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Comentiolus was a prominent Eastern Roman (Byzantine
Byzantine usually refers to the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages.Byzantine may also refer to:* A citizen of the Byzantine Empire, or native Greek during the Middle Ages...

) general at the close of the 6th century, during the reign of Emperor Maurice
Maurice (emperor)
Maurice was Byzantine Emperor from 582 to 602.A prominent general in his youth, Maurice fought with success against the Sassanid Persians...

 (r. 582–602). He played a major role in Maurice's Balkan campaigns
Maurice's Balkan campaigns
Maurice's Illyricum campaigns were a series of military expeditions conducted by emperor of Constantinopolis Maurice in an attempt to defend the Illyrian provinces of the East Roman Empire from Avars and Slavs...

, and fought also in the East against the Persians.


Nothing is known of his early life, except that he hailed from Thrace
Thrace is a historical and geographic area in southeast Europe. As a geographical concept, Thrace designates a region bounded by the Balkan Mountains on the north, Rhodope Mountains and the Aegean Sea on the south, and by the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara on the east...

. He appears first in 583, as an officer (scribon) in the Excubitores
The Excubitors were founded in circa 460 AD as the imperial guards of the early Byzantine emperors. Their commanders soon acquired great influence and provided a series of emperors in the 6th century...

, the imperial bodyguard, when he accompanied a Byzantine embassy to Bayan I, the khagan
Khagan or qagan , alternatively spelled kagan, khaghan, qaghan, or chagan, is a title of imperial rank in the Mongolian and Turkic languages equal to the status of emperor and someone who rules a khaganate...

 of the Avars
Eurasian Avars
The Eurasian Avars or Ancient Avars were a highly organized nomadic confederacy of mixed origins. They were ruled by a khagan, who was surrounded by a tight-knit entourage of nomad warriors, an organization characteristic of Turko-Mongol groups...

. According to the historian Theophylact Simocatta
Theophylact Simocatta
Theophylact Simocatta was an early seventh-century Byzantine historiographer, arguably ranking as the last historian of Late Antiquity, writing in the time of Heraclius about the late Emperor Maurice .-Life:His history of the reign of emperor Maurice is in eight books...

, he enraged the khagan with an outspoken statement, and was briefly imprisoned.

It is likely that the close trust he shared with Maurice dates from the latter's time as comes of the excubitores, before his ascension to the throne. Throughout his career, Comentiolus would be loyal to Maurice, and the Emperor would watch over his protégé's career. The next year, after a truce with the Avars had been arranged, he was appointed in charge of a brigade (taxiarchia) operating against the Slavic tribes
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...

 that raided Thrace and had penetrated as far as the Long Walls of Anastasius
Anastasian Wall
The Anastasian Wall or the Long Walls of Thrace is an ancient, stone and turf fortification located west of Istanbul, Turkey built by the Byzantines during the late 5th century...

, 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:...

's outer defensive system. Comentiolus defeated them at the river Erginia, near the Long Walls. As a reward for this success, he was appointed magister militum praesentalis in 585.

On this occasion, or perhaps a bit later (possibly in 589), he was raised to the supreme title of patricius. In the summer of 585 he defeated again a large force of Slavs, and in 586 he was placed in charge of the war against the Avars, after they broke the treaty. In 587, he assembled a 10,000 strong army at Anchialus
Pomorie is a town and seaside resort in southeastern Bulgaria, located on a narrow rocky peninsula in Burgas Bay on the southern Bulgarian Black Sea Coast. It is situated in Burgas Province, 20 km away from the city of Burgas and 18 km from the Sunny Beach resort. The ultrasaline lagoon...

. He prepared an ambush for the Avar khagan in the Haemus mountains
Haemus Mons
In earlier times the Balkan mountains were known as the Haemus Mons. It is believed that the name is derived from a Thracian word *saimon, 'mountain ridge', which is unattested but conjectured as the original Thracian form of Greek Haimos....

, but it failed.

In 589, he appears to have been appointed as magister militum Spania
Spania was a province of the Roman Empire from 552 until 624 in the south of the Iberian Peninsula and the Balearic Islands. It was a part of the conquests of Roman Emperor Justinian I in an effort to restore the western half of the Empire....

: an inscription bearing his name has been found in Carthago Nova
Cartagena, Spain
Cartagena is a Spanish city and a major naval station located in the Region of Murcia, by the Mediterranean coast, south-eastern Spain. As of January 2011, it has a population of 218,210 inhabitants being the Region’s second largest municipality and the country’s 6th non-Province capital...

