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Book VII
Chapter 3

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
Italy and Her Invaders

by
Thomas Hodgkin


2nd edition
Oxford University Press
London
1896

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

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!

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Book VII
Chapter 5

Book VII (continued)

Vol. VI
p148
Chapter IV

Theudelinda and her Children

 p149 

Authorities

Sources: —

For this part of the history Paulus, who has now lost the guidance of Secundus, is very arid and unsatisfactory. He frankly confesses that he knows nothing as to the reign of Ariwald; and he is not much better informed as to Adalwald and Rothari. Our chief source thus failing us, we have to eke out our information from the Liber Pontificalis (as critically edited by Abbé Duchesne), and from the chronicles of the so‑called Fredegarius. Some account has already been given of this chronicler, apparently a Burgundian ecclesiastic, who has in very uncouth fashion, and in even worse Latin than that of Gregory of Tours, sought to continue the work of that historian.1 In the first three books of his chronicles he is little more than a copyist, transcribing long passages from Jerome, Hippolytus, Idatius, Isidore, and Gregory of Tours. In the fourth book, however, which begins with the twenty-third year of King Guntram (583), he begins to write as a more independent historian, though even here it is thought that he had some short Burgundian annals before him. His history ends in 642, and he himself apparently died before 663. There is therefore reason to think that from about 631 onwards he speaks strictly as a contemporary; and ill‑informed and inaccurate as he often shows himself, this fact, in the great dearth  p150 of authorities for the seventh century, gives this part of his work a high value, and justifies us in sometimes preferring his authority to that of Paulus Diaconus, where the two seem to be in collision.

From a few quotations which I have given, the reader will see how low the standard of Latinity had sunk even among the ecclesiastics of Burgundy, itself one of the least barbarous regions of Gaul, by the middle of the seventh century.

Adalwald, 615‑624. His failure as a ruler. The story of the joint reign of Theudelinda and Adalwald, after the death of the strong and statesmanlike Agilulf, is obscure and melancholy. We might conjecture that we should find in it a repetition of the tragedy of Amalasuntha and her son; but there is no trace in our authorities of those domestic dissensions which brought the dynasty of Theodoric to ruin. Not apparently due to his mother's zeal against Arianism. We might also with more reason conjecture that the fervent zeal of Theudelinda for the Catholic faith provoked a reaction among her Arian subjects; and certainly the fact that the rival who succeeded in hurling Adalwald from his throne was a zealous Arian2 would lend some probability to the hypothesis. But though it is true that Paulus tells us that 'under this reign the churches were restored, and many gifts were bestowed on sacred places,' there is no evidence of anything like aggressive war being waged by the royal rulers against the Arian sect. On the contrary, we may still read a most curious letter in which Sisebut, king of the Visigoths, exhorts the young king to greater zeal in 'cutting off the putrid errors of the heretics by the knife of experience,' inveighing with  p151 all the zeal of a recent convert against the Arian contagion, and lamenting that so renowned a nation as the Lombards, so wise, so elegant, and so dignified, should sit down contented under the yoke of a dead and buried heresy.3 Of course it is possible that this and similar exhortations may have lashed the young ruler into a fury of persecution on behalf of the now fashionable orthodoxy, and that this may have been one of the things which cost him his crown; but our scanty historical evidence tells rather against than in favour of that suggestion. The historian of the Lombards distinctly attributes the fall of Adalwald to his own insanity.4 A strange but contemporary story connects that insanity in a mysterious way with the influence of the court of Ravenna; and this will therefore be a fitting place to piece together the scanty notices that we possess of the Byzantine governors of Imperial Italy during the first quarter of the seventh century.

Succession of Exarchs:
(Longinus, 567‑585.)
Smaragdus, 585‑589.
We have already seen how the ineffectual Longinus was superseded, probably in 585, and his place given to the energetic but hot‑headed Smaragdus; how Smaragdus, interfering too violently in the Istrian schism, was recalled in 589, Romanus, 589‑597 (?). and was succeeded by Romanus, the Exarch whose apparent indifference to the fate of Rome aroused the indignation of Pope Gregory; Callinicus, 597 (?)‑602. how, on the recall of Romanus, Callinicus succeeded to the government, and administered the  p152 affairs of Italy, generally in a friendly spirit to the Pope, from 597 to 602, and then, on the downfall of the Emperor Maurice, Smaragdus (second time), 602‑611. was superseded in favour of Smaragdus, who a second time sat as Exarch on the tribunal of Ravenna. The second administration of Smaragdus lasted in all probability from 602 to 611. Its chief political events, the dastardly abduction of the daughter of the Lombard king with her family, and the heavy price which the Empire had to pay for that blundering crime, in the loss of its last foothold in the valley of the Po, have already been related. One proof of Smaragdus' servile loyalty to the usurper Phocas (fitting master of such a man) has not been mentioned. Column of Phocas. All visitors to Rome know the lonely pillar with a Corinthian capital, which stands in the Forum, near the Arch of Severus, and which, when Byron wrote his fourth canto of 'Childe Harold,' was still

'the nameless column with the buried base.'

