Justinian I, traditionally known as Justinian the Great and Saint Justinian the Great in the Eastern Orthodox Church, was the Eastern Roman emperor from 527 to 565. During his reign, Justinian sought to revive the empire's greatness and reconquer the lost western half of the historical Roman Empire. Justinian's rule constitutes a distinct epoch in the history of the Later Roman empire, his reign is marked by the ambitious but only realized renovatio imperii, or "restoration of the Empire"; because of his restoration activities, Justinian has sometimes been known as the "last Roman" in mid 20th century historiography. This ambition was expressed by the partial recovery of the territories of the defunct Western Roman Empire, his general, swiftly conquered the Vandal Kingdom in North Africa. Subsequently, Belisarius and other generals conquered the Ostrogothic kingdom, restoring Dalmatia, Sicily and Rome to the empire after more than half a century of rule by the Ostrogoths; the prefect Liberius reclaimed the south of the Iberian peninsula, establishing the province of Spania.
These campaigns re-established Roman control over the western Mediterranean, increasing the Empire's annual revenue by over a million solidi. During his reign, Justinian subdued the Tzani, a people on the east coast of the Black Sea that had never been under Roman rule before, he engaged the Sasanian Empire in the east during Kavad I's reign, again during Khosrow I's. A still more resonant aspect of his legacy was the uniform rewriting of Roman law, the Corpus Juris Civilis, still the basis of civil law in many modern states, his reign marked a blossoming of Byzantine culture, his building program yielded such masterpieces as the church of Hagia Sophia. Justinian was born in Tauresium, around 482. A native speaker of Latin, he came from a peasant family believed to have been of Illyro-Roman or Thraco-Roman origins; the cognomen Iustinianus, which he took is indicative of adoption by his uncle Justin. During his reign, he founded Justiniana Prima not far from his birthplace, which today is in South East Serbia.
His mother was the sister of Justin. Justin, in the imperial guard before he became emperor, adopted Justinian, brought him to Constantinople, ensured the boy's education; as a result, Justinian was well educated in jurisprudence and Roman history. Justinian served for some time with the Excubitors but the details of his early career are unknown. Chronicler John Malalas, who lived during the reign of Justinian, tells of his appearance that he was short, fair skinned, curly haired, round faced and handsome. Another contemporary chronicler, compares Justinian's appearance to that of tyrannical Emperor Domitian, although this is slander; when Emperor Anastasius died in 518, Justin was proclaimed the new emperor, with significant help from Justinian. During Justin's reign, Justinian was the emperor's close confidant. Justinian showed much ambition, it has been thought that he was functioning as virtual regent long before Justin made him associate emperor on 1 April 527, although there is no conclusive evidence of this.
As Justin became senile near the end of his reign, Justinian became the de facto ruler. Justinian was appointed consul in 521 and commander of the army of the east. Upon Justin's death on 1 August 527, Justinian became the sole sovereign; as a ruler, Justinian showed great energy. He was known as "the emperor" on account of his work habits, he seems to have been amiable and easy to approach. Around 525, he married Theodora, in Constantinople, she was by some twenty years his junior. In earlier times, Justinian could not have married her owing to her class, but his uncle, Emperor Justin I, had passed a law allowing intermarriage between social classes. Theodora would become influential in the politics of the Empire, emperors would follow Justinian's precedent in marrying outside the aristocratic class; the marriage caused a scandal, but Theodora would prove to be a shrewd judge of character and Justinian's greatest supporter. Other talented individuals included his legal adviser. Justinian's rule was not universally popular.
