The barbarian invasions of
Late Antiquity, roughly the period AD 300 and 500, put Germanic peoples in control of most areas of the former Western Roman Empire. The first to enter Roman territory were the
Visigoths who ended the Late Roman Empire. They were called in to defend
the Empire in exchange for money, but they later occupied it. They were soon followed
and replaced by the
Ostrogoths led by Theodoric the Great.
(Longobards), who first entered Italy in 568 under Alboin, carved out a state in the north, with its capital at Pavia. At first, they were unable to conquer the
Byzantine Exarchate of Ravenna, the Ducatus Romanus, and Calabria and Apulia. The next two hundred years were occupied in trying to
seize these territories from the Byzantine Empire.
The Frankish king Pepin the Short had, by the Donation of Pepin, given the pope the "Papal States" and the territory north of that swath of papally-governed land was ruled primarily by Lombard and Frankish vassals of the Holy Roman Emperor until the rise of the city-states in the eleventh and twelfth centuries.
Abbeys and pilgrims
Income and development came with the pilgrims and merchants travelling along the route known as the via Francigena between France and Rome during the mediæval period. The food and shelter needed by these travellers fuelled the growth of new communities around churches and taverns. Abbeys and monasteries as well as castles and walled towns provided much-needed shelter and supplies at stopping points along this road.
Introduction to Tuscan culture.
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