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Book VII
Note B

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 VII
Chapter 8

Book VII (continued)

Vol. VI
Chapter VII

The Bavarian Line Restored

p301 Authorities

Sources: —

Our only source for this part of the history is Paulus Diaconus. I have not met with any guide.

Perctarit (672‑688)

Return of Perctarit, 672. King Grimwald died, leaving a grown‑up son Romwald, his successor in the duke of Benevento, and a child Garibald, the nominal king of the Lombards under the regency of his mother, the daughter of king Aripert. It was not to be expected, however, that the banished Perctarit would tamely acquiesce in his exclusion from the throne by his sister's infant son: and in fact, if the story told by Paulus is true, he appeared upon the scene even sooner than men had looked for him. One of the latest acts of Grimwald's reign had been to conclude a treaty of alliance with the king of the Franks,​1 and a chief article of that treaty had been the exclusion of Perctarit from  p302 the Frankish realms. The hunted exile had accordingly taken ship for 'the kingdom of the Saxons' (that is to say, probably the coasts of Kent), but had only proceeded a short distance on his voyage when a voice was heard from the Frankish shore, enquiring whether Perctarit was on board. Receiving an affirmative answer, the voice proceeded, 'Tell him to return into his own land, since it is now the third day since Grimwald perished from the sunlight.' Hearing this, Perctarit at once returned to the shore, but found no one there who could tell him anything concerning the death of Grimwald, wherefore he concluded that the voice had been that of no mortal man, but of a Divine messenger. Returning in all haste to his own land, he found the Alpine passes filled with a brilliant throng of courtiers surrounded by a great multitude of Lombards, all expecting his arrival. He marched straight to Pavia, and in the third month after the death of Grimwald was hailed as king by all the Lombards. The child Garibald was driven forth, and we hear no more of the further fortunes of him or of his mother. Rodelinda, the wife of Perctarit, and Cunincpert his son, were at once sent for from Benevento. Romwald seems to have given them up without hesitation, and to have peaceably acquiesced in the reign of the restored Perctarit, whose daughter eventually married his eldest son.

Reign of Perctarit, 672‑688. For about seventeen years did 'the beloved Perctarit' rule the Lombard state; a man of comely stature, full habit of body, gentle temper, kind and affable to all, and with a remarkable power (attested in the history of his wanderings) of attaching to  p303 himself the affections of those beneath him in station. He was a devout Catholic, and one of the first acts of his reign was to build and richly endow a convent for nuns called the 'New Monastery​2 of St. Agatha,' in that part of Pavia which adjoins the walls whence he had made his memorable escape. Queen Rodelinda also built a basilica in honour of the Virgin outside the walls of Pavia, which she adorned 'with many wonderful works of art,' of all which unfortunately not a trace now remains.3

The only exception that we can find to the generally mild character of Perctarit's rule is his treatment of the Jewish people. Like the Visigoths, the Lombards would seem to have written their adhesion to their new faith in the blood and tears of the Hebrew. We learn from the rude poem on the Synod of Pavia that Perctarit caused the Jews to be baptized, and ordered all who refused to believe to be slain with the sword.4

 p304  Association of Cunincpert, 680. In the eighth year of his reign Perctarit associated with himself his son Cunincpert, with whom he reigned jointly for more than eight years.5

The only break in the generally peaceful and prosperous reign of Perctarit was caused by the seditious movements of Alahis, Duke of Trient, who for some years was a great troubler of the Lombard commonwealth. This Alahis had met in battle and signally defeated the count or gravio of the Bavarians, who ruled Botzen and the neighbouring towns.​6 Rebellion of Alahis, duke of Trient. Elated by this victory he rebelled against the gentle Perctarit, shut himself up in Tridentum, and defied his sovereign. The king marched into the valley of the Adige and commenced a formal siege, but in a sudden sally Alahis broke up his camp, and compelled him to seek safety in flight. No victory after this seems to have restored the honour of the king's arms, but by the intervention of the young Cunincpert the rebel duke was induced to come in and seek to be reconciled to his lord. Not forgiveness only, but a great increase of the power of Alahis was eventually the result of this reconciliation. More than once had Perctarit decided to put him to death, but he relented, and at the earnest request of Cunincpert (who pledged himself for the future fidelity of his friend), the great and wealthy city of Brescia, full of noble Lombard families, was added to the duchy of Alahis. Even in complying with this often-urged request, Perctarit told his  p305 son that he was compassing his own ruin in thus strengthening a man who would assuredly one day seek to upset his throne.7

Death and burial of Perctarit, 688 (?). The kings of the Bavarian line appear to have been great builders. About this time Perctarit built, 'with wonderful workman­ship,' a great gate to the city of Pavia, which was called Palatiensis, because it adjoined the royal palace. And when, soon after, his time came to die, he was laid near the church of the Saviour which his father Aripert had builded in Pavia.

