of the Fleet . 94

Belisarius lands on the Coast of Africa 96

Defeats the Vandals in a first battle 99

Reduction of Carthage . loi

Final Defeat of Gelimer and the Vandals 104

534 Conquest of Africa by Belisarius 108

Distress and Captivity of Gelimer m

Return and Triumph of Belisarius 114

535 His sole Consulship 115

End of Gelimer and the Vandals 116

Manners and Defeat of the Moors 118

Neutrality of the Visigoths 121

550-620 Conquests of the Romans in Spain 122


A.r>. fAGE

534 Belisarius threatens the Ostrogoths in Italy .... 122
522-534 Government and Death of Amalasontha, Queen of Italy . 124

535 Her Exile and Death 127

Belisarius invades and subdues Sicily 127

534-536 Reign and Weakness of Theodatus, the Gothic King of

Italy 130

537 Belisarius invades Italy and reduces Naples .... 132

536-540 Vitiges, King of Italy 136

536 Belisarius enters Rome ........ 137

537 Siege of Rome by the Goths 138

Valour of Belisarius 140

His Defence of Rome ......... 140

Repulses a general assault of the Goths 143

His Sallies


Distress of the City 146

Exile of Pope Sylverius 149

Deliverance of the City ........ 150

Belisarius recovers many Cities of Italy . . . , -152

538 The Goths raise the Siege of Rome 153

Lose Rimini .......... 155

Retire to Ravenna 155

Jealousy of the Roman generals 155

Death of Constantino ......... 156

The Eunuch Narses . . . . . . . . .156

Firmness and Authority of Belisarius 157

538-539 Invasion of Italy by the Franks 158

Destruction of Milan 159

Belisarius besieges Ravenna ....... 161

539 Subdues the Gothic Kingdom of Italy 163

Captivity of Vitiges 164

540 Return and Glory of Belisarius 164

Secret History of his Wife Antonina 167

Her Lover Theodosius. 168

Resentment of Belisarius and her Son Photius . . . .170

Persecution of her Son . 171

Disgrace and Submission of Belisarius 172


State of the Barbaric World — Establishment of the Lombards on the Danube
— Tribes and Inroads of the Sclavonians — Origin, Empire, and
Embassies of the Turks — The Flight of the Avars — Chosroes I. or
Nushirvan King of Persia — His prosperous Reign and Wars with the
Romans — • The Colchian or Lazic War — TIte Ethiopians

527-565 Weakness of the Empire of Justinian

State of the Barbarians

The Gepidae

The Lombards

The Sclavonians .

Their Inroads
545 Origin and Monarchy of the Turks in Asia




The Avars fly before the Turks, and approach the Empire
558 Their Embassy to Constantinople
569-582 Embassies of the Turks and Romans .

500-530 State of Persia

531-57Q Reign of Nushirvan, or Chosroes .

His Love of Learning

533-539 Peace and War with the Romans

540 He invades Syria ......

And ruins Antioch .....

541 Defence of the East by Belisarius
Description of Colchos, Lazica, or Mingrelia
Manners of the Natives ....
Revolutions of Colchos ....
Under the Persians, before Christ 500 .
Under the Romans, before Christ 60 .

130 Visit of Arrian ......

522 Conversion of the Lazi ....

542-549 Revolt and Repentance of the Colchians

549-551 Siege of Petra . _ .

549-556 The Colchian or Lazic War .

540-561 Negotiations and Treaties between Justinian

522 Conquest of the Abyssinians

533 Their Alliance with Justinian






Rebellions of Africa — Restoration of the Gothic Kingdom by Totila — Loss
and Recovery of Rome — Final Conquest of Italy by N arses — Extinction
of the Ostrogoths — Defeat of the Franks and Alemanni — Last Victory,
Disgrace, and Death of Belisarius — Death and Character of Justinian
— Comets, Earthquakes, and Plague