They know also how, in 1816, an English nobleman's wife5 caused the base to be unburied, and recovered the forgotten name. It was then found that the inscription on the base recorded the fact that Smaragdus, the Exarch of Italy, raised the column in honour of an Emperor whose innumerable benefits to an Italy, free and peaceful through his endeavours, were set forth in pompous terms. The Emperor's name had been obliterated by some zealous adherent of his successful rival; but there could be no doubt that the name which was originally engraved there in the year 608 was Phocas.

Not to Smaragdus himself was left the humiliating  p153 task of thus effacing the memorials of his former devotion to a base and cruel prince.6 It was on the 5th of October, 610, that the brave young African governor, Heraclius, was crowned as Emperor by the Patriarch of Constantinople, and it was probably early in the following year that Smaragdus was replaced for the last time, Joannes, 611‑616. and a new governor, Joannes,7 took his place. The five years of this Exarch's rule were  p154 marked by no brilliant achievement. He renewed the peace with Agilulf (probably from year to year);8 he saw probably the Lombard fugitives from the terrible Avar invasion of Istria sweep across the plain, but we hear nothing of this, and are told only of the disastrous termination of his rule. An insurrection seems to have taken place at Ravenna, and Joannes was killed in the tumult.9 Eleutherius, 616‑620. Eleutherius was appointed to succeed him; but when he arrived he found all his district in a flame, and the last remains of Imperial government in Italy apparently on the verge of ruin. Rebellion of Joannes Compsinus. For Joannes of Compsa,10 either a general in the Imperial army, or possibly a wealthy Samnite landowner11 (if any such men were still left in Italy), seeing the apparent dissolution of all the bonds of Imperial authority, took military possession of Naples, and declared himself — Emperor, Exarch, Duke, we know not what — but it was such an usurpation of authority as justified the chronicler from whom we get these facts in calling him 'tyrannus'.12 His usurped  p155 rule, however, lasted not long, for 'after not many days' we are told the Patrician Eleutherius expelled and slew him. On his march to the scene of conflict, the new Exarch had passed through Rome, and had there been graciously received by the reigning pontiff Deusdedit, from whose life we derive this information. After the Neapolitan revolt came a renewal of the Lombard war. Exploits of the Lombard general Sundrar. Agilulf was now dead, but Sundrar, the Lombard general, who had been thoroughly trained by Agilulf in all the arts of war, valiantly upheld the cause of his nation, and struck the Imperial armies with blow upon blow. At last the Exarch found himself obliged to sue for peace, but only obtained it on condition of punctually paying the yearly tribute of five hundredweight of gold (about £22,500 sterling), which (as we are now told) had been promised to Agilulf to induce him to raise the siege of Rome.13

Rebellion of Eleutherius. When peace was thus concluded with the Lombards, Eleutherius, who well knew the necessities of the Emperor Heraclius, at that time hard pressed by the Avars on the North, as well as by the Persians on the East, began to entertain treasonable thoughts of  p156 independent sovereignty. In the fourth year of his rule (619) he assumed the diadem and proclaimed himself Emperor. Though wielding the great powers of Exarch, he was himself but an Eunuch of the Imperial household.14 That such a man should aspire to be Emperor of the Romans seemed to bring back the shameful days of Eutropius and Arcadius. Eleutherius set forth from Ravenna at the head of his troops for Rome, intending probably to get himself crowned by the Pope,15 and to sit in what remained of the palace of the Caesars on the Palatine. But the ignominy of such a rule was too great even for the degenerate Byzantines who made up the 'Roman' army in the seventh century. When the Eunuch-Emperor had reached the village of Luceoli on the Flaminian Way (a few miles north of the place where his great prototype the Eunuch Narses won his victory over Totila), the soldiers revolted, and slew the usurping Exarch, whose head they sent as a welcome present to Constantinople.

Isaac the Armenian, 625 (?)‑644. The next Exarch of whom we have any certain and satisfactory information is Isaac the Armenian, but as he died in 644, and his epitaph records that he ruled Italy for eighteen years, we have about five years unaccounted for, between 620, when we may consider that a new Exarch in succession to Eleutherius would have arrived at Ravenna, and 626 (or rather, probably 625), when the rule of Armenian Isaac seems to have begun. Eusebius (?). It is possible that this gap should be filled by the name of a certain Eusebius, who comes before us  p157 as the representative of the Emperor in that dark, mysterious story to which I have already referred as containing almost our only information as to the causes of the fall of the young king, Adalwald. Story of the fall of Adalwald as told by 'Fredegarius,' 624. The story is thus delivered to us by the anonymous Burgundian historian who is conventionally known as 'Fredegarius.'16

'In that same fortieth year of Chlotharius [Chlotochar, king of the Franks, whose accession was in 584], Adloald, king of the Lombards, son of king Ago [Agilulf], after he had succeeded his father in the kingdom, received with kindness an ambassador of the Emperor Maurice,17 named Eusebius, who came to him in guile. Being anointed in the bath with certain unguents whose nature I know not, he thenceforward could do nothing else but follow the counsels of Eusebius. Under his persuasion he set himself to slay all the chief men and nobles in the kingdom of the Lombards, intending, when they were put out of the way, to hand over to the Empire himself and all the Lombard nation. But after he had thus slain with the sword twelve of their number for no fault assigned, the rest of the nobles, seeing that their life was in danger, chose Charoald [= Ariwald], duke of Turin, who had to wife Gundeberga, sister of King Adloald, and all the oldest and noblest of the Lombards conspiring in one design raised this man to the kingdom. King Adloald, having received poison, perished.'