Cunincpert (688‑700),

Reign of Cunincpert, 688‑700. who had already, as we have seen ruled for some years jointly with his father, was now sole king, and his reign lasted till the end of the century. A strangely compounded character, this large-limbed muscular man, of amorous temperament, and apt to tarry too long over the wine‑cup, was also apparently a devout Catholic, a friend of the rulers of the Church, an 'elegant' man, and famous for his good deeds.​8 He had married a Saxon princess named Hermelinda, probably a relative of the king of Kent, in whose dominions he had been on the point of taking refuge.9  p306  Affair of Theodote. Hermelinda, who had seen in the bath a young maiden of the noblest Roman ancestry, named Theodote, incautiously praised in her husband's presence her comely figure and luxuriant growth of flaxen hair, descending almost to her feet.​10 Cunincpert listened with well-dissembled eagerness, invited his wife to join him in a hunting expedition to the 'City' forest in the neighbourhood of Pavia, returned by night to the capital, and gratified his unhallowed passion. How long the intrigue lasted or by what means it was brought to a close we are not told, but when it was ended, he sent her to a convent at Pavia, which long after bore her name.11

Usurpation of Alahis. It was apparently soon after Cunincpert's accession that that 'son of wickedness,'12 Alahis, forgetful of the great benefits which he had received from the king, forgetful of his old intercession on his behalf, and of  p307 the faith which he had sworn to observe towards him, began to plot his overthrow. Two brothers, powerful citizens of Brescia, Aldo and Grauso, and many other Lombards, entered into the plot, for which, doubtless, there was some political pretext, perhaps Cunincpert's inefficiency as a ruler, perhaps his drunken revelries, perhaps his too great devotion to the interests of the Church. Whatever the cause, Alahis entered Pavia during Cunincpert's temporary absence from his capital, and took possession of his palace and his throne. When tidings of the revolt were brought to Cunincpert, he fled without striking a blow to that 'home of lost causes,' the island on Lake Como, and there fortified himself against his foe.

His insulting conduct to the clergy. Great was the distress among all the friends and adherents of the fugitive king, but pre‑eminently among the bishops and priests of the realm, when they learned that Alahis, who was a notorious enemy of the clergy, was enthroned in the palace at Pavia. Still, desiring to be on good terms with the new ruler, Damian, the bishop of the city, sent a messenger, the deacon Thomas, a man of high repute for learning and holiness, to give him the episcopal blessing. The deacon was kept waiting for some time outside the gates of the palace; he received a coarse and insulting message from its occupant; and when at last admitted to his presence, he was subjected to a storm of invective which showed the deep hatred of the clerical order that burned in the heart of Alahis. That hatred was mutual, and the bishops and priests of the realm, dreading the cruelty of the new ruler, longed for the return of the banished Cunincpert.

Aldo and Grauso conspire against Alahis. At length the overthrow of the tyrant came from  p308 an unexpected quarter. Alahis was one day counting out his money on a table, while a little boy, son of his Brescian adherent Aldo, was playing about in the room. A golden Tremissis13 fell from the table and was picked up by the boy, who brought it to Alahis. The surly-tempered tyrant, little thinking that the child would understand him, growled out, 'Many of these has thy father had from me, which he shall pay me back again soon, if God will.' Returning home that evening, the boy told his father all that had happened, and the strange speech of the king, by which Aldo was greatly alarmed. He sought his brother Grauso, and took counsel with him and their partisans how they might anticipate the blow, and deprive Alahis of the kingdom before he had completed his design. Accordingly they went early to the palace, and thus addressed Alahis: 'Why do you think it necessary always to remain cooped up in the city? All the inhabitants are loyal to you, and that drunkard Cunincpert is so besotted that all his influence is gone. Go out hunting with your young courtiers, and we will stay here with the rest of your faithful servants, and defend this city for you. Nay more, we promise you that we will soon bring back to you the head of your enemy Cunincpert.' Yielding to their persuasions, Alahis went forth to the vast forest already mentioned called the 'City forest,' and there passed his time in hunting and sport of various kinds.​14 Meanwhile Aldo and Grauso journeyed in haste to the Lake of Como, took ship there, and  p309 sought Cunincpert on his island. Falling at his feet, they confessed and deplored their past transgressions against him, related the menacing words of Alahis, and explained the insidious counsel which they had given him. Return of Cunincpert. After weeping together and exchanging solemn oaths, they fixed a day on which Cunincpert was to present himself at the gates of Pavia, which they promised should be opened to receive him.

All went prosperously with the loyal traitors. On the appointed day Cunincpert appeared under the walls of Pavia. All the citizens, but pre‑eminently the bishop and his clergy, went eagerly forth to meet him. They embraced him with tears: he kissed as many of them as he could:​15 old and young with indescribable joy sang their loud hosannas over the overthrow of the tyrant and the return of the beloved Cunincpert. Word was at the same time sent by Aldo and Grauso to Alahis that they had faithfully performed their promise, and even something more, for they had brought back to Pavia not only the head of Cunincpert, but also his whole body, and he was at that moment seated in the palace.

