Catholics and the Military in the Age of Catholic Kingdoms (500 - 700 A.D.)

Contents


The Wars of Catholic Spain
---Battles against the Kings of France
---Battles against the Byzantine Empire
---The Civil Wars of Catholic Spain

The Wars of Catholic England
---Against Britons
---Against Barbarians
---Against the Mercians
---Battle between Egfrid and the Mercians

The Wars of Catholic France
---Clovis I against the Arian Kings of France
---Clovis' Sons against the Arian Kings of France and Spain
---Clothar's Wicked Army against the Saxons
---The Civil War between Clothar and his son
---Against the Huns
---Against the Lombards
---Against the Saxons
---The Civil War between Chilperic and his brother
---Battles against the Byzantine Empire

The Wars of Catholic Italy
---The Italian Byzantines against the Pagan Lombards
---The Catholic Lombards against the Italian Byzantines
---The Civil War between Perctarit and his Brother
---The Rebellion of the Duke of Trent

The Wars of the Byzantine Empire
---Against the Vandals
---Against the Ostrogoths
---Battles against the Spanish Kings
---Against the Persians
---Against the Muslims (Loss of Jerusalem)
---Against the Muslims (Loss of Alexandria)
---Against the Muslims (Loss of Libya, Carthage, and Morocco)

The Late Fathers on Just War
---Ferrandus the Deacon's Seven Rules for a Commander of Soldiers
---St. Gregory of Tours on Civil Wars
---Pope St. Gregory the Great on Just War
---St. Isidore of Seville on Just War
---The Sixth Ecumenical Council on War



The Wars of Catholic Spain


Battles against the Kings of France

“[King Recarred] also waged war gloriously against hostile peoples with the aid of the faith which he had accepted. As the Franks were overrunning Gaul with about sixty thousand soldiers, he sent his general Claudius against them and triumphed with a glorious success. No greater or similar victory of the Goths in war ever took place in Spain. For many thousands of the enemy were killed and captured, and the remaining part of the army was put to flight contrary to its expectations and, with the Goths following closely behind, it was cut down up to the boundaries of its kingdom. He also frequently sent forces in opposition to the arrogant deeds of the Romans and the incursions of the Vascones, in such a way that he seems not so much to have waged wars as rather to have trained his people, as it were, in the sport of wrestling for the sake of utility.” (St. Isidore's History of the Goths Paragraph 54)

Battles against the Byzantine Empire

“In the [year 621 A.D.], the tenth year of Heraclius' rule, the most glorious Suinthila by divine favor took up the scepters of royal power. Under King Sisebut he had obtained the post of general, conquered some Roman forts, and defeated the Ruccones. But after he had ascended to the summit of royal dignity, he joined battle and took the remaining cities which Roman troops held in Spain, and with wondrous good fortune won increased glory for his triumph in comparison with the other kings. He [was the] first [to] acquire...absolute rule over the whole of Spain...a thing accomplished by none of the previous rulers.” (St. Isidore's History of the Goths Paragraph 62. See also paragraphs 54, 59 and 61.)

The Civil Wars of Catholic Spain

“[King Suinthila] also led an expedition aimed against the raids of the Vascones who were attacking the province of Tarraco; these mountain-roaming peoples were so struck by dread at his coming that, as if recognizing the rights due to him, they quickly gave up their weapons, stretched out their hands in entreaty, and as suppliants bent their necks before him; they then gave hostages and founded the city of Olite with income from the Goths and their own toil, promising to obey his rule and authority and to perform whatever would be commanded them.” (St. Isidore's History of the Goths Paragraph 63. See also Paragraphs 54, 59, 61, 62, and 91.)

