Chilbudius

Chilbudius

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Chilbudius or Chilbuldius was a Byzantine general, holding the rank of magister militum
Magister militum
Magister militum was a top-level military command used in the later Roman Empire, dating from the reign of Constantine. Used alone, the term referred to the senior military officer of the Empire...

 per Thracias
Diocese of Thrace
The Diocese of Thrace was a diocese of the later Roman Empire, incorporating the provinces of the eastern Balkan Peninsula The Diocese of Thrace was a diocese of the later Roman Empire, incorporating the provinces of the eastern Balkan Peninsula The Diocese of Thrace was a diocese of the later...

 in the early 530s. He was apparently killed in battle c. 533, but an impostor
Impostor
An impostor or imposter is a person who pretends to be somebody else, often to try to gain financial or social advantages through social engineering, but just as often for purposes of espionage or law enforcement....

 claimed his identity c. 545-546. The only source for both men is Procopius
Procopius
Procopius of Caesarea was a prominent Byzantine scholar from Palestine. Accompanying the general Belisarius in the wars of the Emperor Justinian I, he became the principal historian of the 6th century, writing the Wars of Justinian, the Buildings of Justinian and the celebrated Secret History...

.

Origin


According to some scholars Chilbudius was probably a Slav
Slavic peoples
The Slavic people are an Indo-European panethnicity living in Eastern Europe, Southeast Europe, North Asia and Central Asia. The term Slavic represents a broad ethno-linguistic group of people, who speak languages belonging to the Slavic language family and share, to varying degrees, certain...

. Florin Curta argues this view was misled by the story of the Antian namesake
Namesake
Namesake is a term used to characterize a person, place, thing, quality, action, state, or idea that has the same, or a similar, name to another....

 who claimed his identity.

The name is considered of Germanic
Germanic name
Germanic given names are traditionally dithematic; that is, they are formed from two elements, by joining a prefix and a suffix. For example, King Æþelred's name was derived from æþel, for "noble", and ræd, for "counsel". Many of these names are still used today, while others have fallen out of use...

 origin. Bohdan Strumins'kyj suggested a Gothic
Gothic language
Gothic is an extinct Germanic language that was spoken by the Goths. It is known primarily from the Codex Argenteus, a 6th-century copy of a 4th-century Bible translation, and is the only East Germanic language with a sizable Text corpus...

 name, *Hil(i)baudeis / *Hil(i)būdeis, a name attested in Old High German
Old High German
The term Old High German refers to the earliest stage of the German language and it conventionally covers the period from around 500 to 1050. Coherent written texts do not appear until the second half of the 8th century, and some treat the period before 750 as 'prehistoric' and date the start of...

 as Hillibodo.

Biography


Chilbudius served as a member of the household of emperor Justinian I
Justinian I
Justinian I ; , ; 483– 13 or 14 November 565), commonly known as Justinian the Great, was Byzantine Emperor from 527 to 565. During his reign, Justinian sought to revive the Empire's greatness and reconquer the lost western half of the classical Roman Empire.One of the most important figures of...

 (r. 527-565). Procopius introduces him as a vigorous soldier and commends him for his lack of avarice. He claims that Chilbudius was not seeking to amass wealth for himself.

Chilbudius was appointed magister militum
Magister militum
Magister militum was a top-level military command used in the later Roman Empire, dating from the reign of Constantine. Used alone, the term referred to the senior military officer of the Empire...

 per Thracias
Diocese of Thrace
The Diocese of Thrace was a diocese of the later Roman Empire, incorporating the provinces of the eastern Balkan Peninsula The Diocese of Thrace was a diocese of the later Roman Empire, incorporating the provinces of the eastern Balkan Peninsula The Diocese of Thrace was a diocese of the later...

 "in the fourth year" of Justinian' reign (530/531). He was the direct successor of Germanus in that post. He was tasked with defending the Danube
Danube
The Danube is a river in the Central Europe and the Europe's second longest river after the Volga. It is classified as an international waterway....

 limes
Limes
A limes was a border defense or delimiting system of Ancient Rome. It marked the boundaries of the Roman Empire.The Latin noun limes had a number of different meanings: a path or balk delimiting fields, a boundary line or marker, any road or path, any channel, such as a stream channel, or any...

 against barbarian
Barbarian
Barbarian and savage are terms used to refer to a person who is perceived to be uncivilized. The word is often used either in a general reference to a member of a nation or ethnos, typically a tribal society as seen by an urban civilization either viewed as inferior, or admired as a noble savage...

 incursions. He served for three years (c. 533/534), eventually moving his forces to the north of the Danube. In this manner, Chilbudius prevented invasions in Byzantine territories while taking the battle to hostile territory. He was reportedly killed in battle with Slavs (South Slavs
South Slavs
The South Slavs are the southern branch of the Slavic peoples and speak South Slavic languages. Geographically, the South Slavs are native to the Balkan peninsula, the southern Pannonian Plain and the eastern Alps...

