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Bill Thayer

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Book VI
Chapter 3

This webpage reproduces a section of
Italy and Her Invaders

Thomas Hodgkin

published by the Clarendon 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 B

Vol. V
Note A

On the Early Homes of the Langobardi

In order not to encumber the text with the theories of German scholars on this subject, I insert the chief of them here.

I. Zeuss (Die Germanen und die Nachbarstämme) is so careful an enquirer, and is so well acquainted with the details given us by Greek and Roman geographers as to all the German tribes, that one always differs from him with reluctance.

He seems inclined to make Mauringa = the flat country eastward from the Elbe, connecting it with Moor and other kindred words. For Golanda he takes an alternative reading (not well supported by MS. authority), Rugulanda, and suggests that it may be the coast opposite the isle of Rugen. Anthaib is the pagus of the Antae who, on the authority of Ptolemy and Jordanes, are placed somewhere in the Ukraine, in the Dniester and Dnieper countries: Banthaib he gives up as hopeless, Burgundaib connects with the Urugundi of Zosimus (I.27 and 31), whom he seems inclined to place in Red Russia, between the Vistula and the Bug (p695). These names, he thinks, 'lead us in the direction of the Black Sea, far into the eastern steppes,' and he connects this supposed eastward march of the Langobardi with their alleged combats with the Bulgarians.

II. Dr. Friedrich Bluhme, in his monograph 'Die Gens Langobardorum und ihre Herkunft' (Bonn, 1868), places the primeval home of the Langobardi in the extreme north of Denmark, in the peninsula or rather island formed by the Limfiord, which still bears the name Wend-syssel. (This he connects with the original name of the tribe, Winnili.) Thence he brings them to Bardengau on the left bank of the Elbe. I think he accepts the identification Scoringa = Bardengau. He places the Assipitti (the tribe who sought to bar the further progress of the Langobardi) in the neighbourhood of Asse, a wooded height near Wolfenbüttel. He rejects the identification of Mauringa with Holstein, and the reference to the Geographer of Ravenna,  p142 and thinks that we have a trace of the name in Moringen near Northeim, at the foot of the Harz mountains. But he makes them wander still further westwards and Rhinewards, chiefly relying on the passage of Ptolemy, which places them in close neighbourhood with the Sigambri. He considers this allocation to be singularly confirmed by the Chronicon Gothanum, which says that they stayed long at Paderborn ('locus sibi Patespruna cognominantur'). Thus he contends for a general migration of the tribe from Eastphalia (Bardengau) to Westphalia; and considers this theory to be strengthened by the great resemblance between the family names of Middle Westphalia and those of Bardengau: between the legal customs of Soest (in Westphalia) and those of Lubeck, and between these two sets of customs and the Lombard Edict.

Bluhme does not offer much explanation of the difficult names Golanda, Anthaib, Banthaib, and Burgundaib, except that he thinks the last was the territory evacuated by the Burgundians when they moved westwards to the Middle Rhine. He puts the migration of the Langobardi to the borders of Bohemia about 373, and thinks that the election of their first king Agelmund was contemporary therewith. He observes that the ruins of the palace of king Waccho (who reigned at the beginning of the sixth century) were still to be seen at Beowinidis, i.e. in Bohemia, probably at Camberg, S. E. of Prague, in the year 805 (Chronicon Moissacenses. a.).

Rugiland = Moravia. Feld= the March-feld bordering it on the south.

III. Dr. Ludwig Schmidt, 'Zur Geschichte der Langobarden' (Leipzig, 1885), contests some of Dr. Bluhme's conclusions. His reasoning seems to be generally sound, but his tone is over-confident.

Schmidt expresses himself very positively as to the High-German character of the Langobardic race. He disbelieves their Scandinavian origin, and thinks that it may have been suggested by the similarity of names of the Sueones and Suevi (?). At the same time he goes carefully into the discussion of the name Scandinavia, and rejecting Bluhme's suggestion as to the north of Jutland, he thinks that the legend points to Schonen in the south of Sweden, as the original home of the Langobardi.

 p143  Notwithstanding the language of Strabo and the line in the 'Traveller's Song' which mentions the Headhobeardan (= Langobardi) as dwelling by the Baltic coast, he believes that their abiding home was on the left bank of the Elbe, and he agrees with the majority of enquirers in placing it in Bardengau.

He appears to think that after the Langobardi and Obii (= Aviones) had made their unsuccessful attempt on Pannonia in 165 they recrossed Germany to their old homes at the mouth of the Elbe. He puts the final migration of the Langobardi from the Elbe to the Danube in the middle of the fifth century.

The Assipitti he thinks not worth enquiring into.

Mauringa = the country between the Elbe and the Oder, or perhaps Holstein.

Considering the frequent looseness and inconsistency of Ptolemy's assertions, he attaches no importance to his statement that the Langobardi were next-door neighbours to the Sigambri, and observes that, even if true, it would not help Bluhme's Westphalian theory, as the statement is, that they were on the south of the Sigambri, that is, considerably further up the Rhine.

Golanda probably = Gotland, but means simply 'good-land.'

Anthab (or Anthaib) he connects through the Aenenas of the 'Traveller's Song' with Bavaria;

Banthaib (or Baynaib) with the Boii and Bohemia;

Burgundaib with the remnants of the Burgundians in the lands east of the Elbe.

In all these lands the Langobardi made the remaining inhabitants their Aldiones, that is, their tributary subjects. They occupied Rugiland in 489. Gladly would they have gone into Noricum on the opposite shore of the Danube, but that was blocked against them by the Bajuvarii.