The Wars of Catholic England


Against the Britons

“Caedwalla, king of the Britons, rebelled against [King Edwin], being supported by the vigorous Penda, of the royal race of the Mercians, who from that time governed that nation for twenty-two years with varying success. A great battle being fought in the plain that is called Haethfelth, Edwin was killed on the 12th of October, in the year of our Lord 633, being then forty-eight years of age, and all his army was either slain or dispersed.” (St. Bede's Church History Book 2 Chapter 20)

Against Barbarians

“Oswald, being about to engage in this battle, erected the symbol of the Holy Cross, and knelt down and prayed to God that he would send help from Heaven to his worshippers in their sore need. Then, we are told, that the cross being made in haste, and the hole dug in which it was to be set up, the king himself, in the ardour of his faith, laid hold of it and held it upright with both his hands, till the earth was heaped up by the soldiers and it was fixed. Thereupon, uplifting his voice, he cried to his whole army, 'Let us all kneel, and together beseech the true and living God Almighty in His mercy to defend us from the proud and cruel enemy; for He knows that we have undertaken a just war for the safety of our nation.' All did as he had commanded, and accordingly advancing towards the enemy with the first dawn of day, they obtained the victory, as their faith deserved.” (St. Bede's Church History Book 3 Chapter 2)

Against the Mercians

“[One day] it happened that the nation of the Mercians, under King Penda, made war on the East Angles; who finding themselves no match for their enemy, entreated [the monk] Sigbert to go with them to battle, to encourage the soldiers. He was unwilling and refused, upon which they drew him against his will out of the monastery, and carried him to the army, hoping that the soldiers would be less afraid and less disposed to flee in the presence of one who had formerly been an active and distinguished commander. But he, still mindful of his profession, surrounded, as he was, by a royal army, would carry nothing in his hand but a wand, and was killed with King Ecgric; and the pagans pressing on, all their army was either slaughtered or dispersed.” (St. Bede's Church History Book 3 Chapters 18, 24)

Battle between Egfrid and the Mercians

“In the ninth year of the reign of King Egfrid, a great battle was fought between him and Ethelred, king of the Mercians...and Aelfwine, brother to King Egfrid, was slain... There was now reason to expect a more bloody war, and more lasting enmity between those kings and their fierce nations; but Theodore, the bishop, beloved of God, relying on the Divine aid, by his wholesome admonitions wholly extinguished the dangerous fire that was breaking out; so that the kings and their people on both sides were appeased, and no man was put to death, but only the due mulct paid to the king who was the avenger for the death of his brother; and this peace continued long after between those kings and between their kingdoms.” (St. Bede's Church History Book 4 Chapters 21-22)

The Wars of Catholic France


Clovis I against the Arian Kings of France

“The king himself sent envoys to the blessed church...[and] said: 'If thou, O Lord, art my helper, and hast determined to surrender this unbelieving nation, always striving against thee, into my hands, consent to reveal it propitiously at the entrance to the church of St. Martin, so that I may know that thou wilt deign to be favorable to thy servant.' Clovis' servants went on their way...and when they were about to enter the holy church, the first singer, without any pre-arrangement, sang this response: 'Thou hast girded me, O Lord, with strength unto the battle; thou hast subdued under me those that rose up against me...' On hearing this singing they thanked the Lord, and paying their vow to the blessed confessor they joyfully made their report to the king. ... And when the Goths had fled as was their custom, king Clovis won the victory by God's aid.” (St. Gregory of Tours, History of the Franks Book 2 Chapters 32-38)

Clovis' Sons against the Arian Kings of France and Spain

“[T]he blessed abbot Avitus, a great priest of that time, said to [King Chlodomer]: 'If,' said he, 'you would look to God and amend your counsel so as not to allow [your prisoners] to be killed, God will be with you and you shall go and win the victory; but if you kill them you shall be surrendered yourself into the hands of your enemies and shall perish in the same way... But [King Chlodemer] despised listening to this counsel... and [when he] fell in the midst of his enemies [they cut] off his head and [set] it on a pike [and] raised it aloft. The Franks saw this and perceived that [their king] was dead, and rallying, they put [the enemy] to flight and crushed the Burgundians and reduced their country to subjection, and [Chlodomer's brother] immediately married [Chlodomer's] wife.” (St. Gregory of Tours, History of the Franks Book 3 Chapter 6-7, 10)

