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Book VI
Chapter 5

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
Italy and Her Invaders

Thomas Hodgkin

2nd edition
Oxford University Press

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,
please let me know!


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Book VI
Note E

Book VI (continued)

Vol. V
Chapter VI

Flavius Authari


Sources: —

Gregory of Tours and Paulus. The latter seems to draw his materials for the reign of Authari about equally from Gregory and Secundus.

Guides: —

In addition to the generally helpful guidance of Julius Weise, I may here refer to the 'Codex Diplomaticus Civitatis et Ecclesiae Bergomatis' (two vols. folio, 1784) by Canon Mario Lupi of Bergamo. To this collection of charters and other documents, illustrating the history of Bergamo from the eighth to the twelfth century, Canon Lupi has prefixed a Prodromus, or preliminary discourse, in which he discusses with great industry and acuteness many questions bearing on the general history of Italy under the Lombards. Lupi was evidently stimulated to his task of historical research by the example of the great Muratori, of whom he shows himself no unworthy follower. As king Authari was, according to Lupi's theory, a native himself of Bergamo, the Canon's work at this period of Lombard history has been emphatically a labour of love.

The collection of documents illustrating the history of this period in the five volumes of C. Troya's 'Codice diplomatico Longobardo' (Naples, 1852‑1855) is of great value to the student. Weitz, however, has pointed out (in the 'Göttingische gelehrte Anzeigen,' 1856) that some of Troya's documents  p231 cannot be relied on as authentic (especially a whole batch of documents relating to Cremona, which he received from Count Morbio), and that generally there is a want of discriminating criticism in Troya's work. He considers that the series of authentic memorials does not begin till the end of the seventh century, the Edictum Rotharis being older than almost all the charters that have come down to us. There is thus an interval of more than a century from the foundation of the Lombard monarchy before we come upon diplomatic material that is of any importance for the explanation of history.

Failure of the Lombard oligarchy. The attempt of the Lombard dukes to keep the government of the new state in their own hands, after ten years of trial, had proved a failure. Their external enemies were drawing together into an alliance which might easily bring upon the Lombard kingdom the same ruin that had befallen its Ostrogothic predecessor, and internally the condition of the subject population, which called itself Roman, was probably both miserable and menacing. Though we greatly lack precise details as to the real position of these subject Italians, there are many indications that their lot was harder during the ten years of 'the kingless time' than at any period before or after. We can well understand that the yoke of these thirty‑six barbarous chiefs, each one a little despot in his own domain, would be far more galling than that of one supreme lord, who, both for the sake of his revenues and in order to prevent a dangerous rivalry, would be disposed to defend the peasant and the handicraftsman from the too grievous exactions of a domineering neighbour. But there is no need to labour at this demonstration: it is one of the commonplaces of medieval history that the power of the king was  p232 generally the shield of the commoner against the oppression of the noble.

Whether it was the fear of external war or of internal discontent that caused the return to monarchy, we know not; all our information on the subject is contained in the following words of Paulus: —1

Authari, son of Cleph, chosen king, April (?), 584. 'But when the Lombards had been for ten years under the power of their dukes, at length by common consent2 they appointed to themselves a king, Authari, the son of the above-mentioned sovereign, Cleph. On account of his dignity they called him Flavius, a forename which all the kings of the Lombards who followed him used auspiciously.3 In his days, on account of the restoration of the kingdom, the then ruling dukes contributed half of all their possessions to the royal exchequer, that there might be a fund for the maintenance of the king himself, and of those who were attached to him by the liability to perform the various offices of his household.4 [In this division] the subject populations who had been assigned to their several Lombard guests were also included.5 In truth this was a marvellous fact in the kingdom of the Lombards; there was no evidence, no plots were devised, no one  p233 oppressed another with unjust exactions, none despoiled his neighbour; there were no thefts, no robberies with violence: every man went about his business as he pleased, in fearless security.'

In this brilliant, but doubtless over-painted picture of the golden days of Flavius Authari, let us try to discover such lines of hard prosaic fact as the labour of archaeologists and commentators have been able to decipher.

It was said in the previous chapter that there was some reason to suppose that Cleph was the first Lombard duke of Bergamo.6 If this were so, probably his son Authari passed his boyhood at that place under the guardianship of his mother, Queen Masane.

Bergamo probably the birthplace of the new king. Most of the great cities of Lombardy are built in the plain; but Bergamo, at least the older city of Bergamo, stands on a hill, an outlier of the great Alpine range which, even to the far Bernina, towers majestically behind her. Her territory in those far‑off days, when she still gave birth to kings, was more extensive than in later centuries, reaching back to the deep trough of the Valtelline, through which the early waters of the Adda are poured, resting on the  p234 two lakes of Iseo and Como to the east and west, and coming far down into the plain7 within eight miles of the unfortunate Cremona, — Cremona, which as still loyal to the Empire, had to see her territories retrenched for the benefit of her more submissive neighbours.8

Authari's title Flavius. As we have seen, Authari assumed the title Flavius, that title which, endeared to the memories of the subject Roman population by dim remembrance of the glories of the Flavian line, was looked upon as in some sort putting the seal of Roman legitimacy upon barbaric conquest. Odovacar, the captain of Herulian mercenaries, had called himself Flavius, a century before the accession of Authari. Recared, the Visigothic king of Spain, who was just at this time coming over to the orthodox creed, and generally reconciling himself to the old order of things, assumed the same title. There can be little doubt that the poor downtrodden Roman colonus heaved a sigh of relief and lifted up his eyes with faint hopes of the coming of a better day, when he heard that the king of these fierce barbarians from the Danube condescended to call himself Flavius.9 Improvement in the condition of the Italians under Authari. And upon the whole, the promise implied in Authari's new title was fulfilled, and the expectations formed of him by the nobles who raised him to the throne were justified. In the letters of popes and emperors, he and his people are still 'most unspeakable' (nefandissimi); but we hear less, in fact we  p235 hardly hear anything at all, of mere barbaric plunder of the cities and villas of Italy; the senseless invasions of Gaul are not resumed; the dukes are kept well in hand, and apparently the resources of the young kingdom are directed with wisdom and foresight to the necessary work of its defence against the threatening combination of its foreign foes. And thus, though we certainly cannot accept the picture of millennial happiness under Authari's sway drawn for us by Paulus, we can believe that his was, in the main, a rule which made for righteousness, and that life was more endurable in his days than during the barbarous 'kingless time,' or during the feeble reigns of some of his successors.

Personality of the new king. The figure of this bright and forceful young king, whose reign was too short for his people's desires (for he was only six years upon the throne),10 impressed the imaginations of the Lombard people, and their Sagas were more busy with his fame than with that of most of the dwellers in the palace at Pavia. Saga of his march to Rhegium. Minstrels told how he marched victoriously through the regions which were formed into the two great duchies of Spoleto and Benevento, how he arrived finally at the city of Reggio, at the extreme end of the peninsula which looks across over Scylla and Charybdis at the white walls of Messina, and seeing there certain columns (perhaps of a submerged temple) placed in the very waters of the straits, he rode up towards them, and hurling his spear said, 'Thus far shall come the boundaries of the Lombards.' Wherefore to this day  p236 (says Paulus) that column is called 'the column of Authari.'11

Authari's wooing. The story of his wooing belongs to the latest years of his life, but it may be related here, in order to show the popular conception of his character. Authari had asked for and obtained the promise of the hand of Chlodosinda, daughter of Brunichildis, sister of Childebert, king of Austrasia. But when news arrived in Gaul of the conversion of Recared of Spain to the Catholic faith, Brunichildis, who was herself a convert from Arianism and a fervent Catholic, broke off her daughter's engagement to Authari, and betrothed Chlodosinda to Recared. Hereupon Authari turned his thought to a nearer neighbour and determined to woo Theudelinda, the daughter of Garibald,12 duke of the Bavarians.13 Theudelinda, daughter of Garibald, duke of the Bajuvarii. Theudelinda, whose fame as a beautiful and accomplished princess had probably been widely spread abroad,14 had been herself betrothed to the youthful Childebert, but that alliance had also been broken by the influence of Brunichildis, who probably dreaded the ascendency of such a woman over her feeble  p237 son.15 The sister of Theudelinda had been already for some ten or fifteen years the wife of a Lombard duke, the stouthearted and successful soldier Euin of Trient.16

