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Three Millennia of Greek Literature

Vasilief, A History of the Byzantine Empire

Justinian the Great and his successors (518-610)

Wars with the Vandals, Ostrogoths, and Visigoths 


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The results of these wars. Persia. The Slavs. The expedition against the Vandals presented no easy problem. It involved the transfer of a vast army by sea to northern Africa, and this army would have to contend with a people who possessed a powerful fleet and who even in the middle of the fifth century had succeeded in raiding Rome. Besides, the transfer of the main military forces to the west was bound to have serious consequences in the east, where Persia, the most dangerous enemy of the Empire, waged continual war against Constantinople. Procopius gives an interesting account of the council at which the question of the African expedition was discussed for the first time. The most loyal magistrates of the Emperor expressed doubt about the possible success of the undertaking and considered it precipitate. Justinian himself was beginning to waver; in the end he overcame this temporary weakness and insisted upon his original project. The expedition was definitely decided upon. Meanwhile a change took place in the Persian ruling house, and in the year 532 Justinian succeeded in concluding an endless peace with the new ruler on the humiliating condition that the Byzantine Empire should pay a very large annual tribute to the king of Persia. This treaty, however, made it possible for Justinian to act more freely in the east and south. At the head of the vast army and fleet he placed the gifted general Belisarius, who was the most valuable assistant of the Emperor in his military undertakings and who shortly before this appointment had succeeded in quelling the dangerous internal Nika revolt, of which we shall speak later.

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