The Wars of Justinian


“…nations settled in Libya before the Moors, who on account of having been established there from ancient times were called autochthonous. Because of this, they said that Antaios, their king, who wrestled with Herakles in Clipea, was a son of the earth. In later times those who left from Phoenicia with Dido came to the inhabitants of Libya as to kinsmen, and the latter willingly allow them to found and hold Carthage. But as time went on Carthage became a powerful and populous city.”



“A battle took place between them and their neighbors, who, as was said, had come from Palestine before them and are called Moors today, and the Carthaginians defeated them and forced them to live far from Carthage. Later on, the Romans prevailed over all of them in war and settled the Moors at the edges of the inhabited land of Libya, making the Carthaginians and other Libyans subject and tributary to themselves. Later on, the Moors won many victories over the Vandals and gained possession of the land now called Mauretania, which extends from Cadiz to the boundaries of Caesarea, as well as most of the rest of Libya. Such then is the story of the settlement of the Moors in Libya.”


“The Moors replied as follows: Belisarious deluded us with great promises and so persuaded us to become subjects of the emperor Justinian. But the Romans, while giving us no share in any good thing, expected to have us as their friends and allies,, although we are pressed with hunger. Therefore it is more fitting that you, rather than the Moors, should be called faithless.”


“For the men who break treaties are not those who, when wronged, bring accusations openly against their neighbors and turn away from them, but those who expect to keep others in faithful alliance and then do them violence. Men make God their enemy not when they march against others in order to recover their own possessions but when they transgress upon the possession of others in entering into the dangers of war.”


“As for children, that will be your concern, who are required to have only one wife; but with us, who have, it may be, fifty wives living with each of us, the making of children is not an issue. When Soloman read this letter, he decided to lead his whole army against the Moors. Arranging matters in Carthage, he went with his entire army to Byzacium. When he reached the place called Mammes, where the fourth Moorish commanders, whom I mentioned just above, were encamped, he made a stockade.”


“There are tall mountains at that place and a level space near foothills of the mountains, where the barbarians had made preparations for the battle and arranged their order as follows. They formed a circle of their camels, just as in a previous book. I said Kabaon did, making the front about twelve deep. They placed the children within the circle (for among the Moors it is customary to take a few women, with their children, to battle, and these make the stockade and huts for them, tend the horses skillfully, take charge of the camels and food, sharpen the iron weapons, and generally take on may of the labors involved in campaigning. “


Source: The Wars of Justinian By Prokopios


Formidable Power of the Moors Intimidated most of the Grandees of Sanchez Court


“The luster of their virtues and the glory they acquired daily by their valor raised a generous emulation among the nobility and gentry of Spain. We observed, at the beginning of this history, that the Moors, in the eighth century, took the greatest part of that kingdom from the Goths. ‘Tis well known, that the Christians which remained of that nation, flying from the persecution of the infidels, retired at first into the mountains of the Asturias, from whence they sallied out afterward, under the conduct of Pelagius, to defend their liberty and their religion. That prince, by little and little, enlarged the bounds of his kingdom. His successors were yet more prosperous; they recovered several provinces from the Moors; and these Christian princes, who carried on the war in different quart among others, to preserve a reciprocal independency among themselves, erected these provinces over which they assumed sovereignty into so many kingdoms. Such is the original of the kingdoms of Leon, Castile, Navarre, Aragon, Portugal, Valentia, &.”

“The Moors too, on their side, had cantoned out their conquest, and we find among those Barbarians the kings of Toledo, Cordova, Murcia, and Granada. The one was every day in action the other, and for several ages, there was continual war between them. Some Spanish gentlemen, in imitation of the Templars and Hospitallers, and for the defense of religion, formed hereupon several societies and military orders, composed only of the nobility and gentry of that nation: of the order of Calatrava is reckoned the most ancient. Don Sanchez, the third king Castile, having won from the Moors the city of Calatrava, a strong place and frontier of the kingdoms of Castile and Toledo, committed the government and defense of it to the Templars but these knights having afterward advice, that the kings of the Moors had joined their forces to besiege it, and finding themselves to few to defend it, they delivered the place back again to the king.”

“Sanchez had need of all his forces to keep the field and make head against the Moors, who threatened, at the same time, to break into Castile. That prince, in this distress, declared, that if anyone was able and brake enough to undertake the defense of Calatrava, he would give it to him in property, to be held under the immediate sovereignty of his crown. But the formidable power of the Moors had so intimidated the most of the grandees of his court, that there was not who offered to throw himself into a place which was going to have at the foot of its wall the whole forces of the infidels.” 

Source: The History of the Knights Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem …, Volume 1 By Vertot (abbé de)