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Book VI
Note B

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
Italy and Her Invaders

by
Thomas Hodgkin


2nd edition
Oxford University Press
London
1896

The text, and illustrations except as noted,
are in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
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Book VI
Note C

Book VI (continued)

Vol. V
p151
Chapter IV

Alboin in Italy

Authorities

Sources: —

Paulus Diaconus, who in this part of his history has evidently borrowed largely from Secundus of Trient, while adding many picturesque details from the Sagas of his nation.

Agnellus, 'Liber Pontificalis Ecclesiae Ravennatis' (described in the first volume).

Guides: —

For guidance through this part of the history, and especially for careful examination of the difficult chronological questions which present themselves, I am much indebted to Dr. Julius Weise's monograph, 'Italien und die Langobarden-herrscher von 568 bis 628' (Halle, 1887).

There are some very useful papers on Lombard chronology in Studi Storici, a periodical commenced at Pisa in 1892, under the direction of Professors Amedeo Crivellucci and Ettore Pais.

Thus have we followed the fortunes of the Langobardi, or, as I shall now for convenience call them, the Lombards,1 from their dim original on the shores of the Baltic, till they stood on the crest of the Julian Alps, looking down with lustful eyes on the land which had once been the Mistress of the World, but which now lay all but defenceless before them.

Were the Lombards a Low‑German or High-German people? We may briefly summarise all that can be ascertained of their social and political condition on the day when, according to the Saga, the messengers of Narses appeared in Alboin's banqueting hall, bearing  p152 the grapes and the oranges of Italy. There is some difference of opinion as to the ethnological position of the Lombards. One German scholar, who, by his life-long devotion to philology study, claims our respectful attention,2 contends strongly for their Low‑German character, basing his argument, not only on the traditions mentioned in the previous chapter, which connect them (in his opinion) with the Danish peninsula, but also (which is more especially interesting to us) on the extraordinary correspondence of Lombard words, customs and laws with those of the Anglo-Saxons. Another and younger authority3 (following it is true, in the train of the venerable Jacob Grimm) says, in somewhat haughty tone, 'That the Lombards belonged to the West Germans, and to the High-German branch of that people, no one can now any longer deny.' Both he and Grimm were led to this conclusion chiefly by the High-German character of the Lombard names and the few relics which have been preserved to us of the language. The gift of the bridegroom to the bride, which was called in Low‑German Morgen-gabe, is in the Lombard laws morgin‑cap; the Anglo-Saxon Alfwine is apparently the same name as the Lombard Alboin; the judge who, in Gothic, is called sculdhaita,4 is, among the Lombards, sculdhaizo; and so with many other words. In all  p153 these the Lombard language seems to affect that form which, according to Grimm's well-known law, marks the High-German (say the Swabian or Bavarian) manner of speech, rather than the Low‑German, which was practised by Goths, Frisians and Angles.

Probably of Low‑German stock, but modified by long contact with High-German. Where such authorities differ, it would be presumptuous in the present writer to express an opinion, but I may remark that to me the philological facts seem to correspond in a remarkable degree with what we have already learned from our authorities concerning the early history of the people. We have in the Lombards, as I venture to think, a race originally of Low‑German origin, coming from the coasts and islands of the Baltic, and closely akin to our own Anglo-Saxon forefathers. So far, the case seems clear; and probably the Lombards spoke a pure Low‑German dialect when they dwelt in Bardengau by the Elbe, and when they fought with the Vandals. But then, by about the middle of the second century after Christ, they gravitated towards the great Suevic confederation, and visited, in its train, the lands on the Middle Danube, where (if I read their history aright) they remained more or less persistently for nearly four hundred years. This surely was a long enough time to give a Suevic, that is a Swabian or High-German, character to their speech, sufficient time for them to change their B's into P's, their G's into K's, and their T's into Z's, before they emerged into the world of book-writing and book-reading men.

Dress and appearance of the Lombards. Of the dress and appearance of the Lombards at the time of their invasion of Italy we have a most precious trace in the words of their great historian,  p154 and here again that connection, so interesting to us, between them and our own forefathers, comes into view.

