Monday, November 05, 2012

Byzantine Military Theme of Longobardia

Longobardia was a Byzantine term for the territories controlled by the Lombardsin Italy. In the 9th-10th centuries, it was also the name of a Byzantine military-civilian province known as the Theme of Longobardia located in southeastern Italy.

The term was traditionally used for the Lombard possessions, with the chronicler Theophanes the Confessor distinguishing between "Great Longobardia", namely the Lombard kingdom in northern Italy, and "Lesser Longobardia", which comprised southern Italy, with the Lombard duchies of Spoleto, Salerno and Capua, the Byzantine possessions, and the city-states (Naples, Gaeta and Amalfi) under Byzantine suzerainty.

In its strictest and most technical sense, the name referred to the Byzantine themawhich encompassed the modern Italian region of Apulia and parts of Basilicata, with Bari as its capital. Its exact origin and evolution are not entirely clear. Its establishment, perhaps first as a subordinate division (tourma) of the thema of Cephallenia, dates to c. 876, when Bari was recovered by the Byzantines, who used it as a base to re-establish their control over southern Italy, lost in previous centuries to the Lombards and Arabs.

Eastern Roman Infantry

Each Byzantine tourma was usually headed by a tourmarchēs. The tourmarchēswas usually based in a fortress town. Aside from his military responsibilities, he exercised fiscal and judicial duties in the area under his control.

In function and rank, the tourmarchēs corresponded with the topotērētēs of the professional imperial tagmata regiments. The tourmarchai were paid according to the importance of their thema: those of the more prestigious Anatolian themes received 216 gold nomismata annually, while those of the European themes received 144 nomismata, the same amount paid to the droungarioi and the other senior officers of the thema.

In the mid-10th century, the average size of most units fell. In the case of thetourma, it dropped from 2,000–3,000 men to 1,000 men and less, in essence to the level of the earlier droungos, although larger tourmai are still recorded. It is probably no coincidence that the term "droungos" disappears from use at around that time. 

Consequently, the tourma was divided directly into five to seven banda, each of 50–100 cavalry or 200–400 infantry. The term tourma itself fell gradually into disuse in the 11th century, but survived at least until the end of the 12th century as an administrative term. Tourmarchai are still attested in the first half of the 11th century, but the title seems to have fallen out of use thereafter

In the late 9th century, it appears that Longobardia was administered jointly with other European themata of the Byzantine Empire. In 891 the first known strategosof Longobardia, Symbatikios, was also governor of Macedonia, Thrace and Cephallenia, while his successor George administered Longobardia jointly with its parent thema, Cephallenia. 

A dedicated strategos is only attested from 911 on. In 938 and 956, it also appears united with the thema of Calabria, although the duration of this arrangement is unclear. At any rate, after c. 965, the two themata were permanently united into the new Catepanate of Italy, with the catepan's seat again at Bari..