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Byzantium fought for its very survival throughout its existence. Often, the empire faced enemies who were superior in military and economic might. Despite these odds, Byzantium always managed to survive. One of the main reasons for its survival was the secret weapon: Greek fire. Used skilfully by its leaders, Byzantium managed to come back repeatedly …. Read More
Narses was the most powerful eunuch during the reign of Justinian. An influential and popular figure at the court, he enjoyed the favour and the friendship of both the emperor and the empress. In turn, he also gave them his complete loyalty. But when Justinian gave him the task of conquering Italy, Narses was well …. Read More
Justinian invaded Italy because he saw a chance to unite the East and the West under his rule. The riches of Italy would also make a welcome addition to his empire. But what was supposed to be an easy victory, turned into a long drawn out war that lasted decades. By the time he managed …. Read More
Belisarius was almost invincible in battle. He was dashing, energetic, cunning, decisive, intelligent and resourceful. Due to his brilliance, he conquered North Africa, Sicily and Italy for the Byzantine Empire. It almost seemed as if he was invincible. But every human being has at least one weakness and the great general was no exception. It …. Read More
One of the best generals that the Byzantine Empire produced was Belisarius. Hailing from the Age of Justinian, he was vital to his master’s plans for conquest and expansion. Yet Justinian never used him fully because of jealousy and mistrust. Even so, Belisarius still managed to achieve great success despite the hindrances placed in his …. Read More
Even as an empress who enjoyed the finer things in life, Theodora never forgot her humble roots. Coming from the lowest rung of society, she knew how appalling the conditions could be for the poor and the helpless. Now that she had power, she fought hard to improve the lot of women in the empire. She would …. Read More
By the age of 20, Theodora had seen and learned much about the ways of the world. Turning her back on her former lifestyle, she was content to eke out a humble living while devoting her life to God. But God had other plans for her. In the short time that she had returned to …. Read More
In the 6th Century, the Empress Theodora, was the most powerful and influential woman in the Byzantine Empire. She ruled the empire jointly with her husband Justinian and took an active part in state affairs. But for all her power, she was not born into the privileged class. In fact she came from the lowest …. Read More
Justinian’s successful conquest of North Africa did much to enhance his prestige and confidence. As his ambitions grew, he turned his attention to the Gothic kingdom of Italy. The recent dynastic struggles presented him with an opportunity to reabsorb Italy into his growing empire. All he lacked was a pretext to do so. But soon …. Read More
Under King Gaiseric, the Vandals had a fearsome reputation as pirates and undisputed masters of the Western Mediterranean. Even when Justinian ascended the throne in 527, the Byzantines still feared the Vandals. Fresh in their minds were the sack of Rome in 455 and the failed Byzantine invasion in 468, over 50 years ago. But …. Read More