Alahis raises the Eastern half of the kingdom against Cunincpert. Gnashing his teeth with rage, and foaming out curses against Aldo and Grauso, Alahis fled from the neighbourhood of Pavia, and made his way by Piacenza into the Eastern half of the Lombard kingdom, a territorial division which we now for the first time meet with under a name memorable for Italy in after centuries, and in another connexion — the fateful name of Austria.​16 It is probable that there was  p310 in this part of the kingdom an abiding feeling of discontent with the rule of the devout drunkard Cunincpert, and a general willingness to accept this stern and strenuous duke of Trient as ruler in his stead. Some cities, indeed, opposed his party. Vicenza sent out an army against him, but when that army was defeated, she was willing to become his ally. Treviso was visited by him, and by gentle or ungentle means was won over to his side. Friuli collected an army which was to have marched to the help of Cunincpert, but Alahis went to meet them as far as the bridge over the Livenza, at forty-eight Roman miles distance from Friuli. Lurking there in a forest​17 hard by, he met each detachment as it was coming up separately, and compelled it to swear fidelity to himself, taking good care that no straggler returned to warn the oncoming troops of the ambush into which they were falling. Thus by the energetic action of Alahis the whole region of 'Austria' was ranged under his banners against the lawful ruler.

increasing importance of the cities. It may be noticed in passing that the language of Paulus in describing these events seems to show that the cities were already acquiring some of that power of independent action which is such a marked characteristic of political life in Italy in the Middle Ages. The turbulent personality of Duke Alahis is indeed sufficiently prominent, but he is the only duke  p311 mentioned in the whole chapter. It is 'the cities' of Austria that, partly by flattery, partly by force, Alahis wins over to his side. The citizens of Vicenza go forth to battle against him, but become his allies. It is the 'Forojulani,' not the duke of Forum Julii,​18 that send their soldiers as they suppose to assist King Cunincpert, but really to swell the army of his rival.19

Battle of the Adda. Thus then were the two great divisions of the Lombard kingdom drawn up in battle array against one another on the banks of the Adda, the frontier stream.​20 Nobly desirous to save the effusion of so much Lombard blood, Cunincpert sent a message to his rival, offering to settle the dispute between them by single combat. But for such an encounter Alahis had little inclination, and when one of his followers, a Tuscan by birth, exhorted him as a brave warrior to accept the challenge, Alahis answered, 'Though Cunincpert is a stupid man, and a drunkard, he is wonderfully brave and strong. I remember how in his father's time, when he and I were boys in the palace together, there were some rams there of unusual size, and he would take one of them, and lift him up by the wool on his back, which I could never do.' At this the Tuscan said, 'If thou darest not meet  p312 Cunincpert in single combat, thou shalt not have me to help thee in thy enterprise.' And thereat he went over at once to the camp of Cunincpert, and told him all these things.

Self-devotion of Deacon Seno. So the armies met in the plain of Coronate, and when they were now about to join battle, Seno, a deacon of the basilica of St. John the Baptist (which Queen Gundiperga had built at Pavia), fearing lest Cunincpert, whom he greatly loved, should fall in the battle, came up and begged to be allowed to don the king's armour, and go forth and fight Alahis. 'All our life,' said Seno, 'hangs on your safety. If you perish in the war, that tyrant Alahis will torture us to death. Let it then be as I say, and let me wear your armour. If I fall, your cause will not have suffered; if I conquer, all the more glory to you, whose very servant has become Alahis.' Long time Cunincpert refused to comply with this request, but at length his soft heart was touched by the prayers and tears of all his followers, and he consented to hand over his coat of mail, his helmet, his greaves, and all his other equipments to the deacon, who being of the same build and stature, looked exactly like the king when arrayed in his armour.

Thus then the battle was joined, and hotly contested on both sides. Where Alahis saw the supposed king, thither he pressed with eager haste, thinking to end the war with one blow. And so it was that he killed Seno, whereupon he ordered the head to be struck off that it might be carried on a pole amid the loud shouts of 'God be thanked' from all the army.21  p313 But when the helmet was removed for this purpose, lo! the tonsured head showed that they had killed no king, but only an ecclesiastic. Cried Alahis in fury, 'Alas! we have done nothing in all this great battle, but only slain a cleric.' And with that he swore a horrible oath, that if God would grant him the victory he would fill a well with the amputated members of the clerics of Lombardy.

Death of Alahis and victory of Cunincpert. At first the adherents of Cunincpert were dismayed, thinking that their lord had fallen, but their hearts were cheered, and they were sure of victory, when the king, with open visor,​22 rode round their ranks assuring them of his safety. Again the two hosts drew together for the battle, and again Cunincpert renewed his offer to settle the quarrel by single combat and spare the lives of the people. But Alahis again refused to hearken to the advice of his followers and accept the challenge; this time alleging that he saw among the standards of his rival the image of the Archangel Michael, in whose sanctuary he had sworn fidelity to Cunincpert. Then said one his men, 'In thy fright thou seest things that are not. Too late, I ween, for thee is this kind of meditation on saints' images and broken fealty.' The trumpets sounded again for the charge: neither side gave way to the other: a terrible slaughter was made of Lombard warriors. But at length Alahis fell, and by the help of God victory remained with Cunincpert. Great was the slaughter among the fleeing troops of Alahis, and those whom the sword spared the river Adda swept away. The men of Friuli took no share in the battle,  p314 since their unwilling oath to Alahis prevented them from fighting for Cunincpert, and they were determined not to fight against him. As soon therefore as the battle was joined, they marched off to their own homes.