'At Modicia,'5 says Paulus,6 'queen Theudelinda built a palace for herself [about the year 600], in which she also caused some representation to be made of the deeds of the Lombards. In this picture it is clearly shown how at that time the Lombards cut the hair of their heads, and what was their dress, and what their habit. For, in truth, they made bare the neck, shaving it up to the back of the head, having their hair let down from the face as far as the mouth, and parting it on either side from the forehead.7 But their garments were loose and for the most part made of linen, such as the Anglo-Saxons8 are wont to wear, adorned with borders woven in various colours. Their boots9 were open almost to the extremity of the great toe, and kept together by crossing boot-laces.10 Later on, however, they began to use hosen,11 over which the riders drew waterproof leggings.12 But this fashion  p155 they copied from the Romans.' Would that the chroniclers of the early Middle Ages would more often have furnished us with details like these as to the dress and habits of the people! They would have been more valuable than many pages of controversy on the 'Three Chapters,' or even than the usual notes of miracles, eclipses, and displays of Aurora Borealis, which are found in their annals.

Political condition of the Lombards. Politically the organisation of the Lombard people was evidently rude and barbarous. To use a phrase which has lately come into fashion among German historians, the tendency of political life among them was centrifugal rather than centripetal. The institution of kingship was imperfectly developed. There does not appear to have been any single family, like the Amals among the Ostrogoths or the Balthae among the Visigoths, towering high above the other noble families, and claiming the veneration of the people by the right of long descent. A king arises among them, and perhaps succeeds in transmitting his royal power to one or two generations of his descendants; but then there is a murder or a rebellion, and a member of an entirely different clan succeeds to the throne. Nor, for many generations, do any national leaders give proof of political genius or constructive statesmanship. Mere lust and love of plunder appear to be the determining motives of their wars. They produce no Alaric, with his consciousness of a divine mission to penetrate to the Eternal City; no Ataulfus and no Theodoric, longing to preserve the remnants of Roman civilisation by the  p156 arms of the barbarian; no Gaiseric, able to stamp his own impress on the nation from which he sprang, and to turn the foresters of Pannonia into the daring mariners of Carthage. Everything about them, even for many years after they have entered upon the sacred soil of Italy, speaks of mere savage delight in bloodshed and the rudest forms of sensual indulgence; they are the anarchists of the Völkerwanderung, whose delight is only in destruction, and who seem incapable of culture. Yet this is the race from which, in the fulness of time, under the transmuting power of the old Italian civilisation, were to spring Anselm and Lanfranc, Hildebrand and Dante Alighieri.

Mixture of nationalities in the Lombard host. It is probable that the destructive ferocity of the invaders was partly due to the heterogeneous character of their army. For not only the Lombards, strictly so called, followed the standards of the son of Audoin. Twenty thousand Saxons (perhaps from the region which was afterwards called Swabia), mindful of their old alliance with the Lombards, came at Alboin's call to help in the conquest of Italy, and brought their wives and children with them, intending to make it their home.13 Moreover in that motley host there were Gepidae, who had lost their own national existence, but were willing to help their victors to sack the cities of Italy; there were Bulgarians from the Lower Danube, Sarmatians or, as we should say, Sclaves from the plains of the  p157 Ukraine, and a mass of men of various nationalities (perhaps including the remnants of the Rugian and Herulian peoples), who called themselves after the provinces in which they dwelt — the men of Pannonia, of Savia, and of Noricum.14 Two centuries later, the names of these non‑Lombard tribes were still preserved in some of the villages of Italy. At the time which we are now considering, it is easy to understand how the mixed character of the entering multitude may have added to the horrors of the invasion. Each barbarous tribe among the Germans had, so to speak, its own code of morality, as well as its own peculiar national vices; but when they were all united for one great ravaging inroad into the rich lands of the South, we can well believe that each tribe would contribute its worst elements to the common stock of savagery; the cruelty of one, the treachery of another, the lustfulness of a third, becoming the general character of all.15

Religion of the Lombards. Among those loosely-connected nationalities, there were probably some which were still actually heathen. The Lombards, however, appear to have generally professed that Arian form of Christianity which, as we have seen, was common to nearly all the Teutonic invaders of the Empire. Of the time and manner of their  p158 conversion (if we may apply so noble a name to so slight and superficial a change) we know nothing. Their Arianism, though it was sufficiently pronounced to make a chasm between them and the orthodox inhabitants of Italy, does not seem to have been of a militant type, like the bitter Arianism of the Vandals. Apparently they were not sufficiently in earnest about their faith to persecute its opponents; but, whether they were Arians or heathens, the divergence of their religion from that of the Roman provincials was excuse enough for sacking the churches, carrying off the costly communion chalices, and slaying the priests at the altar.

