Dedicated to the military history and civilization of the Eastern Roman Empire (330 to 1453)

"Time in its irresistible and ceaseless flow carries along on its flood all created things and drowns them in the depths of obscurity."

- - - - Princess Anna Comnena (1083–1153) - Byzantine historian

Friday, July 22, 2016

Roman - Byzantine Fortress of Sucidava

Sucidava fort Archaeological site in Romania.

Protecting the Roman Balkans

Sucidava is the complex late Roman fort dating from the 2nd to the 6th century AD, which had a strategic, economic and commercial importance and was situated opposite the Roman colony of Oescus (Gigen, Bulgaria). 
Before the Roman conquest, Sucidava was an important political and administrative center of the Daina tribe of Suci. The late Roman fort of Sucidava was built in the reign of Emperor Gallienus and was in use between the 3th and the 6th century AD.
After 275 AD Sucidava was a permanent military fortification, where parts of units from the V legion Macedonica were in garrison. After 324 AD the headquarter (praefectura) of the legion V Macedonica was established here. Inside the fort a large building with heating system and a paleo-Christian basilica dating from the 6th century AD was discovered.
Roman Troops manned forts along the Danube.

Near the fort there are remains of the 2400 m long bridge, which was built over the Danube in the period of the Emperor Constantine and inaugurated in 328 AD. The late Roman fort was included in the province of Dacia Ripensis as the most northern bastion of the new Late Roman province.
Systematic excavations from 1936 to 1964 at the site of Sucidava (Sykibida Procopius), situated 3 km west of modern Corabia on the north bank of the Danube, have brought to light the remains of a fortified civilian settlement of 25 ha and, at a distance of only 100 m to the south-east, the remains of a separate citadel measuring about 2 ha.
Emperor Maurice
(r. 582 - 602)
Roman troops pulled out
of the fort in 600AD.
There is also a secret underground fountain which flows under the walls of the town to a water spring situated outside. 
The civilian settlement evolved on the site of a Roman garrison at the end of the 2nd century, or the beginning of the 3rd century A.D., while the citadel was built by Constantine the Great (324-337); a stone bridge connecting the citadel with Palatiolon (ancient Oescus), on the other side of the Danube, was constructed simultaneously. 
The coins found at Sucidava site show an uninterrupted series from Aurelian (270-275) to Theodosios II (408-450). In the mid-5th century the Sucidava site suffered from attacks by the Huns, but was again restored, probably under Emperor Justin I or by Emperor Justinian l (527-565). 
On the basis of the numismatic profile, the Byzantine garrison seems to have departed from Sucidava around A.D. 600.
Near the fort there are remains of the 2400 m long bridge, which was built over the Danube in the period of the Emperor Constantine and inaugurated in 328 AD.

Foundation of the church, the first Christian church north of the Danube.

Entrance to the fort's well.

A well in the fort. From a tourist:
"The clay pot is supposedly original. The guide was happy to offer us a drink."

Sucidava, Roman fortress on the Danube

The Roman Limes System
The Latin word Limes was initially used by the ancient Romans to indicate the limit between two areas, for example - the limit between two pastures. Even so, several ancient authors used this word, referring to the frontiers of the Roman Empire. Historians of today use this term in a wider sense, to describe the defense system, diplomatic and military issues, but also economic, religious and other issues involved.
The Roman Empire Limes has known its greatest expansion in the A.D. 2-nd century, having a length of over 5000 km. It was reaching from the Atlantic shores of Scotland, cutting across Europe, touching the Black Sea and continuing on to the Red Sea, travelling through North Africa to the coast of the Atlantic Ocean.
The frontiers were a symbol of the power, ambition and culture of the Roman Empire, promoting the Roman way of life, all across the Empire.
Today, the signs of the Limes are to be found in the built walls, ditches, earthen ramparts, castra, fortresses, signal towers and civilian settlements.
The limes physical structure differs along its path, from the walls, earthen ramparts, palisades, to the rivers, desert, and mountains. And so, its purpose also differs, across time, the limes was a control area and point of passing the information, commerce area and migration, as well as an area with a defensive role.
See more:

(Danubian Limes)      (danubelimesbrand)      (panacomp.net)      (sucidava)

(Sucidava)      (superlative-fortress)

Friday, July 1, 2016

Roman Empire vs Islam - First Contact

19th century photo of an Arab warrior. The Arabs invading the
Roman Empire might have looked much like this warrior.

