Belisarius and Vitalius, the generals of Emperor Justinian I's army, draft new soldiers across Thrace and Illyricum as they prepare for a new assault against the Ostrogoths in Italy; they stop in Pula to regroup before sailing to Ravenna to engage the enemies (narrative accounts from Procopius' History of the Wars).
Οὕτω μὲν Βελισάριος τὸ δεύτερον ἐς ʹΙταλίαν ᾔει. ἐπεὶ δὲ στρατιώτας ὠς μάλιστα ὀλίγους εἶχε (τοὺς γάρ οἱ ἑπομένους τοῦ ἐν ἐς μήδιανa στρατοπέδου ἀποστῆναιb οὐδαμῆ ἴσχυδε) Θρᾴκην ὅλην περιιὼν χρήματά τε προϊέμενος, ζυνῆγε νέους ἐθελουσίους.
ζυνῆν δὲ αὐτῷ βασιλέως γνώμῃ καὶ Βιτάλιος ὁ τῶν Ίλλυριῶν στρατηγός, ἄρτι ἐπανήκων ἐζ Ίταλίας, οὗ δὴ τοὺς Ίλλυριοὺς στρατιώτας ἀπολιπὼν ἔτυχεν.
ἄμφω γοῦν ἐς τετρακισχιλίους ἀγείραντες ἐν Σάλωσιν ἐγένοντο, γνώμην ἔχοντες ἐπὶ ʹΡαβέννης τά πρῶτα ἰέναι, τὸν δὲ πόλεμον ἐνθένδε ὅπη [ἂν]c δυνατὸν εἴη διενεγκεῖν.
Καὶ Βελισάριος παντὶ τῷ στόλῳ ἐνθένδε ἄρας Πύληd προσέσχεν, οὗ δὴ τὸ στράτευμα διέπων χρόνον τινὰ ἔμενε.
a) ἐς μήδιαν] ἐν Μήδοις ed. Haury. b) sic: pro ἀποστῆσαι sec. Haury. c) om. B. d) sic: pro Πόλῃ sec. Haury.
Thus Belisarius, for the second time, went to Italy. But since he had an exceedingly small number of soldiers — for it was quite impossible for him to detach his own troops from the army in Persia — he proceeded to travel about the whole of Thrace, and, by offering money, to gather fresh volunteers.
And by the emperor's command he was accompanied by Vitalius, the General of Illyricum, who had recently returned from Italy, where he had left the Illyrian soldiers.
So together they collected about four thousand men and went to Salona with the intention of going to Ravenna first of all and conducting the war from there in whatever manner might be possible.
Then Belisarius, setting sail from there with the whole fleet, put in at Pula, where he remained for a short time, putting the army in order.
[translation taken, and slightly modified by the editor, from Procopius, History of the Wars, trans. Henry B. Dewing, vol. 4 (London 1962), pp. 229, 231, 233]
The number of four thousand men reported by Procopius seems overblown, but it can be inferred that the army commanded by Belisarius and Vitalius that reached Pula from Salona was indeed massive.
Since the Byzantine army stopped to regroup in Pula, it is commonsensical to presuppose that the region of Istria was at the time under the jurisdiction of Justinian's (Eastern) Roman Empire. There are, however, interpretations that oppose such conclusions (see the editor's commentary on this source).
It remains an open question whether the Ostrogoths under Totila, who were triumphant against Belisarius during this stage of the "Gothic War" managed to recuperate Istria or not. According to a letter issued by Pope Pelagius I to Patrician Valerianus in 559, there was indeed a period in which Venetia et Histria were occupied by Totila and exposed to Frankish raids (see the source here). If such a period of Ostrogothic rule in Istria indeed existed, it should be placed after this Belisarius' campaign, that is, after 545, and before 552, that is, Narses' triumphant march that ended the "Gothic War". Moreover, since the Byzantine army regrouped in Istria in 550 as well (see the source here), the putative Ostrogothic rule over Istria as evoked by Pope Pelagius I should be further reduced to between 545 and 550.
The images were downloaded from the official web pages of Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana where they are freely available for consultation.
The editor has subsequently marked the images with red lines in order to clearly denote the parts of the manuscript that are hereby edited.
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