The Lombards set forth April 2, 568. The muster of this manifold horde of barbarians was completed in the early spring of 568, and, on the second of April in that year, the day after Easter Sunday, Alboin set forth.16 He marched (if local tradition may be trusted), not precisely by the same road which Alaric had trodden before him, by Laybachº and the Pear-tree Pass, but went somewhat higher up the valley of the Drave, near to the site of the modern city of Villach, and crossed the Julian Alps by that which is now known as the Predil Pass. A high hill  p159 rises here, to the southward of the road, which, at least from the eighth century onwards, has borne the name of the King's Mountain, for thither, it is said, the Lombard leader climbed, and from its height looked backward over the long train of his followers — the horsemen, the slowly moving waggons, the dusty foot-soldiers; and then, straining his eyes over the sea of hills to the south of him, he saw the longed‑for Italy.17

Venetia overrun. The march of the invader through the province of Venetia seems to have been practically unopposed. He reached the banks of the Piave and looked, it may be, towards the lagoons on the south-eastern horizon, where the descendants of the refugees from the wrath of Attila were leading their strange amphibious lives between the Adriatic and the mainland. But no message either of peace or war came to him from Torcello or Murano, and no Patrician from Ravenna stood ready to dispute his passage of the Piave. Meeting with the bishop of Treviso. Only Felix, bishop of Tarvisium (Treviso), met the Lombard king and besought him to leave untouched the property of his church. The easy success of the invasion thus far had made Alboin generous. He granted the bishop's  p160 request, and ordered a charter to be prepared (called in the grand Byzantine style a Pragmatic) safeguarding all the rights and privileges of the church of Treviso.18

Vicenza and Verona were conquered without difficulty, and now the whole province of Venetia, with the exception of Padua, Monselice and Mantua (to which must be added of course the little settlement in the Venetian lagoons), accepted the yoke of the invader.

The Duchy of Forum Julii. It was probably while Alboin was spending the winter of 568‑9 in one of the conquered cities of Venetia, that he took measures for closing the door by which he himself had entered Italy, against any future invader. With this purpose in view he appointed his nephew Gisulf first duke of Forum Julii. This city, now called Cividale, was the chief place of the district which still bears its name under a slightly altered form, that beautiful land of Friuli,19 whose barrier Alps are so memorable a feature in the north-eastern horizon when we are looking forth from the palaces of Venice. Gisulf, whom he selected as duke of this outpost-country, was not only nephew of Alboin but also held the position of Master of the Horse in his uncle's household, a title which in the Lombard language was expressed by the word Marpahis. But though already famous for his warlike deeds,20  p161 even he feared to undertake the onerous duty of guarding the passes of the Julian Alps, unless he might choose his retainers from among the pick of the Lombard army. To this condition Alboin assented, and some of the noblest and bravest farae, or kinships, of the Lombards were chosen to follow the standards of Gisulf and to settle under his government in the plains of Friuli. He also asked for and obtained a large number of the king's best brood-mares, that from them might spring the swift horses of his border-cavalry. As our historian's own lineage was derived from these Lombards of Friuli it is doubtless with a touch of family pride that he tells us of the foundation of this aristocratic colony.21

Liguria conquered. The progress of the Lombard invaders was steady and rapid. In 569 Alboin overran the province of Liguria. Milan, so long the residence of the emperors, the city of Ambrose and of Theodosius, opened her gates to him on September 3, and all the cities of Liguria, and the neighbouring province of Alpes  p162 Cottiae, save Ticinum and those which were situated on the sea‑coast, followed her example. From the day of the conquest of Milan, Alboin seems to have assumed the title of 'Lord of Italy,' and from this event he dated the commencement of his reign.22

As a rule we hear little of the resistance either of Byzantine garrisons or of citizens loyal to the Empire in any of these cities of Upper Italy. Nor, notwithstanding the general character for ferocity borne by the invaders, do we hear any particulars as to deeds of cruelty wrought by them after the capture of such cities.23 Possibly the very weakness of the garrisons and the panic terror of the inhabitants, caused by the reports which they had heard of Lombard barbarity, made the invaders' victory easy and inclined their hearts to mercy.