The head and legs of Alahis were cut off, leaving only his trunk, a ghastly trophy: but the body of the brave deacon Seno was buried by the king's order before the gates of his own basilica of St. John. Cunincpert, now indeed a king, returned to Pavia amid the shouts and songs of triumph of his exultant followers. In after-time he reared a monastery​23 in honour of St. George the Martyr on the battlefield of Coronate in memory of his victory.24

Story of Aldo and Grauso. There is a sequel to this history of the rebellion of Alahis as told by Paulus, but the reader will judge for himself what claim it has to be accepted as history. On a certain day after the rebellion was crushed, King Cunincpert was sitting in his palace at Pavia, taking counsel with his Marpahis (master of the horse) how he might make away with Aldo and Grauso, aforetime confederates with Alahis. Suddenly a large fly alighted near them, at which the king struck with a knife, but only succeeded in chopping off the insect's  p315 foot. At the same time Aldo and Grauso, ignorant of any design against them, were coming towards the palace; and when they had reached the neighbouring basilica of St. Romanus the Martyr, they were suddenly met by a lame man with a wooden leg, who told them that Cunincpert would slay them if they entered his presence. On hearing this they were seized with fear, and took refuge at the altar of the church. When the king heard that they were thus seeking sanctuary, he at first charged his Marpahis with having betrayed his confidence, but he naturally answered that, having never gone out of the king's presence, nor spoken to any one, he could not have divulged his design. Then he sent to Aldo and Grauso to ask why they were in sanctuary. They told him what they had heard, and how a one‑legged messenger had brought them the warning, on which the king perceived that the fly had been in truth a malignant spirit, who had betrayed his secret counsels. On receiving his kingly word pledged for their safety, the two refugees came forth from the basilica, and were ever after reckoned among his most devoted servants. The clemency and loyalty of the 'beloved' Cunincpert need not perhaps be seriously impugned for the sake of a childish legend like this.

Pestilence in Italy. It was probably in the early years of Cunincpert's reign that a terrible pestilence broke out among the people, and for three months, from July to September, ravaged the greater part of Italy. Each of the two capitals, Rome and Pavia, suffered terribly from its devastation. In Rome, two were often laid in one grave, the son with his father, the brother with his  p316 sister. At Pavia the ravages of the pestilence were so fearful, that the panic-stricken citizens went forth and lived on the tops of mountains, doubtless in order to avoid the malarious air of the Po valley. In the streets and squares of the city, grass began to grow: and the terrified remnant that dwelt there had their misery enhanced by ghostly fears. To their excited vision appeared two angels, one of light and one of darkness, walking through their streets. The evil angel carried a hunting‑net in his hand: and ever and anon, with the consent of the good angel, he would stop before one of the houses, and strike it with the handle of his net. According to the number of the times that he struck it, was the number of the inmates of that house carried forth next morning to burial. At length it was revealed to one of the citizens that the plague would only be stayed by erecting an altar to the martyr St. Sebastian in the basilica of St. Peter ad Vincula. The relics of the martyr were sent for from Rome, the altar was erected, and the pestilence ceased.

Culture at the court of Cunincpert. Notwithstanding the interruptions of war and pestilence, the court life of Pavia during the reign of Cunincpert seems to have been, in comparison with that of most of his predecessors, a life of refinement and culture. At that court there flourished a certain renowned grammarian, or as we should say, a classical scholar, named Felix, whose memory has been preserved, owing to the fact that his nephew Flavian was the preceptor of the Lombard historian.​25 To him, besides many other gifts, the king gave a walking- p317 stick adorned with silver and gold, which was no doubt preserved as an heirloom in his family.26

Coinage. It is noteworthy, as showing the increasing civilisation of the Lombards under this king, that he is the first of his race whose effigy appears on a national coinage. His gold coins, obviously imitated from those of Byzantium, bear on the obverse the effigy of 'Dominus Noster Cunincpert,' and on the reverse a quaint representation of the Archangel Michael, that favourite patron saint of the Lombards, whose image the panic-stricken Alahis saw among the royal standards at the great battle by the Adda.

