The LOMBARDS or LONGOBARDS (
Latin : _Langobardi_, Italian
_Longobardi_ ) were a Germanic people who ruled large parts of the
Italian Peninsula from 568 to 774.
The Lombard historian
Paul the Deacon wrote in the _Historia
Langobardorum _ that the
Lombards descended from a small tribe called
the _Winnili_, who dwelt in southern
before migrating to seek new lands. In the 1st century AD, they formed
part of the
Suebi , in northwestern
Germany . By the end of the 5th
century, they had moved into the area roughly coinciding with modern
Austria north of the
Danube river, where they subdued the
later fought frequent wars with the
Gepids . The Lombard king Audoin
Thurisind in 551 or 552; his successor
Alboin eventually destroyed the
Gepids at the
Battle of Asfeld in 567.
Following this victory,
Alboin decided to lead his people to Italy,
which had become severely depopulated and devastated after the long
Gothic War (535–554) between the
Byzantine Empire and the
Ostrogothic Kingdom there. The
Lombards were joined by numerous Saxons
, Heruls, Gepids,
Thuringians , and
Ostrogoths , and their
invasion of Italy was almost unopposed. By late 569 they had conquered
all north of Italy and the principal cities north of the Po River
Pavia , which fell in 572. At the same time, they occupied
areas in central Italy and southern Italy. They established a Lombard
Kingdom in north and central Italy, later named _
Regnum Italicum _
("Kingdom of Italy"), which reached its zenith under the 8th-century
ruler Liutprand . In 774, the Kingdom was conquered by the Frankish
Charlemagne and integrated into his Empire . However, Lombard
nobles continued to rule southern parts of the
Italian peninsula ,
well into the 11th century when they were conquered by the
added to their
County of Sicily . In this period, the southern part of
Italy still under Longobardic domination was known by the name
Langbarðaland (Land of the Lombards) in the Norse runestones . Their
legacy is also apparent in the regional name
Lombardy (in the north of
* 1 History
* 1.1 Early history
* 1.1.1 Legendary origins and name
* 1.1.2 Archaeology and migrations
* 1.2 Kingdom in Italy, 568–774
* 1.2.1 Invasion and conquest of the
* 18.104.22.168 Langobardia major
* 22.214.171.124 Langobardia minor
* 1.2.2 Arian monarchy
* 1.2.3 Catholic monarchy
* 1.3 Later history
* 1.3.1 United Principality of Benevento, 774–849
* 1.3.2 Southern Italy and the Arabs, 836–915
* 1.3.3 Lombard principalities in the 10th century
* 1.3.4 Norman conquest, 1017–1078
* 2 Culture
* 2.1 Language
* 2.2 Social structure
Migration Period society
* 2.2.2 Society of the Catholic kingdom
* 2.2.3 Lombard states
* 2.3 Religious history
* 2.3.2 Christianisation
* 2.3.3 Beneventan
* 2.4 Art
* 2.4.1 Architecture
* 3 List of rulers
* 4 References
* 5 External links
Legendary Origins And Name
Wodan (Godan) and
looking out of a window in the heavens... ...and spotting the
Lombard women with their long hair tied as to appear as beards
Paul the Deacon , historian of the Lombards, circa 720-799
The fullest account of Lombard origins, history, and practices is the
_Historia Langobardorum_ (_History of the Lombards_) of Paul the
Deacon , written in the 8th century. Paul's chief source for Lombard
origins, however, is the 7th-century _
Origo Gentis Langobardorum
Origo Gentis Langobardorum _
(_Origin of the Lombard People_).
The _Origo Gentis Langobardorum_ tells the story of a small tribe
called the _Winnili_ dwelling in southern
Codex Gothanus _ writes that the Winnili first dwelt near a
river called _Vindilicus_ on the extreme boundary of
Gaul ). The
Winnili were split into three groups and one part left their native
land to seek foreign fields. The reason for the exodus was probably
overpopulation . The departing people were led by the brothers Ybor
and Aio and their mother Gambara and arrived in the lands of
_Scoringa_, perhaps the Baltic coast or the
Bardengau on the banks of
Elbe . Scoringa was ruled by the
Vandals and their chieftains,
the brothers Ambri and Assi, who granted the Winnili a choice between
tribute or war.
The Winnili were young and brave and refused to pay tribute, saying
"It is better to maintain liberty by arms than to stain it by the
payment of tribute." The
Vandals prepared for war and consulted Godan
Odin ), who answered that he would give the victory to those
whom he would see first at sunrise. The Winnili were fewer in number
and Gambara sought help from Frea (the goddess
Frigg ), who advised
that all Winnili women should tie their hair in front of their faces
like beards and march in line with their husbands. At sunrise, Frea
turned her husband's bed so that he was facing east, and woke him. So
Godan spotted the Winnili first and asked, "Who are these
long-beards?," and Frea replied, "My lord, thou hast given them the
name, now give them also the victory." From that moment onwards, the
Winnili were known as the _Longbeards_ (Latinised as _Langobardi_,
Italianised as _Longobardi_, and Anglicized(citation needed) as
_Longobards_ or _Lombards_).