Siege of Ticinum, 569‑572. The one marked exception to this facility of conquest was afforded by the great city of Ticinum,24 or (to use the name which it acquired under Lombard domination) Pavia. This city, so strongly placed in the angle between the Ticino and the Po, was probably held by a numerous imperial garrison, and resisted the barbarian attack for more than three years. Alboin pitched his camp on the western side of the city and turned the siege into a blockade. Exasperated by its long and stubborn resistance, the king vowed that when he had taken it, he would put every one of  p163 the inhabitants to the sword. But when at length, doubtless owing to the pressure of hunger, the citizens surrendered, the cruel vow was recalled, owing to one of those strange occurrences in which Alboin, like Attila before him, read a marvel and a portent. The Lombard king in all his pride was riding in at the eastern25 gate of the city, the gate of St. John, when suddenly his horse fell in the middle of the gateway. Neither the spurs of his rider nor the spears with which he was abundantly beaten by the king's retinue availed to make him rise. Then one of the Lombard soldiers cried aloud, 'Remember, my lord the king! what manner of vow thou hast vowed. Break that cruel promise and thou shalt enter the town. For of a truth it is a Christian people that dwells in this city.' Alboin accepted his follower's counsel, recalled his vow and promised that none of the inhabitants should be harmed. Then the horse arose, and he rode on through the streets of the famine-stricken city to the palace built by the great Theodoric, where he took up his abode. The people, hearing of the cancelled vow, flocked to the palace to utter their joyful acclamations. Life, even under the savage Lombard, was sweet, and food was delightful after the years of hunger, and they let into their hearts a hope of better days to come after so many miseries which they had endured.

 p164  The city which had been able to make so long a defence was evidently worth holding. Pavia became, though perhaps not at once,26 the capital of the Lombard monarchy and the place of deposit of the royal hoard.

Operations in other parts of Italy. The three years from 569 to 572 were by no means exclusively occupied with the siege of Pavia. Alboin probably left the conduct of that operation to one of his trusted officers, while he himself with the mass of his followers wandered, ravaging and conquering, over northern and central Italy. We lack any precise chronological statement of his career, but we may conjecture that in the year 570 he completed (with a few exceptions, afterwards to be noted) the conquest of the valley of the Po, and that in 571 he crossed the Apennines and began the conquest of Tuscia and Umbria, of the Aemilian and Flaminian provinces. In the same year, as is generally believed, others of the Lombards pushed down through central to southern Italy, and by their conquests laid the foundation of the two great Lombard duchies of Spoleto and Benevento.

It was of great assistance to the cause of the invaders that they early obtained possession of Bologna, of Forum Cornelii (or Imola), and of the great fortress27 which guarded the tunnel-pass of Furlo. This latter fortress they burned to the ground, doubtless in order to prevent its again falling into the hands of the  p165 Imperialists and blocking the communication between north and south. If the reader will turn back to the previous pages of this history, in which the wars between the Ostrogoths and the Empire were recorded, he will see of what capital importance to the invading nation was the possession of these strongholds which guarded the great Flaminian Way, the main artery of traffic between the two centres of Imperial authority, Rome and Ravenna. It might seem as if communication between these two cities, except by sea, must have been henceforth entirely suspended: but the strong town of Perugia on its rocky perch still held out for the Emperor, and probably by means of this city, through difficult mountain roads, his faithful servants may have travelled between the two capitals.

Portions of Italy not conquered by the Lombards. To enumerate the conquests of the Lombards in these years would be to give a mere list of the chief cities of northern and central Italy. It will be more to the purpose to give the names of the principal cities which were yet held by the Empire. In Venetia, as already said, Padua and Monselice were still Imperial. Mantua fell to the Lombards, probably in the lifetime of Alboin, though we have no precise details of its capture and though it was soon reconquered by the Empire. In the valley of the Po, Cremona and Piacenza were still 'Roman': on the western coast, Genoa and probably several other cities of the Riviera: on the eastern, Ravenna and the five cities which formed the Pentapolis (Rimini, Pesaro, Fano, Sinigaglia and Ancona); in central Italy, Perugia; in Latium, Rome itself and a certain, not very large, extent of territory round it; in southern Italy,  p166 Naples, Salerno, Paestum, and nearly all the towns of the province of Bruttii.

The Lombards held the highlands, the Imperialists the sea‑coast. It will be seen that practically, with the single exception of Perugia, all the places of which the Empire retained possession were either on the sea‑coast (like Genoa and Ancona), or surrounded by water (like Mantua), or accessible by a navigable river (like Cremona and Piacenza).28 On the other hand, the Lombards, an inland people, accustomed to traverse the high Alpine passes of Pannonia and Noricum, held the central ridge of the Apennines, from whence they swooped down at their pleasure upon the weakly garrisoned fortresses of Tuscia and Liguria. The invasion was thus — strange as the comparison would have seemed to the priests and 'Levites' of the Roman church — analogous to that which had occurred more than two thousand years before at the eastern end of the Mediterranean, when, under the leadership of Joshua, a nation, not less dreaded than the Lombards, came from over Jordan to occupy the high table-land of central Palestine, and to wage a war of generations with the more highly civilised inhabitants of the maritime plain, the citizens of the Philistine Pentapolis and the Canaanites of the Zidonian strand.

