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Bill Thayer

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Book VI
Chapter 4

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.
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Book VI
Note D

Vol. IV
Note C
On the forms Langobardi and Lombardi

It seems not worth while to encumber the text by the constant repetition of a long and somewhat uncouth race-name, but the reader is asked to remember that in strictness the form Langobardi should be preserved all through these volumes. It was the only form known to Paulus, to Charles the Great, and (I think we may safely say) through the whole of the ninth and tenth centuries. At the end of twelfth century we find the forms Lombardi and Lombardia in frequent use, but generally, if not always, with reference to the Northern portion of Italy, which is still called Lombardy. Thus the transition from the longer to the shorter form (itself only a symptom of the general breaking down of Latin into the 'volgare'), seems to mark rather a geographical than a historical change of idea. This comes out very clearly in the 'Brevissima de Langobardis Notitia' (Scriptores Rerum Langobardicarum apud M. G. H., p602): 'Hii dicti sunt Langobardi a longis barbis, quas qui non habebant ex capillis mulierum sibi faciebant (!). Capta autem patria, tres reges super se statuerunt sub Albino monarchia quorum primus in Aquilegia, secundus in Ravenna (!), et tertius in Papia regnavit, tenueruntque terram annis tribus vel citra, et facti sunt katolici omnes (!): expuleruntque consules Romanorum ab omnibus finibus Lombardie, et ex suis turmis forciora loca impleverunt, legesque constituerunt perpetuis temporibus conservandas. Nec solum terram que hodie Lombardie dicitur, sed eciam montes transierunt Apennini, Romamque sibi tributariam fecerunt (!) et usque ad regnum Calabrie suos terminos statuerunt.' Notwithstanding the many blunders made by this late writer (Waitz assigns to him the date 1391), he has got hold of one fact rightly, 'The Langobardi invaded Italy, and conquered far more than the region which we now call Lombardia.'

When the change from Langobardia to Lombardia began to be made, it might be difficult to determine, but the authorities seem to point to the end of the tenth century. In the Catalogus  p175 Regum Langobardorum (Scriptores Rerum Langobardicarum, ubi supra, pp491‑497), which comes down to 931, the form used is Langobardi; but an addition, evidently by a later hand, brings down the list of Emperors to Henry the Second; and this addition, dealing with the events of 1002 in language which looks like that of a contemporary, describes the elevation of Ardoin as king of Italy, his strife with Henry, duke of Bavaria, the elevation of the latter to the Imperial throne, and his arrival in Italy. 'Et omnes Lambardi mentiti sunt Arduini regis et subdiderunt se Henrici regis. Et ipse applicuit usque urbem Papia et igne cremavit eam, et sic reversus est in Totonicum (Teutonicum) Regnum suum.' In the account of the same transactions given by Arnulfus of Milan​1 (circa 1085) the form used is still Langobardi.

In the Brevis Historia of Ariprand (Script. R. L. pp592‑596), attributed by Waitz to the beginning of the twelfth century, the MSS. use the forms Longobardi, Longobardia; but a certain Johannes Codagnellus, who copied and slightly expanded Ariprand's work, and who wrote in the thirteenth century, always changes these into Lombardi, Lombardia.

The great wars of the Lombard League with Frederic Barbarossa (1167‑1183) perhaps helped to accustom the minds of men to the shorter form of the name. That League is always spoken of as Lombardorum Societas by the Cardinal of Arragon in his Life of Pope Alexander III. Upon the whole, we may probably say that up to the year 1000 the only forms known to literature were Langobardi and Longobardi; that from 1000 to 1200 was the period of transition; and that after 1200 Lombardi was the form naturally used except by those who wished to write archaically.

The Author's Note:

1 I.14 (apud Muratori R. I. S. IV.12).

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