535-545 The Troubles of Africa 235

543-558 Rebellion of the Moors 240

540 Revolt of the Goths 243

541-544 Victories of Totila, King of Italy 244

Contrast of Greek Vice and Gothic Virtue 246

544-548 Second Command of Belisarius in Italy .... 248

546 Rome besieged by the Goths 250

Attempt of Belisarius 252

Rome taken by the Goths 253

547 Recovered by Belisarius 256

548 Final Recall of Belisarius 258

549 Rome again taken by the Goths ....... 261

549-551 Preparations of Justinian for the Gothic War . . . 263

552 Character and Expedition of the Eunuch Narses .... 265

Defeat and Death of Totila ........ 269

Conquest of Rome by Narses . . . . . . ,271

553 Defeat and Death of Teias, the last King of the Goths . . 273
Invasion of Italy by the Franks and Alemanni . . . -275

554 Defeat of the Franks and Alemanni by Narses .... 277
554-568 Settlement of Italy 280



559 Invasion of the Bulgarians 282

Last Victory of Bclisarius 284

561 His Disgrace and Death 285

565 Death and Character of Justinian 288

531-539 Comets 291

Earthquakes 294

542 Plague — its Origin and Nature 296

542-594 Extent and Duration 299


Idea of the Roman Jurisprudence — The Laws of the Kings — The Twelve
Tables of the Decemvirs — The Laws of the People — The Decrees of the
Senate — The Edicts of the Magistrates and Emperors — Authority of the
Civilians — Code, Pandects, Novels, and Institutes of Justinian: — /.
Rights of Persons — //. Rights of Things — ///. Private Injuries and
Actions — IV. Crimes and Punishments

The Civil or Roman Law 301

Laws of the Kings of Rome ....... 303

The Twelve Tables of the Decemvirs 305

Their Character and Influence 307

Laws of the People 309

Decrees of the Senate . . . . . . . . .310

Edicts of the Praetors 311

The Perpetual Edict 312

Constitutions of the Emperors 313

Their Legislative Power ........ 314

Their Rescripts 315

Forms of the Roman Law 316

Succession of the Civil Lawyers 318

303-648 The first Period 319

648-988 Second Period 319

988-1230 Third Period 320

Their Philosophy 321

Authority • . 323

Sects . 324

527 Reformation of the Roman Law by Justinian .... 326

527-546 Tribonian 327

528-529 The Code of Justinian 329

530-533 The Pandects or Digest ....... 330

Praise and Censure of the Code and Pandects . . . '331

Loss of the ancient Jurisprudence ...... 333

Legal Inconstancy of Justinian ....... 336

534 Second Edition of the Code 336

534-565 The Novels 336

533 The Institutes 338

I. Of Persons. Freemen and Slaves 338

Fathers and Children 340

Limitations of the paternal Authority 342

Husbands and Wives 345

The religious Rites of Marriage 345



Freedom of the matrimonial Contract 347

Liberty and Abuse of Divorce 348

Limitations of the Liberty of Divorce 350

Incest, Concubines, and Bastards 352

Guardians and Wards 354

II. Of Things. Right of Property 355

Of Inheritance and Succession 359

Civil Degrees of Kindred 360

Introduction and Liberty of Testaments 362

Legacies 363

Codicils and Trusts 364

III. Of Actions 366

Promises 366

Benefits 3^8

Interest of Money 369

Injuries 37°

IV. Of Crimes and Punishments 372

Severity of the Twelve Tables 372

Abolition or Oblivion of Penal Laws 375

Revival of capital punishments 377

Measure of Guilt 379

Unnatural Vice 3^°

Rigour of the Christian Emperors 381

Judgments of the People 383

Select Judges 3^4

Assessors 3^5

Voluntary Exile and Death 385

Abuses of Civil Jurisprudence 3^7

Appendix 389



Elevation of Justin the Elder — Reign oj Justinian : — I.
The Empress Theodora — II. Factions oj the Circus,
and Sedition oj Constantinople — III. Trade and Manu-
jacture oj Silk — IV. Finances and Taxes — V. Edifices
oj Justinian — Church oj St. Sophia — Fortifications
and Frontiers oj the Eastern Empire — Abolition oj the
Schools oj Athens and the Consulship oj Rome

The emperor Justinian was born ^ near the ruins of
Sardica (the modem Sophia), of an obscure race ^ of Barba-

^ There is some difficulty in the date of his birth (Ludewig in Vit. Jus-
tiniani, p. 125); none in the place — the district Bederiana — the village
Tauresium, which he afterwards decorated with his name and splendour
(D'Anville, Mem. de I'Acad. &c. tom. xxxi. p. 287-292). [See below, p. 60,
n. 114.]