To Bavaria accordingly king Authari sent his ambassadors to ask for the hand of the daughter of Garibald. They returned with a favourable answer, and the young king determined to seize an opportunity for gazing on the features of his future bride before she entered his kingdom as its queen. Choosing out therefore a few of his most trusty followers, he journeyed with slight equipment to the Bavarian court. A grave and reverend 'senior,' upon whom was devolved the apparent headship of the mission, spoke some words of diplomatic courtesy to Garibald, and then Authari himself (of course preserving his incognito) stepped up to the Bavarian and said, 'My master Authari has sent me that I may behold the face of his betrothed, our future mistress, and may make report of her beauty to my lord.' Garibald then ordered his daughter to approach, and Authari gazed long in silence on the slender form and beautiful face of his betrothed. Thereafter he said to the Bavarian duke, 'In good sooth we behold that your daughter is such a person that she is well worthy to be our queen. Command, therefore, I pray, that we may receive a goblet of wine from her hand, as we hope often to do in the years that are to come.' Garibald gave the word and Theudelinda brought the goblet of wine and offered it first to the older man, the apparent chief of the  p238 embassy. Then she handed it to Authari, all unwitting that he was her future husband, and he in returning the cup secretly intertwined his fingers with his, and bending low, guided them over the profile of his face from the forehead to the chin. When the ambassadors had left the presence-chamber, Theudelinda, with a blush of shame, told her nurse of the strange behaviour of the Lombard. 'Assuredly,' said the aged crone, 'he must be the king thy betrothed suitor, or he would never have dared to do this upon thee. But let us be silent about the matter lest it come to the knowledge of thy father. And in truth he is a comely person, worthy of the kingdom and of thee.' For the young king, in the flower of his age, with his tall stature and waves of yellow hair, had won the hearts of all the beholders.

A banquet followed, and the Lombard messengers, escorted by some of the Bavarian nobles, set forth upon their homeward journey. When they were just crossing the frontiers of Noricum and their horses' feet touched the soil of his Italy, Authari, rising high in his saddle, whirled his battle‑axe through the air and fixed it deep in the trunk of a tree, where he left it, shouting as he threw 'So Authari is wont to strike his blow.'17 Then the Bavarian escort understood that he was indeed the king.

A short time elapsed. Childebert, probably alarmed at the tidings of the alliance between the Bavarians, his doubtful subjects, and the Lombards, his frequent foes, moved his army against Garibald. There is  p239 some reason to think that either at this time or soon after, Garibald was dethroned18 and his duchy given to a relative, perhaps a son or a nephew, named Tassilo; but however that may be, Theudelinda flees to Italy. it is certain that Theudelinda fled from her country (her young brother, Gundwald, being the companion of her exile), and notified to her betrothed her arrival in Italy. Authari received her with great pomp on the shores of the beautiful Lake of Garda, Marriage, 589. and the marriage was celebrated amid general rejoicings in the neighbouring city of Verona on the 15th of May (589).19

The union so romantically brought about was apparently a happy one, but its happiness was short-lived, for in September of the following year Authari died. But having thus related all that is to be known as to the personal history of the young king, let us turn back to consider the chief public events of his short but important reign.

The Pope appeals for help against the Lombards. For some time the occupants of St. Peter's chair had been uttering to all the potentates of the Catholic world plaintive cries for help against the violence of the Lombards. Oct. 5, 581. In a letter written by Pope Pelagius II to Aunacharius, bishop of Auxerre, the writer bewails  p240 'the shedding of innocent blood, the violation of the holy altars, the insults offered to the Catholic faith by these idolaters.' 'Not without some great purpose,' continues the Pope, 'has it been ordained by Divine Providence that your [Frankish] kings should share with the Roman Empire in the confession of the orthodox faith. Assuredly this was brought to pass in order that they might be so to speak neighbours and helpers of this City of Rome, whence that confession took its birth, and of the whole of Italy. Beware then lest through levity of purpose your kings should fail in their high mission. Persuade them as earnestly as you can to keep themselves from all friendship and alliance with our most unspeakable enemies the Lombards, lest when the day of vengeance dawns (which we trust in the Divine mercy it will do speedily), your kings should share in the Lombard's punishment.'20

Oct. 4, 585. Again, in 585 the same Pope addressed a letter to the deacon21 Gregory, his representative at the court of Byzantium, urging him to bring under the notice of the Emperor Maurice the cruel hardships of his Italian subjects.

'Such calamities and tribulations are brought upon us by the perfidy of the Lombard, contrary to his own plighted oath,22 that no one can avail to relate  p241 them. Tell our most pious lord the Emperor of our dangers and necessities, and consult with him how they may be most speedily relieved: because so straitened is the Republic23 that, unless God shall put it into the heart of our most pious sovereign to bestow his wonted compassion upon his servants, and to relieve our troubles by sending us one Master of the Soldiery and one Duke,24 we shall be brought to the extremity of distress, since at present the region around Rome is still for the most part quite undefended.25

'The Exarch writes that he can give us no remedy, since he avers that he has not sufficient force even to defend that part of the country [the neighbourhood of Ravenna]. May God therefore direct him speedily to succour our perils before the army of that most unspeakable nation succeeds (which God forbid) in occupying the districts still held by the Republic.'26

Longinus recalled, Smaragdus Exarch, 585‑589. If the Emperor could not spare any large number of soldiers in response to these plaintive appeals, he could at least place the existing Italian army under more efficient leadership than that of the incapable Longinus, who, during the eighteen years of his government, had  p242 performed no memorable action, except abetting the flight of the murderess Rosamund and shipping off Alboin's daughter and her treasures to Constantinople. Smaragdus was now appointed governor of Italy, with a title which was afterwards to become famous, but of which we now meet with the first undoubted mention, the title of Exarch. It was probably in the early part of the year 58527 that the new governor arrived in Italy. His name (a curious one to be borne by a Roman governor) is the Greek word for an emerald. By no means a flawless jewel, and a man with some strange streaks of madness in his composition, Smaragdus was nevertheless an active and energetic soldier, and the fact that he twice held the great post of Exarch of Italy shows the high value which the Imperial Consistory placed on his services.

Career of Droctulf. The efforts of the new Exarch were powerfully seconded by those of a deserter from the Lombard camp. This was a certain Droctulf, by birth belonging to the Suavic or Alamannic nation, who had grown to manhood among the Lombards, and being a man of comely presence and evidently of some military talent, had received the honour of a dukedom among them. He had apparently been taken prisoner in some battle by the Imperial troops, and nurtured a feeling of resentment against the other Lombard generals, to whose languid support he considered that he owed his captivity.28 In this captivity at Ravenna, he, like so  p243 many barbarian chiefs before him, was fascinated by the splendid civilisation — splendid even in its ruins — of the great Roman 'Republic.' The barbarous Suave of the Black Forest, the more barbarous Lombard of Pavia — what were these beside the magnificent officials who sat in Theodoric's palace at Ravenna, issuing the decrees and bestowing on loyal allies the endless golden solidi of the great World-Emperor? As he worshipped in the glorious basilica of St. Vitalis, and gazed upon the yet existing mosaic pictures of that martyred praetorian, father of two sons, Gervasius and Protasius, soldiers and martyrs like their sire, he took that warrior-saint for his patron, and in the visions of the night he seemed to see Jesus Christ himself giving to him, as to Constantine, a banner to be reared in the service of Christ and of Rome.29

This was the man who, as it seems, early in the reign of Authari openly attached himself to the party of the Empire, gathered a band of soldiers together, and seizing the little town of Brixellum (Brescello) on the Po, raised there the Christ-given banner of Rome against the unspeakable Lombard. Brescello is only about twelve miles from Parma on the Aemilian way, and Droctulf's object in seizing this position was doubtless to hamper the communications of the Lombards along that great highway between Parma, Placentia and Modena, while he himself by the swift sailing-ships (dromones), which sailed up and down the river Po, kept open his own communications with the  p244 Adriatic. However, the young Authari led the Lombard host against Droctulf, and, after a long siege,30 took Brixellum, rased its walls to the ground, and forced Droctulf to flee to Ravenna.

Three years' truce between the Empire and the Lombards, 585‑588. Hereupon a truce for three years was concluded between the Lombard king and the Exarch; a truce which was probably employed by both parties in completing their preparations for further war. It was perhaps before the full completion of the third year that hostilities of a desultory kind were resumed both on the east and west of the Lombard kingdom. Expedition of the duke of Trient against Istria, 587 (?). In the extreme north-east, Authari's future brother-in‑law, Euin, duke of Trient, invaded the wealthy province of Istria. After much pillaging and burning he concluded peace — doubtless a special, local peace — with the governor of the province for one year and returned bearing great spoil to Authari. In the west, the shouts of battle were heard on the shore of the Lake of Como, where for twenty years there had been a strange survival of Roman rule in a part of Italy otherwise entirely subjugated by the barbarians.