Visit of Ceadwalla the West Saxon, 689. It was in the second year of the reign of Cunincpert, and doubtless before the outbreak of the rebellion, that he received the visit of a king from our own land, who not of constraint, but of his own free will, had laid aside his crown. This was Ceadwalla, king of the West Saxons, a young man in the very prime of life, who had, only four years before, won from a rival family the throne of his ancestors. In his short reign he had shown great activity after the fashion of his  p318 anarchic time, had annexed Sussex ravaged Kent, conquered and massacred the inhabitants of the Isle of Wight, and given to two young princes​27 of that island the crown of martyrdom. But in the attack on Kent, his brother Mul, a pattern of the Saxon virtues, generosity, courtesy, and savage courage, had been burned in a plundered house by the enraged men of Kent. Either the loss of this brother, or the satiety born of success, determined Ceadwalla to lay aside the crown, to go on pilgrimage, if possible to die. He was received with marvellous honour by King Cunincpert, whose wife was in a certain sense his countrywoman. He passed on to Rome, and was baptized on Easter Day by Pope Sergius, changing his rough name Ceadwalla for the apostolic Peter. Either the climate of Rome, the exaltation of his spirit, or the austerities which were practised by the penitent, proved fatal. He died on the 20th of April, 689, ten days after his baptism, and an epitaph in respectable elegiacs, composed by order of the Pope,  p319 preserved to after-generations the memory of his birth, his warlike deeds, the zeal which had brought him from the uttermost ends of the earth to visit the City of Romulus, and the devotion to the Papal See which had caused him to visit the tomb and assume the name of Peter.28

Synod of Pavia, 698. Near the end of his reign Cunincpert summoned that synod at Pavia which brought about the reconciliation between the Patriarch of Aquileia and the Roman Pontiff, and closed the dreary controversy on the Three Chapters, as has been already told in tracing the history of the Istrian schism.29

A trial of horseman­ship. Cunincpert was generally on the most friendly terms with his bishops and clergy, but once it happened that John, bishop of Bergamo, a man of eminent holiness, said something at a banquet which offended him, and the king, condescending to an ignoble revenge, ordered his attendants to bring for the bishop's use a high-spirited and ill‑broken steed, which with a loud and angry snort generally dismounted those who dared to cross his back. To the wonder of all beholders however, as soon as the bishop had mounted him, the horse became perfectly tractable, and with a gently ambling pace bore him to his home. The king was so astonished at the miracle that he gave the horse to the bishop for his own, and ever after held him in highest honour.

Death of Cunincpert, 700. The last year of the seventh century saw the end of the reign of Cunincpert. He must have died in middle life, and possibly his death may have been  p320 hastened by those deep potations which seem to have been characteristic of his race.​30 But whatever were his faults, he had his father's power of winning the hearts of his servants. He was 'the prince most beloved by all,'​31 and it was amid the genuine tears of the Lombards that he was laid to rest by his father's side, near his grandfather's church of 'Our Lord and Saviour.'

Liutpert (700),

Short reign of Liutpert under the guardian­ship of Ansprand, 700. the son of Cunincpert, succeeded his father, but being still only a boy, he was under the guardian­ship of Ansprand, a wise and noble statesman, the father of a yet more illustrious son, who was one day to shed a sunset glory over the last age of the Lombard monarchy. At this time Ansprand had little opportunity of showing his capacity for rule, for after eight months Raginpert, duke of Turin, the son of Godepert, whom Grimwald slew forty years before, a man of the same generation and about the same age as the lately deceased king, rose in rebellion against his kinsman; and marching eastwards with a strong army, met Ansprand and his ally, Rotharit, duke of Bergamo, on the plains of Novara — a name of evil omen for Italy — defeated them and won the crown, which however he was not destined long to wear.

Raginpert (700).
Aripert II (701‑712).

Reign of Raginpert. The new king died very shortly after his accession, in the same year which witnessed the death of  p321 Cunincpert. The boy‑king Liutpert and his guardian Ansprand had yet a party, Rotharit and three other dukes​32 being still confederate together. Accession of his son, Aripert II, 701. Aripert II, son of Raginpert, marched against them, defeated them in the plains near Pavia, and took the boy‑king prisoner. His guardian Ansprand fled, it need hardly be said to the Insula Comacina, where he fortified himself against the expected attack of the usurper.

Rebellion of Rotharit. Rotharit meanwhile returned to Bergamo, and discarding all pretence of championing the rights of Liutpert, styled himself king of the Lombards. Aripert marched against him with a large army, took the town of Lodi, which guarded the passage of the Adda, and then besieged Bergamo. The 'battering rams and other machines,' which now formed part of the warlike apparatus of the Lombards, enabled him without difficulty to make himself master of the place.​33 Rotharit the pretender​34 was taken prisoner: his head and his chin were shaved, and he was sent into banishment into Aripert's own city, Turin, where not long after he was slain. Death of Liutpert. The child Liutpert was also taken prisoner, and killed by drowning in a bath.35

