But it must be remembered that the Emperor's broad claims to the old parts of the Roman Empire were not exclusively a matter of his personal views. They seemed quite natural to the population of the provinces occupied by the barbarians. The natives of the provinces which had fallen into the hands of Arians viewed Justinian as their sole protector. Conditions in northern Africa under the Vandals were particularly difficult, because these barbarians initiated severe persecutions against the native orthodox population and put many citizens and representatives of the clergy in jail, confiscating much of their property. Refugees and exiles from Africa, including many orthodox bishops, arrived at Constantinople and implored the Emperor to inaugurate a campaign against the Vandals, assuring him that a general revolt of the natives would follow.
A similar state of affairs prevailed in Italy, where the natives, in spite of a prolonged period of religious tolerance under Theodoric and his high regard for Roman civilization, continued to harbor hidden discontent and still turned their eyes to Constantinople, expecting aid from there in the cause of liberating their country from the newcomers and restoring the orthodox faith.
Still more interesting is the fact that the barbarian kings themselves supported the Emperor's ambitious plans. They persisted in expressing signs of deep respect for the Empire, in demonstrating in many ways their subservience to the Emperor, in striving to attain high Roman ranks by any means, in imprinting the image of the Emperor on their coins, etc. The French scholar Diehl said that they would have willingly repeated the words of the Visigothic chief who said, The emperor is undoubtedly God on earth and whoso raises a hand against him is guilty of his own blood. However, in spite of the fact that the state of affairs in Africa and Italy was favorable for Justinian, the campaigns waged against the Vandals and the Ostrogoths were extremely difficult and long drawn out