Famine and pestilence. The victories of Alboin and his horde were doubtless somewhat aided by the terrible physical calamities which about this time afflicted Italy. Already, before the recall of Narses (probably about the year 566),29 a fearful pestilence had raged, chiefly in the province  p167 of Liguria. Its special symptom was the appearance on the patient of boils, about the size of a nut, the formation of which was followed by fever and intolerable heat, generally ending on the third day in the death of the sufferer. The Lombard historian draws an admirable picture of flocks deserted in the pastures, of farm-houses, once teeming with peasant life, abandoned to silence or only tenanted by troops of dogs: of parents left unburied by their children, and children by their parents. If some one, mindful of the ancient kindness between them, devoted himself to the burial of his neighbour, he would most probably himself fall to the ground plague-stricken and remain unburied. The harvests in vain expected the reaper's sickle: the purple clusters hung on the vine till winter drew nigh. An awful silence brooded over the fields where the shepherd's whistle and the sportsman's eager tread were alike unheard. And yet more dreadful than the silence were the sounds of a ghostly trumpet, the mysterious tramp of unseen multitudes which were heard at night by the solitary rustics who lay awaiting their doom.30 This pestilence, as Paulus expressly tells us, was one cause of Alboin's easy victories:31 and another was the famine which raged in 570, following a year of extreme plenty in 569. This plenty was itself the result — so it was considered — of an abundant snowfall during the previous winter which had given  p168 the plains of Italy the semblance of the snow-fields of the Alps.32

572. Death of Alboin. The career of Alboin had been brilliant and successful; in its savage style not unworthy to be ranked with the career of Alaric or of Attila, but it was destined to an even speedier ending than theirs. There were perhaps unextinguished jealousies and rivalries of the barbarian races under his command, which may have contributed to the fatal result, but the sagas of his nation — in which women had already played a leading part33 — attributed his death solely to the rage of an insulted woman. And thus the story was told: —

On a certain day (probably in the spring of 572)34  p169 the king sat at the banquet in his palace-hall at Verona. Having drunk too freely of the wine‑cup he bade bring forth the goblet which was fashioned out of the skull of king Cunimund; that same goblet, adorned with goodly pearls,35 which near two centuries later the Lombard historian saw on a day of feasting exhibited by king Ratchis to his guests. He bade the cup‑nearer carry this goblet (fashioned as it was out of her own father's skull) to queen Rosamund and invite her to drink merrily with her sire. The queen, it would seem, obeyed with no outward manifestation of repugnance, but in her heart she determined on a terrible revenge. With this intent she sought the aid of Helmechis the scilpor or armour-bearer of the king, and his foster-brother. She promised him her hand, she held out to him the dazzling prospect of the Lombard crown, and Helmechis entered into her treacherous designs. Only he stipulated that Peredeo, the chamberlain, will be made an accomplice in the plot. Doubtless Peredeo's help was indispensable to its successful execution, but also there may have been some reluctance on the part of Helmechis to strike the actual death-stroke against his foster-brother, and for this reason he may have desired to enlist the strong36 arm of Peredeo in the service of the infuriated queen.37  p170 The chamberlain, however, when Rosamund sought to enlist his services in her scheme of revenge, refused to be partaker of so great wickedness. But he did not warn his master of the danger impending over him, and the queen, taking advantage of an intrigue between Peredeo and one of her waiting-women, by the sacrifice of her own honour, forced the unwilling chamberlain into a position in which he must either join the plot or be denounced to Alboin as the seducer of his wife. Peredeo chose the former alternative, and from that moment the success of the conspirators was assured. When Alboin had retired for his noon-tide slumber, a great silence was made all round his bed‑chamber; the trampling sentinels were, as we may suppose, removed by order of the chamberlain; and on some pretence or other the arms which hung in the room were taken away. Then, as Helmechis had counselled, the queen brought in Peredeo himself to strike the fatal blow.38 Suddenly aroused from slumber, Alboin stretched forth his hand to grasp the sword which always hung at his bed's head, but this by the cunning of the conspirators had been so tightly tied to  p171 its sheath that he could not draw it. He snatched up a footstool and for some time valiantly defended himself, but fell at last under the strokes of the assassins.

