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Chapter
This webpage reproduces a chapter of
History of the Later Roman Empire

by J. B. Bury

published by Macmillan & Co., Ltd.,
1923

The text is in the public domain.

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Ch. 18, §§1‑2

p124 CHAPTER XVII

THE RECONQUEST OF AFRICA

§ 1. The Conquest (A.D. 533‑534)

It was the claim of the Roman Empire, from its foundation, to be potentially conterminous with the inhabited world and to embrace under its benignant sway the human race. Roman poets often spoke of it simply as the world (orbis). This pretentious idea, which was inherited by the Church, might well have been extinguished by the losses which Rome had sustained. Her territory had not been extended since the days of Trajan, and since the beginning of the fourth century her borders had been gradually retreating. All the western provinces were barbarian kingdoms; Italy itself, with Rome, was no more than a nominal dependency. The idea of restoring the Empire to its ancient limits seems to have floated before the mind of Justinian, but it is difficult to say whether he conceived it from the first as a definite aim of policy. He seized so promptly the opportunities which chance presented to him of recovering lost provinces in the lands of the Mediterranean, that we may suspect that he would have created pretexts, if they had not occurred.

His ambition found its first theatre in Africa. A revolution at Carthage in A.D. 531 gave the desired opportunity for intervention. The perpetual peace which Gaiseric had concluded with the Roman government (A.D. 476) had, under his successors, been faithfully observed on both sides. There appear to have been no hostilities except during the war with Odovacar and Theoderic, when king Gunthamund took advantage of the situation to make descents on Sicily and inflicted a defeat upon the Goths.1 The Catholic Christians endured more or less cruel p125 persecutions at the hands of Huneric, Gunthamund, and Trasamund,2 and the Emperors occasionally protested.3 These kings pursued the policy of Gaiseric and looked with suspicion and jealousy on any relations between their African subjects and Constantinople. The poet Dracontius was thrown into prison by Gunthamund for celebrating the praises of a foreign potentate, and wrote a recantation and apology for his fault. The potentate was undoubtedly Zeno.4 But there was no breach and the relations between Trasamund and Anastasius were rather friendly.5 Then Hilderic, the son of Huneric, came to the throne (A.D. 523).6 The fact that he was the grandson of Valentinian III was calculated to promote closer intimacy with Constantinople,7 and under his mild rule persecution ceased. He was the guest-friend of Justinian, and that astute prince probably aimed at making the Vandal state a dependency of the Empire, through his influence on the unwarlike king.8 Hilderic's complaisance p126 to Constantinople aroused dissatisfaction; the opposition was headed by his cousin Gelimer, who usurped the throne in A.D. 530 and threw Hilderic into prison. Justinian at once intervened. He addressed to the usurper a letter of remonstrance, appealing to the testament of Gaiseric and demanding the restoration of the rightful king. Gelimer replied by placing Hilderic under a stricter guard. The Emperor then despatched an ultimatum requiring Gelimer to send the deposed sovran to Constantinople, otherwise he would regard the treaty with Gaiseric as terminated. Gelimer replied defiantly that the matter concerned the Vandals themselves, and that it was not Justinian's business. He probably saw through Justinian's designs and knew that if he yielded he might postpone but would not avert war.9

The Emperor decided that the time had come to attempt the conquest of Africa, and as soon as peace had been concluded with Persia in spring of A.D. 532, the preparations were hurried forward. In his eyes it was no war of aggression; it was the suppression of tyrants in provinces over which the Emperors had always tacitly reserved their rights (iura imperii). The ecclesiastics were ardently in favour of an enterprise which would rescue their fellow-Catholics in Africa from the oppression of Arian despots.10 But from his counsellors and ministers Justinian received no encouragement. The disaster of the great expedition of the Emperor Leo was not forgotten. Their minds were still possessed by the formidable prestige which the Vandal power had attained under Gaiseric both by land and sea. The Empire had not kept up a powerful navy, and without command of the sea the hazard of attempting to transport an army and land it on a hostile coast could not be denied. The Praetorian Prefect, John of Cappadocia, explained to the Emperor the difficulties and risks of the undertaking in the plainest words, p127 and earnestly endeavoured to dissuade him from an adventure which the opinion of experts unreservedly condemned. And this view was justified, although its advocates probably had not realised how far the military strength of the Vandals had decayed since the days of Gaiseric. But notwithstanding this decline, the events of the campaign show that if Gelimer had not committed the most amazing mistakes, which his enemies could not have foreseen, the Roman army would probably have suffered an inglorious defeat. Justinian turned deaf ears to the gloomy anticipations of his counsellors, he believed in the justice of his cause, he believed that Heaven was on his side,11 and he had confidence in the talents of his general Belisarius, whom he destined to the command of the expedition and invested with the fullest powers, giving him a new title equivalent to imperator, which had long been restricted to the Emperors themselves.12

The small numbers of the army, deemed sufficient for the conquest of a people who had the military reputation of the Vandals, is surprising. It consisted of not more than 16,000 men. Perhaps this was as much as it was considered possible to transport with safety; and if it were annihilated, the loss would not be irreparable. There were 10,000 infantry, which were drawn partly from the Comitatenses and partly from the Federates. There were 5000 excellent cavalry, of whom more than 3000 were similarly composed, and the remainder were private retainers of Belisarius.13 There were two additional bodies of allied troops, both mounted archers, 600 Huns and 400 Heruls. The whole force was transported on 500 vessels, guarded by ninety-two dromons or ships of war.

The hundred years of their rule in Africa had changed the spirit and manners of the Vandals. They had become less p128 warlike; they had adopted the material civilisation and luxuries of the conquered provincials; and their military efficiency had declined since Gaiseric's death. It may be doubted whether their army numbered more than 30,000 men.14 It consisted entirely of cavalry, arrayed in inferior armour, who fought with lance and sword, and were, like other German peoples, unskilled in archery and the use of the javelin. Their king, although he was more martial than his predecessor, was a man of sentimental temperament, who had no military or political talents. The situation required a leader of exceptional ability. For the kingdom was divided against itself. Gelimer's Roman subjects longed for restoration to the Empire and would do all they could to assist the invaders. Even among the Vandals there were the adherents of Hilderic. The Moorish tribes of the interior could not be trusted to remain friendly or neutral if fortune seemed to incline to the Roman cause.

Before the Imperial army set sail from the Bosphorus, two events happened, and Gelimer committed two astounding blunders. The inhabitants of Tripolitana15 revolted from the Vandals, and Gelimer made no attempt to recover it. This was a fatal policy, for it would enable the Roman army, if it reached the coast of Africa in safety, to land on a friendly soil. Shortly before this the Vandal governor of Sardinia16 had proclaimed himself independent of Carthage, and when he heard of Justinian's project he offered his submission to the Emperor. Gelimer despatched a force of 5000 men and 120 ships to recover the island. He thus deprived himself of a considerable fraction of his army and virtually of his whole effective naval strength.17 The Vandal fleet which was reputed so formidable played no part in the war. This curious perversity of Gelimer, in wasting his strength on the recovery of a distant island whose disaffection could hardly have affected the course of events,18 and p129 neglecting to suppress the movement in Tripolitana, whose possession was of the first importance, was perhaps decisive for the whole issue of the war.

