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Old December 24th, 2017, 05:31 PM   #1
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Why did the ERE lose Italy three times.


I just wanted to know one simple question. Why did the Eastern Roman Empire lose the Italian peninsula and Dalmatia three times.

First! Odaocer's Kingdom of Italy (476-493) was a vassal state (possibly territory) of the ERE. But lost it to the Ostrogoths. But later reclaimed by Justinian but only to lose some land by the Lombards.
Second! The Theme of Sicily but it was lost to the franks, moors and Arabs.
Third! Southern Italy was lost to the Normans.

Of course there was the Duchy of Rome that have become the Papal States and the Duchy of Venice became independent in becoming a kingdom.

What was the true factors of the ERE losing Italy?

Last edited by Azarius Balios; December 24th, 2017 at 05:34 PM.
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Old December 24th, 2017, 11:42 PM   #2

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Probably the Gothic War can give us a clue to understand what was going on in the Italic peninsula.

But before of that ... First of all, the Ostrogoths offered to the local populations something not different from the Roman context, leaving to Romans the administration and keeping just the control of the Army. Local populations preferred the Western Christianity to the Eastern one and they weren't so subjugated by the Goths. The things changed after the death of Theodoric when his daughter, Amalasunta, Amalaswintha, [she had to run a co-regency in 526CE since the son of Theodoric Atalaric was too young] wasn't able [despite she had a Roman education and she wanted good relations with the local populations] to obtain the support of all the Goths [her tale is sad, a cousin, Teodato, confined her on a isle in a lake where she got assassinated ... all this to get the throne].

The problems with the locals weakened Ostrogoth military forces [it's difficult to have a great army without suitable supplies] and the Byzantines came back.

But the Gothic Wars meant years and years of disorder, misery and illnesses for the population. And this meant, again, no suitable economy to support, locally, a wide army. The Lombards hadn't all those troubles to invade Italy and at the beginning of their domain they did the same mistake: their Dukes occupied the cities leaving the countryside to its destiny. It was an other economical disaster [Franks, entering the Italian lands to face the Lombards decided to go back to Gaul, since the land was so poor and they met a population of ragamuffins!].

Only King Authari [second part of VI century CE] changed the context, finally understanding that also a military kingdom needs a good economy to stand!

So, if you want my opinion ...

1. Romans preferred the Catholic - Western model and the Ostrogoths were enough smart to keep it.

2. The fall of the Ostrogoth Kingdom and the long following war meant that local economy got destroyed, so that to support the conquest and to keep those lands the ERE had to send all the necessary from the homeland to the Italian peninsula [quite a tremendous effort in the long term].

3. The arrival of the Lombards didn't allow the Eastern Romans to rebuilt a lasting and rich economical and administrative system all around the peninsula.

4. The presence of the Papacy at Rome was anyway a source of troubles.
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Old December 25th, 2017, 04:45 AM   #3
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Odoacer as a vassel of Constantinople was something of a convenient fiction. For all intents and purposes, Odoacer was an independent ruler. However, Odoacer and Emperor Zeno preferred, for political reasons, the pretend that Odoacer was a vassel.

Constantinople had successfully put Valentinian III on the western throne. But later eastern appointments to the western throne, Anthemius and Juius Nepos, had struggled to find any political support in the west. The west preferred to choose its own rulers and saw Anthemius and Nepos as interlopers. Odoacer was a product of the west. His political support derived from his control of the Army of Italy. He overthrew Nepos but did not want a war with Constantinople. So he made peace by pretending to be a vassel of the eastern emperor - Zeno. Zeno did not like that his man Nepos had been overthrown but also did not want a war over it, so he also went along with the fiction, ie lie. However, Odoacer ruled Italy pretty much as he pleased. Zeno had little influence over Italian affairs. As far as I know, the only concession Odoacer ever gave Zeno was to mint money with Zeno's name on it, not Odoacer's.