Geld = the flat country between the Theiss and the Danube. The Gepidae were at this time in the old Roman province of Dacia, the Heruli north of the Danube between the March river and the Neograden mountains.

IV. A. Westrum, in his monograph 'Die Langobarden und ihre Herzöge' (Celle, 1886), amuses if he does not greatly instruct us. He accepts enthusiastically the allocation of the Langobardi  p144 to Bardengau, and thinks it is still possible to trace the sites of the houses of Ibor and Aio at Lüneberg, by the special privileges in connection with the Saltworks which were long continued to the houses known as Beruding and Eying. Beruding is derived from Ibor = Ebor = Bar, a word whose root-idea was 'man,' but which came also to signify 'boar' or 'bear.' Hence, Bardo, Berengarius, and (by translation into Latin) Ursus and the family of the Orsini. Albert the Bear, the founder of the Ascanian line of the Electors of Brandenburg, was probably a descendant of Ibor, and gave his own name to his capital Berlin. Through him Katherine II of Russia (a princess of Anhalt) is brought to swell the great procession. The author regrets that he cannot included Prince Bismarck among the descendants of the Langobard duke; but the great financial house of Baring Brothers, with the three British peerages which it has acquired, and the fame of Count Orsini, who threw the bombs which launched Napoleon III on his war for the liberation of Italy, in some degree console him for his failure. It must surely be by an oversight that the hardy navigator who gave his name to Behring's Straits is omitted from list of the descendants of Duke Ibor.

V. Von Stolzenberg Luttmersen, in his essay 'Die Spuren der Longobarden vom Nordmeer bis zum Donau' (Hannover, 1889), goes much more thoroughly into the question of the wanderings of the Langobardi, and his history of Bardengau in the early Middle Ages, and of the destruction of its capital Bardowick by Henry the Lion, is full and yet concise.

He makes the Langobardi a Low‑German tribe, migrating from Schonen (on the southern shores of Sweden) to the mouth of the Elbe, probably in the first or second century before Christ. He thinks that they may have come, like Hengist and Horsa, ostensibly as allies to the indigenous German tribes in that region (being themselves a race somewhat superior in the arts both of peace and war), and that their wars in this capacity against the Sclavonic Wends of Pomerania are represented by the battle with the Vandals, of which the Saga tells us. The settlements of the Langobardi, which he believes to have been solitary forts near the marshes (somewhat resembling those of the Lake-dwellers), he takes to be represented by modern towns and villages with the termination -ingen, of which there  p145 are a large number in Eastphalia, and finding a remarkably similar cluster of places ending in -ingen in East Swabia, from Donauschingen to Nördlingen, he founds his theory chiefly on this coincidence. But he also relies on the before-mentioned passage from Ptolemy as to a settlement of the Langobardi on the Rhine, southward from the Sigambri, and contends that their migration was not eastward towards the Oder, nor southward into Thuringia (according to Bluhme's theory), but south-westward to the banks of the Upper Rhine. Then, attacking the difficult passage of the Origo ('et postea possederunt aldonus Anthaib et Bainaib seu et Burgundaib'), he interprets it as meaning that the Langobardi were themselves Aldiones or tributaries, not that they reduced other races to that condition. 'Under what dominion,' he asks, 'could they have thus occupied territory after territory, themselves always remaining Aldiones?' He replies, 'Only under the Empire,' and accordingly he suggests that we have here a résumé of the history of the Langobardi during the time that they dwelt as foederati under the sway of Rome. Relying on the two arguments before mentioned, he thinks that this settlement of theirs as foederati was in the Agri Decumates (part of the Empire beyond the Rhine, nearly corresponding to Baden and Würtemburg). He does not attempt to fix the exact position of 'Anthaib,' 'Bainaib,' and 'Burgundaib,' but thinks that 'Burgundaib' = 'the valley of forts [burgi]' and was perhaps in the region of the Rauhes Alp (in Würtemburg). He notes the fact, which is certainly an interesting one, that the Swiss in Thurgau and St. Gall call any old wall, the builders of which are unknown to them, 'Longobarden-mauer': and he claims for the Langobardi that they were important members of the Alamannic confederacy which occupied Swabia, as well as of the Saxon confederacy which was so powerful in the north. Then launching out into that region of speculation into which some of our German enquirers are a little too apt to wander, he suggests that from the Langobardi may have sprung three great imperial or royal houses, the Hohenstaufens, the Guelfs, and the Hohenzollerns, besides their more substantial claim to have given birth to a Doria and a Garibaldi. And in some way, which is not very clear to me, the fact that they sprang from the Elbe-lands and became masters of Italy, is made a justification or  p146 a prophecy, or a type of the Triple Alliance between Germany, Austria, and Italy.

The monograph is interesting and carefully written, but there seems to me an entire lack of historical evidence for the alleged Swabian settlement of the Langobardi: and like almost all the other writers on this subject, Herr von Stolzenberg gives, I think, too little heed to the clear statement of Petrus Patricius, that in A.D. 165, 6000​a of the Langobardi and their allies crossed the Danube into Pannonia. This was a large number for a little tribe (of whom Tacitus wrote, 'Langobardos paucitas nobilitat'): and though some may have remained, and probably did remain, behind in Bardengau, it seems reasonable to suppose that these Langobardi on the Danubian frontier were the bulk of the nation, or at any rate — for this is the matter in which we are concerned — were the ancestors of the Langobardi who moved into 'Rugiland' near the end of the fifth century, and invaded Italy under Alboin in the sixth century. I see no evidence of a return of these Langobardi from the Danube-lands to the Elbe-lands in the third or fourth century, and much presumptive argument against it.

Thayer's Note:

a Or 60,000, in Mommsen's edition. See my note to V.132.

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