“[T]he Thuringi prepared stratagems against the coming of the Franks. For they dug pits in the plain where the fight was to take place, and covering the openings with thick turf they made it seem a level plain. So when they began to fight, many of the Frankish horsemen fell into these pits and it was a great obstacle to them, but when this stratagem was perceived they began to be on their guard. When finally the Thuringi saw that they were being fiercely cut to pieces and when their king Hermenfred had taken to flight, they turned their backs and came to the stream Unstrut. And there such a slaughter of the Thuringi took place that the bed of the stream was filled with heaps of corpses, and the Franks crossed upon them as if on a bridge to the further shore. The victory being won they took possession of that country and brought it under their control.” (ibid.)

“[King Childebert] set off for Spain, for the sake of his sister Clotild. She was being very badly treated by her husband Amalaric on account of her Catholic faith. Several times when she was on her way to church he had dung and other filth thrown over her. Finally he struck her with such violence that she sent to her brother a towel stained with her own blood. He was greatly moved and set off immediately for Spain. When Amalaric heard of this he had boat launched and made ready his escape. Just as Childebert was arriving, Amalaric...rushed back into the city to collect [some of his money]...[but] a soldier threw a javelin at him and wounded him mortally. He fell to the ground and died on the spot.” (ibid. As translated by Colchester, U.K.: Penguin Books, 1974.)

Clothar's Wicked Army against the Saxons

“[W]hen Clothar after Theodovald's death had received the kingdom of Francia...he heard from his people that the Saxons...were rebelling against him... Aroused by the reports he hastened toward their country, and when he was near their boundary the Saxons sent legates to him saying: 'We are not treating you contemptuously, and we do not refuse to pay what we have usually paid to your brothers and nephews, and we will grant even more if you ask for it. We ask for only one thing, that there be peace so that your army and our people shall not come into conflict.' King Clothar heard this and [agreed]. ... Then [his men] were enraged at king Clothar and rushed upon him and tore his tent in pieces and overwhelmed him with abuse and dragged him about violently and wished to kill him if he would not go [to war] with them. Upon this Clothar went with them though unwillingly. And they began the battle and were slaughtered in great numbers by their adversaries and so great a multitude from both armies perished that it was impossible to estimate or count them. Then Clothar in great confusion asked for peace, saying that it was not of his own will that he had come against them. And having obtained peace he returned home.” (St. Gregory of Tours, History of the Franks Book 4 Chapter 14)

The Civil War between Clothar and his son

“Chramnus presented himself before his father, but later he proved disloyal. And when he saw he could not escape punishment he fled to Brittany... Now king Clothar was raging against Chramnus and marched with army into Brittany against him. Nor was Chramnus afraid to come out against his father. ... When morning came they set their armies in motion and hastened to the conflict. And king Clothar was marching like a new David to fight against Absalom his son crying aloud and saying: 'Look down Lord, from heaven and judge my cause since I suffer wicked outrage from my son; look down, Lord, and judge justly, and give that judgment that thou once gavest between Absalom and his father.' ... [And Chramnus] was overwhelmed by his father's soldiers and was captured and bound fast. This news was taken to king Clothar and he gave orders to burn Chramnus with fire together with his wife and daughters.” (St. Gregory of Tours, History of the Franks Book 4 Chapter 20)

Against the Huns

“The Huns were again endeavoring to make an entrance into the Gauls. Sigibert marched against them with his army, leading a great number of brave men. And when they were about to fight, the Huns, who were versed in magic arts, caused false appearances of various sorts to come before them and defeated them decisively. Sigibert's army fled, but he himself was taken by the Huns and would have remained a prisoner if he had not overcome by his skill in making presents the men whom he could not conquer in battle. He was a man of fine appearance and good address He gave gifts and entered into an agreement with their king that all the days of their lives they should fight no battles with one another. And this incident is rightly believed to be more to his credit than otherwise. The king of the Huns also gave many gifts to king Sigibert.” (St. Gregory of Tours, History of the Franks Book 4 Chapter 29)