^ The names of these Dardanian peasants are Gothic, and almost English :
Justinian is a translation of tiprauda (upright); his father Sabatius (in
Graeco-Barbarous language stipes) was styled in his village istock (stock) ;
his mother Bigleniza was softened into Vigilantia. [For the name of Jus-
tinian's father Sabatius we have the authority of Procopius ; it is a Thracian
word, connected with the name of the Thracian sun-god. But it was the
family name, for Justinian himself also bore it; see his full name below,
note 9. The other names are Slavonic (not Gothic) and are derived from
the Justiniani Vita of Theophilus, quoted by Alemanni and rediscovered by
Mr. Br}'ce (see above, vol. i.. Introduction, p. Ixvi., Lxvii.). Mediaeval Slavonic
legend (if it is represented in this work) conceived Justinian as a Slav.
Upravda is a translation of Justinianus (and not vice versa); istok means a
fountain; Biglenizza is explained as coming from bieli "white." But these
(and other Slavonic names in the Vita) are late and bad formations (compare


rians,^ the inhabitants of a wild and desolate country, to
which the names of Dardania, of Dacia, and of Bulgaria
have been successively applied. His elevation was prepared
by the adventurous spirit of his uncle Justin, who, with two
other peasants of the same village, deserted, for the profes-
sion of arms, the more useful employment of husbandmen or
shepherds/ On foot, with a scanty provision of biscuit in
their knapsacks, the three youths followed the highroad of
Constantinople, and were soon enrolled, for their strength
and stature, among the guards of the emperor Leo. Under
the two succeeding reigns, the fortunate peasant emerged to
wealth and honours; and his escape from some dangers
which threatened his life was afterwards ascribed to the guard-
ian angel who watches over the fate of kings. His long and
laudable service in the Isaurian and Persian wars would not
have preserved from oblivion the name of Justin; yet they
might warrant the mihtary promotion which in the course of
fifty years he gradually obtained; the rank of tribune, of
count, and of general, the dignity of senator, and the com-
mand of the guards, who obeyed him as their chief, at the
important crisis when the emperor Anastasius was removed
from the world. The powerful kinsmen whom he had
raised and enriched were excluded from the throne ; and the
eunuch Amantius, who reigned in the palace, had secretly

C. Jirecek, Eng. Hist. Review, 1887, p. 685). The only result from the
Vila, Mr. Bryce thinks, is "to give us a glimpse into a sort of cyclus of
Slavonic legends, attaching themselves to the great name of Justinian"
(ib. p. 684). Prof. Jagic thinks the names are mainly a fabrication of Luc-
cari (Copioso ristretto degli Annali di Rausa, 1605) and other Dalmatian
scholars of the time. Arch, fiir slavische Philologie, xi. 300-4, 1888.]

' Ludewig (p. 127-135) attempts to justify the Anician name of Justinian
and Theodora, and to connect them with a family from which the house of
Austria has been derived.

•• See the anecdotes of Procopius (c. 6) with the notes of N. Alemannus.
The satirist would not have sunk, in the vague and decent appellation of
yeupySs, the /Soi^koXos and <rv<f)opP6s of Zonaras. Yet why are those names
disgraceful ? — and what German baron would not be proud to descend from
the Euma'us of Ihe Odyssey? "