Letter from Pope Honorius to Isaac. And at this point we get a side-light on these mysterious events from the correspondence in the Papal  p158 chancery. Pope Honorius I, who succeeded Boniface V in November, 625, addressed a letter, apparently in the early months of his pontificate,18 to Isaac, the new Exarch of Ravenna. In this letter19 the Pope says that he has learned with regret that some bishops in the regions beyond the Po have embraced the cause of the usurper so warmly that they have spoken most un‑episcopal words to Peter, son of Paul, declaring that they will take on their consciences the guilt of his perjury if he will agree with them not to follow Adulubald, but the tyrant Ariopalt.20 'The glorious Peter' (he is evidently some layman high in office) 'has scorned their words, and persists in holding fast the faith which he swore to Ago, father of the aforesaid Adulubald; but the crime of the bishops, whose advice should have been given on the other side to strengthen him in his observance of his oath, is none the less odious to the Pope'; and as soon as, by the decree of Providence, Adulubald has been restored to his kingdom, he desires the Exarch to send the offending bishops into the regions of Rome, that they may be dealt with according to their sins.'21

Death of Adalwald. But the pious hopes of Honorius for the triumph of the righteous cause were not fulfilled. King Adalwald died of poison, and a modern historian22 unkindly insinuates  p159 that the fatal draught was administered by order of Isaac, desirous to rid himself of a guest whose unwelcome presence at his court was certain to involve him in disputes with the new Lombard king. Of this, however, we have no hint in our authorities, and we must be careful not to record our imaginations as facts. Only so much can we safely say as to this mysterious passage in Lombard history, that the young king fell in some strange way under the power of a certain Eusebius, who is called an ambassador, but who may have been sent as an Exarch into Italy; that the voluptuary character of Roman civilization (not idle here is the allusion to the bath as the medium of enchantment) proved too much for the brain of the Teuton lad, who lent himself with fatuous readiness to all the sinister purposes of his treacherous friend.23 It was not a case of Catholic against Arian, otherwise the Transpadane bishops (though probably upholders of the Three Chapters) could hardly have supported so vigorously the cause of the usurper. But it probably was a plan such as Theodahad the Ostrogoth, Huneric the Vandal, Hermenigild the Visigoth, conceived, and such as very likely other weak-brained barbarian kings had often dallied with, of surrendering the national independence, and bartering a thorny crown for the fattened ease of a Byzantine noble. The plan, however, failed. Adalwald lost his crown and life. The Exarch Eusebius (if Exarch he were) was recalled to Constantinople, and succeeded by Armenian Isaac, and Ariwald, son-in‑law of Agilulf and Theudelinda, sat, apparently  p160 with the full consent of the people, on the Lombard throne. The chronology of all these events is somewhat uncertain; but on the whole it seems probable that the strife between Adalwald and his successor, if it began in 624, lasted for about two years, and that it was not till 626 that the death of the former left Ariwald unquestioned ruler of the Lombard people.

Silence of the historians as to Theudelinda's part in this revolution. And Theudelinda, the mother of the dethroned and murdered king, what was her part in the tragedy? It is impossible to say. No hint of interference by her for or against her unhappy son has reached our ears. If it be true, as 'Fredegarius' tells us, that the successful claimant was husband of her daughter, it is easy to conjecture the motives which may have kept her neutral in the strife. But she did not long survive her son. Her death, 628. On the 22nd of February, 628,24 the great queen passed away. She left her mark doubtless on many other Italian cities, but preeminently on the little town of Modicia (Monza), where she and her husband loved to spend the summer for the sake of the coolness which came to them from the melting snows of Monte Rosa. Here she built the palace on whose pictured walls were seen the Lombards in that Anglo-Saxon garb which they brought from their Pannonian home.25 Here, too, she reared a basilica in honour of John the Baptist, which she adorned with many precious ornaments of gold and silver, and enriched  p161 with many farms.26 The church has been more than once rebuilt, but there may perhaps still remain in it some portions of the original seventh-century edifice of Theudelinda, and in its sacristy are still to be seen not only the Iron Crown of the Lombards but the gold-handled comb of Theudelinda, and the silver-gilt effigies of a hen and chickens which once probably served as a centrepiece for her banquet table.27

Ariwald king of the Lombards, 626‑636. Of the ten years'28 reign of Ariwald after his rival's death Paulus honestly confesses that he has nothing to relate.29 We have again to draw on the inaccurate but contemporary historian 'Fredegarius' for information as to two events which made some stir in the court of Pavia during his reign, the degradation of a queen, and the murder of a Lombard duke.