Against the Lombards

“Albin, king of the Lombards, who had married Chlotsinda, daughter of king Clothar, abandoned his country and set out for Italy with all the Lombard people. ... They entered the country and spent seven years chiefly in wandering through it, despoiling the churches, killing the bishops, and bringing the land under their control. ... When the Lombards made a second inroad into [France]...[the general] Mummulus set his army in motion...surrounded the Lombards with his army...and attacked them in pathless woods, and killing many took a number of captives whom he sent to the king.” (St. Gregory of Tours, History of the Franks Book 4 Chapters 41-44. See also Paul the Deacon's History of the Lombards Book 3 Chapter 1-4, 8)

Against the Saxons

“Then the Saxons, who had entered Italy with the Lombards, made a second expedition into the Gauls... [But] Mummolus met them and said: 'You shall not cross this torrent. Behold, you have devastated the land of my lord the king, you have gathered the crops, plundered the herds, burned the houses, cut down the olive groves and vineyards. You shall not go up unless you first satisfy those whom you have left in want; otherwise you shall not escape my hands, but I shall draw my sword against you and your wives and little ones and avenge the wrong done to my lord king Gunthram.' Then they were very much afraid and gave many thousand pieces of coined gold as a ransom, and were allowed to cross, and thus they came to Clermont.” (St. Gregory of Tours, History of the Franks Book 4 Chapter 42. See also Paul the Deacon's History of the Lombards Book 3 Chapter 5-7)

The Civil War between Chilperic and his brother

“[King Chilperic said:] 'My brother [King Guntram] has proven guilty in many particulars. For if my son Childebert would seek the path of reason, he would know at once that it was by my brother's connivance that his father was killed.' ... [Soon] Chilperic set the army of his kingdom in motion...burning and wasting all. ... And such marauding was done there as was never heard of in old times, so that no house nor vineyard nor tree was left, but they cut, burned, and subdued all. Moreover they carried the sacred utensils from the churches and burned the churches with fire. But king Guntram went with an army against his brother, placing all his hope in the judgment of God. And one evening he sent his army and destroyed a great part of his brother's army. In the morning legates went to and fro and they made peace, promising one another that each would pay for what he had done beyond the limit of the law whatever the bishops and leaders of the people should decide. And so they parted peaceably.” (St. Gregory of Tours, History of the Franks Book 6 Chapter 31)

Battles against the Byzantine Empire

“[B]ehold here are the comrades of my journey who were sent to the emperor lying slain by the sword. God will avenge our wrong and will atone for their death by your destruction, since you butcher us in this way when we do not harm you but come in peace. There shall not be peace any longer between our kings and your emperor. It was for peace we came and to bring aid to your state. Today I call God to witness that it is your crime that has caused the promised peace to be kept no longer between the princes.” (St. Gregory of Tours, History of the Franks Book 10 Chapters 2-5)

The Wars of Catholic Italy


The Italian Byzantines Against the Pagan and Arian Lombards

“Then the [Lombards], having left Pannonia, hastened to take possession of Italy with their wives and children and all their goods. ... The city of [Pavia] at this time held out bravely, withstanding a siege more than three years, while the army of the [Lombards] remained close at hand on the western side. Meanwhile [the Lombard King] Alboin, after driving out the soldiers, took possession of everything as far as Tuscany except Rome and Ravenna and some other fortified places which were situated on the shore of the sea. The Romans had then no courage to resist...” (Paul the Deacon's History of the Lombards Book 2 Chapters 6-26)

“Up to [~602 A.D.] the city of [Padua] had rebelled against the [Lombards], the soldiers resisting very bravely. But at last when fire was thrown into it, it was all consumed by the devouring flames and was razed to the ground by command of king Agilulf. The soldiers, however, who were in it were allowed to return to Ravenna.” (Paul the Deacon's History of the Lombards Book 4 Chapter 23)

