Exarchate of Ravenna

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Exarchate of Ravenna
Exarchatus Ravennatis
Exarchate of the Byzantine Empire
584–751
Exarchate of Ravenna 600 AD.png
Map of the Exarchate of Ravenna within the Byzantine Empire in 600 AD.
Capital Ravenna
Historical eraEarly Middle Ages
  Lombard invasion of Italy
568
 Foundation of Exarchate
584
 Battle of Ravenna (729)
751
Preceded by
Succeeded by
No flag.svg Praetorian prefecture of Italy
Republic of Venice Flag of Most Serene Republic of Venice.svg
Kingdom of the Lombards Aistulf's Italy-en.png
Papal States Flag of the Papal States (1825-1870).svg
Longobardia Simple Labarum.svg
Today part ofFlag of Croatia.svg  Croatia
Flag of France.svg  France
Flag of Italy.svg  Italy
Flag of San Marino.svg  San Marino
Flag of Slovenia.svg  Slovenia
Flag of the Vatican City.svg   Vatican City

The Exarchate of Ravenna or of Italy (Latin : Exarchatus Ravennatis) was a lordship of the Eastern Roman Empire today referred to by some as the Byzantine Empire in Italy, from 584 to 751, when the last exarch was put to death by the Lombards. [1] It was one of two exarchates established following the western reconquests under Emperor Justinian to more effectively administer the territories, along with the Exarchate of Africa.

Byzantine Empire Roman Empire during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages

The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It survived the fragmentation and fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD and continued to exist for an additional thousand years until it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. During most of its existence, the empire was the most powerful economic, cultural and military force in Europe. "Byzantine Empire" is a term created after the end of the realm; its citizens continued to refer to their empire simply as the Roman Empire, or Romania (Ῥωμανία), and to themselves as "Romans".

Exarch

The term exarch comes from the Ancient Greek ἔξαρχος, exarchos, and designates holders of various historical offices, some of them being political or military and others being ecclesiastical.

Lombards Historical ethnical group

The Lombards or Longobards were a Germanic people who ruled most of the Italian Peninsula from 568 to 774.

Contents

Introduction

Ravenna became the capital of the Western Roman Empire in 402 under Honorius, due to its fine harbour with access to the Adriatic and its ideal defensive location amidst impassable marshes. The city remained the capital of the Empire until 476, when it became the capital of Odoacer, and then of the Ostrogoths under Theodoric the Great.

Ravenna Comune in Emilia-Romagna, Italy

Ravenna is the capital city of the Province of Ravenna, in the Emilia-Romagna region of Northern Italy. It was the capital city of the Western Roman Empire from 402 until that empire collapsed in 476. It then served as the capital of the Ostrogothic Kingdom until it was re-conquered in 540 by the Byzantine Empire. Afterwards, the city formed the centre of the Byzantine Exarchate of Ravenna until the invasion of the Lombards in 751, after which it became the seat of the Kingdom of the Lombards.

Western Roman Empire Independently administered western provinces of the Roman Empire

In historiography, the Western Roman Empire refers to the western provinces of the Roman Empire at any time during which they were administered by a separate independent Imperial court; in particular, this term is used to describe the period from 395 to 476, where there were separate coequal courts dividing the governance of the empire in the Western and the Eastern provinces, with a distinct imperial succession in the separate courts. The terms Western Roman Empire and Eastern Roman Empire are modern descriptions that describe political entities that were de facto independent; contemporary Romans did not consider the Empire to have been split into two separate empires but viewed it as a single polity governed by two separate imperial courts as an administrative expediency. The Western Roman Empire collapsed in 476, and the Western imperial court was formally dissolved in 480. The Eastern imperial court survived until 1453.

Honorius (emperor) Augustus of the Western Roman Empire

Honorius was Western Roman Emperor from 395 to 423. He was the younger son of emperor Theodosius I and his first wife Aelia Flaccilla, and brother of Arcadius, who was the Eastern Emperor from 395 until his death in 408. During his reign, Rome was sacked for the first time in almost 800 years.

It remained the capital of the Ostrogothic Kingdom, but in 540 during the Gothic War (535–554), Ravenna was occupied by the Byzantine general Belisarius. After this reconquest it became the seat of the provincial governor. At that time, the administrative structure of Italy followed, with some modifications, the old system established by Emperor Diocletian, and retained by Odoacer and the Goths.