Paul the Deacon wrote the _Historia_ between 787 and 796 he was
a Catholic monk and devoted Christian . He thought the pagan stories
of his people "silly" and "laughable". Paul explained that the name
"Langobard" came from the length of their beards. A modern theory
suggests that the name "Langobard" comes from _Langbarðr_, a name of
Odin . Priester states that when the Winnili changed their name to
"Lombards", they also changed their old agricultural fertility cult to
a cult of Odin, thus creating a conscious tribal tradition. Fröhlich
inverts the order of events in Priester and states that with the Odin
Lombards grew their beards in resemblance of the
tradition and their new name reflected this. Bruckner remarks that
the name of the
Lombards stands in close relation to the worship of
Odin, whose many names include "the Long-bearded" or "the
Grey-bearded", and that the Lombard given name _Ansegranus_ ("he with
the beard of the gods") shows that the
Lombards had this idea of their
chief deity. The same
Old Norse root Barth or Barði, meaning
"beard", is shared with the
Heaðobards mentioned in both _
and in _
Widsith _, where they are in conflict with the Danes . They
were possibly a branch of the Langobards .
Alternatively some etymological sources suggest an Old High German
root, barta, meaning “axe” (and related to English halberd), while
Edward Gibbon puts forth an alternative suggestion which argues that:
…Börde (or Börd) still signifies “a fertile plain by the side
of a river,” and a district near Magdeburg is still called the lange
Börde. According to this view Langobardi would signify “inhabitants
of the long bord of the river;” and traces of their name are
supposed still to occur in such names as
Bardengau and Bardewick in
the neighborhood of the Elbe.
Paul the Deacon wasn't the only one to write about
According to the Gallaecian
Christian priest , historian and
Paulus Orosius , the
Lombards or Winnili lived originally
in the Vinuiloth (Vinovilith) mentioned by
Jordanes , in his
Getica , to the north of
Sweden . Scoringa was
near the province of
Uppland , so just north of
The historian then explains the etymology of the name Scoringa:
The shores of
Östergötland are covered with small rocks
and rocky islands, which are called in German Schæren and in Swedish
Skiaeren. Heal signifies a port in the northern languages ;
consequently Skiæren-Heal is the port of the Skiæren, a name well
adapted to the port of
Stockholm , in the Upplandske Skiæren, and the
country may be justly called Scorung or Skiærunga.
The legendary king
Scandza was an ancient Lombardic king in
Anglo-Saxon legend . The Old English poem
Widsith , in a listing of
famous kings and their countries, has
Sceafa Longbeardum, so naming
Sceafa as ruler of the Lombards.
Similarities between Langobardic and Gothic migration traditions have
been noted among scholars. These early migration legends suggest that
a major shifting of tribes occurred sometime between the 1st and 2nd
century BC, which would coincide with the time that the
Cimbri left their homelands in
Scandinavia and migrated through
Germany , eventually invading Roman Italy.
Archaeology And Migrations
_ The expansion of the Germanic tribes 750 BC – AD 1 (after the
Penguin Atlas of World History_ 1988): Settlements before 750 BC
New settlements by 500 BC New settlements by 250 BC New
settlements by AD 1 Distribution of Langobardic burial fields
at the Lower
Elbe Lands (according to W. Wegewitz)
The first mention of the
Lombards occurred between AD 9 and 16, by
the Roman court historian
Velleius Paterculus , who accompanied a
Roman expedition as prefect of the cavalry. Paterculus says that
Tiberius the "power of the Langobardi was broken, a race
surpassing even the Germans in savagery".
From the combined testimony of
Strabo (AD 20) and
Tacitus (AD 117),
Lombards dwelt near the mouth of the
Elbe shortly after the
beginning of the Christian era, next to the
Lombards dwelt on both sides of the Elbe. He treats them as
a branch of the
Suebi , and states that:
Now as for the tribe of the Suebi, it is the largest, for it extends
from the Rhenus to the Albis; and a part of them even dwell on the far
side of the Albis, as, for instance, the Hermondori and the
Langobardi; and at the present time these latter, at least, have, to
the last man, been driven in flight out of their country into the land
on the far side of the river.
Suetonius wrote that Roman general Nero Drusus defeated a large force
of Germans and drove some “to the farther side of the Albis
(Elbe)” river. It is conceivable that these refugees were the
Langobardi and the Hermunduri mentioned by
Strabo not long after.
The German archaeologist Willi Wegewitz defined several Iron Age
burial sites at the Lower
Elbe as _Langobardic_. The burial sites are
crematorial and are usually dated from the 6th century BC through the
3rd century AD, so a settlement breakoff seems unlikely. The lands of
Elbe fall into the zone of the
Jastorf Culture and became
Elbe-Germanic , differing from the lands between
Weser , and
North Sea . Archaeological finds show that the
Lombards were an
Tacitus also counted the
Lombards as a remote and aggressive Suebian
tribe, one of those united in worship of the deity
Nerthus , who he
referred to as "Mother Earth", and also as subjects of Marobod the
King of the
Marcomanni . Marobod had made peace with the Romans, and
that is why the
Lombards were not part of the Germanic confederacy
Arminius at the
Battle of Teutoburg Forest
Battle of Teutoburg Forest in AD 9. In AD 17,
war broke out between
Arminius and Marobod.
Not only the Cheruscans and their confederates... took arms, but the
Semnones and Langobards, both Suebian nations, revolted to him from
the sovereignty of Marobod... The armies... were stimulated by reasons
of their own, the Cheruscans and the Langobards fought for their
ancient honor or their newly acquired independence. . . "_ _
In 47, a struggle ensued amongst the
Cherusci and they expelled their
new leader, the nephew of Arminius, from their country. The Lombards
appeared on the scene with sufficient power to control the destiny of
the tribe that had been the leader in the struggle for independence
thirty-eight years earlier, for they restored the deposed leader to
sovereignty again. Lombard migration from
To the south,
Cassius Dio reported that just before the Marcomannic
Wars , 6,000
Lombards and Obii (sometimes thought to be
Danube and invaded
Pannonia . The two tribes were
defeated, whereupon they ceased their invasion and sent Ballomar, King
of the Marcomanni, as ambassador to Aelius Bassus , who was then
administering Pannonia. Peace was made and the two tribes returned to
their homes, which in the case of the
Lombards was the lands of the
lower Elbe. At about this time, in his _
Tacitus says that
"their scanty numbers are a distinction" because "surrounded by a host
of most powerful tribes, they are safe, not by submitting, but by
daring the perils of war".