The Catholic Lombards Against the Italian Byzantines

“In these days the [Lombards] still had a quarrel with the [Byzantines] on account of the captivity of the king's daughter. For this reason king Agilulf departed from [Milan] in the month of July, besieged the city of Cremona...and razed it to the ground. In like manner he also assaulted Mantua, and having broken through its walls with battering-rams he entered it on the ides [13th] of September, and granted the soldiers who were in it the privilege of returning to Ravenna. Then also the fortress which is called [Valdoria] surrendered to the [Lombards]; the soldiers indeed fled, setting fire to the town of [Bresccillo]. When these things were accomplished, the daughter of the king was restored by Smaragdus the patrician with her husband and children and all her property. In the ninth month peace was made...” (Paul the Deacon's History of the Lombards Book 4 Chapter 28)

The Civil War between Perctarit and his Brother

“[King] Aripert then, after he had ruled at Ticinum for nine years, died, [and left] the kingdom to be governed by his two sons, Perctarit and Godepert who were still of youthful age. And Godepert, indeed, had the seat of his kingdom at Ticinum, but Perctarit, at the city of [Milan]. Between these brothers, at the instigation of evil men, quarrels and the kindling of hatreds arose to such a degree that each attempted to usurp the royal power of the other. ... [And] Grimuald, who was then the enterprising leader of the people of Beneventum...unsheathed his sword and deprived [Godepert] of life, and usurping his kingdom and all his power, he subjugated it to his dominion. ... When Perctarit, who was ruling at [Milan], heard that his brother was killed, he took flight...” (Paul the Deacon's History of the Lombards Book 4 Chapter 51)

The Rebellion of the Duke of Trent

“[W]hile they were living in great peace and had tranquility around them on every side, there arose against them a son of iniquity, Alahis by name, by whom the peace was disturbed in the kingdom of the [Lombards], and a great slaughter was made of the people. This man, when he was duke of the city of [Trent], fought with the count of the Bavarians that they call 'gravio' who governed [Botzen] and other strongholds, and defeated him in an astonishing manner. Elated from this cause, he also lifted his hand against Perctarit his king, and rebelling, fortified himself within the stronghold of Tridentum. King Perctarit advanced against him and while he besieged him from the outside, suddenly Alahis rushed unexpectedly out of the city with his followers, overthrew the king's camp and compelled the king himself to seek flight. ... But not very long did [Alahis] keep the sovereignty [he] had usurped.” (Paul the Deacon's History of the Lombards Book 5 Chapter 36-38)

“Cunincpert [the son of King Perctarit] collected an army against [Alahis]... [And] Alahis said: 'I cannot [fight Cunincpert] because among his spears I see the image of the holy archangel Michael by whom I swore allegiance to him.' Then one of them said: 'From fear you see what is not, and anyhow, it is now late for you to think of these things.' Then when the trumpets sounded, the lines of battle joined, and as neither side gave way, a very great slaughter was made of the people. At length the cruel tyrant Alahis perished, and Cunincpert with the help of the Lord obtained the victory.” (Paul the Deacon's History of the Lombards Book 5 Chapters 39-41)

The Wars of the Byzantine Empire


Against the Vandals

“In the [year 522 A.D.], Gilimer [of Africa] took up kingship with despotic power; he cruelly destroyed many of the nobles of the province of Africa and took away the property of many people. Against him the Emperor Justinian sent an army because of the vision of the bishop Laetus who had been made a martyr by Huneric, king of he Vandals; the force was led by Belisarius, the commander-in-chief of the army; after joining battle Belisarius killed Guntemir and Gebamund, the king's brothers, who had been defeated in the first encounter; then, after putting Gilimer himself to flight, he took Africa in the ninety-seventh year after the entry of the Vandals. ... Thus the kingdom of the Vandals together with its people and its race was destroyed in the [year 525 A.D.]; it lasted 113 years from King Gunderic up to the death of Gilimer.” (St. Isidore's History of the Goths Paragraph 83-84)