Isola Comacina. At the present day, a traveller sailing or steaming up the western branch of the Lake of Como, perhaps scarcely notices31 a little island — the only one which the lake can boast — lying on his left hand as he is nearing Bellaggio. The hills of the mainland rise high above him, bearing aloft the shrine of Our Lady of Succour, to which many a boatsman has looked for help when the suddenly arising storm has threatened to fill  p245 his bark. But the little island itself, which is about half a mile long and two to three hundred yards broad, rises to no great elevation, though its cliffs are in one place somewhat steep, and there are slight traces of the walls which once rose above them. Still the Isola Comacina, as Paulus calls it, suggests to us in these modern days little of a stronghold, nor has it ever been such since the invention of gunpowder. But before that great change in the art of war, the simple fact that it was separated by a deep strait, some quarter of a mile wide, from the mainland rendered it inaccessible to any power which had not naval supremacy on the lake and made its possession an object of desire to contending potentates. Here, as we shall see, came Imperial generals and rebel Lombard dukes bent on defying the arms of the lord of Pavia. In the twelfth century, in those fierce intestine wars which preceded the formation of the Lombard League, the little island threw in her lot with Milan against Como, shared the earlier reverses and the final victory of her mightier ally, but was at last, some forty years later, utterly destroyed by the neighbour whose power she had braved. The sacristan of the small and lonely church of St. John tells one in dejected tones that the little island once counted its 7000 inhabitants, but that in the time of Frederick Barbarossa 'everything was burnt,' and the island has since remained desolate. Apparently, however, it was not from the terrible Emperor, but from their own burgher neighbours of Como, that the vengeance and the destruction came. Last of all, in our own days, in the war of Italian Liberation in 1848, Charles Albert confined a number of his Austrian prisoners  p246 on the island. At night they slept in the church; in the day they were allowed to scramble about the rocks and thickets of their prison, looking over the narrow strait which divided them from the shore and longing in vain for their Tyrolese or Croatian home.32

Hither then to this 'home of lost causes' came an Imperial Magister Militum, Francio by name, when Alboin entered Italy, and here for twenty years he had kept the flag of the Empire flying. Capture of Isola Comacina, 588. But now at length Authari directed the whole forces of his kingdom against Francio, and after six months' siege captured his island-fortress and took possession of the vast stores of treasure deposited there by refugees from almost all the cities of Italy.33 To Francio himself terms were accorded worthy of so brave a foe, and he was allowed to depart for Ravenna with his wife and all his household possessions.34

Classis recovered from the duke of Spoleto, 588 or 589. It was probably just after the expiration of the three years' truce that the port of Classis, which had been for at least nine years in the occupation of the Lombards, was recaptured for the Empire. The hero of this reconquest was Droctulf, who was no doubt well supported by the Exarch Smaragdus. He prepared a swarm of vessels of small draft, with which he covered the shallow streams and lagunes between Ravenna and Classis,35 and by their aid he overcame  p247 the large Lombard host which Farwald of Spoleto had sent to maintain his important conquest.

This is all that is told us of the deeds of Droctulf in Italy. He seems, after his first Romanisation, to have lived and died a faithful servant of the Empire, and to have fought her battles in the Danubian lands against the savage Avars. We know not the year of his death, but we learn that he was buried in the church of his patron-saint Vitalis at Ravenna, where for many generations might be seen his epitaph in thirteen elegiac couplets, which may be thus somewhat freely translated: —

Droctulf's epitaph. 'Droctulf here lies; his body, not his soul36

Droctulf, whose fame doth round the wide world roll.

Though leagued with Bardi, Suavia gave him birth,

And suave his mood to all men upon earth.37

Kind was his heart, though terrible his frown,

And his long beard o'er his broad breast flowed down.

On Rome's great commonwealth his love he placed,

And for that love's sake laid his brethren waste.

He scorned his fathers, prayed with us to stand,

And chose Ravenna for his father-land.

 p248  Brixellum captured was his earliest feat;

There, feared by all his foes, he fixed his seat.

Christ gave the banner which he stoutly bore,

After Rome's standards thenceforth evermore.

When Farwald Classis won by foul deceit,

He for the Fleet-town's conquest armed his fleet.38

Up Badrin's stream his shallops fought their way,

And made the countless Bardic hosts their prey.

Taming, in eastern lands, the Avar hordes,

He won the glorious laurel for his lords.

The soldier-saint, Vitalis, gave him might,

Triumph on triumph thus to earn in fight;

And in Vitalis' holy home to lie

He prayed, when 'twas the warrior's turn to die.

This of Johannes39 was his last request,

Whose loving hands here fold him to his rest.'

Frankish politics. The rest of the political events in the life of Authari were chiefly connected with Frankish invasions, threatened, accomplished, or averted; and to understand their somewhat obscure and tortuous course, we must once more cross the Alps and visit the hill-girt city of Metz, Childebert, king of Austrasia. whence the young king Childebert, son of Sigibert and Brunichildis, rules his kingdom of Austrasia. In the courtly language of contemporary ecclesiastics he is 'gloriosissimus dominus Childebertus rex'; but to us he is a somewhat pale and uninteresting figure, always acting under the impulse of some stronger will, ruled either by his mother or by one of the great nobles and prelates, who, as already said, claimed the  p249 right to advise — a right not easily distinguishable from the right to rule — their youthful monarch.

Childebert was generally on good terms with his uncle, the easy-tempered Guntram of Burgundy, and Treaty of Andelot, Nov. 28, 587. he was in fact, three years after the accession of Authari, formally recognised as his heir by the treaty of Andelot: but occasional mis­understandings arose between them, nor was it easy to direct their combined resources to one common end.

Strife between Austrasia and Neustria. The old fierce feud between Brunichildis and Fredegundis, though not healed, was during these years slumbering. Ever and anon the wicked queen of Neustria despatched one of her emissaries on the forlorn hope of murdering Guntram or Childebert: but the plot was always discovered; the would‑be murderer confessed under torture the name of his inciter; he was put to death: Fredegundis bestowed some of her vast wealth on his surviving relatives, and all went on as before. Generally speaking, it may be said that the period from 584 to 600 was the time of the greatest obscuration of the Neustrian kingdom. Its king, Chlotochar II, was, at the beginning of this period, a mere infant, and Neustria was shorn of a considerable part of its former territory for the benefit of Austrasia and Burgundy.

Austrasia and the Empire. The 'most glorious lord Childebert,' having once crossed the Alps at the head of an army, and won but little renown there, was not disposed to repeat the experiment. The court of Constantinople, however, unceasingly demanded either the return of its 50,000 solidi or the accomplishment of the expedition of which they were the wages. And, in addition to this pecuniary claim, there was a personal motive towards  p250 friendliness with Constantinople, operating at this time with peculiar force both on Brunichildis and on Childebert. To understand its bearings we must go back three or four years, and must glance at the history of Spain and the tragedy of the rebellion of Hermenegild.

Spanish affairs. We have seen that two kings of the Franks married two daughters of Athanagild, king of the Visigoths.a That monarch died shortly after he had despatched the hapless Galswintha on that nuptial journey which proved to be the road to death, and he was succeeded, after a short interval,40 by Leovigild, king of the Visigoths, 572‑586. the last and well-nigh the greatest of the Arian kings of the Visigoths, Leovigild. Lion-like by name and by nature, this champion of a falling cause stoutly defended the land and the faith of his Arian forefathers. Against the generals of the Empire who had gained a footing in Murcia and Andalusia, and against the hereditary Suevic enemy in Gallicia and Lusitania, he dealt his swashing blows. He fought the Basques (that irreconcilable remnant of the dim aboriginal race which once peopled the Peninsula), and sent them flying across the Pyrenees. He repressed the anarchic movements of his own turbulent nobility, and made them feel that they had now indeed a king.

Marriage of Hermenigild and Ingunthis. True, however, to the policy of his predecessor Athanagild (whose widow Goisvintha he had married after the death of his own first wife), Leovigild desired to conciliate as much as possible his mighty Frankish neighbours on the north. Accordingly, he asked and obtained for his son Hermenigild the hand of the  p251   p252 young Austrasian princess Ingunthis, sister of Childebert. The little princess — she was scarcely more than a child — thus recrossed the Pyrenees which her mother had crossed on a similar errand fourteen years before. She was attended by a brilliant retinue; but she came bringing dissension into the palace of the Visigoths, and to herself exile and untimely death.