In the mid-2nd century, the
Lombards apparently appeared in the
Rhineland , because according to
Claudius Ptolemy , the Suebic
Lombards lived "below" the
Sugambri , and between these
Tencteri . To their east stretching northwards to the central
Elbe are the
Angili . But Ptolemy also mentions the
"Laccobardi" to the north of the above-mentioned Suebic territories,
east of the
Angrivarii on the
Weser , and south of the
Chauci on the
coast, probably indicating a Lombard expansion from the
Elbe to the
Rhine. This double mention has been interpreted as an editorial error
by Gudmund Schütte, in his analysis of Ptolemy. However, the _Codex
Gothanus_ also mentions _Patespruna_ (
Paderborn ) in connection with
From the 2nd century onwards, many of the Germanic tribes recorded as
active during the
Principate started to unite into bigger tribal
unions, such as the
Bavarii , and
Saxons . The
Lombards are not mentioned at first, perhaps because they were not
initially on the border of Rome, or perhaps because they were
subjected to a larger tribal union, like the Saxons. It is, however,
highly probable that, when the bulk of the
Lombards migrated, a
considerable part remained behind and afterwards became absorbed by
the Saxon tribes in the
Elbe region, while the emigrants alone
retained the name of Lombards. However, the _Codex Gothanus_ states
Lombards were subjected by the
Saxons around 300 but rose up
against them under their first king, Agelmund, who ruled for 30 years.
In the second half of the 4th century, the
Lombards left their homes,
probably due to bad harvests, and embarked on their migration.
The migration route of the
Lombards in 489, from their homeland to
"Rugiland", encompassed several places: _Scoringa_ (believed to be
their land on the
Elbe shores), _Mauringa_, _Golanda_, _Anthaib_,
_Banthaib_, and _Vurgundaib_ (_Burgundaib_). According to the Ravenna
Cosmography , Mauringa was the land east of the Elbe.
The crossing into Mauringa was very difficult. The Assipitti
(possibly the Usipetes) denied them passage through their lands and a
fight was arranged for the strongest man of each tribe. The Lombard
was victorious, passage was granted, and the
Lombards departed from Mauringa and reached Golanda. Scholar
Ludwig Schmidt thinks this was further east, perhaps on the right bank
Oder . Schmidt considers the name the equivalent of
meaning simply "good land." This theory is highly plausible; Paul the
Deacon mentions the
Lombards crossing a river, and they could have
reached _Rugiland_ from the Upper
Oder area via the
Moravian Gate .
Moving out of Golanda, the
Lombards passed through Anthaib and
Banthaib until they reached Vurgundaib, believed to be the old lands
Burgundes . In Vurgundaib, the
Lombards were stormed in camp
Bulgars " (probably
Huns ) and were defeated; King Agelmund was
killed and Laimicho was made king. He was in his youth and desired to
avenge the slaughter of Agelmund. The
Lombards themselves were
probably made subjects of the
Huns after the defeat but rose up and
defeated them with great slaughter, gaining great booty and
confidence as they "became bolder in undertaking the toils of war."
In the 540s,
Audoin (ruled 546–560) led the
Lombards across the
Danube once more into
Pannonia , where they received Imperial
Justinian encouraged them to battle the
Gepids . In 552,
the Byzantines aided by a large contingent of
Foederati , notably
Heruls and Bulgars, defeated the last
Ostrogoths led by Teia
Battle of Taginae
Battle of Taginae .
KINGDOM IN ITALY, 568–774
Kingdom of the Lombards
Invasion And Conquest Of The Italian Peninsula
Lombard grave goods (6th-7th century) -
Audoin was succeeded by his son
Alboin , a young and
energetic leader who defeated the neighboring
Gepidae and made them
his subjects; in 566, he married Rosamund , daughter of the
Cunimund . In the spring of 568,
Alboin led the Lombard migration into
_"Then the Langobards, having left
Pannonia , hastened to take
possession of Italy with their wives and children and all their
Various other people who either voluntarily joined or were subjects
Alboin were also part of the migration:
_"Whence, even until today, we call the villages in which they dwell
Gepidan , Bulgarian ,
Pannonian , Suabian ,
Norican , or
by other names of this kind." B.2-Ch.26_
At least 20,000 Saxon warriors, old allies of the Lombards, joined
them with their families in their new migration.
The first important city to fall was _Forum Iulii_ (Cividale del
Friuli ) in northeastern Italy , in 569. There,
Alboin created the
first Lombard duchy, which he entrusted to his nephew Gisulf . Soon
Brescia fell into Germanic hands. In the summer
of 569, the
Lombards conquered the main Roman centre of northern Italy
Milan . The area was then recovering from the terrible Gothic Wars ,
and the small Byzantine army left for its defence could do almost
nothing. Longinus, the
Exarch sent to Italy by Emperor
Justin II ,
could only defend coastal cities that could be supplied by the
powerful Byzantine fleet.