Against the Ostrogoths

“Now at that time [Emperor Justinian] had won a triumph over the Vandals in Africa, through his most faithful Patrician Belisarius. Without delay he sent his army under this leader against the [Italians] at the very time when his arms were yet dripping with the blood of the Vandals. ... [Soon] the Roman army [entered Italy] and marched toward Campania. They took Naples and pressed on to Rome. ... While [King Vitiges of Italy] was celebrating his new marriage and holding court at Ravenna, the imperial army advanced from Rome and attacked the strongholds in both parts of Tuscany. ... When besieged [in Ravenna], he quickly and willingly surrendered himself to [General Belisarius]... And thus a famous kingdom and most valiant race, which had long held sway, was at last overcome...by that conquerer of many nations, the Emperor Justinian, through his most faithful consul Belisarius.” (Jordanes' History of the Goths Chapter 60)

Against the Spanish Kings

“[A]fter seizing despotic power, [Athanagild of Spain] had long tried to deprive [King] Agila [of Spain] of his kingship... [He] had asked the Emperor Justinian to help him with soldiers, whom he later was unable to remove from the territory of the kingdom despite his efforts. Fighting against them took place up to this time. Previously [Athanagild's armies] had been killed in frequent battles, but now they were crushed and annihilated by many misfortunes.” (St. Isidore's History of the Goths Paragraph 47. See also Paragraphs 54, 59, 61, and 62.)

The Italian Byzantines Against the Lombards

“Then the [Lombards], having left Pannonia, hastened to take possession of Italy with their wives and children and all their goods. ... The city of [Pavia] at this time held out bravely, withstanding a siege more than three years, while the army of the [Lombards] remained close at hand on the western side. Meanwhile [the Lombard King] Alboin, after driving out the soldiers, took possession of everything as far as Tuscany except Rome and Ravenna and some other fortified places which were situated on the shore of the sea. The [Byzantines] had then no courage to resist...” (Paul the Deacon's History of the Lombards Book 2 Chapters 6-26)

“[At] this time, Romanus, the patrician and exarch of Ravenna...re-occupied [some] cities that were held by the [Lombards]... When this fact was announced to king Agilulf, he straightway marched out of Ticinum with a strong army and attacked the city of Perusia, and there for some days he besieged Maurisio, the duke of the [Lombards], who had gone over to the side of the [Byzantines], and without delay took him and deprived him of life. The blessed Pope Gregory was so much alarmed at the approach of this king that...[he] admonished [Agilulf's Catholic queen] in his letters...[until King Agilulf] concluded a firm peace with the same most holy man Pope Gregory and with the Romans...” (Paul the Deacon's History of the Lombards Book 4 Chapter 8)

“Up to this time the city of [Padua] had rebelled against the [Lombards], the soldiers resisting very bravely. But at last when fire was thrown into it, it was all consumed by the devouring flames and was razed to the ground by command of king Agilulf. The soldiers, however, who were in it were allowed to return to Ravenna.” (Paul the Deacon's History of the Lombards Book 4 Chapter 23)

“In these days the [Lombards] still had a quarrel with the [Byzantines] on account of the captivity of the king's daughter. For this reason king Agilulf departed from [Milan] in the month of July, besieged the city of Cremona...and razed it to the ground. In like manner he also assaulted Mantua, and having broken through its walls with battering-rams he entered it on the ides [13th] of September, and granted the soldiers who were in it the privilege of returning to Ravenna. Then also the fortress which is called [Valdoria] surrendered to the [Lombards]; the soldiers indeed fled, setting fire to the town of [Bresccillo]. When these things were accomplished, the daughter of the king was restored by Smaragdus the patrician with her husband and children and all her property. In the ninth month peace was made...” (Paul the Deacon's History of the Lombards Book 4 Chapter 28)