Justinian recovered. Theodora died in 548 at a young age of cancer. Justinian, who had always had a keen interest in theological matters and participated in debates on Christian doctrine, became more devoted to religion during the years of his life; when he died on 14 November 565, he left no children, though his wife Theodora had given birth to a stillborn son several years into his reign. He was succeeded by Justin II, the son of his sister Vigilantia and married to Sophia, the niece of Empress Theodora. Justinian's body was entombed in a specially built mausoleum in the Church of the
The Vandalic or Vandal War was a conflict fought in North Africa between the forces of the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire and the Vandalic Kingdom of Carthage, in 533–534. It was the first of Justinian I's wars of reconquest of the lost Western Roman Empire; the Vandals had occupied Roman North Africa in the early 5th century, established an independent kingdom there. Under their first king, the formidable Vandal navy carried out pirate attacks across the Mediterranean, sacked Rome and defeated a massive Roman invasion in 468. After Geiseric's death, relations with the surviving Eastern Roman Empire normalized, although tensions flared up due to the Vandals' militant adherence to Arianism and their persecution of the Chalcedonian native population. In 530, a palace coup in Carthage overthrew the pro-Roman Hilderic and replaced him with his cousin Gelimer; the Eastern Roman emperor Justinian took this as a pretext to interfere in Vandal affairs, after he secured his eastern frontier with Sassanid Persia in 532, he began preparing an expedition under general Belisarius, whose secretary Procopius wrote the main historical narrative of the war.
Justinian took advantage of, or instigated, rebellions in the remote Vandal provinces of Sardinia and Tripolitania. These not only distracted Gelimer from the Emperor's preparations, but weakened Vandal defences through the dispatch of the bulk of the Vandal navy and a large portion of their army under Gelimer's brother Tzazon to Sardinia; the Roman expeditionary force set sail from Constantinople in late June 533, after a sea voyage along the coasts of Greece and southern Italy, landed on the African coast at Caputvada in early September, to Gelimer's complete surprise. The Vandal king gathered his forces and met the Roman army at the Battle of Ad Decimum, near Carthage, on 13 September. Gelimer's elaborate plan to encircle and destroy the Roman army came close to success, but Belisarius was able to drive the Vandal army to flight and occupy Carthage. Gelimer withdrew to Bulla Regia, where he gathered his remaining strength, including the army of Tzazon, which returned from Sardinia. In December, Gelimer met the Romans at the Battle of Tricamarum.
The battle resulted in the death of Tzazon. Gelimer fled to a remote mountain fortress, where he was blockaded until he surrendered in the spring. Belisarius returned to Constantinople with the Vandals' royal treasure and the captive Gelimer to enjoy a triumph, while Africa was formally restored to imperial rule as the praetorian prefecture of Africa. Imperial control scarcely reached beyond the old Vandal kingdom and the Moorish tribes of the interior proved unwilling to accept imperial rule and soon rose up in rebellion; the new province was shaken by the wars with the Moors and military rebellions, it was not until 548 that peace was restored and Roman government established. In the course of the gradual decline and dissolution of the Western Roman Empire in the early 5th century, the Germanic tribe of the Vandals, allied with the Alans, had established themselves in the Iberian peninsula. In 429, the Roman governor of the Diocese of Africa, who had rebelled against the West Roman emperor Valentinian III and was facing an invasion by imperial troops, called upon the Vandalic King Geiseric for aid.
Thus, in May 429, Geiseric crossed the straits of Gibraltar with his entire people 80,000 in total. Geiseric's Vandals and Alans, had their own plans, aimed to conquer the African provinces outright, their possession of Mauretania Caesariensis, Mauretania Sitifensis and most of Numidia was recognized in 435 by the Western Roman court, but this was only a temporary expedient. Warfare soon recommenced, in October 439, the capital of Africa, fell to the Vandals. In 442, another treaty exchanged the provinces hitherto held by the Vandals with the core of the African diocese, the rich provinces of Zeugitana and Byzacena, which the Vandals received no longer as foederati of the Empire, but as their own possessions; these events marked the foundation of the Vandalic Kingdom, as the Vandals made Carthage their capital and settled around it. Although the Vandals now gained control of the lucrative African grain trade with Italy, they launched raids on the coasts of the Mediterranean that ranged as far as the Aegean Sea and culminated in their sack of Rome itself in 455, which lasted for two weeks.
Taking advantage of the chaos that followed Valentinian's death in 455, Geiseric regained control—albeit rather tenuous—of the Mauretanian provinces, with his fleet took over Sardinia and the Balearic Islands. Sicily escaped the same fate through the presence there of Ricimer. Throughout this period, the Vandals survived several Roman attempts at a counterstrike: the Eastern Roman general Aspar had led an unsuccessful expedition in 431, an expedition assembled by the Western emperor Majorian off the coast of Spain in 460 was scattered or captured by the Vandals before it could set sail, in 468, Geiseric defeated a huge joint expedition by both western and eastern empires under Basiliscus. In the aftermath of this disaster, following further Vandal raids against the shores of Greece, the eastern emperor Zeno concluded a "perpetual peace" with Geiseric; the Vandal state was unique in many respects among the Germanic kingdoms that succeeded the Western Roman Empire: instead of respecting and continuing the established Roman socio-political order, they replaced it with their own.