, but it may have been erected by a namesake. At any rate, by the autumn of 589 he was back in the East, replacing Philippicus
Philippicus (general)
Philippicus or Philippikos was an East Roman general, comes excubitorum, and brother-in-law of Emperor Maurice. His successful career as a general spanned several decades, chiefly against the Persians.- Under Maurice :...

 in command of the eastern army in the war
Roman-Persian War of 572–591
This was a war fought between the Sassanid Empire of Persia and the Roman Empire, termed by modern historians as the Byzantine Empire. It was triggered by pro-Roman revolts in areas of the Caucasus under Persian hegemony, although other events contributed to its outbreak...

 against the Sassanids
Sassanid Empire
The Sassanid Empire , known to its inhabitants as Ērānshahr and Ērān in Middle Persian and resulting in the New Persian terms Iranshahr and Iran , was the last pre-Islamic Persian Empire, ruled by the Sasanian Dynasty from 224 to 651...

. His army defeated the Persians at the Battle of Sisauranon in the same year and unsuccessfully tried to recapture Martyropolis
Martyropolis was the former name of a city in Turkey, now known in Turkish as Silvan, in Aramaic as Meiafarakin .It is a Catholic titular see....

. In the spring of 590 however, while at his headquarters at Hierapolis, he received an unexpected guest: the legitimate Persian king, Khosrau II
Khosrau II
250px|thumb|Khosrau II 250px|thumb|Khosrau II 250px|thumb|Khosrau II (Khosrow II, Chosroes II, or Xosrov II in classical sources, sometimes called Parvez, "the Ever Victorious" – (in Persian: خسرو پرویز), was the twenty-second Sassanid King of Persia, reigning from 590 to 628...

, who had fled to Roman territory to seek support against the usurper Bahram VI Chobin
Bahram Chobin
General Bahrām Chobin was a famous Eran spahbod during the late 6th century in Persia, usurping the Sassanid throne for a year as Bahram VI .- Life :...

. Emperor Maurice decided to support the exiled monarch, and assembled an army to restore Khosrau to his throne. Comentiolus was initially slated to lead this force, but after Khosrau complained of Comentiolus being disrespectful towards him, he was replaced as commander of this by Narses
Narses (general under Maurice)
Narses was a Byzantine general of Armenian ancestry active during the reigns of the emperors Maurice and Phocas in the late sixth and early seventh centuries. He commanded the army in Mesopotamia under Maurice; when Phocas overthrew Maurice and seized the throne, Narses refused to recognize the...

. Comentiolus still took part in the subsequent campaign as commander of the army's right wing. The restored Persian king repaid Roman assistance with a treaty which put an end to the war that had lasted almost 20 years, and ceded back all cities lost in Mesopotamia, as well as most of Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

, to the Romans.

This favourable peace meant that Byzantium's forces could now be concentrated against the Avar and Slav incursions in the Illyricum
Illyricum (Roman province)
The Roman province of Illyricum or Illyris Romana or Illyris Barbara or Illyria Barbara replaced most of the region of Illyria. It stretched from the Drilon river in modern north Albania to Istria in the west and to the Sava river in the north. Salona functioned as its capital...

. In 598, Comentiolus was sent back into action against the Avars, probably with the position of magister militum per Thracias. After a heavy defeat caused by his neglect to properly array his forces for battle, his army was scattered and he himself fled to Constantinople, where he faced charges of treason. These were dropped at the Emperor's request, and Comentiolus was reconfirmed as general for Thrace. His subsequent record is not very distinguished, but this may be more due to the negative bias of Simocattes, our main primary source, towards him and his co-general Peter
Peter (Byzantine General)
Petrus |Cappadocia]] – 27 November 602 in Constantinople or Chalcedon) was a brother of the Byzantine Emperor Maurice, who reigned from 582 to 602.-Background:...

, rather than because of inability or inaction on his part. At any rate, when the army rebelled against Maurice in 602, Comentiolus was entrusted with the defence of the Walls of Constantinople
Walls of Constantinople
The Walls of Constantinople are a series of defensive stone walls that have surrounded and protected the city of Constantinople since its founding as the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire by Constantine the Great...

. When Phocas
Phocas was Byzantine Emperor from 602 to 610. He usurped the throne from the Emperor Maurice, and was himself overthrown by Heraclius after losing a civil war.-Origins:...

eventually took the city, he was one of the first adherents of the old regime to be executed.