Against the Persians

“The Persians also waged a very severe war against the empire, took away many provinces of the Romans, including Jerusalem itself, and destroying churches and profaning holy things they carried off among the ornaments of places sacred and secular, even the banner of the cross of Christ.” (Paul the Deacon's History of the Lombards Book 4 Chapter 36)

Against the Muslims (Loss of Jerusalem)

“Why do barbarian raids abound? Why are the troops of the Saracens attacking us? Why has there been so much destruction and plunder? Why are there incessant outpourings of human blood? Why have churches been pulled down? Why is the cross mocked? Why is Christ, who is joyousness of ours, blasphemed by pagan mouths so that he justly cries out to us: 'Because of you my name is blasphemed among the pagans,' and this is the worst of all the terrible things that are happening to us. That is why the vengeful and God-hating Saracens, the abomination of desolation clearly foretold to us by the prophets, overrun the places which are not allowed to them, plunder cities, devastate fields, burn down villages, set on fire the holy churches, overturn sacred monasteries, oppose the Byzantine armies arrayed against them, and in fighting raise up...trophies and add victory to victory.” (St. Sophronius, Epiphany Homily. In Hoyland, Robert G. Seeing Islam as Others Saw It: A Survey and Evaluation of Christian, Jewish and Zoroastrian Writings on Early Islam. Princeton, New Jersey: Darwin Press, 1997. p. 72-73.)


Against the Muslims (Loss of Egypt)

“Theodore and his troops who were in that locality fled and withdrew into Alexandria. And the Moslem[s] began to attack them but were not able to approach the walls of the city; for stones were hurled against them from the top of the walls, and they were driven far from the city. ... And subsequently the patriarch Cyrus...went to Babylon...seeking...to procure peace from them... And they fixed the amount of tribute to be paid... [T]he [Byzantines] were to cease warring against the Moslem[s], and the Moslem[s] were to desist from seizing Christian Churches... And the Jews were to be permitted to remain in the city of Alexandria. ... And the Moslem[s] took possession of all the land of Egypt, southern and northern, and trebled their taxes. ... [And the Muslim leader] had no mercy on the Egyptians, and did not observe the covenant they had made with him, for he was of a barbaric race.” (John of Nikiu's Chronicle Chapters 119-120)

Against the Muslims (Loss of Libya, Carthage, and Morocco)

“Then the race of Saracens, unbelieving and hateful to God, proceeded from Egypt into Africa with a great multitude, took Carthage by siege and when it was taken, cruelly laid it waste and leveled it to the ground. ... Justinian [II] assumed the sovereignty of the [Byzantines] and held the control of it for ten years. He took Africa away from the Saracens and made peace with them on sea and land.” (Paul the Deacon's History of the Lombards Book 6 Chapters 10-11. See also this.)


The Late Fathers on Just War


Ferrandus the Deacon's Seven Rules for a Commander of Soldiers

~533 A.D. - “(1.) Be convinced that in every action the help of divine grace is necessary for you, and say with the apostle, 'By the grace of God I am what I am.' ... (2.) Let your life be a mirror in which your soldiers may see what they have to do. ... (3.) Aim not to rule, but to be useful. ... (4.) Love your native country as yourself. ... (5.) Let what relates to God be of more value to you than anything human. ... (6.) Be not too rigid in administering justice. ... (7.) Bear in mind that you are a Christian.” (Excerpted from Ad Reginum)

~533 A.D. - “We ask Him, who orders the world, that he deign to promote those of his soldiers hidden under the uniform of the secular military, guiding them from within, and sending to others the wisdom to rule... [Y]ou will be seen to be useful in two ways; if you do not harm anyone, and if, insofar as you can -- which is to say insofar as Christ has given you power -- you prohibit those who have the tendency to harm, or wish to, from doing so.” (Ad Reginum Sections 2, 7. Excerpted and translated in Kate Cooper, The Fall of the Roman Household. 2007. Cambridge University Press, p. 33-37. https://books.google.com/books?id=gHH27WF4B_wC&pg=PA33#v=onepage&q&f=false)

