J. B. (John Bagnell) Bury.

A history of the later Roman empire, from Arcadius to Irene (395 A. D. to 800 A. D.); online

. (page 43 of 49)
Online LibraryJ. B. (John Bagnell) BuryA history of the later Roman empire, from Arcadius to Irene (395 A. D. to 800 A. D.); → online text (page 43 of 49)
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1 Theoph.6044 a.m. The date(August) We are justified in determining the date

is important, for Procopius gives no as July or August,

date for the battle, and I can find no 3 The battlefield was determined by

indication in Mr. Hodgkin's work more the siege of Cumae, and the siege of

precise than the implication that it was Cumae was pressed because a large

fought after the early part of spring treasure had been hoarded there by

and before the winter months of 552. Totila.

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copius come to an end ; but opposition was raised to the estab-
lishment of the imperial authority in Italy from another quarter.

Teias had in vain begged the king of the Franks, Theu-
dibald, for assistance in the death-conflict, and had tried to
bribe him by presenting him with a large part of the Gothic
treasures ; but Theudibald had given no succour. Now, how-
ever, he intervened, though not directly, by countenancing the
Italian expedition of Leutharis and Bucelin, two Alemanni
who were at his court. They entered Italy with 75,000 men
to oppose the arms of Narses, and many Goths throughout Italy
regarded them as deliverers. But others deemed the Eomans
preferable, as masters, to the Franks, and among those who
held this view was Aligern, Teias* brother, who was com-
mander of the still uncaptured fortress of Cumae. He presented
the keys of that town to Narses, who had withdrawn to
Kavenna. Leutharis and his army were destroyed by a
disease due to the climate, and Bucelin was completely
defeated near Capua in an engagement, remarkable for a
curious incident which threatened Narses with defeat, and,
as it turned out, led to his victory. The eunuch punished
with death a noble Herul for killing one of his own servants,
and the act inflamed all the Heruls with indignation, as they
claimed the right of dealing with their servants as they
thought fit, without interference. They announced that they
would take no part in the battle. This report induced the
enemy, feeling assured of an easy victory, to attack their
opponents with a careless and imprudent haste, But when
Narses, who was quite prepared, called his troops to battle, the
Heruls could not bring themselves to persist in executing their
threat, and the strong-minded independence of Narses signally

Thus the whole land of Italy, 1 including the islands and the
Istrian and Illyrian regions, which were connected with it under
the old imperial administration, became once more part of the
Boman Empire ; and Narses was the first exarch or governor
of the reconquered peninsula.

1 Verooa and Brixia were not taken stroyed, is commemorated in an inscrip-

till 562, Theoph. Brjpwlav koX Bplyicas. tion of eight Latin verses (C. I. L. vi.

The "names were corrupted by the tit 1199, p. 250).
ignorance or vanity of the Greeks"

(Gibbon). Narses' restoration of the <l ui ^J^fJ^f 8 ^"j 01 ™ 1 ""Were mentes,
Salarian bridge, which Totila had de- kc d0ClJt durum flumina ««***"»•

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Conquest of South-eastern Spain. — When he had
conquered the Ostrogoths, Justinian proceeded to undertake
hostilities against the Visigoths, and attempt to win back Spain
as he had won back Italy. Theodoric, the king of the Visi-
goths, had held aloof from the struggle in the neighbouring
peninsula, and lent no aid to the East Goths, but Theudis, his
successor, supported his nephew Ildibad, the Ostrogothic king,
and fomented a rising against the Eomans in Africa. He saw
that the Teutonic kingdoms of the West were threatened by
the reviving power of the Empire.

Of the operations of the Eomans in Spain we have un-
luckily no consecutive account; we have only the scattered
notices in the Chronicles of Isidore of Seville and John of
Biclaro. It seems that, as in the case of the war in Africa
and as in the case of the war in Italy, internal dissensions
afforded a pretext for Eoman interference. Athanagild headed
a party which was opposed to King Agila, and this party
called in the aid of the Patrician Liberius from Africa. 1
Liberius crossed the straits and subdued the coast of Spain, as
the Carthaginians had done in ancient times, and as the Sara-
cens were to do at a later period. Corduba, Spanish Carthage
— New Carthage, Carthagena, or Carthago Spartaria, as it
was variously called, — Malaga, and Assidonia, with many
places on the coast, passed once more into the hands of the

