Posted by: ken98 | September 6, 2011

A Theudalinda Kind of Day, the Grand Prix of Italy, Handsome Roman Emperors, and Lower Taxes Does Not Necessarily Equal Good Government

Day 723 – Ken here (T)(9-6-2011)
(DEF II, v.4, Ch.45, pp.860-870)(pages read: 1920)

The beautiful Theudalinda

The beautiful Theudalinda - well, as they thought she should have/would have looked as a 15th century princess 900 years later - From a fresco by Zavatarri in the Duomo of Monza - Theudalinda marrying Agilulf (Autharis) - 1444

We start today in Constantinople at the end of the Later Roman Empire, and end up in a German Romance straight out of the Middle Ages (back in Italy, as the Bavarian princess Theudalinda takes the Lombard Nation by storm) – on the way we stop at the Grand Prix of Italy and peer at a Flying Wing masquerading as a motorcycle, look at falcons and falconry, and see two Roman Emperors die. An interesting day – a good day – a Theudalinda kind of day.

Researching Theudalinda – the future (and great) Lombard Queen, I wondered why the Monza (as in city of) was so special (well, besides hosting the Italian Grand Prix and being the name of an incredible Ferrari Test-Concept Car/Plane/Motorcycle (the Monza)), I wondered, why were the frescoes of Theudalinda’s life were in a cathedral in Monza? I then discovered that this (Monza) was her favorite city, and the town got its name from her (after Theudalinda founded a chapel there) and that a great many famous rei Lombardicae (Lombard “things”) – reside there – the famous Iron Crown of Lombardy, and the golden chickens among others.

the Naming of Monza

There is also an important legend that Theodelinda, asleep while her husband was hunting, saw in a dream a dove who told her : “Modo”, Latin for “here”, in order to say that she should build the oraculum in that place, and the queen answered “etiam”, meaning “yes”. So from the two words “modo” and “etiam”, following the legend, would have derived “Modoetia”, the medieval name of Monza.

The Duomo of Monza

Monza is famous for its Romanesque-Gothic Duomo of Saint John. There Theodelinda’s centrally-planned Greek-cross oraculum (“chapel of prayer”) from c. 595 (its foundations remaining under the crossing of nave and transept) was enlarged at the close of the 13th century by enclosing the former atrium within the building.

The fine black and-white marble arcaded façade was erected in the mid-14th century by Matteo da Campione. The campanile was erected in 1606 to designs by Pellegrino Tibaldi. In the frescoed Chapel of Theodelinda is the Iron Crown of Lombardy, supposed to contain one of the nails used at the Crucifixion.

The treasury also contains the crown, fan and gold comb of Theodelinda, and, as well as Gothic crosses and reliquaries, a golden hen and seven chickens, representing Lombardy and her seven provinces. Though the interior has suffered changes, there is a fine relief by Matteo da Campione representing a royal Lombard coronation, and some 15th-century frescoes with scenes from the life of Theodelinda.

(Wiki – Monza)

but, onto Gibbon, Rome, and the Lombards (whom Gibbon really, really likes – which was actually a great surprise to me, as Gibbon takes a liking to, well anyone or anything, only very infrequently)…

Monza - take off your shoes, for you are treading upon holy ground

Monza - take off your shoes, for you tread upon holy ground - Monza, famous for Theudalinda in the 6th cent., and gorgeously designed very fast cars in 21st century - aerial photo of the Autodromo Nazionale Monza - the site of Italian Grand Prix Racing - from Wiki

Yet another reason for Monza to be famous

Yet another reason for Monza to be famous - part motorcycle, part jet - this is Ferrari's Test Concept Car, the Monza (Aug 2008), in case if you've never seen one before - you probably need a pilot's license in the U.S. to operate it legally

The Story
Tiberius (9-26-578 -> 8-14-582)- his Accession, Wife, Looks, Personality, Death
  • Very handsome Captain of Guard (this from Gibbon)- he was associated with Justin II in 574, so automatically became emp when Justin II died
  • Had a secret wife, Anastasia, much to distress of Sophia (late wife of Justin II – often the surviving empress married the next emperor who was not a blood relation – obviously – starting around now, women (empresses) gained more power, this became a common practice (legitimacy thru marriage with widow empress) in the next couple of centuries)
  • a “good” emperor – paid govt $$ to release captives in Italy, did send food to Rome during a famine
  • smaller govt usually means low taxes, letting things fall slowly apart, living off of the accomplishments of the previous generation until you run out entirely, then complain incessantly that everythings falling apart
  • Lowered taxes, smaller govt, but gave over Italy to the Lombards and the Franks
  • Italians ask for his help multiple times – he says – bribe the Franks, or bribe the Lombards (but expect no help from Constantinople)