Fredegarius' story of Queen Gundiperga and Taso 'duke of Tuscany.' Gundiperga30 (as Paulus calls the wife of Ariwald) was a lovely and popular queen, zealous for the faith, and abounding in works of charity to the poor. But there was a certain Lombard nobleman named Adalulf,  p162 who was frequently in the palace, being busied in the king's service; and of this man the queen in the innocence of her heart chanced one day to say that Adalulf was a man of goodly stature. The favoured courtier hearing these words, and misreading the queen's character, presumed to propose to her that she should be unfaithful to her marriage vow, but she indignantly scorned the proposal, and spat in the face of the tempter. Hereupon, fearing that his life would be in danger, Adalulf determined to be beforehand with his accuser, and charged the queen with having three days previously granted a secret interview to Taso, the ambitious duke of Tuscany, and having at that interview promised to poison her present husband, and raise Taso to the throne. Ariwald (or Charoald, as 'Fredegarius' calls him), believing the foul calumny, banished his queen from the court, and imprisoned her in a fortress at Lomello.

More than two years Gundiperga languished in confinement; then deliverance reached her from a perhaps unexpected quarter. Chlotochar II, king of the Franks, sent ambassadors to Ariwald, to ask why such indignities were offered to the Lombard queen, who was, as they said, a relation of the Franks.31 In reply  p163 Ariwald repeated the lies of Adalulf as if they were true. Then one of the Frankish ambassadors, Answald by name, suggested on his own account, that the judgment of God should be ascertained by two armed men fighting in the lists, and that the reputation of Gundiperga should be cleared or clouded according to the issue. The counsel pleased Ariwald and all the nobles of his court. The cause of Gundiperga was now taken up by her two cousins, Gundipert and Aripert (the sons of her mother's brother Gundwald), and, perhaps hired by them, an armed man named Pitto entered the lists against Adalulf. The queen's champion was victorious; her traducer was slain, and she, in the third year of her captivity, was restored to her royal dignity.

Ariwald and the Exarch Isaac conspire for the murder of Taso. But though King Ariwald was convinced that he had done his gentle queen injustice, his suspicion of the treasonable designs of the Tuscan Duke Taso remained, and was perhaps not without foundation. In the year 63132 he sent ambassadors to the patrician Isaac, asking him to kill Duke Taso by any means that were in his power. If the Exarch would confer this favour upon him, the Lombard king would remit one of the three hundred-weights of gold which the Empire was now by treaty bound to pay to him. The proposition stirred the avaricious soul of Isaac, who at once began to cast about for means to accomplish the suggested crime. He sent men to Taso, bearing this message: 'I know that you are out of favour with King Ariwald, but come to me and I will help  p164 you against him.' Too easily believing in the Exarch's goodwill, Taso set out for Ravenna, and with fatal imprudence left his armed followers outside the gate of the city. As soon as he was well within the walls, the assassins prepared for the purpose rushed upon him and slew him. News of the murder was brought to King Ariwald, who thereupon fulfilled his promise, and graciously consented to remit one third of the usual tribute 'to Isaac and the Empire.'33 Soon after these events34 King Ariwald died.

No doubt there are some improbabilities in the story thus told by 'Fredegarius' as to the murder of Taso, and possibly Pabst is right in rejecting it altogether.35 The name and the circumstances look suspiciously like a repetition of the story told by Paulus of the assassination of Taso of Friuli,36 and the title 'Dux Tusciae' is almost certainly wrong, for, at any rate a little later on, there was more than one duke in 'Tuscia.'37 On the other hand, it is possible that two men of the name of Taso (not an uncommon name among the Lombards) may have been murdered by a treacherous Roman governor, and it is also possible, if the two stories describe the same event, that the contemporary though alien 'Fredegarius' may have heard a more correct version than the native but much later historian Paulus.

Gundiperga weds Rothari and raises him to the throne. On the death of Ariwald, if we may trust 'Fredegarius', the precedent set in the case of Theudelinda  p165 was repeated, and the widowed queen was asked to decide for the Lombard nation as to his successor. Her choice fell on Rothari,38 duke of Brescia, whom she invited to put away his wife and to be joined with her in holy matrimony. Rothari swore by all the saints to love and honour Gundiperga alone, and thereupon by unanimous consent of the nobles was raised to the throne. Both queen and nobles, however, if 'Fredegarius' is to be believed, had soon reason to repent of their choice. He drew tight the reins of discipline (which had probably been relaxed under the reign of the usurper Ariwald), and, 'in pursuit of peace,' struck terror into the hearts of the Lombards, and slew many of the nobles, whom he perceived to be contumacious.39 Forgetful also of his solemn promises to Gundiperga, and perhaps partly influenced by dislike to her Catholic ways (he being himself an Arian), he confined her in one little room in the palace of Pavia, and forced her to live there in privacy, whilst he himself held high revel with his concubines. She however, 'as she was a Christian woman,' blessed God even in this tribulation, and devoted herself continually to fasting and prayer. The chronicler makes no mention of the earlier divorced wife of Rothari, but one would fain hope that the remembrance of that injured woman's wrongs helped to reconcile Gundiperga to her  p166 own fate, and gave reality and truth to her words of penitence. At length, after five years of seclusion, an embassy from the Frankish king, Clovis II,40 again brought the wrongs of this 'relation of the Franks' before the notice of the Lombard ruler. Again the Frankish intercession prevailed, and Gundiperga, being brought forth from her seclusion, wore once more her regal ornaments, and sat in the high seat by the side of her lord. All the farms and other possessions of the royal fisc belonging to her, which had been apparently impounded during her seclusion, were restored to her, and to the day of her death she lived in queenly splendour and opulence. Aubedo, the Frankish ambassador who had so successfully pleaded her cause, received in secret large rewards from the restored queen.41 This is the last that we hear of Queen Gundiperga, who probably died somewhere about the middle of the seventh century. As her mother had done at Monza, so she at Pavia reared a basilica in honour of St. John the Baptist, which she adorned with lavish wealth of gold and silver and precious vestments. There too, her corpse was interred.