Ostrogothic Kingdom former country

The Ostrogothic Kingdom, officially the Kingdom of Italy, was established by the Ostrogoths in Italy and neighbouring areas from 493 to 553.

Gothic War (535–554) A war between the Byzantine Empire and the Ostrogothic Kingdom of Italy

The Gothic War between the Byzantine Empire during the reign of Emperor Justinian I and the Ostrogothic Kingdom of Italy took place from 535 until 554 in the Italian peninsula, Dalmatia, Sardinia, Sicily and Corsica. The war had its roots in the ambition of the East Roman Emperor Justinian I to recover the provinces of the former Western Roman Empire, which the Romans had lost to invading barbarian tribes in the previous century.

Belisarius Byzantine general

Flavius Belisarius was a military commander of the Byzantine Empire. He was instrumental in the reconquest of much of the Mediterranean territory belonging to the former Western Roman Empire, which had been lost less than a century before.

Lombard invasion and Byzantine reaction

The Byzantines (orange) and the Lombards (cyan) in 590. Agilulf's Italy.png
The Byzantines (orange) and the Lombards (cyan) in 590.

In 568, the Lombards under King Alboin, together with other Germanic allies, invaded Northern Italy. The area had only a few years ago been completely pacified, and had suffered greatly during the long Gothic War. The local Byzantine forces were weak, and after taking several towns, in 569 the Lombards conquered Milan.[ citation needed ] They took Pavia after a three-year siege in 572, and made it their capital. [2] In subsequent years, they took Tuscany. Others, under Faroald and Zotto, penetrated into Central and Southern Italy, where they established the duchies of Spoleto and Benevento. [3] However, after Alboin's murder in 573, the Lombards fragmented into several autonomous duchies (the "Rule of the Dukes").

Alboin King of the Lombards

Alboin was king of the Lombards from about 560 until 572. During his reign the Lombards ended their migrations by settling in Italy, the northern part of which Alboin conquered between 569 and 572. He had a lasting effect on Italy and the Pannonian Basin; in the former his invasion marked the beginning of centuries of Lombard rule, and in the latter his defeat of the Gepids and his departure from Pannonia ended the dominance there of the Germanic peoples.

Northern Italy Place in Italy

Northern Italy is a geographical and cultural region in the northern part of Italy. Non-administrative, it consists of eight administrative Regions in northern Italy: Aosta Valley, Piedmont, Liguria, Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna, Veneto, Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol. As of 2014, its population was 27,801,460. Rhaeto-Romance and Gallo-Italic languages are spoken in the region, as opposed to the Italo-Dalmatian languages spoken in the rest of Italy.

Milan Italian city

Milan is a city in northern Italy, capital of Lombardy, and the second-most populous city in Italy after Rome, with the city proper having a population of 1,395,274 while its metropolitan city has a population of 3,257,535. Its continuously built-up urban area has a population estimated to be about 5,270,000 over 1,891 square kilometres. The wider Milan metropolitan area, known as Greater Milan, is a polycentric metropolitan region that extends over central Lombardy and eastern Piedmont and which counts an estimated total population of 7.5 million, making it by far the largest metropolitan area in Italy and the 54th largest in the world. Milan served as capital of the Western Roman Empire from 286 to 402 and the Duchy of Milan during the medieval period and early modern age.

Emperor Justin II tried to take advantage of this, and in 576 he sent his son-in-law, Baduarius, to Italy. However, he was defeated and killed in battle, [4] and the continuing crises in the Balkans and the East meant that another imperial effort at reconquest was not possible. Because of the Lombard incursions, the Roman possessions had fragmented into several isolated territories, and in 580, Emperor Tiberius II reorganized them into five province eparchies: the Annonaria in northern Italy around Ravenna, Calabria, Campania, Emilia and Liguria, and the Urbicaria around the city of Rome (Urbs). Thus by the end of the 6th century the new order of powers had settled into a stable pattern. Ravenna, governed by its exarch, who held civil and military authority in addition to his ecclesiastical office, was confined to the city, its port and environs as far north as the Po, beyond which lay territory of the duke of Venice, nominally in imperial service, and south to the Marecchia River, beyond which lay the Duchy of the Pentapolis on the Adriatic, also under a duke nominally representing the Emperor of the East. [5]

Justin II Augustus

Justin II was Eastern Roman Emperor from 565 to 574. He was the husband of Sophia, nephew of Justinian I and the Empress Theodora, and was therefore a member of the Justinian Dynasty. His reign was marked by war with the Sassanid Empire, and the loss of the greater part of Italy. He presented the Cross of Justin II to Saint Peter's, Rome.

