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THE Lombards are mentioned first at the time of Augustus and Tiberius by Velleius Paterculus and Strabo, and a hundred years later by Tacitus. Their first residence was the Bardengau on the left bank of the lower Elbe, and here they were conquered by Tiberius at the time before the battle in the Teutoburgian forest, when the Romans still intended to subdue the whole of Germany. After the deliverance of the inner part of Germany by Arminius, the Lombards were ruled by Marbod, who went over to Arminius and later on brought back to his compatriots Italicus, the son of Arminius, whom the Cherusci had fetched from Rome and then driven away again. They are generally described as a small tribe, the fiercest of all German tribes, and only their bravery enabled them to hold their position between their stronger neighbors. On the whole their habits seem to have been the same as those of all other Germans at the time of Tacitus; some of their laws of a later period show a certain resemblance to those of their former neighbors by the North Sea. As with all Germans, their kingdom is no original institution, and whatever tradition tells about it is only fabulous. It is the smallness of their tribe which accounts for their principal quality—the tendency to assimilate the allied or subdued individuals and tribes. Roman influence seems to have touched them only in the slightest degree during the first five centuries of our era. At the time of their wanderings they began to show differences from their neighbors.

We know nothing about the way the Lombard wanderings took, though tradition says a good deal about them. The extensive farming they practiced, consisting more in cattle-breeding than agriculture, and the loose organization of the tribe made it easy for them to leave their dwelling-places. Perhaps here, as is so often the case, the first motive was need of land, a natural result of the increase of population, while at the same time so small a tribe had no possibility of enlarging its boundaries. A division of Lombards invaded Pannonia with the Marcomanni about the year 165, but were repulsed by the Romans and obliged to return. They did not again reach the old Roman frontier, the Danube, till 300 years later, under a certain king Godeoch, who occupied the desolated Rugiland after the destruction of their empire by Odovacar in the year 487. Meanwhile during the troubles of their wanderings and continual wars the institution of a constant commander-in-chief in form of kingship seems to have taken the place of the Tacitean duke who was invested for every single war. From Rugiland they wandered into the land which was called “Feld” (in Hungary) but were subdued by the Heruli and forced to pay tribute. At that time they were probably landlords, leaving the land to subjected half-freemen (aldiones) for culture; we may suppose that they were at that time strongly influenced by their neighbors, the Bavarians, and it was then that they adopted Christianity in its Arian form. But not very long afterwards, during the Franco-Ostrogothic war in Gaul, the Lombards, under the reign of their king Tato of the family of Leth, shook off the yoke of the Heruli, who were allied with Theodoric, succeeded in beating them completely in a battle somewhere in the Hungarian plain, and entirely destroyed their realm. The Lombards now had the Gepidae on the south and the Danube on the west. Tato's nephew and successor, King Vacho, who had married one daughter to a Frankish king and another to Garibald, duke of Bavaria, considered himself friend and ally of the Roman Emperor.

When after the death of the last “Lethingian” king his guardian Audoin had mounted the throne, the Lombards crossed the Danube and, while the Ostrogothic land was in great confusion, occupied the south-west of Hungary, and also Noricum, the south of Styria, both belonging in name to the Roman Empire, but left to them for settlement by Justinian. In this way they were loosely federated with the Empire, which paid them subsidies, but was nevertheless troubled by their raids. They assisted Narses in his decisive expedition to Italy, bringing him 2500 warriors with 3000 armed followers, but the Byzantine soon sent them back after the deciding battle, seeing how dangerous they were to friend and foe through their fierceness and want of discipline. Meanwhile the Lombards and Gepidae, stirred up by the Roman Emperor, were en­gaged in constant battles and struggles. After Audoin's death his son and successor Alboin, well known to fable, concluded a league with the Avars, engaging himself to pay the tenth part of all cattle for their help in war and, in case of victory, to give up the land of the Gepidae to the Avars. The latter made their invasion from the north-east, the Lombards from the north-west. In the decisive battle Kunimund, king of the Gepidae, was slain by Alboin's hand, the king's daughter taken prisoner and made queen by Alboin. Part of the Gepidae took flight, another part surrendered to the Lombards; their realm existed no more, their land and the few who stayed behind fell under the government of the Avars, who were now the Lombards' most dangerous neighbours. But the Lombards renewed their confederacy with them, and left to them the land they had themselves occupied till then, intending to conquer for themselves a better and richer land in Italy, which many of them already knew. At the command of Alboin they assembled on 1 April 568, with family, goods and chattels, with a mixed multitude of all the subjugated races already assimilated by their people. With a great number of allies — 20,000 Saxons among others — and grouped in tribes (fara) they crossed the Alps under the guidance of Alboin. About the same time Narses was recalled by Justinian's successor: hence arose a rumor, reporting that the commander had committed treason, by calling the Lombards ; and this became the saga of Narses.

In spite of the well-organized defensive system which Narses had established, the Romans seem to have been surprised and made no attempt at defense. The Lombards threw down the Friulian limes with its castles and, marching into the Venetian plain, took Cividale (Forum Julii), the first important place that fell into their hands, and afterwards the residence of the ducal dynasty of the Gisulfings; they also destroyed the town of Aquileia, whose patriarch fled to Grado, the later New-Aquileia, with his treasure, part of the population, and of the soldiers. But the imperialists succeeded in holding out in Padua, Monselice, and Mantua, thereby defending the line of the Po, while Vicenza and Verona fell into Alboin's hands, so that the important limes of Tridentum, which bordered on Bavaria in the north, was separated from the bulk of the imperial army. On 4 September 569, Alboin entered Milan; the archbishop Honoratus fled to Genoa, which for two generations remained the asylum of the bishops of Milan. Ticinum (Pavia) alone offered resistance for a time and could only be taken after a long siege, during which and afterwards other Lombard troops scoured the country up to the Alps and took possession of the land except a few fortifications. Undoubtedly the Lombard bands had as little idea of systematic attack as the imperialists of systematic defense: and it seems the latter judged the Lombard invasions to be like other barbarian invasions, which soon passed away. Alboin himself seems to have dated his reign in Italy from the time of his occupation of Milan.

Alboin did not long enjoy his fame. Revolted by her husband's insolence, who forced her to drink from a cup made of her father Kunimund's skull, Rosamund conspired with Alboin's foster-brother Helmechis and a powerful man called Peredeo; the barbarian hero-king was murdered in his bed (in spring 572). But as Rosamund could not realize her plan of taking possession of the throne with Helmechis, against the Lombards’ opposition, the two fled to Ravenna, taking the royal treasure with them. Here the queen wanted to get rid of her accomplice and marry Longinus, praefect of Italy; but Helmechis forced her to finish the poison she had given him. So the praefect could only deliver Alboin's daughter and the treasure to Constantinople. This is what the saga related, and we can neither confirm nor contradict its details. The duke Cleph of the family of Beleos was now made king by the Lombards at Pavia, but was murdered after one and a half years' reign (574). Lombard bands spread further in middle and southern Italy, but so small was the need of a single leader that they chose no more kings, but every one of the dukes, 35 in number, reigned independently in his own district.

These dukes, called duces by our authorities, but whose Lombard titles we do not know, are not to be confounded with the duces in the Tacitean sense. We must picture them as leaders of a military division chosen by the king from among the nobles. Their position changed naturally, when the Lombard people was no longer on march, but the same clans were garrisoned permanently in the same town, as the saga of Gisulf’s appointment in Friuli exemplifies, and occupied permanently the same district, living on its produce. These districts generally coincided with the Roman division in civitates, and a walled town formed the centre. Probably these towns were at first used as victualling stations, managed in a more or less regular manner, sometimes perhaps by imposing payment of a third on the peasants, of the district. But this could only be considered a transition state, preparing the way for definite settlement. The fierce Lombards had not come as federates or friends like the Goths, but as enemies, and treated the Romans jure belli.