The careers of these two women, mother and daughter, Theudelinda and Gundiperga, present some  p167 points of resemblance and some of striking contrast. Each was twice married to a Lombard king; each was entrusted by the nation with the choice of a successor to the throne; one saw a son exiled and slain, the other a brother; each was the Catholic wife of an Arian husband, but one apparently preserved to her death the unswerving loyalty of the Lombard people, while the other had twice to undergo imprisonment, and once at least the stabs of cruel calumny. Their united lives extended from Alboin to Rothari, from the first to the last Arian king of Italy, and covered the whole period of an important ecclesiastical revolution — the conversion of the Lombards to the Catholic form of Christianity.

We have hitherto seen only the unfavourable side of the character of Gundiperga's second husband. We may now listen to the more favourable testimony of Paulus, who says,42

Rothari's character as pourtrayed by Paulus. 'The kingship of the Lombards was assumed by Rothari, by birth an Arodus. He was a man of strong character, and one who followed the path of justice, though he held not the right line of the Christian faith, His Arianism. being stained by the infidelity of the Arian heresy. For in truth the Arians, to their own great harm and loss, assert that the Son is inferior to the Father, and the Holy Spirit inferior to the Father and the Son; but we Catholics confess the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit to be one true God in three persons, with equal power and the same glory. At this time in almost all the cities of the realm there were two bishops, one a Catholic, the other an Arian. In the city of Ticinum the place  p168 is still shown where the Arian bishop had his baptistery, residing near the basilica of St. Eusebius, while another bishop resided at the Catholic church. However, the Arian bishop who was in that city, Anastasius by name, being converted to the Catholic faith, afterwards ruled the Church of Christ. His legislation. This King Rothari arranged in a series of writings the laws of the Lombards, which they were retaining only in memory and by practice, and ordered that the Edict thus prepared should be called a Code.43 But it was now the seventy-seventh44 year since the Lombards had come into Italy, as the same king has testified in the prologue to his edict.'

Rothari's conquests in the Riviera and Venetia. 'Now King Rothari took all the cities of the Romans which are situated on the sea‑coast from Luna in Tuscany up to the boundary of the Franks. In the same way also took and destroyed Opitergium [Oderzo], a city placed between Treviso and Friuli; and with the Romans of Ravenna he waged war at the river of Aemilia, which is called Scultenna [Panaro]. In which war 8000 fell on the side of the Romans, the rest taking flight.'45

It is evident that we are here listening to the exploits of one who, however harsh a ruler either of his nobles or of his wife, did at least know how to rule successfully. His conquests from the Empire are hardly less extensive than those of Agilulf. Genoa and the coast of the Riviera ('di Ponente' and 'di  p169 Levante') are wrested finally from the grasp of Constantinople. Oderzo is taken, its walls are demolished. So must we understand the word used by Paulus in this place,46 since the utter destruction of Opitergium47 is placed by him about twenty-five years later, and is attributed to another king of the Lombards, Grimwald.48 Finally, Rothari wins a great victory over the forces of the Exarch on the banks of the river which flows past Modena, and perhaps at the very point where it intersects the great Emilian highway.

Rothari's victories over Isaac of Armenia. These victories were probably won at the expense of Isaac of Armenia, whose eighteen years' tenure of the Exarchate (626‑644) included one half of the reign of Rothari. Visitors to Ravenna may still see the stately sarcophagus of this Byzantine governor of fragments of Italy, which is placed in a little alcove behind the church of S. Vitale. Isaac's epitaph. Upon the tomb is carved an inscription in twelve rather halting Greek iambics, with a poor modern Latin translation. The inscription may be rendered into English thus: —

'A noble general here is laid to rest,

Who kept unharmed Rome and the Roman West.

For thrice six years he served his gentle lords,

Isaac, ally of kings, this stone records.

The wide Armenia glories in his fame,

For from Armenia his high lineage came.

Nobly he died. The sharer of his love,

The chaste Susanna, like a widowed dove

Will spend her rest of life in ceaseless sighs.

She mourns, but his long toil hath won his prize,

Glory alike in East and Western land,

For either army owned his strong command.'

 p170  It is not difficult to read through the conventional phrases of this vapid epitaph the unsuccessful character of Isaac's Exarchate. Had there been any gleam of victory over the Lombard army, the inscription would have been sure to record it. As it is, the utmost that can be said of him is that he 'kept Rome and the West unharmed,' but if our reading of his history be correct, he probably kept the beautiful Riviera unravaged by surrendering it to the enemy.

