Short URL for this page:

[image ALT: Much of my site will be useless to you if you've got the images turned off!]
Bill Thayer

[image ALT: Cliccare qui per una pagina di aiuto in Italiano.]

[Link to a series of help pages]
[Link to the next level up]
[Link to my homepage]

[image ALT: link to previous chapter]
Book VI
Note A

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!


[image ALT: link to next chapter]
Book VI
Chapter 4

Vol. IV
Note B
Extract from the Codex Gothanus

The opening and closing paragraphs of the Codex Gothanus (described at the beginning of chap. III) are so utterly different from the Origo and the history of Paulus, that, instead of attempting to weave them into one narrative therewith, I prefer to give a separate translation of them here.

'§ 1. The fore-elders of the Langobardi assert "per Gambaram parentem suam pro quid exitus aut movicio seu visitatio eorum fuisset, deinter serpentibus parentes eorum breviati exissent,"​1 a rough and bloody and lawless progeny. But coming into the land of Italy they found it flowing with milk and honey, and, what is more, they found there the salvation of baptism, and receiving the marks of the Holy Trinity they were made of the number of the good. In them was fulfilled the saying, "Sin is  p147 not imputed where there is no law." At first they were ravening wolves, afterwards they became lambs feeding in the Lord's flock: therefore should great praise and thanks be brought to God who hath raised them from the dung-hill and set them in the number of the just, thereby fulfilling the prophecy of David, "He raiseth the needy from the dung-hill, and maketh him to sit with the princes of the earth." Thus did the aforesaid Gambara assert concerning them​2 (not prophesying things which she knew not, but, like the Pythoness or Sibyl,​3 speaking because a divine visitation moved her), that "the thorn should be turned into a rose." How this could be she knew not, unless it were shown to her by God.​4 She asserts, therefore, that they will go forth, moved not by necessity, nor by hardness of heart,​5 nor by the oppression of parents, but that they may obtain salvation from on high. It is a wonderful and unheard‑of thing to behold such salvation shining forth, when there was no merit in their parents, so that from among the sharp blades of the thorns the odorous flowers of the churches were found. Even as the compassionate Son of God had preached before, "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners" [to repentance]. These were they of whom the Saviour Himself spake in proverbs [parables] to the Jews, "I have other sheep, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring to seek for the living water." '

'§ 2. Here begins the origin and nation or parentage of the Langobardi, their going forth and their conversion, the wars and devastations made by their kings, and the countries which they laid waste.

There is a river which is called Vindilicus, on the extreme boundary of Gaul: near to this river was their first dwelling and possession. At first they were Winili by their own proper name and parentage: for, as Jerome​6 asserts, their name was afterwards changed into the common word Langobardi, by reason of their profuse and always unshaven beards. This aforesaid river Ligurius flows into the channels of the river Elbe, and  p148 loses its name.​7 After the Langobardi went forth, as has been before said (?), from the same shore, they placed their new habitations at first at Scatenauge on the shore of the river Elbe: then still fighting, they reached the country of the Saxons, the place which is called Patespruna, where, as our ancient fathers assert, they dwelt a long time, and they encountered wars and dangers in many regions. Here too they first raised over them a king named Agelmund. With him they began to fight their way back to their own portion in their former country, wherefore in Beovinidis they moved their army by the sound of clanging trumpets to their own property:​8 whence to the present day the house and dwelling of their king Wacho still appear as signs.​9 Then requiring a country of greater fertility, they crossed over to the province of Thrace, and fixed their inheritance in the country of the city (sic) of Pannonia.​10 Here they struggled with the Avars, and waging many wars with them with most ardent mind, they conquered Pannonia itself. And the Avars made with them a league of friendship, and for twenty‑two years they are said to have lived there.'