'Thus,' says Paulus, 'did that most warlike and courageous man, who had earned so great fame in war by the slaughter of multitudes of his foes, fall like a Nithing in his chamber by the stratagem of a miserable woman.39 His body, amid the abundant tears and lamentations of the Lombards, was buried under a certain flight of stairs which joined hard to the palace. He was tall of stature and his body was well knit for all warlike deeds. Now this tomb of his was opened in our own days by Giselpert, who had been duke of Verona,40 and who took away his sword and all the adornments that he found therein. Wherefore he was wont to boast with his accustomed folly, when he was surrounded by ignorant persons, that "he had seen Alboin." '

Flight of the murderers. The hopes which Helmechis had entertained that he might be chosen king of the Lombards proved utterly vain. Instead of that elevation, he and the partners of his crime soon found that they must save themselves by flight from the vengeance of the kingless people. A secret message was conveyed to the Patrician Longinus, at Ravenna, who sent a ship to facilitate  p172 their escape.41 Helmechis and Rosamund, now husband and wife, went on board the Byzantine vessel, taking with them all the royal treasure and Albswinda, the daughter of Alboin by his first wife, a Frankish princess. Longinus, who, though the representative of the majesty of the Empire in Italy, achieved nothing for the defence of the peninsula that has been deemed worthy of notice by historians, showed himself an eager accomplice in the scheme of murderers and adulterers. He suggested to Rosamund that she should rid herself of her newly-wedded husband and marry him. To the Gepid princess the temptation to become 'Lady of Ravenna'42 presented irresistible attractions; while to the Patrician the barbarian hoard, as well as the wicked loveliness of the barbarian bride was doubtless an object of desire. When Helmechis was reclining in the frigidarium after enjoying the luxury of a Roman bath, his wife presented him with a goblet filled, as she averred, with some healthful potion. He drank half of the draught; then knowing himself to be poisoned, he stood over Rosamund with a drawn sword and compelled her to drink the remainder. Thus did the two guilty lovers die together, and the tragedy of Alboin's murder, which had begun with a cup of death at Verona, ended with a yet deadlier death‑cup at Ravenna.43

 p173  Albswinda was sent by the Patrician with the great Lombard hoard to Constantinople. There may have been some thought of keeping the daughter of Alboin as a hostage for the good behaviour of her father's people, but her name does not meet us in any subsequent negotiations, and she henceforth disappears from history.

Alleged captivity of the murderer Peredeo. There was a legend (for the truth of which our historian does not vouch) that Peredeo also was carried captive to Constantinople, and there, in the amphitheatre, slew a lion of marvellous size in the presence of the Emperor. Fearing lest a man of such great personal strength should work some damage to 'the royal cities,' the cowardly Emperor ordered him to be blinded. In the course of time he managed to provide himself with two sharp knives, and having secreted these in the sleeves of his mantle, he visited the palace and asked for an interview with the Augustus, asserting that he had some important secret to communicate. He was not, however, as he had hoped, admitted to the actual presence of the Emperor, but two counsellors, high in rank, came to learn his secret. As soon as he felt that they were before him, he went close up to them, as if to whisper his portentous news, and then at once struck right and left such fatal blows, that the two counsellors fell dead upon the spot. 'Thus, like Samson, he avenged his own cruel wrong, and for his two eyes of which he had been bereft, deprived the Emperor of two of his most useful counsellors.' Like Samson also, if there be any truth in the story, the revenge of Peredeo was, no doubt, fatal to its author.


The Author's Notes:

1 See Note C at end of this chapter.

2 Friedrich Bluhme, 'Die Gens Langobardorum und ihre Herkunft' (Bonn, 1868), p8. See his dedication to Bethmann-Hollweg, alluding to their joint studies in 1858 and the reference in the second part of the same work (Bonn, 1874) to a conversation with an Italy savant fifty years before (p4).

3 Dr. Ludwig Schmidt, 'Zur Geschichte der Langobarden' (Leipzig, 1885), p74.

4 So says Schmidt, but sculdhaita (or skuldhita) does not appear in Massmann's Gothic word-list.

5 Monza.

6 H. L. IV.22.

7 'Siquidem cervicem usque ad occipitum radentes nudabant, capillos a facie usque ad os dimissos habentes, quos in utramque partem in frontis discrimine dividebant.'

8 'Qualia Anglisaxones habere solent' (said to be the first appearance in literature of the name Anglo-Saxon).

9 Calcei.

10 'Et alternatim laqueis corrigiarum retenti.' There was probably something in the appearance of these laced boots which suggested to the young Gepid prince the uncourteous comparison of his father's Lombard guests to 'white-legged mares.' See p136.