The Roman freeman—the curialis who owned a moderate property in the town or the great landowner in the country—had fled, or had been killed or enslaved, and only the great mass of working people, the coloni, and the agricultural slaves, had been left on the soil, though many had perished during the terrors of war. When the Lombards began to settle, they divided the land, with all its bondmen, as far as it had not been entirely devastated, between the free Lombards, who thereby took the place of the Roman landlords. The coloni were considered as aldiones, as half-freemen, and paid tribute and did service for the Lombards as they had done for the Romans before. Of course the possessions of the Catholic Church, which was the Church of the Roman State, fell under the same lot of division. The dukes claimed for themselves all the public land with its traditional duties as well, but every free Lombard warrior was entitled to part of the booty, and there­fore became also a landowner. In this way the local division in all those parts which had not been totally devastated, and which were ploughed again after a time, suffered no change. The culture was much the same, with the one difference that the Lombards, having brought great herds of cattle, especially swine, from Pannonia, attached more importance within the manor to stock-management and cattle-breeding than the Romans had done. The towns and municipal settlements were likewise unchanged, because the Lombards, who had known stone buildings only upon Roman soil, accommodated themselves to the conditions of a higher culture. It is certain that regard was paid to the connection between the fara (clan) in every settlement, but on the other hand it was just the manorial and municipal settlement which entirely destroyed the connection within the fara, so that the rest of the original clan-organization soon disappeared. Two of the duchies were somewhat different in origin and organization from those of the north of Italy, the "great duchies" of Spoleto and Benevento. They did not go back to the time of conquest in common, but were founded by independent enterprises of Lombard bands, who had severed from the great mass under command of their chiefs and invaded the land on their own account. They were much larger in extent than one civitas, so that here the civitas forms a subdivision of the duchy.

Spoleto and Benevento. 574-579

In the year 575 or 576 the patrician Baduarius, son-in-law to the Emperor Justin, and his army were entirely beaten by the Lombards. They approached Ravenna, the duke Faroald even occupied for a time Classis, its port, destroyed the Petra Pertusa, which defended the Via Flaminia, and thereby forced the passage of the Apennines. Faroald occupied Nursia, Spoleto, and other towns and installed an Arian bishop in Spoleto, which was now the centre of his duchy. Another duke, Zotto, who with his partly heathen bands inundated the province of Samnium and spread terror all around, settled down in Benevento. The connection between Ravenna and Rome was interrupted at times; even Rome was besieged in the year 579, but the Lombards were obliged to give up the siege as well as that of Naples two years later, because Roman walls, kept in good condition and provided with a sufficient number of defenders, were impregnable to them. During the next years the two dukedoms took a still wider range, limited only by Rome with its surroundings and by Byzantine seaport-towns, which could not be taken from the land side. During the kingless time Benevento and Spoleto grew so strong that they were able to keep up their independence.

In the north of Italy too the incoherent government of the dukes did not permit any uniform action. Even in Alboin's time various troops had detached themselves and pillaged in Gaul, but upon the whole these adventurers had no success against Mummolus, commander-in-chief of the Burgundian king Guntram. The Saxons, who did not want to assimilate with the Lombards and intended to make their way home through the land of the Franks, were likewise beaten in the following years.

But these bands had shown the way into the neighbouring kingdom to the dukes of North Italy. Some of these marched into the upper valley of the Rhone and were beaten by the Burgundians near Bex (574) and no better did they fare next year, as they were repulsed by Mummolus, after having laid waste the land between the Rhone, the Isêre and the Alps. At this time Susa and Aosta, the most important passage over the West Alps, seem to have fallen into the hands of the Franks, and on the other side, a Frankish duke, Chramnichis, advanced from Austrasia into the dukedom of Trent, but was, after a short success, totally defeated with his troops by the duke Evin near Salurn. These conflicts took a dangerous aspect when the Emperor Maurice sent subsidies (50,000 solidi) to the young king Childebert of Austrasia in order to drive out the Lombards.

In 584 King Childebert conducted an army against Italy, and so weak had the want of monarchical leading rendered the Lombard dukes that they dared not offer resistance, and sent presents in token of submission. Besides this their force of resistance had been weakened by the treason of some of their fellow-countrymen who were not ashamed of joining the imperialists against their own people. The imperial policy was to combat barbarians with barbarians, and to spend abundant means for this purpose. In this manner they had won over the duke Drocton of Brexillum, a Lombard duke of Suevic family, who succeeded in expelling Faroald from Classis, and other deserters were found as well. Standing in danger of losing all their booty by dispersing their forces, the dukes of West Italy at last resolved to unite again under a king's leading.

Authari. 584

They elected Authari the son of Cleph (584), and conceded to him (as we hear), in order to give material foundation to the new kingdom, half of their own lands, which were later administered by royal gastaldi. The dukedom had, in consequence of the settlements during the last ten years, become quite a different thing from what it had been at the time of Alboin, and also the new kingdom was obliged to represent not only the leading power of the army as before but also territorial power.

The king's attempt to strengthen the new central power against the forces of disunion, grown strong during the last period, now formed the most important part of the Lombard State's politics, as it was the king's task to form a really united State. He was no longer satisfied with the dignity of a barbarian chieftain, but aspired to reign lawfully within the territory of the Roman Empire. We see this from the fact that Authari first took up the name Flavius, which all his successors kept, though he was not acknowledged by the Empire, as for instance Theodoric had been.

Theodelinda. 588-590

The Lombards wanted this territory to comprise all Italy, and a legend illustrating the fact tells us that Authari rode into the sea at the south point of Italy, and touched a solitary column, projecting out of the waves, with his spear and called out: “This is to be the boundary of the Lombard realm”; but in reality Authari's task was of a more modest character and limited to the north of Italy. A new attack of the Austrasians failed in consequence of the leaders' disagreements, and as the Exarch Smaragdus felt too weak to offer resistance to the Lombards without their help, Authari managed to conclude an armistice for three years, the first that was concluded between the Lombards and the Empire. Authari seems to have availed himself of this opportunity partly to restore order in North Italy and partly to ensure his boundary in the north, and above all to destroy the Franco-Byzantine league, which threatened the existence of his realm. He therefore betrothed himself to Childebert's sister, but the engagement was soon broken by the Franks when the Frankish imperial and catholic party of Brunhild got the ascendant. Authari however married Theodelinda (588?), the Catholic daughter of the Bavarian duke Garibal, who, by her mother, belonged to the old Lombard royal family of the Lethings. The other daughter was married to the mighty duke Evin of Tridentum, and her brother Gundoald was made duke of Asti by Authari. When the Franks, by this time, repeated their invasion of Italy under the leading of a few dukes, they were entirely beaten after a hot battle. Childebert’s revenge was prevented by Authari's negotiations with him (589) and by his offer to become even a dependent confederate and pay tribute. Meanwhile, after the armistice had ended, Authari had succeeded in removing the last remnants of imperial power on the northern boundaries of Italy, and had probably also obtained his acknowledgment by the duke of Friuli. Nevertheless his position was much impaired when a new exarch, Romanus, appeared in Ravenna with reinforcements, regained Altinum, Modena, and Mantua, and induced the Lombard dukes of the Emilia, as well as the duke of Friuli, to join the imperialists. The negotiations were broken off, and imperialists and Franks planned to destroy the Lombard power by a systematic and simultaneous attack from north and south, and had even agreed already on the distribution of the booty. Twenty Frankish dukes broke forth from the Alps in two divisions, one marching against Milan, the other under the duke Chedinus against Verona, after having broken through the fortification of the frontier and devastated the land all around (summer 590); but no important conflicts took place, because the Lombards retired into their fortifications, fearing the enemy's overwhelming numbers. The exarch came to meet the Franks at Mantua, and intended to march in a line parallel to them against Pavia, to which Authari had drawn back; but this plan was not put into practice, it is said, in consequence of misunderstandings.

The Frankish dukes tried to secure their movable booty, and Duke Chedinus is said to have concluded an armistice for ten months; but epidemics and famine caused great losses on their way back. After these efforts, which had brought no real success to them, the Franks ceased to invade Italy for more than a century and a half. Authari lived to manage the negotiations for peace which led to a lasting friendship between the Franks and Lombards later on, though only on condition of paying tribute to the Franks—a burden which was, as it seems, not for a long time thrown off by the Lombards. The northern boundary, at all events, was secured, and the Lombards were only threatened from one side, by the imperials. But Authari did not live to see the definite treaty of peace ; he is said to have been poisoned and died (5 Sept. 590). The result of his active life was the establish­ment of a kingdom and the Lombard State, though many difficulties still awaited the Lombards from within and without.

