Lombards in Italy

Lombards

The Langobards were a Germanic people. They invaded northern Italy from Pannonia (modern Hungary) in 568 under Alboin, occupied the Po valley during 568-569 without meeting much resistance, seated their dukes in the main cities, then in 572 after a three-year siege took Pavia and possessed the present region of Veneto, Liguria and Tuscany. Around 571, the Lombards also occupied vast territories in the interior of the peninsula, caring surprisingly little about conquering the lands between their dominions, and created duchies: the Spoletian under Faroald and the Beneteenthian under Zotto.

Alboin was assassinated in 572, his successor Clef suffered the same fate two years later: ill-fated ambitious and power-hungry chieftains are a constant theme in Italian history! A ten-year interregnum followed, during which the Lombards apparently had no supreme ruler, but by the end of the sixth century under the young and romantic Autarius (584-590) and Agilulfus (590-616) they possessed two-thirds of Italy. Of course, they tried to take possession of the whole peninsula, but they did not succeed because of their small numbers and frequent internal divisions, since one of the main Byzantine tactics against them was to bribe leaders. In addition, the Byzantines, with their “territorial belt” linking Ravenna and Rome, served as an effective barrier to Lombard expansion, often supported by native Italians who believed that a Greek empire was preferable to northern plunderers. The division of Italy in two was thus finalized.

Italy at the time of the Lombards

It is important to note that the ability of the exarch in Ravenna to repel barbarian attacks depended largely on secular power and on the support of the papacy, which can be considered to have developed into a “third force” by that time. The popes owned vast tracts of land and enjoyed broad support from the lower classes, providing, as before, a rudimentary form of social security for the poor, financing them from the income from their estates. The power of the Eastern Empire in the Apennine peninsula was often weak, but the papacy supported it in many ways, fearing the militant paganism of the Lombards, expressed, for example, in the anti-Catholic edict of Autarius in 590 (Autarius died soon afterwards – divine punishment, according to Gregory the Great!). The Church in many ways assumed responsibility for governing Byzantine territory and organizing resistance to the Lombards. It is conceivable that, without the papacy, Italy would have been united under the dominion of the Lombards in the sixth or seventh century.

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The popes of those times were not at all the paragons of purity and holiness as we might expect, but many of them were outstanding personalities. The most remarkable of these was Gregory the Great, a cunning and learned noble Roman, who was ordained in 590 and negotiated with Agilulfus to end the siege of Rome by the Lombards in 594. This was followed by a series of truces between the Byzantine exarchate and the Lombards, establishing a stable equilibrium in Italy and relative peace in its lands for nearly 130 years.

The Lombards established their capital at Pavia, and throughout most of their rule the Lombard domains of northern Italy and Tuscany were politically dominant over the Duchies of Spolet and Beneveit, especially under Grimoald (662-671) and Liutprand (712-744), perhaps the most important Lombard overlords. Pavia itself had many splendid buildings that testified to its prominence among the Lombard cities. These included a royal palace, several elegant churches and an interesting bathing complex, one of the few in the 7th century. Unlike the Ostgoths, the Lombards brought distinctly Germanic customs to Italy, although their administrative and political structures were very similar to those of Rome. A considerable amount of information about their orders has survived, for what might be considered typically Germanic features are fully and systematically documented by Rotarius in his Edict of 643. The Langobards were largely grouped around a few independent noble warriors, usually dukes, or gastalds, who owned lands and usually resided in the principal city of their territory, such as Milan, Brescia, or Verona. The Lombard rulers often had to give away patronage and estates to secure ducal support. This led to a considerable devaluation of power and contributed to the growing independence and influence of cities and provinces – a foreshadowing of the later state of affairs in Italy. The central and southern duchies were more centralized, with Spoleto and Benevento holding firmly to the reins of local gastaldom. The high degree of local self-government led to frequent border disputes between the major cities, which usually turned to the supreme ruler for mediation. For example, there were four disputes between Parma and Piacenza between 626 and 854; we can also recall the long dispute between Arezzo and Siena, still reflected in the rivalry between these cities today.

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The Lombards assimilated the Italian language, having lost their own by 700, and the local manner of dress, replacing the traditional linen clothes with Roman stockings and pants. They mingled and related to the locals, as their burials in Nocera Umbra, Castel Trosino (near Ascoli), Invillino in Friuli, Fiesole, Brescia and Cividale testify. In this way they almost disappeared into the local population, leaving behind a long memory. It is important to note, however, that what is referred to here is the so-called ruling elite. The majority of the Italian population remained Roman in origin, which prevented the changes in customs that the Lombards and any other conquerors might have introduced: the influences were evolutionary rather than revolutionary. The power of the Lombards over vast Italian territories lasted for some 200 years, until they were replaced by the next main actors in the Italian sociopolitical arena, the Franks.

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Chapter 1 Lombards

Chapter 1 Langobards Of the great Germanic peoples who moved through Western Europe in the fifth and sixth centuries, it is perhaps the Franks to the north and the Langobards to the south that left the most striking mark. [5] The Visigoths in Spain had small numbers and were separated by religion from the main

2. The successes of the Lombards in Italy. – They reached as far as Rome itself. – Benedict I, pope, 574 – Pelagius II, pope, 578 – Lombards besiege Rome. – Destruction of Monte Cassino, 580 – Establishment of the first Benedictine monastery in Rome. – Pelagius II asks for help from Byzantium. – Gregory, nuncio to the court.

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2 – Edict of Leo against iconoclasm. – Resistance of Rome and Italy. – Conspiracy on Gregory’s life. – Romans and Lombards take up arms. – Revolt against the Byzantines. – Letters of Gregory to the emperor.

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3. Death of Paul I, 767 – Usurpation of Duke Togo. – False Pope Constantine. – Counter-revolution at Rome. – Christopher and Sergius, with the help of the Lombards, seize Rome. – The Lombards imprison Philip in Lateran. – Stephen III, pope. – Terror in Rome. – Trial of the usurpers. – Death of Pepin, 768.

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Lombards

The Lombards The Lombards were a Germanic people. They invaded northern Italy from Pannonia (modern Hungary) in 568 under the leadership of Alboin, occupied the Po valley during the years 568-569 without encountering much resistance, seated their dukes in the main cities,

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