Flight of Ansprand and cruelties practised on his family. The boy‑king being thus disposed of, the faithful guardian Ansprand remained to be dealt with. An army, doubtless accompanied by something in the nature of a flotilla, was sent to the Insula Comacina.  p322 Learning its approach, and knowing himself powerless to resist it, Ansprand fled up the Splügen Pass by way of Chiavenna and Coire to Theudebert, duke of the Bavarians, who, for the sake doubtless of his loyalty to the Bavarian line,​36 gave him for nine years shelter in his court. The island on lake Como was at once occupied by Aripert's troops, and the town erected on it destroyed.​37 Unable to reach the brave and faithful Ansprand, Aripert, now established in his kingdom, wreaked cruel vengeance on his family. His wife Theodarada, who had with womanish vanity boasted that she would one day be queen, had her nose and ears cut off.​38 The like hideous mutilation was practised on his daughter Aurona, herself apparently already a wife and a mother.​39 Sigiprand, the eldest son, was blinded, and all the near relations of the fugitive were in one way or other tormented. Only Liutprand, the young son of Ansprand, escaped the cruel hands of the tyrant, who despised his youth, and after keeping him for some time in imprisonment, allowed him to depart for the Bavarian land, where he was received with inexpressible joy by his father.

Reign of Aripert II, 701‑712. Of the twelve years' reign of Aripert II we have but little information, except as to the civil wars caused by his usurpation of the crown. Pilgrimage of Anglo-Saxons to Rome. The inhabitants of Italy saw with surprise the increasing number of Anglo-Saxon pilgrims, noble and base-born, men and  p323 women, laymen and clergy, who, 'moved by the instinct of a divine love,' and also deeming that they thus secured a safer and easier passage to Paradise, braved the hardships of a long and toilsome journey, and came on pilgrimage to Rome. It was thus, during the reign of Aripert, that Coinred, king of the Mercians, grandson of that fierce old heathen Penda, came with the young and comely Offa, prince of the East Saxons, to Rome, and there, according to Paulus, speedily obtained that death which they desired.​40 Thus also, sixteen years later, Ine, king of Wessex, lawgiver and warrior, after a long and generally prosperous reign of thirty-seven years, forcibly admonished by his wife as to the vanity of all earthly grandeur, followed the example of his kinsman Ceadwalla, and, resigning his crown to his brother-in‑law, turned his pilgrim steps towards Rome, where he died, a humbly clad but not tonsured monk.41

Foreign and domestic policy of Aripert II. King Aripert, however, did not greatly encourage the visits of strangers to his land. When the ambassadors of foreign nations came to his court, he would don his cheapest garments of cloth or of leather, and would set before them no costly wines, nor any other dainties, in order that the strangers might be impressed by the poverty of Italy. One might say that he remembered the manner of the invitation which, according to the Saga, Narses had given to his people,  p324 and was determined that no second invitation of the same kind should travel northward across the Alps. Like the Caliph of the next century, Haroun al Raschid, Aripert would roam about by night, disguised, through the streets of the cities of his kingdom, that he might learn what sort of opinion his subjects had of him, and what manner of justice his judges administered. For he was, says Paulus, 'a pious man, given to alms, and a lover of justice, in whose days there was great abundance of the fruits of the earth, but the times were barbarous.'42

His devotion to the church. Certainly the times were barbarous, if Aripert II was a fair representative of them. There is a taint of Byzantine cruelty in his blindings and mutilations of the kindred of his foes, of more than Byzantine, of Tartar savagery in the wide sweep of his ruthless sword. He was devout, doubtless, a great friend of the Church, as were almost all of these kinsmen of Theudelinda. We are told that he restored to the Apostolic See a large territory in the province of the Cottian Alps, which had once belonged to the Papal Patrimony, and that the epistle announcing this great concession was written in letters of gold.​43 Admirable  p325 as are, for the most part, the judgments of character expressed by the Lombard deacon, it is difficult not to think that in this case a gift had blinded the eyes of the wise, and that Aripert's atrocious cruelties to the family of Ansprand are condoned for the sake of the generous gifts which he, like Henry of Lancaster, bestowed on the church which sanctioned his usurpation.

Return of Ansprand, 712. At length the long-delayed day of vengeance dawned for Ansprand. His friend Theudebert, duke of Bavaria, gave him an army, with which he invaded Italy and joined battle with Aripert. There was great slaughter on both sides, but when night fell, 'it is certain,' says the patriotic Paulus, 'that the Bavarians had turned their backs, and the army of Aripert returned victorious to its camp.' However, the Lombard victory does not seem to have been so clear to Aripert, who left the camp, and sought shelter within the walls of Pavia. This timidity gave courage to his enemies, and utterly disgusted his own soldiers. Perceiving that he had lost the affections of the army, he accepted the advice which some of his friends proffered, that he should make his escape into France. Having taken away out of the palace vaults as much gold as he thought he could carry, he set forth on his journey. It was necessary for him to swim across the river Ticino, not a broad nor very rapid stream: Death of Aripert II. but the weight of the gold (which he had perhaps enclosed in a belt worn about his person) dragged him down, and he perished in the waters. Next day his body was found, and buried close to the church of the Saviour, doubtless near the bodies of his father and grandfather. His brother Gumpert fled to France, and died there,  p326 leaving three sons, one of whom, Raginpert, was, in the time of Paulus, governor​44 of the important city of Orleans. But no more princes of the Bavarian line reigned in Italy, where, with one slight interruption, they had borne sway for a century.