    Reign of Emperor Maurice (582-602)
  • Goes down in history as a good emperor which means he was good for the upper classes, rich, senate, etc – the historians
  • Filled the treasury, (which means to the senators he was avaricious), lost wars to Avars, let Italy slip into hands of Lombards as the empire lost city after city

    State of Italy
  • Rome, All Italy is overrun by minor Lombard dukes
  • Romans spend little/no money to defend their Italian territory
  • We will see, that the Pope steps in to the power vacuum in the future and acts in a way like a “western emperor” – see Gregory I

    Autharis, King of Lombards (584-590)
  • Autharis, son of Clepho, while he was growing up was forced to leave Italy in the hands of the dukes (the 30 tyrants)
  • Franks invade Italy 3 times during Autharis’s brief reign (one headed by Childebert King of the Franks himself), they fend them off 2 times, the 3rd time (allied to Rome this time) they allowed them to rampage, they pillage, but cannot take Italy – in the end, Autharis waits them out, then retakes all the land the Romans had thought they had retaken (after Franks go back north home)

    Exarchate of Ravenna
  • Next 200 years (through the late 800’s) – Italy is divided in a kind of patchwork quilt into Lombard duchies and Roman (Imperial) lands under the Exarch (military/civil “general/governor” of Ravenna
  • 18 Exarchs would serve in Italy before it fell
  • Imperial lands often were the nurseries of the future naval Italian city states – eg. Amalfi, Bari, Venice

    State of Lombard Kingdom
  • Lombard kingdom took up all of northern Italy
  • a belt of Roman territory was in the middle – connecting to Ravenna
  • in the south, the duchies of Beneventum survived 500 years until the Normans took them
  • Lombards were not numerous, each man was a soldier, loyal to his duke – the monarchy was elective
  • Famous for the compilation of Lombard Laws (643) Rotharis Codex
  • Lombards supp. introduced Falconry to Europe
  • Remember at this point, no one knew who would be running Italy – the Franks wanted to, the Romans thought for sure they would, the Lombards were just throwing their hats into the ring to give it a try – who knew they would be essentially the last and the most successful?

    Theudalinda, Queen of the Lombards
  • The Romance of Bavarian princess Theudalinda and Lombard King Autharis – see below – remember Autharis only lived 6 years as king, one year married to Theudalinda – Theudalinda became the next Queen of the next king also


    Falconry as a craze finds a somewhat official start per Gibbon with the Lombards

    Falconry as a craze finds a somewhat official start (in Italy) per Gibbon with the Lombards in the early 600's - 600 years this is an illustration from one of thousands of manuals on the art of hawking/falconry - Detail of falconers from Frederick II's Falconry Book (1240's)


    Beginning of the Middle Ages, Part 217: The Introduction of Falconry

    In yet another example of the end of the Classical world, Late Antiquity, and the old Mediterranean-centric world order, Gibbon notes that the Lombards imported (but probably did not originate) the sports of falconry and hawking to European nobility – in this case, the Lombard nobility of Italy. Gibbon notes in a footnote, that hawking was current among noble Gallo-Romans in the 200’s, but the Lombards were the 1st to record and regulate hawking/falconry in their laws (the Laws of Rotharis, 643).

    One by one, the commonplaces of medieval Europe are taking form before our eyes.

    This tangent on hawking, all this, of course, is a dear subject to a member of the English gentry, and is yet another elaborate, cultivated wave of Gibbon’s genteel, nobly-ancestored handkerchief in the general direction of all his *well-bred* English readers back in England – the literary equivalent of a knowing wink and an avuncular chuckle and smile at a shared cultural reference – in itself an interesting piece of history.

    This from Gibbon:

    The depopulation of Lombardy, and the increase of forests, afforded an ample range for the pleasures of the chase. That marvellous art which teaches the birds of the air to acknowledge the voice, and execute the commands, of their master, had been unknown to the ingenuity of the Greeks and Romans. (46) Scandinavia and Scythia produce the boldest and most tractable falcons: (47) they were tamed and educated by the roving inhabitants, always on horseback and in the field. This favorite amusement of our ancestors was introduced by the Barbarians into the Roman provinces; and the laws of Italy esteemed the sword and the hawk as of equal dignity and importance in the hands of a noble Lombard.

    Note 046
    Their ignorance is proved by the silence even of those who professedly treat of the arts of hunting and the history of animals. Aristotle, (Hist. Animal. l. ix. c. 36, tom. i. p. 586, and the Notes of his last editor, M. Camus, tom. ii. p. 314,) Pliny, (Hist. Natur. l. x. c. 10,) Aelian (de Natur. Animal. l. ii. c. 42,) and perhaps Homer, (Odyss. xxii. 302 – 306,) describe with astonishment a tacit league and common chase between the hawks and the Thracian fowlers.]