But the Goths were alarmed at the advance of the Eomans
in the south ; the adherents of Agila patriotically slew him and
joined the abler Athanagild, to make common cause against the
invader. 2 It was a somewhat parallel case to that of the
Eomans themselves in Africa in the year 429 : there were then
two parties in Africa, the party of Boniface and the party of
Sigisvult, the general of Placidia ; one or both of them called
in the Vandal, and then they joined together to make common
cause against the stranger. But the stand of the Goths against
the Eomans was more effectual than that of the Eomans
against the Vandals. After their first successes the imperialists
do not seem to have acquired much more territory ; they never

1 Jordanes, Cht. 58.

2 Isidorus, de regibus Oothormn, 46 (ed. Migne, p. 1070): "ne Hispaniam
milites Romani auxilii occasione invaderent"

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penetrated really into the centre of Spain ; and the reason was
that the Eoman Spaniards found the yoke of the Teuton king
lighter than the yoke of the Eoman Emperor had formerly been.
The heavy taxation, which was always imposed by New Rome,
had given her a bad name among the provincials who had
passed from under imperial domination and become subjects
of Teutonic rulers.

When sixteen years, during which we lose the Spanish
provinces from sight, had passed away, and when Justinian no
longer reigned, there arose a great king among the Visigoths,
by name Leovigild. He set it before him to drive the Romans
from the Iberian peninsula, and, though he did not entirely
succeed, he materially weakened their power. He recovered
Malaga, Assidonia, and even Corduba.

The struggles of the Arian with the Catholic party in the
Visigothic kingdom, the discord of Arian Leovigild with his
Catholic son Hermenigild, the husband of the Frankish prin-
cess Ingundis, led to new hostilities with the Romans; for,
even as Athanagild had called in the help of Liberius, Her-
menigild called in the help of " the Greeks," as the historian
of the Franks calls them. 1 Leovigild, however, paralysed this
combination ; Hermenigild surrendered, and was sent in exile to
Valentia. This happened in 584 ; and in the same year the
arms of the Visigoths were successful against the third power
in the Peninsula, that of the Suevians, whose kingdom embraced
Lusitania and Galicia. Suevia was made a province of the
Gothic kingdom.

I am here anticipating the chronological order of events ;
but our knowledge of this chapter of Roman or Spanish history
— for it has the two sides — is so small, and the events in this
corner are so far removed from the general current of the his-
tory of the Empire, that I think it will be more convenient for

1 Gregory of Tours, v. 38 : " Her- cellent account of the reign of Leovi-

minigildis vero vocatis Grecis contra gild by Mrs. Humphry Ward will be

patrem egreditur, relicta in urbe con- found (sub voce) in the Diet, of Christ.

juge sua. Cumque Leuvichildus ex Biography. The same writer has con-

adverso veniret, relictus a solatio, cum tributed to the same work a useful

viderit nihil se praevalere posse, summary of the results of Dr. H.

eclesiam qui erat propinquam [quae erat Hertzberg's important monograph on

propinqua] expetiit,' etc. The natural the writings and sources of Isidore of

conclusion from the words relictus a Seville. For the history of the Visi-

solatio is that no battle was fought but goths, the fifth volume of Dahn's Koru

that the " Greeks " did not venture to der Qemu may be considered the

face the army of the king. An ex- standard work.

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the reader to have this episode of Baetica presented to him
in continuity than in disconnected parcels.

At the beginning of the seventh century King Witterich, 1
" a man strenuous in the art of arms, but nevertheless generally
unsuccessful," renewed the policy of Leovigild and the war
against the Eomans, with whom his predecessor, Keccared,
famous in ecclesiastical history, had for the most part preserved
peace. 2 Witterich recovered Segontia, a town a little to the
west of Gades; and Sisibut 3 fought successfully against the
Patrician Caesarius. All the towns which the Eomans held to
the east of the straits were recovered by the Goths, and the
fact was recognised by Heraclius (615). Svinthila completed
the work of Leovigild, Witterich, and Sisibut ; all the other
cities which were still imperial were taken (623), and thus the
whole peninsula for the first time became Visigothic, for before
Baetica was lost the existence of the Suevian kingdom cur-
tailed the dominion of the Goths in Spain.

