|552||Battle of Taginae (Battle of Busta Gallorum)||★ ★ ★ ★ ★|
|Outcome:||Byzantine victory and death of the king of the Ostrogoths, Totila||June or July 552|
|War & Enemy:||
Gothic War in Italy (535–554)
|The Battlefield|| Location:
Near the village of Taginae ( somewhere north of modern Gualdo Tadino, Italy)
| Modern Country:
|The Byzantines(emperor: Justinian I)||The Enemies|
|Commander:||General Narses||King Totila|
|Forces:||20,000+5,000 Lombards+3,000 Heruls, all cavalry except 8000 archers||15,000|
|Losses:||Unknown||6,000 in the battlefield and almost all later|
|Background story:|| The Gothic war had its roots in the ambition of Emperor Justinian to recover the provinces of the former Western Roman Empire, which had been lost to invading barbarian tribes in the previous century (the Migration Period). From as early as 549 the Emperor Justinian I had planned to dispatch a major army to Italy to conclude the protracted war with the Ostrogoths, initiated in 535.
During 550-51 a large expeditionary force totaling 20,000 or possibly 25,000 men was gradually assembled at Salona on the Adriatic, comprising regular Byzantine units and a large contingent of foreign allies, notably Lombards, Heruls and Bulgars. The imperial chamberlain (cubicularius) Narses (an eunuch) was appointed commander (he was 73 then).
In the spring of 552, Narses led this grand army around the coast of the Adriatic as far as Ancona, and then turned inland aiming to march down the Via Flaminia to Rome.
Narses sent representatives to Totila, asking either to submit or to name a day for a battle. Totila answered in 8 days. Narses guessed correctly that Totila would attack sooner and prepared for battle. The Goths moved during the night but on their arrival, the Roman army was already in position waiting for them. Although he enjoyed superiority in numbers, Narses deployed his army in a strong defensive position. In the center he massed the large body of Germanic allies dismounted in a dense phalanx, and placed Byzantine troops to either side. On each wing he stationed 4,000 foot-archers.
Expecting 2,000 reinforcements from Teia, Totila used various tricks to delay the battle, including offers for negotiation and duel challenges. When Teia arrived, Totila launched a sudden large-scale mounted assault upon the Byzantine center. Ancient and modern authors have accused him of folly, but Totila probably sought to close with the enemy as fast as possible in order to avoid the effects of the formidable Byzantine archery. Narses was prepared for such a move, however, and ordered the archers massed on his flanks to incline their front towards the center so that his battle-line became crescent-shaped.
Caught in the middle, the Ostrogothic cavalry sustained high casualties and their attack faltered. The course and duration of the subsequent battle are uncertain, but towards early evening Narses ordered a general advance, and the Ostrogoths broke and fled. Although accounts vary, it was probably during the subsequent rout that Totila was killed by a Gepid lancer.
|Aftermath:||With this victory, the Byzantines broke the power of the Ostrogoths in Italy, and paved the way for the temporary Byzantine reconquest of the Italian Peninsula.|