    Note 048
    Script. Rerum Italicarum, tom. i. part ii. p. 129. This is the xvith law of the emperor Lewis the Pious. His father Charlemagne had falconers in his household as well as huntsmen, (Memoires sur l’ancienne Chevalerie, par M. de St. Palaye, tom. iii. p. 175.) I observe in the laws of Rotharis a more early mention of the art of hawking, (No. 322;) and in Gaul, in the fifth century, it is celebrated by Sidonius Apollinaris among the talents of Avitus, (202 – 207.)]

    (DEF II, Vol.4, Ch.45, pp.868, fn.48)


    Last Word…
    Autharis attempts (and fails) to get a bride from the Franks

    An imaginitive, but beautiful image after the fact (like 900 years after the fact) of Autharis's attempts to get a bride - this is the 1st one that failed - from WIKI - Authari King of the Lombards Sends Ambassadors to Childebert King of the Franks for the Hand of Childebert's Daughter Ingarde - Zavatarri, fresco from the Duomo of Monza 1444


    The Romance of Theudalinda and Autharis

    What interests me is not so much the actual romance – and the history of it (preserved in Paul the Deacon’s history, retold by Gibbon in his own inimitable style – he IS a good writer), but in Gibbon’s interest in it. He calls it “adventurous gallantry” breathing the “true spirit of chivalry and romance” “not affected by the hypocrisy of social manners” nor by the “restraints of laws and education.”

    This all seems vaguely Rousseau-like (a la Discourse on Inequality) – the innocence of the savage, and their “natural” unspoiled courtesy, manners, honor, and nobility. A very Enlightened (as in a man of the Enlightenment’s) view of the less-civilized – i.e. they are unspoiled and natural and we ought to learn from them.

    Gibbon goes out of his way over and over again to show the native civility of the Lombards, probably because the Lombards and the “Iron Crown” of Lombardy were a byword of cruelty and ignorance – so Gibbon, being the contrary man that he is, finds it irresistible to point out at every turn he can, that the Lombards were actually progressive, naturally mannered and “gentle” and in fact were early proponents of chivalry (although this entire set of ideas/worldview was 500 years in the future).

    I don’t know – you see for yourself – here’s Gibbon’s tale of Theudalinda and Autharis, Gibbon begins describing Autharis’s search for a bride:

    After the loss of his promised bride, a Merovingian princess, he sought in marriage the daughter of the king of Bavaria; and Garribald accepted the alliance of the Italian monarch. Impatient of the slow progress of negotiation, the ardent lover escaped from his palace, and visited the court of Bavaria in the train of his own embassy.

    At the public audience, the unknown stranger advanced to the throne, and informed Garribald that the ambassador was indeed the minister of state, but that he alone was the friend of Autharis, who had trusted him with the delicate commission of making a faithful report of the charms of his spouse.

    Theudelinda was summoned to undergo this important examination; and, after a pause of silent rapture, he hailed her as the queen of Italy, and humbly requested that, according to the custom of the nation, she would present a cup of wine to the first of her new subjects. By the command of her father she obeyed: Autharis received the cup in his turn, and, in restoring it to the princess, he secretly touched her hand, and drew his own finger over his face and lips.

    In the evening, Theudelinda imparted to her nurse the indiscreet familiarity of the stranger, and was comforted by the assurance, that such boldness could proceed only from the king her husband, who, by his beauty and courage, appeared worthy of her love. The ambassadors were dismissed: no sooner did they reach the confines of Italy than Autharis, raising himself on his horse, darted his battle-axe against a tree with incomparable strength and dexterity.

    “Such,” said he to the astonished Bavarians, “such are the strokes of the king of the Lombards.”

    On the approach of a French army, Garribald and his daughter took refuge in the dominions of their ally; and the marriage was consummated in the palace of Verona. At the end of one year, it was dissolved by the death of Autharis.

    But the virtues of Theudelinda had endeared her to the nation, and she was permitted to bestow, with her hand, the sceptre of the Italian kingdom.

    Note 050
    The story of Autharis and Theudelinda is related by Paul, l. iii. 29, 34; and any fragment of Bavarian antiquity excites the indefatigable diligence of the count de Buat, Hist. des Peuples de l’Europe, ton. xi. p. 595 – 635, tom. xii. p. 1 – 53.]

    (DEF II, Vol.4, Ch.45, pp. 869-870, fn.50)

    Eagle huntsman in Karakol, Kyrgyzstan

    Falconry originated apparently in China, Central Asia, or China around 2000 BCE per wiki - and entered or hit Italy per Gibbon in 500's (with a slight detour to France in the 200's) with the Lombards - photo of an Eagle huntsman in Karakol, Kyrgyzstan - from Wiki, Falconry


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