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the advancing Persian; but suspicion also played its part: Justinian was not too well pleased that Belisarius had overruled his project of making peace with Witiges, and he had been somewhat frightened by the Gothic proposal to make Belisarius emperor. It had been declined, it is true, but might not the seeds of disloyalty have sunk into the heart of the general? It would be safer to bring him away from the temptation.
So, by the imperial mandate, Belisarius sailed for the Bosphorus, taking with him the captive Witiges, and all the gold and gems of the great hoard of the Amals. He was denied a formal triumph such as he had won by his Vandal victory, but none the less his reception was magnificent. His personal body-guard of 7ooo chosen men had followed him to the capital, and, as they passed through the streets, the populace exclaimed ‘the household of one man has destroyed the kingdom of the Goths.” Happy would it have been for the great general if he had died at the moment of this his grandest success. He was reserved for lesser wars and years of chequered fortune (540).
Justinian as builder—His ruinous financial policy—His second Persian war— Chosroes takes Antioch, 1540–Campaigns of Belisarius and Chosroes— The Great Plague of 542—Peace with Persia—Baduila restores the Ostrogothic kingdom in Italy—His campaign against Belisarius—Two sieges of Rome—Success and greatness of Baduila—Narses invades Italy—Baduila slain at Taginae, 552—End of the Ostrogothic kingdom— Narses defeats the Franks—Justinian attacks Southern Spain—Third Persian War, 549-55—Justinian as Theologian—Belisarius defeats the Huns—Later years of Justinian—His legal reforms.
THE year 540 was the last of Justinian's years of unbroken good fortune. For the rest of his long life he was to experience many vicissitudes, and see some of his dearest schemes frustrated, though, on the whole, the dogged perseverance which was his most notable characteristic brought him safely through to the end. The first difficulty which was destined to trouble him, in the latter half of his reign, was a financial one. He had now come to the end of the hoarded wealth of Anastasius; the military budget of his increased empire required more money, for Africa and Italy did not pay their way, and now a new Persian war was upon his hands. In addition, his magnificent court and his insatiable thirst for . building called for huge sums year after year. It is impossible to exaggerate Justinian's expenditure on bricks and mortar: not only did he rebuild in his capital, on a more magnificent scale, all the public edifices that had been burnt
in the ‘Nika” riot, but he filled every corner of his empire, from newly-conquered Ravenna to the Armenian frontier, with splendid forts, churches, monasteries, hospitals, and aqueducts. Whenever a Byzantine ruin is found in the wilds of Syria or Asia Minor it turns out, in one case out of every two, to be of Justinian's date. In the Balkan peninsula alone we learn to our surprise that he erected more than 3oo forts and castles to defend the line of the Danube and the Haemus, the side of the empire which had been found most open to attacks of the barbarian during the last century. The building of his enormous cathedral of St. Sophia alone cost several millions, an expenditure whose magnificent result quite justifies itself, but one which must have seemed heartrending to the financiers who had to find the money at a moment when the emperor was involved in two desperate wars. Justinian poured forth his treasures with unstinting hand in the arts both of war and of peace. But to replenish his treasury—that jar of the Danaides—he had to impose a crushing taxation on the empire. His finance minister, John of Cappadocia, was the most unscrupulous of men, one who never shrank from plying extortion of every kind upon the wretched tax-payers: as long as he kept the exchequer full Justinian winked at his iniquitous and often illegal proceedings. It was only when he chanced to quarrel with the empress Theodora that John was finally disgraced. His successors were less capable, but no less extortionate: ere ten years had passed the Africans and Italians, groaning under the yoke of suinous the Greek Logothetes, were cursing their stars that finance of ever they had aided Belisarius to drive out the * Arian Goth and Vandal. As Justinian's reign went on the state of matters grew worse and worse; for a crushing taxation tends to drain the resources of the land, and at last renders it unable to bear even a burden that would have once been light. Historians recapitulate twenty new taxes that Justinian laid upon the empire, yet at the end of his reign they were bringing in far less than the old and simpler imposts of Anastasius and Justin had produced.
This ruinous draining of the vital power of the empire only began to be seriously felt after 540, when, for the first time, Justinian was compelled to wage war at once in East and West, and yet refused to slacken from his building. The Gothic war—contrary to all probability and expectation—was still destined to run on for thirteen years more; the Persian lasted for sixteen, and, when they were over, the emperor and the empire alike were but the shadow of their former selves: they were unconquered, but drained of all their strength and marrow. We have already mentioned that the young king Chosroes of Persia, stirred up by the embassy of Witiges, and dreading lest the power which had subdued Carthage and Rome should ere
long stretch out its hand to Ctesiphon, had found a casus belli, and crossed the Mesopotamian frontier. Some bloodseuds between Arab hordes respectively subject to Persia and Constantinople, and a dispute about the suzerainty of some, tribes in the Armenian highlands formed a good enough excuse for renewing the war at a moment when Justinian's best general and 50,000 of the flower of his troops were absent in Italy and Africa. In the spring of 540, at the very moment when Belisarius Second was reducing Ravenna, Chosroes marched up the Persian war, Euphrates, leaving the frontier fortresses of Daras 540-545. and Edessa on his flank, and launched a sudden attack on north Syria. He had been expected not there but in Mesopotamia, and all preparations for defence were out of gear. Before any resistance was organised Chosroes had crossed the Euphrates, sacked Beroea, and ransomed Hierapolis for 2000. lbs. of gold. But it was at Antioch, the third city of the Roman Empire, and the seat of the Praetorian Prefect of the East that the Persian monarch was aiming. It was more than two centuries and a half since the city of the Orontes had seen a foreign foe, and its walls were old and dilapidated. A garrison of 6ooo men was thrown in, and the Blues and Greens of the city armed themselves to guard the ramparts. But there was no Roman army in the field to protect the city from the approach of the Persian: Buzes, the general of the East, refused to risk his small army in a general engagement, and had retired no one knew whither. The siege of Antioch was short, for the defence was ill-managed: the garrison cut its way out when the walls were forced, but the town, with all its wealth, and a great number of its inhabitants who had not found time to fly, became the prize of Chosroes. The Persian plundered the churches, burnt the private houses, and drove away a herd of captives, whom he took to his home, and established in a new city near Ctesiphon, which he called Chosroantiocheia. The great king then ransomed the neighbouring cities of Chalcis and Apamea, and recrossed the Euphrates into Mesopotamia. Here, where strong and well-armed fortresses