Baduarius was an East Roman (Byzantine) aristocrat, the son-in-law of Byzantine emperor Justin II. Theophanes the Confessor erroneously calls him a brother of the Emperor.

Balkans Geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe

The BalkansBAWL-kənz, also known as the Balkan Peninsula, is a geographic area in Southeast Europe with various definitions and meanings, including geopolitical and historical. The region takes its name from the Balkan Mountains that stretch throughout the whole of Bulgaria from the Serbian–Bulgarian border to the Black Sea coast. The Balkan Peninsula is bordered by the Adriatic Sea on the northwest, the Ionian Sea on the southwest, the Aegean Sea in the south and southeast, and the Black Sea on the east and northeast. The northern border of the peninsula is variously defined. The highest point of the Balkans is Mount Musala, 2,925 metres (9,596 ft), in the Rila mountain range, Bulgaria.

Exarchate

The exarchate was organised into a group of duchies (Rome, Venetia, Calabria, Naples, Perugia, Pentapolis, Lucania, etc.) which were mainly the coastal cities in the Italian peninsula since the Lombards held the advantage in the hinterland.

Duchy of Rome

The Duchy of Rome was a state within the Byzantine Exarchate of Ravenna. Like other Byzantine states in Italy, it was ruled by an imperial functionary with the title dux. The duchy often came into conflict with the Papacy over supremacy within Rome. The duchy was founded by the conquest of Emperor Justinian I in 533 AD. After the founding of the Papal States in 751, the title of Duke of Rome fell into disuse.

Duchy of Naples

The Duchy of Naples began as a Byzantine province that was constituted in the seventh century, in the reduced coastal lands that the Lombards had not conquered during their invasion of Italy in the sixth century. It was governed by a military commander (dux), and rapidly became a de facto independent state, lasting more than five centuries during the Early and High Middle Ages. The modern city of Naples remains a significant region of Italy, today.

Duchy of Perugia

The Duchy of Perugia was a duchy in the Italian part of the Byzantine Empire. Its civil and military administration was overseen by a duke (dux) appointed by and under the authority originally of the Praetorian Prefect of Italy (554–584) and later of the Exarch of Ravenna (584–751). Its chief city and namesake was Perugia (Perusia), located at its centre. It was a band of territory connecting the Duchy of the Pentapolis to its northeast with the Duchy of Rome to its southwest, and separating the duchies of Tuscia and Spoleto, both parts of the Lombard Kingdom of Italy. It was of great strategic significance to the Byzantines since it provided communication between Rome, the city of the Popes, and Ravenna, the capital of the Exarchate. Since it cut off the Duke of Spoleto from his nominal overlord, the king ruling from Pavia, it also disturbed the Lombard kingdom, which was a constant thorn in the Byzantines' side. This strategic importance meant that many Lombard and Byzantine armies passed through it.

The civil and military head of these imperial possessions, the exarch himself, was the representative at Ravenna of the emperor in Constantinople. The surrounding territory reached from the River Po, which served as the boundary with Venice in the north, to the Pentapolis at Rimini in the south, the border of the "five cities" in the Marches along the Adriatic coast, and reached even cities not on the coast, such as Forlì. All this territory, which lay on the eastern flank of the Apennines, was under the exarch's direct administration and formed the Exarchate in the strictest sense. Surrounding territories were governed by dukes and magistri militium more or less subject to his authority. From the perspective of Constantinople, the Exarchate consisted of the province of Italy.

The Exarchate of Ravenna was not the sole Byzantine province in Italy. Byzantine Sicily formed a separate government, and Corsica and Sardinia, while they remained Byzantine, belonged to the Exarchate of Africa.

