Posted by: ken98 | September 7, 2011

Barbarian Laws and Barbarian Histories – A North-Down View of Europe

Day 724 – Ken here (W)(9-7-2011)
(DEF II, v.4, Ch.45, pp.870-880)(pages read: 1930)

Edictum Rothari - Law of Rotharis - Lombard Law Code

The Famous Lombard Law Code - the Edictum Lothari (643) - the Law of Lothari - image of a page from a manuscript of the Edictum

A short day. We end Chapter 45 with a brief overview of Lombard Law (which Gibbon likes), a description of Roman Decay (of which Gibbon is eloquent), and a brief overview of Pope Gregory I (of whom Gibbon is approving).

In the days to come (Chapter 46) we view the Götterdämmerung of Persian/Roman wars ending with Heraclius’s victories. Finally, Rome conquers the Persians, takes their capital and leaves the Persian state in complete disarray – a final victory after literally centuries of warfare. What makes it all the more poignant is that it comes after Persia marches up and down Rome’s Asian provinces, taking one after the other (even Egypt). It looked like Constantinople, and “Roman” values (as the Romans would have seen it – Romanitas) had won the day. Within 10 years, the Arab Conquests had begun and a unified Roman Asia was only a memory.

But for today – and the 580’s, we stay in Italy and watch the Pope begin to take over the Empire’s duties.

The Story
Lombard Law
  • Public revenue from produce of land, and fines from Royal courts
  • On his accession, Autharis is given Pavia, and 1/2 the duke’s land in Italy as his domain to give away or live on
  • The Rotharic Law Code considered the “least imperfect” – Gibbon quoting Montesquieu
  • Most crimes could be satisfied by paying a fine (murder, etc – a very germanic set of laws – the AngloSaxon Weregild) – Gibbon notes murder had a huge fine – 900 pieces of gold – for an ordinary citizen – which could be a lot of money – 10-20 years wages
  • Gibbon;s view – ” But the succession of their kings is marked with virtue and ability; the troubled series of their annals is adorned with fair intervals of peace, order, and domestic happiness; and the Italians enjoyed a milder and more equitable government, than any of the other kingdoms which had been founded on the ruins of the Western empire” (DEF II VOl.4, Ch.45, p.872)

    Rome’s Very Evident Decay
  • End of the 500’s = Lowest period of Rome
  • Campagna of Rome = wilderness of swamp and deserted lands – constantly fought over/burnt/destroyed – no way to cultivate it
  • Rome depends on Egypt, Sicily for grain still

    Pope Gregory I – SURPRISE – Gibbon Likes Him
  • Gregory becomes Pope in this atmosphere of decay, neglect
  • His grandfather=Pope Felix, his ancestors=Senators, and saints and virgins of the Church
  • Made Prefect of City (mayor of Rome) – uses his patrimony to feed/care for city
  • Sent as nuncio to byzantine court, returned and had the bishop of Rome forced upon him
  • Gibbon says he’s a mixture of “simplicity and cunning, pride and humility, sense and superstition”
  • a great preacher – who preached in the common mans tongue – the vulgar latin
  • famous for Gregorian Chant – which Gibbon claims preserved the vocal/instrumental traditions of the theater
  • Makes inroads into bringing Greece, Spain, Gaul under closer Papal control, Sends deputation to Britain to convert the Anglo Saxons and baptizes the King of Kent and 10,000 of his subjects

    Pope Gregory I – Temporal Government
  • Church of Rome is endowed already with considerable estates in Italy, Sicily – Greg I is considered a vigilant, moderate landlord – produce of the estates shipped up the Tyber to Rome
  • The accounts of the papal estates are kept as an example for 300 years in the Lateran
  • Disappointed in the lack of continuous interest by Constantinople in the fate of Italy and Rome, Gregory pushes on to defend Rome on his own – by the Italians themselves – against the inroads of Lombards/Other German nations


