Constans II's campaigns in Italy against the Lombards

May 2017
183
Virginia
#1
I've come to be quite impressed with this little known emperor and I don't think he gets enough credit. I am particularly interested in his wars against the Lombards (being the last Roman emperor to step foot in Rome itself). How successful was he? Is there any evidence that he was hoping to use Italy and Sicily as a base from which to fight the Muslims in North Africa? I know Medieval History (the magazine) did a story on it, but is there anything more in-depth? What about primary sources?
 

Kirialax

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
4,487
Blachernai
#2
Likewise, I tend to agree that Constans doesn't get the credit that he deserves. He overcame the challenges to his access to the throne, and then prepared for a large campaign against the Arabs, albeit it all came to nought. And yes, it seems quite clear at this point that he was in Italy to organize things there and in Africa and prepare for a major campaign in the east. This is the line taken by James Howard-Johnston in Witnesses to a World Crisis: Historians and Histories of the Seventh Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011) and Walter Kaegi, Muslim Expansion and Byzantine Collapse in North Africa (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010). Also related to Constans' eastern policy are two relatively recent articles: Shaun O'Sullivan, "Sebeos' account of an Arab attack on Constantinople in 654," Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies 28 (2004), 67-88, and Marek Jankowiak, "The First Arab Siege of Constantinople," in ed. Constantin Zuckerman, Travaux et Mémoires 17 (2013), 237-320.


For primary sources, the Chronographia of Theophanes and the Short History of Nikephoros are the two main pieces in Greek. The Liber Pontificalis (translated as Book of the Pontiffs, by Raymond David, published with Liverpool UP) has some material on Constans I recall correctly, as does Paul the Deacon's History of the Lombards. There's some information in the various pieces of writing surrounding Maximos the Confessor, but whether it sheds much light on Constans in Italy, I can't recall.
 
Feb 2018
102
EU-Germany
#3
constansII vs the lombards reveals a fact about the lombards in the south/benevento duchy that they had no actual military capacity aka arimanni and strongly relied on the support from the kingdom (pos also spoleto); later romualdI also integrated/granted land to the bulgar horde of alzec for more military capacity;

a link on topic: BYZANTINE FOREIGN POLICY DURING THE REIGN OF CONSTANS II
by JOSEPH THOMAS MORRIS IV B.A. Florida State University, 2006
http://etd.fcla.edu/CF/CFE0005534/B...the_Reign_of_Constans_II_-_UCF_Final.docx.pdf
 
Apr 2018
147
Italy
#4
've come to be quite impressed with this little known emperor and I don't think he gets enough credit. I am particularly interested in his wars against the Lombards (being the last Roman emperor to step foot in Rome itself). How successful was he? Is there any evidence that he was hoping to use Italy and Sicily as a base from which to fight the Muslims in North Africa? I know Medieval History (the magazine) did a story on it, but is there anything more in-depth? What about primary sources?
I think that was an hazard to spend soldiers fora campaign in Italy while there was the problem of Arabs in Asia Minor and Africa and the Slavs in the Balkans. He should have to use concentarte his efforts toward Arabs in Asia Minor. Italy was of secondary importance for him, and was a bad decision to transferthe caital from Constantinople for Syracuse, distant from the core of the empire.
 
Feb 2017
410
Rock Hill, South Carolina
#5
I wouldn't say it was a bad decision. North Africa was still under Roman control and was a major grain producing center. Instead of campaigning in Italy he should have committed to winning the support of the Berbers, and then pushing back the Arabs from Carthage and re-taking Egypt. From there he might have stood a chance at retaking the Levant.
 

Ichon

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
3,367
#6
I wouldn't say it was a bad decision. North Africa was still under Roman control and was a major grain producing center. Instead of campaigning in Italy he should have committed to winning the support of the Berbers, and then pushing back the Arabs from Carthage and re-taking Egypt. From there he might have stood a chance at retaking the Levant.
Quite difficult politically as the urban and grain producing centers in N Africa were usually opponents of the Berbers. Arabs conquered the cities first then had to fight several wars against the Berbers themselves.
 
Feb 2017
410
Rock Hill, South Carolina
#7
Yeah but the majority of the Berbers seem to have been dissatisfied with the Romans by the time of the taking and then retaking of Carthage (680's and 690's). The Romans lost their favor after their campaign into Tripolitania in the 650's.
 

Ichon

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
3,367
#8
Yeah but the majority of the Berbers seem to have been dissatisfied with the Romans by the time of the taking and then retaking of Carthage (680's and 690's). The Romans lost their favor after their campaign into Tripolitania in the 650's.
Right, keeping the urban citizens happy and placating the Berbers would have been politically very difficult. Romans had recently fought Berbers, Arabs in many ways at the time had more in common with Berbers while Italy had history and more urban culture that made sense to try and use to restore other areas of the Empire.
 
Nov 2010
6,760
Cornwall
#9
Yeah but the majority of the Berbers seem to have been dissatisfied with the Romans by the time of the taking and then retaking of Carthage (680's and 690's). The Romans lost their favor after their campaign into Tripolitania in the 650's.
Right, keeping the urban citizens happy and placating the Berbers would have been politically very difficult. Romans had recently fought Berbers, Arabs in many ways at the time had more in common with Berbers while Italy had history and more urban culture that made sense to try and use to restore other areas of the Empire.
Throughout history the berbers/mauri change almost with the wind. Or more accurately with the money and the power - with some diplomacy thrown in. From Carthaginian days through to the Spanish North African wars of the 20th century. If they are generally 'managed' correctly they will be good allies and mercenary troops. If not they will be enemy raiders/freedom fighters. Romans, Arabs, Visigoths, Ottomans and Spanish have all felt both sides of this.

Probably one of the best manipulators of them - and most of the Mediterranean - was Genseric the long-reigning Vandal/Alan king. He kept them gainfully employed in (mostly) maritime raiding and supplementing the small amount of Vandal effectives for many decades. The death of Genseric and consequent change in 'management' turned the mauri into yet another problem, ultimately contributing to the fall of the Vandal kingdom.
 

Ichon

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
3,367
#10
Sure, it wasn't impossible- just difficult and something I don't see much evidence Constans II would have anywhere near the level of Genseric success.
 

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