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Artabanes (flourished 6th century) was a Byzantine general of Armenian origin.


Early life - Revolt against the Roman Empire

Artabanes was a descendant of the royal Arsacid Dynasty of Armenia, who at the time were recognized as autonomous local princes in the eastern fringes of the Eastern Roman Empire. In 538, the Armenian provinces of the Empire erupted in revolt in protest against heavy taxation. Artabanes slew the Roman-appointed governor, Acacius,[1] and emperor Justinian I sent the experienced general Sittas to deal with the rebellion. During a skirmish in a ravine however, the Romans were defeated and Artabanes killed Sittas. His replacement, Bouzes, treacherously slew Artabanes' father John, despite the fact that they had been friends, and Artabanes, along with many leaders of the revolt, was forced to flee to Persia. There they entreated with Khosrau I of Persia to intervene on their behalf and declare war on Justinian, which Khosrau indeed did in 540. [2] During the subsequent years, Artabanes campaigned with Khosrau in Mesopotamia and Syria.

Return to Roman service

At some time around 544, Artabanes, his brother John and several Armenians deserted back to the Roman cause.


Service in Africa

In 545, they were sent to Africa under the senator Areobindus, where the Romans were engaged in a protracted war with the Moorish tribes. Shortly after their arrival, John died in battle with the rebel forces of the renegade Stotzas. [3] Soon after, Gontharic, the dux Numidiae, resolved to overthrow Areobindus and set himself up as an independent ruler in Africa. When he marched against Carthage in early March 546, Artabanes encouraged Areobindus to make a stand, but in the ensuing fight, Areobindus fled, and his supporters collapsed.[4] Artabanes, after receiving assurances of safety, pledged allegiance on behalf of his Armenians to the "tyrant" Gontharic, but was already determined to overthrow him.

He conspired with his nephew, Gregorius, and a few other Armenian body-guards, and slew Gontharic during a banquet in early May. Artabanes was then able to secure the loyalty of the army, and was confirmed as magister militum of Africa, while Praejecta, the widow of Areobindus, rewarded him richly.

Constantinople and Italy

Soon afterwards, Artabanes was recalled to Constantinople, where he was appointed magister militum praesentalis and Comes foederatorum. He became very popular in Constantinople, but became involved in a conspiracy against Justinian in 548. The conspiracy was revealed, but save for dismissal from his office, Artabanes does not appear to have been otherwise punished. Indeed, in 550 he was appointed magister militum per Thraciam and participated in the Italian campaign. He is known to have replaced Liberius in command of Sicily in 551, and to have been in active command until 554, when he was commander of the garrison of Pisaurum and defeated the Frankish army of Leutharis, which had plundered southern Italy, at Fanum. Later that year, he commanded the right cavalry wing at the final victory over the Franks at Casilinum.


  1. ^ Procopius, BV II.XXVII
  2. ^ Procopius, BP II.III
  3. ^ Procopius, BV II.XXIV
  4. ^ Procopius, BV II.XXV



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