Whereas the kings of Western Europe continued to pay deference to the emperors and minted coinage
Spania was a province of the Byzantine Empire from 552 until 624 in the south of the Iberian Peninsula and the Balearic Islands. It was established by the Emperor Justinian I in an effort to restore the western provinces of the Empire. In 409 the Vandals and Alans, who had broken through the Roman border defences on the Rhine two years before, crossed the Pyrenees into the Iberian peninsula. Effective Roman rule was maintained over most areas till after the death of Emperor Majorian in 461; the Visigoths, vassals of the Roman Empire who had settled in Aquitaine by imperial invitation filled the vacuum left as the Vandals moved into North Africa. In 468 they attacked and defeated the Suevi, who had occupied Roman Gallaecia and were threatening to expand; the Visigoths ended the Roman administration in Spain in 473, their overlordship of most of the eastern and central peninsula was established by 476. A large-scale migration of the Visigoths into Iberia began in 494 under Alaric II, it became the seat of their power after they lost most of their territory in Gaul to the Franks after the Battle of Vouillé in 507.
In 534, Roman general Belisarius re-established the Byzantine province of Mauretania with the conquest of the Vandal Kingdom in northern Africa. Despite his efforts, the Vandal king Gelimer had been unable to effect an alliance with the Gothic king Theudis, who took the opportunity of the collapse of Vandal authority to conquer Ceuta across the Straits of Gibraltar in 533 to keep it out of Byzantine hands; this citadel was seized the following year by an expedition dispatched by Belisarius. Ceuta became a part of Mauretania, it was an important base for reconnaissance of Spain in the years leading up to the peninsula's invasion by Justinian's forces in 552. In 550, in the reign of Agila I, Spain was troubled by a series of revolts, two of which were serious; the citizens of Córdoba rebelled against Gothic or Arian rule and Agila was roundly defeated, his son killed, the royal treasure lost. He himself retreated to Mérida; the date of the other major revolt cannot be arrived at precisely. Either at the commencement of his reign or as late as 551, a nobleman named Athanagild took Seville, capital of Baetica, presumed to rule as king in opposition to Agila.
Who approached the Byzantines for assistance and when is disputed. The name of the general of the Byzantine army is disputed. Although Jordanes wrote that the Patrician Liberius was its commander: He was succeeded by Agila, who holds the kingdom to the present day. Athanagild has rebelled against him and is now provoking the might of the Roman Empire. So Liberius the Patrician is on the way with an army to oppose him. James J. O'Donnell, in his biography of Liberius, casts doubt on this statement, since the patrician was an octogenarian at the time, Procopius reports he had returned to Constantinople when the Byzantines invaded Hispania and could not have led the invasion. O'Donnell states that "Jordanes may have heard that Liberius' name was being mentioned for commander of the Spanish expedition, but, in the end, the fact of his relief from command of the forces in Sicily makes the story of his voyage to Spain incredible."However, according to Isidore of Seville in his History of the Goths, it was Athanagild, in autumn of 551 or winter of 552, who begged Justinian for help.
The army was sent in 552 and made landfall in June or July. Roman forces landed at the mouth of the Guadalete or Málaga and joined with Athanagild to defeat Agila as he marched south from Mérida towards Seville in August or September 552; the war dragged on for two more years. Liberius returned to Constantinople by May 553 and it is that a Byzantine force from Italy, which had only been pacified after the Gothic War, landed at Cartagena in early March 555 and marched inland to Baza in order to join up with their compatriots near Seville, their landing at Cartagena was violent. The native population, which included the family of Leander of Seville, was well disposed to the Visigoths and the Byzantine government of the city was forced to suppress their freedoms, an oppression which lasted decades into their occupation. Leander and most of his family fled and his writings preserve the strong anti-Byzantine sentiment. In late March 555, the supporters of Agila, in fear of the recent Byzantine successes and assassinated him, making Athanagild the king of the Goths.
