- The eastern coast of the Adriatic (q.v.) and its hinterland, from the region of Istria to Kotor, bounded by the Dinaric range, which runs parallel to the coast. It was a Roman province until the fourth century, when it became a diocese (q.v.). Although briefly occupied by Odoacer (q.v.), then by the Ostrogoths (q.v.), it was one of the few parts of the western empire that escaped the expansion of Germanic peoples in the fifth century. The invasions of Slavs and Avars (qq.v.) in the early seventh century destroyed older inland cities like Salona (q.v.), and gave new importance to the major coastal cities of Zara, Split, Dubrovnik, and Dyrrachion (qq.v.), which retained their Romano-Italian character throughout the Middle Ages. However, political and ecclesiastical control was unstable, reflecting the gradual decline of Byzantine power in the West. Byzantine hegemony was overturned briefly by Charlemagne (q.v.), but after the Franks (q.v.) restored Dalmatia to Byzantium (q.v.) in 812, it was attacked by Muslims from North Africa (q.v.). Dubrovnik, for example, was rescued in 868 from an Arab (q.v.) siege by a Byzantine fleet. Sometime toward the end of the ninth century much of Dalmatia was incorporated into the theme of Longobardia (qq.v.); Dyrrachion, the most important base of Byzantine power on the Adriatic coast, became the capital of its own theme. The growing influence of Venice, Hungary, and Bulgaria (qq.v.) is evident during the 10th century. Tsar Samuel (qq.v.) held Dyrrachion until Basil II (q.v.) reconquered it in 1005. The 11th century saw the added threats of Croatia (q.v.), and especially of the Normans (q.v.), who seized Dyrrachion briefly in 1081. In the 12th century Byzantine control collapsed. Venice expropriated the northern part of the coast, Croatia and Hungary (united in 1102) the middle part, and Byzantium held on, intermittently, to Dubrovnik, until that city was taken by the Venetians in 1205. Venice ruled Dalmatia until 1358 when, except for Dubrovnik (self-governing from 13581526), Dalmatia came under the control of Hungary, which held it until the early 15th century.
Historical Dictionary of Byzantium . John H. Rosser .
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