Agilulf. 590-605

Two months after Authari’s death, Agilulf, duke of Turin, obtained the crown and married his predecessor's widow, Theodelinda. In May 591 an assembly of Lombards at Milan acknowledged him solemnly, but a number of North Italian dukes had then to be subdued in repeated battles; also Piacenza and Parma were again subjected, and in the latter town the king's son-in-law was established as duke, as the king generally claimed the right to nominate the dukes himself. He ensured the northern boundary by an agreement with the Avars which became a defensive and offensive alliance later on. The time had now come for a systematic attack on the imperialists. The newly nominated duke of Benevento, Arichis, who had consolidated his duchy by gaining nearly all the territories in South Italy with the exception of a few towns on the coast, had the especial task of marching against Naples and threatening Rome from the south, while Ariulf of Spoleto had already destroyed the land communication between Rome and Ravenna in April 592, and even appeared before Rome in the summer, afterwards turning to the north and taking the castles on the upper Tiber. To be sure, the exarch succeeded in regaining them during the time he was free of Agilulf; but in 593 the king himself advanced southward, occupied Perusia, and appeared before Rome. The siege ended in a treaty with Pope Gregory who only wished for peace, but it was not acknowledged by the exarch after the king had marched off ; the war did not cease, and the Lombards made constant progress. It was only after the Exarch Romanus'’ death (596) that, by the pope's urging, the transactions were renewed seriously; it is true that the new exarch, Callinicus, carried on the war in North Italy, but he concluded an armistice of a year in autumn 598 on the basis of the status quo and engaged himself to pay 500 pounds in gold to the Lombard king. The armistice was renewed for the time from spring 600-601 but, when the war was taken up again, the exarch succeeded in making prisoners of the duke of Parma and his wife, Agilulf’s daughter; but the Lombard king took Padua, devastated Istria with Slav and Avar troops, conquered the fortified town of Monselice, enforced peace on the rebellious dukes of Friuli and Tridentum, and occupied in 603 Cremona and Mantua. The central position of the imperialists at Ravenna appeared to be endangered after the subjugation of all the north of Italy, and the Exarch Smaragdus, who was again sent to Italy after the fall of the Emperor Maurice, hastily concluded a new armistice till 605, and surrendered the king's daughter, Then Agilulf crossed the Apennines once more, occupied Balneum Regis and Orvieto, but in November, 605 the imperialists obtained a new armistice at the price of paying a tribute of 12,000 solidi. From that time till Agilulf’s death and even afterwards, this armistice was continually prolonged. It is true that a definite state of peace, which would have naturally led to a legal partition of the Italian soil, was not effected, though Agilulf’s ambassador Stablicianus seems to have entered into negotiations on this subject in Constantinople. Agilulf died in 616 after 25 years of a warlike reign, in which he had expanded and strengthened his empire and obliged the Romans to pay tribute.

Theodelinda and Adaloald. 605-628

To Agilulf his son Adaloald (a minor) followed in name, but Theodelinda exercised the ruling influence on government in his place. While Authari had never allowed Lombard children Catholic baptism, a Catholic chapel had been conceded to Theodelinda at Monza and Adaloald himself was already baptized as a Catholic, though by a schismatic, and Theodelinda, who exchanged occasional letters with Pope Gregory, was schismatic in relation to the Three Chapters. In this way Agilulf had not tolerated the organization of the Roman Church within the reach of his power, but the schismatic bishop of Aquileia and his schismatic suffragans had taken refuge with the Lombards. Agilulf had also given deserted land in the Apennines at the confluence of the torrent Bobbio and the Trebbia to the Irish monk Columba (Columbanus) who had fled from Gaul, and differed dogmatically from Rome. He also gave permission to lay the foundations of a monastery at Bobbio, but the monks soon turned to orthodoxy after Columbanus' death, and even got a privilege in 628, by which they were exempted from the power of the neighboring bishop of Tortona. In contrast to the national chiefs, who were still Arian, the government favored the Catholics or at least the schismatics, and in consequence Roman influence made rapid progress in the Lombard kingdom, favored partly by the social influence of the Roman subjects, partly by the intercourse with the Roman neighbors, which the long armistices had so well prepared. Nevertheless the peace was once more broken at the beginning of Adaloald's reign between the Exarch Eleutherius and the Lombards under the commander Sundrarius, who owed his training to Agilulf, but this war was ended by another armistice, the exarch consenting to pay a tribute of 500 pounds in gold. In the following years the Roman influence on the king was so great that he was generally said to be either mad or bewitched. Perhaps it was the national party among the Lombards which raised upon the buckler Arioald, the duke of Turin, the husband of Adaloald's sister Gundeberga, and after several combats dethroned King Adaloald, who was then said to have been removed by poison (626). Arioald reigned ten years too, without much change in the course of Lombard politics. He came in conflict with his Catholic wife, who was released from prison by the intervention of the Franks and allowed Catholic service in a church of John the Baptist at Pavia.

Duchy of Friuli. 26-652        

The alliance which Agilulf had formed with the Avars was dissolved. They invaded Italy and killed Gisulf, duke of Friuli, with nearly the whole of his army; his widow perfidiously surrendered Cividale which was entirely burnt down and the open country was devastated, the Lombards offering resistance only in the fortified castles at the frontier, till the Avars turned back to Pannonia after their raid. No help was to be expected for Friuli at that time from the weak kingdom; but at last Gisulf's sons escaped from the Avars, and the two eldest, Taso and Cacco, took the reins of government into their hands. While the power of the Avars was decreasing, the young dukes in alliance with Bavarians and Alemans fought successfully against the Slays, and during Arioald's reign penetrated victoriously into the valleys of the Alps perhaps as far as Windisch-Matrei and the valley of the Gail, and obliged the Slays to pay tribute. But, following the intention of Arioald, it is said, the exarch quietly removed Taso and Cacco, and their uncle Grasulf was nominated duke of Friuli while the two younger sons of Gisulf, Radoald and Grimoald, appealed to the protection of the mighty duke Arichis of Benevento.

After Arioald's death the nobles in the kingdom elected the duke Rothari of Brescia, an ardent Arian, who was connected with the former dynasty by his marriage with the widowed queen Gundeberga. Nevertheless his policy (unlike that of his predecessors in the last twenty years) was decidedly hostile to the Romans, though he tolerated the gradual establishment of the Catholic hierarchy in the Lombard kingdom. He sought to keep order in all internal matters and to raise the king's authority over the nobles, and to this purpose war against the imperials, which had rested during two decades, was taken up again, in order to strengthen the king's royal domain by new conquests. He passed the Apennines and conquered the coast between Luna and the Frankish boundary; he did not install dukes here but kept the conquered land under direct royal administration, so that the greater part of the west of Italy was royal. He destroyed Oderzo in the east, the last remnant of Roman power on the Venetian mainland, and slew the imperials in a bloody battle on the borders of the Scultenna not far from the central seat of Roman dominion; he concluded a suspension of hostilities shortly before his death (652). His son Rodoald followed him, but was killed after a few months' reign.

Rothari. 643-662

More famous even than by his victorious enterprises and by the saga that attaches itself to the name of “King Rother”, Rothari was the first legislator of the Lombards. Up to that time, the Lombards, like all barbarian nations, had been ruled by customary laws, handed down to them verbally by their ancestors. Rothari ordered them to be written down, published as Edictus after having consulted his nobles, and confirmed according to Lombard custom by an assembly of warriors at Pavia (22 Nov. 643). Of course it was a territorial law, for only the Lombard was subject to Lombard law in the Lombard State, and the fact of its being written down showed clearly enough that the Lombard State placed itself in the same line with the respublica (the Empire) and the other acknowledged States as perfectly equal to them. When Rothari declares the law should protect the poor against the oppressions of the mighty, we can find therein part of the means he employed to keep order in internal matters. The kingdom was not only protected by some of the laws of the Edictus but also showed its power by the fact of issuing legal regulations for the whole country, which, if not at once, were at all events after a short time accepted irrevocably from Benevento to Cividale. Its matter is essentially German law, but in the supplements which Rothari's successors added, we can trace alien influence; and, moreover, the form is naturally influenced by Roman patterns. Comparative science of law has proved that Lombard law had the greatest likeness to Saxon, Anglo-Saxon, and Scandinavian law—a proof that the Lombards preserved their law unchanged in essential matters since their departure from the lower Elbe. The Edictus is systematically arranged, and treats of crimes against king, state, or man, especially compensations for bodily injuries, law of inheritance and family right, and manumission, then obligations and real estate, crimes against property, oath, and bail. It can well be called the best juridical codification of barbarian law.

