langobards

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A gold shield boss engraved with simple patterns and Christian symbols, such as fish and crosses.

Cast out of iron, with gilt bronze ornamentation.

Made in the 500s in Northern Italy for a Lombardic nobleman.

First owned by the Austrian Count Johann Nepomuk Wilczek and displayed in his large castle museum–the Burg Kreuzenstein.

Currently held at the Metropolitan Museum.

The Lombards (LatinLangobardī), also referred to as Langobards and Longobards, were a Germanic peopleoriginally from Northern Europe who settled in the valley of the Danube and from there invaded Byzantine Italy in 568 under the leadership of Alboin. They established a Lombard Kingdom, later named Kingdom of Italy, which lasted until 774, when it was conquered by the Franks. Their influence on Italian political geography is apparent in the regional appellation Lombardy.

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The Iron Crown with which Lombard rulers were crowned.Further information: Hundings
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Paul the Deacon was the primary source for the study of the Lombards.

The fullest account of Lombard origins, history, and practices is the Historia Langobardorum (History of the Lombards) of Paul the Deacon, written in the 8th century. Paul’s chief source for Lombard origins, however, is the 7th-century Origo Gentis Langobardorum (Origin of the People of the Lombards).

The Origo tells the story of a small tribe called the Winnili dwelling in southern Scandinavia (Scadanan) (The Codex Gothanus writes that the Winnili first dwelt near a river called Vindilicus on the extreme boundary of Gaul.) The Winnili were split into three groups and one part left the native land to seek foreign fields. The reason for the exodus was probably overpopulation. The departing people were led by the brothers Ybor and Aio and their mother Gambara and arrived in the lands of Scoringa, perhaps the Baltic coast or the Bardengau on the banks of the Elbe. Scoringa was ruled by theVandals, and their chieftains, the brothers Ambri and Assi, who granted the Winnili a choice between tribute or war.

The Winnili were young and brave and refused to pay tribute, saying “It is better to maintain liberty by arms than to stain it by the payment of tribute."The Vandals prepared for war and consulted Godan (the god Odin), who answered that he would give the victory to those whom he would see first at sunrise. The Winnili were fewer in number and Gambara sought help from Frea (the goddess Frigg), who advised that all Winnili women should tie their hair in front of their faces like beards and march in line with their husbands. So it came that Godan spotted the Winnili first, and asked, "Who are these long-beards?” and Frea replied, “My lord, thou hast given them the name, now give them also the victory." From that moment onwards, the Winnili were known as the Langobards (Latinised and Italianised as Lombards).

When Paul the Deacon wrote the Historia between 787 and 796 he was a Catholic monk and devoted Christian. He thought the pagan stories of his people "silly” and “laughable”.Paul explained that the name “Langobard” came from the length of their beards. A modern theory suggests that the name “Langobard” comes from Langbarðra name of Odin. Priester states that when the Winnili changed their name to “Lombards”, they also changed their old agricultural fertility cult to a cult of Odin, thus creating a conscious tribal tradition. Fröhlich inverts the order of events in Priester and states that with the Odin cult, the Lombards grew their beards in resemblance of the Odin of tradition and their new name reflected this.[ Bruckner remarks that the name of the Lombards stands in close relation to the worship of Odin, whose many names include “the Long-bearded” or “the Grey-bearded”, and that the Lombard given name Ansegranus (“he with the beard of the gods”) shows that the Lombards had this idea of their chief deity.