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Battle of Ad Decimum 533 Roman – Vandalic War DOCUMENTARY

Battle of Ad Decimum 533 Roman – Vandalic War DOCUMENTARY


For us the people of the 21st century, the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 may seem final but it was different for the Byzantine Emperor Justinian. He rightly considered himself an heir of a whole empire and lived in hopes of restoring it to its former glory. The campaign against the Vandal Kingdom led by general Belisarius was one such step in uniting the Roman Empire. The victory at Dara was the first major Roman triumph in the field against the Persians in over a century. And although Emperor Justinian didn’t acquire new lands, in 532 he managed to sign a peace treaty with the Sassanids, which secured his eastern borders. Justinian was hoping to start reacquiring the western territories of the Empire which were under Germanic control, but the situation in Constantinople was volatile. The chariot races in the capital often led to clashes between the supporters of different teams. But in 532 two of them, the blues and the greens, started a rebellion and even coronated a new Emperor. This rebellion continued for five days, but eventually Justinian used the Guard commanded by Belisarius and Mundus to crush it. 30,000 were massacred and among the burned buildings was an earlier version of Hagia Sophia. The Emperor was set upon rebuilding the church and making it the most glorious building in the world. Justinian required funds to pay for the construction and was also looking to improve his prestige damaged by the riots. The new opportunity to the west gave him a chance to acquire both. In the fifth century, the territory of the Western Roman Empire was divided between various Germanic tribes. Among them were the Vandals who established their kingdom in 439 in Roman Africa and the islands of the Western Mediterranean. In 530, the Vandal King Hilderic who had been on friendly terms with Justinian was deposed and imprisoned by his cousin Gelimer. The latter took the throne but he lacked legitimacy and belonged to the Arian confession of Christianity, which was considered heretical. Justinian demanded that Hilderic be restored or sent to Constantinople, but Gelimer refused and that gave Justinian casus belli. As soon as the situation in the capital stabilized, the Roman Emperor began preparing an expedition against the Vandals. Belisarius was appointed the commander and given around 20,000 soldiers. In June of 533, Belisarius set sail for Africa. A previous attempt to retake Africa had failed in 468, as the Vandalic fleet destroyed the Roman navy but luckily for Belisarius, the majority of the enemy vessels and at least 5,000 of their foot soldiers were sailing for Sardinia to quell a rebellion against Gelimer. The Roman forces landed 150 kilometers southeast of the Vandal capital Carthage and quickly proceeded up the coast keeping their ships and army together. Belisarius’ restraining of his men and regard for the locals meant that gates soon began to be opened. Provisions were supplied for the Roman forces by the locals and the army was not hindered. The Roman landing near Carthage had surprised Gelimer. At that point, he was moving against a Moor rebellion in the south, but had to stop and turn back towards his capital. He ordered the execution of the previous king Hilderic and other prisoners. The Vandal forces were divided with 6,000 under Gelimer’s brother Ammatas in Carthage and 9,000 with Gelimer. The latter ordered his brother to move out of the city and blocked the Romans near the 10th mile marker, which can be translated into Latin as Ad Decimum. Meanwhile, Gelimer was getting closer to the area. He detached 2,000 cavalry under his nephew Gibamund to secure the flank by holding the way through the salt flats to the west, leaving himself with 7,000 men. This would give the Vandals options to reinforce Carthage or attack from another angle. Unfortunately for the Vandals, the hilly terrain obscured line of sight and coordination between the three groups was lost. It is not clear if Belisarius knew about the enemy movements beforehand or was cautious as usual but he detached 600 Hunnic Foederati to the salt pans and sent 300 of his household guard, the Bucellarii, under John the Armenian to scout the narrow passage ahead. The rest of his forces, some 5,000 cavalry and 10,000 infantry, remained closer to the coast. Meanwhile, the hunter turned into the prey. The Vandal ambush wasn’t expecting an enemy attack and when the Huns discovered Gibamund’s cavalry, the latter lost their cohesion and the majority of the 2,000 men were killed on the spot. Almost at the same time, John the Armenian who was leading the Bucellarii came across the forces of Ammatas, who once again was unaware of the impending attack. The fact that the passage was narrow helped the 300 Bucellarii. They had heavier equipment than those they faced and were veterans of countless battles in the East so they rolled through the Vandal forces. Ammatas was killed very early and that didn’t help the morale of his troops. The Vandals tried to escape but were chased by the Romans. Belisarius detached a small force of 800 men to discover what had occurred at the pass. On seeing the slain corpses of the Vandals, these men ascended a small hill to the south of the pass to decide their next move. Gelimer managed to avoid being seen by Belisarius and moved to take the passage. His troops quickly defeated the small Roman unit and sent it running back to the camp. The Vandal leader was shocked to see that his brother and many of his brethren were slain but concluded that the Roman troops were now to the north of his current position and that the unit which retreated was its rearguard. Gelimer planned to move to the north to catch up with the enemy he thought was beyond the passage. The retreating Romans returned to the camp and were briefly questioned by Belisarius. On hearing that Gelimer’s force was at the pass, he ordered his troops to charge against the Vandals. The latter was not prepared to defend from the south and 15,000 Romans pushed the enemy to the west. Gelimer escaped going on to organise further resistance, but the battle was a decisive Roman victory with the Vandals suffering thousands of casualties to several hundred for the Romans. The Romans entered Carthage on the 15th of September. Belisarius managed to stop his men from sacking the city. Meanwhile, Gelimer was uniting the scattered Vandals and soon was joined by his brother Tzazo who successfully returned Sardinia to Vandal control. Over the following weeks, Belisarius ordered repairs to the walls and sent emissaries to the Moors to get their support. At the same time, Gelimer was trying to get the citizens of Carthage and the Roman troops to defect. The Vandals also cut the water supply to the city, which forced the Romans to attack them. It seems that Belisarius wasn’t sure that his troops would stay loyal. He left his infantry as well as the Hunnic mercenaries in Carthage and moved with less than 10,000 against 15,000 Vandals. The details of the battle that happened on the 15th of December at Tricamarum are not clear. Belisarius ordered his cavalry forward and charged into the enemy three times. And although the Vandals managed to defend their position, Gelimer’s brother Tzazo was killed during the last charge. The Vandal king lost heart and started his retreat and soon his troops were routed. This was the end of the Vandal Kingdom and Roman control over Africa, Sardinia, Corsica, and part of Sicily was reestablished. Once again the details are unknown, but some sources claim that Justinian was afraid of Belisarius and the possibility that he may establish his own kingdom. So the general was recalled to Constantinople where he was granted a triumph. The first phase of Justinian’s attempt to restore the empire was a resounding success. Although the real prize, Rome, was still unclaimed but that is a tale for another documentary. Thank you for watching our documentary on the Vandalic War and the battles of Ad Decimum and Tricamarum. We would like to express our gratitude to our Patreon supporters who make the creation of these videos possible. The video was narrated by me Officially Devin. Don’t forget to stop by my channel for some narrative Let’s Plays. This is the Kings and Generals channel and we will catch you on the next one.

