Narses (Magill’s Guide to Military History)
Article abstract: Military significance: As commander of the Byzantine army in Italy from 551 to 567, Narses ended eighty years of Gothic rule in Italy, returning it to the Byzantine Empire.
Narses, a foreign-born eunuch, rose in the Byzantine bureaucracy, as did many eunuchs in his time, and became grand chamberlain by 530. He acquired some experience subverting or fighting rioters in Constantinople (532) and Alexandria (535). Then, he went to Italy with 7,000 troops in 538 to reinforce Belisarius against the Goths, where he gave good advice but was insubordinate. He was recalled in 539.
In 551, after the recall of Belisarius and the reconquests of the new Gothic king Totila, Narses was appointed supreme commander in Italy and marched there overland with 20,000 men. He met Totila’s army in the Apennines near Taginae (552), routed it, and killed Totila. Narses then took Rome by storm against an inadequate Gothic defending force and, at the end of 552, defeated the Goths at Mons Lactarius in south Italy. He let the surviving Goths leave Italy, defeated an invasion of Franks at Casilinum in north Italy in 554, and ruled it until dismissed by Justin II in 567. His military success was partly due to the fact that he insisted on adequate numbers of troops, supplies, and money. In addition, because he was a eunuch and thus unable to become emperor, Justinian I trusted him with the troops and supplies in contrast to his...
(The entire section is 297 words.)
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