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The Gothic War between the East Roman (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. It was one of the last of the many Gothic Wars with the Roman Empire. 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 (the Migration Period).

The war followed the East Roman reconquest of the province of Africa from the Vandals. Historians commonly divide the war into two phases:

In 554 Justinian promulgated the Pragmatic sanction which prescribed Italy's new government. Several cities in northern Italy held out against the East Romans until 562. By the end of the war Italy had been devastated and depopulated. The East Romans found themselves incapable of resisting an invasion by the Lombards in 568, which resulted in Constantinople permanently losing control over large parts of the Italian peninsula.

Background

Italy under the Goths

In 476 Odoacer deposed Emperor Romulus Augustulus and declared himself rex Italiae (King of Italy), resulting in the final dissolution of the Western Roman Empire in Italy. Although Odoacer recognised the nominal suzerainty of the Eastern Emperor, Zeno, his independent policies and increasing strength made him a threat in the eyes of Constantinople. To provide a buffer, the Ostrogoths, under their leader, Theodoric the Great, were settled as foederati (allies) of the Empire in the western Balkans, but unrest continued. Zeno sent the Ostrogoths to Italy as the representatives of the Empire to remove Odoacer. Theodoric and the Goths defeated Odoacer and Italy came under Gothic rule. In the arrangement between Theodoric and Zeno, and his successor Anastasius, the land and its people were regarded as part of the Empire, with Theodoric a viceroy and head of the army (magister militum).[1] This arrangement was scrupulously observed by Theodoric; there was continuity in civil administration, which was staffed exclusively by Romans, and legislation remained the preserve of the Emperor.[2] The army, on the other hand, was exclusively Gothic, under the authority of their chiefs and courts.[3] The peoples were also divided by religion: the Romans were Chalcedonian Christian, while the Goths were Arian Christians. Unlike the Vandals or the early Visigoths the Goths practised considerable religious tolerance.[4] The

The Gothic War between the East Roman (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. It was one of the last of the many Gothic Wars with the Roman Empire. 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 (the Migration Period).

The war followed the East Roman reconquest of the province of Africa from the Vandals. Historians commonly divide the war into two phases:

In 554 Justinian promulgated the Pragmatic sanction which prescribed Italy's new government. Several cities in northern Italy held out against the East Romans until 562. By the end of the war Italy had been devastated and depopulated. The East Romans found themselves incapable of resisting an invasion by the Lombards in 568, which resulted in Constantinople permanently losing control over large parts of the Italian peninsula.