The new king tried to rid Spain of the Byzantines, but failed. The Byzantines occupied many coastal cities in Baetica and this region was to remain a Byzantine province until its reconquest by the Visigoths seventy years later; the Byzantine province of Spania never extended far inland and received little attention from East Roman authorities because it was designed as a defensive bulwark against a Gothic invasion of Africa, which would have been an unnecessary distraction at a time when the Persian Empire was a larger threat in the East. The most important cities of Byzantine Spania were Málaga and Cartagena, the probable landing sites of the Byzantine army, renamed from Carthago Nova to Carthago Spartaria, it is unknown which of those two cities was the provincial capital, but it was certainly one of them. The cities were the centres of Byzantine power and while a few were retaken by Agila, the ones which were retained were a bulwark against Visigothic attempts at reconquest; the Goths ravaged the countryside of Spania but were inept at sieges and the fortified towns were safe centres of Roman administration.
There are few citie
Gelimer, King of the Vandals and Alans, was the last Germanic ruler of the North African Kingdom of the Vandals. He became ruler in June 530 after deposing his first cousin twice removed, who had angered the Vandal nobility by converting to Chalcedonian Christianity, as most of the Vandals at this time were fiercely devoted to Arian Christianity; the Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian I, who had supported Hilderic, soon declared war on the Vandals, ostensibly to restore Hilderic. In June 533, Justinian sent an expeditionary force commanded by Belisarius which reached Africa in the beginning of September. Meanwhile, in Sardinia, which formed part of the Vandal domain, the governor Godas, a Goth, revolted against Gelimer and began to treat with Justinian as an independent sovereign. Gelimer, ignorant or contemptuous of Justinian's plans, sent a large army consisting of most of the available army in Africa under his brother Tzazo to crush the rebellion, meaning that the landing of Belisarius was unopposed.
On landing, Belisarius marched for Carthage meeting resistance on 13 September when he was confronted by Gelimer at Ad Decimum, 10 miles from Carthage. Although outnumbered 11,000 to 17,000 the battle was evenly fought by the Vandals until Gelimer's brother Ammatas was killed, at which time Gelimer lost heart and fled. On 14 September 533, Belisarius entered Carthage and ate the feast prepared for Gelimer in his palace. However, Belisarius was too late to save the life of Hilderic, slain at Gelimer's orders as soon as the news of the landing of the imperial army came. However, Gelimer had escaped the Roman pursuit, on the return of Tzazo from Sardinia the combined Vandal army met Belisarius in battle, this time at a place called Tricamarum about 20 miles from Carthage; this battle was far more stubbornly contested than that of Ad Decimum, but it ended in the utter rout of the Vandals and, once more, the flight of Gelimer. He retreated to Mons Pappua on the border of Numidia, where he soon found himself besieged by Byzantine forces under Pharas.
According to Procopius, when summoned to surrender Gelimer instead asked Pharas to send him a loaf of bread, a sponge, a lyre, to make the winter months on Pappua more bearable. In March 534, with his followers and their children starving and realizing he had no chance of regaining his kingdom, Gelimer surrendered to Belisarius and accepted the Romans' offer of vast estates in Galatia where he lived to be an old man. According to Byzantine chronicles, on his abdication he achieved some degree of anecdotal fame by crying out the verse from Ecclesiastes,'Vanity of vanities, all is vanity' during Justinian's triumph in Constantinople. Hodgkin, Thomas. Italy and her Invaders. Clarendon Press: 1895
Gothic War (535–554)
The Gothic War between the Byzantine Empire during the reign of Emperor Justinian I and the Ostrogothic Kingdom of Italy took place from 535 until 554 in the Italian peninsula, Sardinia and Corsica. The war had its roots in the ambition of the East Roman Emperor Justinian I to recover the provinces of the former Western Roman Empire, which the Romans had lost to invading barbarian tribes in the previous century; the war followed the Byzantine reconquest of the province of Africa from the Vandals. Historians divide the war into two phases: From 535 to 540: ending with the fall of the Ostrogothic capital Ravenna and the apparent reconquest of Italy by the Byzantines. From 540/541 to 553: a Gothic revival under Totila, suppressed only after a long struggle by the Byzantine general Narses, who repelled an invasion in 554 by the Franks and Alamanni. In 554 Justinian promulgated the Pragmatic sanction. Several cities in northern Italy held out against the Byzantines until 562. By the end of the war Italy had been depopulated.
