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This Day In History

March 11, 2005

1,468 years ago on this day, a Gothic army appeared outside the walls of Rome and began to settle down for a siege.

On March 11, 537 A.D., the 50,000-strong host, led by the Gothic warlord Vittigis, established six camps facing the main gates in Rome’s walls.  Within those walls, the Byzantine general Belisarius prepared to defend the city with somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 men.

And defend it he did.  For 374 days he held the Goths back, until they finally tired of the siege and withdrew.

The tale of how Belisarius managed this feet is an amazing one.  In fact, it’s one of the thirty or so ideas I have pegged for future novels (if I ever get the chance to write them all…).  Belisarius was one of the greatest commanders the world has ever seen.  It is a tragedy that Late Roman and Byzantine history are so neglected, and that he is but an obscure figure of history in the modern day.

If you want the quick and dirty account, without having to slog through the history books, HERE IS AN EXCELLENT ARTICLE on the siege and defence of Rome.

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