resolved to fix the diadem on the head of the most obsequious
of his creatures. A liberal donative, to conciliate the suffrage
of the guards, v^as entrusted for that purpose in the hands
of their commander. But these weighty arguments were
treacherously employed by Justin in his own favour; and, as
no competitor presumed to appear, the Dacian peasant was
invested with the purple, by the unanimous consent of the
soldiers who knew him to be brave and gentle, of the clergy
and people who believed him to be orthodox, and of the
provincials who yielded a blind and implicit submission to
the will of the capital. The elder Justin, as he is distinguished
from another emperor of the same family and name, as-
cended the Byzantine throne at the age of sixty-eight years;
and, had he been left to his own guidance, every moment of
a nine years' reign must have exposed to his subjects the
impropriety of their choice. His ignorance was similar to
that of Theodoric ; and it is remarkable that, in an age not
destitute of learning, two contemporary monarchs had never
been instructed in the knowledge of the alphabet. But the
genius of Justin was far inferior to that of the Gothic king;
the experience of a soldier had not qualified him for the
government of an empire^*; and, though personally brave,
the consciousness of his own weakness was naturally at-
tended with doubt, distrust, and political apprehension.
But the official business of the state was diligently and faith-
fully transacted by the quaestor Proclus:^ and the aged
emperor adopted the talents and ambition of his nephew
Justinian, an aspiring youth, whom his uncle had drawn
from the rustic solitude of Dacia, and educated at Constanti-
nople, as the heir of his private fortune, and at length of the
Eastern empire.
Since the eunuch Amantius had been defrauded of his

*" [Cp. John Lydus, dc Ma,q. 3, c. 51, di/rjp di ^v d-irpdyfiwv Kai firjSh
airXtlis irapa tt/c tuv dirXoiv ireipav iTriffTdntvos.]

* His virtues are i^raiser) In- Procopius (Persic. 1. i. c. 11). The quaestor
Proclu5 was the friend of Justinian, and the enemy of cverj' other adoption.


money, it became necessary to deprive him of liis life. The
task was easily accomplished by the charge of a real or
fictitious conspiracy; and the judges were informed, as an
accumulation of guilt, that he was secretly addicted to the
Manichasan heresy.® Amantius lost his head; three of his
companions, the first domestics of the palace, were punished
either with death or exile; and their unfortunate candidate
for the purple was cast into a deep dungeon, overwhelmed
with stones, and ignominiously thrown, without burial, into
the sea. The ruin of Vitalian was a work of more difficulty
and danger. That Gothic chief had rendered himself
popular by the civil war which he boldly waged against
Anastasius for the defence of the orthodox faith, and, after
the conclusion of an advantageous treaty, he still remained
in the neighbourhood of Constantinople at the head of a
formidable and victorious army of Barbarians. By the frail
security of oaths, he was tempted to relinquish this advan-
tageous situation, and to trust his person within the walls of
a city whose inhabitants, particularly the blue faction, were
artfully incensed against him by the remembrance even of
his pious hostilities. The emperor and his nephew embraced
him as the faithful and worthy champion of the church and
state; and gratefully adorned their favourite with the titles
of consul and general; but, in the seventh month of his
consulship, Vitalian was stabbed with seventeen wounds at
the royal banquet ; ' and Justinian, who inherited the spoil.

' Manichaean signifies Eutychian. Hear the furious acclamations of
Constantinople and Tyre, the former no more than six days after the decease
of Anastasius. They produced, the latter applauded, the eunuch's death
(Baronius, a.d. 518, P. ii. No. 15. Fleury, Hist. Eccles. torn. vii. p. 200, 205,
from the Councils, tom. v. p. 182, 207).

' His power, character, and intentions are perfectly explained by the
Count de Buat (tom. ix. p. 54-81). He was great-grandson of Aspar,
hereditary prince in the Lesser Scythia, and count of the Gothic faederati
of Thrace. The Bessi, whom he could influence, are the minor Goths of
Jornandes (c. 51). [For the position of Justinian in Justin's reign see
Appendix 1.]