The Byzantines found themselves incapable of resisting an invasion by the Lombards in 568, which resulted in Constantinople permanently losing control over large parts of the Italian peninsula. In 476 Odoacer deposed Emperor Romulus Augustulus and declared himself rex Italiae, resulting in the final dissolution of the Western Roman Empire in Italy. Although Odoacer recognised the nominal suzerainty of the Eastern Emperor, his independent policies and increasing strength made him a threat in the eyes of Constantinople. To provide a buffer, the Ostrogoths, under their leader, Theodoric the Great, were settled as foederati of the Empire in the western Balkans, but unrest continued. Zeno sent the Ostrogoths to Italy as the representatives of the Empire to remove Odoacer. Theodoric and the Goths defeated Italy came under Gothic rule. In the arrangement between Theodoric and Zeno, his successor Anastasius, the land and its people were regarded as part of the Empire, with Theodoric a viceroy and head of the army.
This arrangement was scrupulously observed by Theodoric. The army, on the other hand, was Gothic, under the authority of their chiefs and courts; the peoples were divided by religion: the Romans were Chalcedonian Christian, while the Goths were Arian Christians. Unlike the Vandals or the early Visigoths the Goths practised considerable religious tolerance; the dual system worked under the capable leadership of Theodoric, who conciliated the Roman aristocracy, but the system began to break down during his years and collapsed under his heirs. With the ascension of Emperor Justin I, the end of the Acacian schism between the Eastern and Western Churches, the return of ecclesiastical unity within the East, several members of the Italian senatorial aristocracy began to favour closer ties to Constantinople to balance Gothic power; the deposition and execution of the distinguished magister officiorum Boethius and his father-in-law in 524 was part of the slow estrangement of their caste from the Gothic regime.
Theodoric was succeeded by his infant grandson Athalaric in August 526, with his mother, Amalasuntha, as regent. This conciliation and Athalaric's Roman education displeased Gothic magnates, who plotted against her. Amalasuntha had three of the leading conspirators killed and wrote to the new Emperor, Justinian I, asking for sanctuary if she was deposed. Amalasuntha remained in Italy. In 533, using a dynastic dispute as a pretext, Justinian had sent his most talented general, Belisarius, to recover the North African provinces held by the Vandals; the Vandalic War produced an unexpectedly swift and decisive victory for the Roman Empire and encouraged Justinian in his ambition to recover the rest of the lost western provinces. As Regent, Amalasuntha had allowed the Roman fleet to use the harbours of Sicily, which belonged to the Ostrogothic Kingdom. After her son's death in 534, Amalasuntha offered the kingship to her cousin Theodahad. Through his agents, Justinian tried to save Amalasuntha's life but to no avail and her death gave him a casus belli to go to war with the Goths.
Procopius wrote that "as soon as he learned what had happened to Amalasuntha, being in the ninth year of his reign, he entered upon war". Belisarius was appointed commander in chief for the expedition against Italy with 7,500 men. Mundus, the magister militum per Illyricum, was ordered to occupy the Gothic province of Dalmatia; the forces made available to Belisarius were small when compared to the much larger army he had fielded against the Vandals, an enemy much weaker than the Ostrogoths. The preparations for the operation were carried out in secret, while Justinian tried to secure the neutrality of the Franks by gifts of gold. Belisarius landed at Sicily, between Roman Africa and Italy, whose population was well disposed toward the Empire; the island was captured, with the only determined resistance, at Panormus, overcome by late December. Belisarius prepared to cross to Italy and Theodahad sent envoys to Justinian, proposing at first to cede Sicily and recognise his overlordship but to cede all of Italy.