Pavia fell after a siege of three years, in
572, becoming the first capital city of the new Lombard kingdom of
In the following years, the
Lombards penetrated further south,
Tuscany and establishing two duchies,
Spoleto and Benevento
Zotto , which soon became semi-independent and even outlasted
the northern kingdom, surviving well into the 12th century. Wherever
they went, they were joined by the Ostrogothic population, who was
allowed to live peacefully in Italy with their Rugian allies under
Roman sovereignty. The Byzantines managed to retain control of the
Ravenna and Rome, linked by a thin corridor running through
When they entered Italy, some
Lombards retained their native form of
paganism , while some were Arian Christians. Hence they did not enjoy
good relations with the
Early Christian Church . Gradually, they
adopted Roman or Romanized titles, names, and traditions, and
partially converted to orthodoxy (in the 7th century), though not
without a long series of religious and ethnic conflicts. By the time
Paul the Deacon was writing, the Lombard language, dress and even
hairstyles had nearly all disappeared _in toto _.
The whole Lombard territory was divided into 36 duchies, whose
leaders settled in the main cities. The king ruled over them and
administered the land through emissaries called _gastaldi_. This
subdivision, however, together with the independent indocility of the
duchies, deprived the kingdom of unity, making it weak even when
compared to the Byzantines, especially since these had begun to
recover from the initial invasion. This weakness became even more
evident when the
Lombards had to face the increasing power of the
Franks. In response, the kings tried to centralize power over time,
but they definitively lost control over
Benevento in the
Duchy of Friuli
* Duchy of Trent
Duchy of Persiceta
* Duchy of Pavia
Duchy of Tuscia
Duchy of Spoleto and List of Dukes of
Duchy of Benevento and List of Dukes and Princes of
Chlothar II in combat with the
Alboin was murdered in
Verona in a plot led by his wife,
Rosamund, who later fled to
Ravenna . His successor,
Cleph , was also
assassinated, after a ruthless reign of 18 months. His death began an
interregnum of years (the "
Rule of the Dukes ") during which the dukes
did not elect any king, a period regarded as a time of violence and
disorder. In 584, threatened by a Frankish invasion, the dukes elected
as king Cleph's son,
Authari . In 589, he married
Garibald I of Bavaria , the Duke of Bavaria . The Catholic
Theodelinda was a friend of
Pope Gregory I and pushed for
Christianization. In the meantime,
Authari embarked on a policy of
internal reconciliation and tried to reorganize royal administration.
The dukes yielded half their estates for the maintenance of the king
and his court in Pavia. On the foreign affairs side,
to thwart the dangerous alliance between the Byzantines and the
Authari died in 591 and was succeeded by
Agilulf , the duke of Turin
, who also married
Theodelinda in the same year.
fought the rebel dukes of northern Italy, conquering
Padua in 601,
Mantua in 603, and forcing the
Ravenna to pay
Agilulf died in 616;
Theodelinda reigned alone until 628 when
she was succeeded by
Arioald , the head of the Arian
opposition who had married Theodelinda's daughter Gundeperga, later
Arioald was succeeded by
Rothari , regarded by many authorities as
the most energetic of all Lombard kings. He extended his dominions,
Liguria in 643 and the remaining part of the Byzantine
territories of inner
Veneto , including the Roman city of _Opitergium_
Rothari also made the famous edict bearing his name, the
Rothari _, which established the laws and the customs of his
Latin : the edict did not apply to the tributaries of the
Lombards, who could retain their own laws. Rothari's son Rodoald
succeeded him in 652, still very young, and was killed by his
At the death of King
Aripert I in 661, the kingdom was split between
Perctarit , who set his capital in Milan, and
who reigned from
Perctarit was overthrown by
Grimoald , son of Gisulf, duke of
Benevento since 647.
Perctarit fled to the Avars and then to the Franks. Grimoald managed
to regain control over the duchies and deflected the late attempt of
Byzantine emperor Constans II to conquer southern Italy. He also
defeated the Franks. At Grimoald's death in 671
Perctarit returned and
promoted tolerance between Arians and Catholics, but he could not
defeat the Arian party, led by Arachi, duke of Trento , who submitted
only to his son, the philo-Catholic
Lombards engaged in fierce battles with
Slavic peoples during
these years: In 623–26 the
Lombards unsuccessfully attacked
Carantanians ; in 663–64, the Slavs raided the
Vipava Valley and the
King Liutprand - (712-744)
_"was a zealous Catholic, generous and a great founder of
Religious strife and the Slavic raids remained a source of struggle
in the following years. In 705, the
Lombards were defeated and
lost the land to the west of the
Soča River, namely the Gorizia Hills
Venetian Slovenia . A new ethnic border was established that
has lasted for over 1200 years up until the present time.
The Lombard reign began to recover only with Liutprand the Lombard
(king from 712), son of
Ansprand and successor of the brutal Aripert
II . He managed to regain a certain control over
Benevento, and, taking advantage of the disagreements between the Pope
and Byzantium concerning the reverence of icons , he annexed the
Ravenna and the duchy of
Rome . He also helped the
Charles Martel drive back the
Arabs . The Slavs were
defeated in the Battle of Lavariano , when they tried to conquer the
Friulian Plain in 720. Liutprand's successor
Ravenna for the
Lombards for the first time but had to relinquish it
when he was subsequently defeated by the king of the Franks, Pippin
III , who was called by the Pope.
After the death of Aistulf,
Ratchis attempted to become king of
Lombardy, but he was deposed by
Desiderius , duke of
Tuscany , the
last Lombard to rule as king.
Desiderius managed to take Ravenna
definitively, ending the Byzantine presence in northern Italy. He
decided to reopen struggles against the Pope, who was supporting the
Benevento against him, and entered
Rome in 772,
the first Lombard king to do so. But when
Pope Hadrian I called for
help from the powerful Frankish king
defeated at Susa and besieged in
Pavia , while his son Adelchis was
forced to open the gates of
Verona to Frankish troops. Desiderius
surrendered in 774, and Charlemagne, in an utterly novel decision,
took the title "King of the Lombards". Before then the Germanic
kingdoms had frequently conquered each other, but none had adopted the
title of King of another people.