I always understood the Ostrogothic conquest of 493 as an eastern attempt to kill two birds with one stone. Theodoric the Great defeated the unruly Odoacer, but the conquest was also a way for Zeno to rid the Eastern Empire of the unruly Ostrogoths. If Zeno had gotten his way, Theodoric would have replaced Odoacer as Constantinople's vassel in Italy, but Theodoric proved even more unruly than Odoacer had been.

Last edited by Chlodio; December 25th, 2017 at 04:47 AM.
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Old December 25th, 2017, 05:36 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlpinLuke View Post
Probably the Gothic War can give us a clue to understand what was going on in the Italic peninsula.



The problems with the locals weakened Ostrogoth military forces [it's difficult to have a great army without suitable supplies] and the Byzantines came back.

But the Gothic Wars meant years and years of disorder, misery and illnesses for the population. And this meant, again, no suitable economy to support, locally, a wide army. The Lombards hadn't all those troubles to invade Italy and at the beginning of their domain they did the same mistake: their Dukes occupied the cities leaving the countryside to its destiny. It was an other economical disaster [Franks, entering the Italian lands to face the Lombards decided to go back to Gaul, since the land was so poor and they met a population of ragamuffins!].

Only King Authari [second part of VI century CE] changed the context, finally understanding that also a military kingdom needs a good economy to stand!

So, if you want my opinion ...

1. Romans preferred the Catholic - Western model and the Ostrogoths were enough smart to keep it.

2. The fall of the Ostrogoth Kingdom and the long following war meant that local economy got destroyed, so that to support the conquest and to keep those lands the ERE had to send all the necessary from the homeland to the Italian peninsula [quite a tremendous effort in the long term].

3. The arrival of the Lombards didn't allow the Eastern Romans to rebuilt a lasting and rich economical and administrative system all around the peninsula.

4. The presence of the Papacy at Rome was anyway a source of troubles.
Hmm! So it was Italo-Roman locals that didn't want to serve in the Ostrogothic militia (since they couldn't have a proper army), and it was the papacy that just basically ruined Italy because they wanted everything their own way. well that what happens when you have a religion that wants to do politics. as it bound to fail. And the Lombards were just a thorn up everyone's sides.
I understand why the Franks preferred Gaul as they were successful in creating an empire out of it.

Yet! the ERE was quite successful in keeping southern Italy, Sicily, Corisca, Sardinia, and Venice. Whereas the duchy of Rome was still in the ERE until the irrelevant schism also had a role.

And Euphemius...there's that man. I mean why do commanders trying to switch sides, go to the enemy and yet failed costing constantinople lots of money in these failed uprising from their generals.


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Originally Posted by Chlodio View Post
Odoacer as a vassel of Constantinople was something of a convenient fiction. For all intents and purposes, Odoacer was an independent ruler. However, Odoacer and Emperor Zeno preferred, for political reasons, the pretend that Odoacer was a vassel.

Constantinople had successfully put Valentinian III on the western throne. But later eastern appointments to the western throne, Anthemius and Juius Nepos, had struggled to find any political support in the west. The west preferred to choose its own rulers and saw Anthemius and Nepos as interlopers. Odoacer was a product of the west. His political support derived from his control of the Army of Italy. He overthrew Nepos but did not want a war with Constantinople. So he made peace by pretending to be a vassel of the eastern emperor - Zeno. Zeno did not like that his man Nepos had been overthrown but also did not want a war over it, so he also went along with the fiction, ie lie. However, Odoacer ruled Italy pretty much as he pleased. Zeno had little influence over Italian affairs. As far as I know, the only concession Odoacer ever gave Zeno was to mint money with Zeno's name on it, not Odoacer's.

I always understood the Ostrogothic conquest of 493 as an eastern attempt to kill two birds with one stone. Theodoric the Great defeated the unruly Odoacer, but the conquest was also a way for Zeno to rid the Eastern Empire of the unruly Ostrogoths. If Zeno had gotten his way, Theodoric would have replaced Odoacer as Constantinople's vassel in Italy, but Theodoric proved even more unruly than Odoacer had been.
It seems that Odoacer didn't predict his own death. I mean. sure he has a kingdom. But unfortunately for him he doesn't have a reliable and stable military. However! He had some flaws (and the same with Zeno) and was power hungry believing he can outsmart a superpower. I guess he should've had the Kingdom of Italy be a vassal since the ostrogoths proved fatal and yet they took were proved to be weak.