Violent Islam roars in 
from the desert

In 629 AD the Roman Empire was enjoying a much deserved period of peace.  No one in Constantinople had any idea that a fresh invasion from the southern deserts would happen in a matter of months.

For 26 years the Roman and Persian Empires had been in the death grip war of all death grip wars.  The 700 years of war between the empires came down to this one life and death conflict.  Only one empire would survive the encounter.

The Roman Empire nearly ceased to exist. The Persians conquered massive territories in the east, south and in Africa. Meanwhile the Avars and Slavs overran the Balkans and with the help of the Persians laid siege to Constantinople itself in 626.

Things were so bad that the Emperor Heracilus considered abandoning Constantinople and moving the capital to Carthage in Africa. The Patriarch Sergius convinced the Emperor to stay and put the wealth of the church at the service of the state to finance the wars.

Roman Emperor Heraclius
Crowned Caesar in 610. Latin was still the official
language of the military and government. The Emperor
faced invasions by Persians, Avars and Muslim Arabs.

The Persian Empire in 621 AD.
The Persians nearly destroyed the Roman Empire by conquering large parts of Anatolia up to Constantinople itself as well as taking Syria, Mesopotamia, Georgia, Palestine and Egypt. Though Persia was finally defeated, the weakened Roman state became an easier target for the coming Muslim Arab invasions.

With financing from the church, Emperor Heracilus raised additional armies and hired Khazar Turk allies to invade Persia with him.

By 628 the Persian Empire had been totally crushed, Shah Khosrow II was murdered by his own son and the Persian armies were withdrawn from Egypt, Syria and other Roman provinces.

There may have finally been "peace" between Rome and Persia, but it was a disastrous peace.  The Persians sank into dynastic anarchy while the Romans were financially, militarily and politically exhausted.

The two great empires of the world were at their weakest point at just the moment a militant and militaristic Islam appeared.

Islam Appears

The 620s saw the birth of Islam deep in Arabia.  General Mohammad, or prophet if you like, was simultaneously a military commander, ruler and prophet. The emotional appeal of religion was combined with terrorist methods and assassinations to clear the way for gathering territory for the faith.

As the battles of General Mohammad progressed the base of Arabia was secured for Islam and Muslim eyes started to look north to the Roman Empire for expansion.

In the year 628 Mohammad dispatched messages to the Shah of Persia, the Roman Emperor, the Governor of Egypt and the Prince of Abyssinia asking them to accept Islam.

The Shah was said to have torn up the message with contempt. Emperor Heracilus accepted his letter and simply inquired who the author was. The Governor of Egypt excused himself from changing religions, but sent as gifts a horse, a mule, a riding ass and two Egyptian girls. If the Prince of Abyssinia got the message at all there is no record of a reply.

Heracilus gave orders that he wanted to interview a traveler from the area. One Abu Sofian was brought to Jerusalem and asked about the "disturbances" in Arabia.  Sofian told the Emperor that the followers of Mohammad consisted of the poorer classes and of adolescent youth. All men of substance opposed him.

The Emperor gathered intel, but did not act. The internal goings on among poor desert tribes did not require much attention.

19th century photo of Arab warriors

The Battle of Mota (Mu'tah)
3,000 Arabs vs 10,000 Romans

In 629 a number of minor raids and expeditions were sent out from Arabia.  Some were defeated and others returned with booty.

In September, 629 a more important expedition was organized. Tradition says the raid was to punish a chief of Rome's ally the Arab Ghassanid tribe for killing Muslim emissaries in the area. Revenge rather than conquest appears to be the motive.

A Muslim camp was formed a few miles north of Medina where volunteers were instructed to assemble.  Zeid ibn Haritha, the adopted son of Mohammad, was given command. He set out with 3,000 men marching to what is today southern Jordan. It was the first Muslim raid of this size going far from Arabia.

Muslim commanders still relied on religious spirit rather than military skill and had neglected to send out spies to scout the land they were invading.
Eastern Roman Soldier

It was not until they reached Maan that they found out there was a large force of Romans gathered to meet them. A halt was called and the Muslim leaders spent two days arguing whether to advance or retreat. The deciding voice came from an early convert who demanded "Victory or martyrdom and paradise." The order was given to advance.

The Muslim army move north with the rocky hills of Moab on their left. When they crossed the lower foothills of the mountains the Muslims suddenly found themselves in the presence of a Roman army several times larger that their own, perhaps about 10,000 men.

