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(lŏm`bərdz, –bärdz), ancient Germanic people. By the 1st cent. A.D. the Lombards were settled along the lower Elbe. After obscure migrations they were allowed (547) by Byzantine Emperor Justinian I to settle in Pannonia and Noricum (modern Hungary and E Austria). In 568, under the leadership of AlboinAlboin
, d. 572?, first Lombard king in Italy (569–572?). With the Avars he defeated the Gepidae (see Germans). He then led (568) an army across the Alps into Italy, took (569) Milan, and after a three-year siege conquered Pavia, which became his capital.
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, they invaded N Italy and established a kingdom with Pavia as its capital. They soon penetrated deep into central and S Italy, but RavennaRavenna
, city (1991 pop. 135,844), capital of Ravenna prov., in Emilia-Romagna, N central Italy, near the Adriatic Sea (with which it is connected by a canal). It is an agricultural market, canal port, and an important industrial center.
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, the Pentapolis (Rimini, Ancona, Fano, Pesaro, and Senigallia), and much of the coast remained under Byzantine rule while Rome and the Patrimony of St. Peter (see Papal StatesPapal States,
Ital. Lo Stato della Chiesa, from 754 to 1870 an independent territory under the temporal rule of the popes, also called the States of the Church and the Pontifical States. The territory varied in size at different times; in 1859 it included c.
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) were kept by the papacy. After Alboin's death (572?) and the brief reign of Cleph (d. 575), no king was elected and Lombard Italy fell under the disunited rule of 36 dukes. The Lombard duchies of SpoletoSpoleto
, city (1991 pop. 37,763), Umbria, central Italy. It is a light industrial and tourist center. An Umbrian and later an Etruscan town, the city flourished after being taken (242 B.C.) by the Romans. It later became (c.A.D.
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 and BeneventoBenevento
, city (1991 pop. 62,561), capital of Benevento prov., in Campania, S Italy. It is a trade center for wine and tobacco. It is basically an impoverished area with little industry.
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 in central and S Italy were set up independently. In 584 the Lombard nobles united to elect Cleph's son, AuthariAuthari
, d. 590, Lombard king (584–90). Elected by the Lombard dukes to end the anarchy that prevailed in Italy after the murder (572?) of Alboin (see Lombards), Authari consolidated Lombard power in N Italy and repelled several Frankish invasions instigated by the popes.
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, as the new king in order to strengthen themselves against the enmity of the Franks, the Byzantines, and the popes.

