Wednesday, December 9, 2009

General Belisarius

It is said that it was on December 9, 536, that Belisarius entered Rome to retake it for the Empire following nearly a century during which the capital was situated at Constantinople.

Belisarius was one of history's outstanding military generals. Justinian sent him east to deal with the Persians in 530. The following year, the Persians having been subdued, the "Endless Peace" between Byzantium and Persia was negotiated. In 532 the Emperor sent Belisarius west, where he conquered Gelimer the Vandal and retook North Africa for the Empire. The general returned to Constantinople in 534, where he was given a triumph.

The Emperor sent the general back west to attack the Ostrogoths in the design to retake Italy. The great military leader was successful in this, and took the peninsula even to the far north. Unfortunately, for all concerned, Belisarius ultimately seized Ravenna, the Ostrogoth capital and subjugated the Ostrogoths. This was in contravention to Justinian's wishes who wanted to establish a peace and leave these people as a buffer between The Empire and the north. Things got pretty chilly between the Emperor and the military leader. Belisarius was sent again to the east, as the Persians had broken the peace, and that had to be dealt with.

But by 541, the Ostrogoths under Totila had broken loose and recaptured much of Italy, including Rome. Justinian could not afford to ignore Belisarius, whom he sent back west to quell the uprising. In 559, Belisarius waged a campaign in the north and drove the Bulgars back across the Danube, as they had threatened an incursion into the Empire. In 562, Belisarius was tried on charges of corruption, probably trumped up, was convicted and imprisoned.

A short time after the trial, Justinian pardoned the General and restored him to favor. Some historians observe that Belisarius's cause was probably not hurt by the fact that his wife, Antonina, was a particularly close friend of the Empress Theodora. Both men, whose lives were so entwined , died within weeks of each other in 565.

Flavius Belisarius ca. 500 - 565 RIP

Credits: Various sources, primary chronology from BiographyBase. Image:

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