Last edited by Azarius Balios; December 25th, 2017 at 05:41 AM.
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Old December 26th, 2017, 12:22 AM   #5

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At end, after the Ostrogoth Kingdom over the peninsula [and part of Dalmatia], the following chaos didn't allow to organize a Roman administration [a working and functional Roman administration] in all Italian lands.

Eastern Romans were able to keep wide extensions of territory and important cities, but without a suitable local condition to keep the whole peninsula wasn't possible.

Probably it was the process of conversion of the Lombards to Catholicism which gave some chances to do something about a reunion with the Roman Empire, but the Papacy managed this dynamic in his own favor.

Alboino, planning to invade Italy, decided to adopt the Arianism, just to obtain the support of the Goths against the Eastern Romans.

Still Authari prohibited to baptize the children with Catholic rite [second part of VI century CE], not to make Lombards "too Roman", anyway the process was unstoppable.

It was Queen Teodolinda [wife of Authari and then of Agilulfo and the one of the "Cup of Sapphire", one of the possible Grail] the key figure of this process [she was in friendly contacts with Pope Gregorius].

If the Pope was less localist [I was saying "parochial"], he would have seen an opportunity to make Byzantine and Lombards get close. If this happened in early VII century CE ...

But the Papacy has different plans: he decided to ask for help to the Franks to get rid of Lombards and Eastern Romans ... to impose his religious authority on Western Europe [and at the end the Pope will claim the right to crown Kings ...].
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Old December 26th, 2017, 06:13 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlpinLuke View Post
At end, after the Ostrogoth Kingdom over the peninsula [and part of Dalmatia], the following chaos didn't allow to organize a Roman administration [a working and functional Roman administration] in all Italian lands.

Eastern Romans were able to keep wide extensions of territory and important cities, but without a suitable local condition to keep the whole peninsula wasn't possible.

But the Papacy has different plans: he decided to ask for help to the Franks to get rid of Lombards and Eastern Romans ... to impose his religious authority on Western Europe [and at the end the Pope will claim the right to crown Kings ...].
I think it was also due that the Sassanids made things worse. Until Heraclius just put an end to it.

The Eastern Romans did manage to keep them. If the they still managed to keep the Theme of Sicily a little longer throughout the Macedonian dynasty (which it did but under Basil I. And only kept eastern Sicily and Sardinia until the arrival of the Normans after the disaster at manzikert) which would've been a great naval and maritime stronghold. But of course like you said. The papacy didn't make things go to well. Even at one point the Carolingian Franks were getting tired of them always getting into there politics.

I remember reading that Otto III wanted a reunion and reunification of the HRE and ERE since his mother is a Eastern roman and niece to Ioannes Tzimiskes. Since technically Otto III was Ioannes's grandnephew. and he wanted to marry a Byzantine woman and bring Rome back as capital. But there was distrust in the court as they wanted him to marry a Saxon or some type of Germanic. sadly he was poisoned.if he wasn't then we might have seen a type of reunion.

Last edited by Azarius Balios; December 26th, 2017 at 06:16 AM.
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Old December 26th, 2017, 07:53 AM   #7

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Azarius Balios View Post
I think it was also due that the Sassanids made things worse. Until Heraclius just put an end to it.

The Eastern Romans did manage to keep them. If the they still managed to keep the Theme of Sicily a little longer throughout the Macedonian dynasty (which it did but under Basil I. And only kept eastern Sicily and Sardinia until the arrival of the Normans after the disaster at manzikert) which would've been a great naval and maritime stronghold. But of course like you said. The papacy didn't make things go to well. Even at one point the Carolingian Franks were getting tired of them always getting into there politics.