If the Sardinian revolt was a piece of luck for Justinian, the attitude of Italy was hardly less fortunate. After the death of Trasamund, his Ostrogothic wife Amalafrida had been imprisoned and afterwards murdered,19 and this led to an irreconcilable breach between the courts of Carthage and Ravenna. The Ostrogothic government willingly supported the Imperial expedition by placing the harbours of Sicily at its disposal.

The Roman forces set sail from Constantinople in June A.D. 533. Before their departure the ship of the general moored in front of the Imperial palace, and the Patriarch offered prayers for the success of the expedition. Among those who witnessed their sailing perhaps most who were competent to judge believed that they would never return. Belisarius was accompanied by his wife Antonina, and by the historian Procopius, who again acted as his legal assessor, and to whom we owe the story of the war. The domesticus, or chief of the general's staff, was the eunuch Solomon, a native of Mesopotamia, one of those able eunuchs whom we frequently meet on the stage of Byzantine history.

The voyage from the Bosphorus to Sicily was marked by many halts,20 and the shore of Africa was not reached till the beginning of September. Procopius commemorates the practical foresight of Antonina in storing a large number of jars of water, covered with sand, in the hold of the general's ship, and tells how this provision stood them in good stead in the long run from Zacynthus to Catane. Belisarius had been full of misgivings about the voyage from Sicily to Africa, expecting that the enemy would attack him by sea. He now learned for the p130 first time (from a man who had just arrived from Carthage) that the Vandal fleet had been sent to Sardinia; and equally welcome was the news that Gelimer was unaware that the Roman expedition was on its way and had made no preparation to meet it, at Carthage or elsewhere.

The fleet made land at Caputvada (Ras Kapudia) on the African coast, and the army disembarked and fortified a camp. Before landing Belisarius had held a council of war, and some of his generals argued that it would be the better plan to sail straight for Carthage and surprise it, but Belisarius overruled this view; there was the chance of a hostile fleet appearing, and he knew that the soldiers were afraid of a naval attack. Caputvada is sixty-six Roman miles south of Hadrumetum (Sousse) and one hundred and sixty-two from Carthage,21 so that if his army marched slightly over eleven miles a day, he was fourteen days' journey from his goal. The road ran close to the coast, and the fleet was instructed to sail slowly and keep within hail of the army. A squadron of 300 horse, under John the Armenian, was sent ahead as an advance guard at a distance of three miles, and the corps of 600 Huns was ordered to march at the same distance to the left of the road, to protect the army from a flank attack. The first town on their route was Syllectum (Selketa), which was seized quietly by a ruse. The overseer of the public post deserted and delivered all the horses to Belisarius, who rewarded him with gold and gave him a copy of a letter addressed by the Emperor to the leading men22 of the Vandals, to make public. It ran thus:

"It is not our purpose to go to war with the Vandals, nor are we breaking our treaty with Gaiseric. We are only attempting to overthrow your tyrant, who making light of Gaiseric's testament keeps your king a prisoner, and killed those of his kinsmen whom he hated, and having blinded the rest keeps them in prison, not allowing them to end their sufferings by death. Therefore join us in freeing yourselves from a tyranny so wicked, that you may enjoy peace and liberty. We give you pledges in the name of God that we will give you these blessings.

As the man did not venture to publish the letter openly but p131 only showed it secretly to his friends, it produced no effect. During their march northward the friendliness of the inhabitants supplied the invaders with provisions, and Belisarius took the strictest measures to prevent his soldiers from alienating the sympathies of the population by marauding and looting. It will be remembered how in England's war with her American colonies the shameless pillaging of the property of the colonial loyalists, by the Hessian mercenaries whom George III had hired, drove them into the ranks of the rebels, and the English generals were incapable of keeping a firm hand on their auxiliaries. Belisarius had a more difficult task. Want of discipline, as we shall see, was the weak point in his mixed army. But for the present he succeeded in restraining the appetites of his barbarian troops, and advanced comfortably towards the Vandal capital.

Passing Thapsus, Leptis, and Hadrumetum, the army reached Grasse, where the Vandal kings had a villa and a beautiful park, full of fruit trees, and as the fruit was ripe the soldiers ate their fill. This place, now Sidi-Khalifa, is still famous for its fruit gardens.23 During the night of the halt at Grasse some of the Roman scouts met enemy scouts and after exchanging blows both parties retired to their camps. Thus Belisarius learned for the first time that the enemy was not far away. It was, in fact, the king who was following them but keeping out of sight. Gelimer was at Hermiane24 when he learned of the Roman disembarkation. He sent orders immediately to his brother Ammatas at Carthage to kill Hilderic and the other prisoners, and, collecting all the troops in the city, to be ready to attack the Roman army at a given time and place. He marched southward himself at the head of his army to follow and observe the advance of the invaders without being seen himself. His plan was to surprise and surround the enemy at a spot near Tunis and ten miles from Carthage.

Not far from Grasse the high road to Carthage left the coast and crossed the promontory which runs out into Cape Bon. Here the army and the ships parted company, and the naval commander was instructed not to put in at Carthage but to p132 remain about three miles out at sea until he should be summoned. The road rejoined the coast at Ad Aquas, which is now Hammam el‑Enf, twenty-three miles from Carthage. By the fourth day25 (September 13) the army was approaching Tunis, and it was perhaps at the northern extremity of the defile of Hammam el‑Enf, on a rocky spur of the Jebel Bu-Kornin — the two-horned hill — that Belisarius, neglecting no precautions and hesitating to risk an engagement with his whole army, made a stockaded camp in which he ordered his infantry to remain while he rode down into the plain with the cavalry.26 John the Armenian had ridden on in advance, as usual, while the Huns were some miles to the left, west of the Bu-Kornin hills. Belisarius had no idea of the excellent strategic plan which the enemy had devised to destroy him.

If we walk out of the modern town of Tunis by the south-eastern gate, Bab Alleona, we soon reach the railway station of Jebel Jellud, and near it was the Roman station Ad Decimum, at the tenth milestone from Carthage. On the left are a number of little eminences of which the highest is named Megrin, on the right the hill of Sidi Fathalla, behind which extends to the west the Sebkhaes-Sejuni or Salt-plain, an arid treeless tract then as now.27 This was the place in which Gelimer had planned to surround the Romans. Ammatas coming from Carthage was to confront them in the defile; when they were engaged with him, Gibamund, the king's nephew,28 with 2000 men, advancing across the Salt-plain, was to descend from the hill on their left, p133 while Gelimer himself with the main army was to come upon them in the rear. The time at which the Romans might be expected to reach Ad Decimum was nicely calculated, and the plan all but succeeded.

