ROME AND LATIUM IN THE DARK AGES


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 THE ROMAN CHURCH

  
                         THE LATIUM                        

THE SARACEN ROBBERS


Rome was the hub of Roman Empire, both physically, as the center of the road system, and psychologically, as the capital of the world. But when Emperor Constantine the Great founded the city of Constantinople as the Christian "new Rome" (326), ancient Rome was slowly declining. The decline of Rome was the natural effect of immoderate greatness, as Gibbon wrote. Also he remarked:" Instead of inquiring why the Roman empire was destroyed, we should rather be surprised that it had subsisted so long".
In 410 and 455 Rome was sacked by invading Germanic tribes, then occuped by the Ostrogothic and Byzantine army. Lastly, in 593, Lombards laid siege to Rome. In the meanwhile the influence of the Christian Church began to make itself felt more consistently; the Roman Church also began  to assume political and administrative functions due to repeated territorial acquisitions (St. Peter's Patrimony).
The Franks descended into Italy to support the pope against the Lombards: the victory of Charlemagne over the Lombard Desiderius involved with it the confirmation of the Church's temporal power. The Patrimony of St. Peter was to become the future Papal States (800). The Christian Church sought to continue the authority and prestige of Rome: il became the spiritual capital of the new Europe, the seat of Papacy and the "Holy City" of Christian pilgrims.
Rome is also the capital city of Latium region, in Central Italy, on the Tyrrhenian side of the peninsula. The history of Rome is inseparable from its hinterland history. Even the language spoken  by Romans, Latin, derives from Latium. Though penalized by the extraordinary centralizing influence exerted by Rome, the whole of Latium has a great artistic and historical heritage .
Rome and Latium went through a very difficult period during  the 9 C., when Sicily fell entirely into Saracen hands as a consequence of Arab expansion throughout the Mediterranean. In the South of Italy there began to appear in this period the first independent city-states such as Naples, Amalfi, Salerno and Gaeta. They became the base for Saracen raids along the coasts or even into the interior of the Italian peninsula. The whole of Latium as well as  St. Peter's and St. Paul's Basilicas in Rome were sacked by Saracens and their Italian comrades. You can read some documents on this subject (including their translation from Latin into Italian) in the new book "I Saraceni nel Lazio (VIII-X secolo)".