From this point to the accession of Rothari, A.D. 636, the text of the Codex Gothanus coincides very nearly with that of the Origo. It then proceeds as follows: —

'§ 7. Rothari reigned sixteen years: by whom laws and justice were begun for the Langobardi: and for the first time the judges went by a written code, for previously all causes were decided by custom (cadarfada) and the judge's will, or by ordeal (?) (ritus).​11 In the days of the same king Rothari, light arose in the darkness: by whom the aforesaid Langobardi  p149 directed their endeavours to the canonical rule,​12 and became helpers of the priests.'

[§ 8 contains the durations of the kings' reigns from Rodwald to Desiderius.]

'§ 9. Here was finished the kingdom of the Langobardi, and began the kingdom of Italy, by the most glorious Charles, king of the Franks, who, as helper and defender of lord Peter, the prince of the Apostles, had gone to demand justice for him from Italy. For no desire of gain caused him to wander, but he became the pious and compassionate helper of the good: and though he might have demolished all things, he became their clement and indulgent [preserver]. And in his pity he bestowed on the Langobardi the laws of his native land, adding laws of his own as he deemed fit for the necessities of the Langobardi: and he forgave the sins of innumerable men who sinned against him incessantly. For which Almighty God multiplied his riches a hundredfold. After he had conquered Italy he made Spain his boundary: then he subdued Saxony: afterwards he became lord of Bavaria, and over innumerable nations spread the terror of his name. But at last, as he was worthy of the Empire's honour, he obtained the Imperial crown; he received all the dignities of the Roman power, he was made the most dutiful son of lord Peter, the apostle, and he defended Peter's property from his foes. But after all these things he handed over the kingdom of Italy to his great and glorious son, lord Pippin, the great king, and as Almighty God bestowed the grace of fortitude on the father, so did it abound in the son, through whom the province of Thrace (!), together with the Avars, was brought into subjection to the Franks. They, the aforesaid Avars, who were sprung from a stock which is the root of all evil, who had ever been enemies of the churches and persecutors of the Christians, were, as we have said, by the same lord Pippin, to his own great comfort and that of his father, expelled and overcome: the holy churches were defended, and many vessels of the saints which those cruel and impious men had carried off were by the same defender restored to their proper homes. Then the cities of the Beneventan province, as they deserved for their violation of their  p150 plighted oath, were wasted and made desolate by fire, and their inhabitants underwent the capital sentence. After these things, he also went to Beowinidis (?) with his army and wasted it, and made the people of that land a prey, and carried them captive. Therefore also by his orders his army liberated the island of Corsica, which was oppressed by the Moors. At the present day by his aid Italy had shone forth as she did in the most ancient days. She has had laws, and fertility, and quietness, by the deserving of our lord [the Emperor], through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.'

The Author's Notes:

1 I cannot pretend to translate this sentence.

2 'Cum eisdem movita (?) adserebat.'

3 'Sed phitonissa inter Sibillae cognomina.'

4 'Nesciens in qualia, nisi divinandum perspicerit.'

5 I.e. not by oppressors driving them forth from their own land.

6 Really Isidore in his Etymologica, IX.226. I take the reference from Waitz.

7 'Hic supradictus Ligurius fluvius Albiae fluvii canalis inundans, et nomen finitur.' Evidently something is omitted, as the Ligurius has not been mentioned before.

8 'Unde in Beovinidis aciem et clauses (classes?) seu tuba clangencium ad suam proprietatem perduxerunt.' Quite untranslatable. See reference to Beowinidis in § 9.

9 'Unde usque hodie praesentem diem Wachoni regi eorum domus et habitatio apparet signa.' A most incomprehensible sentence: and why introduced here? Four kings are mentioned after this before Wacho appears on the scene.

10 'In Pannoniae urbis patriam suam hereditatem affixerunt.'

11 'Per quem leges et justiciam Langobardis est inchoata: et per conscriptionem primis judices percurrerunt: nam antea per cadarfada et arbitrio seu ritus fierunt causationes.'

12 'Ad cannonicam (sic) tenderunt certamina.'

[image ALT: Valid HTML 4.01.]

Page updated: 4 May 20