Ammatas committed the error of appearing with a few men at Ad Decimum some hours before the appointed time, probably for the purpose of surveying the ground. He arrived at noon and came face to face with the troops of John. He was a brave warrior and he killed with his own hand twelve of John's best men before he fell himself. His followers fled and swept back in a hot-foot race to the shelter of Carthage the other troops who were marching negligently in bands of twenty or thirty to the appointed place. John and his riders pursued and slew as far as the city gates.

While this action was in progress, the Huns had reached the Plain of Salt and fell in with the forces of Gibamund who were moving eastward to Sidi Fathalla, and, although in numbers they were less than one to three, utterly annihilated them. p134 The Huns enjoyed the battle; the Vandals, they thought, were a feast which God had prepared for them.29

Of these two events Belisarius knew nothing as he descended from Hammam el‑Enf into the plain of Mornag. His Federate cavalry rode in advance, the regular cavalry and his own retainers at some distance in the rear. Crossing the stream Oued Miliane, the road to Tunis passes Maxula (Rades), which lies between the sea and the southern shore of the lake of Tunis.30 The Federates, when they reached Ad Decimum, saw the corpses of their comrades and those of Ammatas and some Vandals. The people of the place told them what had happened and they climbed the hills to reconnoitre. Presently they discerned a large cloud of dust to the south and then a large force of Vandal cavalry. They sent, at once, a message to Belisarius urging him to hasten. It was Gelimer's army that was coming. Having followed Belisarius at a safe distance along the main road he had doubtless left it at Grombalia, and keeping to the west of the Jebel Bu-Kornin proceeded along a road which is still used by the natives for travelling between Grombalia and Tunis. The hilly nature of the ground did not permit him to see either the movements of Belisarius on his right or the disaster of his nephew on his left. When his vanguard reached Ad Decimum there was a contest with the Roman Federates to win possession of an eminence (possibly Megrin), in which the Vandals were successful. The Federates then fled for a mile along the road to rejoin their own army and met Uliaris with 800 guardsmen, who seeing them galloping in disorder turned themselves and galloped back to Belisarius.

Gelimer now had the victory in his hands, but the gods were determined to destroy him. The historian who tells the tale and who witnessed the cavalry riding back in terror to the commander-in‑chief, declares that "Had Gelimer pursued immediately I do not think that even Belisarius would have withstood him, but our cause would have been utterly ruined, so large appeared the multitude of the Vandals and so great the p135 fear they inspired; or if he had made straight for Carthage he would have slain easily all the men with John, and would have preserved the city and its treasures, and would have taken our ships which had approached near, and deprived us not only of victory but of the means of escape."31

Gelimer was a man of sentimental temperament. When he reached Ad Decimum and saw the dead body of his brother he was completely unmanned. He set up loud lamentations and could think of nothing but burying the corpse; and so, as the historian remarks, "he blunted the edge of opportunity," and such an opportunity did not recur.

Meanwhile Belisarius had rallied the fugitives and administered a solemn rebuke. On learning exactly what had happened, he rode at full speed to Decimum and found the barbarians in complete disorder. They did not wait for his attack but fled as fast as they could, not towards Carthage but westward towards Numidia. They lost many, and the fighting ended at night, when John's troops and the Huns arrived on the scene. A considerable victory had been gained, but it was a victory which Gelimer had presented to Belisarius; it ought to have been a defeat.

The night was passed at Decimum, and on the following day Antonina arrived with the infantry and the whole army marched to Carthage, arriving at nightfall. Its inhabitants opened the gates and welcomed the victor with a brilliant illumination. But Belisarius was cautious, and he would not enter that night, partly because he feared an ambuscade and partly because he was resolved that his soldiers should not plunder the city. The next day (September 15) the army marched in, in formation of battle. Belisarius need not have been afraid; no snare was set.

He seated himself on the king's throne, and consumed the dinner which Gelimer had confidently ordered to be ready for his own victorious return. The inhabitants welcomed the deliverer, and the Imperial fleet sailed into the lake of Tunis. Belisarius lost no time in repairing the walls of the city and rendering it capable of sustaining a siege. Meanwhile the Moorish tribes of Numidia and Byzacium, learning the issue of the battle, hastened to send friendly embassies to the conqueror.32

p136 Gelimer and his vanquished army had fled to the plain of Bulla Regia.33 His first care was to send the bad news to his brother Tzazo, who commanded the Sardinian expedition, imperatively recalling him. Tzazo, who had succeeded in re-establishing the Vandal authority in Sardinia, returned with his troops, and Gelimer thus reinforced marched towards Carthage. He cut the aqueduct, and he attempted to prevent provisions from arriving in the city, which he hoped to reduce by blockade. He sent secret agents to undermine the loyalty of the inhabitants and the Imperial army. In this he had some success. The auxiliary Huns seem to have determined to stand aloof in the approaching struggle and then rally to the aid of the victorious party.34

About the middle of December Belisarius judged that the time had come to bring matters to an issue. Gelimer had pitched his camp at Tricamaron,35 on the banks of the Mejerda, about twenty miles west of Carthage. Here were collected not only his soldiers but their wives and children and property. The battle of Tricameron was in some respects a repetition of the battle of Ad Decimum. It was a battle of cavalry. The Roman infantry was again far behind and did not come up till the late afternoon when the issue was virtually decided. It was only after repeated charges that the mailed Roman horsemen succeeded in breaking the enemy's lines. Tzazo and many others of the bravest officers fell. The Vandals fled to their camp, and the Huns who had hitherto refused to join in the combat now joined in the pursuit. As soon as the infantry arrived, the victors fell upon the camp, and Gelimer, seeing that all was lost, fled with a few attendants into the wilds of Numidia. All his soldiers who could escape sought refuge in the churches of the surrounding district. There was no pursuit. The Roman troops thought of nothing but of seizing the rich spoil, women and treasures, which awaited them in the camp. p137 The general was utterly powerless to restore discipline, and he passed an anxious night. He feared that some of the enemy, realising the situation, would attack his disorderly troops; and "if any thing of the kind had happened," says Procopius, "I think that not a Roman would have escaped to enjoy his booty." The victory of Tricamaron (middle of December, A.D. 533) destroyed the Vandal kingdom. But it was due to the weakness and incompetence of the king. He had no idea of using to advantage his great numerical preponderance in cavalry. Even after the defeat, if he had not run away, he might have annihilated the enemy busy with their loot.

It is to be observed that both the actions of the short campaign were fought and won by the Roman cavalry, as in the battle of Daras. The more numerous infantry might almost as well not have been in Africa. There is room for wonder whether if Belisarius had been opposed to a commander of some ability and experience in warfare, he would not have been hopelessly defeated. His secretary, Procopius, expresses amazement at the issue of the war, and does not hesitate to regard it not as a feat of superior strategy but as a paradox of fortune.36 But if in this campaign Belisarius did not display signal military talent, there can be no question as to his skill in holding together the undisciplined and heterogeneous troops which he commanded. The Federates thought of nothing but securing booty; they were inclined to regard themselves as independent allies; again and again, but for the general's firmness and tact, their insubordinate spirit might have been disastrous.

