Narses

(c. 480-574)
   Byzantine general and eunuch, Narses was an important figure in the administration of the emperor Justinian (r. 527-565) and his wife Theodora. A highly loyal member of the court, who may have shared Theodora's faith, Narses played a key role in support of the emperor during the Nika Revolt of 532. He later took charge of Byzantine forces during the reconquest of Italy. Taking over from Belisarius, Narses brought the Gothic Wars to a close and achieved final victory for Justinian. He also played a key role in the reorganization of the administration of the peninsula after the conquest and then struggled against the Lombards as they advanced into Italy.
   Narses was probably already in his forties when he arrived at court at the beginning of Justinian's reign. He came from Armenia, a slave eunuch who entered imperial service and by the later 520s was commander of the emperor's bodyguard. He was probably close to Justinian as a result, and his loyalty to the emperor brought him into the confidence of Theodora. Although not an educated man, Narses could unravel a problem quickly and was noted for his humanity and dignity in all situations. Indeed, he was a man of such decency that the fifth-century Byzantine historian Procopius never mentions him in his Secret History. His loyalty and many talents were displayed most clearly during the Nika Revolt in 532, when he joined with Belisarius and others to bring an end to the revolt. His role as the commander of the imperial bodyguard was of particular importance, and he and his guard helped in the massacre that brought an end to the rebellion.
   His service in the Nika Revolt led to advancement for Narses, and, in 538, he was sent to Italy to determine whether the war could be ended more quickly. His appointment essentially made him Belisarius's commander, and the two fell into repeated conflict. These disagreements, along with Belisarius's prominence, led to the appointment of Narses as commander of the armies in Italy and the recall of Belisarius. Narses, having witnessed the troubles of Belisarius, insisted that he himself be granted the tools necessary to complete the job. In 551, Narses was given command of the war in Italy, and in 552 he invaded with a large force that included a substantial number of Lombards as mercenaries. Although opposed by the armies of the Ostrogothic king Totila, Narses proceeded along the coast to Ravenna. He was joined by a second Byzantine army and then met the Gothic king at a decisive battle in late June or early July. The Battle of Busta Gallorum, on a plain in the northern Apennines, was a complete disaster for the Goths, who left 6,000 dead on the battlefield and withdrew with their king mortally wounded. In October, Narses again met in battle with the Goths and again defeated them. This time, however, an armistice was settled between the two sides. But the war was still not at an end, and Narses and various Gothic leaders met in battle several more times in 554 and 555. For the next several years, Narses was able to restore imperial authority over Italy. In 561, the Ostrogoths once again rose up and once again were defeated by Narses, and this time it was the final defeat of the Goths, who disappeared from history at that point.
   Narses remained in Italy after the final defeat of the Ostrogoths and after the death of Justinian. As conquering general, Narses remained in authority for the next several years, but he was deposed from office, after enriching himself greatly, because the Italian population complained that his rule was worse than that of the Goths. His position might have remained secure had he not lost the favor of Justinian's successor, Justin II (r. 565-578), who sacked the old general. After losing his military command, Narses retired from imperial service. The invasion of the Lombards in 568 under their king, Alboin, led to the recall of Narses, even though, according to the Lombard historian Paul the Deacon, the general himself had invited the Lombards in because of the treatment he received from Justin. Whatever the case, the Lombards proved too powerful even for Narses, who had little success against them; he once again retired from public life and died a few years later, after a career of long and effective service to the empire.
   See also
   Bibliography
 ♦ Barker. J. W. Justinian and the Later Roman Empire. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1960.
 ♦ Browning, Robert. Justinian and Theodora. London: Thames and Hudson, 1987.
 ♦ Burns, Thomas S. A History of the Ostrogoths. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1984.
 ♦ Bury, John B. History of the Later Roman Empire: From the Death of Theodosius I to the Death of Justinian. 2 vols. 1923. Reprint, New York: Dover, 1959.
 ♦ Christie, Neil. The Lombards: The Ancient Langobards. Oxford: Blackwell, 1998.
 ♦ Heather, Peter. The Goths. Oxford: Blackwell, 1996.
 ♦ Llewellyn, Peter. Rome in the Dark Ages. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1993.
 ♦ Paul the Deacon. History of the Lombards. Trans. William Dudley Foulke. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1974.
 ♦ Procopius. The History of the Wars; Secret History, 4 vols. Trans. H. B. Dewing. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1914-1924.
 ♦ Wickham, Chris. Early Medieval Italy: Central Power and Local Society, 400-1000. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1981.

Encyclopedia of Barbarian Europe. 2014.

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  • Narses — (griechisch Ναρσής; * um 490; † 574 in Rom) war ein Eunuch und General des oströmischen Kaisers Justinian I. Narses, eine der schillerndsten Gestalten der ausgehenden Spätantike, stammte aus dem so genannten Persarmenien, also dem von den… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Narsés — puede referirse a: Narsés (478 573), general bizantino bajo las órdenes de Justiniano. Narsés ( ? 303), rey de Armenia, de la dinastía sasánida. Esta página de desambiguación cataloga artículos relacionados con el mismo título. Si llegaste… …   Wikipedia Español

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  • Narses — Narses, 1) Perser, Eunuch des Kaisers Justinian I., wurde Kämmerling u. Schatzmeister; 538 n.Chr. wurde er nach Italien geschickt, um den Belisar gegen die Ostgothen zu unterstützen, da er sich aber mit diesem nicht verständigen konnte, 539… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Narses — Narses, König von Persien, war der Sohn Baharans III., folgte seinem Vater 294–303 n.Chr. u. hatte seinen Sohn Hormuz II. zum Nachfolger, s. Persien S. 857 …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Narses — Narses, Feldherr des Kaisers Justinian I., ein Armenier, Eunuch von kleinem Wuchs und schwachem Körper, aber klug und tatkräftig, kam als Kriegsgefangener in den Palast des Kaisers, schwang sich aber nach und nach zum Aufseher über die Archive,… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Narses — Narses, byzant. Feldherr des Kaisers Justinian I., eroberte 552 554 das Reich der Ostgoten in Italien, verwaltete es als kaiserl. Statthalter, wurde 567 unter Justinius II. abgesetzt, gest. bald darauf in Rom …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Narses — Narses, der berühmte Feldherr des oström. Kaisers Justinian I. (527–65) und Nebenbuhler des Belisar, war ein wahrscheinlich aus Persien gebürtiger Verschnittener u. schwang sich in Konstantinopel rasch zum Kammerherrn, Privatschatzmeister des… …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • Narses — Narses, byzantinsk hærfører på kejser Justinian 1.s tid. Han var kastrat, lille og uanselig af ydre, men ualmindelig energisk. Efter først at have beklædt hofembeder fik han 538 en hær at føre i krigen mod østgoterne i Italien under Belisarius… …   Danske encyklopædi

  • Narses — For other people named Narses, see Narses (disambiguation). Narses Man traditionally identified as Narses, from the mosaic depicting Justinian and his entourage in the Basilica of San Vitale, Ravenna …   Wikipedia

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