And then, partly on his own initiative, partly through the incitement of the Frankish crown, the pontiff came forward in place of the king of Italy. Until that time, imperial tutelage and directorship over the pope. But now, the empire is being dismembered, its authority being exhausted within the particular kingdom whose ruler is also emperor. In addition, discord among the Carolingians, a race for the imperial crown. In such conditions, the curia can regain its independence, dictate law or impose pacts on aspirants and crowned ones. Thus from Carlo il Calvo, who came in 876 for the coronation in Pavia, he obtains the renunciation of the missus in Rome. He then takes the place of the king in Southern Italy. Here he must defend a rich patrimony and hinder the dukes of Spoleto, who aimed to expand there, closing in on the coveted lands of the Roman duchy from all sides; he must detach the cities of Campania from the impious league with the Saracens, defend religion.
A famous pact falls at this time, concluded it is not clear whether in Rome or in France, for which Charles the Bald would have ceded Sannio, Calabria, Salerno, Benevento, Capua, Spoleto and more to the pope. The content of this agreement is controversial; uncertain what the king actually gave and what he promised; uncertain what, in the original document, was interpolated to make that gift greater, as happened with other famous documents of the kind. Of course, there is a historical core.
According to MICROEDU.COM, the pontiff carried out an intense action in southern Italy, almost replacing the king or emperor. In Traetto, John VIII formed a league against the Saracens. But even this pontifical action aroused mistrust and suspicion and, instead of procuring harmony and collaboration, it added new reasons for division to the pre-existing ones. The Saracens, instead of restraint, had other incitements, other allies. In the place of the ancient ones, new Saracen concentration points were formed, between Salerno and Amalfi, on the borders of the Spoleto area, near Vesuvius, on the Garigliano. Thus the papal initiative in the south also failed. Conversely, with the land cleared of kings and popes, the stratego of Byzantium made his way back to Bari: in 880, when Taranto fell, only in Calabria some places remained for the Arabs. The Greek empire was once again an important political factor in things in the south, it made some of its influence felt on the cities of Campania and on the Lombard dukes. Guido II of Spoleto, turned his back on the nearby king and emperor of the West, made an agreement with the emperor of the East, promising to keep the lands he would have conquered for him. He thus made more expeditions or raids in the south, now to fight the Saracens, now to mix in local disputes and draw fruit from them; he could also have Capua in his hands, on which John VIII had succeeded in affirming his high lordship of him; he could also have Benevento. And for some time, he ruled the two cities, before he was driven out. He clearly delineates what will be the history of the South with the Normans; the future unification is being prepared,
For now it is a good time for Nikephoros Phocas, emperor of the East. His plan to reconquer Sicily failed him; but he was able to take away the lands of Calabria from the Saracens and the Ionian region from the Lombards of Benevento and Salerno; he assured certain order and reconciled the populations to the empire a little; it went up the Tyrrhenian coast and attracted Guaimaro prince of Salerno into his orbit; from the Benevento lords he took away Apulian lands and the same national sanctuary of the Lombards, San Michele al Gargano; besieged and forced Benevento to surrender in 891, while Guido di Spoleto was engaged in the north against Berengario for the royal and imperial crown. Until, once the tenacious Lombard opposition was reconstituted around Guaimaro, a vast rebellion flared up and Benevento was freed, even with the help of Guido di Spoleto, who nevertheless held it, in spite of the legitimate lord, the principality, and when he gave it back to him, he kept it under the high sovereignty of the Spoleto house. Thus Ludovico’s thought seemed to rise again. But soon the Spoletans fell and the ducal house of Capua rose up with Atenolfo, who composed the civil wars, kept Naples in check, excluding Byzantine interference from his state, became prince also of Benevento, seemed to establish a it was new, while Puglia and Calabria were consolidated in the hands of the Greeks and were affected by new cultural influences. Capuans and Greeks also faced the Saracens, always defeated and never defeated: so much so that, at the beginning of the following century, they were again masters of Reggio, again threatening Bari.