The Vandal warriors who had fled to the asylum of sanctuaries surrendered to the Roman general, who promised that they would be well treated and sent to Constantinople in spring. All the treasures belonging to Gelimer were seized in Hippo Regius.37 Belisarius then made arrangements to assert the Imperial authority throughout the Vandal dominions, of which he had yet occupied but a small part. He sent detachments by sea to take possession of Sardinia and Corsica, the Balearic p138 Islands, the fortress of Septum in Tingitana, on the straits of Gibraltar, and Caesarea (Cherchel) on the coast of Mauretania. But the task of establishing Roman administration throughout the African provinces, and especially in the three Mauretanias, was to require several years and far more strenuous military exertions than were needed to destroy the power of the Vandals.

Gelimer had fled to Mount Papua in the wilds of Numidia, where he found among the Moors a miserable but impregnable refuge. Here for three months he and the friends who were with him endured hunger and cold, blockaded by the Herul leader Pharas, whose followers watched the paths at the foot of the mountain. It was a tedious watch during the cold winter months. Pharas sent a friendly message to the king counselling him to surrender. The pride of Gelimer could not yet brook the thought, but he besought Pharas to send him a loaf, a sponge, and a lyre. He had not tasted baked bread since he had come to the mountain; he wanted a sponge to dry his tears; and a lyre that he might sing a song which he had composed on his misfortunes. The curious request, which was readily granted, illustrates the temperament of Gelimer who loved the luxury of grief.38 At length (in March) pitying the sufferings of his faithful attendants, he surrendered, assured of honourable treatment. He was taken to Constantinople, where he adorned the triumph of Belisarius. When he saw the Emperor sitting in all his splendour in the Kathisma of the Hippodrome, he repeated to himself, "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity." An ample estate in Galatia was granted to him, and the dignity of Patrician would have been conferred on him, if he had not resolutely refused to abandon his Arian religion.39

The difficulties of the command of Belisarius were illustrated by the intrigues which the subordinate generals began to spin against him after his final success. They wrote secretly to Constantinople insinuating that he was aiming at the throne. Justinian doubtless knew what these charges were worth. He gave Belisarius the choice of returning to Constantinople or of p139 remaining in Africa. Belisarius prudently chose to return, and was rewarded by a triumph, which at this time was an exceptional honour for a private person (A.D. 534). He brought back with him a captive king with the choicest of the Vandal warriors;40 an immense treasure; and what above all appealed to the piety of the Emperor and to the sentiment of orthodox Christians, King Solomon's golden vessels of which Gaiseric had robbed Rome and of which Titus had despoiled Jerusalem.41 He was soon to be entrusted with the conduct of a longer and more arduous enterprise.

§ 2. The Settlement and the Moorish Wars (A.D. 534‑548)

The general idea of the Emperor's scheme for the administration of the African provinces was to wipe out all traces of the Vandal conquest, as if it had never been, and to restore the conditions which had existed before the coming of Gaiseric. The ecclesiastical settlement, which lay near Justinian's heart, was easy and drastic.42 All the churches which the conquered Arians had taken for their own worship were restored to the Catholics, and heretics were treated with the utmost intolerance. Vandals, even those who were converted from their religious errors, were excluded from public offices. The rank and file of the Vandal fighting men became the slaves of the Roman soldiers who married the women. All the estates which had passed into the hands of the barbarians were to be restored to the descendants of the original owners who could establish their claims, — a measure which led to the forgery of titles and endless lawsuits.43 The ultimate result of the whole policy was the disappearance of the Vandal population in Africa.

When he received the news of the victory of Tricamaron, Justinian must have proceeded immediately, if he had not already begun, to prepare the details of the future government of Africa; for the whole scheme was published in April A.D. p140 534.44 Its general character was modelled on the system which was in force before the Vandal conquest, but the changed circumstances required some modifications. Formerly Africa had been a diocese of the Prefecture of Italy. This arrangement could not be maintained as Italy was in the hands of the Ostrogoths. Hence the civil governor was invested with the title of Praetorian Prefect of Africa, and enjoyed the corresponding dignity and emoluments. Under him were the governors of the seven provinces: Proconsularis, Byzacena, Tripolitana, Numidia, the two Mauretanias, and Sardinia.45 But the compass of the Second or Western Mauretania (Caesariensis) was extended so as to include Tingitana, which in old days had belonged to the diocese of Spain.

The military establishment was placed under a Master of Soldiers,46 a new creation, since in old days the armies of Africa had been under the supreme command of the Master of Soldiers in Italy. The fundamental distinction between the mobile army and the frontier troops was retained. The mobile army consisted of the divisions of the comitatenses who had been sent with Belisarius, of foederati, and of native African troops (gentiles).47 The frontier troops were distributed in four districts, under dukes, who had authority also over mobile troops stationed in these military provinces.48 The establishment of this organisation throughout Africa was retarded for some years by wars and mutinies, but it was begun by Belisarius before he departed, and it was gradually carried out, along with an elaborate scheme of fortification against the inroads of the Moorish tribes.

The Moors began hostilities before the Romans had time to make provision for the defence of the country or to organise p141 the new civil administration. The situation was so grave that Justinian, when he sent Solomon in autumn (A.D. 534) to replace Belisarius, united in his hands the supreme civil as well as military authority. Solomon was Praetorian Prefect as well as Master of Soldiers.49 This appointment struck the note of a change in the principles of provincial administration which had prevailed since Diocletian. We shall see how elsewhere Justinian departed from the general rule of a strict separation of the civil and military powers. In Africa, although the two offices were seldom united, perhaps only on three occasions,50 there is a tendency from the beginning to subordinate the Praetorian Prefect to the Master of Soldiers,51 and before the end of the century the Master of Soldiers will become a real viceroy with the title of Exarch.

The leading feature of the history of North Africa from the Roman reconquest to the Arab invasion in the middle of the seventh century is a continuous struggle with the Moors, broken by short periods of tranquillity. Each province had its own enemies. Tripolitana was always threatened by the Louata, Byzacena by the Frexi;52 the townspeople of Numidia lived in dread of the Moors of the Aurasian hills. Mauretania was largely occupied by Berber tribes. The Roman government never succeeded in effecting a complete subjugation of the autochthonous peoples. It was not an impossible task, if the right means had been taken. But the Roman army was hardly sufficient in numbers to maintain effectively the defence of a long frontier, against enemies whose forces consisted of light cavalry, immensely more numerous. This numerical inferiority might have mattered little if the troops had been trustworthy. But they were always ready to revolt against discipline, and in war their thoughts were not on protecting the provinces but on p142 securing booty. They could do work under a commander who knew how to handle them, but such commanders were rare. Most of the military governors found their relations with their own soldiers as difficult a problem as their relations with the Moors. Here we touch on a second cause of the failure of the Romans to secure a lasting peace in Africa — the unfitness of so many of their military governors. A succession of men like Belisarius, Solomon, and John Troglita would probably have succeeded, if not in establishing permanent and complete tranquillity, at least in defending the frontiers efficiently. But when a commander of this type had weathered a crisis or retrieved a disaster, he was too often succeeded by an incompetent man, who had no control over the soldiers, no skill in dealing with the Moors, and who undid by his inexperience all that his predecessor had accomplished. And apart from these weaknesses, it has been remarked with justice that the general military policy was not calculated to pacify the restless barbarians beyond the frontier. It was a policy of strict defence. The elaborate system of fortresses which were speedily erected throughout the provinces stood the inhabitants in good stead, but they did not prevent raids, and the Romans only opposed raids on Roman soil. Far more would have been effected if the Romans had taken the offensive whenever there was a sign of restlessness and sent flying columns beyond the frontier to attack the Moors on their own ground. Finally the want of success in dealing with the Moorish danger may have been partly due to defective and inconsistent diplomacy.53