Charlemagne took part of the Lombard
territory to create the
Papal States .
Lombardy region in Italy, which includes the cities of Brescia,
Bergamo, Milan, and the old capital Pavia, is a reminder of the
presence of the Lombards.
United Principality Of Benevento, 774–849
Duchy of Benevento in the 8th century
Though the kingdom centred on
Pavia in the north fell to Charlemagne,
the Lombard-controlled territory to the south of the
Papal States was
never subjugated by
Charlemagne or his descendants. In 774, Duke
Arechis II of
Benevento , whose duchy had only nominally been under
royal authority, though certain kings had been effective at making
their power known in the south, claimed that
Benevento was the
successor state of the kingdom. He tried to turn
Benevento into a
_secundum Ticinum_: a second Pavia. He tried to claim the kingship,
but with no support and no chance of a coronation in Pavia.
Charlemagne came down with an army, and his son
Louis the Pious sent
men, to force the Beneventan duke to submit, but his submission and
promises were never kept and Arechis and his successors were _de
facto_ independent. The Beneventan dukes took the title _prínceps_
(prince) instead of that of king.
Lombards of southern Italy were thereafter in the anomalous
position of holding land claimed by two empires: the Carolingian
Empire to the north and west and the
Byzantine Empire to the east.
They typically made pledges and promises of tribute to the
Carolingians, but effectively remained outside Frankish control.
Benevento meanwhile grew to its greatest extent yet when it imposed a
tribute on the
Duchy of Naples
Duchy of Naples , which was tenuously loyal to
Byzantium and even conquered the Neapolitan city of
Amalfi in 838. At
one point in the reign of Sicard , Lombard control covered most of
southern Italy save the very south of
Calabria and Naples,
with its nominally attached cities. It was during the 9th century that
a strong Lombard presence became entrenched in formerly Greek Apulia.
However, Sicard had opened up the south to the invasive actions of the
Saracens in his war with
Andrew II of Naples and when he was
assassinated in 839,
Amalfi declared independence and two factions
fought for power in Benevento, crippling the principality and making
it susceptible to external enemies.
The civil war lasted ten years and ended with a peace treaty imposed
in 849 by
Emperor Louis II , the only Frankish king to exercise actual
sovereignty over the Lombard states. The treaty divided the kingdom
into two states: the Principality of
Benevento and the Principality of
Salerno , with its capital at
Salerno on the
Tyrrhenian Sea .
Southern Italy And The Arabs, 836–915
History of Islam in southern Italy
Andrew II of Naples hired Saracen mercenaries for his war with Sicard
Benevento in 836; Sicard responded with other Muslim mercenaries.
Saracens initially concentrated their attacks on
Byzantine Italy, but soon Radelchis I of
Benevento called in more
mercenaries, who destroyed
Capua in 841. Landulf the Old founded the
present-day Capua, "New Capua", on a nearby hill. In general, the
Lombard princes were less inclined to ally with the
Saracens than with
their Greek neighbours of Amalfi, Gaeta, Naples, and Sorrento. Guaifer
Salerno , however, briefly put himself under Muslim suzerainty.
In 847 a large Muslim force seized
Bari , until then a Lombard
gastaldate under the control of Pandenulf . Saracen incursions
proceeded northwards until Adelchis of
Benevento sought the help of
his suzerain, Louis II, who allied with the
Byzantine emperor Basil I
to expel the
Bari in 869. An Arab landing force was
defeated by the emperor in 871. Adelchis and Louis remained at war
until the death of Louis in 875. Adelchis regarded himself as the true
successor of the Lombard kings, and in that capacity he amended the
Rothari _, the last Lombard ruler to do so.
After the death of Louis, Landulf II of
Capua briefly flirted with a
Saracen alliance, but
Pope John VIII convinced him to break it off.
Guaimar I of
Salerno fought the
Saracens with Byzantine troops.
Throughout this period the Lombard princes swung in allegiance from
one party to another. Finally, towards 915,
Pope John X managed to
unite the Christian princes of southern Italy against the Saracen
establishments on the
Garigliano river. The
Saracens were ousted from
Italy in the Battle of the
Garigliano in 915.
Lombard Principalities In The 10th Century
Italy around the turn of the millennium, showing the Lombard
states in the south on the eve of the arrival of the Normans.
The independent state of
Salerno inspired the gastalds of
move towards independence, and by the end of the century they were
styling themselves "princes" and as a third Lombard state. The Capuan
and Beneventan states were united by Atenulf I of
Capua in 900. He
subsequently declared them to be in perpetual union, and they were
separated only in 982, on the death of
Pandulf Ironhead . With all of
the Lombard south under his control, except Salerno, Atenulf felt safe
to use the title _Princeps Gentis Langobardorum_ ("prince of the
Lombard people"), which Arechis II had begun using in 774. Among
Atenulf's successors the principality was ruled jointly by fathers,
sons, brothers, cousins, and uncles for the greater part of the
century. Meanwhile, the prince Gisulf I of
Salerno began using the
title _Langobardorum Gentis Princeps_ around mid-century, but the
ideal of a united Lombard principality was realised only in December
977, when Gisulf died and his domains were inherited by Pandulf
Ironhead, who temporarily held almost all Italy south of
Lombards into alliance with the Holy
Roman Empire . His
territories were divided upon his death.
Landulf the Red of
Capua tried to conquer the
Salerno with the help of
John III of Naples , but with
the aid of Mastalus I of
Amalfi , Gisulf repulsed him. The rulers of
Capua made several attempts on Byzantine
Apulia at this
time, but late in the century, the Byzantines, under the stiff rule of
Basil II , gained ground on the Lombards.