Domestic storms. The cause of dissension was — need it be said? — the difference of creed between the two royal families to which the bride and bridegroom belonged. In the previous generation both Brunichildis and Galswintha had easily conformed to the Catholic faith of their affianced husbands. Probably the counsellors of Leovigild expected that a mere child like Ingunthis would, without difficulty, make the converse change from Catholicism back into Arianism. This was ever the capital fault of the Arian statesmen that, with all their religious bitterness, they could not comprehend that the profession of faith, which was hardly more than a fashion to most of themselves, was a matter of life and death to their Catholic rivals. Here, for instance, was their own princess Brunichildis, reared in Arianism, converted to the orthodox creed, clinging to it tenaciously through all the perils and adversities of her own stormy career, and able to imbue the child-bride, her daughter, with such an unyielding devotion to the faith of Nicaea that not one of all the formidable personages whom she met in her new husband's home could avail to move her by one hair's breadth towards 'the Arian pravity.'

Bitter Arianism of Queen Goisvintha. Chief of all these baffled proselytisers was Queen Goisvintha, own grandmother to the bride and step-mother to the bridegroom. This ancient dame was  p253 a bitter Arian, who had inflicted some humiliations on the ecclesiastics of the opposite party, and whose one blinded eye, covered with the white film of cataract, was hailed by the Catholics as a Divine judgment on her wickedness.41 It was at first with soft and fair speeches that the aged grandmother — who had received Ingunthis with real gladness — sought to persuade her to quit the Catholic fold and to be baptized as an Arian. But the child-wife answered with manly spirit,42 'It is sufficient for me to have been washed from the stain of original sin by baptism, and to have confessed the Trinity in one equality. This doctrine I avow that I believe with my whole heart, nor will I ever go back from this faith.' By this stubborn refusal the wrath of Goisvintha was aroused. She seized the child — so says the Catholic Gregory — by the hair of her head and dashed her to the ground; she trampled her under foot and beat her till the blood spirted forth; she ordered her to be stripped and thrown into a pond: but all these outrages failed to shake the constancy of the heroic princess.

Hermenigild settles at Seville and is associated in the kingdom. Of these proceedings, on the part of his wife, Leovigild seems to have been a passive, probably an unwilling, spectator, and it was perhaps in order to deliver his daughter-in‑law from such persecution, that he assigned the city of Seville, far from his own new capital Toledo, as the residence of the youthful  p254 pair; associating Hermenigild with himself in the kingdom.

Hermenigild renounces Arianism. In their new home by the Guadalquivir Ingunthis began to ply her husband with entreaties that he would 'leave the falsehood of heresy and recognise the verity of the Catholic law.' Although Hermenigild came by the mother's side from a Catholic family, his maternal uncle being the celebrated Leander, bishop of Seville, he long resisted the arguments of his wife, but at length he yielded and received Catholic baptism, perhaps from Leander's own hands; changing his name to John.

After this defection of the young prince from the ancestral creed there was of course 'doubt, misconception, and pain' in the royal palace. The father invited the son to a friendly conference. The son refused, as he said, 'because thou art hostile to me on account of my being a Catholic.' He called upon 'the Greeks,' that is the generals of the Empire, to protect him from his father's anger; but as their succour had not arrived when the royal army was approaching, he accepted the mediation of his brother Recared, entered the hostile camp, and cast history at the feet of Leovigild. The king raised him by the hand, kissed him and spoke to him kindly; but afterwards, 'forgetful' (says Gregory) 'of his plighted oath, sent him into exile, removing from him all his usual attendants except one young slave.'

Defeat of Hermenigild and his Suevic allies. It is not easy to trace the exact course of subsequent events, but it is clear that Hermenigild must have escaped from exile, and renewed his rebellion, or, as the annalists (though of the Catholic party) call  p255 it, his 'tyranny.'43 The war seems to have lasted for two years. 'The Greeks,' as far as we can see, brought little effectual help to Hermenigild, but the Catholic Suevi put forth all their strength on his behalf. Their king perished in a vain attempt to raise the siege of Seville, and the war ended in the triumph of Leovigild, the captivity of Hermenigild, and the final overthrow of the Suevic kingdom.

Death of Hermenigild, 585. Once again the king's son was sent into confinement; this time at Valencia. Possibly he escaped thence, for a few months after this we hear of his being slain at Tarragona. The Gaulish historian says that his father put him to death; but a somewhat better informed Spanish annalist44 attributes the murder to a certain man named Sisbert, without hinting at Leovigild's approval of the deed.

Fortunes of Ingunthis and her child. The unfortunate Ingunthis was thus made a widow in her nineteenth year and left with one orphaned child, a boy, already it would seem three or four years old, whom she had named Athanagild, after her maternal grandfather. She had been apparently separated from her husband during these years of war, for when the rebellion first broke out he had left his wife and child under the care of his 'Greek' allies.45 Those allies, however, fully recognised the value of such a hostage as Ingunthis, sister of the king of the Franks, and daughter-in‑law of the king  p256 of the Visigoths, bearing in her bosom one who might one day sit on the throne of Leovigild. In all the subsequent negotiations, reconciliations, wars, between Leovigild and his son, neither of them could ever recover Ingunthis from 'the Greeks.'46 And now, after her husband's death, she was not restored to her home by the Moselle, but sent in a kind of honourable captivity over the wide Mediterranean, her destination being Constantinople: so little consideration or sympathy did the orthodox Greeks exhibit for one who had in her tender youth done and suffered so much on behalf of the Creed of Nicaea. As it turned out, Ingunthis never reached the city of the Bosphorus, but died,47 probably worn out by home-sickness and sorrow, at Carthage, and was buried there.48 The little Athanagild was sent on to Constantinople, where it is probable that he eventually died, as we never hear of his return to the West of Europe, though that return was the subject of much diplomatic discussion.

 p257  Recared, king of the Visigoths, renounces Arianism, 587. It was by the captivity of Ingunthis and her child that the tragedy of Hermenigild was connected with the history of Italy, but it is worth while to devote a few sentences to the sequel of that tragedy in Spain. The stout-hearted Leovigild died in the spring of 586, not many months after the murder of his eldest son. His second son, Recared,49 who then ascended the throne, promptly put his brother's murderer to death,50 and by another striking exercise of his royal power proved that the example of that brother, the courage of his young sister-in‑law, the exhortations of his uncle Leander, had not been lost upon him. In 587 he assembled a conference of prelates, both Catholic and Arian. They argued with one another and the heretics were unconvinced; but when they appealed to miracles the orthodox won a signal victory. Recared openly avowed himself a believer in the Three Equal Persons of the Godhead, and before many years were passed he had, by gentle compulsion, brought the whole Visigothic nation to share his change of faith. Thus was the last of the great Arian kingdoms, except the Lombard, brought into communion with that form of Christianity which was professed by the Empire, and thus was, if not the 'Eldest Son of the Church,'51 perhaps the most obedient of her children brought into the fold.

In the opinion of some scholars, it is to Recared that we should assign, if not the composition, at any  p258 rate the authoritative publication of that great battle-hymn of orthodoxy the 'Quicunque vult,' which is generally known by the incorrect name of 'The Creed of Saint Athanasius.'

Recared's wooings. In his father's lifetime Recared had been betrothed to the young Regunthis, daughter of the Neustrian Chilperic and Fredegundis; but on her father's assassination this matrimonial project fell through though the bride had already arrived on her nuptial journey almost at the borders of the Visigothic kingdom. After his conversion Recared obtained, as we have seen, the promise of the hand of Chlotoswinda, sister of Childebert, thus depriving Authari of the coveted Frankish alliance. In fact, however, this betrothal also came to naught, and the wife whom Recared eventually married was a Visigothic lady named Baddo. Certainly the Merovings and the kings of the Visigoths were not happy in their matrimonial diplomacies.

Failure of Childebert's second invasion of Italy, 587 (?). We return to court of Childebert, whither came messengers from the Emperor Maurice with the usual request that the Frankish king would send an army to Italy to fight against the Lombards. Childebert, supposing that his widowed sister was still alive and in the Emperor's power, complied the more readily with the Imperial request, and sent an expedition across the Alps.52 But the heterogeneous character of the state which obeyed the rule of the Austrasian  p259 king reflected itself disastrously in his army. So great a dissension arose between the Franks and Alamanni serving under his standards, that, without any gain of booty for themselves or conquest of territory for their master, they were obliged to return home.53

Austrasian embassy to Constantinople to plead for the restoration of Athanagild, 588 (?). At length, perhaps early in the year 588, the tidings of the death of Ingunthis reached the court of Metz, but at the same time probably came the news that the little Athanagild was detained at Constantinople. Thereupon all the resources of Austrasian diplomacy were employed to procure his liberation. Four ambassadors were sent to Constantinople: their names and titles were Sennodius the 'Optimate,' Grippo the king's Sword-bearer, Radan the Chamberlain, and Eusebius the Notary. They took with them a whole packet of letters, sixteen of which have been preserved. Though written, of course, not by their reputed authors, but by some clerk — probably an ecclesiastic — in the royal chancery, they are interesting for the light which they throw on the ways of European diplomacy in the seventh century, and especially on the relations existing between the barbarian kings of Western Europe and the Imperial Court.54 There are letters to the Emperor's father, the veteran Paulus; to his little son Theodosius, a child of about the same age as Athanagild; to the Patriarch of Constantinople; to the Master of the Offices, the Quaestor and the Curator of the Palace, beseeching the good offices of all these illustrious persons on behalf of the ambassadors, sent as they were to establish a firm peace between the Frankish monarchy and the Empire. In these letters  p260 we hear but little of the true, the personal object of the embassy; but those addressed by Childebert to Maurice, and by Brunichildis to the Empress, are more outspoken, and plead earnestly for the liberation of the little orphan who, by the waves of a cruel destiny, had been drifted so far from his home. Two of the letters are addressed to Athanagild himself. In the letter of Brunichildis to her grandson, notwithstanding the stilted style of its address, there is something really pathetic. Though the prattling child is called 'the glorious lord, king Athanagild,' he is also 'my sweetest grandson whom I long after with inexpressible desire'; and we read that the vanished Ingunthis will not seem altogether lost, if only Brunichildis may gaze upon her offspring.

