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Three Millennia of Greek Literature

Vasilief, A History of the Byzantine Empire

Justinian the Great and his successors (518-610)

Slavs and Avars 


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Page 3

The Lombards had soon founded in Italy a large Germanic kingdom. Tiberius, and even more earnestly Maurice, tried to establish an alliance with the Frankish king Childebert II (570-595) in the hope of inducing him to open hostilities against the Lombards in Italy, but the effort ended in failure. Several embassies were exchanged, and Childebert did several times send troops to Italy, but always with the aim of reconquering the ancient Frankish possessions for himself rather than with the intention of helping Maurice. More than a century and a half was to elapse before the Frankish kings, summoned by the pope not the Emperor, were able to destroy the Lombard domination in Italy. Left to its own fate, Rome, which withstood more than one Lombard siege, found its protector in the person of the pope, who was forced not only to care for the spiritual life of his Roman flock but also to organize the defense of the city against the Lombards. It was at this time, at the end of the sixth century, that the Roman Church produced one of its most remarkable leaders, pope Gregory I, the Great. He had earlier been papal apocrisiarius or nuncio at Constantinople, where he resided some six years without succeeding in mastering even the rudiments of the Greek language. But in spite of this linguistic deficiency he was very well acquainted with the life and policies of Constantinople.

The Lombard conquest of Italy demonstrated clearly the impotence of Justinian's external policy in the West, where the Empire did not possess sufficient forces for maintaining the conquered Ostrogothic kingdom. It also laid the foundation for the gradual alienation of Italy from the Byzantine Empire and for the weakening of the imperial political authority in Italy

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