Barbarian Kingdoms in Italy 4

Barbarian Kingdoms in Italy – The Lombard Conquest Part 4


Given this strengthening of the local forces in much of Greek Italy, this loosening of the relations of dependence towards the East, it also follows a growing weakening of the ties between the various parts of Greek Italy: also because it was not a territorial block consistent and homogeneous. It stretched almost entirely in the maritime area and the islands. But this age band is continually broken by Lombard lands that overlooked the sea. The connections between exarchate and pentapolis on the one hand, and Rome on the other, are extremely precarious. Sicily then stands apart; even more Sardinia and Corsica. So not only a Longobardia and a Romania, in the Italian peninsula, but many Romanies, and increasingly distinct from each other, each one increasingly detached from that which is the main one and has its center in Ravenna and which therefore ends up preserving, alone, the name of Romania: Romagna. Thus Italy, first identified within the declining Western Roman Empire, which became partly independent from the Eastern Empire with the formation of the Lombard kingdom, now sees not only weakening the authority of Byzantium over the provinces it still possessed in the peninsula, but these Byzantine provinces and then gradually all will begin to build their own lives.

Thus it came to 726, when the fiscal policy of Leo the Isaurian and his decree against images provoked more serious insurrection. Gregory II gave the example, refusing to submit to the impositions and encouraging the revolutionary movement. There followed similar refusals by the rectors of ecclesiastical assets, clashes between Greek officials and militias and the Roman and Ravenna people. Not all of the Italians agree in their relations with the Greeks. These had taken many roots, they counted on the solidarity interests of the upper classes, on the bonds that Greek language and culture, widely spread, had created between them. And alongside the dispute between Greeks and Italians, that between Italians and Italians, between imperial faction and anti-imperial faction. But the oppositions by far prevailed. In Ravenna, the exarch was killed. In Rome, the Byzantine duke was blinded and replaced by another duke, Stefano, who appears to be a creature of the revolution. In almost all of Byzantine Italy, Greek officers were expelled and local dukes took over. The Lombards also moved. Liutprand invaded the exarchate beyond Ancona, and occupied castles as far as Rome. It can easily be admitted that a feeling of religious orthodoxy animated that king and his Longobards, who had already been converted for some time. But Liutprando’s expedition was above all a revival of the politics of Alboino, Agilulfo, Rotari.

Needs of internal ordirie pushed. According to, a kingdom born of the conquest could not, without the danger of intimate corrosion, stop on the precarious positions reached. Only new conquests could hold the dukes in check, satisfy the demand for land by the Arimanni, exhausted as it was or severely affected the king’s patrimony. On the other hand, the reign, after decades of internal unrest, of discord among the dukes, of rebellions against the king, appeared, as after a crisis of growth, stronger than it had ever been, in terms of royal authority, of government owned by the monarchy, subordinated to most of the dukes. Even much closer, now reconciled, in some social stratum probably merged, Lombards and Romans, while admitting that the monarchy of Alboin never did, like that of Theodoric, a real approach policy. All this had created multiple bonds of all kinds between the subjects, even if the laws continue to distinguish Lombards and non-Lombards; he had placed them all, facing the king, on a level not very different. The exercise of full authority over the vanquished also helped him to strengthen authority over the Lombards, to overcome the traditional Germanic limitations of royal power, to ascend to the concept of full royalty. He is, yes, predominantly, the Rex Langobardorum . But it is difficult to think that, in the middle of the century. VIII, those  Langobards  are only Lombards. It has already appeared, at the end of the century. VII, with Cuniperto and successors, the  Rex Italiae . Ariperto, Liutprando’s father, is also  Rex in Italy …  feliciter . Whatever territorial extension is attributed to this  Italy , the expression certainly denotes a growing and more organic link between the king and the country and the men over which the king reigns.

All these circumstances were favorable to the new war effort of the Lombard monarchy against the Greeks: at a time when the Roman Church and the populations of half of Italy were also rising against the Greeks. But there was in Rome, an adverse circumstance, the head of the Church. He did not want to be a bishop of Byzantium, but neither did he want to depend on Pavia. It was wearing down the authority of the empire in the Roman duchy, but not to replace it with that of the neighboring king. In defense of the emperor, it counted on the Italian populations, on some Byzantine exarch fighting with his sovereign or longing for his own dominion in Italy, perhaps on the Lombard dukes of Spoleto and Benevento, but not on the king’s army.

Therefore, now, Gregory II, troubled by the rapid advance of King Liutprand, on the one hand tried to stop the wave of rebellion against the emperor, on the other hand he invited the king to retire. And the king cleared some of the occupied lands, but handed over to Gregory II – the Roman source says  returned – the city of Sutri (728). Then, seeing that the dukes of Benevento and Spoleto and the pontiff became more and more tied, and this time not against the Greeks but against the king, he first attacked and won them, then invaded the Roman duchy, encamped under Rome. But stronger than his ambitions and his feeling of king was the reverence for the key sums. Overcome by the Pope’s words, he went to do penance in St. Peter’s Basilica, laid down the royal insignia here, and withdrew with the army towards the north. Successive exploits of King Liutprand no longer had lasting success. It also fell to him to see the pope understand each other, as well as with the dukes, with the exarch of Ravenna, and both help the distant emperor against attempts to usurp the imperial dignity near Rome. Even over the exarchate the pope watched over his own interest.

Barbarian Kingdoms in Italy 4