The new religion [[Christianity]] did not bypass the Roman province of [[Dalmatia (Roman province)|]]. Already by the end of the 3rd century Zadar had its own bishop and founding of the Zadar Christian community took place;ref a new religious centre was built north of the forum together with a basilica and a baptistery, as well as other ecclesiastical buildings. According to some estimates, in the 4th century it had probably around ten thousand citizens, including the population from its , the nearby islands and hinterland, an admixture of the indigenous Liburnians and Roman colonists.
=== Early Middle Ages ===
During the [[Migration Period]] and the Barbarian invasions, Zadar underwent a stagnation. In 441 and 447 Dalmatia was ravaged by the [[Huns]], after the [[fall of the Western Roman Empire]], in 481 Dalmatia became part of the [[Ostrogothic kingdom]], which, besides Italy, already included the more northerly parts of [[...|Illyricum]], i.e. [[Pannonia]] and [[Noricum]].
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In 536 the [[Byzantine emperor]] [[Justinian the Great]] started a military campaign to reconquer the territories of the former Western Empire (see [[Gothic War (535–552)|]]); and in 553 Zadar passed to the [[Byzantine Empire]]. In 568 Dalmatia was devastated by an [[Eurasian Avars|Avar]] invasion; although further waves of attacks by Avar and [[Slavs|Slav]] tribes kept up the pressure, it was the only city which survived due to its protective belt of inland plains. The Dalmatian capital [[Salona]] was captured and destroyed in the 640s, so Zadar became the new seat of the Byzantine [[archonty of Dalmatia]], territorially reduced to a few coastal cities with their agers and municipal lands at the coast and the islands nearby. The prior of Zadar had jurisdiction over all Byzantine Dalmatia, so Zadar enjoyed metropolitan status at the eastern Adriatic coast. At this time rebuilding began to take place in the city.
[[File:Zadar-forum.jpg|200px|thumb|left|[[Church of St. Donatus|St. Donatus church]], 9th century]]
At the beginning of the 9th century the Zadar bishop [[Donatus of Zadar|Donatus]] and the city duke Paul mediated in the dispute between the [[Holy Roman empire]] under and the Byzantine Empire. The [[Franks]] held Zadar for a short time, but the city was returned to Byzantium by a decision of the 812 [[...|Treaty of Aachen]].ref