The whole correspondence, and the way in which this little one's captivity among 'the Greeks' influences the movements of armies, and accomplishes results which thousands of solidi had been vain to procure, give us a favourable idea of the strength of the family tie among these otherwise unattractive Merovingian monarchs. Even the apathetic Childebert seems to show some concern for the safety of his nephew: but doubtless Brunichildis was the moving spirit in the whole negotiation. That fierce old Spanish lioness, though her life was spent in fray, had something of the lioness's longing to recover her captured whelp.

Disastrous issue of Childebert's third invasion of Italy, 588 (?). The embassy to Constantinople was hindered by various causes, which will shortly be mentioned, and did not finally return to Metz till near two years after it had set forth; but meanwhile Childebert, anxious to show his zeal in the Emperor's service, sent an army  p261 into Italy, probably in the early summer of 588.55 Over this invading host Authari and his warriors won a signal victory. They felt that the very existence of the Lombards as an independent nation was at stake, and thus, fighting for their freedom, they triumphed.56 It is admitted by Gregory that the slaughter of Frankish soldiers was greater than that on any former battlefield whereof the memory was preserved. Many captives were taken, and only a few fugitives returned, with difficulty, to their native land. This victory was the chief event of Authari's reign, and, notwithstanding some subsequent reverses, obtained for him an enduring place in the grateful recollection of his countrymen.

Great inundations of 589. During the year 589 warlike operations seem to have slumbered. The year was memorable to the inhabitants of Italy for other ravages than those of war. Throughout the north of Italy the streams fed by the Alpine snow rushed down in such destructive abundance that men said to one another in terror that Noah's deluge was returning upon the earth. Whole farms were washed away by the raging streams, and in those villas which remained might everywhere be seen the corpses of men and cattle.57 The stately  p262 Roman roads were in many places broken down (and what a Roman Emperor had built a rough Lombard king would find it hard to replace), and some of the smaller paths were quite obliterated. Impetuous Adige rose so high that a large part of the walls of Verona was undermined and fell in ruin, and the beautiful church of San Zenone outside the city was surrounded by water reaching up to the highest tier of windows; but men noted with awe‑struck wonder that not a drop penetrated into the building itself.58 This most terrible storm of a stormy season raged on the 17th of October, the thunder rolling and the lightning flashing in such fashion as was rarely witnessed even in the middle of summer. And only two months later the unhappy city of Verona, which had suffered so severely from the plague of great waters, was well-nigh reduced to ruin by the opposite enemy, fire.

At Rome the Tiber rose so high that it overtopped the walls which lined its banks, and filled all the lower quarters of the City. 'Through the channel of the same river,' says our historian, 'not only a multitude of serpents, but also a dragon of vast size, passed through the City and descended to the sea.'

Marriage of Authari. One reason why there were no great warlike operations  p263 in the year 58959 may have been that Pavia was busy with the marriage festivities of Authari and Theudelinda, and that Smaragdus the Exarch recalled. Romanus succeeds him, 589. Ravenna was witnessing the departure of Smaragdus and the advent of his successor in the office of Exarch. A bitter ecclesiastical quarrel,60 the result of the miserable controversy about the Three Chapters, was raging in the churches of Istria. The energetic but hot‑tempered Smaragdus could not refrain from interfering in this quarrel. Laying violent hands on the patriarch of Aquileia he dragged him and three other bishops to Ravenna, and forced them by threats and violence to communicate with the bishop of that city. It was, in the general opinion, a fitting punishment for this high-handed treatment of the Lord's anointed, that Smaragdus was shortly afterwards 'attacked by a demon' (in other words, became insane), and had to be recalled to Constantinople. His successor, Romanus, held the office of Exarch for about eight years (589‑597).61

 p264  590 Return of the Austrasian ambassadors from Constantinople. In the year 590 Grippo, the ambassador who had been sent to Constantinople to plead for the liberation of the young Athanagild, returned to Metz, having a strange and terrible story to tell of his mission. It seems, on the whole, most probable that the little prince was already dead when the embassy of 588 arrived at Constantinople, that Grippo had returned to his master with these tidings, A second embassy sent. and had then, in the year 589, been sent forth on another embassy to the same court, his companions this time being two Gallo-Roman62 noblemen, Bodigisil, son of Mummolinus of Soissons, and Evantius, son of Dynamius of Arles. For some reason quite unknown to us, but probably connected with the closing scenes in the life of Ingunthis, these ambassadors went first to the great city, the metropolis of Roman Africa, which was called Magna Carthago,63 to distinguish her from her lesser namesake in Spain.

The Austrasian ambassadors at Carthage. While the ambassadors were tarrying here, waiting the commands of the Prefect as to the order of their  p265 journey to the Imperial Presence, a tragedy was enacted, which affords us one of our few glimpses of the condition of the great African city in the century and a half that elapsed between her liberation from the yoke of the Vandals and her conquest by the sword-preachers of Islam. Lawless deeds. One of the body-servants of Evantius saw in the market-place some piece of merchandise which caught his fancy, and following 'the simple plan,' laid hold of it and took it with him to the inn where the ambassadors were lodging. The shopkeeper, thus defrauded of his goods, demanded daily, with ever more clamorous entreaties, the return of his property, and at length, one day, meeting the servant in the street, laid hold of his raiment and said, 'I will not let you go till you have returned that which you stole from me.' At this the Frank drew his sword and slew the importunate creditor. He then returned to the inn, but gave no hint to any of his companions of what he had done. The chief magistrate of the city,64 when he heard of the murder, collected his soldiers and some of the common people, whom he hastily armed, and went at their head to the inn where the ambassadors were then enjoying their siesta after the midday meal. Hearing an uproar the Franks looked out and were at once called upon by the city magistrate to come forth and assist in the investigation into an act of homicide which had just been committed. Perplexed and alarmed, they asked for some security for their lives before laying down their arms. Meanwhile the angry and excited mob began to rush into the house. First Bodigisil, and then Evantius stepped out and were slain at the  p266 inn‑door. Then Grippo, fully armed and at the head of his retainers, sallied faith and said, 'What the crime may be, about which you say that you are come to enquire, I know not; but here are my two colleagues, who were sent on an embassy to the Emperor, slain by the swords of your citizens. We came for peace and for the common benefit of your state and ours; but now there will never be peace between our kings and your Emperor. I call God to witness of your crime, and He will judge between us and you.' At this the Carthaginian levy was dismissed, and the Prefect of the city, coming to Grippo's lodging, endeavoured to soothe him and began again to discuss the old question of the formalities which were to be observed in their visit to the Imperial court.

The surviving ambassador at Constantinople. The Carthaginian outrages on the Frankish embassy had at least the effect of making the surviving ambassador's work easier at Constantinople. The Emperor laid aside his usual haughty isolation of manner, received Grippo as an honoured guest, and promised that ample satisfaction should be made to his master for the wound given to his dignity by the outrages at Carthage. In fact, however, this 'ample satisfaction' consisted in arresting, some months later, twelve men who were said to have been guilty of the murder, and sending them bound to the court of Childebert, who was told that he might put them to death if he thought fit, or else allow them to redeem their lives at the rate of 300 aurei65 apiece. The Frankish king took reasonable exception to this mode of settling the  p267 dispute. 'There was no proof that these twelve men had anything to do with the murder. They might be slaves of some Greek courtier, who allowed them to be cheaply sacrificed in this manner, while the king's ambassadors, who had been slain at Carthage, were men of noble birth.' Grippo too, who was standing by, said, 'The Prefect of that city collected two or three thousand men, came against us, and killed my colleagues. Ay, and he would have killed me too, if I had not known how to defend myself like a man. If I go to the place myself, I can pick out the men who did the deed, on whom your master will have to take vengeance, if he desires peace as much as he professes to desire it.' King Childebert gave the word: the captives were allowed to depart, and, with provoking reticence, the historian never tells us how the affair ended.66

This last incident, however, of the sham satisfaction for the outrage belongs to the later stages of the business. On the return of Grippo, in the early months of 590, with his first friendly message from the Emperor, and his promise of ample justice on the authors of the outrage, Childebert — so mighty were still a few courteous words from the great Roman Emperor to a barbarian king — at once prepared an army, the fourth that he had put in the field for the invasion of Italy.