) at the end of this period.

In 545/546, one of the Antae, held captive by the Sclaveni, claimed to be Chilbudius. With the Antes and the Sclaveni temporarily at peace with each other, the Chilbudius impostor passed to the hands of another member of the Antae. A Roman (Byzantine) captive held by the same man, persuaded their master that his fellow slave was the real Chilbudius. He also tried to convince said master to return the captive to Justinian, which would require a journey through Byzantine areas. When among the other Antae, the impostor revealed his actual identity and tried to claim the status of a freedman. His tribesmen found him more useful as Chilbudius, rather than one of them. He was pressured to continue the pretense.

At about this time, Justinian started negotiations with the Antae. He offered to them the ancient city of Turris, "to the north of the river Ister" (the Danube), and its vicinity. The city had been reportedly built by Trajan
Trajan
Trajan , was Roman Emperor from 98 to 117 AD. Born into a non-patrician family in the province of Hispania Baetica, in Spain Trajan rose to prominence during the reign of emperor Domitian. Serving as a legatus legionis in Hispania Tarraconensis, in Spain, in 89 Trajan supported the emperor against...

 (r. 98-117) but lay deserted at the time. The Antae would be allowed to settle in this area and receive payment for guarding the Byzantine borders against the Huns
Huns
The Huns were a group of nomadic people who, appearing from east of the Volga River, migrated into Europe c. AD 370 and established the vast Hunnic Empire there. Since de Guignes linked them with the Xiongnu, who had been northern neighbours of China 300 years prior to the emergence of the Huns,...

, effectively gaining foederati
Foederati
Foederatus is a Latin term whose definition and usage drifted in the time between the early Roman Republic and the end of the Western Roman Empire...

 status. The Antae accepted, but on the condition that "Chilbudius" would be restored to office, attempting to raise their man to the rank of magister militum. The plot was reportedly unveiled by Narses
Narses
Narses was, with Belisarius, one of the great generals in the service of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I during the "Reconquest" that took place during Justinian's reign....

, who captured the Chilbuldius impostor and transported him to Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

. His subsequent fate is unknown. Whatever his real identity, the impostor reportedly spoke Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 fluently.

Interpretation


The relevant narrative of Procopius has been compared to the typical plots of the Ancient Greek comedy
Ancient Greek comedy
Ancient Greek comedy was one of the final three principal dramatic forms in the theatre of classical Greece . Athenian comedy is conventionally divided into three periods, Old Comedy, Middle Comedy, and New Comedy...

 (New Comedy in particular) and/or Plautus
Plautus
Titus Maccius Plautus , commonly known as "Plautus", was a Roman playwright of the Old Latin period. His comedies are the earliest surviving intact works in Latin literature. He wrote Palliata comoedia, the genre devised by the innovator of Latin literature, Livius Andronicus...

. Florin Curta
Florin Curta
Florin Curta is a Romanian-born American historian, expert medievalist and archaeologist on Eastern Europe. He is one of the top authorities in the field, especially regarding Balkan history, in the Western historiography; among others like John Fine and Dennis Hupchik...

 argues that Procopius' tale should not be taken at face value. The story probably has a historic basis. But Procopius "surely reworked the account and arranged it according to comic narrative paterns".

Curta suggests that the Antae might have understood "Chilbudius" as a title, rather than a name. Thus naming a Chilbudius of their own. The activities of Narses do not seem to have disrupted the alliance. A number of Antae seem to have joined the Byzantines in the ongoing Gothic War (535-554), recorded fighting against the Ostrogoths in Lucania
Lucania
Lucania was an ancient district of southern Italy, extending from the Tyrrhenian Sea to the Gulf of Taranto. To the north it adjoined Campania, Samnium and Apulia, and to the south it was separated by a narrow isthmus from the district of Bruttium...

.

Sources