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Lombards

From Academic Kids

The Lombards (Latin Langobardi, from which the alternative name Longobards found in older English texts), were a Germanic people originally from Scandinavia that entered the late Roman Empire.

Their own tradition describes how they left Scandinavia under leaders such as Ibor and settled in Continental Europe, where they were recorded by Tacitus as early as AD 98:

What on the contrary ennobles the Langobards is the smallness of their number, for that they, who are surrounded with very many and very powerful nations, derive their security from no obsequiousness or plying; but from the dint of battle and adventurous deeds. After the Langobardi come the Reudigni, Auiones, Angli, Varni, Eudoses, Suarines and Nuithones all well guarded by rivers and forests. There is nothing remarkable about any of these tribes unless it be the common worship of Nerthus, that is Earth Mother. (Germania by Tacitus)

They later settled in Pannonia by the Emperor Justinian as foederati. In 568 they invaded northern Italy under their king Alboin, but were unsuccessful at conquering any city with walls. They broke off sieges of most cities they tried to take and settled for what they could find in the countryside. They established a capital, Pavia. After the death of Alboin and his immediate successor, the Lombards failed to choose a king for more than 10 years, and the various regions were ruled by dukes.

When they entered Italy, some Lombards remained pagan, and some were Arian Christians. Hence they did not enjoy good relations with the Catholic Church. Gradually, as they remained in Italy, they adopted Roman titles, names, and traditions, and converted to orthodoxy.

The last Lombard to rule as king of the Lombards was Desiderius, who ruled until 774, when Charlemagne not only conquered the Lombard kingdom, but in an utterly novel decision took the title "King of the Lombards" as well. Before then the Germanic kingdoms had frequently conquered each other, but none had adopted the title of King of another people. Charlemagne took part of the Lombard territory to create the Papal States.

The Lombardy region in Italy, which includes the cities of Bergamo and Milan, is a reminder of the presence of the Lombards.

Much of our knowledge of the mythological and semi-mythological early history of the Lombard people comes from Paul the Deacon's History of the Lombards (Historia Langobardorum) written in the late 8th century. By the title of this work the name of Longobards was commonly turned into Langobards.

According to the Lombards themselves, a legend documented by Paul the Deacon, their name was derived from a joke played on Odin (Godan) by his wife Frige (Frea). She told the Lombard women to tie their hair in front of their faces and when Odin saw them he asked about the longbeards. Then Frigg said that since Odin had named them longbeards, Langobards was to be their name. The name has also been tentatively considered as being derived from the name of a preferred weapon of the Lombards in war: the "long halberd" or long-bladed axe. However, neither of these possibilities is considered by scholars at this time to be plausible. The translation of Paul the Deacon's History of the Lombards (Historia Langobardorum) published in 1907 by W. D. Foulke mentions these as well as other possibilities, but his speculation in that respect is now thought to be based on highly tenuous etymological links.

A Lombard law code survives from around the same period.

Historic Kings of the Lombards

(Ten year interregnum)

See also

de:Langobarden eo:Lombardoj fr:Lombards he:לומברדים it:Longobardi nl:Langobarden ja:ランゴバルド人 pl:Longobardowie ru:Лангобардское королевство sv:Langobarder

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