Childebert's fourth invasion of Italy, May, 590.
Dukes Audovald, Olo, and Chedin.
Twenty dukes were the officers of this new army, acting under three leaders, whom we should call generals of division, and whose names were Audovald,  p268 Olo and Chedin. All three divisions of the army, according to the usual Frankish custom, robbed and murdered to their hearts' content, long ere they passed the frontiers of their own land, beginning this work of devastation in the immediate neighbourhood of Metz.

When they had crossed the Alps, Audovald with seven67 dukes encamped over against Milan. Olo with no ducal subordinate marched against Bellinzona.68 Chedin, with thirteen dukes, descending the valley of the Adige, threatened Verona.

Death of Olo. Olo, approaching incautiously too near to the walls of Bellinzona, was pierced in the breast by a javelin and died of the wound. His soldiers probably joined the main body under Audovald, who was pressing the siege of Milan. The Franks, ravaging the country in all directions, found themselves continually liable to be cut off by detachments of the Lombard army, issuing forth from the fortresses, in which they had taken refuge. Audovald defeats the Lombards at Lake Lugano. At length, however, the two hosts were drawn up in battle array on the western side of Lake Lugano, where the small but deep stream of the Tresa issues from the lake, carrying its waters to the broader expanse of Maggiore. On the banks of this stream stood a Lombard warrior, armed with helmet and breastplate, and brandishing a spear, who  p269 shouted, 'This day will it appear to which side God will grant the victory.' A few of the Franks crossed the stream, set upon the Lombard champion and overthrew him, whereupon his countrymen, who had apparently staked all their hopes on the rude ordeal of this unequal combat, took to flight. The Franks then crossed the stream, but the operation occupied some time, and when they entered the Lombard camp they found nothing there but the ovens and the marks of the tent-poles.69

The Exarch's army approaches, One cause of the discouragement and flight of the Lombard army was doubtless the near approach of the Exarch's forces, which seemed to be on the point of effecting a junction with the Franks. Messengers arrived from the Imperial camp to announce this approach to Audovald, and to say that they hoped in three days' time to reach the camp of their allies. The signal of their arrival on the scene was to be the wreaths of smoke arising from a certain villa on the hill to which the envoys pointed and which they promised to set on fire. but fails to co‑operate with the Franks. For six days the Franks waited but no smoke was seen to arise from the doomed villa. Apparently the failure to effect this junction was the death-blow to the hopes of the western division, and they returned home at the end of the sixth day.

Chedin's operations in the valley of the Adige. In the north-east, Chedin, with his thirteen dukes, took five border-fortresses in the Tridentine duchy, from the inhabitants of which he received oaths of  p270 fidelity to King Childebert, permanently annexing, or rather restoring, the surrounding territory to the Austrasian kingdom. He also took ten towns or villages in the valley of the Adige, two in the Valsugana, and one in the immediate neighbourhood of Verona. Verona itself saw the Frankish host encamped beneath its walls, but apparently resisted the siege with success, if any regular siege there were.70

The fortress of Verruca, erected, or at any rate greatly strengthened, by Theodoric the Ostrogoth,71 was saved by the intercession of two bishops, Ingenuinus of Seben and Agnellus of Trient, and the inhabitants were permitted to redeem themselves at rates varying from one to 600 solidi.72 From all the conquered towns a long train of captives was carried back into Gaul, though in many cases their surrender had been obtained by the solemn oath of the generals, that the liberty and property as well as the lives of the citizens should be spared.73 In fact, to any one who studies the obscure notices which we possess of this campaign, it will be clear that the Franks, burning, murdering and pillaging, were more terrible to the miserable inhabitants of Italy than even the Lombards themselves.

Pestilence breaks out. But now, as so often before and since, the climate of Italy, especially her climate in the later months of  p271 summer, proved the best friend to her afflicted inhabitants. The terrible deluges of 589 were succeeded by pestilence in the following year, pestilence which carried off the venerable Pope Pelagius II, and which, in the form of dysentery, so terribly wasted the invading army that Chedin, as well as Audovald, found himself obliged to abandon the campaign.

Return of the Franks, August, 590. After three months of destructive wandering over the plains of northern Italy, the whole Frankish army returned into its own country, having practically accomplished nothing. It had not been able to force the Lombards to fight, for they had remained behind the walls of their fortresses. It had not, as it once hoped to do, captured Authari himself, for he had tarried in his strongly fortified capital of Pavia. It had not succeeded in collecting great spoil, for the soldiers had to sell their clothes and even their arms for bread, before they reached their native land. Plague-stricken, ragged and desperate, the great army of the Twenty Dukes disappeared from the soil of Italy.

Byzantine complaints of the conduct of the Franks. The Byzantine version of this campaign of 590 — agreeing as to the main result, but differing as to the cause of the failure — was given by the Exarch of Italy, who wrote to Childebert two letters74 (still extant) bitterly complaining of the incapacity of the Franks in war, and of their cruel conduct towards the Roman provincials. The following are the most important sentences in these letters: —

 p272  'We heard from your messenger, the Vir Magnificus, Andreas, how earnestly your Glory desired to stop the effusion of Christian blood and to liberate Italy from the unspeakable Lombards. We heard and reported to the most clement Emperor and to his Augusta (your most serene sister) that for this purpose you had ordered the most flourishing army of the Franks to descend into Italy.

'Even before their arrival God gave us, in answer to your prayers, the cities of Modena, Altino and Mantua, which we won in fight and beat down their walls, hastening as we did to prevent the unspeakable ones from attacking the Franks before our arrival.75

'Then we heard that the Vir Magnificus (your general) Chedin76 was encamped with 20,000º men near the city of Verona, and had sent an ambassador to Authari77 with some talk about terms of peace. That king had shut himself up in Ticinum; the other dukes and all their armies had sought the shelter of divers fortresses; we saw ourselves on the point of joining the Roman army to the 20,000 of Chedin, supporting them by our cutters78 on the river, besieging Ticinum and taking captive king Authari,  p273 whose capture would have been the greatest prize of victory.79 While we were urging Chedin to this course and anxiously consulting your dukes as to each step to be taken against God's enemies and ours, what was our amazement to find that they,80 without any consultation with us, had made a ten months' truce with the Lombards, abandoned the opportunities for booty, and marched suddenly out of the country. If they had only had a little patience, to‑day Italy would be found free from the hateful race, and all the wealth of the unspeakable Authari would have been brought into your treasury; for the campaign had reached such a point that the Lombards did not consider themselves safe from the Franks even behind the walls of their cities.

'For ourselves (besides the previously mentioned successes) Parma, Rhegium81 and Placentia were promptly surrendered by their dukes to the Holy Roman Republic, when we marched to besiege these cities. We received their sons as hostages, returned to Ravenna, and marched into the province of Istria against our enemy Grasulf. His son, the magnificent Duke, Gisulf, wishing to show himself a better man than his father, came with his nobles and his entire army, and submitted himself to the Holy Republic. The glorious patrician, Nordulf, having come by the favour of our Lords82 into Italy, gathered his men together  p274 again and in concert with the glorious Osso and his Roman army recovered several cities.

'Now, as we know that your anger is kindled by the return of your generals, leaving their mission unaccomplished, we pray you to send speedily other generals, more worthy of your trust, who may fulfil the promises made by you and your pious ancestors. Let them come at such a time that they may find all the enemy's harvests in the field. Tell them to inform us by what routes and at what dates we may expect them. And, above all things, we hope that when, with good luck, the Frankish army descends from the Alps, the Romans, on whose behalf we ask your aid, may not be subjected to pillage and captivity; that you will liberate those who had been already carried off into bondage; and that you will direct your generals not to burn our workshops, so that it may be clearly seen that it is a Christian nation which has come to the defence of Italy.'83

There is much which, owing to our imperfect knowledge of persons and events, is obscure in these letters of the Exarch, but we can see in them quite enough of bitterness and mis­understanding to account for the failure of the coalition to accomplish its full purpose and drive the Lombards out of Italy. At the same time it is clear that the Lombards were in great danger, and that Authari had a narrow escape of  p275 being carried in chains to the Austrasian capital and visiting the court of Childebert, not as brother-in‑law, but as captive. A considerable tract of country on the southern bank of the Po84 was recovered for the Empire; but this was won more through the disloyalty of the Lombard dukes — perhaps weary of the strict rule of Authari — than by any bravery of the Byzantine soldiers. Still, a hundred miles of the great Aemilian way had been cleared from the presence of the invader; the frontier of the Empire had been pushed up to within twenty miles of the Lombard capital, and the delusive hope of once more extending the dominions of 'the Republic,' from the Adriatic to the Gulf of Genoa, floated before the eyes of the Imperial governor.