The successor of Rothari’s son was Aripert, the son of that duke Gundoald of Asti, who had come from Bavaria with his sister Theodelinda. During the nine years of his reign he, as a Catholic, carried on the traditions of Theodelinda, in opposition to Rothari. He built a Catholic church at Pavia and favored the Catholic hierarchy, although the assertion of a poem which celebrates the merits of his dynasty about the year 700, that "the good and pious king" abolished the Arian heresy, is probably exaggerated. The bishop of Pavia was converted to Catholicism. A change of policy took place only after his death (661), when his two young sons Godepert in Pavia and Perctarit in Milan, to whom he had left the government, fell out, and Godepert claimed the help of the mighty duke Grimoald of Benevento against his brother. After the death of Arichis, and his son Ajo, who had perished in a battle against Slav pirates near Sipontum (662), the two sons of Gisulf of Friuli, Radoald and Grimoald, attained the dignity of dukedom consecutively, and energetically maintained their power in several battles against the imperialists. Grimoald, duke of Benevento since 657, now marched into North Italy by the east side of the Apennines against the centre of the Lombard realm, while his subordinate, the count of Capua, marched through Spoleto and Tuscia and joined the duke by Piacenza. Assisted by the treachery of the duke Garibald of Turin, Grimoald seized the reins of government himself after having killed King Godepert with his sword; Perctarit had fled from Milan to the Avars and his wife and young son Cunincpert had been sent into exile to Benevento. Grimoald now married Aripert’s daughter; who was already betrothed to him, and legitimated his power by a later election at Pavia; for the purpose of gaining firm support he bestowed royal domains in upper Italy on several of his faithful followers of Benevento. He was the first Lombard king who united the king's royal domain in the north with Bene­vento under his actual government.

Grimoald. 662-671

Mighty as he was, Grimoald had a long struggle for the preservation of his royal power. Perctarit came back, and seemed to submit himself, but was soon obliged to fly to the Franks, after the discovery of a conspiracy between his followers and some disaffected dukes. The intervention of a Frankish army in favor of the banished dynasty had no success; by stratagem Grimoald contrived to attack them suddenly near Asti and slew them. In the year 663 the Emperor Constans had landed at Tarentum, in order to obtain a new base for his heavily oppressed empire by conquests in the West, and the expulsion of the Lombards was naturally the first condition for this enterprise. The Emperor occupied Luceria with superior forces, assaulted Acerenza without success, and then besieged Grimoald's young son Romuald at Benevento. The latter pledged his sister Gisa in token of submission after having offered resistance bravely; but Grimoald had already reached the river Sangro with a relieving army, though many Lombards had left him, and young Romuald did not fulfill his pledge; the Emperor gave up his siege and moved on to his own city of Naples. This imperial army was said to have been defeated twice: at all events Constans gave up war against the Lombards for a time and after a short visit to Rome went on to Sicily, where he was murdered. Romuald then occupied Tarentum, Brundusium, and all the rest of the imperial dominion on the Adriatic coast of South Italy, with the exception of Hydruntum; and Grimoald, after having installed Tran­samund, a duke of his choice, in Spoleto, again devoted himself to his most urgent tasks in North Italy, where he found in rebellion the duke Lupus of Friuli, whom he had left in his place at Pavia. Evidently menaced by other rebellions as well, the king himself appealed to the Khagan of the Avars, for help against the duke; Lupus perished in the battle, but the Avars now prepared to occupy Friuli as conquered land. But, in spite of the insufficiency of his military forces, Grimoald induced them to depart, and set up Wechthari, a powerful soldier and the terror of the Slays, as duke of Friuli in place of Arnefrit, the son of Lupus, who had tried to regain his father's inheritance by help of the Slays, but had been beaten and killed near Nimis. Grimoald took away Forli from the imperials and razed to the ground Oderzo, where his brothers had once been murdered: then he made peace with the Franks, so that Perctarit did not feel safe any longer in his asylum, and prepared to fly to England. At this time the mighty king Grimoald died, after having made sure the limits of his realm, and broken the dukes' power, in the ninth year of his reign (671). His eldest son Romuald took his place in the dukedom of Benevento, while the young boy Garibald, his son by Aripert's daughter, inherited the royal crown.

The Bavarian Dynasty. 671-698

By this time Perctarit returned from his exile and dethroned his nephew Garibald with the help of his numerous followers; he and his dynasty now held the throne for more than 40 years consecutively. He made his son Cunincpert co-regent (680) and entered into friendly terms with Romuald of Benevento, whose son, the younger Grimoald, married Perctarit’s daughter. In the south as well as in the north-west Catholicism gained exclusive power, and in Benevento and Pavia many foundations of cloisters spoke of a growing piety, shown especially by the two princesses. Numerous Lombard bishops had already assisted at the Roman synod of 680; on the other hand the Three Chapters Schism lasted on in Austrasia, on the east border of the Adda, in contrast to Neustria westwards, where royalty had taken root more decidedly. The duke Alahis of Tridentum, who had extended his territory northward in the direction of the Bavarians, was too strong for Perctarit and even added the dukedom of Brescia to his own. After Perctarit’s death he also occupied Pavia, drove King Cunincpert to a refuge on an isle in the Lake of Como and acted as king, acknowledged by the greater part of the north of Italy. But passing for a heretic and acting recklessly against the Church, he made an enemy of the hierarchy, and Cunincpert was soon able to return to Pavia, protected by their adherents. Between Neustria and Austria on the field of Coronate a battle was fought between them; Alahis fell, and a great part of his followers perished in the flood of the Adda. This was at once a victory of kingdom over dukedom, and orthodoxy over the Three Chapters Schism. An insurrection in Friuli was also subdued; at a synod that had been convoked at the king's request in Pavia (698?) even those bishops of Austrasia who were still schismatic acknowledged the fifth and sixth ecumenical councils, and thus the unity of Catholic faith was established in Lombard Italy. The only lasting effect of this schism was the division of the patriarchate of Aquileia between the bishops of Grado and of Old-Aquileia, following the civil boundaries between Lombards and Romans. Even before the Roman Church triumphed throughout the whole Lombard realm, after the Emperor Constans' attempt to reconquer what he had lost had failed, and the Bavarian dynasty's traditional policy of peace had replaced Grimoald's belligerent policy—even at that time definite peace had been made between the Empire and the Lombards, thereby placing the Lombard State amid the States which were officially acknowledged by the respublica. The acknowledgment of the status quo, the limits, which had been fixed by a hundred years of war, formed the basis of peace ; and the Lombards renounced any further policy of conquest. This peace seems to have been concluded between 678-681 at Constantinople, and from that time the Lombard bishops, when the pope confirmed their nomination at Rome, swore to provide that “peace, which God loves, be maintained in eternity between the Respublica and us, that is, the Lombard people”.

Roman Influence. 671-712

Roman influence affected the Lombards in different ways. Intercourse with the half-free Roman subjects had always been a strong force since the beginning of the settlement; the schismatics coming from the Roman Empire had found reception even at a very early period, as had the merchants during the times of armistice, who maintained friendly relations and profited by the great Lombard market; but when definite peace had been made, lasting relations and safe intercourse with the new allies were possible, so that free Romans and above all Catholic clergy established themselves in the lands of their new friends and allies, who also acknowledged their right to be tried by Roman law. Intermarriage must have frequently happened at a very early period, and was furthered by Lombard laws, which considered the freedman and free as equal, so that marriages with freedmen or freedwomen were allowed and very common; after the definite peace even unions between Lombards and women of the Roman Empire were not a rare thing either. As the Lombards were in a small minority, even in their own territory, intermarriage naturally had a marked effect. The adaptation of the reigning people to the Roman culture they had found led the same way. Thus they came to the knowledge of new forms of culture and luxury, which could only be satisfied in the Roman manner, partly by the industry of Roman subjects, partly by booty made in war, and since the peace also by regular imports. Trade and art are of Roman stamp, although the workmanship is decayed and accommodates itself somewhat to barbarian taste. It was only in Italy that the Lombards learnt to erect stone buildings, to construct larger ships, and use weapons of metal; their clothing changed similarly and they gradually accepted the vulgar Latin language, especially because all the terms of their new culture belonged to that language, the only written language used, not only for written law, but all other documents which were drawn up by Roman ecclesiastics and notaries following Roman formulae. As their importance grew, the written word gained supremacy in all matters of law. The oldest stories of Lombard history and tradition are also written in Latin, and whatever there was of science, in connection with the Roman Church, was of course Latin. So the lasting peace, and especially the peace with the Catholic Church, essentially accelerated the process of assimilation in this sphere as well as in all others.