1 Isidore, de regibus Gothorum, 58. Jtomanorum insolmtias et irruptiones

Gundemar was Witterich's immediate Vascorum movit.

successor, 59. * Sisebut de Bomanis bis felicUer

8 lb. 52 : hie fide pius et pace triumphavit.
praeclarus; 54, saepe etiam contra

VOL. I 2 E

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When Chosroes Nushirvan, after his accession to the Persian
throne, contracted the " endless peace " with Justinian, he had
little idea what manner of man the Emperor was soon to prove
himself to be. Within seven years from that time (532-539)
Justinian had overthrown the Vandal kingdom of Africa, he
had reduced the Moors, the subjection of the Ostrogothic lords
of Italy was in prospect, Bosporus and the Crimean Goths
were included in the circle of Roman sway, while the Hom-
erites of southern Arabia acknowledged the supremacy of New
Borne. Both his friends and his enemies said, with hate or
admiration, " The whole earth cannot contain him ; he is
already scrutinising the aether and the retreats beyond the
ocean, if he may win some new world." The eastern potentate
might well apprehend danger to his own kingdom in the ex-
pansion of the Eoman Empire by the reconquest of its lost
provinces ; and the interests of the German kings in the west
and the Persian king in the east coincided, in so far as the
aggrandisement of the Empire was inexpedient for both. We
can consider it only natural that Chosroes should have seized
or invented a pretext to renew hostilities, when it seemed but
too possible that if Justinian were allowed to continue his
career of conquest undisturbed the Romans might come with
larger armies and increased might to extend their dominions
in the East at the expense of the Sassanid empire.

Hostilities between the Persian Saracens of Hirah and the
Boman Saracens of Ghassan supplied the desired pretext ; it
may be that Chosroes himself instigated the hostilities. The

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chap, vni SECOND PERSIAN WAR 419

cause of contention between the Saracen tribes was a tract of
land called Strata, to the south of Palmyra, a region barren of
trees and fruit, scorched dry by the sun, and used as a pasture
for sheep. Arethas 1 the Ghassanide could appeal to the fact
that the name Strata was Latin, and could adduce the testimony
of the most venerable elders that the sheep-walk belonged to
his tribe. Alamundar, the rival sheikh, contented himself with
the more practical argument that for years back the shepherds
had paid him tribute. Two arbitrators were sent by the
Emperor, Strategius, minister of finances, and Summus, the duke
of Palestine. This arbitration supplied Chosroes with a pre-
text, true or false, for breaking the peace. He alleged that
Summus made treasonable offers to Alamundar, attempting to
shake his allegiance to Persia ; and he also professed to have
in his possession a letter of Justinian to the Huns, urging
them to invade his dominions. 2

About the same time pressure from without confirmed the
thoughts of Chosroes in the direction which they had already
taken. An embassy arrived from Witigis, king of the Goths,
now hard pressed by Belisarius, and pleaded with Chosroes to
act against the common enemy. The embassy consisted not of
Goths, but of two Ligurians, one of whom pretended to be a
bishop ; they obtained an interpreter in Thrace, and succeeded
in eluding the vigilance of the Romans on the frontiers. 8
Another embassy arrived from Armenia making similar repre-
sentations, deploring and execrating the Endless Peace, and
denouncing the tyranny and exactions of Justinian, against
whom they had revolted. The history of Armenia had been
certainly unfortunate during the years that followed the peace.
The first governor, Amazaspes, was accused by one Acacius of
treachery, and, with the Emperor's consent, was slain by the
accuser, who was himself appointed to succeed his victim.

1 The proper form of the name is * The reader may ask how the de-

Harith. This king reigned from 530 to tails of this embassy were known.

572. Justinian conferred on him the Procopius tells us in another place

title of Patrician, and the Arabs called (B. P. ii. 14) that the interpreter,

him the "Magnificent." returning from Persia, was cap-

8 Procopius says that he does not tured near Constantina by John,
know whether taese allegations were duke of Mesopotamia, and gave an
true or false (B. P. ii. 1). The second account of the embassy. The pseudo-
Book of the de Bdlo Persico of Pro- bishop and his attendant remained in
copius is our main source for this Per- Persia.
8ian war until the end of 549 a.d.