The principal source for the history of the Lombard principalities in
this period is the _
Chronicon Salernitanum _, composed late in the
10th century at Salerno.
Norman Conquest, 1017–1078
Norman conquest of southern Italy
The diminished Beneventan principality soon lost its independence to
the papacy and declined in importance until it fell in the Norman
conquest of southern Italy . The Normans, first called in by the
Lombards to fight the Byzantines for control of
Apulia and Calabria
(under the likes of Melus of
Bari and Arduin , among others), had
become rivals for hegemony in the south. The Salernitan principality
experienced a golden age under Guaimar III and Guaimar IV , but under
Gisulf II , the principality shrank to insignificance and fell in 1078
Robert Guiscard , who had married Gisulf's sister
Sichelgaita . The
Capua principality was hotly contested during the reign of the hated
Pandulf IV , the _Wolf of the Abruzzi_, and, under his son, it fell,
almost without contest, to the Norman Richard Drengot (1058). The
Capuans revolted against Norman rule in 1091, expelling Richard's
grandson Richard II and setting up one Lando IV .
Capua was again put under Norman rule after the Siege of
1098 and the city quickly declined in importance under a series of
ineffectual Norman rulers. The independent status of these Lombard
states is in general attested by the ability of their rulers to switch
suzerains at will. Often the legal vassal of pope or emperor (either
Byzantine or Holy Roman ), they were the real power-brokers in the
south until their erstwhile allies, the Normans, rose to preeminence:
Lombards regarded the
Normans as barbarians and the Byzantines as
oppressors. Regarding their own civilisation as superior, the Lombards
did indeed provide the environment for the illustrious Schola Medica
Lombardic language The runic inscription from the
Pforzen buckle may be the earliest written example of Lombardic
Lombardic language is extinct (unless Cimbrian and Mocheno
represent surviving dialects). The Germanic language declined,
beginning in the 7th century, but may have been in scattered use until
as late as about the year 1000. Only fragments of the language have
survived, the main evidence being individual words quoted in Latin
texts. In the absence of Lombardic texts, it is not possible to draw
any conclusions about the language's morphology and syntax. The
genetic classification of the language depends entirely on phonology.
Since there is evidence that Lombardic participated in, and indeed
shows some of the earliest evidence for, the High German consonant
shift , it is usually classified as an
Elbe Germanic or Upper German
Lombardic fragments are preserved in runic inscriptions. Primary
source texts include short inscriptions in the
Elder Futhark , among
them the "bronze capsule of
Schretzheim " (c. 600) and the silver belt
buckle found in
Schwaben ). A number of Latin
texts include Lombardic names, and Lombardic legal texts contain terms
taken from the legal vocabulary of the vernacular. In 2005, Emilia
Denčeva argued that the inscription of the
Pernik sword may be
The Italian language preserves a large number of Lombardic words,
although it is not always easy to distinguish them from other Germanic
borrowings such as those from Gothic or from Frankish . They often
bear some resemblance to English words, as Lombardic was akin to Saxon
. For instance, _landa_ from _land_, _guardia_ from _wardan_ (warden),
_guerra_ from _werra_ (war), _ricco_ from _rikki_ (rich), and
_guadare_ from _wadjan_ (to wade).
From the _Codice diplomatico longobardo_, a collection of legal
documents that makes reference to many Lombardic terms, we obtain
several terms still in use in the Italian language:
Barba (beard), marchio (mark), maniscalco (blacksmith), aia
(courtyard), braida, borgo (village), fara (toponym), pizzo (toponym),
sala (toponym), staffa (stirrup), stalla (stable), sculdascio, faida
(feud), manigoldo (scoundrel), sgherro; fanone (baleen), stamberga
(militare); anca (hip), guancia (cheek), nocca (knuckle), schiena
(back); gazza (magpie), martora (marten); gualdo, pozza (pool); verbs
like bussare (to knock), piluccare (to peck), russare (to snore).
Migration Period Society
During their stay at the mouth of the Elbe, the
Lombards came into
contact with other western Germanic populations, such as the Saxons
Frisians . From these populations, which for long had been in
contact with the
Celts (especially the Saxons), they learned a rigid
social organization into castes, rarely present in other Germanic
The Lombard kings can be traced back as early as c. 380 and thus to
the beginning of the Great Migration. Kingship developed amongst the
Germanic peoples when the unity of a single military command was found
necessary. Schmidt believed that the Germanic tribes were divided
according to cantons and that the earliest government was a general
assembly that selected canton chiefs and war leaders in times of
conflict. All such figures were probably selected from a caste of
nobility. As a result of the wars of their wanderings, royal power
developed such that the king became the representative of the people,
but the influence of the people on the government did not fully
Paul the Deacon gives an account of the Lombard tribal
structure during the migration:
. . . in order that they might increase the number of their warriors,
confer liberty upon many whom they deliver from the yoke of bondage,
and that the freedom of these may be regarded as established, they
confirm it in their accustomed way by an arrow, uttering certain words
of their country in confirmation of the fact.
Complete emancipation appears to have been granted only among the
Franks and the Lombards.
Society Of The Catholic Kingdom
Lombard society was divided into classes comparable to those found in
the other Germanic successor states of Rome, Frankish
Visigothic Spain . There was a noble class, a class of free persons
beneath them, a class of unfree non-slaves (serfs), and finally
slaves. The aristocracy itself was poorer, more urbanised, and less
landed than elsewhere. Aside from the richest and most powerful of the
dukes and the king himself, Lombard noblemen tended to live in cities
(unlike their Frankish counterparts) and hold little more than twice
as much in land as the merchant class (a far cry from provincial
Frankish aristocrats who held vast swathes of land, hundreds of times
larger than those beneath his status). The aristocracy by the 8th
century was highly dependent on the king for means of income related
especially to judicial duties: many Lombard nobles are referred to in
contemporary documents as _iudices_ (judges) even when their offices
had important military and legislative functions as well.