In March 536 Mundus overran Dalmatia and captured its capital, but a large Gothic army arrived and Mundus' son Mauricius died in a skirmish. Mundus was himself mortally wounded in the pursuit; the R
Carthage was the center or capital city of the ancient Carthaginian civilization, on the eastern side of the Lake of Tunis in what is now the Tunis Governorate in Tunisia. The city developed from a Phoenician colony into the capital of a Punic empire dominating the Mediterranean during the first millennium BC; the legendary Queen Dido is regarded as the founder of the city, though her historicity has been questioned. According to accounts by Timaeus of Tauromenium, she purchased from a local tribe the amount of land that could be covered by an oxhide. Cutting the skin into strips, she laid out her claim and founded an empire that would become, through the Punic Wars, the only existential threat to Rome until the coming of the Vandals several centuries later; the ancient city was destroyed by the Roman Republic in the Third Punic War in 146 BC and re-developed as Roman Carthage, which became the major city of the Roman Empire in the province of Africa. The city was sacked and destroyed in the Muslim conquest of the Maghreb in 698.
The site remained uninhabited, the regional power shifting to the Medina of Tunis in the medieval period, until the early 20th century, when it began to develop into a coastal suburb of Tunis, incorporated as Carthage municipality in 1919. The archaeological site was first surveyed by Danish consul Christian Tuxen Falbe. Excavations were performed in the second half of the 19th century by Charles Ernest Beulé and by Alfred Louis Delattre; the Carthage National Museum was founded in 1875 by Cardinal Charles Lavigerie. Excavations performed by French archaeologists in the 1920s first attracted an extraordinary amount of attention because of the evidence they produced for child sacrifice. There has been considerable disagreement among scholars concerning whether or not child sacrifice was practiced by ancient Carthage; the open-air Carthage Paleo-Christian Museum has exhibits excavated under the auspices of UNESCO from 1975 to 1984. The name Carthage /ˈkarθɪdʒ/ is the Early Modern anglicisation of French Carthage /kaʁ.taʒ/, from Latin Carthāgō and Karthāgō from the Punic qrt-ḥdšt "new city", implying it was a "new Tyre".
The Latin adjective pūnicus, meaning "Phoenician", is reflected in English in some borrowings from Latin—notably the Punic Wars and the Punic language. The Modern Standard Arabic form قرطاج is an adoption of French Carthage, replacing an older local toponym reported as Cartagenna that directly continued the Latin name. Carthage was built on a promontory with sea inlets to the south; the city's location made it master of the Mediterranean's maritime trade. All ships crossing the sea had to pass between Sicily and the coast of Tunisia, where Carthage was built, affording it great power and influence. Two large, artificial harbors were built within the city, one for harboring the city's massive navy of 220 warships and the other for mercantile trade. A walled tower overlooked both harbors; the city had 37 km in length, longer than the walls of comparable cities. Most of the walls were located on the shore, thus could be less impressive, as Carthaginian control of the sea made attack from that direction difficult.
The 4.0 to 4.8 km of wall on the isthmus to the west were massive and were never penetrated. The city had a huge necropolis or burial ground, religious area, market places, council house, a theater, was divided into four sized residential areas with the same layout. In the middle of the city stood a high citadel called the Byrsa. Carthage was one of the largest cities of the Hellenistic period and was among the largest cities in preindustrial history. Whereas by AD 14, Rome had at least 750,000 inhabitants and in the following century may have reached 1 million, the cities of Alexandria and Antioch numbered only a few hundred thousand or less. According to the not always reliable history of Herodian, Carthage rivaled Alexandria for second place in the Roman empire. On top of Byrsa hill, the location of the Roman Forum, a residential area from the last century of existence of the Punic city was excavated by the French archaeologist Serge Lancel; the neighborhood, with its houses and private spaces, is significant for what it reveals about daily life there over 2100 years ago.
