Last modified on March 6, 2019, at 22:46


Flavius Belisarius 505(?)-565 AD was a Roman general under the emperor Justinian I. He is considered one of the greatest generals of all time, having defeated the Persians at the Battle of Daras, destroyed the kingdom of the Vandals in North Africa as well as the Ostrogothic kingdom in Italy.

According to the historian Procopius, Belisarius was born in the town of Germania, between the provinces of Illyricum and Thrace on the site of the current-day Bulgarian town of Sapareva Banya.

He was married to Antonina and had one natural daughter, Johanina, and one step-son Photius. He may have had other step-children as well. His adopted son, Theodosius, was rumored to have been the secret paramour of Antonina, according to the Anecdotae or Secret History of Procopius.

In his later years, after living in disgrace for some time, he was called by Justinian to defend Constantinople in 559 AD against an invasion of Bulgar Huns under their khan, Zabergan. With the bulk of the Roman armies tied down in Italy and on the Persian frontier, Belisarius was able to muster only 500 veterans and a few thousand poorly-armed civilians to face an army of Huns some 20,000 strong. Advancing to the town of Chettus about 20 miles from Constantinople, Belisarius was able to maneuver the Huns into a disadvantageous position using stratagems and ambush them, cutting to pieces a scout column of 2,000. The Huns retreated and Belisarius was recalled to Constantinople by Justinian. The Battle of Chettus was his last great achievement before his death in March of 565 AD.


  • Procopius of Caesarea, History of the Wars
  • Lord Mahon (Philip Henry Stanhope, 5th Earl Stanhope), The Life of Belisarius, 1848. Reprinted 2006 (unabridged with editorial comments) Evolution Publishing. full 1848 text online from Google

Belisarius in Fiction

  • Belzoni, Paolo, Belisarius: The Last Shall Be First
  • Graves, Robert, Count Belisarius.
  • Lessard, Joseph, Hero of Byzantium.
  • Marmontel, Belisarius.


Text of Procopius' Secret History