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

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

General Belisarius in Sicily and Constantinople

General Belisarius in Syracuse, Sicily
(Illustration of Mile Jakubiec, drawn for the book "Ancient Generals").

One of Rome's Greatest Generals

This beautiful painting of General Belisarius during his conquest of Sicily caught my eye.

Belisarius, December 31, 535

Procopius of Caesarea, "History of Wars"

(...) because, having received the dignity of the consulate because of his victory against the vandals, while he had that honor, and after having won all Sicily, on his last day of consulate, he marched to Syracuse, being applauded by The Army and the Sicilians and throwing gold coins to all of them. That coincidence, however, did not intentionally come out of him, but it was something happy for that man, who after having recovered the whole island for the Romans left to Syracuse on that particular day; and even though he was not in the Senate of Byzantium, as usual, delivered the mandate of the consuls and became ex-Consul. Therefore, that gave good fortune to Belisario ".

Belisarius then refused to accept the western imperial crown offered by the Ostrogoths in Italy. Not only that, but led to Constantinople the crown crown to offer it to Justinian.

Although it seems amazing, the history of Sicily was repeated 621 years later there and in Southern Italy when the imperial army was launched to the reconquest of Southern Italy and Sicily in 1156. The citizens of Bari opened their doors And they welcomed Emperor Manuel Komnenos as a liberator.

Thanks to Facebook: Life in the Eastern Roman Empire

Artist conception of Vandal and Alan warriors
defeated by Belisarius in North Africa.

By Procopius of Caesarea
(AD 500 – c. AD 565)

After the re-conquest of North Africa, General Belisarius war given a Triumph in the Hippodrome of Constantinople where he was awarded the office of Consul.

A Triumph in Constantinople
January 1, 535 A.D.

Belisarius, upon reaching Byzantium with Gelimer and the Vandals, was counted worthy to receive such honours, as in former times were assigned to those generals of the Romans who had won the greatest and most noteworthy victories. And a period of about six hundred years had now passed since anyone had attained these honours, except, indeed, Titus and Trajan, and such other emperors as had led armies against some barbarian nation and had been victorious.

For he displayed the spoils and slaves from the war in the midst of the city and led a procession which the Romans call a "triumph," not, however, in the ancient manner, but going on foot from his own house to the hippodrome and then again from the barriers until he reached the place where the imperial throne is.

And there was booty,—first of all, whatever articles are wont to be set apart for the royal service,—thrones of gold and carriages in which it is customary for a king's consort to ride, and much jewelry made of precious stones, and golden drinking cups, and all the other things which are useful for the royal table.

And there was also silver weighing many thousands of talents and all the royal treasure amounting to an exceedingly great sum (for Gizeric had despoiled the Palatium in Rome, as has been said in the preceding narrative), and among these were the treasures of the Jews, which Titus, the son of Vespasian, together with certain others, had brought to Rome after the capture of Jerusalem.

The Hippodrome of Constantinople
Image from Istanbul Life.org

And one of the Jews, seeing these things, approached one of those known to the emperor and said: "These treasures I think it inexpedient to carry into the palace in Byzantium. Indeed, it is not possible for them to be elsewhere than in the place where Solomon, the king of the Jews, formerly placed them. For it is because of these that Gizeric captured the palace of the Romans, and that now the Roman army has captured that the Vandals." When this had been brought to the ears of the Emperor, he became afraid and quickly sent everything to the sanctuaries of the Christians in Jerusalem.

And there were slaves in the triumph, among whom was Gelimer himself, wearing some sort of a purple garment upon his shoulders, and all his family, and as many of the Vandals as were very tall and fair of body.

And when Gelimer reached the hippodrome and saw the emperor sitting upon a lofty seat and the people standing on either side and realized as he looked about in what an evil plight he was, he neither wept nor cried out, but ceased not saying over in the words of the Hebrew scripture: "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity." And when he came before the emperor's seat, they stripped off the purple garment, and compelled him to fall prone on the ground and do obeisance to the Emperor Justinian.

This also Belisarius did, as being a suppliant of the emperor along with him. And the Emperor Justinian and the Empress Theodora presented the children of Ilderic and his offspring and all those of the family of the Emperor Valentinian with sufficient sums of money, and to Gelimer they gave lands not to be despised in Galatia and permitted him to live there together with his family. However, Gelimer was by no means enrolled among the patricians, since he was unwilling to change from the faith of Arius.

A little later the triumph was celebrated by, Belisarius in the ancient manner also. For he had the fortune to be advanced to the office of consul, and therefore was borne aloft by the captives, and as he was thus carried in his curule chair, he threw to the populace those very spoils of the Vandalic war. For the people carried off the silver plate and golden girdles and a vast amount of the Vandals' wealth of other sorts as a result of Belisarius' consulship, and it seemed that after a long interval of disuse an old custom was being revived.

These things, then, took place in Byzantium in the manner described.

Belisarius and his Staff
(Johnny Shumates Portfolio)
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