A majority of the Roman force appears to have been made up of Christian Arab allies of the Empire. Some proportion of the army (how much?) was reinforced by regular Roman troops, perhaps from a local garrison.

It is likely that the Roman commander was Theodore, the brother or half brother of the Emperor. Theodore had extensive experience as a Kouropalates and leading general in the Persian wars. An army this large would have required a senior office such as Theodore.

There is a small plain near the village of Mota. It was decided to give battle there.

Zeid ibn Haritha seized the white banner given to him by Mohammad.  He then a wild charge of his men into Roman ranks until he fell transfixed by their spears. Another Muslim grabbed the banner from the dying Zeid, raised it aloft and cried "Paradise! Paradise!" until he was killed by a Roman soldier.

Fighting in the ranks new Muslim convert Khalid ibn al-Walid came to the rescue at this point.  Perhaps a little less anxious for Paradise, he assumed control. The white banner was planted in the ground and the disorganized, battered Muslims gathered to that point. Under Khalid's leadership they retired methodically from the battlefield.

Khalid continued to engage the Romans in skirmishes, but he avoided a pitched battle. One night Khalid completely changed his troop positions. The rearguard was given new banners to give the impression that reinforcements had arrived from Medina.

On another night he had his cavalry retreat behind a hill hiding their movements. He then had the cavalry return during the day when the battle resumed raising as much dust as possible to give the impression of fresh troops arriving.

Information on the battle is minimal. Still we can read between the lines. The Arabs were mauled, but retreated in an orderly manner. On the other side, the Romans did not just call it a day and go home. They continued aggressive contact with the Muslims over several days.

Casualties are unknown, but this first contact was a solid Roman victory.


When the defeated Muslims approached Medina, Mohammad and the people went out to meet them. The citizens began to throw dirt on the defeated soldiers crying, "You runaways, you fled in the way of God."  Mohammad said they were not runaways but could fight again for the cause.

In spite of the disaster at Mota, throughout the rest of 629 many Bedouin tribes sent deputations to Mohammad seeking friendship and alliance.

Mohammad sent a force to the Roman province of Palaestina Salutaris
to punish the Christian Arabs who killed Muslim emissaries.

Bedouin, Warriors 1890s

Map from The Great Arab Conquests (1964)
Lieutenant-General Sir John Bagot GlubbKCBCMGDSOOBEMC
As far as I am concerned Glubb Pasha's book is the Holy Grail on the 
Arab invasions. Glubb was fluent in Arabic and able to read original
documents. In addition he was commander of the British Arab Legion
and personally campaigned on the very ground the Romans and
Muslims fought over.

(John Bagot Glubb)      (Bagot-Glubb)      (Ghassanids)      (Mutah)

(Byzantine-Sasanian War)

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Roman Army on the Eastern Front - Provincia Cappadocia

(Roman Empire.net)

The Front Line Against Persia
Roman Province from 18 AD to the 7th century

The Eastern Front of the Roman Empire was in endless danger of invasion by the Persians.  There were many outposts and strongpoints meant to stop or slow down an invading enemy until reinforcements could arrive.

The front line against Persia was Cappadocia, a province of the Roman Empire in Anatolia, with its capital at Caesarea. It was established in 18 AD by the Emperor Tiberius (ruled 14-37 AD), following the death of Cappadocia's last king, Archelaus.

Cappadocia was an imperial province, meaning that its governor (legatus Augusti) was directly appointed by the emperor.

Bording the Euphrates river to the east, Cappadocia was the most eastern province of the Empire. Its capital, Caesarea, was located in more central Anatolia, further back from the Parthian frontier. Upon annexation, the province was governed by a governor of Equestrian rank with the title Procurator. The Procutors commanded only auxiliary military units and looked to the Senatorial ranked Imperial Legate of Syria for direction.

The 16th Legion was one of
many stationed on the frontier.
The first Cappadocian to be admitted to the Roman Senate was Tiberius Claudius Gordianus, during the reign of Marcus Aurelius during the middle second century AD.

When the emperor Vespasian added Commagene to the Roman empire (72 CE), the upper Euphrates became a frontier zone; across the river were the Oersian Parthian Empire and the buffer state Armenia.

The main road along the Roman border (limes) was from Trapezus on the shores of the Black Sea to Alexandria near IssusSeleucia, and Antioch near the Mediterranean in the south.