The Author's Notes:

1 'Dagobert,' says Paulus (H. L. V.32), but as the death of Grimwald took place in 671, and the accession, or more strictly the return, of Dagobert II was in 674, it is generally agreed that Paulus must be in error, and that either Chlotochar III or Childeric II must be the king with whom Grimwald nominally made the treaty. In any case it would not be the Merovingian roi fainéant, but Ebroin, the stalwart Mayor of the Palace, who would be the negotiator.

2 Paulus, contrary to our usage, calls this convent for female recluses 'monasterium.'

3 Paulus here tells us of a curious Lombard custom. Queen Rodelinda's church was called 'Ad Perticas' (The Poles), because it was built near a Lombard cemetery where had stood a great number of poles erected according to Lombard fashion in honour of relations who had died in war, or by any other mischance away from home, and who therefore could not be buried in the sepulchre of their fathers. On the top of the pole was placed the wooden image of a dove, looking towards that quarter of the horizon where the beloved dead was reposing. (H. L. V.34.)


'Subolis item Berthari (sic) in solium

Regni suffectus, imitatus protinus

Exempla patris, ad fidem convertere

Judaeos fecit baptizandos, credere

Qui rennuerunt, gladium peremere.'

(Carmen de Synodo Ticinensi; see vol. V p483.)

5 'Ten years,' says Paulus, but this is evidently an error.

6 'Hic dum dux esset in Tredentina civitate, cum comite Baioariorum quem illi gravionem dicunt, qui Bauzanum et reliqua castella regebat, conflixit eumque mirificê superavit' (Paulus, H. L. V.36).

7 'Nec destitit patrem optinere, quin etiam ei ducatum Brexine contribueret, reclamante saepius patre quod in suam hoc Cunincpert perniciem faceret, qui hosti suo ad regnandum vires praeberet' (Paulus, H. L. V.36). One is reminded of James the First's warning to Baby Charles that 'he would one day have his belly-full of Parliaments.'

8 'Fuit autem vir elegans et omni bonitate conspicuus audaxque bellator' (Paulus, H. L. VI.17).

9 Ecgberht, king of Kent from 664 to 673, had a sister Eormengild, who married the king of Mercia. In the family of his uncle Eormenred, all the daughters' names began with 'Eormen' (Eormenbeorh, -burh, and -gyth), as all the sons' names began with 'Æthel.' From one of these families might well spring Eormenlind or Hermelinda. (Lappenberg's History of England, translated by Thorpe, I.285). It is noticeable that Paulus again uses a compound word like Anglo-Saxon — 'At vero Cunincpert rex Hermelinda ex Saxonum-Anglorum genere, duxit uxorem' (H. L. V.37).

10 'Quae cum in balneo Theodotem, puellam ex nobilissimo Romanorum genere ortam, eleganti corpore et flavis prolixisque capillis pene usque ad pedes decoratam vidisset' (Paulus, H. L. V.37). The fact that any Roman ancestry was reckoned to be nobilissimum among the Lombards is important. The profusion of golden hair in a woman so descended is unlike our conventional ideas of Roman race-characteristics.

11 'In monasterium quod de illius nomine intra Ticinum appellatum est misit.' Bianchi (quoted by Waitz in loco) says that the convent of St. Mary Theodote is now commonly called 'della Posterla.'

Thayer's Note: The convent is now a diocesan seminary, and is a beautiful place. It is covered online by several sites: the best of these pages may be the one at PaviaFree. Its modern alternate name of della Pusterla is from the Latin posterula, a postern: the convent is near the site of a small gate in the city walls, now gone.

12 'Filius iniquitatis Alahis nomine' (Paulus, H. L. V.36).

13 The third part of a solidus aureus, worth about four shillings.

14 'Ad Urbem, vastissimam sylvam, profectus est ibique se jocis et venationibus coepit' (Paulus, H. L. V.39).

15 'Ille omnes prout potuit osculatus est' (Paulus, H. L. V.39).

16 The boundary between the Eastern and Western provinces, Austria and Neustria, seems to have been the river Adda. This is, as I have said above, the first mention of Austria in the pages of Paulus. He nowhere mentions Neustria, but both terms are used freely in the laws of Liutprand from 713 onwards.

17 'In sylvam quae Capulanus dicitur latens.' The scene of this strange encounter must have been somewhere near Concordia. All traces of a forest in that region have, I imagine, long ago disappeared.

18 Probably Rodwald, but not even his name is mentioned here.

19 'Per Placentiam ad Austriam rediit singulasque civitates partim blanditiis, partim viribus sibi socios adscivit. Nam Vincentiam veniens, contra eum ejus cives egressi, bellum paraverunt, sed mox victi, ejus socii effecti sunt. Inde exiens Tarvisium pervasit, pari modo etiam et reliquas civitates. Cumque contra eum Cunincpert exercitum colligeret et Forojulani in ejus auxilium juxta fidelitatem suam vellent proficisci,' &c. (Paulus, H. L. V.39).