11 Osis.

12 'Tubrugos birreos.' There is some difficulty in ascertaining the precise meaning of birreus, as birrus is sometimes connected with the Greek πυρρός and understood to mean scarlet colour. But the explanation, quoted in Waitz's note, 'Birrus vestis est amphimallus villosus' (having the nap on both sides), according to which the birrus was a sort of waterproof cape thrown over other garments when it rained, seems to throw most light on this passage. See Ducange in voce and White and Riddell.

13 'Alboin vero ad Italiam cum Langobardis profecturus ab amicis suis vetulis Saxonibus auxilium petiit, quatenus spatiosam Italiam cum pluribus possessurus intraret' (Paulus, H. L. II.6). The fact that 'Suavi' (= Alamanni) occupied the deserted homes of these Saxons seems to oblige us to locate them in Southern Germany.

14 'Certum est autem tunc Alboin multos secum ex diversis, quas vel alii reges vel ipse ceperat, gentibus ad Italiam adduxisse. Unde usque hodie eorum in quibus habitant vicos, Gepidos, Vulgares, Sarmatas, Pannonios, Suavos, Noricos, sive aliis hujuscemodi nominibus appellamus' (Paulus, H. L. II.26).

15 A certain lowering of the moral standard is generally seen in our own time and country when there is a sudden accumulation of labourers from all parts of England and Ireland to carry through some great industrial enterprise.

16 The above date is that given by Paulus Diaconus (H. L. II.7), by the Origo and Codex Gothanus, and really confirmed by Marius Aventicensis, since, though he assigns the invasion to 569, his dates are manifestly here one year too low, as has been already remarked. The fragment of Secundus, quoted by Troya (Cod. Diplom. Lang. I.23), assigns it to the second Indiction (569), but this is generally regarded as a copyist's blunder. An attempt has recently been made by Prof. Cipolla to bring the date of the Lombard entry into Italy down to 569. Cipolla relies chiefly on a somewhat obscure notice in the Excerptum Sangallense. But Prof. Crivellucci (in Studi Storici, I.478‑497) argues, it seems to me successfully, for the usually accepted date 568.

17 'Igitur cum rex Alboin cum omni suo exercitu vulgique promiscui multitudine ad extremos Italiae fines pervenisset, montem qui in eisdem locis prominet ascendit, indeque, prout conspicere potuit, partem Italiae contemplatus est. Qui mons propter hanc, ut fertur, causam ex eo tempore Mons Regis appellatus est' (Paulus, H. L. II.8). All this is 'Sagenhaft' say the German commentators, a story invented to account for the name of the mountain. This seems to me quite unnecessary scepticism and 'über-Kritik.' Paulus goes on to say that bisons bred in that mountain, and that an old man told him he had seen one killed whose hide could serve as a counterpane to fifteen men. But this has nothing to do with Alboin's march.

18 'Cui rex ut erat largissimus omnes suae ecclesiae facultates postulanti concessit et per suum pracmaticum (sic) postulata firmavit' (l.c. II.12). A difficulty has been raised as to Alboin's ability to write. But the charter would be prepared by some ecclesiastic and signed, perhaps with a mark, by the king.

19 The Venetian Forum Julii survives in Friuli. The city of the same name in Provence has become Fréjus.

20 'Gisulfum ut fertur, suum nepotem, virum per omnia idoneum, qui eidem strator erat, quem lingua propria marpahis appellant' (H. L. II.9). The word is explained by Meyer as equivalent to 'mare-bitter.'

21 The words of Paulus are worth quoting, as showing how clearly he perceived — what has been often insisted upon in these volumes — that Italy is most vulnerable from the north-east: 'Siquidem omnis Italia . . . ab occiduo et aquilone jugis Alpium ita circumcluditur, ut nisi per angustos meatus et per summa juga montium non possit habere introitum: ab orientali vero parte, qua Pannoniae conjungitur, et largius patentem et planissimum habet ingressum' (H. L. II.9). Probably one reason for the petition of Gisulf was that in Alboin's motley army, composed partly of Gepidae, Sclavonians, Bulgarians, and so forth, he feared a treacherous understanding with the invader unless he had pure Lombard farae for the staple of his colony.

22 As Gaiseric dated his from the capture of Carthage.

23 I do not find in the authorities any justification for the beautiful line in Macaulay's prize poem on Pompeii —

'When blazing cities marked where Alboin trod.'