The Lombard kingdom reached its height in the 7th and 8th cent. Paganism and Arianism, which were at first prevalent among the Lombards, gradually gave way to Catholicism. Roman culture and Latin speech were accepted, and the Catholic bishops emerged as chief magistrates in the cities. Lombard law combined Germanic and Roman traditions. King LiutprandLiutprand
, d. 744, king of the Lombards (712–44). Under his rule the Lombard kingdom of Italy reached its zenith. The first Christian Lombard ruler, Liutprand strongly favored Roman law and institutions.
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 (712–44) consolidated the kingdom through his legislation and reduced Spoleto and Benevento to vassalage. One of his successors, Aistulf, took Ravenna (751) and threatened Rome. Pope Stephen II appealed to the Frankish King Pepin the ShortPepin the Short
(Pepin III), c.714–768, first Carolingian king of the Franks (751–68), son of Charles Martel and father of Charlemagne. Succeeding his father as mayor of the palace (741), he ruled Neustria, Burgundy, and Provence, while his brother Carloman (d.
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, who invaded Italy; the Lombards lost the territories comprised in the Donation of Pepin to the papacy. After Aistulf's death King DesideriusDesiderius
, d. after 774, last Lombard king in Italy (756–74). The duke of Tuscany, he was chosen king with the support of the pope and of Pepin the Short, who was king of the Franks and whose son Charles (later Emperor Charlemagne) married Desiderius's daughter.
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 renewed (772) the attack on Rome. CharlemagneCharlemagne
(Charles the Great or Charles I) [O.Fr.,=Charles the great], 742?–814, emperor of the West (800–814), Carolingian king of the Franks (768–814).
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, Pepin's successor, intervened, defeated the Lombards, and was crowned (774) with the Lombard crown at Pavia. Of the Lombard kingdom only the duchy of Benevento remained, and it was conquered in the 11th cent. by the Normans. The iron crown of the Lombard kings (now kept at MonzaMonza
, city (1991 pop. 120,651), Lombardy, N Italy. Manufactures of this highly diversified industrial center include felt hats, carpets, textiles, glass, plastics, and machinery. The history of Monza is closely related to that of Milan. The cathedral, founded (6th cent.
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, Italy) was also used for the coronation (951) of Otto I (the first Holy Roman emperor) as king of Italy and for the crowning of several succeeding emperors. The Lombards left their name to the Italian region of Lombardy. The chief historian of the Lombards was Paul the DeaconPaul the Deacon,
c.725–799?, Lombard historian. He received a good education, probably at Pavia, and he learned Latin thoroughly and some Greek. He lived at Monte Cassino and at Charlemagne's court.
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See T. Hodgkin, Italy and Her Invaders, Vol. V and VI (1895, repr. 1967); P. Villari, Barbarian Invasions of Italy (2 vol., tr. 1902); J. T. Hallenbeck, Pavia and Rome: The Lombard Monarchy and the Papacy in the Eighth Century (1982).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a Germanic tribe.

In the first century A.D. the Lombards inhabited the left bank of the lower reaches of the Elbe River. In the fourth and fifth centuries they moved to the basin of the middle Danube. In 568, under pressure from the Avars, the Lombards, heading a large alliance of tribes (besides the Lombards, it included the Saxons and Sarmatians), invaded northern Italy under the command of King Alboin. In the struggle with Byzantium they conquered the territory of Lombardy (it received its name from the Lombards) and Tuscia (Tuscany), forming their own kingdom. Later the Lombards occupied Spoleto and Benevento, which became autonomous duchies. During the conquest the Lombards destroyed cities and executed or drove out many Roman landowners, confiscating their property. The Roman population had to turn over one-third of its income to the Lombards. However, the Late Roman landholding structure was not completely destroyed. There were no systematic divisions of land between the Lombards and the Romans. The Lombards settled separately from the Romans in blood-related groups under the leadership of dukes, who had substantial autonomy in the Lombard kingdom.

In the late sixth to mid-seventh centuries the Lombards were in a transition stage from a tribal-clan to an early feudal system. Most of the Lombards were free commune members, and their property and social positions were in the process of stratification. In the eighth century an intensive process of feudalization began. Impoverished commune members lost their freedom, becoming dependent personally and for the use of land on royal officials, soldiers, and ordinary freemen who had become wealthy. Precarium, benefice, and immunity came into existence. The most important sources for studying the social system of the Lombards are what are called the Lombard laws—the edict of Rothari (reigned in 636–652) and the laws of Liudprand (reigned in 712–744) and Aistulf (reigned in 749–756). In the late seventh and eighth centuries handicrafts and trade became lively. The cities that were residences of dukes, royal officials, and bishops continued to exist as commercial and handicraft centers under the Lombards.

By the mid-eighth century royal authority under the Lombards had weakened. An effort by Liudprand and Aistulf to draw support from the Catholic clergy also failed to strengthen their power. The Lombards’ expansionist policy (seizure of Ravenna in 751 and an attempt to capture Rome) ended in failure, which to a certain extent was caused by the intervention of the Franks, who were in alliance with the papacy. In 773–774, under Desiderius (reigned in 756–774), the kingdom of the Lombards was conquered by Charlemagne.


Istorila Italii, vol. 1. Moscow, 1970. (Contains a bibliography.)


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.