The one fact in the situation which enabled the Romans to maintain their grip on Africa was the disunion among the Moors. On more than one occasion they suffered such crushing disasters that if the Moors had made a determined and united effort the Imperial armies would easily have been driven into the sea. But the jealousies and quarrels among the chieftainsº hindered common action; and if one began a hostile movement, the Romans could generally depend on the quiescence or assistance of his neighbour.

On his arrival in Africa (A.D. 534) Solomon54 had immediately p143 to take the field against Cutsina and other Moorish leaders who descended upon Byzacena, while Iabdas was devastating Numidia. He defeated the former at Mamma, but not decisively; they returned with reinforcements, and were thoroughly beaten in the important battle of Mount Burgaon (early in A.D. 535).55 An expedition against the Numidian Moors in the following summer was unsuccessful, but Solomon lost no time in setting about the erection of fortified posts along the main roads in Numidia and Byzacena. In A.D. 536 the Emperor regarded peace as established and the Moors as conquered.56

The task of keeping the natives in check had at least been well begun; but it was interrupted by a dangerous military revolt.

Various causes contributed to the mutiny. The pay of the soldiers had fallen into arrears, because the taxes from which it should have been defrayed had not been paid up. There was dissatisfaction about the division of booty. There were many Arians among the barbarian federates in the army who were ill-pleased at the intolerant religious policy which had been set in motion.57 Men who had married Vandal women claimed the lands which had belonged to their fathers or husbands and had been confiscated by the State. Above all, Solomon did not understand the art of tempering discipline by indulgence and was not a favourite with either officers or men. A conspiracy was formed to murder him at Easter (A.D. 536). It miscarried because the courage of those who were chosen to do the deed failed them, and then a great number of the disaffected, fearing discovery, left Carthage and assembled in the plain of Bulla Regia. Those who were left behind soon threw off the pretence of innocence and the city was a scene of massacre and pillage. Solomon, having charged his lieutenants Theodore and Martin to do what they could in his absence, escaped by night, along with his assessor, the historian Procopius, and sailed for Sicily, to invoke the aid of Belisarius, who had just completed the conquest of the island. Belisarius did not lose a moment in setting sail for Carthage, in which he found Theodore beleaguered by the p144 rebels. They were about 9000 strong58 and under the command of Stotzas, who was one of the private retainers of Martin. The design of this upstart was to form an independent kingdom in Africa for himself.

Theodore was on the point of capitulating when Belisarius arrived, and on the news of his appearance the rebels hastily raised the siege and took the road for Numidia. It was a high compliment to the prestige of the conqueror of the Vandals. With the few troops who had remained loyal in Carthage, and a hundred picked men whom he had brought with him, Belisarius overtook Stotzas at Membressa59 and defeated him. The rebels fled, but they did not submit. Belisarius could not remain: news from Sicily imperatively recalled him. He arranged that Solomon should withdraw from the scene, and that two officers, Theodore and Ildiger, should assume responsibility until the Emperor appointed Solomon's successor. Soon after his departure the situation became worse, for the troops stationed in Numidia, who had been moved to cut off the retreat of Stotzas, declared in his favour. Two-thirds of the army were now in rebellion.60

Justinian was happily inspired at this grave crisis. He sent the right man to deal with it, his cousin Germanus, the patrician, who already had had experience of warfare on the Danube, as Master of Soldiers in Thrace. He was appointed Master of Soldiers of Africa, with extraordinary powers, and it was hoped that his prestige as a member of the Imperial family would have its influence in recalling the rebels to a sense of loyalty. His first act was to proclaim that he had come not to punish the mutineers, but to examine and rectify their grievances. This announcement was at once effective. Many of the soldiers left the camp of the rebels and reported themselves at Carthage. When it was known that they were handsomely treated and that they received arrears of pay even for the weeks during which they were in rebellion, large numbers deserted the cause of Stotzas, and Germanus found himself equal in strength to the p145 insurgents. Stotzas, seeing that his only chance was to strike quickly, advanced on Carthage. A desperate battle was fought at Scalas Veteres (Cellas Vatari) in the spring (A.D. 537), and the rebels were defeated. Moorish forces, under Iabdas and other chiefs, who had promised to support Germanus, were spectators of the combat, but according to their usual practice they took no part till the victory was decided, and then they joined in the pursuit, instead of falling on the exhausted victors.61

Germanus remained in Africa for two years and succeeded in re-establishing discipline in the army. Then the experienced Solomon was sent out to replace him A.D. 539) and to complete the military organisation of the provinces and the system of defence, in which Justinian took a keen personal interest. He began by weeding out of the army all those whom he suspected as doubtful or dangerous, sending them to Italy or the East, and he expelled from Africa the Vandal females who had done much to instigate the mutiny. After successful campaigns against the Aurasian Moors, he established his power solidly in Numidia and Mauretania Sitifensis, and carried out the vast work of strengthening the defences of the towns and build hundreds of forts. Africa enjoyed a brief period of peace to which, amid subsequent troubles, the provincials looked back with regret.