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Acacius was relentless in exacting a tribute of unprecedented
magnitude (£18,000); and some Armenians, intolerant of his
cruelty, slew him, and fled, when they had committed the deed,
to a fortress called Pharangion. The Emperor immediately
despatched Sittas, the master of soldiers per Armeniam, to
recall the Armenians to a sense of obedience, and, when
Sittas showed himself inclined to use the softer methods of
persuasion, insisted that he should act with sterner vigour. A
numerous tribe of the Armenians, called Apetiani, professed
themselves ready to submit, if the safety of their property
were guaranteed, and Sittas sent them a promise to that effect in
writing. But unluckily the letter-carrier, not knowing the exact
position of the territory of the Apetiani, lost his way in the
intricate Armenian highlands ; and while Sittas advanced with
his troops to receive their submission, the Apetiani were ignorant
that their proposal had been accepted, and looked with suspicion
on the approaching army. Some of their number fell in by
chance with Eoman soldiers and were treated as enemies. Sittas,
unaware that his communication had miscarried, was indignant
that the promised submission was delayed ; the Apetiani were
put to the sword and their wives and children were slain in
a cave. This severity, which might seem almost a breach of
faith, exasperated the other tribes and confirmed them in their
recalcitrant temper. But though Sittas was accidentally killed
in an engagement soon afterwards, they found themselves
unequal to cope with the Eoman forces, which were then
placed under the command of Buzes, and they decided to
appeal to the Persian monarch. The servitude of their neigh-
bours the Tzani and the imposition of a Eoman duke over the
Lazi of Colchis seemed to stamp the policy of Justinian as one
of odious enormity.

Accordingly Chosroes, in the autumn of 539, decided to
begin hostilities in the following spring, and did not deign
to answer a pacific letter from the Eoman Emperor, conveyed
by the hand of a certain Anastasius, whom he retained an
unwilling guest at the Persian court. The war which thus
began lasted five years (540-545), and in each year the king
himself took the field. He invaded Syria in 540, Colchis
in 541, Commagene in 542 ; in 543 he began but did not
carry out an expedition against the northern provinces; in

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chap, vin SECOND PERSIAN WAR 421

544 he invaded Mesopotamia; in 545 a peace for five years
was concluded.

I. Chosroes' Invasion of Syria, 540 a.d.

Avoiding Mesopotamia, Chosroes advanced northwards with
a large army along the left bank of the Euphrates. He passed
the triangle-shaped city of Circesium,but did not care to assault it,
because it was too strong ; while he disdained to delay at the
town of Zenobia, named after the queen of Palmyra, because
it was too insignificant. But when he approached Sura or
Suron, situated on the Euphrates in that part of its course
which flows from west to east, his horse neighed and stamped
the ground ; and the magi, who attended the credulous king,
seized the incident as an omen that the city would be taken.
On the first day of the siege the governor was slain, and on
the second the bishop of the place visited the Persian camp in
the name of the dispirited inhabitants, and implored Chosroes
with tears to spare the town. He tried to appease the im-
placable foe with an offering of birds, wine, and bread, and
engaged that the men of Sura would pay a sufficient ransom.
Chosroes dissimulated the wrath he felt against the Surenes
because they had not submitted immediately ; he received the
gifts and said that he would consult with the Persian nobles
regarding the ransom ; and he dismissed the bishop, who was
well pleased with the interview, under the honourable escort
of Persian notables, to whom the monarch had given secret
instructions. 1

" Having given his directions to the escort, Chosroes ordered
his army to stand in readiness, and to run at full speed to the
city when he gave the signal. When they reached the walls
the Persians saluted the bishop and stood outside; but the
men of Sura, seeing him in high spirits and observing how he
was escorted with great honour by the Persians, put aside all
thoughts of suspicion, and, opening the gate wide, received their
priest with clapping of hands and acclamation. And when all
had passed within, the porters pushed the gate to shut it,
but the Persians placed a stone, which they had provided,
between the threshold and the gate. The porters pushed

1 See Proc. B. P. il 5.

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harder, but for all their violent exertions they could not suc-
ceed in forcing the gate into the threshold-groove. And they
did not venture to throw it open again, as they apprehended
that it was held by the enemy. Some say that it was a log
of wood, not a stone, that was inserted by the Persians. The
men of Sura had hardly discovered the guile, ere Chosroes had
come with all his army and the Persians had forced open the
gate. In a few moments the city was in the power of the
enemy." The houses were plundered; many of the inhabit-
ants were slain, the rest were carried into slavery, and the
city was burnt down to the ground. Then the Persian king
dismissed Anastasius, bidding him inform the Emperor in what
place he had left Chosroes the son of Kobad.

