Smaragdus was Exarch of Ravenna twice, from 585 to 589 and from 603 to 611.
During his first tenure, Smaragdus made an alliance with the Franks and Avars against the perennial foes of the Exarchate, the Lombards, and appeared poised to extinguish the Lombard power before it had been fully established. However, the effort came to nothing, for the Franks were not as serious about fighting the Lombards as Smaragdus was. One notable military achievement during his first reign was the recovery of Classis, the port of Ravenna, from the Lombards in 588.
Smaragdus was also known for his violence toward the followers of the schismatic bishops during the schism of the Three Chapters. These included Severinus, Archbishop of Aquileia and his followers, then at Grado, whom he ordered to attend a synod at Ravenna. When the council failed to solve any major issues, he forced the archbishop to declare his loyalty to the Orthodox creed. His violence, combined with alleged charges of insanity, prompted his removal from office in 589.
In 603 the Byzantine Emperor Phocas restored Smaragdus to his former position. Smaragdus inherited a war with the Lombards from his predecessor Callinicus, and refused to give up the daughter of the Lombard king Agilulf, as well as her husband, both of whom had been taken prisoner by the Byzantines in 601. That same year, Agilulf besieged Cremona with the help of the Avars, capturing it on 21 August 605 and afterwards razing the city; next he captured Mantua on 1 September. When his army reached the fortress of Vulturina, the garrison surrendered, firing the town of Brescello as they fled. Smaragdus was forced to release his hostages in April 605 in order to gain peace. The peace with the Lombards held for the rest of his administration.
- J. B. Bury, A History of the Later Roman Empire (London: Macmillan, 1889), vol. 2 pp. 147f
- Paul the Deacon (3.26) states Smaragdus "personally dragged him [the Archbishop] out of the church". History of the Lombards, translated by William Dudley Foulke, 1907 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1974), p. 131
- Paul the Deacon 4.25 (History, p. 168)
- Foulke reports Thomas Hodgkin located Vulturina "on the northern bank of the Po, not far from Panna, which is probably correct." However, Foulke also records another opinion that "a castle named Vulturena at the upper end of Lake Como at the entrance of the Valtellina is intended." (History, p. 171 n.3)
- Paul the Deacon History, 4.28; translated by Foulke, p. 168
- CIL VI, 1200; Bury, Later Roman Empire, vol. 2 pp. 206
| Exarch of Ravenna
| Exarch of Ravenna