The Northern Way

(Historia Langobardorum)


Chapter XIX.

"Gregory to Duke Arogis: [1]

"Since we trust in your Highness as indeed in our own son, we are moved to make a request of you in a way confidentially, thinking that you will not at all suffer us to be disappointed, especially in a matter from which your soul may be greatly benefited. We inform you then that a considerable number of wooden beams are needful to us for the churches of the blessed Peter and Paul, and therefore we have enjoined our sub-deacon Savinus to cut a number in the region of Brittii (Calabria) and to bring them to a suitable place by the sea. And because he needs assistance in this thing, we ask, saluting your Highness with paternal love, that you should charge your managers [2] who are in that place to send the men who are under them with their oxen to his assistance, so that with your aid he can the better perform what we have enjoined upon him. And we promise that when the thing is finished, we will send to you a worthy gift which will not be displeasing, for we know how to regard and to recompense our sons who show us good will. Whence we ask again, illustrious son, that you should so act that we can be debtors to you for the favor shown and that you may have a reward for (your services to) the churches of the saints."

[1] Spelled thus in the oldest manuscripts and also in the letters of Gregory.
[2] Actionarii. These were subordinate officials of the king who stood in rank under the gastaldi, and appear to have had charge of particular domains of the king, or (in Benevento and Spoleto) of the duke (Pabst, 493).

Chapter XX.

In these days the daughter of king Agilulf was taken from the city of Parma, together with her husband named Gudescalc (Gottschalk), by the army of the patrician Gallicinus (Callinicus), and they were brought to the city of Ravenna. At this time also king Agilulf sent to the Cagan, the king of the Avars, workmen for the making of ships with which that Cagan afterwards conquered a certain island in Thrace.1]

[1] Although these shipwrights were probably Romans, the incident shows the general acceptance by the Langobards of the industrial arts of the people they had conquered. The history of these changes is given in Hartmann, II, 2, chap. I, in detail, see pp. 19-23. See also chap. 22, infra, where their change in dress is noted.

Chapter XXI.

At the same time queen Theudelinda dedicated the church of St. John the Baptist, which she had built in Modicia (Monza), a place which is twelve miles above Mediolanum (Milan). And she decorated it with many ornaments of gold and silver and endowed it amply with estates. In this place also Theuderic, the former king of the Goths, had constructed his palace, because the place, since it is near the Alps, is temperate and healthful in summer time.

Chapter XXII.

There also the aforesaid queen built herself a palace, in which she caused to be painted something of the achievements of the Langobards. In this painting it is clearly shown in what way the Langobards at that time cut their hair, and what was their dress and what their appearance. They shaved the neck, and left it bare up to the back of the head, having their hair hanging down on the face as far as the mouth and parting it on either side by a part in the forehead. Their garments were loose and mostly linen, such as the Anglo-Saxons are wont to wear, [1] ornamented with broad borders woven in various colors. Their shoes, indeed, were open almost up to the tip of the great toe, and were held on by shoe latchets interlacing alternately. But later they began to wear trousers, [2] over which they put leggins of shaggy woolen cloth [3] when they rode. But they had taken that from a custom of the Romans.

[1] This is said to be the first appearance in literature of the word "Anglo-Saxon" (Hodgkin, V, 154, note 4).
[2] The monk of Salerno says that king Adaloald (A. D. 616-626) was the first who wore trousers (Abel, note).
[3] 'Tubrugos birreos'. Hodgkin considers (V, 154, 155) that the explanation quoted in Waitz's note "Byrrus vestis est amphimallus villosus" (having the nap on both sides), according to which the 'birrus' was a sort of waterproof cape thrown over other garments when it rained, seems to throw most light on this passage. (See DuCange).

Chapter XXIII.

Up to this time the city of Patavium (Padua) had rebelled against the Langobards, the soldiers resisting very bravely. But at last when fire was thrown into it, it was all consumed by the devouring flames and was razed to the ground by command of king Agilulf. The soldiers, however, who were in it were allowed to return to Ravenna.