Perhaps it was merely avarice, perhaps it was the prayers
of a captive named Euphemia, whose beauty attracted the
desires of the conqueror, that induced Chosroes to treat with
unexpected leniency the prisoners of Sura. He sent a
message to Candidus, the bishop of Sergiopolis, suggesting that
he should ransom the 12,000 captives for 200 lbs. of gold
(15s. a head). As Candidus had not, and could not imme-
diately obtain, the sum, he was allowed to stipulate in writing
that he would pay it within a year's time, under penalty of pay-
ing double and resigning his bishopric. Few of the redeemed
prisoners survived long the agitations and tortures they had

Meanwhile the Roman general Buzes .was at Hierapolis.
Nominally the command in the East was divided between
Buzes and Belisarius ; the Roman provinces beyond the
Euphrates being assigned to the former, Syria and Asia Minor
to the latter. But as Belisarius had not yet returned from
Italy, the entire army was at the disposal of Buzes, the magister
militum per Armeniam}

If we are to believe the account of a writer who was prob-
ably prejudiced, 2 this general behaved in the most extraordinary
manner. He collected the chief citizens of Hierapolis and

1 The fact that Theophanes calls magUter militum in Armenia, and

Buzes "general of the East" (ad 6033 conferred it upon Tzitas (MaL Ztittas),

a.m.) does not count for much; he presumably Sittas, who married Theo-

probably made a wrong inference from dora's sister Komito. Buzes was the

rrocopius* language. We learn from successor of Sittas.

Malalas and Tneophanes that in 528 a Procopius, B. P. iL 6.
Justinian created a new office, that of a

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chap, vni SECOND PERSIAN WAR 423

pointed out to them that in case of a siege, which seemed
imminent, the city would be less efficiently protected if all the
forces remained within the walls, than if a small garrison de-
fended it, and the main body of the troops, posted on the neigh-
bouring heights, harassed the besiegers. Following up this
plausible counsel, Buzes took the larger part of the army with
him and vanished ; and neither the inhabitants of Hierapolis
nor the enemy could divine where he had hidden himself.

Informed of the presence of Chosroes in the Eoman pro-
vinces, Justinian despatched Germanus to Antioch, at the head
of a small body of threef hundred soldiers. The fortifications
of the " Queen of the East " did not satisfy the careful inspec-
tion of Germanus, for although the lower parts of the city were
adequately protected by the Orontes, which washed the bases
of the houses, and the higher regions seemed secure on im-,
pregnable heights, there rose outside the walls adjacent to the
citadel a broad rock, almost as lofty as the wall, which would
inevitably present to the besiegers a fatal point of vantage.
Competent engineers said that there would not be sufficient
time before Chosroes , arrival to remedy this defect by removing
the rock or enclosing it within the walls. Accordingly Ger-
manus, despairing of resistance, sent Megas, the bishop of
Beroea, to divert the advance of Chosroes from Antioch by the
influence of money or entreaties. Megas reached the Persian
army as it was approaching Hierapolis, the city abandoned by
Buzes, and was informed by the great king that it was his
unalterable intention to subdue Syria and Cilicia. The bishop
was constrained or induced to accompany the army to Hier-
apolis, which was strong enough to defy a siege, and was con-
tent to purchase immunity from the attempt by a payment
equivalent to £90,000. Chosroes then consented to retire
without assaulting Antioch on the receipt of 1000 lbs.
of gold (£45,000), and Megas returned speedily with the good
news, while the enemy proceeded more leisurely to Beroea.
From this city the avarice of the Sassanid demanded double
the amount he had exacted at Hierapolis ; the Beroeans gave .
him half the sum, affirming that it was all they had ; but the
extortioner refused to be satisfied, and proceeded to demolish
the city.

From Beroea he advanced to Antioch, and demanded the

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1000 lbs. with which Megas had undertaken to redeem that
city ; and it is said that he would have been contented to receive
a smaller sum. All the Antiochenes would probably have fol-
lowed the example of a few prudent or timid persons, who left
the city in good time, taking their belongings with them, had
not the arrival of six thousand soldiers from Lebanon, led by
Theoctistus and Molatzes, infused into their hearts a rash and
unfortunate confidence. Julian, the private secretary of the
Emperor, who had arrived at Antioch, bade the inhabitants
resist the extortion ; and Paul, the interpreter of Chosroes, who
with friendly intentions counselled them to pay the money, was
almost slain. Not content with defying the enemy by a re-
fusal, the men of Antioch stood on their walls and loaded
Chosroes with torrents of scurrilous abuse, which would have
inflamed less intolerant monarchs than he.

The siege which ensued was short, but the defence at first
was brave. Between the towers, which crowned the walls at

Online LibraryJ. B. (John Bagnell) BuryA history of the later Roman empire, from Arcadius to Irene (395 A. D. to 800 A. D.); → online text (page 43 of 49)