Beginning with the tetrarchy (q.v.), the political importance of Rome (q.v.) and of Italy declined with the establishment of new imperial residences outside Rome (e.g., Maximian [q.v.] ruled from Milan [q.v.]). This process increased with the foundation of Constantinople (q.v.) in 330, and with the creation of eastern and western co-emperors later in the fourth century. Milan and, after 402, Ravenna (q.v.), were favored residences of the western emperors (q.v.). Invasion and conquest added to Italy's decline. Incursions by Alaric's Visigoths (qq.v.) culminated in their sack of Rome in 410. Italy suffered further depredation by the Vandals (q.v.), who again sacked Rome in 455. The overthrow of Romulus Augustulus (q.v.) in 476 and the conquest of Ravenna by the Ostrogoths (q.v.) in 493 created an Ostrogothic state. Justinian I (q.v.) reconquered Italy from the Ostrogoths in a long war that lasted from 535-562. What resulted was the devastation of Milan (q.v.), as well as the depopulation of Rome (q.v.) and of much of Italy. During the midst of this war, a force of Franks and Alemanni (qq.v) invaded Italy in 553-554; it was annihilated by Narses (q.v.). Not long after the war's conclusion, Justinian I's victory was overturned by the Lombard (q.v.) invasion of Italy in 568. Except for Ravenna and Venice (q.v.) in the north, Byzantium (q.v.) was relegated to southern Italy. After 568, Rome began to fend for itself under the leadership of the papacy (q.v.), while Byzantine possessions were reorganized as the Exarchate (q.v.) of Ravenna. However, in 751 the Lombards captured Ravenna, and not long after (in 787) northern Italy was conquered by Charlemagne (q.v.). Byzantine possessions in southern Italy were frequently endangered by Arab (q.v.) raids and Lombard revolts that required occasional military intervention, e.g., by Basil I, by katepano Basil Boiannes, and George Maniakes (qq.v.). However, it was the Norman (q.v.) expansion in southern Italy, beginning in 1016 and culminating in 1071 with the conquest of Bari, that ejected Byzantium from Italy.

Historical Dictionary of Byzantium . .

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