Embassy from Authari to the Frankish Kings. Before the summer of 590 was ended, Authari sent an embassy first to the king of Burgundy and then to the king of Austrasia, praying, in somewhat humble fashion, for peace and alliance with the nation of the Franks.85 The ambassadors were courteously received by Guntram and terms of peace between the Lombards and the Franks of Burgundy were agreed upon. They were still at the court of Childebert when they heard the unexpected tidings of their master's death.

Death of Authari, 5 Sept. 590. King Authari died at Pavia on the 5th of September, 590,86 being still in the prime of youthful manhood and having reigned less than seven years.  p276 His death was by some attributed to poison,87 but, as pestilence was ravaging Italy in that year, and he had been living for months in the unwholesome atmosphere of a blockaded city, it seems more reasonable to attribute the event to natural causes, especially as no author and no motive is suggested for the crime.

Though the last few months of Authari's reign were clouded by adversity, it is evident that he guided the fortunes of the Lombard state with vigour and success. Some of the constitutional changes connected with his administration of royal power, and especially with that arrangement whereby the Lombard dukes surrendered half of their territory in order to endow the new kingdom with a royal domain, are reserved for consideration in a later chapter.

The Author's Notes:

1 H. L. III.16.

2 'Communi consilio.'

3 'Quem etiam ob dignitatem Flavium appellarunt. Quo praenomine omnes qui postea fuerunt Langobardorum reges feliciter usi sunt.'

4 'Hujus in diebus ob restaurationem regni duces qui tunc erant omnem substantiarum suarum medietatem regalibus usibus tribuunt, ut esse possit, unde rex ipse sive qui ei adhaererent ejusque obsequiis per diversa officia dediti alerentur.'

5 That is, the provincial populations which had been handed over to the several Lombard nobles (as mentioned in II.32) now followed the fortune of their lands, and half of them were assigned to the king: 'Populi tamen adgravati per Langobardos hospites partiuntur.' We shall have to return hereafter to the discussion of this important but difficult sentence.

6 The reason for this conjecture (we cannot put it higher) is that a ninth-century consular of a Carolingian emperor refers to a church at Bergamo dedicated to St. Andrew, called 'the fara of king Authari.' We know that fara was the Lombard name for a family or kinship; and it therefore seems probable that Cleph with his fara settled at Bergamo, and that his son dedicated this church on land belong to the family holding.

7 To Casal Butano.

8 This paragraph is a condensation of Canon Lupi's arguments on the extent of the Bergamasque territory, pp150‑153, and 179‑186.

9 See vol. I p7 as to this title.

10 Six years according to Paulus (III.35); six years and six months according to Prosperi Continuator Hafniensis. Crivellucci argues for the longer period (Studi Storici, III.122).

11 Paulus, III.32. He gives it only on the authority of 'Fama est' and probably the story is, as I have called it, in the nature of a Saga. But I see nothing impossible in the event; nor do I agree with Weise (p125) that the language of Paulus must mean a hostile invasion of the territory of the two Lombard dukes (Spoleto and Benevento). He thinks that the legend arose from a confusion between Rhegium in the Straits of Messina, and Rhegium between Parma and Modena. Is that probable?

12 This is of course the same name as that of Italy's latest hero.

13 Paulus (III.30) calls him king, but it is pretty certain that his over-lord Childebert allowed him no such title, though at one time Garibald's condition may have verged on independence.

14 This is only a conjecture, but slightly confirmed by the story of her betrothal to Childebert.

15 This is Weise's conjecture (p114). Our only authority for the betrothal of Childebert to Theudelinda is the somewhat doubtful one of 'Fredegarius' (IV.34).

16 Paulus (III.10). He places Euin's marriage about 575.

17 'Erexit se quantum super equum cui praesidebat potuit, et toto adnisu securiculam quam manu gestabat, in arborem que proximior aderat fixit eamque fixam reliquit adjiciens haec insuper verba "Talem Authari feritam facere solet" ' (Paulus, H. L. III.30).

18 Quitzmann, author of 'Die Aelteste Geschichte der Baiern bis zum Jahre 911,' doubts the dethronement of Garibald (p166) and makes Tassilo his eldest son (p184). It must be admitted that the account given in the text rests to a considerable extent on conjecture.

19 'Cui statim ille obviam cum magno apparatu nuptias celebraturus in Campum Sardis, qui super Veronam est, occurrens, eandem cunctis lactantibus in conjugium Idus Maias accepit.' For Sardis, which gives us no information whatever, Maffei (Verona Illustrata, II.452)º proposes to substitute Gardae. If this is the true reading it is, he says, the first mention of the name of Garda (formerly Benacus).

20 This letter is given by Troya (Cod. Dipl. Lang. no. 9) with the date Oct. 5, 581. In the original the date is thus expressed, 'Datum III Nonas Octobres, imperante domino Tiberio Constantino Augusto Anno VII.' Weise says it should be dated 580, but I agree with Troya. As Tiberius was associated with Justin at the very end of 574, his seventh year was practically 581.

21 Afterwards Pope Gregory I. The letter is to be found in Troya, u. s. no. 16.

22 This alludes to some compact of which we have no other mention.

23 I.e. of course the Commonwealth, or as we call it, the Empire of Rome.

24 'Et super illam diacoposin vel unum Magistrum militum et unum Ducem dignetur concedere.' It is I suppose to Byzantine influence that we must attribute the use of this Greek word διακόπωσιν for 'trouble.'

25 'Quia maxime partes Romanae omni praesidio vacuatae videntur.' The following sentence about the Exarch's inability to defend his own territory shows that we must understand 'partes Romanae' of the territory geographically adjacent to Rome.

26 There is some doubt whether this letter should be dated 584 or 585 (see Troya, p60, and Weise, p74). Chiefly on account of the occurrence of the word Exarch, I accept the later date.

27 We have not the exact date of the supercession of Longinus, but Smaragdus is mentioned in a letter of Pope Pelagius II, written probably in 585 (see Troya, ibid. no. 14).

28 This is the only probable explanation, as it seems to me, of the words of Paulus, 'Cum occasionem ulciscendae suae captivitatis repperit' (H. L. III.18).

29 This is an attempt, highly conjectural I must allow, to explain the words of Droctulf's epitaph —

'Quo Romana potens valuit post signa juvare

Vexillum primum Christus habere dedit.'

30 'Tandem eum cum militibus quos juvabat exuperantes' (Paulus, H. L. III.18).

31 Unless his attention is attracted by the ugly advertisement of a café at Como with which the owner of half the island has disfigured one of his rocks.

32 There is a good account of the Isola Comacina in Mr. T. W. M. Lund's 'Como and the Italian Lake-land' (London, 1887).

33 The actual reading of the MSS. of Paulus (H. L. III.27) is 'insula Amacina,' but all editors seem to be agreed that this is an error of the scribe for 'Comacina.'

34 'Ipse vero, ut optaverat, dimissus a rege cum sua uxore et supellectili, Ravennam properavit' (Paulus, H. L. III.27).

35 'Puppibus exiguis decertans amne Badrino,' says Droctulf's epitaph. Badrinus is by some scholars identified with the Padoreno, one of the mouths of the Po. But it is not easy to see what either Imperialists or Lombards were doing at the mouth of the Po, more than thirty miles north of Ravenna, when the prize of war was Classis, only four miles distant from that city.


'Clauditur hoc tumulo, tantum sed corpore Drocton'

(Paulus, H. L. III.19)

The form Drocton is probably chosen as sounding less barbarous than Droctulf.


'Cum Bardis fuit ipse quidem, sed gente Suavus,

Omnibus et populis inde suavis erat.'

The pun, such as it is, survives translation. Observe that the Lombards are called Bardi throughout the poem.


'Inde etiam, retinet dum Classem fraude Faroaldus

Vindicet ut Classem, classibus arma parat.'