24 Paulus calls it 'Ticinus quae alio nomine Papia appellatur' (H. L. II.15).

25 But the army was encamped on the western side, as before narrated; therefore, say some of the commentators, the whole story is 'Saga.' The apparent contradiction, however, is patent in the text of Paulus, and would probably disappear if we knew all the circumstances. An inundation of one of the rivers, or any one of a hundred easily imaginable causes, may have prevented Alboin from entering on the western side.

26 Alboin seems to have fixed his residence at Verona. We have no clear proof that Pavia was chosen by him as the capital.

27 Petra Pertusa. See vol. IV.295.º We get the account of the fall of these two fortresses from Agnellus (Liber Pontificalis Ecclesiae Ravennatis, § 95).

28 Weise has well directed attention to this circumstance (pp16 and 17).

29 Waitz, in the edition of Paulus in the M. H. G., affixes the date 570 to this notice of the pestilence, but Weise more probably assigns its first outbreak to 566 (p4).

30 This really poetical description of the pestilence (H. L. II.4) seems to be due to Paulus himself; at least the indefatigable Jacobi does not trace it to any other source.

31 'Nec erat tunc virtus Romanis, ut resistere possent, quia et pestilentia, quae sub Narsete facta est, plurimos in Liguria et Venetiis exstinxerat et post annum quem diximus fuisse ubertatis, fames nimia ingruens universam Italiam devastabat' (H. L. II.26).

32 'Hoc anno superiori hieme tanta nix in planitie cecidit, quanta in superioribus Alpibus cadere solet; sequenti vero aestate tanta fertilitas extitit, quanta(m) nulla aetas adseveratur meminisse' (H. L. II.10).

33 Gambara, Freya, the mother of Lamissio, Rumetruda the daughter of Tato.

34 There is much to be said both for 572 and 573 as the year of Alboin's death, and I confess that I waver a good deal between them, but on the whole I am inclined to adopt 572 (with Crivellucci, Studi Storici, II.208, and Waitz, M. H. G., Paulus, II.28) rather than 573 (with Muratori and Weise, p20). My chief reason is that this is the date given us by Marius, by Joannes Biclariensis, and by the Excerptum Sangallense, and that it seems to correspond with the chronology of the (early) Continuatio Prosperi Havniensis, when we have made the needful correction of ten years for twelve in the duration of the interregnum. On the other hand, I must confess that I find a difficulty with this date in getting the three years and some months assigned to the siege of Pavia into the life of Alboin, unless we suppose that bands of the Lombards pushed westwards and began the siege of this important place within a few months of their first descent into Italy. This, though unlikely, is not impossible. It must always be remembered that (as Weise has pointed out, p33) no date in Lombard history can be fixed with absolute precision between the entry into Italy (568) and the death of Authari (Sept. 5, 590). The qualifying word 'probably' must therefore be understood as applicable to all dates between these two events.

35 So says Agnellus.

36 'Qui erat vir fortissimus' (H. L. II.28).

37 This is Weise's suggestion (p25). It is curious to observe the marked emphasis which both the Origo and the Chronicon Gothanum lay on the 'consilium' of Peredeo.

38 In the present text of Paulus we read 'et juxta consilium Peredeo Helmechis interfectorem omni bestia crudelior introduxit.' This reading seems to reverse the parts, making Peredeo the adviser and Helmechis the executor of the deed. The names are transposed in some MSS., but this seems to be a correction in order to bring the sentence into harmony with what has preceded. It must be admitted that it is difficult to determine with accuracy the part of each of the actors in the tragedy. Agnellus ignores Peredeo altogether, and assigns the whole responsibility for the murder to Helmechis, instigated by Rosamund.

39 'Heu proh dolor! vir bellicosissimus et summae audaciae . . . quasi unus de inertibus interfectus est, uniusque mulierculae consilio periit, qui per tot hostium strages bello famosissimus extitit' (H. L. II.28). There is something in the ring of this paragraph which reminds us of the lamentation of the Huns over the grave of Attila (Jordan. de Reb. Get. 49).

40 'Qui dux Veronensium fuerat.' Why 'had been'? Before the Frankish conquest?

41 Up the Po, presumably to some point near to Verona. The Adige would probably not be navigable so far up.

42 'Illa, ut erat ad omnem nequitiam facilis, dum optat Ravennatium domina fieri, ad tantum perpetrandum facinus adsensum dedit' (H. L. II.29).

43 Perhaps this thought was in the mind of Paulus when he wrote 'Hic ubi sensit se mortis poculum bibisse, Rosemundam, evaginato super eam gladio, quod reliquum erat bibere coegit.'


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