was accused as the assassin of a spiritual brother, to whom
he had recently pledged his faith in the participation of the
Christian mysteries.^ After the fall of his rival, he was
promoted, without any claim of military service, to the
office of master-general of the Eastern armies, whom it was
his duty to lead into the field against the public enemy. But,
in the pursuit of fame, Justinian might have lost his present
dominion over the age and weakness of his uncle; and
instead of acquiring by Scythian or Persian trophies the
applause of his countrymen,® the prudent warrior solicited
their favour in the churches, the circus, and the senate of
Constantinople. The Cathohcs were attached to the nephew
of Justin, who, between the Nestorian and Eutychian here-
sies, trod the narrow path of inflexible and intolerant ortho-
doxy.^" In the first days of the new reign, he prompted and
gratified the popular enthusiasm against the memory of the
deceased emperor. After a schism of thirty-four years, he
reconciled the proud and angry spirit of the Roman pontiff,
and spread among the Latins a favourable report of his pious
respect for the apostolic see. The thrones of the East were
filled with Catholic bishops devoted to his interest, the clergy
and the monks were gained by his liberality, and the people
were taught to pray for their future sovereign, the hope and

* Justiniani patricii factione dicitur interfectus fuisse (Victor Tununensis,
Chron. in Thesaur. Temp. Scaliger, P. ii. p. 7 [ad ann. 523]). Procopius
(Anecdot. c. 7) styles him a tyrant, but acknowledges the d5e\0oirt<rTfa, which
is well explained by Alemannus. [Cp. Evagrius, iv. 3.]

• In his earliest youth (plane adolescens) he had passed some time as an
hostage with Theodoric. For this curious fact, Alemannus (ad Procop.
Anecdot. c. 9, p. 34, of the first edition) quotes a MS. history of Justinian, by
his preceptor Theophilus. Ludewig (p. 143) wishes to make him a soldier.
[Justinian was Master of Soldiers in praes. in a.d. 521. See the diptych in
CIL, 5, 8120, 3, where his full name and titles appear: F(lavius) Petrus
Sabbat(ius) Justinian(us) v(ir) i(nlustris) com(es) mag. eqq. et p(editum)
praes(entalis) et (consul) ord(inarius). Comes means comes domesticorum.]

'"The ecclesiastical history of Justinian will be shewn hereafter. See
Baronius, a.d. 518-521, and the copious article Justiniamis in the index to the
viith volume of his annals.


pillar of the true religion. The magnificerKT of Justinian
was displayed in the suj)erior pomp of his [)ublic spectacles,
an object not less sacred and important in the eyes of the
multitude than the creed of Nice or Chalcedon ; the expense
of his consulship was estimated at two hundred and eighty-
eight thousand pieces of gold; twenty lions, and thirty
leopards, were produced at the same time in the amphi-
theatre, and a numerous train of horses, with their rich
trappings, was bestowed as an extraordinary gift on the
victorious charioteers of the circus. While he indulged the
people of Constantinople, and received the addresses of
foreign kings, the nephew of Justin assiduously cultivated the
friendship of the senate. That venerable name seemed to
qualify its members to declare the sense of the nation, and
to regulate the succession of the Imperial throne ; the feeble
Anastasius had permitted the vigour of government to degen-
erate into the form or substance of an aristocracy; and the
military officers who had obtained the senatorial rank were
followed by their domestic guards, a band of veterans, whose
arms or acclamations might fix in a tumultuous moment the
diadem of the East. The treasures of the state were lavished
to procure the voices of the senators, and their unanimous
wish, that he would be pleased to adopt Justinian for his
colleague, was communicated to the emperor. But this
request, which too clearly admonished him of his approach-
ing end, was unwelcome to the jealous temper of an aged
monarch, desirous to retain the power which he was incapable
of exercising; and Justin, holding his purple with both his
hands, advised them to prefer, since an election was so profit-
able, some older candidate. Notwithstanding this reproach,
the senate proceeded to decorate Justinian with the royal
epithet of nobilissimus ; and their decree was ratified by the
affection or the fears of his uncle. After some time the
languor of mind and body, to which he was reduced by an
incurable wound in his thigh, indispensably required the aid
of a guardian. He summoned the patriarch and senators;


and in iheir presence solemnly placed the diadem on the head
of his nephew, who was conducted from the palace to the
circus, and saluted by the loud and joyful applause of the
people. The life of Justin was prolonged about four months,

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