Constitutional development, as well as culture, was conditioned by the fact and manner of settlement. The territorial State develops a centralizing kingship in combat with centrifugal forces, and hides the original basis of German freedom. The sept or clan had already lost every economical foundation by the settlement, and we find no traces of the centena among the Lombards. Politically the sept recedes as well, but in matters of right it is only gradually superseded by the State. Rothari's legislation endeavors to restrain the feud-right to the sept; high penalties are fixed for the purpose of making the injured choose these instead of feud; guiltless acts are not to lead to feud. The members of the sept intervene as assistants at an oath, as combatants for a woman's right at an ordeal; and the mundium of an unmarried woman is due to the members of the sept if she has no nearer family relations. In contrast to these poor remnants of the sept’s power, which once had been so great, family-connection is very powerful, so that even by a disposal a last will was allowed only very late and quite exceptionally. The national assembly, that is the assembly of arimanni, still existed, and this as well as the kingship expressed the Lombard unity; but this assembly also was naturally entirely changed by the territorial State, having lost its organic foundations in the septs, and as an assembly comprising all or nearly all warriors was quite impossible considering the territorial extension of the State. In reality it consisted only in the army that was just ready for military operations, the king's attendants and the dukes and nobles present, and, whereas the nobles were actually often summoned to the preparatory council, the assembly of warriors had no possibility of influencing current state affairs and only served to heighten solemnities at a king’s election or law-giving. The other element of unity, which had probably been born only in the time of wanderings—the kingship—predominated more and more in comparison; it seems to have been attached to one family at a very early period, and up to the eighth century connection with the Lethingians was kept up at least by the feminine line; but besides this inherited right, general German custom demanded election, raising upon the buckler, and a solemn act of fealty from the fideles. On the other hand, the territorial State and Roman influence soon decided the extent of the king's power, though he called himself rex gentis Langobardorum. This influence expresses itself not only in the addition of the Roman name of Flavius and the Roman name of honor, vir excellentissimus, but also in the assertion of the king's nearly unlimited power, which is already expressed in Rothari's Edict: “we believe that the hearts of the kings are in the hands of God”. The king has not only the arriêre-ban, and all rights in connection with it. As supreme justice and protector of peace, he has his own peace secured by a high penalty, intercedes wherever all other forces give way, is the Lombard State’s supreme guardian in a certain sense, and being the State's only representative, no difference is made between his own rights and those of the State. His alone is the right of coinage, since the Lombards—before Rothari even—had learnt the art and use of coining from the Romans; and that the duke of Benevento coined as well as the king only shows how independent he kept himself of the Lombard State.  

 Government. 671-712  

Opposed to the centralizing kingdom is the particular power of the dukes, their different positions varying of course from the summus dux gentis Langobardorum down to the duke of a small provincial town in North Italy. But on the whole the dukes endeavored to found their power on inherited rights, and to exercise in their own territory the same authority which belonged to the king in the whole State, whereas the king claimed for himself the right of nominating the dukes and treated them as his officials. But the foundation of the king's royal domain was especially intended to counterbalance the power of the dukes; the larger this royal domain, the greater was the power of the State. Except those duchies which were in the hands of the royal family, this royal domain is said to have been partly formed by the half of all ducal property, which was given up to Cleph—though this cession can only relate to the dukes of a part of northern Italy—and partly by the conquest of new land, which was not left to the dukes. The whole royal domain has its own royal administration, lying in the hands of the gastaldi who are partly royal stewards, partly the king's representatives with competence in matters of arriêre-ban and judgment, but being only the king's officials they have, in contrast to the dukes, no independent jurisdiction. In Benevento and Spoleto, where immediate royal power does not reach, the gastaldi are officials of the duke in the district of a civitas. Subordinated to these iudices, that is the dukes and gastaldi who generally reside in walled towns and whose office consists in a whole iudiciaria, stand the actores (sculdahis, centenaries, locopositus) out of town, and these are assisted by saltarii, decani, etc.

Change of social structure caused a change of power in the Lombard State. Although differences in distribution of the land had always been made in correspondence with a family's rank, and although the wergeld was not uniform but varied by habit and secundum qualitatem personae, every Lombard was not only warrior but also landlord and lord of the manor. This ruling nation stood in contrast only to those who had no political rights, the coloni and aldii and massarii (unfree farmers on holdings), as well as the likewise unfree ministeriales of the Salland and the unfree agricultural assistant laborers; the Lombards only were taken into account politically as well as economically. But this distribution having been made but once, gave no security whatever for a lasting condition; the natural increase of population and the accidental im­poverishment of Lombard families, as well as manumissions to complete freedom, created a class of Lombards without land. Part of them worked as tenants, that is small tenants, who took holdings on lease for 29 years, remaining legally free, but losing in social standard (libellarii); another part may have become merchants, trade developing on account of the definite peace, and so commercial capital stood alongside of land rent. This new state of economic affairs expressed itself also in military service which was varied according to property as early as the eighth century, commercial capital being placed on a par with landed property. A law of 750 dictates cavalry service with coat of mail wand horse and complete equipment to all who possess at least seven casae massariae; the landlord of at least 40 iugera has to follow with one horse, lance, and shield; those who possess still less, with shield and bow; a part of the poor was obliged to do socage service in the fields at home. This economic development rendered it possible for the king to form for himself a power independent of its former limitations within the State, creating a central organization of power by investing the free poor with landed property out of his royal domain. The king, that is the State, at this time of natural economy owed his income to landed property and payments in kind, for instance the different munera (augariae and operae) to preserve public streets and buildings, and different duties, market duties, port duties, which were raised by royal actores and were of entirely Roman origin. The royal property was naturally increased by every new conquest, and the coloni and slaves paying duties were used as if they were private property; or the king took possession of the land which had been public before the conquest, and let it to the neighboring hordes for pasture.

The royal court lived on the income from the landed property, but this court was composed of followers who stood in a special relation of fealty to the king, the Gasindi, who on that account were greatly honored, and had a higher wergeld than the other free Lombards. The king entrusted them with all sorts of commissions and delegations, chose all court officers from them, especially to the royal marshal, the majordomus, the treasurer, the sword-bearer, the chancellor. In this manner a special court-nobility developed itself through the king’s favor, standing in contrast and competition with the Lombard nobility. But it was also the custom that such Gasindi were endowed with land by the king, so that the king's landed estate provided for this new nobility not only indirectly by keeping up the royal household, but also directly. This new institution was only rendered possible by the fact that a considerable part of the population, when the original conditions of the Lombard settlement were changed, was obliged to seek a new existence, and found it by the king's favor. On the other hand the king's possessions diminished continually by these donations, so that for him and his adherents it was necessary periodically to gain new land; and this was generally only possible through new conquests, and so the peaceful period of the Bavarian dynasty was followed by a belligerent period.

The Fall of the Bavarian Dynasty. 700-738

After Cunincpert's death (700), his young son Liutpert reigned under the wise Ansprand's guardianship. Raginpert, duke of Turin, son of Godepert and nephew of Perctarit, claimed the throne and defeated Ansprand near Novara, eight months after Cunincpert's death. When he died, shortly afterwards, his son and co-regent Aripert (II), after a second battle, took prisoner Liutpert, who had again advanced against Pavia, and sent the duke Rothari of Bergamo, who aspired to the throne, into exile to Turin, where he was killed after a few days. Now Ansprand was also obliged to leave his refuge on Lake Como and fly to the duke Teutpert of Bavaria. Liutpert was killed, Ansprand's eldest son blinded, his wife and daughter mutilated, and only his youngest son Liutprand spared. So the family of Godepert ruined the race of Perctarit. But no change of policy took place. King Aripert II was peaceable and friendly towards the Romans, and even gave back to the pope the patrimony in the Cottian Alps. He was dethroned in winter 712, when Ansprand came back to Italy, after nine years of exile, with a Bavarian army. Aripert fled to Pavia and was drowned when trying to swim through the Ticino, burdened with all his treasures. Ansprand was acknowledged as king but only reigned for three months; but on his death-bed he was told that the Lombards had raised his son Liutprand upon the buckler and thereby legitimated his own usurpation as well. He died 13 June 712.