Events of Isaac's Exarchate. Some of the events of Isaac's government of Italy, to which his epitaph makes no allusion, are brought before us by the meagre narratives of the Papal biographer.49

Death of Pope Honorius, October 10, 638. It was in 638, six years before the death of Isaac, that his old correspondent, Pope Honorius, died. A Roman ecclesiastic, Severus, was chosen as his successor, and the Exarch, who had at this time the right of approval of the Papal election, Strange proceedings of the Chartularius Maurice at Rome, 638. sent the Chartularius,50 Maurice (by whose advice, we are told, he wrought much evil), as his representative to Rome. Maurice, taking counsel with some ill‑disposed persons, stirred up 'the Roman army' (that is, probably, the civic militia) by an inflammatory harangue concerning the wealth of the Papacy. Pointing to the episcopal palace of the Lateran, he exclaimed, 'What marvel that you are poor when in that building is the hoarded wealth of Honorius, to whom the Emperor, time after time, sent your arrears of pay, which he, holy man  p171 that he was, heaped up in the treasure-chambers of yon stately palace.' At these words burning resentment against the Church filled all hearts, and the whole body of citizens, from the greybeard down to the stripling, rushed with arms in their hands to the Lateran palace. They were, however, unable to force an entrance, so strongly was it guarded by the adherents of Severus. For three days the armed band besieged the Lateran, and at the end of that time Maurice, having persuaded the 'Judges' (that is, the civil authorities of the City) to accompany him, claimed and obtained admission to the palace. Then he sealed up all the rich vestments which he found in the Church's wardrobe and all the treasures of the Lateran palace, 'which Emperors, Patricians and Consuls had left, for the redemption of their souls, to the Apostle Peter, to be employed in almsgiving and the redemption of captives.' Having done this, he wrote to the Exarch Isaac that all was ready and he might now come and help himself at his leisure to the splendid spoil. Isaac's spoliation of the Lateran. Soon Isaac arrived, and immediately banished the leading clergy to various cities of Italy. Having thus disarmed ecclesiastical opposition, he proceeded to take up his dwelling in the Lateran palace, where he abode eight days, calmly appropriating its wealth of centuries. To the indignant members of the Papal household the spoliation must have seemed not less cruel and even more scandalous (as being wrought in the name of a Roman Emperor) than that celebrated fortnight of plunder when Gaiseric and his Vandals stripped the gilded tiles from the roof of the Capitol. Part of the booty Maurice sent to Heraclius, thus making the Emperor an accomplice in his deed. The  p172 soldiers may have received their arrears of pay out of the proceeds of the plunder, but assuredly no contemptible portion found its way to the Exarch's palace at Ravenna, whence it may have been transported by the widowed dove Susanna, after her husband's death, to their Armenian home.

Papal succession: Severinus, 640; John IV, 640‑642; Theodore, 642‑649. Pope Severinus, after this act of spoliation, was installed by the Exarch in St. Peter's chair, but died little more than two months after his elevation.51 Another short pontificate52 followed, and then Theodore succeeded to the Papacy — a Greek by birth, but as stout as any Roman for the defence of the Roman see against the Patriarchs of Constantinople. In his pontificate Isaac and Maurice reappear upon the scene in changed characters. Rebellion of Maurice, 643 (?). The Chartularius again visited Rome, again allied himself with the men who had helped him in his raid upon the treasures of the Church, and persuaded the soldiers in the City and the surrounding villages to swear fidelity to him and renounce their allegiance to Isaac, whom he accused of seeking to establish an independent throne. The Exarch, however, whether loyal or not to the Emperor, showed himself able to cope with his own rebellious subordinate. He sent Donus the Magister Militum and his treasurer to Rome, doubtless with a considerable body of troops. At once all the 'Judges' and  p173 the Roman militia, who had just sworn fealty to Maurice, struck with fear, abandoned his cause and gave in their adhesion to his enemy. On this Maurice fled for refuge to the church of S. Maria Maggiore,53 but being either forced or enticed from that sanctuary was sent, with all his accomplices, heavily chained with collars of iron,54 to Ravenna. By the Exarch's orders, however, he was not suffered to enter the city, but was beheaded at a place twelve miles distant,55 and his head, the sight of which gladdened the heart of the Armenian, was exhibited in the circus of Ravenna. His followers, with the iron collars still round their necks,56 were led away into strict confinement while Isaac revolved in his mind the question of their punishment. Death of Isaac. But before he had decided on their fate, he himself died, 'smitten by the stroke of God,' and the liberated captives returned to their several homes. Theodore Calliopas Exarch, 644‑646 and 653‑664. Isaac was succeeded in the Exarchate by Theodore Calliopas, who was twice the occupant of the palace at Ravenna. In his second tenure of office Italy witnessed strange scenes — the banishment of a Pope and the arrival of an Emperor; but the description of these events must be reserved for a future chapter.


The Author's Notes:

1 Not omitting, however, to begin from the Creation of the World.

2 This is stated by the contemporary monk, Jonas, in his life of Bertulf, second abbot of Bobbio. I owe the quotation to Abel (Essay on Das Christenthum bei den Langobarden, appended to his translation of Paulus, p246).