I remember reading that Otto III wanted a reunion and reunification of the HRE and ERE since his mother is a Eastern roman and niece to Ioannes Tzimiskes. Since technically Otto III was Ioannes's grandnephew. and he wanted to marry a Byzantine woman and bring Rome back as capital. But there was distrust in the court as they wanted him to marry a Saxon or some type of Germanic. sadly he was poisoned.if he wasn't then we might have seen a type of reunion.
Not the first time, in Germanic environment, that a monarch is assassinated by groups of the aristocracy not liking his [or her, think to Amalasunta] politics.

But Otto III didn't meet the favor of the Romans when he moved the court to Rome. Hid idea to recreate the ancient Roman Empire [with the Eastern part] faced a certain resistance and for the matter of the villa a rebellion begun and he had to escape with Pope Silvester II ...

Actually he died at 22 just when a Byzantine Princess [Zoe] was landing ...

Why did he die? Malaria? Roman rumors accused Stefania to have poisoned him.
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Old December 26th, 2017, 08:39 AM   #8
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Byzantine Italy failed due to the 11th century collapse of Byzantine power. Had the empire been healthier internally it's likely Sicily would have been reclaimed by the Maniakes expedition. Then they would've held no less territory than they had since the 8th century.
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Old December 26th, 2017, 09:38 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by AlpinLuke View Post
Not the first time, in Germanic environment, that a monarch is assassinated by groups of the aristocracy not liking his [or her, think to Amalasunta] politics.

But Otto III didn't meet the favor of the Romans when he moved the court to Rome. Hid idea to recreate the ancient Roman Empire [with the Eastern part] faced a certain resistance and for the matter of the villa a rebellion begun and he had to escape with Pope Silvester II ...

Actually he died at 22 just when a Byzantine Princess [Zoe] was landing ...

Why did he die? Malaria? Roman rumors accused Stefania to have poisoned him.
If he had some success he would've tried to do it if he asked for help from Basil II. And he is basically half Roman. As he enamoured as he was of Greek and Roman culture and spoke 3 languages. If Zoe came a month before, then he just have some legitimacy and being proclaim co-emperor of the west.

I guess it was the closest we can get between east and west. It was probably many factors that contributed. Especially the campaign against the slavs and sending his army to deal with Rome was a problem that proved too much for a young man.


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Originally Posted by SufiMystic View Post
Byzantine Italy failed due to the 11th century collapse of Byzantine power. Had the empire been healthier internally it's likely Sicily would have been reclaimed by the Maniakes expedition. Then they would've held no less territory than they had since the 8th century.
That is what I thought. Basil I, Nikephoros Phokas and Basil II (especially basil II) brought the empire together and reclaimed a lot of land from the Bulgars, defeated the slavs and made diplomacy with the fatiminds. If the theme of Sicily were too last during and after Basil II's reign then the empire would've had no problem. Since he just pretty much put everyone down in place.

However! It was just destined that the Normans would have proved to be a detriment. as they grew in power in Britannia, Hibernia, and soon southern italy. Yet the schism proved to more of a problem than ever before.
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Old December 26th, 2017, 11:53 PM   #10

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It's out of doubt that the defeat at Manzikert in 1071 CE was a signal that something was going wrong [after two centuries of expansion] and that the pressure of the Turks was increasing more and more.

Probably the Basileus had to understand better the context: during the battle the Turks sent a delegation to ask him to stop the hostilities [the Turks wanted to face the Fatimid more than the Eastern Romans]. But there was the Sultan on the battlefield and the ERE forces were superior in number to the Turkish ones [in that moment].

On August 26th the Emperor attacked [sure to win].

It seems that after an initial positive phase, when the Emperor was quite isolated with his forces around the enemy camp, the Turks attacked him. It was enough that the cavalry commanded by Andronico Ducas attacked as well to keep the situation in favor of the Romans, but he [this is what seems to have happened] begun to say that the Emperor was dead, encouraging his forces to go away. The other ranks interpreted this behavior as a withdrawal and the entire Army escaped ...

The Basileus remained alone with the central ranks and he got captured.
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