The legionary bases in the general area of this highway included the Sixteenth Legion Flavia Firma, Melitene (XII Fulminata), Samosata (VI Ferrata), Zeugma (IIII Scythicaand XV Apollinaris.

The city-fortress of Satala was a main strongpoint because it commanded not only the Euphrates, but also the road from central Anatolia to Armenia.

The province of Cappadocia was ground zero for the endless invasions and counter invasions on the Persian frontier. 

Although warfare between the Romans and the Parthians/Sassanids lasted for seven centuries, the frontier remained largely stable. A game of tug of war ensued: towns, fortifications, and provinces were continually sacked, captured, destroyed, and traded. Neither side had the logistical strength or manpower to maintain such lengthy campaigns far from their borders, and thus neither could advance too far without risking stretching its frontiers too thin. Both sides did make conquests beyond the border, but in time the balance was almost always restored. 

The line of stalemate shifted in the 2nd century AD: it had run along the northern Euphrates; the new line ran east, or later northeast, across Mesopotamia to the northern Tigris. There were also several substantial shifts further north, in Armenia and the Caucasus.

Provincia Cappadocia

The Eastern Empire and Cappadocia

As the 300s progressed the Western Empire was put under more and more pressure by invading barbarians.  That meant the Eastern Empire was acting increasingly in an independent manner until the final break between east and west in 395 AD. 

In the late 330s, the eastern half of the province was split off to form the provinces of Armenia Prima and Armenia Secunda. In 371, emperor Valens split off the south-western region around Tyana, which became Cappadocia Secunda under a praeses, while the remainder became Cappadocia Prima, still under a consularis.

As the re-organization of the province took place, the wars with Persia went on. From the war of Emperor Julian in 363 the Persian conflicts around Cappadocia continued for centuries.
6th Century Roman Soldier

In the period 535-553, under emperor Justinian I, the two provinces were rejoined into a single unit under a proconsul. Throughout late Roman times, the region was subject to raids by the Isaurians, leading to the fortification of local cities. In the early 7th century, the region was briefly captured by the Sassanid Persian Empire.

The Persian Empire was totally crushed in 628 AD. But peace lasted only a short time.  In the 630s and 640s the eruption of the Muslim conquests and repeated raids devastated the region.

The old Roman province of Cappadocia became a frontier zone with the Arabs and dissolved as an administrative unit.

Following the disastrous defeats of the 630 - 640 period, units of the East Roman Army fell back into central Anatolia.  The army of the magister militum per Armeniae (the "Armeniacs") was withdrawn from Syria and settled in the areas of PontusPaphlagonia and Cappadocia, giving its name to the region - the new theme of Armeniac.  The new Anatolic Theme also took over part of the area.

The Ameniac theme's capital was at Amaseia, and it was governed by a stratēgos, who ranked, together with the stratēgoi of the Anatolic and Thracesian themes, in the first tier of stratēgoi, drawing an annual salary of 40 gold pounds. In the 9th century, it fielded some 9,000 men and encompassed 17 fortresses. Its size and strategic importance on the Byzantine Empire's north-eastern frontier with the Muslims made its governor a powerful figure.

After six centuries Cappadocia and it's main enemy Persia were gone. But wars never end. The Eastern Empire simply reorganized the provinces to face their new enemy - Islam.
Reconstruction of a Persian Sassanid Cataphract

The expense of resources during the centuries of Roman–Persian Wars ultimately proved catastrophic for both empires. The prolonged and escalating warfare of the 6th and 7th centuries left them exhausted and vulnerable in the face of the sudden emergence and expansion of the new Muslim Caliphate, whose forces invaded both empires only a few years after the end of the last Roman–Persian war.

(livius.org)      (Persian Wars)      (Cappadocia)

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Byzantine Empire – Manuel I Aspron Trachy