3 This odd effusion of newly-born Catholic zeal is to be found in Troya, I.571‑576.

4 'Sed dum Adaloald eversa mente insaniret postquam cum matre decem regnaverat annis de regno ejectus est, et a Langobardis in ejus loco Arioald substitutus est' (Paulus, H. L. IV.41).

5 The Duchess of Devonshire.

6 The following is the text of the inscription on the column of Phocas, as given by Canina, I.191:º —

(opt)imo · clementis(simo) · (piissi)moque

principi · domino · (n · focae · Imperator)i

perpetuo · a · D(e)o · coronato · triumphatori

semper · Augusto

Smaragdus · ex · praepos · sacri · palatii

ac · patricius · et · exarchus · Italiae

devotus · ejus · clementiae

pro · innumerabilibus · pietatis · ejus

beneficiis · et · pro · quiete

procurata · Ital · ac · conser(vat)a · libertate

hanc · st(atuam · majesta)tis · ejus

aurisplend(ore · fulgen)tem · huic

sublimi · colu(m)n(ae ad) perennem

ipsius · gloriam · imposuit · ac · dedicavit ·

Die · prima · mensis · Augusti · indict. · und

P.C. · pietatis · ejus · anno · quinto (?)

The chronology seems to require 'quarto' instead of 'quinto.' It will be seen that the column was surmounted by a gilded statue of Phocas.

7 This governor (whose name is given us by the Liber Pontificalis, and confirmed by Marini's Papiri Diplomatici, 123) is generally called by modern writers Lemigius Thrax. I speak doubtfully of a negative proposition, but it seems to me that there is no other authority for this name than the sixteenth-century writer Rubeus, in his History of Ravenna (p198). Rubeus has a provoking habit of making assertions of this kind without quoting the source of his information, and till I find some better authority than his, I prefer to leave 'Lemigius Thrax' out of my history. I see that Diehl (Études sur l'Administration Byzantine, p173, n. 2) is of the same opinion. He puts Lemigius in brackets.

8 Paulus only mentions one renewal (H. L. IV.40).

9 We get a hint of this fact from the Liber Pontificalis: 'Eodem tempore veniens Eleutherius Patricius et Cubicularius Ravenna [sic] et occidit omnes qui in nece Joannis Exarchi et Judicibus [sic] Reipublicae fuerant mixti' (Vita Deusdedit, p319, ed. Duchesne). This certainly looks like a popular insurrection, but does not justify us in positively asserting the fact. The reading 'Judicibus' in the plural, however ungrammatical the construction of the sentence, certainly favours that hypothesis.

10 Now Conza, about sixty miles due east of Naples. (See vol. V p47.)

11 This is Muratori's view, confirmed by Weise (p275).

12 See Liber Pontificalis: 'Hic (Eleutherius) venit Roma et susceptus est a sanctissimo Deusdedit Papa optime: qui egressus de Roma venit Neapolim qui [sic] tenebatur a Joanne Campsino intarta (?). Qui pugnando Eleutherius patricius ingressus est Neapolim et interfecit tyrannum. Reversus est Ravennam et datâ rogâ militibus pax facta est in tota Italia' (loc. cit.). 'Intarta,' which occurs again in the next life, applied to Eleutherius, seems to mean 'usurper.'

13 'Eraclius Eleutherium ad tuendam partem Italiae, quam nondum Langobardi occupaverunt, mittit. . . . Eleutherius adversus Langobardos saepe inito bello vincitur per Sundrarium maxime Langobardorum ducem, qui apud Agilulfum bellicis rebus instructus erat. Animum amiserat Eleutherius et cum saepe suorum ruinam cerneret, pacem cum Langobardis facit, eâ tamen conditione, ut quinque centenaria, quae dudum, cum ad obsidendam Romam Agilulfus rex venisset, per singulos annos dare Langobardis statuerant persolverent Romani' (Prosperi Contin. Havniensis).

14 Doubtless this is the meaning of 'Eleutherius patricius eunuchus' in the Liber Pontificalis.

15 Boniface V (619‑625), successor to Deusdedit.

16 IV.49, 50.

17 This is a dismal blunder. Maurice was killed in the year 602, twenty‑two years before the time of which the chronicler is here speaking.

18 Jaffé and Ewald assign this letter of Honorius I to December, 625.

19 Copied by Troya, IV.1.591.

20 The reader will observe what trouble these Lombard names gave to the scribes in the Papal chancery.

21 'Cum nutu supernae virtutis Adulubaldus in suum regnum fuerit restitutus, praefatos Episcopos in Romanas partes adjuvante vos Deo destinare dignamini, quia hujusmodi scelus nulla patiemur ratione inultum.'

22 Weise, p284.

23 A modern student of mental disease would perhaps see in the story of Adalwald an instance of crimes committed by 'suggestion.'

24 Possibly 627; but on the whole the inscription, which assigns her death to the year 628, and which a certain Tristan Calchus asserts that he saw in ancient letters on the wall of a church in Monza (he says Moguntiacae, but evidently means Modoetiensis), seems to be the best information that we have on the subject. See Troya, IV.2.1, and Weise, p285.

