Lazic War

Infobox Military Conflict
partof=Roman-Persian Wars


caption=
conflict=Lazic War
date=541-562
place=Lazica (Western Georgia)
result=Byzantine relative victory
casus=Uprising in Lazica against the Romans, Ghubazes II askes Persians for help. Persia Invades Lazica successfully but then Gubazes asks the Romans to help him against the Persians and Persia is defeated.
combatant1=Byzantine Empire
Lazica (eventually)
combatant2=Sassanid Persian Empire, Lazica (initially)
commander1=Justinian I, Ghuzazes II of Lazica
commander2=Chosroes I, MermeroesKIA, Nachoragan, Gubazes II of Lazica
strength1=8,000
strength2=6,000
casualties1=
casualties2= |
The Lazic War also known as the Great War of Egrisi (Georgian: ეგრისის დიდი ომი, "Egrisis Didi Omi") in Georgian historiography and the Colchian War, was fought between the Byzantine and Sassanid Empire for controlling the region of Lazica locally known as Egrisi, what is now western Georgia. The Lazic war lasted for twenty years, from 541 to 562, with varying success and ended in the Byzantine relative victory. The Lazic war is narrated in details through many pages of Procopius of Caesarea and Agathias Scholasticus.

Lazica, situated at the Black Sea and controlling important mountain passes to the Caucasus, had a key strategic importance for both empires. For Byzantines, it was a barrier against a Persian advance through Iberia to the coasts of the Black Sea.

The Persian Sassanids recognized Lazica (Egrisi) as the Byzantine sphere of influence by the "Eternal Peace" Treaty of 532. However, Byzantine encroachment and efforts to establish its own administration resulted in a Lazic uprising in 541. In 541, responding to the Lazic king Gubazes’ appeal for help, the Persian king Chosroes I entered Lazica and captured the Byzantine main stronghold Petra on the Black Sea establishing a protectorate over the country. However, the Shah’s attempt to establish a direct Persian control over the country and the missionary zeal of the Zoroastrian priests soon caused discontent in Christian Lazica and King Gubazes revolted in 548, this time against the Persians. Gubazes II requested aid from Emperor Justinian I and brought Alans and Sabirs to an alliance. Justinian sent 7,000 Roman and 1,000 Zani (Sanni, relatives of the Laz) auxiliaries under Dagisthaeus to assist Gubazes, and invested the Petra fortress. Persian reinforcements under Mermeroes (Mihr-Mihroe) defeated a small Byzantine force guarding the mountain passes and relieved the besieged Petra. Mermeroes garrisoned 3,000 men in the fortress and marched to Armenia leaving 5,000 soldiers to plunder Lazica. This force was destroyed by Dagisthaeus at the Phasis river in 549. The next Persian offensive also proved to be unsuccessful with the commander Chorianes killed in a decisive battle at the river Hippis (now the Tskhenistskali). The new Byzantine commander Bessas quelled a pro-Persian revolt of the Abasgoi tribe, took Petra and defeated Mermeroes at Archaeopolis in 551. However, the latter managed to capture the town Kutatisi and the Uchimerion fortress blocking the important roads to the mountains. In the summer of 555, he won an impressive victory at Telephis and forced the Byzantine-Lazic forces to retreat to Nesos.

After the death of Mermeroes, Nachoragan was appointed the Persian commander-in-chief in 555. He repulsed the Byzantine attack on the Persian positions at Onoguris and forced the enemy out of Archaeopolis, a city which Mermeroes had twice tried and failed to take. These defeats caused a bitter feud between the Lazic and Byzantine generals. King Gubazes quarreled with Byzantine commanders Bessas, Martin, and Rusticus, complaining to Emperor Justinian. Bessas was recalled, but Rusticus and his brother John eventually murdered Gubazes. The Lazi people got the Emperor to nominate Tzathes, the younger brother of Gubazes as their new king, and Senator Athanasius investigated the assassination. Rusticus and John were arrested, tried, and executed. In 556, the allies retook Archaeopolis and routed the Persian general Nachoragan in his abortive attack on Phasis. In the autumn and winter of the same year, the Byzantines suppressed a rebellion staged by the mountain tribe of the Misimians, and finally expelled the Persians from the country.

The 557 truce ended the hostilities between the Byzantine and Persian Empires. By the Fifty Years Peace of 562, Chosroes I recognized Lazica as a Byzantine vassal state for an annual payment of gold.

See also

* Colchis
* Battles of the Sassanid Empire

External links

* [http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/secondary/BURLAT/16*.html History of the Later Roman Empire by J. B. Bury]
* [http://www.san.beck.org/AB12-GothsFranksJustinian.html Wars of Justinian I]


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