ABOUT THIS BOOK
The War that Reshaped the Political Future of Europe
“Jacobsen brings to the story an intimate knowledge of Italy. The battles took place on terrain Jacobsen knows well. . . Recommended.”—Choice
“Jacobsen provides an operational history of Justinian’s campaign. Throughout he traces the military strategies and tactical intrigues of leaders such as the Roman general Belisarius and the Goth leader Totila.”—Publishers Weekly
“Jacobsen knows the sites he writes about, he has read Procopius diligently . . . and his military reconstruction can be faulted only in attributing to both sides rather better command and control than the ancient armies could generally manage. . . . Jacobsen has offered wargamers a tool they will appreciate.”—The Classical Review
A period of stability in the early sixth century A.D. gave the Eastern Roman emperor Justinian an opportunity to recapture parts of the Western Empire which had been lost to invading barbarians in the preceding centuries. The climactic conflict over Italy between 535 and 554—the Gothic War—decided the political future of Europe, holding in its balance the possibility that the Roman Empire might rise again. While large portions of the original territory of the ancient Roman Empire were recaptured, the Eastern Empire was incapable of retaining much of its hard-won advances, and soon the empire once again retracted. As a result of the Gothic War, Italy was invaded by the Lombards who began their important kingdom, the Franks began transforming Gaul into France, and without any major force remaining in North Africa, that territory was quickly overrun by the first wave of Muslim expansion in the ensuing century. Written as a general overview of this critical period, The Gothic War: Justinian’s Campaign to Reclaim Italy opens with a history of the conflict with Persia and the great Roman general Belisarius’s successful conquest of the Vandals in North Africa. After an account of the Ostrogothic tribe and their history, the campaigns of the long war for Italy are described in detail, including the three sieges of Rome, which turned the great city from a bustling metropolis into a desolate ruin. In addition to Belisarius, the Gothic War featured many of history’s most colorful antagonists, including Rome’s Narses the Eunuch, and the Goths’ ruthless and brilliant tactician, Totila. Two appendices provide information about the armies of the Romans and Ostrogoths, including their organization, weapons, and tactics, all of which changed over the course of the war.