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Three Millennia of Greek Literature

Vasilief, A History of the Byzantine Empire

Justinian the Great and his successors (518-610)

Formation of the exarchates and the revolution of 610 


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The exarch, as a representative of imperial power, followed in his administration certain principles of Caesaropapism, so much favored by the emperors. This policy was expressed in such acts, for example, as the interference as a final authority in the religious affairs of the exarchate. Unlimited in his power, the exarch was given imperial honors. His palace at Ravenna was considered sacred and called Sacrum palatium, a name usually applied only to an imperial residence. Whenever he arrived at Rome, he was accorded an imperial reception: the senate, the clergy, and the populace met him outside the city walls in triumphant procession. All military affairs, the entire administration, judicial and financial matters all were at the full disposal of the exarch.

Just as the Ravennese exarchate arose because of the attacks of the Lombards in Italy, so the formation of the African exarchate in the place of the former Vandal kingdom was called forth by a similar menace on the part of the native African Moors, or, as they are sometimes called in sources, the Maurusii (Berbers), who frequently engaged in serious uprisings against the Byzantine troops who occupied that country. The beginning of the African, or Carthaginian, exarchate (often called so because the residence of the exarch was at Carthage) dates also from the end of the sixth century, the time of Emperor Maurice. The African exarchate was founded on the same principles as its predecessor at Ravenna, and was endowed with similar unlimited power.

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