Though Liutprand did not reverse the Lombard State's development during the last hundred and fifty years, he favored Roman influence within his realm in every way. He left no doubt concerning his orthodoxy and attachment to the Roman faith, while nobody surpassed his generosity towards churches and monasteries, but he still followed the glorious traditions of the victorious kings which had been interrupted after Grimoald, and strictly kept in view his aim of uniting Italy under the Lombard kingdom, although he chose various ways of approaching it in the course of his reign. For this reason he was opposed by the Roman Empire and the dukes of Spoleto and Benevento, who had been nearly independent during the Bavarian dynasty's reign. Mixed up in quarrels about the Bavarian throne through his affinity with the dukes of Bavaria, he advanced the Lombard boundaries to Mais near Meran; for the rest the northern frontier was well defended by his friendship with the Frankish Charles Martel, whose son Pepin he had adopted by shaving of the hair according to an old custom, and to whom he had even brought help against the Saracens in Provence (737-738). In domestic politics he continued his predecessor's legislation, endeavored to protect his subjects against denial of legal help, and intervened with great energy in administration and jurisdiction by the royal court of justice in Pavia and by special missi. His aim was naturally to replace the loose structure of the Lombard State by a series of officials ruled by the king, and one of his most efficient means was to give the preference to the Gasindi, and another was to install relations and other fideles in all duchies and bishoprics. His ideal of kingship, which is evident in his laws, already shows a great difference from that of the former Lombard kings and is strongly influenced by Roman and ecclesiastical interpretations.

Liutprand. 727-732

The time was favorable for an aggressive policy, because Roman Italy, led by the pope, rose in rebellion against the Emperor. Common hostility against the Emperor formed a link between Liutprand and Pope Gregory II for a while, but the pope soon came to see clearly that the king near him was more dangerous than the distant Emperor. As a token of friendship Liutprand, following the pope's admonition, restored to him his confiscated patrimony in the Cottian Alps. For the moment peace was only endangered by the duke Romuald II of Benevento, who attacked the castle of Cumae by surprise; but after the duke of Naples, aided by the pope's militia, had regained the place and killed the garrison, the pope even paid Romuald the indemnification which he had offered for a peaceable evacuation, and thereby won his friendship. Meanwhile the duke Faroald of Spoleto began to move as well; Narni was taken, Liutprand occupied Classis, the port of Ravenna, and carried booty and prisoners away. He gained other successes at the cost of the respublica; the frontier castles surrendered to him and so he was able to extend the Lombard boundary to Bologna; Osimo in Pentapolis went over to him as well. Then he turned southwards, and attacked the castle of Sutri by surprise (728); this was too much for the pope; the king approached too nearly his own sphere of action. After Liutprand had been in possession of the castle for one hundred and seventy days, the pope insisted on his “restoring and donating” it to the apostles Peter and Paul. Meanwhile the dukes of Spoleto and Benevento had entered into a league with the pope and defended the frontier of the ducatus Romae against the troops of the Emperor. The new exarch Eutychius, who had landed at Naples, did not succeed in making the two dukes desert the league with the pope; his entreaties had no effect on Liutprand till he offered a very important service to the king, placing his own troops at the king's disposal against the independent dukes, so as to take them in the rear and force them to render homage to the king and send hostages in token of their fidelity. The king repaid this service by leading the exarch to Rome, and as the pope could not think of resistance, he again submitted to the Emperor. But the Lombard troops did not enter the imperial town and Liutprand paid homage to the graves of the Principes apostolorum whom he had never intended to combat (729). So the Italian revolution brought double success to Liutprand: territorial acquisition of land in the north and the two dukes' formal submission in the south; and at the same time he had appeared as principal arbiter in these differences on Italian soil.

Liutprand’s next care was to make the two duchies' formal dependency real and effective. When difficulties arose after the death of Romuald II of Benevento (731-732), on account of the succession, he marched on Benevento, carried away the young duke Gisulf for education, and installed his own nephew Gregorius, relying upon his own sovereign power. Nearly at the same time, after a breach of the league with the exarch, a plot of the Roman dux of Perusia against Bologna miscarried, and a Lombard army led by Hildeprand, another nephew of Liutprand, occupied the impregnable town of Ravenna, the centre of the imperial administration. But the exarch succeeded in regaining the capital by a sudden attack and making Hildeprand prisoner, with help of the navy of the lagoons, against which the Lombards were helpless. Soon after this misfortune Liutprand seems to have concluded an armistice, on account of which Hildeprand was sent back. Then Liutprand fell ill at Pavia (735), Hildeprand was proclaimed king by the Lombards, and Liutprand acknowledged him as co-regent after his recovery. New difficulties arose in Friuli, where the duke Pemmo had covered the Lombard name with fame in different combats with the Slays and displayed great splendor in his princely court at Cividale; he got entangled in a quarrel with the king's favorite Calistus, whom Liutprand had made patriarch of Aquileia, because the latter wanted to remove his residence from the small town of Cormons to Cividale, and had taken by force the bishop's palace, which the dukes had resigned to the fugitive bishop of Julia Carnica. Liutprand interceded in the patriarch's favor, dismissed the duke Pemmo, and set up in his place his son Ratchis, who proved himself the king's faithful subject. No king had ever reigned so powerfully.

But now the time had come when Liutprand thought it necessary to deal the death-blow to the Roman Empire in Italy, as soon as the independence of the duke in middle Italy was broken. This duke, Transamund of Spoleto, had taken the Roman castle Gallese and might have been of great use to the king in barring the communication between Ravenna and Rome, but he preferred to deliver up the castle to the pope Gregory III, engaging himself never to carry arms against him anymore. But Liutprand, crossing the Pentapolis, arrived at Spoleto in June 739, and appointed a new duke Hilderich, while Transamund fled to Rome. The king demanded in vain the rebel's delivery before the walls of Rome, took away the castles of Ameria, Horta, Polimartium, and Bleda from the ducatus Romae, but then returned to North Italy. Meanwhile a Roman party in Benevento set up one Godescalc in the duchy in place of the deceased duke Gregorius, without regard to the king's claims. In the following year (740) Liutprand and Hildeprand attacked Ravenna and laid the exarchate under contribution, and at the same time Lombard hordes breaking out of the castles devastated the Campagna. The pope sent an embassy, praying the king to give back these border forts, and also claimed the help of the Lombard bishops by a circular letter. At the same time the army of the ducatus Romae, aided by Benevento, reinstated in Spoleto the duke Transamund, who was accepted with open arms by his own people (Dec. 740). But even now Transamund did not dare to attack the king and win back to the Romans the four castles, as the pope had wished. Pope Zachary, who had followed Gregory at the end of 741, gave up his predecessor’s Spoletan policy in consequence, and offered to the king the help of the Roman army against Spoleto, on condition of his promise to restore the four castles. Attacked on two sides (742) Transamund surrendered to the king; then the latter advanced against Benevento, and as Godescalc abandoned his own country and was surrendered before he reached the ship destined to bring him to Constantinople, the king gave back his ancestral duchy to Gisulf who had by now grown up and was faithfully devoted to him. But after he had brought all difficulties in South Italy to an end the pope himself overtook him on his way back in his camp at Terni, reminding him of his promise. The Catholic king received the pope with all customary marks of reverence, and gave him the desired charter concerning the restoration of the four towns. After this several nobles escorted the pope on his return journey, and handed over to him the keys of the surrendered towns, and the parts of the patrimony which had been conquered were also restored to him. In exchange for this the pope concluded an armistice with the king for twenty years in the name of the ducatus Romae. In this way the king meant to eliminate one enemy, in order to concentrate all his forces against the other part of the Roman dominion. After having appointed his nephew Agripand duke of Spoleto, he crossed the Apennines and sent his army against Ravenna at the beginning of the following year (743). The exarch and the archbishop of Ravenna in their desperation begged for the pope’s intervention, and the latter actually came to meet the king at Pavia, by way of Ravenna. The king condescended to conclude an armistice, occupying the castles of Caesena and part of the territory of Ravenna meanwhile as a pledge, until the embassy he sent to Constantinople should have concluded a definite peace. We do not know Liutprand’s real motives for giving up the attack; but it seems possible that changes of foreign politics, especially with the Franks, as well as sympathy with the Romans within the Lombard realm, nourished by the bishops, joined with personal motives to cause his compliance. Though he had not attained his aim when he died at the beginning of the year 744, he had brought the Lombard State's power to a height which it had never before attained.