The great pestilence which devastated the Empire in A.D. 542 and 543 visited Africa and took a large toll from the army. At the same time new troubles threatened from the Moors. The Emperor, who gratefully recognised the services and abilities of Solomon, appointed his nephew Sergius62 duke of Tripolitana. It was a thoroughly bad appointment. Sergius was incompetent, arrogant, and debauched; he was not even a brave soldier; and he proved a governor of the well-known type who cannot avoid offending the natives. An insolent outrage committed against a deputation of the Louata provoked that people to arms; and by an unfortunate coincidence Solomon at the same time succeeded in offending the powerful chief Antalas, who had hitherto been friendly. The Moors joined forces, and in the battle of Cillium63 (A.D. 544) the Romans were utterly defeated and Solomon was slain.

p146 The Imperial rule in Africa was again in grave danger. The news of the defeat stirred the Berber tribes all along the frontier; even the Visigoths seized the occasion to send forces across the straits, and unsuccessfully besieged Septum.64 The Emperor made the fatal mistake of appointing Sergius, who was at once incapable and unpopular, as Solomon's successor. Stotzas, who since his defeat by the Germans had lived with a handful of followers in the wilds of Mauretania, now reappeared upon the scene and joined the Moors of Antalas, while Sergius quarrelled with his officers. Instead of superseding him, he despatched a second incompetent commander, the patrician Areobindus, who had married his own niece Praejecta. He made Areobindus co-ordinate with Sergius, but he was to command the army of Byzacena, Sergius that of Numidia. The two generals did not agree, and misfortune ensued. The Byzacene forces, relying on the support of Sergius, who left them in the lurch, were severely defeated at Thacia, between Sicca Veneria (el‑Kef) and Carthage (end of A.D. 545).65 After this disaster Sergius was relieved of his post and Areobindus replaced him. He was a man of little merit, and in a few months he was removed by a conspiracy. Guntarith, the duke of Numidia, aspired to play the part of Stotzas, and having come to an understanding with some of the Moorish chiefs, he suddenly seized the palace at Carthage, and Areobindus was assassinated (March A.D. 546).º Praejecta fell into the hands of Guntarith, who formed the plan of marrying her. But Guntarith's supremacy lasted little over a month. A portion of the army remained loyal and found a leader in an Armenian officer, Artabanes, who brought about the murder of the rebel at a banquet (May). Justinian appointed Artabanes Master of Soldiers of Africa, and Praejecta offered her hand to her deliverer.66 But Artabanes was already married and Theodora refused to permit a divorce. He followed Praejecta to Constantinople, and the Emperor tried to console him by creating him Master of Soldiers in praesenti and Count of the Federates.

The situation was deplorable. The ravages of the Moors p147 during the last three years had exhausted and depopulated the provinces. At last Justinian made a happy appointment. John Troglita, who had served with distinction under Belisarius and Solomon and was thoroughly acquainted with the conditions of the country, was recalled from the East, where he had given new proofs of military talent, and sent to take command of the armies of Africa (end of A.D. 546). Happily the Moors were divided, and John was a diplomatist as well as a general. He was able to secure the help of Moorish contingents in his campaigns. Early in A.D. 547 he inflicted a decisive defeat on the most dangerous of his opponents, Antalas.67 But the troubles of Africa were not yet over. A few months later, the Berbers of Tripolitana rose under Carcasan, and won a crushing victory over the Imperial troops in the plain of Gallica.68 Antalas took the field again and joined his triumphant neighbours. But the Roman cause was retrieved in the great battle of the Fields of Cato,69 where seventeen Moorish leaders fell, among them Carcasan (early in A.D. 548). This victory secured for Africa complete tranquillity for nearly fourteen years. The relations between the Empire and the dependent Moorish princes were renewed and revised. The administration of the provinces was placed on a normal footing. The inhabitants and the wasted lands had time to recover from the devastations. The military defences of the frontier were re-established and improved.70 John Troglita, who seems to have governed Africa for about four years after his great victory, stands out, with Belisarius and Solomon, as the third hero of the Imperial reoccupation of Africa. His deeds inspired the African poet Corippus, whose Johannis tells us nearly all we know of his campaigns.71

Justinian was to have one more war in Africa, and it appears to have been entirely due to the stupid treachery of the military governor. The loyalty of the aged chief Cutsina was secured by an annual pension. In A.D. 563, when he came to Carthage to p148 receive the money, he was assassinated by order of John Rogathinus, the Master of Soldiers.72 The motive of the crime is unknown, but the sons of the murdered Moor immediately raised Numidia in revolt. The forces in the province were insufficient to cope with the insurrection, and the Emperor was compelled to send an army under his nephew Marcian, who succeeded, perhaps by diplomatic means, in re-establishing peace.

§ 3. The Fortification of the Provinces

While Solomon was fighting with the Moors, he was at the same time engaged in carrying out a large scheme of defensive fortification to protect the African provinces against the incursions of the barbarians in the future; he was fortifying and rebuilding old towns and constructing new fortresses. The building of fortresses was one of the notable features of Justinian's policy. All the provinces exposed to foes in the East, in the Balkan peninsula, and in Africa were protected by forts, constructed on principles carefully thought out; but it is in Africa, where the soil is covered with their ruins, that the system of defence which was employed can best be studied. The numerous walls and citadels dating from the days of Solomon, which are still to be seen, are the best commentary on the principles and rules laid down in contemporary military handbooks.73

Fortified towns, connected by a chain of small forts, formed the first frontier defence. Behind this there was a second barrier, larger towns with larger garrisons, which were all to afford a refuge to the inhabitants of the neighbourhood in case of an invasion. When the watchmen in the frontier stations discerned menacing movements of the tribes, they transmitted the alarm by the old system of fire signals by night or smoke signals by day,74 so that the people of the villages might have time to find p149 refuge in the walled towns and the garrisons of the inland places might be prepared.

In many cases the towns were entirely surrounded by walls, and in some had the additional defence of detached forts. In other cases they were open, and protected by the citadel. The neighbouring strongholds of Theveste, Thelepte, and Ammaedera on the frontier of Byzacena present good examples of the three types. The features of a fully fortified town were a wall with towers, an outer wall, and a fosse; the space between the two walls being large enough to accommodate the refugees who flocked in from the open country in a time of danger. But this scheme is not invariably found; sometimes there was no outer wall, sometimes there was no ditch. These variations depended upon local circumstances, as the form of the fortress depended on the nature of the ground. A rectangular shape was adopted when it was possible, but very irregular forms were sometimes required by the site. Theveste is a well-preserved example of the large fortress, rectangular, measuring about 350 by 305 yards, with three gates, and frontier towers; Thamugadi of the smaller castle (about 122 by 75 yards), with a tower at each corner and in the centre of each side. Small forts, like Lemsa, had a tower at each of the four angles.

From Capsa (Gafsa) in the Byzacene province to Sabi Justiniana and Thamalla in Mauretania Sitifensis the long line of fortresses can be traced round the north foothills of the Aurasian mountains. Thelepte, Theveste, with Ammaedera behind it to the north, Mascula and Bagai, Thamugadi, Lambaesis, Lambiridi, Cellae, and Tubunae75 were the principal advanced military stations, which were connected and flanked by small castles and redoubts. When invaders from the south had penetrated this line, the inhabitants might seek shelter in Sufes (Sbiba) and Chusira (Kessera) in Byzacena; in Laribus (Lorbeus), Sicca Veneria (Kef), Tubursicum Bue (Tebursuk), Thignica (Aïn Tunga) in the Proconsular Province; Madaura (Mdaurech), Tipasa (Tifech), Calama (Guelma), Tigisis (Aïn el‑Borj) in Numidia, to mention a few of the military posts in the interior.

