By Neil John Christie
PhD Dissertation, University of Newcastle, 1985
Abstract: This thesis considers the patterns of settlement in Northern and Central Italy during the Byzantine and Longobard epochs, with close attention to the form of military occupation along the various provincial borders.
Chapter One considers aspects of both Byzantine and Longobard military organisation, in particular the question of Byzantine mobility and military landholding, and the origin of the Longobard arimanni. Chapter Two is divided into three sections: the first concerns the function and strategy of the fortifications and defensive systems of early medieval Italy and compares this to the pattern in Byzantine Africa; the second discusses the evidence for ‘unofficial’, non-military or refuge sites in the Alpine lands and throughout Italy; and the third describes the form of various defended settlements, considering their circuits and internal structurings.
In Chapter Three the evolution of the defensive systems in the Alps is traced from those erected by Rome and then the Ostrogoths, to those of Byzantium and the Longobards. Chapter Four expands the framework of Chapter Three, by discussing in detail the historical and archaeological evidence for the various regions of the Italian Alps in late antiquity, and also considers the data for Noricum, Pannonia and Istria.
The fifth chapter investigates the defensive lines and settlement changes that developed in the patchwork of territories that arose within Italy as a result of the Byzantine-Longobard wars, again combining the historical and archaeological data. It also contains an introductory discussion on the effects of the Longobard invasion and expansion on the administration of the imperial possessions. The Conclusion briefly summarises the study.