39 Johannes III, bishop of Ravenna from 578 to 595.

40 Filled by the reign of Liuva, who associated his brother Leovigild in the kingdom, and died shortly after.

41 'Goisventa . . . quae Dei servis notam humilitatis inflixerat, prosequente ultione divina: ipsa quoque est omnibus populis facta notabilis. Nam unum oculum nubis alba contegens, lumen, quod mens non habebat, pepulit a palpebris' (Greg. Tur. H. F. V.38).

42 'Sed illa viriliter reluctans' (Greg. Tur. l.c.) .

43 The technical word for 'usurpation.' Joannes Biclariensis uses this word, and Isidore and Gregory of Tours imply it.

44 Joannes Biclariensis, an orthodox ecclesiastic, who suffered banishment on account of his creed. We get from him a clearer idea of the chronological connection of events than from Gregory.

45 'Ingundis a viro cum imperatoris exercitu derelicta' (Greg. Tur. l.c.) .

46 'Ipsa mulierem cum Graecis relictam' (Greg. Tur. H. F. VI.40); 'uxorem tamen [Hermenigildi] a Graecis eripere non potuit [Leuvichildus]' (Ibid. VI.43).

47 Her death is usually put in 585, but I do not see any reason why it may not have been a year or two later.

48 Paulus in the following passage makes the captivity of Ingunthis begin after the death of Hermenigild, and represents her as dying in Sicily; but Gregory's authority must here be preferred to his: 'Ingundis vero post mariti et martyris funus de Hispanis fugiens, dum Gallias repedare vellet, in manus militum incidens, qui in limite adversum Hispanos Gotthos residebant (?) cum parvo filio capta atque in Siciliam ducta est ibique diem clausit extremum' (H. L. III.21). Notice that Paulus, writing after the lapse of a century and a half, calls Hermenigild 'Martyr.' That was not the judgment of contemporaries, even though they were of the Catholic party. Gregory says of him (VI.43) 'nesciens miser judicium sibi imminere divinum qui contra genitorem quamlibet hereticum talia cogitaret.'

49 Always called Richaredus by Gregory; the same name as our 'Richard.'

50 'Sisbertus interfector Hermenigildi morte turpissima perimitur' (Joannes Biclariensis, s. a. 587).

51 The title of the Frankish king.

52 Weise (p79) dates this expedition in 595; but for various reasons (chiefly the fact that in 585 the three years' truce was concluded between Authari and the Exarch) that date seems to me improbable, and I prefer to assign this invasion to 587, when, as we know, hostile operations had been to a certain extent renewed between the Lombards and the Empire.

53 Paulus, H. L. III.22.

54 See Note E at the end of this chapter.

55 Paulus (III.29) expresses his surprise that his great authority Secundus, bishop of Trient, should not have mentioned the campaign of 588, so glorious for the inhabitants of Italy. Weise (p99) argues from this silence that the expedition cannot have gone by the old road of the Brenner Pass (which would have brought it straight down on Tridentum), but rather by the valley of the Upper Rhine and the Pass of the Splügen. But the mere silence of one historian is a slight ground on which to rest such an argument.

56 'Cui Authari rex Langobardorum acies non segniter obviam pergunt, proque libertatis statu fortiter confligunt' (Paulus, l.c.).

57 'Factae sunt lavinae possessionum seu villarum hominumque pariter et animantium magnus interitur' (Paulus, H. L. III.23). Lavinae is no doubt the same word as the German lauwine.

58 Paulus (H. L. III.23) relates this on the authority of Pope Gregory (Dial. III.19), who says that Joannes the tribune told the story to him as he heard it from Count Pronulfus, present at Verona with King Authari, five years before the writing of the Dialogues. In July, 593, Gregory was collecting materials for this work (Ep. III.51). We may suppose that at any rate the final touches were not put to it till 594.

59 If indeed the re‑capture of Classis did not take place in that year.

60 Some account of this quarrel, so important in its bearing on the political history of the provinces of the northern Adriatic, will be given in Chapter XI.

61 Among the events of 589 I ought perhaps to enumerate an embassy from Childebert to the Emperor (consisting of Bishop Jocundus and Cothro the Chamberlain) which called forth an indignant letter from Maurice, accusing Childebert of wasting time and wearying his ambassadors by long journeys over land and sea, ending in childish harangues ('juvenili sermone') about peace and unity, while all the time the Frankish king was doing nothing worthy of his professions or consistent with the solemn oaths (terribilibus juramentis') which he had sworn. (See the letter No. 43 in Troya, IV.1.) But though Sept. 1, 589, is the date assigned by common consent to this letter, I do not see anything in its contents which binds us to that year, and I cannot help thinking that it must belong to some earlier period of the negotiations. After the terrible Frankish defeat of 588, it seems hardly likely that the Emperor, however he might lament the ill‑fortune of his ally, would accuse him of lukewarmness in the cause: and the lawless proceedings of the Imperial officers at Carthage in the early part of 589 (about to be described in the text) put the Emperor so clearly in the wrong that it is difficult to imagine him, so soon after them, taking this upbraiding tone towards the injured party.

62 Notwithstanding the Teutonic sound of Bodigisil's name, this seems to be proved by Gregory's emphatic way of contrasting Grippo's nationality with that of his colleagues: 'et hic Grippo, genere Francus' (H. F. X.2).

63 May we infer in the origin of this name a remembrance of the lines of Horace (Odes, III.5.39‑40),

'magna Carthago, probrosis

Altior Italiae ruinis' ?

64 'Senior urbis' apparently = 'Prefectus urbis.'

65 £180 sterling. Was this curious proposal meant as a compliance with Teutonic ideas about weregild?

66 The curious story of the murder of the ambassadors is told us by Gregory (X.2.4) very near the close of his history. Had he lived longer he would perhaps have given us its sequel.

67 Gregory (H. F. X.3) says six; but this is apparently because he has already named Winthrio, duke of Champagne, as second in command to Audovald. It is worthy of notice that Winthrio is expressly mentioned, as allowing the ravage of the country round Metz, though himself duke of the neighbouring territory of Champagne.

68 Bilitio, described as a 'castrum' (fortified dependence) of Milan, in the Campi Canini.

69 Gregory, who evidently derived his account of this campaign from some soldier of the western army, has probably magnified an unimportant skirmish (hardly even a skirmish) into something like a battle. (See H. F. X.3.)

70 This campaign will be more minutely described in the chapter on the Four Great Duchies — Trient. See Vol. VI chap. II.

71 See Cassiodorus, Variae, III.48.

72 12s. to £360.

73 This is I think a legitimate expansion of the words of Paulus (H. L. III.31), 'et deposuerunt castra plurima per pacem post sacramenta data, quae se eis crediderunt nullum ab eis dolum existimantes.'

74 Nos. 45 and 46 in Troya (IV.1). The Exarch's title is not given in the superscription of either letter, but we can hardly err in attributing both of them to him. The dates conjecturally assigned by Troya are June and September, 509. The former seems to me too early.

75 'Ante vero quam fines Italiae vestri Duces ingrederentur, Deus pro sua pietate vestrisque ora­tionibus et Mutinensem civitatem, nos pugnando ingredi fecit, pariter et Altinonam et Mantuanam civitatem pugnando et rumpendo muros ut Francorum videret exercitus sumus ingressi.' We learn from this passage (what we should not otherwise have known) that Mantua and Altino had been taken by the Lombards, probably before Authari's accession. Mantua was recaptured by them in 603: Altino not till 640.

76 Chenus.

77 The Exarch calls him 'nefandissimus Autharit.'

78 Dromones.

79 The Exarch says at this point that Chedin sent three dukes, Leufrid, Olfigand, and Rauding, to Ravenna, that he received them with the honour due to their master's glory and gave them generous presents.

80 Probably both Chedin and Audovald.

81 Reggio on the Po.

82 The Emperor and Empress (?).

83 'Sperantes prae omnibus, ut dum feliciter Francorum exercitus descenderit, Romani, pro quibus auxilia vestra poscimus, in depraedationem et captivitatem non perducantur; sed et eos, quos transacto tempore abstulerunt, relaxari et provinciae restitui jubeatis. . . . Sed nec fabricas incendi praecipite, ut agnoscatur, quia pro defensione Italiae auxilium Christianae gentis habuimus' (Letter 46 in Troya, pp133‑134).

84 From Placentia to the river Panaro.

85 Naturally Gregory lays more emphasis than Paulus on the terms of subjection used by Aptacharius (as Authari is called by the Frankish historian) in the negotiations for peace.

86 This, as Weise remarks (p33), is the one really certain date in early Lombard chronology.

87 'Veneno, ut tradunt, accepto.' (Paulus, H. L. III.35).

Thayer's Note:

a Brunichildis married Sigibert (VI.204); Chilperic married Galswintha (VI.205).

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