The Mauretanian provinces were more lightly held. It is interesting to observe that Justinian took special care to p150 strengthen by impregnable walls the fortress of Septum on the straits of gades. This ultimate outpost of the Empire was to be a post of observation. He gave express directions that it should be entrusted to a loyal and judicious commander, who was to watch the straits, gather information as to political events in Spain and Gaul, and send reports to his superior the duke of Mauretania.76


The Author's Notes:

1 Cassiodorus, Chron., sub 491; Dracontius, Satisfactio, vv. 213‑214.

2 The contemporary bishop of Vita wrote the story of these persecutions in his Hist. Pers. Afr. Prov.

3 Huneric allowed the Church of Carthage to ordain a bishop at the request of Zeno and his sister-in‑law Placidia. Victor, II.2, cp. I.51.

4 Dracontius, ib. 93:

culpa mihi fuerat dominos reticere modestos

ignotumque mihi scribere vel dominum.

Dracontius was the most considerable of the obscure Latin poets between Sidonius and Corippus. His most ambitious work was the De laudibus Dei, but his pagan poems, the Orestes, and the ten short pieces collected under the title of Romulea are more interesting. In the reigns of Trasamund, who seems to have encouraged letters, and his successors there was a good deal of literary activity in Africa. We have a verse panegyric on Trasamund by Florentinus (Anthol. Lat. No. 376), poems of Felix on the public Thermae which the same king built at Alianae, near Carthage, where the kings had a palace (ib. 210‑214). We have also the Book of Epigrams of Luxorius (ib. 287‑375), of which the most interesting is that on the death of Damira, the infant daughter of Oageis, a kinsman of king Hilderic.

5 Procopius, B. V. I.8.14.

6 zzz GENEALOGICAL TABLE

7 The poet Florentinus (Anth. Lat. 215) hailed him as

Vandalirice potens, gemini diadematis heres,

and reminded him of the victories of his Roman ancestors, Theodosius and Valentinian III:

ampla Valentiniani virtus cognita mundo

hostibus addictis ostenditur arce nepotis.

8 Procopius, B. V. I.9.8, cp. 19‑23.

9 Cp. Diehl, L'Afrique byzantine, p6. The true form of Gelimer's name is Geilamir (so his coins and CIL VIII.17.412). The date of his usurpation 530 follows from the length of Hilderic's reign given as 7 years by Procopius, 7 years 3 months by Victor Tonn., and in the shorter edition of the Vandal Laterculus Regum as 7 years 14 days. If we take the last figure we get May 19, 530, as the day of Hilderic's defeat. Victor Tonn. places it in 531, and John Mal. places the application of Hilderic to Justinian in the same year (XVIII.459). 531 is the date usually assigned by modern writers (Clinton, Diehl, etc.); but Schmidt is right in deciding for 530 (Gesch. der Wand. p124).

10 The war was also welcomed by the eastern traders residing at Carthage, who saw in the reunion of Africa with the Empire advantage to their commercial interests. Procopius, B. V. I.20.5.

11 For the religious motives cp. Procopius, ib. 10.10.19‑20; Diehl, op. cit. 7‑8.

12 Procopius (ib. 11.20) does not actually say that he was designated as στρατηγὸς αὐτοκράτωρ, but that all his acts were to be valid ἄτε αὐτοῦ βασιλέως αὐτὰ διαπεπραγμένου. But as he had ceased to be mag. mil. per Orientem, and nothing is said of his appointment to another of the regular military commands, we may infer that it was on this occasion that Justinian introduced the new and exceptional post of στρατ. αὐτοκράτωρ. It is to be remembered that αὐτοκράτωρ is the official equivalent of imperator. We shall hereafter meet other commanders bearing the same title and authority (Germanus, Narses, Justin).

13 Procopius, ib. 11.2 sqq. The bucellarii (δορυφόροι καὶ ὑπασπισταί) of Belisarius were probably at least 1400 or 1500 (cp. Diehl, ib. 17 note. It seems clear from the whole context in Procopius that the Heruls and Huns were not included in the 5000 cavalry (though Diehl hesitates).

14 Diehl, op. cit. p9, says less than 40,000; cp. Pflugk Harttung, Hist. Zeitschrift, LXI p70 (1889). Note that the figure of 80,000 warriors given in Procopius, H. A. 18.6 is merely a repetition of his mistake in B. V. I.5.18 (see above, Vol. I, p246).

15 Led by a certain Pudentius, who was in correspondence with Justinian and was assisted by a small body of troops sent from Constantinople. Procopius, ib. 10.5.

16 He was a Goth, named Godas.

17 Procopius describes the ships as "the best sailers" (ib. 11.24). If they were only part of the fleet, the rest was not strong enough to attempt any action. No inference can be drawn from παντὶ τῷ στόλῷ (ib. 25.17 and 21), which means the whole Sardinian squadron.

18 Gelimer, no doubt, believed that the Sardinian expedition would return before the enemy landed in Africa.

19 See next chapter, § 1, p158.

20 Nine days were spent at Heraclea and Abydus, so, as the expedition sailed "about the summer solstice" (June 21), it left the Dardanelles about July 1. There was a long delay at Methone (Modon, in Messenia) where the army suffered (just as modern armies so often suffer from the dishonesty of contractors) from the greed of the Praetorian Prefect, on whom it devolved to provide the soldiers with the bread necessary for the voyage. It was found that the bread had gone bad, because it had been baked only once, instead of twice. Five hundred soldiers fell victims to dysentery caused by the putrefying dough. The Prefect had saved both fuel and flour. Belisarius was praised for complaining to the Emperor, but no punishment was inflicted on the guilty.

21 Procopius reckons the distance as five days' journey for an unencumbered man, B. V. I.14.17.

22 Ἄρχοντες.

23 See Tissot, Géographie, II p116. It is close to Fradiz, the ancient Aphrodisium.

24 In Byzacena.

25 From Grasse. The distance to Ad Aquas is about 50 miles. The date was the eve of St. Cyprian's day, Sept. 13 (B. V. I.21.23). If the army landed at Caputvada on Sept. 2, they reached Syllectum (a long day's march of 19 miles) on Sept. 3, Hadrumetum Sept. 5, Grasse Sept. 9, Ad Aquas Sept. 12. This would mean much longer marches between Grasse and Ad Aquas than the 80 stades (11½ miles) which Procopius says was the average day's march.

26 The position of the camp, at Darbet es-Sif, is Tissot's plausible conjecture, op. cit. p121. Procopius notes that the place was 7 miles from Decimum (ib. 19.1).

27 Πεδίον Ἀλῶν, B. V. I.18.12 This indication and the reference to the hills on either side of the road, ib. 19.19, are the important determinants in the identification of Ad Decimum, which is due to Tissot. The fact that the place was a mutatio ten Roman miles from Carthage is not enough as we do not know how far the city of Carthage extended southward and from what point the distance was measured. Tissot (ib. 114 sqq.) has thrown much light on the topography of the battle.

28 Gibamund is mentioned as the builder of Thermae in a metrical inscription found at Tunis (CIL VIII.25362):

Gaude operi, Gebamunde, tuo, regalis origo,

deliciis sospes utere cum populo.