The freemen of the Lombard kingdom were far more numerous than in
Frank lands, especially in the 8th century, when they are almost
invisible in surviving documentary evidence. Smallholders,
owner-cultivators, and rentiers are the most numerous types of person
in surviving diplomata for the Lombard kingdom. They may have owned
more than half of the land in Lombard Italy. The freemen were
_exercitales_ and _viri devoti_, that is, soldiers and "devoted men"
(a military term like "retainers"); they formed the levy of the
Lombard army, and they were sometimes, if infrequently, called to
serve, though this seems not to have been their preference. The small
landed class, however, lacked the political influence necessary with
the king (and the dukes) to control the politics and legislation of
the kingdom. The aristocracy was more thoroughly powerful politically
if not economically in Italy than in contemporary
Gaul and Spain.
The urbanisation of Lombard Italy was characterised by the _città ad
isole_ (or "city as islands"). It appears from archaeology that the
great cities of Lombard Italy —
Milan — were themselves formed of minute islands of urbanisation
within the old Roman city walls. The cities of the
Roman Empire had
been partially destroyed in the series of wars of the 5th and 6th
centuries. Many sectors were left in ruins and ancient monuments
became fields of grass used as pastures for animals, thus the Roman
Forum became the _Campo Vaccino_, the field of cows. The portions of
the cities that remained intact were small, modest, contained a
cathedral or major church (often sumptuously decorated), and a few
public buildings and townhomes of the aristocracy. Few buildings of
importance were stone, most were wood. In the end, the inhabited parts
of the cities were separated from one another by stretches of pasture
even within the city walls.
* Lombard state on the Carpathians (6th century)
* Lombard state in
Pannonia (6th century)
* Kingdom of Italy and List of
Kings of the Lombards
* Principality of
Benevento and List of Dukes and Princes of
Principality of Salerno and List of Princes of
* Principality of
Capua and List of Princes of
The evidence contained in the myth hints that initially, before the
Scandinavia to the southern coast of the Baltic Sea, the
Lombards worshiped the
Vanir . Later, in contact with other Germanic
populations, they adopted the worship of the
Æsir : an evolution that
marked the passage from the adoration of deities related to fertility
and the earth to the cult of warlike gods.
In chapter 40 of his
Germania , Roman historian
Tacitus , discussing
the Suebian tribes of Germania, writes that the
Lombards were one of
the Suebian tribes united in worship of the deity Nerthus, who is
often identified with the Norse goddess
Freyja . The other tribes were
Suarines , and
St. Barbatus of
Benevento observed many pagan rituals and traditions
Lombards authorised by the Duke Romuald , son of King
_"They expressed a religious veneration to a golden viper, and
prostrated themselves before it: they paid also a superstitious honour
to a tree, on which they hung the skin of a wild beast, and these
ceremonies were closed by public games, in which the skin served for a
mark at which bowmen shot arrows over their shoulder."_
Lombards were first touched by
Christianity while still in
Pannonia, but only touched: Their conversion and Christianisation was
largely nominal and far from complete. During the reign of
they were Roman Catholics allied with the
Byzantine Empire , but
Alboin converted to
Arianism as an ally of the
Ostrogoths and invaded
Italy. All these Christian conversions primarily affected the
aristocracy, while the common people remained pagan.
In Italy, the
Lombards were intensively Christianised, and the
pressure to convert to
Catholicism was great. With the Bavarian queen
Theodelinda , a Catholic, the monarchy was brought under heavy
Catholic influence. After initial support for the anti-
Rome party in
Schism of the Three Chapters ,
Theodelinda remained a close
contact and supporter of
Pope Gregory I . In 603,
Adaloald , the heir
to the throne, received a Catholic baptism. During the next century,
Arianism and paganism continued to hold out in
Austria (the northeast
of Italy) and in the Duchy of Benevento. A succession of Arian kings
were militarily aggressive and presented a threat to the
Rome. In the 7th century, the nominally Christian aristocracy of
Benevento was still practising pagan rituals, such as sacrifices in
"sacred" woods. By the end of the reign of
Cunincpert , however, the
Lombards were more or less completely Catholicised. Under Liutprand ,
Catholicism became tangible, as the king sought to justify his
title _rex totius Italiae_ by uniting the south of the peninsula with
the north and bringing together his Italo-Roman and Germanic subjects
into one Catholic state.
Rule of Saint Benedict in Beneventan (i.e. Lombard) script
The Duchy and eventually Principality of
Benevento in southern Italy
developed a unique Christian rite in the 7th and 8th centuries. The
Beneventan rite is more closely related to the liturgy of the
Ambrosian rite than to the
Roman rite . The Beneventan rite has not
survived in its complete form, although most of the principal feasts
and several feasts of local significance are extant. The Beneventan
rite appears to have been less complete, less systematic, and more
liturgically flexible than the Roman rite.
Characteristic of this rite was the
Beneventan chant , a
Lombard-influenced chant that bore similarities to the Ambrosian chant
of Milan. The
Beneventan chant is largely defined by its role in the
liturgy of the Beneventan rite; many Beneventan chants were assigned
multiple roles when inserted into Gregorian chantbooks, appearing
variously as antiphons, offertories, and communions, for example. It
was eventually supplanted by the
Gregorian chant in the 11th century.
