langobards

Lombardic Silver-gilt Fibula, c. 6th Century AD

The Lombards (or Langobards) were a Germanic tribe who ruled Italy from 568 to 774. They descended from a small tribe called the Winnili who lived in southern Scandinavia before migrating to seek new lands. In the 1st century AD, they formed part of the Suebi, in northwestern Germany. By the end of the 5th century, they had moved into the area roughly coinciding with modern Austria north of the Danube river, where they subdued the Heruls and later fought frequent wars with the Gepids. The Lombard king Audoin defeated the Gepid leader Thurisind in 551 or 552; his successor Alboin eventually destroyed the Gepids at the Battle of Asfeld in 567.

Following this victory, Alboin decided to lead his people to Italy, which had become severely depopulated and devastated after the long Gothic War (535–554) between the Byzantine Empire and the Ostrogothic Kingdom there. The Lombards were joined by numerous Saxons, Heruls, Gepids, Bulgars, Thuringians, and Ostrogoths, and their invasion of Italy was almost unopposed. By late 569 they had conquered all the principal cities north of the Po River except Pavia, which fell in 572. At the same time, they occupied areas in central and southern Italy. They established a Lombard Kingdom in Italy, later named Regnum Italicum (“Kingdom of Italy”), which reached its zenith under the 8th-century ruler Liutprand. In 774, the Kingdom was conquered by the Frankish King Charlemagne and integrated into his Empire. However, Lombard nobles continued to rule parts of the Italian peninsula well into the 11th century when they were conquered by the Normans and added to their County of Sicily. Their legacy is apparent in the regional name, Lombardy.

Basket Earring
Lombardic / Langobardic
Late sixth- seventh century CE
Gold with garnets and glass paste

“One of the most common types of Langobardic jewelry, the basket earring derives its name from the hemispherical "basket” of gold wire as in this example. The front disk of gold is inlaid with gold wire cells for four red glass or garnet inserts arranged like the arms of a cross around a central, circular cell filled with a rounded green stone or glass. A triad arrangement of one large and two small circular gold wire circlets fills the space between the garnet inlays and creates a ring around the cross. A thick, flattened lip of gold decorated with hatching and cross-hatching overlays the outer edge of the disk where it joins the basket. On the front of the hoop are a row of five cells for red glass or garnet inlays, of which three are still filled. The sides of the hoops are decorated with a row of four wire circlets. A loop attached to the base of the earring once suspended an additional pendant.“

In the collection of the Walters Art Museum. Image and description taken from the object’s page on the Walters Art Museum website. Visit the objects’ page for additional images (in which you can see the "basket” described above) and zoom capability.

The Langobards, perhaps inspired by jewelry of the Goths, developed bird-headed, S-shaped fibulae during their 6th-century settlement in Pannonia (present-day Hungary). The body was cast from a carved mold and finished with gold gilding. The eyes originally were set with stones or glass. On the back, an iron pin set into a bronze hinge and J-shaped catch held the pin in place. The hinge and the catch are intact, while remains of the iron pin and the fragments of the textile to which this pin was attached remain in the hinge.

From the 6th-7th century.

fernweb.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk
The Lombards (Langobardi)

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The Lombards, or Langobards, originated in the lower Elbe Valley. They are mentioned by Tacitus (Germania, 40) as one of the many tribes collectively known as the Suebi. He notes that they were small in number and hemmed in by more powerful tribes but that they found safety not in submission but in battle…

However, they played little or no part in the overthrow of the West Roman Empire, only moving into northern Austria in the wake of the Rugii in about 486, long after the Romans had departed.

Early in the Sixth Century, they moved into Pannonia (modern Hungary) where they established themselves as a powerful presence. They enjoyed friendly relations with the Eastern Empire under their king, Wacho (c.510-540).

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.