29 B. V. I.18.18. From the statement (ib. 12) that the Salt-plain is 40 stades from Decimum, we may infer that the engagement occurred at that distance (5 to 6 miles). The eastern edge of the Salt-plain is much nearer Decimum.

30 From Maxula the shortest road to Carthage was along the shore, but this way was impracticable on account of the canal connecting the sea with the lake.

31 B. V. I.19.25 sqq.

32 Before the Vandal occupation it had been the custom of the client Moorish chiefs to receive as tokens of office from the Emperor a gilded silver staff and a silver cap in the form of (p136) a crown, a white cloak, a white tunic, and a gilded boot. Belisarius sent these to them now and gave them presents of money. B. V. I.25.7.

33 Hammam Daraji, on the border of the Proconsular province and Numidia.

34 For the discontent of the Huns, who feared that if the Romans were victorious they would be kept in Africa, see B. V. II.1.6. Belisarius swore to them that when the Vandals were defeated he would send them home with all their booty, but notwithstanding this they played a double game at Tricamaron (ib. 2.3).

35 The place has not been identified.

36 Ib. 7.18 sqq. See Diehl, op. cit. 30 sqq.

37 A silver basin, found in 1875 not far from Feltre, with the inscription Geilamir Vandalorum et Alanorum rex (CIL VIII.17.412), must have come from this treasure. Mommsen (Hist. Schr. I p566) conjectures it may have been a gift from Belisarius to a Herul officer, who might have taken it to Italy.

38 We saw how he indulged it at an inopportune moment, at the battle of Ad Decimum. His meeting with his brother Tzazo gave him another opportunity.

39 The progress of bigotry is to be noted. This new condition for the Patriciate was evidently laid down by Justinian. In the fifth century Aspar and Theoderic, both Arians, had been created patricians.

40 Most of them were formed into five cavalry regiments, known as Vandali Iustiniani, and stationed on the Persian frontier, Procopius, ib. 14.17. Some entered the private service of Belisarius (B. G. III.1). Perhaps there were about 3000 in all.

41 Also the Imperial ornaments which Gaiseric had taken from Rome, C. J. I.27.1, § 6. For the mosaics on the walls of the Chalce see above, p54.

42 Justinian, Nov. 37.

43 Nov. 36 (A.D. 535) makes provisions to remedy these evils.

44 C. J. I.27.1 and 2. The total cost of the administration was less than £30,000. Cp. above, Vol. I, p33, n1.

45 C. J. ib. I § 12. In the text we must read Zeugi for Tingi, and Mauritaniae for Mauritania. See Diehl, op. cit. 107 sqq. Proconsularis Carthage (=Zeugi), Byzacena and Trip. were under Consulares; the other four under praesides. On the old system, Numidia has a consularis, Trip. a praeses. This change may be explained, as Diehl suggests, by the fact that in 534 Tripolitana was regarded as entirely conquered, while most Numidia had still to be occupied.

46 Magister militum Africae. Under him was a magister peditum (Proc. B. V. II.16.2).

47 It included also a small body of guard troops (Excubitores), who were sent with Solomon in 534.

48 Tripolitana, Byzacena, Numidia, and Mauretania. The chief stations, where the dukes resided, were respectively Leptis Magna, Capsa or Thelepte, Cirta, and Caesarea. A commander of subordinate dignity, with the title of tribunus, was stationed at Septum. The military received larger salaries than the civil governors.

49 The first Pr. Pr. of Africa had been Archelaus (C. J. I.27.1). Solomon was the first mag. mil. Afr.

50 Solomon (534‑536); Solomon (539‑543); Theodore (569; John Bicl. sub a., cp. Diehl, op. cit. 599). Perhaps Sergius (544) should be added (Marcellinus, sub 541).

51 This seems to be the case with Symmachus under Germanus (536) and Athanasius under Areobindus (546). Diehl, op. cit. 117.

52 There were other tribes besides the Louata and Frexi, but these were the most prominent. In Justinian's time, Antalas was the chieftain of the Frexi and their confederate tribes; Cutsina was the chief of other tribes in the same region; Iabdas was king of the Aurasian Moors; Mastigas and Masuna were the leading princes of the Mauretanian Moors.

53 Illustrations of all these points will be found in Diehl, op. cit.

54 Belisarius left most of his cavalry behind; Justinian sent new forces; and Solomon seems to have disposed of about 18,000 men (Diehl, 67, note 4).

55 These localities have not been certainly identified.

56 Nov. XXX.11.2.

57 Procopius says there were 1000, some of them Heruls; and they were instigated by the Arian clergy of the Vandals who had lost their churches and their incomes. B. V. II.14.12‑13.

58 Including about 1000 Vandals, of whom 400 had returned from the east. On the way from Constantinople to Syria — where they were to form part of the frontier forces — they succeeded in seizing a ship at Lesbos and landing in Africa.

59 Mejez el‑Bab, on the river Bagradas (Mejerda).

60 This was found to be the case by Germanus, who investigated the military register on his arrival. Proc. B. V. II.16.3.

61 Diehl, op. cit. 87.

62 Sergius was not only nephew of Solomon; he was also son-in‑law of Antonina.

63 Kasrin, west of Sbeitla. Victor Tonn. sub 543; Procopius, B. V. II.21.

64 Isidore, Hist. Goth. 42, p284; Procop. B. G. II.30.15.

65 Thacia has been identified with Borj-Messaudi. In this battle, John, son of Sisinniolus, one of the best officers in the army, fell.

66 See above, p33.

67 The scene of this battle is unknown; probably somewhere south of Sufetula, see Diehl, op. cit. 370.

68 Now Maret, south-east of Gabes. Ib. 374.

69 Unknown locality in Byzacena. Corippus Johannis, VIII.165. On this occasion many Moors, especially the faithful Cutsina, fought for the Romans.

70 Cp. Diehl, 380.

71 The full narrative of Procopius, B. V., stops with the arrival of John. But he mentions briefly the three battles of A.D. 547‑548, and grimly concludes with words which sum up the terrible sufferings which the provinces had endured: "Thus, at long last, the Libyans who survived, few in number and very poor, won some rest."

72 The source is John Mal. XVIII.495, transcribed and completed in Theophanes, A.M. 6055. John is called simply ἄρχων; but this, as Diehl points out (456), certainly means the mag. mil., not the Praet. Pref., who at this time was probably Areobindus.

73 The whole system of the African defences has been explained and illustrated at length by Diehl in L'Afrique byzantine, to which I may refer the reader who is interested in the subject. He has written his admirable description with the work of the Anonymus Tacticus beside him, and refers throughout to its pages. Here I can only indicate briefly the general character of the defensive system. Details would be useless without illustrations.

74 See Anon. Tact. VIII, and compare the notes of the editors, p315.

75 These places are now known as Medinet el‑Kedima, Tébessa, Haïdra, Khenchela, Ksar Bagai, Timgad, Lambèse, Ouled Arif, Zerga, Tobna.

76 C. J. I.27.2, 2. Procopius, Aed. VI.7.14‑16.


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