Conflicts with the Ghots some decades later resulted in the passage of political power into the hands of the Exarches, the military governors who formed a genuine court at Ravenna modelled on the example of the imperial court.
The Byzantines at first brought back the opulent lifestyle of the east adorning the buildings with marble imported from Proconessus (now Marmara) and mosaics by artists possibly trained in Byzantium.
This splendour of works of art was not to last long partly because the great port of Classe, no longer the base of the fleet and consequently not maintained, had lost its earlier efficiency which was due to some extent to the fact that it had largely silted up.
Traffic and trade consequently diminished and the city, badly governed for almost two centuries by the Exarches and then briefly by theLongobards and the French towards the middle of the 8th century, was brought to its knees while the aspirations of the archbishops to make the Church of Ravenna independent from Rome were not enough to restore its splendour and power.
During the Ottonian period the archbishops became great feudal lords of the empire and the city seemed to gain a little more life.
The municipality came into being and with it a university and a school for ars notaria. However, power soon passed into the hands of the Guelfs and Ghibellines in alternation and who were continually in conflict.
The 13th and 14th centuries saw the establishment of the Da Polenta family as ruling Lords, of whom Guido Novello is specially remembered for having received Dante Alighieri who had been exiled from Florence.
The great poet died in Ravenna during the night of the 13th and 14th September 1321 and his remains lie in the Franciscan cloisters next to Dante's Tomb, a small modest construction in neoclassical style, built in 1780 by the architect Camillo Morigia at the request of Cardinal Legate Luigi Valenti Gonzaga, whose arms surmount the entrance.
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Last modified date: 09/04/2014