25 See vol. V p154.

26 Paulus, H. L. IV.21.

27 Mr. Lund, in his book, 'Como and the Italian Lake-land,' p91, says, 'There is a tradition that after her patriotic labours Theudelinda sought rest, and at last ended her days in the old castle which crowns the hill beyond Varenna' (on Lake Como); I give the tradition, to be taken for what it is worth.

Thayer's Note: Vezio castle at Perledo di Varenna. For the time being, I can trace the legend no farther back than to the Larius of Anton Gioseffo della Torre di Rezzonico, of an old noble family and a native of Como, who in the great Italian tradition of the "storici locali" has left us, many erudite writings, for the most part about the Como area and still in manuscript. The story is apparently among the excerpts from them published by M. Gianoncelli in Il Lario (Como, 1966).

28 Paulus (H. L. IV.42) gives Ariwald twelve years, and the VII attributed to him in one MS. of the Origo (§ 6) are probably a corruption of XII. But as Rothari's reign was undoubtedly begun not later than 636, these twelve years are probably reckoned from 624, the date of the first elevation of Ariwald.

29 'De cujus gestis ad nostram notitiam aliquid minime pervenit' (H. L. IV.41).

30 Fredegarius (IV.51) calls her Gundeberga. We notice the Lombard tendency to sharpen molles into tenues.

31 'Parentem Francorum.' It is not very easy to see how this claim of Frankish kinship for Gundiperga was made out. True, her grandmother Walderada had been the wife of two Frankish kings, Theudebald I and Chlotochar I, but she had apparently no issue by either. The father of Theudelinda, as it is pretty clearly proved, was Garibald, duke of the Bavarians. Possibly he was of Frankish origin, or the above-named marriage of Walderada, though fruitless of issue, may have been considered to entitle her children, even by another husband, to claim kindred with Frankish royalty. See Weise, pp104‑112, where the subject is discussed at considerable length.

32 The ninth year of the Frankish king Dagobert I (counting from his accession, and not from his father's death). (Fred. IV.67‑9.)

33 'Partibus Isaciae et emperiae.'

34 Five years, if our chronology be correct.

35 Geschichte des Langobardischen Herzogthums, p430.

36 See p59.

37 Dukes of Lucca and Clusium.

38 Called by 'Fredegarius' Chrothacharius and Chrotharius, nearly the same name as that of the Frankish kings.

39 'Chrotharius cum regnare cepissit multus nubilium Langobardorum, quos sibi sinserat contomacis interfecit. Chrotharius fortissemam disciplinam et timorem in omnem regnum Langobardorum pacem sectans fecit' (Fredegarius, IV.70). I leave Fredegarius' grammar and spelling as I find them.

40 Son of Dagobert I, grandson of Chlotochar II.

41 In the passage of 'Fredegarius' (IV.71) which gives us this information we are told that the Frankish ambassador arrived at 'Papia coinomento (cognomine) Ticino, civitatem Aetaliae (Italiae).' If I am not mistaken, 'Fredegarius' is the earliest author who mentions Ticinum by its modern name Papia (= Pavia). The editor of 'Fredegarius' (Bruno Krusch) makes the obvious suggestion that this story looks like a mere repetition of that previously told as to Gundiperga's disgrace during the reign of her first husband. But, on the other hand, it is possible that both events actually occurred.

42 H. L. IV.42.

43 'Hic Rothari rex Langobardorum leges quas solâ memoriâ et usu retinebant, scriptorum serie composuit codicemque ipsum edictum appellari praecepit.'

44 Really the seventy-sixth year, according to the MSS. of the Edict and the true chronology.

45 H. L. IV.42‑45.

46 'Diruit.'

47 'Funditus destruxit.'

48 H. L. V.28.

49 'Liber Pontificalis' in Vitis Severini et Theodori.

50 Diehl (Administration Byzantine, 155) discusses at some length the functions of the Chartularius, but is obliged to leave the problem unsolved. Evidently this Chartularius was a man in high office.

51 The long interval (one year, seven months, and seventeen days) between the death of Honorius and the installation of his successor was perhaps due to negotiations with Constantinople about the Monothelete controversy, as well as to the troubles described above. It is interesting to read in the Liber Pontificalis that Pope Severinus renewed the mosaics in the apse of St. Peter's.

52 That of John IV (640‑642).

53 'Fugit ad Beatam Mariam ad Praesepe.' I cannot explain this addition to the name of the church.

Thayer's Note: A curious blind spot on Hodgkin's part, repaired by the time he got to writing the next volume (VIII.176, n.). There has been a Chapel of the Manger (Cappella del Presepio) in the basilica of St. Mary Major for centuries, now usually called the Chapel of the Nativity, for which Arnolfo di Cambio carved a very famous group of statues in the 13c; the chapel houses a reliquary, the Holy Crib, containing several boards felt to be part of Jesus's crib, brought to Rome by Pope Theodore I (642‑649), thus at precisely this time. My translation would thus be, "He fled to the church of Saint Mary, to [Christ's] Crib."

54 'Miserunt bojam in collum ejus' (Lib. Pont.).

55 Called Ficulae.

56 'Imbojati.'


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