Byzantine Gold Coins

Making The World Go Around Since 395 AD

(Coin Week)  -  In 1092 CE the Byzantine Emperor Alexius I Comnenus enacted sweeping coinage reforms. He stopped production of previous denominations and introduced five new ones:
The gold hyperpyron (which served as the unit of account for the new money), the electrum aspron trachy, the billon (copper and silver) aspron trachy, the copper tetarteron, and the copper noummion or half-tetarteron. Three electrum aspra trachea equalled one hyperpyron.
Electrum is a naturally-occurring alloy of gold and silver, and was the metal of choice for the Lydians of Asia Minor, who are generally agreed to have made the first coins in European history. When found in nature, the admixture of the two precious metals can differ depending on the geographical point of origin. But in the case of the aspron trachy, the Byzantines mixed the electrum themselves, with six karats of gold to 18 karats of silver.
This predominance of silver in the alloy gave the denomination the first part of its name; aspron was a Byzantine term meaning “white” when used in reference to silver. The second part (trachy) referred to the “rough” or uneven shape of the coin.
“Cupped”, in other words.
Starting in the early 11th century–almost 60 years before the reforms of Alexius–the Byzantine Empire began to produce gold coins with a slight curve. Within a hundred years, the majority of Byzantine coinage in all metals and alloys was deeply cup-shaped. Exactly why has intrigued numismatists for generations, but according to CoinWeek’s Mike Markowitz, a thin and debased coinage became increasingly concave in order to improve its sturdiness and durability.
Design-wise, Byzantine cup-shaped (scyphate) coinage typically features an image of Jesus Christ on the obverse (the convex side), with the ruler featured on the reverse. The coin pictured above and below is a fully struck aspron trachy minted at Constantinople during the reign of Manuel I Comnenus (ruled 1143-1180 CE).
Manuel I Komnenos (November, 28 1118 – September, 24, 1180).  Eager to restore his empire to its past glories as the superpower of the Mediterranean world, Manuel pursued an energetic and ambitious foreign policy. In the process he made alliances with the Pope and the resurgent West. He invaded the Norman Kingdom of Sicily, although unsuccessfully.
The passage of the potentially dangerous 
Second Crusade was adroitly managed through his empire. Manuel established a Byzantine protectorate over the Crusader states of Outremer. Facing Muslim advances in the Holy Land, he made common cause with the Kingdom of Jerusalem with a combined Byzantine-Crusader invasion of Fatimid Egypt. Manuel reshaped the political maps of the Balkans and the eastern Mediterranean, placing the kingdoms of Hungary and Outremer under Byzantine hegemony and campaigning aggressively against his neighbors both in the west and in the east.

A bearded Christ stands on a dais facing the viewer, wearing a tunic known as a colobium and a full-body cloak called a pallium. A halo with a cross inside it (nimbus cruciger) surrounds His head. Two eight-pointed stars appear next to Him, one on each side. To the left of Jesus are the letters IC; the letters XC are to the right. In His left hand is a book of Gospels.
There appears to be significant strike doubling of the halo and Christ’s left shoulder.
A bearded, front-facing and full-body image of Manuel I stands on the left while a similarly bearded, front-facing and full-body image of St. Theodore (presumably St. Theodore of Amasea, one of two military saints named Theodore in the Eastern Orthodox Church) stands on the right. Manuel appears to be closer to the ground than St. Theodore. Both men hold a Patriarchal cross (a version of the Christian cross with a second, smaller crossbar on top) between them, St. Theodore’s right hand above Manuel’s left. At the bottom of the cross is a ball or globus.
A halo surrounds Theodore’s head. The emperor wears a crown, along with a long, close-fitting military tunic (divitision). A long, embroidered, gem-encrusted scarf (loros) is wrapped around his abdomen. St. Theodore appears to be wearing some kind of military tunic, possibly armor, and boots. Both men rest their other hands on the handles of unsheathed swords.
The letters MANOVL are usually found to the left of the emperor, but here are practically illegible.

Coin Specifications:

Nationality: Byzantine
Issuing Authority: Manuel I
Date: ca. 1143-1180 CE
Metal/Alloy: Electrum (1:3 gold to silver)
Denomination:Aspron Trachy
Weight: approx. 3.90 grams
Diameter: approx. 31 mm

The Wealth of Constantinople
Constantinople was a prime hub in a trading network that at various times extended across nearly all of Eurasia and North Africa. The Eastern Roman Empire had the most powerful economy in the world. From the 10th century until the end of the 12th, the Byzantine Empire projected an image of luxury, and the travelers were impressed by the wealth accumulated in the capital.

By the end of Marcian's reign, the annual revenue for the Eastern Empire was 7,800,000 solidi, thus allowing him to amass about 100,000 pounds of gold or 7,200,000 solidi for the imperial treasury. The wealth of Constantinople can be seen by how Justin I used 3,700 pounds of gold just for celebrating his own consulship. By the end of his reign, Anastasius I had managed to collect for the treasury an amount of 23,000,000 solidi or 320,000 pounds of gold.