The Lombards had their capital at Pavia and controlled the great valley of the Po. The Lombard wedge in Italy spread to the south, and established duchies at Spoleto and Beneventum; they controlled the interior, while Byzantine governors more or less controlled the coasts.

Piedmont, Lombardy, the interior mainland of Venetia, Tuscany and the interior of Campania belonged to the Lombards, and bit by bit the Imperial representative in Italy lost all genuine power, though in name he controlled areas like Liguria (completely lost in 640 to the Lombards), or Naples and Calabria (being overrun by the Lombard duchy of Benevento). In Rome, the pope was the real master.

At the end, 740, the Exarchate consisted of Istria, Venetia, Ferrara, Ravenna (the exarchate in the limited sense), with the Pentapolis, and Perugia.

These fragments of the province of Italy, as it was when reconquered for Justinian, were almost all lost, either to the Lombards, who finally conquered Ravenna itself in 751, or by the revolt of the pope, who finally separated from the Empire on the issue of the iconoclastic reforms.

The relationship between the Pope in Rome and the Exarch in Ravenna was a dynamic that could hurt or help the empire. The Papacy could be a vehicle for local discontent. The old Roman senatorial aristocracy resented being governed by an Exarch who was considered by many a meddlesome foreigner. Thus the exarch faced threats from without as well as from within, hampering much real progress and development.

In its internal history the exarchate was subject to the splintering influences which were leading to the subdivision of sovereignty and the establishment of feudalism throughout Europe. Step by step, and in spite of the efforts of the emperors at Constantinople, the great imperial officials became local landowners, the lesser owners of land were increasingly kinsmen or at least associates of these officials, and new allegiances intruded on the sphere of imperial administration. Meanwhile, the necessity for providing for the defence of the imperial territories against the Lombards led to the formation of local militias, who at first were attached to the imperial regiments, but gradually became independent, as they were recruited entirely locally. These armed men formed the exercitus romanae militiae, who were the forerunners of the free armed burghers of the Italian cities of the Middle Ages. Other cities of the exarchate were organized on the same model.

End of the Exarchate

During the 6th and 7th centuries, the growing menace of the Lombards and the Franks, as well as the split between Eastern and Western Christendom inspired both by iconoclastic emperors and medieval developments in Latin theology and culminating in the acrimonious rivalry between the Pope of Rome and the Patriarch of Constantinople, made the position of the exarch more and more untenable.

Ravenna remained the seat of the exarch until the revolt of 727 over iconoclasm. Eutychius, the last exarch of Ravenna, was killed by the Lombards in 751. The exarchate was reorganized as the Catepanate of Italy headquartered in Bari which was lost to the Saracen Berbers in 847 and only recovered in 871.

When in 756 the Franks drove the Lombards out, Pope Stephen II claimed the exarchate. His ally Pepin the Younger, King of the Franks, donated the conquered lands of the former exarchate to the Papacy in 756; this donation, which was confirmed by his son Charlemagne in 774, marked the beginning of the temporal power of the popes as the Patrimony of Saint Peter. The archbishoprics within the former exarchate, however, had developed traditions of local secular power and independence, which contributed to the fragmenting localization of powers. Three centuries later, that independence would fuel the rise of the independent communes.

So the Exarchate disappeared, and the small remnants of the imperial possessions on the mainland, Naples and Calabria, passed under the authority of the Catapan of Italy, and when Sicily was conquered by Arabs in the 9th century the remnants were erected into the themes of Calabria and Langobardia. Istria at the head of the Adriatic was attached to Dalmatia.

Exarchs of Ravenna

Note: For some exarchs there exists some uncertainty over their exact tenure dates.

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Eutychius was the last Exarch of Ravenna.

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Byzantine Papacy Byzantine domination of the Roman papacy, 537 to 752

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References

  1. Moffat 2017, p. 55.
  2. Paul the Deacon. "Book 2:ch. 26-27". Historia Langobardorum.
  3. Hodgkin. The Lombard Invasion. Italy and Her Invaders, Vol. 5, Book VI. pp. 71–73.
  4. John of Biclaro. Chronicle.
  5. Hallenbeck. "Pavia and Rome: The Lombard Monarchy and the Papacy in the Eighth Century".Cite journal requires |journal= (help)

Sources