According to ehuzhou, Italy abandoned itself without resistance to the new lord. Raised to king by his Goths, after the death of Zeno, he was then recognized king by the emperor, king of the Goths, while he exercised authority over the Romans only as magister militum : even if, in fact, he governed them independently from Byzantium. He too, like Odoacer, divided one third of the possessores’ lands among the hospites ; but certainly not of all possessores and not all of Italy. Perhaps also, whoever gave up the third, did not give it all of his patrimony, but only of those possessions located near or in the midst of Gothic settlements. Which, even now, had particular breadth around Ravenna; then, in Veneto, at the foot of the Alps, in Trento, in the Piceno, in the Sannio, in Tuscia; elsewhere, mostly garrisons. The lands given to the Goths must have been the same ones already given to Eruli and Rugi: more, more, in response to the greater number of new occupiers. Even the Goths, although they were a people, functioned mostly as an army. They kept the weapons and only the weapons, remaining to the Romans offices and civil activities. Thus the kind of passivity of the indigenous peoples in the face of the task of defense and that clear distinction of functions, which had been taking place for some time, was accentuated. Gradual and spontaneous process. But the Goths made it a purpose, almost a government program. The kingdom was to rest on this double basis. Thus it had already occurred to Visigothic Ataulf; so, more clearly, to Ostrogothic Theodoric. Unable to do it alone, they invoked the collaboration of the vanquished; but entirely extrinsic collaboration. They were peoples still separated by a moral abyss, some aware of their own strength, others of their weakness, but both convinced of their superiority. Not to count the religious difference. Even in Theodoric, although concerned for the good of all, the king of the Goths prevailed over the magister militum and imperial official. He made a foreign policy more towards the barbarian Roman kingdoms of the West, especially the Visigoths of Spain and southern Gaul, than towards the empire. Towards the empire he juggled, also to prevent him from being raised up against other barbarians on that side. His thoughts went to a grouping of Germanic peoples, capable of facing the empire. He thus related himself to Visigoths, Thuringians, Vandals, Franks, and also tried to reconcile Visigoths and Franks, his neighbors. Nor did he lack some desire to grace the vanquished; some thought of grandeur which, finding fulfillment only in the Roman imperial tradition, resulted in manifestations welcome to the vanquished. All this and a certain superiority that he achieved over the nearby barbarian kingdoms, could give the impression of a revival of life in the peninsula. But, conversely, Theodoric himself did not want to get too close to the Romans. In him it was more ostentation, more a search for flattering writers than a true appreciation of the civilization of the vanquished. Worse still the Goths of him. Not that something didn’t even penetrate them from contact with the Romans. But they considered this penetration a danger: it would seem that the awareness of their numerical paucity and, despite all their weapons, political weakness, pushed them to withdraw into themselves, for fear of being overwhelmed by the slow but irresistible movement of the great surrounding mass. Therefore the Gothic kingdom and the Goths found themselves isolated when the war of reconquest of the empire took place, waged by Justinian in 535. In 553, Totila and Teia defeated and killed, the Gothic kingdom fell destroyed.
During this war, hordes of Alamanni and Franks were also set in motion. But now, the Alamanni were annihilated; the Franks driven back; the defeated Goths dispersed and their very name disappeared. It is not even known whether and how many resumed the way to the Alps, if and how many merged with the mass of the population or mixed confusedly with the successive invaders: just like an army in a strange country, where military defeat means the end. Of solidarity of the Romans with the Goths there were no traces except, a little, in the countryside of the South, where the peasants were won by Totila, to be able to oppose them to the Greeks who instead enjoyed some favor of large owners.
Thus Italy became a province of the Eastern Empire, with borders on the Alps and the sea. In Rome, the senate ceased to exist. And it was, even more than for the replacement of Odoacer for Romolo Augustolo, the end of Italy as the center of the Western empire, and of Rome as the capital of the empire. The growing economic decline of Rome and Italy could also contribute to this, which resumed its course, indeed accelerated it, after twenty years of war which, in many regions, was truly exterminating. The isolation of Rome was also accentuated in relations with the rest of the peninsula and Italy vis-à-vis the rest of Europe, as there was no longer the connection created by the empire or the one created by the politics of Theodoric and even only by the common origin Germanic of the ruling bloodlines.
And yet, even while certain bonds are broken, others the course of things begins to create, of another nature. Churches and dioceses multiply in southern Italy south of Rome and Rome exercises metropolitan rights over them. Then arise (see below: Christianity in Italy) those of middle and upper Italy. The ecclesiastical provinces of Milan, Aquileia and Ravenna are established. The growing importance of the city, seat of the court, is reflected in the church of Ravenna. Soon the disciplinary action of the Church of Rome was revealed and made itself felt in the north as well. Meanwhile, which works to achieve primacy over the Catholic Church and to escape the Caesaropapist tendencies of the Eastern empire. With Justinian, there are acts of benevolence towards the pope, recognition of civil attributions to the Italian bishops. But these liberations also meant addiction. In reality, whether the acts of the emperor towards the Roman see and the Italian bishops were benevolent or burdensome, the result was to alienate Orthodox Italy from the East. The bond, strengthened after 535 in the political field, weakened in the moral one. Also because the new religious life grew in vigor in Italy and acquired more and more characteristics of its own compared to that of the East. Precisely in the last years of the Goth rule, Benedict of Nursia began his movement of monastic reform which radiated from Italy and dictated the law to Western monasticism, adapting it to the spiritual and practical needs of the Latin West. In Calabria, Cassiodorus was giving birth to another important movement, with a more intellectual character, also destined to develop and operate in Italy and Europe. It is to be recognized that monasticism in general, this Western and Italian monasticism in particular, in which some characteristics of the Italian and Western spirit expressed themselves, have not a little accentuated this detachment. It, with its longing for the freedom of religious and church life, brought to the Western Church, even in countries politically subject to Byzantium, a ferment of opposition to Eastern Caesaropapism, even more energetic than that of the ecclesiastical hierarchy and bishops. From Rome. It accentuated the Western and Italian tendency to rally around Rome, to see the center and head of the Church in the church of Rome.