100 thoughts on “Battle of Ad Decimum 533 Roman – Vandalic War DOCUMENTARY

  1. It still surprises me how there were so many commanders that were so incompetent that they dont set up scouts. how the fuck are you dealing with something as important as war and not take the time to set up eyes on the enemy so you can defeat them?

  2. I'm constantly surprised by all these armies that are taken by surprise. Didn't they have lookouts or scouts that would keep an eye out and warn the army of an encroaching enemy?

  3. Wait… They managed to rebuild Carthage?
    Pfft. Guess the romans didn't use enough salt…… If only LoL existed back then….

  4. You know what would be awesome? A series about the Bulgar-Byzantine Wars. From the Battle of Ongal to the Battle of Kleidon, the Asen Uprising and the foundation of the Vlacho-Bulgarian Empire.

  5. My dear tunisia how much you suffered as empires try to claim you for your strategic position 🙁 , though we have so many monuments and historic places now xD.

  6. Please make a 1 or 2 hour documentory on something youve obsessed over. (Time period, person, strategy, battle, anything)

  7. Well done. I enjoyed this video. Thanks for uploading this video. 🙂 😀

  8. Actually Hilderich was the bad guy. He enforced the Roman Christianity upon the Arianist nation of the Vandals just to kiss Justinians and Eastern Roman Empires ass

  9. Its not too too important, but the greens and the blues were chariot racing teams. The riot and was due to one team winning the races… Kinda like England when they win or lose something in soccer

  10. Why did Rome or the Persian/Sassanids never conquer Arabia? If they had it would surely made a big difference to history. No one as far as I know ever showed much interest in the area?

  11. the correct pronounciation for belisarius is mainly belisario with -o instead of -us due to declination in indirect complement and not in subject. For col,loquial latin always -o thoug

  12. Belisarius was a genius the likes of which the Vandals had never encountered.Left to his own devices,it was obvious what the outcome would be – the Vandals were basically fucked.

  13. the universe is a like a strategy game, multi dimensional planning and effects, this channel must be given a government award.

  14. I know there were permanently changing alliances at that time. But Huns and Greeks fought Germans in Africa sounds still strange. OK is not quite accurate but guess you know what I mean.

  15. It's so strange for me to think of a Germanic, barbarian kingdom in North Africa. Imagine how different Tunisia (and associated bits) would be today if the Vandals had retained their kingdom. I'm not sure they would still speak a Germanic language, or even see themselves as Germanic, but they would certainly be a whole lot different than they are now, and probably considered part of Europe.

  16. The problem at Tricamarum was not the loyalty of all the troops. Of course it would be better if they stayed back, because they couldn't follow the cavalry. They could not help at the Tricamarum. The problem was only with the Huns horsemen. They prefered to stay in Carthage and see the outcome of the battle. Probably, you already know it.

  17. General Vellisarius Birth place …[Ormenio (Greek: Ορμένιο) is the northernmost place in all of Greece. It is part of the municipal unit of Trigono in the Evros regional unit of Thrace. It is situated near the right bank of the river Evros, which forms the border with Bulgaria here. On the other side of the Evros, 6 km to the north, lies the Bulgarian town Svilengrad. Nearby villages in Greece are Ptelea to its southeast and Petrota to its southwest. Ormenio is bypassed by the Greek National Road 51/European route E85 (Feres – Soufli – Orestiada – Ormenio), which continues across the border as the Bulgarian road 80 to Svilengrad. Ormenio had a railway station on the line from Didymoteicho to Harmanli in Bulgaria.

  18. Justinian is big man. Every istanbul citizen can see his buildings in istanbul now. Magnificent..

  19. Justinian didny want to conquer italy for gold. The campaigns in uniting rome with the byzantine empire pretty much bankrupted the treasury in the end.

  20. I imagine Justinian rule 6th century triumpfully then full roman sassanid bow down to Arab cavalry who first attack with duel in most cases defeating best general of enemies or use mobility just what number of them no millitery professional army but huge bravery willing to die morals that Rome never tried to conquer North Africa Egypt Sirya from Arab or conquer capital of rashidun caliphate what they did just defend constantinople and anatolia

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