The chief centre of the
Beneventan chant was
Montecassino , one of
the first and greatest abbeys of
Western monasticism . Gisulf II of
Benevento had donated a large swathe of land to
Montecassino in 744,
and that became the basis for an important state, the _Terra Sancti
Benedicti _, which was a subject only to Rome. The Cassinese influence
Christianity in southern Italy was immense.
Montecassino was also
the starting point for another characteristic of Beneventan
monasticism, the use of the distinct
Beneventan script , a clear,
angular script derived from the
Roman cursive as used by the Lombards.
During their nomadic phase, the
Lombards primarily created art that
was easily carried with them, like arms and jewellery. Though
relatively little of this has survived, it bears resemblance to the
similar endeavours of other Germanic tribes of northern and central
Europe from the same era.
The first major modifications to the Germanic style of the Lombards
Pannonia and especially in Italy, under the influence of
local, Byzantine , and Christian styles. The conversions from nomadism
and paganism to settlement and
Christianity also opened up new arenas
of artistic expression, such as architecture (especially churches) and
its accompanying decorative arts (such as frescoes).
Lombard shield boss
northern Italy, 7th century, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Lombard S-shaped fibula
A glass drinking horn from Castel Trosino
8th-century Lombard sculpture depicting female martyrs, based on a
Byzantine model. _Tempietto Longobardo_,
Cividale del Friuli
Cividale del Friuli
Lombard architecture and Longobards in Italy, Places
of Power (568-774 A.D.) Church of Santa Sofia,
Few Lombard buildings have survived. Most have been lost, rebuilt, or
renovated at some point, so they preserve little of their original
Lombard architecture was well-studied in the 20th
century, and the four-volume _Lombard Architecture_ (1919) by Arthur
Kingsley Porter is a "monument of illustrated history".
The small Oratorio di Santa Maria in Valle in
Cividale del Friuli
Cividale del Friuli is
probably one of the oldest preserved examples of Lombard architecture,
as Cividale was the first Lombard city in Italy. Parts of Lombard
constructions have been preserved in
Pavia (San Pietro in Ciel d\'Oro
, crypts of Sant\'Eusebio and San Giovanni Domnarum ) and Monza
(cathedral ). The _Basilic autariana_ in Fara Gera d\'Adda near
Bergamo and the church of San Salvatore in
Brescia also have Lombard
elements. All these buildings are in northern Italy (Langobardia
major), but by far the best-preserved Lombard structure is in southern
Italy (Langobardia minor). The Church of Santa Sofia in
erected in 760 by Duke Arechis II , and it preserves Lombard frescoes
on the walls and even Lombard capitals on the columns.
Lombard architecture flourished under the impulse provided by the
Catholic monarchs like
Theodelinda , Liutprand , and
Desiderius to the
foundation of monasteries to further their political control. Bobbio
Abbey was founded during this time.
Some of the late Lombard structures of the 9th and 10th centuries
have been found to contain elements of style associated with
Romanesque architecture and have been so dubbed "first Romanesque ".
These edifices are considered, along with some similar buildings in
southern France and
Catalonia , to mark a transitory phase between the
Pre-Romanesque and full-fledged Romanesque.
LIST OF RULERS
List of kings of the Lombards ._
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* ^ Hammerstein-Loxton, 56.
* ^ _A_ _B_ PD, VII.
* ^ _A_ _B_ PD, VIII.
* ^ OGL, appendix 11.
* ^ Priester, 17
* ^ PD, I, 9.
* ^ Pohl and Erhart. Nedoma, 449–445.
* ^ Priester, 17.
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* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ Menghin, 15.
* ^ Velleius, Hist. Rom. II, 106. Schmidt, 5.
* ^ Strabo, VII, 1, 3.
* ^ Suetoniu,
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* ^ Wegewitz, _Das langobardische Brandgräberfeld von Putensen,
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* ^ Menghin, 17.
* ^ Menghin, 18.
* ^ Priester, 18.
* ^ _A_ _B_ Tacitus, Ann. II, 45.
* ^ Tacitus, Annals, XI, 16, 17.
* ^ Cassius Dio, 71, 3, 1. Menghin 16.
* ^ Priester, 21. Zeuss, 471. Wiese, 38. Schmidt, 35–36.
* ^ Tacitus, Germania, 38-40
* ^ Ptolemy, Geogr. II, 11, 9. Menghin, 15.
* ^ Ptolemy, Geogr. II, 11, 17. Menghin, 15
* ^ Schütte, _Ptolemy's Maps of Northern Europe_, pages 34, and
* ^ Codex Gothanus, II.
* ^ _A_ _B_ Priester, 14. Menghin, 16.
* ^ Hartmann, II, pt I, 5.
* ^ Menghin, 17, 19. Codex Gothanus, II.
* ^ Zeuss, 471. Wiese, 38. Schmidt, 35–36. Priester, 21–22.
* ^ Hammerstein-Loxton, 56. Bluhme. _HGL_, XIII.
* ^ Cosmographer of Ravenna, I, 11.
* ^ Hodgkin, Ch. V, 92. _HGL_, XII.
* ^ Schmidt, 49.
* ^ Hodgkin, V, 143.
* ^ Menghin, _Das Reich an der Donau_, 21.
* ^ K. Priester, 22.
* ^ Bluhme, Gens Langobardorum Bonn, 1868
* ^ Menghin, 14.
* ^ Hist. gentis Lang., Ch. XVII
* ^ Hist. gentis Lang., Ch. XVII.
* ^ PD, XVII.
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* ^ Schmidt, 47 n3.
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* _ Beck, Frederick George Meeson;