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The Sack of Rome in 546 was carried out by the Gothic king Totila during the Gothic War of 535–554 between the Ostrogoths and the East Romans (Byzantines). Totila was based at Tivoli and, in pursuit of his quest to reconquer the region of Latium, he moved against Rome. The city's defenses held firm however, so decided to starve the city into surrender.

Pope Vigilius, who had fled to the safety of Syracuse, sent a flotilla of grain ships to feed Rome, but Totila's navy intercepted them near the mouth of the Tiber and captured the fleet. The imperial fleet, led by Belisarius, failed to relieve the city and Rome was forced to open its gates to the Goths.

Rome was plundered, but Totila, who typically destroyed the fortifications of every city he took over, paused in his destruction of Rome's walls and gates.[1] After Totila withdrew, Rome's walls and other fortifications were soon restored so Totila marched against it again. This time he was defeated by Belisarius but the general did not follow up his advantage. Several cities including Perugia were taken by the Goths, while Belisarius remained inactive and then was recalled from Italy. In 549 Totila advanced a third time against Rome, which he captured this time through the treachery of some of its starving defenders. And this time the city was cleared of all human inhabitants for forty days.

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