20 'In campo cui Coronate nomen est castra posuere' (Paulus, H. L. V.39). Lupi (I.359) proves that this is Cornate on the Adda, about ten miles south-west of Bergamo.

21 'Cumque caput ejus amputari praecepisset, ut levato eo in conto "Deo gratias" adclamarent.'

22 This is not said by Paulus, but I infer it from the fact that the 'cassis' of the deacon concealed his features.

23 Paulus, H. L. VI.17.

24 The city of Modena had been half ruined during the insurrection of Alahis, but was raised again from the ground and restored by the king to all its former comeliness. So says the author of the Carmen de Synodo Ticinensi: —

'Elictus (sic) gente a Deo ut regeret

Langibardorum rebelles conpescuit

Bello prostravit Alexo (sic) nequissimo

Semidiruta nuncupata Motina

Urbe pristino decore restituit.'

25 See vol. V p71.

26 Cavaliere Grion thinks that it is probable that this Felix is commemorated by an inscription at the grotto of S. Giovanni d'Antro, a few miles from Cividale. As he truly remarks, there is nothing in Paulus' account to prove that Felix always lived at Pavia, though he was undoubtedly a persona grata at the king's court. The inscription runs as follows: —

'iaceo indignvs hic tvmv

latvs ego Felix ad fvn

damenta scorvm ecclae

Iohis Baptistae ac Evangeli

idcirco obsecro oms ascenden

tes et descendentes vt pro me

is facinoribvs dm precare digne


Thayer's Note: A slightly truncated photograph of the inscription can be seen on this otherwise good page about the cave.

27 The brothers of Arwald, king of the island. The account of the martyrdom in Baeda (IV.16) is an extraordinary sample of the religious ideas of the age. The two lads are found hiding, and brought to the victorious king, who orders them to be slain. Cynicberct (the same name as that of the Lombard king), abbot of Swallowford, comes to the king, who is being cured of wounds received in battle with the men of Wight; and begs of him that if the boys must be killed they may be first 'imbued with the sacraments of the Christian faith.' The king gives his consent, and the abbot instructs them in the word of truth, washes them in the Saviour's fountain, and makes them certain of an entrance into His eternal kingdom. The executioner soon appears, and the two boys gladly submit to the temporal death, not doubting that they thereby pass to the eternal life of the soul. The day of the martyrdom of the 'Fratres Regis Arwaldi Martyres' was long celebrated on the 21st of August (Thorpe on Lappenberg, I.260).

28 This epitaph is given by Baeda (H. E. V.7) and copied by Paulus (H. L. VI.15).

29 See vol. V p483.

30 Of Perctarit it is said, 'Bibat ebriosus ille' (Paulus, H. L. V.2); of Cunincpert, 'Quamvis ebriosus sit et stupidi cordis' (Ibid. V.40).

31 'Cunctis amabillimus princeps' (Paulus, VI.17).

32 Ato, Tatzo, and Farao. There can be no doubt that these are dukes, though we are not told over what cities they ruled.

33 'Bergamum obsedit eamque cum arietibus et diversis belli machinis sine aliquâ difficultate expugnans' (Paulus, H. L. VI.20); an important passage for the history of the art of war.

34 'Rotharit pseudo-regem' (Ibid.)

35 'Liutpertum vero, quem ceperat pari modo in balneo vitâ privavit' (Ibid.)

36 Of course Aripert as well as Liutpert belonged to this line.

37 'Exercitus vero Ariperti insulam . . . invadens, ejus oppidum diruit' (Paulus, H. L. VI.21).

38 'Quae cum se voluntate femineâ reginam futuram esse jactaret, naso atque auribus abscisis decore sua faciei deturpata (sic) est' (Ibid. 22).

39 See Paulus, H. L. VI.50.

40 'His etiam diebus duo reges Saxonum ad vestigia apostolorum Romam venientes, sub velocitate ut optabant defuncti sunt' (H. L. VI.28: see also VI.37). Paulus adapts and slightly modifies the statements of Baeda, Hist. Eccl. V.7 and 19.

41 Lappenberg, I.267, quoting Baeda, H. E. V.7; and William of Malmesbury, I.2.

42 'Fuit quoque vir pius, elymosynis deditus ac justitiae amator; in cujus temporibus terrae ubertas nimia, sed tempora fuere barbarica' (Paulus, H. L. VI.35).

43 There has been some discussion as to whether Paulus (H. L. VI.28) means to imply that the whole province of the Alpes Cottiae formed part of the Papal Patrimony (see Grisar, Rundgang durch die Patrimonien, p352). But the corrected text of Paulus shows that, though his words are not well chosen, he did not mean to say this, but only that there was a certain part of the Papal Patrimony situated in the above-named provinces.

44 Possibly Count.

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