Reference address :

ELPENOR - Home of the Greek Word

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 


The Original Greek New Testament
Page 3

These conquests did not entirely satisfy Justinian's hopes, for, with the exception of the powerful fortress of Septum, near the Pillars of Hercules (now the Spanish fortress Ceuta), the western portion of northern Africa, reaching to the Atlantic Ocean, was not reannexed. Yet the greater part of northern Africa, Corsica, Sardinia, and the Balearic Islands became part of the Empire, and Justinian spent much energy in his efforts to restore order in these conquered lands. Even today the majestic ruins of numerous Byzantine fortresses and fortifications bear witness to the strenuous efforts of the Emperor for the defense of his land.

Still more exhausting was the Ostrogothic campaign, which lasted, also with peaceful intervals, from 535 to 554. During the first thirteen years this was contemporaneous with the Vandal war. Justinian opened military action by intervening in the internal strife of the Ostrogoths. One army began the conquest of Dalmada, which at this time formed a part of the Ostrogothic kingdom. Another, transported by sea and headed by Belisarius, occupied Sicily without much difficulty. Later, when transferred to Italy, this army conquered Naples and Rome. Soon after this, in 540, the Ostrogothic capital, Ravenna, opened its gates to Belisarius, who shortly afterward left Italy for Constantinople, taking with him the captive Ostrogothic king. Justinian added Gothicus to his title Africanus and Vandalicus. Italy seemed definitely conquered by the Byzantine Empire.

However, at this time there appeared among the Goths an energetic and gifted king, Totila, the last defender of Ostrogothic independence. With speed and decision he reversed the state of affairs. His military successes were so great that Belisarius was recalled from Persia to cope with them and was sent to Italy to assume the supreme command. Belisarius, however, was unable to deal with the situation. In rapid succession the territories conquered by the Byzantine army in Italy and on the islands were reclaimed by the Ostrogoths. The unfortunate city of Rome, which several times passed back and forth from Romans to Ostrogoths, was transformed into a heap of ruins. After Belisarius' failures had led to his recall from Italy, his successor, Narses, another gifted Byzantine general, finally succeeded in conquering the Goths by a number of actions displaying great strategic skill.

Previous / First / Next Page of this section

A History of the Byzantine Empire - Table of Contents

Next Chapter : The legislative work of Justinian and Tribonian

Previous Chapter : The external policy of Justinian and his ideology



Medieval West * The Making of Europe
Three Millennia of Greek Literature

Learned Freeware

Reference address :