Chapter XXIV.

At this time the ambassadors of Agilulf who returned from the Cagan announced a perpetual peace made with the Avars. Also an ambassador of the Cagan came with them and proceeded to Gaul, demanding of the kings of the Franks that they should keep peace with the Langobards the same as with the Avars. Meanwhile the Langobards invaded the territories of the Istrians [1] with the Avars and the Slavs, and laid waste everything with burnings and plunderings.

[1] Istria still remained under Byzantine dominion up to the year 751 (Abel). This raid was probably about 601 (Hodgkin, V, 430, note 1).

Chapter XXV.

There was then born to Agilulf the king, by his queen Theudelinda, in the palace of Modicia (Monza), a son who was called Adaloald. At a subsequent time the Langobards attacked the fortress of Mons Silicis (Monselice). [1] During the same period, at Ravenna, after Gallicinus (Callinicus) had been driven away, Smaragdus, who had before been patrician of Ravenna, returned. [2]

[1] A little south of Padua (Abel).
[2] A D. 602 (Hodgkin, V, 431).

Chapter XXVI.

Then the emperor Maurice, after he had ruled the empire twenty-one years, was killed, together with his sons Theodosius and Tiberius and Constantine, by Focas (Phocas) who was the master of horse of Priscus the patrician. But he had been very useful to the state for he had often obtained victory when contending against the enemy. The Huns too, who are also called Avars, were subjugated by his prowess. [1]

[1] During the reign of Maurice a radical change began to take place in the permanent government of those parts of Italy which remained subject to Byzantium. The invasion of the Langobards, which was at first believed to be a mere temporary incursion, had been followed by their settlement in the country, and although Maurice would not abandon the hope of expelling them, it was found more and more necessary to accept their presence as a permanent condition. The continual wars had given rise to special military jurisdiction conferred upon the chief officers of the empire, which was temporary at first, then often renewed, and at last permanent. The exarch remained the personal representative of the emperor, with full powers, including the right to conclude a temporary truce with the Langobards, though not a lasting peace and alliance (Hartmann, II, I, 125). The frontier towns were fortified and permanent garrisons were established in them which were recruited from the neighborhood; the civil municipalities became transformed into military governments; each of the larger fortified places had a tribune as a special commandant of the city, and the tribunes were under the authority of a 'magister militum' or of a duke who commanded the frontier district and who was named by the exarch. These officers gradually took the place of the former provincial civil governors, and a military corporation, the 'numerus', succeeded the municipality (id., pp. 126 to 135). The military officials began to acquire extensive landed interests, the remnant of small land-owners became more completely subject to the large proprietors, and the foundations of something which afterwards resembled a feudal tenure began to be laid (p. 136). Under Phocas the relations between Italy and Constantinople became greatly relaxed and there was a decided weakening of the imperial power. Commerce suffered in the general disorganization of the empire, and the means of communication were neglected. On the other hand there was a growing disposition to come to terms with the Langobards, although as yet an armistice for a limited time, but often renewed, was all the concession that could be made, as the emperor was apparently still unwilling to recognize the permanency of Langobard domination (id., 198, 199). The exarch Smaragdus, whom Phocas had sent to Italy, co-operated more heartily than his predecessors with the pope (id., 200), and the new emperor issued a decree upholding the authority and primacy of the Roman See (Paul, IV, 36, infra). Active proceedings were renewed against the schismatics of Istria and Venetia, whose bishops now betook themselves to the protection of duke Gisulf of Friuli and of king Agilulf. The schismatic bishop John was consecrated as their patriarch in Cividale and the empire lost their support (IV, 33, infra, Hartmann, II, I, 201). We even find some of them afterwards taking part on the side of the Arian king Arioald against the Catholic Adaloald in the contest for the Langobard crown (id., p. 208).

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