Published online by Cambridge University Press: 04 September 2021
After thirty years of Ostrogothic rule in Italy (493–534) that ended with the ensuing destruction of the Gothic War (535–54), the eastern emperor Justinian sought to reassert direct control over Italy. The sixth-century Wars of Procopius vividly describes three sieges and two sacks of Rome during the course of this war. But the focus of this chapter is rather on Roman recovery in the aftermath of the war. I emphasize the constitutions in an underappreciated document from this period, Justianian’s Pragmatic Sanction. These enactments, along with texts and material evidence, show how damaging the Justinianic reconstruction of Italy was to Rome and senatorial aristocratic society. In this vacuum, the popes of Rome took on an ever-greater secular role, as the letters of Pope Pelagius show.