St. Gregory of Tours on Civil Wars

~575 A.D. - "I am weary of relating the details of the civil wars that mightily plague the nation and kingdom of the Franks... Would that [you], O kings, were engaged in battles like those in which your fathers struggled, that the heathen terrified by your union might be crushed by your strength! Remember how Clovis won your great victories, how he slew opposing kings, crushed wicked peoples and subdued their lands, and left to you complete and unchallenged dominion over them! And when he did this he had neither silver nor gold such as you now have in your treasuries. ... One thing you lack: without peace you have not the grace of God. ... Examine carefully the books of the ancients and you will see what civil wars beget. Read what Orosius writes of the Carthaginians, who says that after seven hundred years their city and country were ruined and adds: 'What preserved this city so long? Union. What destroyed it after such a period? Disunion.' Beware of disunion, beware of civil wars which destroy you and your people. What else is to be expected but that your army will fall and that you will be left without strength and be crushed and ruined by hostile peoples. And, king, if civil war gives you pleasure, govern that impulse which the apostle says is urgent within man, let the spirit struggle against the flesh and the vices fall before the virtues; and be free and serve your chief who is Christ, you who were once a fettered slave of the root of evil." (History of the Franks Book 5 Chapter 1)

Pope St. Gregory the Great on Just War

~594 A.D. - “[T]he captivity of my land [is] increasing day by day... Italy is daily led captive under the yoke of the Lombards. ... [T]he strength of the enemy is increasing hugely. This however I suggest to my most pious lord, that he would...[consider] the advantage of the republic and the cause of the rescue of Italy.” (Letters Book 5 Letter 40)

~592 A.D. - “For to restrain violent laymen is not to act against the laws, but to support law.” (Letters Book 3 Letter 5)

~591 A.D. - "[The] great success of the military exploits of your Excellency [have] arisen from the merit of your faith and from the grace of the Christian religion... [It] is not from a desire of shedding blood that you constantly court these wars, but for the sake of extending the republic in which we see that God is worshipped, to the end that the name of Christ may be spread abroad through subject nations by preaching of the faith. ... [We] beseech our God and Saviour mercifully to protect your Eminence for the consolation of the holy republic, and to fortify you with the strength of His arm for spreading His name more and more through the neighbouring nations." (Letters Book 1 Letter 75)

~591 A.D. - "As the Lord has made your Excellency to shine with the light of victories in the military wars of this life, so ought you to [oppose] the enemies of the Church with all activity of mind and body, to the end that from both kinds of triumph your reputation may shine forth more and more, when in forensic wars, too, you firmly resist the adversaries of the Catholic Church in behalf of the Christian people, and bravely fight ecclesiastical battles as warriors of the Lord. ... [We] beseech the Lord to make your arm strong for subduing your enemies, and to sharpen your soul with zeal for the faith like the edge of a quivering sword." (Letters Book 1 Letter 74)

St. Isidore of Seville on Just War

636 A.D. - “A just war is that which is waged in accordance with a formal declaration and is waged for the sake of recovering property seized or of driving off the enemy. An unjust war is one that is begun out of rage, and not for a lawful reason. Cicero speaks of this in the Republic (3.35): 'Those wars are unjust that are taken up without due cause, for except for the cause of avenging or of driving off the enemy no just war can be waged.' ... And he adds this a little further on: 'No war is considered just unless it is officially announced or declared, and unless it is fought to recover property seized.' ” (Etymologies Book 18 Chapter 1 Paragraph 2)

The Sixth Ecumenical Council on War

~680 A.D. - "[The] living tradition of the Apostles of Christ...gives far-reaching victories to your most pious Fortitude from the Lord of heaven, [and] accompanies you in battle, and defeats your foes; [it] protects on every side as an impregnable wall your God-sprung empire, [and] throws terror into opposing nations, and smites them with the divine wrath, [and] also in wars celestially gives triumphal palms over the downfall and subjection of the enemy, and ever guards your most faithful sovereignty secure and joyful in peace." (Session 4)