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Lombard League,an alliance formed in 1167 among the communes of Lombardy to resist Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I when he attempted to assert his imperial authority in Lombardy. Previously the communes had been divided, some favoring the emperor and others favoring the pope. However, after Frederick proclaimed his sovereignty in Italy at the Diet of Roncaglia (1158), twice invaded Italy (1158, 1166), and appointed German officials in all Lombard towns, even the imperial cities joined the coalition against him. The league was supported by Pope Alexander III, for whom its fortified city of Alessandria was named. In 1176 the league defeated Frederick at Legnano. After the peace of Constance (1183), which confirmed the freedom of the cities, the alliance tended to break again into rival factions. The league was revived in 1226 against Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, who in 1237 defeated it at Cortenuova. The Lombard communes then ranged themselves on opposing sides in the quarrels between the popes and the Hohenstaufen.
an alliance of the cities of Lombardy (northern Italy) during the 12th and 13th centuries, created during their struggle for independence against the emperors of the Holy Roman Empire.
The Lombard League took final shape in December 1167, remaining this way for 20 years. It consisted of 16 cities: Padua, Milan, Venice, Mantua, Piacenza, Verona, Vicenza, Bergamo, Cremona, Treviso, Ferrara, Brescia, Lodi, Parma, Modena, and Bologna. Subsequently, the makeup of the Lombard League underwent changes.
The Lombard League was supported by the pope and the king of Sicily. In 1176 the militia of the Lombard League smashed the cavalry of Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa at Legnano, preventing him from establishing his rule in the cities of northern Italy. When the truce (of 1177) elapsed, the Peace of Constance was concluded in 1183 between the Lombard League and Frederick I Barbarossa; in it the emperor recognized the independence in effect of the Lombard cities and the existence of the Lombard League. In 1198 the Lombard League was renewed only nominally for 30 years. However, the attempt of Emperor Frederick II to subject northern Italy to his unlimited authority impelled a number of cities (Bologna, Brescia, Mantua, Bergamo, Turin, Vicenza, Padua, and Treviso), headed by Milan, to reestablish (for 25 years) in March 1226 the Lombard League (referred to as the Second Lombard League), which was joined by other Italian communes as well. Despite the defeat of the forces of the Lombard League in November 1237 at Cortenuova, the resistance capability of the cities of the alliance to the onslaught of the emperor was strengthened (the heroic defense of Brescia in 1238). The plans of Frederick II for conquest ended in failure. The Lombard League was disbanded in the second half of the 13th century.
M. L. ABRAMSON