The remains have been preserved under embankments, the substructures of the Roman forum, whose foundation piles dot the district. The housing blocks are separated by a grid of straight streets about 6 m wide, with a roadway consisting of clay. Construction of this type presupposes organization and political will, has inspired the name of the neighborhood, "Hannibal district", referring to the legendary Punic general or sufet at the beginning of the second century BCE; the habitat is typical stereotypical. The street was used as a storefront/shopfront. In some places, the ground is covered with mosaics called punica pavement, sometimes using a characteristic red mortar; the merchant harbor at Carthage was developed, after settlement of the nearby Punic town of Utica. The surrounding countryside was brought into the orbit of the Punic urban centers, first commercially politically. Direct management over cultivation of neighbouring lands by Punic owners followed. A 28-volume work on agriculture written in Punic by Mago, a retired army general, was trans
A dromon was a type of galley and the most important warship of the Byzantine navy from the 5th to 12th centuries AD, when they were succeeded by Italian-style galleys. It was developed from the ancient liburnian, the mainstay of the Roman navy during the Empire. Middle English dromond and Old French dromont are derived from the dromon, described any large medieval ship; the appearance and evolution of medieval warships is a matter of debate and conjecture: until no remains of an oared warship from either ancient or early medieval times had been found, information had to be gathered by analyzing literary evidence, crude artistic depictions and the remains of a few merchant vessels. Only in 2005–2006 did archaeological digs for the Marmaray project in the location of the Harbor of Theodosius uncover the remains of over 36 Byzantine ships from the 6th to 10th centuries, including four light galleys of the galea type; the accepted view is that the main developments which differentiated the early dromons from the liburnians, that henceforth characterized Mediterranean galleys, were the adoption of a full deck, the abandonment of the rams on the bow in favor of an above-water spur, the gradual introduction of lateen sails.
The exact reasons for the abandonment of the ram are unclear. Depictions of upward-pointing beaks in the 4th-century Vatican Vergil manuscript may well illustrate that the ram had been replaced by a spur in late Roman galleys. One possibility is that the change occurred because of the gradual evolution of the ancient shell-first mortise and tenon hull construction method, against which rams had been designed, into the skeleton-first method, which produced a stronger and more flexible hull, less susceptible to ram attacks. By the early 7th century, the ram's original function had been forgotten, if we judge by Isidore of Seville's comments that they were used to protect against collision with underwater rocks; as for the lateen sail, various authors have in the past suggested that it was introduced into the Mediterranean by the Arabs with an ultimate origin in India. However, the discovery of new depictions and literary references in recent decades has led scholars to antedate the appearance of the lateen sail in the Levant to the late Hellenistic or early Roman period.
Not only the triangular, but the quadrilateral version were known, used for centuries in parallel with square sails. Belisarius's fleet during the Vandalic War, as described by Procopius of Caesarea, was at least fitted with lateen sails, making it probable that by that time the lateen had become the standard rig for the dromon, with the traditional square sail falling from use in medieval navigation; these 6th-century dromons were single-banked ships of 50 oars, arranged with 25 oars on each side. Again unlike Hellenistic vessels, which used an outrigger, these extended directly from the hull. In the two-banked dromons of the 9th and 10th centuries, the two oar banks were divided by the deck, with the first oar bank was situated below, whilst the second oar bank was situated above deck; the Greek scholar Christos Makrypoulias suggests an arrangement of 25 oarsmen beneath and 35 on the deck on either side for a dromon of 120 rowers. The overall length of these ships was about 32 meters. Although most contemporary vessels had a single mast, the larger bireme dromons needed at least two masts in order to maneuver assuming that a single lateen sail for a ship this size would have reached unmanageable dimensions.
The ship was steered by means of two quarter rudders at the stern, which housed a tent that covered the captain's berth. The prow featured an elevated forecastle, below which the siphon for the discharge of Greek fire projected, although secondary siphons could be carried amidships on either side. A pavesade, on which marines could hang their shields, ran around the sides of the ship, providing protection to the deck crew. Larger ships had wooden castles on either side between the masts, similar to those attested for the Roman liburnians, providing archers with elevated firing platforms; the bow spur was intended to ride over an enemy ship's oars, breaking them and rendering it helpless against missile fire and boarding actions. The four galeai ships uncovered in the Yenikapi excavations, dating to the 10th–11th centuries, are of uniform design and construction, suggesting a centralized manufacturing process, they have a length of about 30 metres, are built of European Black Pine and Oriental plane.
By the 10th century, there were three main classes of bireme warships of the general dromon type, as detailed in the inventories for the expeditions sent against the Emirate of Crete in 911 and 949: the ousiakon, so named because it was manned by an ousia of 108 men. In Constantine VII's De Ceremoniis, the heavy dromōn is said to have an larger crew of 230 rowers and 70 marines.