By 1343 the Byzantine economy had declined so much that Empress Anna of Savoy had to pawn the Byzantine crown jewels for 30,000 Venetian ducats, which was the equivalent of 60,000 hyperpyra. In 1348, Constantinople had an annual revenue of 30,000 hyperpyra while across the Golden Horn in the Genoese colony of Galata, the annual revenue was 200,000 hyperpyra.

(Coin week)      (Manuel I Komnenos)      (Economy)

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Byzantine Castello Baradello in Italy

Byzantine Castello Baradello near the Alps

Defending Byzantine Italy

  • With the Frankish Kingdom close by, the Castello Baradello was one of many border fortifications that protected the frontier of the Roman Empire.

The Gothic Wars

In an attempt to reconquer the Western Roman Empire the Emperor Justinian invaded the Ostrogothic Kingdom of Italy in 535 AD.

In a vicious war lasting 19 years much of Italy was largely destroyed.

Some historians claim Justinian's conquest was a Pyrrhic victory that drained national resources. To that I would disagree. Though the invading Germanic Lombard tribes took large sections of Italy, huge portions remained under the control of the Eastern Empire for another 500 years.

With the end of the war in 554 Justinian began projects to rebuild Italy and repair or begin new military fortifications to defend the frontiers.  Castello Baradello was one of those fortresses.

The Castello Baradello 

The castle is a military fortification located on a 430 m (1,410 ft) high hill next to the city of Como, northern Italy.  The castle has breathtaking views: from here, you can admire the city, the lake, the Po Valley, the peaks of the Alps and even the Apennines. The name itself, in its origin, means "high place".

The castle occupies the ancient site of Comum Oppidum, the original settlement of Como, dating from the 1st millennium BC.  Later it was one of the last Byzantine strongholds in the area, surrendering to the Lombards in 588.

Castello Baradello near Como, Italy.

The best-preserved structure in the whole complex is undoubtedly the Romanesque square tower, whose base measures approximately 8 meters on each side. Its overall height is about 28 meters. The lower part is about 19 and a half meters high, it rests its foundation on the rock and it was formerly adorned with Guelph battlements; the upper part, which is also the most recent one, it’s 8 meters high and it was formerly crenellated with Ghibelline battlements. The battlements is now gone.

The first order of walls surrounding the tower dates back to the Byzantine era, to the Sixth or Seventh century, thus representing the castle’s oldest structure. We find mention of them already in the early Seventh century, thanks to the historian George of Cyprus, who described a complex defensive system called “Byzantine Limes”. Another wall, a newer one, surrounds these walls; it is contemporary with the raising of the tower and the inner walls. It is accessible through a charming and fascinating pointed doorway.

Nothing is the left of the other structures being part of the castle, except for their foundations; however, it was possible to reconstruct the whole layout. There was the chapel of St. Nicholas, which according to studies and researches is contemporary with the primitive walls; therefore, it dates back to the Sixth century. According to tradition, Napo Torriani was buried here, but no bones were ever found.

According to historical records, this castle served as a place of refuge for the population during the wars between Como and Milan. Thanks to subsequent agreements, Emperor Frederick Barbarossa rebuilt the city walls and Castel Baradello in 1158, strengthening it with the new tower. The following year the castle was home to the emperor and his wife, Beatrice of Burgundy, and on that occasion, the victory over Milan was celebrated with a Palio, that is still relived annually.

Castel Baradello was demolished in 1527 by the Spanish captain Cesareo don Pedro Arias on the orders of the governor of Milan, Antonio de Leyva, to prevent it from being conquered by French troops. Only the tower remained standing.

The Western Roman Empire in 565 AD
In yellow are the lands re-conquered by the Emperor Justinian
and returned to the Roman Empire.
Up against the Alps, the Castle of Baradello was one of the
most northern posts of the Roman Empire.

The most preserved element is a square tower, measuring 8.20 m × 8.35 m (26.9 ft × 27.4 ft) at the base, and standing at 27.50 m (90.2 ft). It once had Guelph-type merlons. The walls are of Byzantine origin (6th-7th century); these were later heightened and provided with Guelph merlons, while another external line of walls was added.
Also from the 6th century are the Chapel of St. Nicholas and quadrangular tower (4.40 m × 4.15 m (14.4 ft × 13.6 ft) at the base), which was used as the 
castellan's residence. Napoleone della Torre was buried in the Chapel of St. Nicholas.

(wevillas.com)      (Gothic War)      (Baradello)