Ratchis. Aistulf . 749-753  

Liutprand’s former co-regent Hildeprand followed him on the throne, but was not acknowledged everywhere. Transamund returned to Spoleto. Ratchis of Friuli was proclaimed king and Hildeprand dethroned after eight months' monarchy. The imperialists greeted the elevation of Ratchis with joy, and the new king actually concluded peace with Rome for twenty years. In Spoleto he asserted his authority, and Transamund was replaced by, a new duke, Lupus. We may judge by the severity of his orders concerning passports, and by his rules against riot that Ratchis was prepared to meet dangers from within and without, and so he tried to increase his party by ample distributions of land to the Church, and to the Romans, the countrymen of his wife Tassia. He evidently strove to lessen the disparity between Romans and Lombards. Nevertheless he saw himself compelled to invade the imperial Pentapolis and besiege Perusia. But when he desisted from this blockade upon the pope's personal intervention, the Lombards gave vent to their indignation over their king's romanizing policy. The nobles raised Aistulf, the king's brave and fierce brother, upon the buckler at Milan (June 749); Ratchis was forced to abdicate, went to St Peter's on pilgrimage, was accepted as a monk by the pope, and retired to Monte Cassino.

Aistulf immediately took up again with the greatest energy Liutprand's conquering policy. The donations which Ratchis had made before Aistulf’s elevation were annulled, intercourse with Romans was forbidden, commerce with a foreign country keenly watched, the frontier well guarded, and military duty regulated on the basis of the new social structure. The important towns of Comacchio and Ferrara were occupied and the Lombard king gave forth a charter as early as 7 July 751 in the palace of Ravenna, which the last exarch, Eutychius, was said to have surrendered. The north of Italy was now entirely in the hands of the Lombards, except the district of the Lagoons and the towns of Istria. Aistulf turned to central Italy, where Duke Lupus had died, and took into his own hands the government of Spoleto, the key-city of Rome. His next assault was of course directed to Rome. He stood before the walls of Rome in June 752 and received a papal embassy; it is alleged that he promised peace for forty years but broke the armistice after four months. His conditions were very hard: tribute paid by the inhabitants of the ducatus Romae and acknowledgment of his sovereignty. He ordered the abbots of Monte Cassino and St Vincenzo, who had appeared as the pope's envoys before him, to follow his commands as Lombard subjects, and return to their monasteries without entering Rome. The Emperor's embassy, which was conducted to Ravenna by the pope's brother, only so far succeeded that Aistulf sent an envoy to Constantinople with proposals that seemed unacceptable, at least to the pope. But the two envoys returned to Italy without having effected their object, while the Lombards had taken the castle of Ceccano, which belonged to the Church. Now Pope Stephen obtained a safe conduct and at the Emperor's command marched himself to Aistulf’s court at Pavia (autumn 753). The king sent to meet him with orders not to venture a word about restoring the conquered territory. But the pope was not to be deterred, and fervently entreated the king to fulfill the conditions contained in a letter which an imperial envoy had brought. But it was in vain. Then the Frankish ambassadors, who had accompanied the pope, intervened and required Aistulf to let the pope go to Gaul. When the pope, at his next audience, declared that it was actually his intention to cross the Alps, Aistulf, it is said, roared with rage like a wild beast. But after vain endeavors to change the pope's resolution, he was obliged to dismiss him, not daring to detain him by force and expose himself to immediate conflict with the Franks. The pope left Pavia on 5 November. The new Frankish king Pepin was clearly resolved upon interfering in Italy, and Aistulf saw himself face to face with a new situation immediately before reaching the aim he had longed for so fervently.

The Frankish Intervention . 753-756  

But all links had not yet been broken off. Pepin sent embassies over the Alps three times in order to induce Aistulf to yield, but in vain. The public feeling among the Frankish nobles was by no means favorable to war, and Aistulf, wishing to profit thereby, sent to Gaul Pepin’s brother and former co-regent Carloman, who was now monk in Monte Cassino. While the Frankish army was already advancing, the pope once more sent a letter full of entreaties to Aistulf, and Pepin offered 12,000 solidi as recompense for the disputed territories; Aistulf refused with threats and brought the whole of his forces, and the military material he had stored up for his enterprise against Rome, to Susa at the foot of Mont Cenis, awaiting the Franks' attack. He was too impatient however to hold out behind the fortified clusae, and attacked the Frankish vanguard by surprise; but not being able to deploy his superior forces in the narrow vale, he was thrown back and was himself very nearly killed; then he concentrated the rest of his army in the fortified city of Pavia, where the main army of the Franks appeared after a few days. But as the Franks shrank from a long siege and the Frankish nobles, who had kept up friendly relations with the Lombards dating perhaps from the time of Charles Martel, tried to mediate, peace was made, Aistulf confirmed the treaty by oath, promising to surrender those territories of Italy he had occupied illegally and to acknowledge formally the Frankish king's sovereignty. He sent forty hostages and made lavish presents to the king and the nobles as recompense for the expenses of war (autumn 754). The pope returned to Rome, accompanied by the Frankish ambassador Fulrad, and Pepin retired over the Alps. But Aistulf did not think of keeping his oath. Of all the towns he only surrendered Narni, and seeing that Pepin did not interfere again, he resolved to put an end to the quarrel by a master stroke. On 1 Jan. 756 a Lombard army again encamped before Rome on the right bank of the Tiber, Aistulf rapidly approached from Spoleto, and the Beneventans from the south. With terrible threats, he re­quired the pope's surrender while his bands plundered the Campagna. Pepin’s envoy, the abbot Warnehar, fought against the Lombards in full harness and then informed his prince of what he had seen. But Rome's strong walls saved her again; Aistulf gave up the siege after five months and returned to Pavia (5 April) to await a new attack from Pepin when winter was over and the melting snow rendered the passage possible.

The Lombards were once more dispersed by the Franks near the clusae of Mont Cenis, and Aistulf again took refuge behind the walls of Pavia. Shut up in this fortress, he again entreated forgiveness and peace of Pepin by the nobles' intervention. The latter granted the rebel life and realm, which he had forfeited. Following the Frankish verdict to which he had appealed, he was obliged to pay as indemnity a third of the great royal hoard and costlier presents than two years before to guarantee his further submission, and engage himself to pay a yearly tribute of 12,000 solidi, as the Lombards had once done in the time of Agilulf. He actually now yielded up the towns whose surrender had been stipulated two years earlier and Comacchio besides, and so the same boundaries were re-established which had parted the two territories before Aistulf’s accession to the throne. Liutprand’s conquests however remained to the Lombard dominion, so that to the great disappoint­ment of pope and emperor the status of the peace made in 680 was not restored. Nevertheless this was the greatest humiliation the Lombard realm had ever suffered for more than a century and a half, since that first league between the Byzantine Emperor and the Franks had been broken. Aistulf’s eager policy of attack was crossed by a new factor which had not entered into his predecessor's calculations. The proud king did not long survive his fall. He died in consequence of an accident while hunting (December 756).

