In connection with the Lombard conquest an important change took place in the government of Italy, which, together with a similar contemporary innovation in the administration of North Africa, laid the foundation for the new provincial administration of the Empire: the so-called system of themes. The Byzantine authorities in Italy had not been able to offer the proper resistance to the Lombards, who conquered two-thirds of the peninsula with great ease. Therefore in the face of great danger, the Byzantine government determined to strengthen its power in Italy by placing the civil administrative functions in the hands of the military rulers. Byzantine administration in Italy was to be headed by a military governor-general, the exarch, who was to direct the activities of all civil officials from his residence at Ravenna, The formation of the Ravenna exarchate dates back to the end of the sixth century, to the period of Emperor Maurice. This combination of administrative and judicial functions with military authority did not involve the immediate abolition of civil officials. They continued to exist along with the military rulers, but acted under the guidance of the military exarch. Only later the civil officials seem to have been completely replaced by military authorities.
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