After Aistulf’s death a grave crisis broke out in the Lombard State. The monk Ratchis left Monte Cassino and was acknowledged as ruler, “servant of Christ and prince of the Lombard people”, especially in the north of the Apennines. But Spoleto as well as Benevento detached itself from the kingdom and set up Alboin as duke of Spoleto, who swore an oath of allegiance to the pope and the Frankish king. The duke Desiderius was raised upon the buckler in Tuscany, and as he engaged himself by document and by oath to surrender the towns belonging to the Empire, and to live in peace and friendship with the pope and the Frankish king, the Frankish plenipotentiary in Rome supported him with great energy and the pope prepared the Roman army for his defense. Ratchis then abdicated for the second time. On the pope's demand, Desiderius actually ceded Faenza and Ferrara, but as soon as he felt himself sure on the throne, he entered Spoleto by force without consideration of the pope’s wishes, made Duke Alboin prisoner as a rebel, drove away the duke Liutprand of Benevento, who was obliged to take refuge behind the walls of Otranto, and set up Arichis as duke in his place, and gave him his daughter Adelperga to wife. He made a proposal of co-operation against the pope and the duke of Benevento to an imperial embassy which passed by: at the same time he tried to render the pope's connection with his former allies as difficult as possible, appeared at St Peter's grave in Rome, pretending friendly intentions, and forced the pope to write a letter to Pepin, interceding for the surrender of the Lombard hostages. To be sure the pope recalled this letter by means of the very messenger who brought it, but still Desiderius succeeded in averting a new Frankish intervention, greatly desired by the pope, by making certain concessions, especially in relation to the patrimonies. At his next visit to Rome, Desiderius framed a compact on the Frankish embassies' advice about 763 on the basis of mutual acknowledgment of the status quo; and Desiderius promised to come to the pope's aid with all his forces in case of an attack from the Emperor. It was only after Pope Paul's death (767) that new difficulties with Rome arose when a party, hostile to the late government, had raised Constantine to the papal throne, and the defeated party's leader, the primicerius Christophorus, claimed the Lombards' help. The defeated party entered Rome by force, led by Lombard troops and the Lombard priest Waldipert, but the Lombard candidate Philip was not able to maintain himself on the papal throne in place of Constantine; Stephen III was elected and Waldipert himself slain by his former adherents (768). Shortly after this failure Desiderius tried to procure the archbishopric of Ravenna for Michael, one of his confidants (769); but Frankish commissioners dismissed him at the pope's wish.

A new combination in foreign politics seemed to change the present situation to the disadvantage of the pope and in favor of Desiderius. Desiderius and Tassilo of Bavaria, both menaced by the Frankish preponderance, had entered into friendly relations, and Tassilo had married Liutperga, daughter of Desiderius. Pepin’s widow Bertrada conceived the plan of securing peace by bringing one of her sons into relationship with the Lombard royal family. Notwithstanding the pope's amazement, she crossed the Alps and asked one of Desiderius' daughters in marriage for her son Charles. The betrothal took place under the guarantee of the Frankish nobles and the marriage was accomplished. Meanwhile Bertrada had endeavored to reassure the pope about her transactions with Desiderius. The latter had evidently renewed his promise to respect the territorial status quo and restore the patrimonies which were the private property of the Roman Church. Of course the next consequence was the fall of the anti-Lombard party prevailing in Rome. This was approved of by the pope, who wanted to escape his minister's predominant influence. Desiderius appeared before Rome with military forces, but under pretence of praying at the Apostle's grave and arranging disputed questions. The pope came out to him and received his promise by oath. But a papal chamberlain named Paulus Afiarta, the leader of the Lombard party, raised up within the town a revolt against Christophorus, whereupon the pope maintained that Christophorus and his party conspired against his life. The accused offered resistance within the town, but were betrayed by the Romans, abandoned by the pope, and cruelly killed by Paulus Afiarta and his accomplices. Desiderius did not now want to hear anything more about transactions with the pope. But the Frankish kings seem to have taken offence at his way of acting. Carloman died in Dec. 771, but Charles, who laid claim to the whole Frankish realm without considering Carloman’s children, resolved to depart from the last year's policy. He repudiated Desiderius’ daughter, well knowing that he made an enemy of the Lombard king by this insult. Carloman’s widow Gerberga with her children and followers fled to the Lombard king, who was ready to use them as weapons against Charles. The new pope Hadrian was naturally on the side of Charles, and so the political com­bination of the time before Bertrada’s intervention was re-established. Embassies between the pope and Desiderius had no effect because the pope did not trust the king's promises, and for fear of losing his hold upon the Frankish king firmly refused to anoint as kings Carloman’s children at the wish of Desiderius. Paulus Afiarta and his followers (the Lombard party) were removed and punished, so that the Frankish influence again decided the papal policy.

End of the Lombard Kingdom . 759-772

Meanwhile Desiderius had again occupied Faenza, Ferrara, Comacchio (spring 772), and threatened Ravenna on every side; then he took Sinigaglia, Jesi, Urbino, Gubbio commanded his troops to attack Bieda and Otricoli, in order to frighten the pope, and marched against Rome with Carloman's children, after having vainly entreated the pope to come to him. The latter made all preparations for defence and raised his forces in Rome, but sent three bishops to the royal camp at Viterbo with a bull, threatening with excommunication the king and all who dared to step upon Roman soil. Desiderius actually broke up his camp and retired; but the answer he made to the Frankish embassies, which appeared in Italy at the pope's wish, in order to become acquainted with the state of things, shows clearly enough that he expected to meet a decisive stroke. He had prepared himself for this moment during the whole time of his reign, trying to ensure the dynasty by the nomination of his son Adalgis as co-regent (759), and to restrain the independence of the dukes, though still attaching them to his person. He had made costly presents to the great monasteries, and endowed them with privileges, and had strengthened his party by new donations of landed property. But nevertheless the Lombard kingdom did not offer united resistance to the Franks. A number of emigrants had already fled to the Franks even before the beginning of the war, and many nobles now left Spoleto and went to Rome. Benevento did not take any part in the war, and after the first failure not only the Spoletan contingents but also a number of towns submitted to the pope voluntarily. Charles only found resistance from the towns where the Lombard kings defended themselves. Treason played a great part in the fall of the Lombard realm, a fact which can be traced even in the sagas. After having refused Charles' last offer, to pay 17,000 solidi if he fulfilled the pope's demand, Desiderius put his trust in the strong position near the clusae of Susa, which he had fortified. Here, at the Porta d' Italia, he expected Charles, who marched over Mont Cenis, while another corps took its way over the Great St Bernard. But, owing to this circuit, no battle seems to have taken place. Desiderius was obliged to retire to Pavia (Sept. 773) with the warriors who were still faithful to him, while Adalgis sought refuge with Carloman’s children behind the fortified walls of Verona, but fled from here also after a time and went into exile at Constantinople. But except at Pavia and Verona Charles found no resistance whatever in the Lombard realm. Verona with Carloman’s children surrendered even before Christmas to a detached troop under Charles himself, whereas the siege of Pavia was prolonged to the beginning of June 774, though famine and epidemics raged within the town.

After the capitulation Charles brought Desiderius and his wife to Gaul with the royal treasure, having received homage of the Lombards who had gathered at Pavia, leaving there a Frankish garrison. This was the end of the independent Lombard realm, and Charles dated his succession in this realm from the fall of the royal town of Pavia.

To be sure, the duchy of Benevento in the south had succeeded in keeping its independence throughout all these disasters, and the prince Arichis, Desiderius’ son-in-law, considered himself the Lombard king's successor; but, important as this fact has proved for Italian history, the Lombard kingdom had always been rooted in the north. The occasion for its fall was given by the renewal of that combination between the remnants of the res-publica, now represented by the pope, and the Franks, who had developed into a consolidated power; and the Lombard State had never been equal to these combined forces. A deeper reason lay in the structure of the Lombard State, which had not been able, even in the intervals of peace, to attain any organic unity. The small number of the Lombard people in connection with their form of settlement, conditioned as it was by the state of affairs in the Roman Empire, had given too great importance from the first to the single local groups and their dukes. Kingship, which had been re-established in the distress of those times, exerted its uniting and centralizing power very slowly, and a perfect union had never been accomplished. For the kingdom was founded on its royal domain, and the latter on new conquests of land, with which the king's followers had to be furnished. As was always the case in the medieval State in which agriculture was practiced, the warriors who were rewarded in this way did not permanently attach themselves to the king, and thus formed a continual danger to the kingship. The king was continually forced to new conquests and then obliged to give them up again voluntarily, so that even the mightiest rulers made little lasting impression on the State, especially when the possibilities of donations diminished as the Lombard element drew nearer to the Roman. On the other hand, the assimilation with the inhabitants of Italy in race and culture had been rapidly carried out just on account of the smallness of the conquering tribe and the necessary adaptations resulting; and it was not the cultural and racial difference, but rather a difference of organization, resulting from the land's history and settlement, which separated the three parts of Italy — the kingdom, the ecclesiastical State, and Benevento — through more than a thousand years.