    Pope Gregory I

    Pope Gregory I - a man who courageously took up the responsibilities of the western emperor in Italy when the Eastern Romans were conspicuously neglecting them - famous for his Chant (Gregorian chants), his Reform of the Liturgy, his writings (sermons, rules for pastors, commentary on Job), and his alms-giving - he was made a saint, I think the last Pope to undergo that transformation - from a later medieval manuscript


    Last Word…


    Paulus Diaconus - Paul the Deacon

    Paulus Diaconus - Paul the Deacon - a great source for all things Lombard - although he wrote his histories at the very end of their kingdom, just before Charlemagne absorbed it all (thankfully at least recording some of his people's history) - image of Paul the Deacon from a later Medieval manuscript - he looks a very happy fellow


    On Sources – Paul the Deacon


    Most of what we know for the Lombards comes from Paul the Deacon – like Jornandes who wrote his own people’s (the Goths) national legends/myths/histories. It’s history from a different perspective – from the view of the “barbarian” rather than from the “official” view of a court-centric Roman. It’s an unusual opportunity to see the world from North-down for once.

    The Lombards, like the Goths, start out in Scandinavia and move down en masse as a nation looking for new land to settle on, then move further south. Once the Lombards impinge on Roman radar, it’s instructive to compare the two accounts of the same events – once in Roman eyes, and once in the (reflected) eyes of Paul, writing centuries later, and in the twilight of the Lombard kingdom in Italy.

    Lombard Migration Route from Sweden to Italy

    A (I must say - beautiful) map of the Lombard migration from Scandinavia to Italy - showing the different places Paul the Deacon mentions as Lombard lands at various times - from Wiki, The Lombards

    This (about his life and works) from Wiki:

    Paul the Deacon (c. 720 – 13 April probably 799), also known as Paulus Diaconus, Warnefred, Barnefridus and Cassinensis, (i.e. “of Monte Cassino”), was a Benedictine monk and historian of the Lombards.

    An ancestor named Leupichis entered Italy in the train of Alboin and received lands at or near Forum Julii (Cividale del Friuli). During an invasion the Avars swept off the five sons of this warrior into Pannonia, but one, his namesake, returned to Italy and restored the ruined fortunes of his house. The grandson of the younger Leupichis was Warnefrid, who by his wife Theodelinda became the father of Paul.

    Born between 720 and 735 in Friuli in Italy to this possibly noble Lombard family, Paul received an exceptionally good education, probably at the court of the Lombard king Ratchis in Pavia, learning from a teacher named Flavian the rudiments of Greek. It is probable that he was secretary to the Lombard king Desiderius, a successor of Ratchis; it is certain that this king’s daughter Adelperga was his pupil. After Adelperga had married Arichis II, duke of Benevento, Paul at her request wrote his continuation of Eutropius.

    It is certain that he lived at the court of Benevento, possibly taking refuge when Pavia was taken by Charlemagne in 774; but his residence there may be much more probably dated to several years before that event. Soon he entered a monastery on Lake Como, and before 782 he had become a resident at the great Benedictine house of Monte Cassino, where he made the acquaintance of Charlemagne. About 776 his brother Arichis had been carried as a prisoner to Francia, and when five years later the Frankish king visited Rome, Paul successfully wrote to him on behalf of the captive.
    His literary achievements attracted the notice of Charlemagne, and Paul became a potent factor in the Carolingian Renaissance. In 787 he returned to Italy and to Monte Cassino, where he died on April 13 in one of the years between 796 and 799. His surname Diaconus, shows that he took orders as a deacon; and some think he was a monk before the fall of the Lombard kingdom.

    The chief work of Paul is his Historia Langobardorum. This incomplete history in six books was written after 787 and at any rate no later than 795/96, maybe at Montecassino. It covers the story of the Lombards from their legendary origins in the north in ‘Scadinavia’ and their subsequent migrations, notably to Italy in 568/9 to the death of King Liutprand in 744, and contains much information about the Byzantine empire, the Franks, and others. The story is told from the point of view of a Lombard and is especially valuable for the relations between the Franks and the Lombards. It begins:
    The region of the north, in proportion as it is removed from the heat of the sun and is chilled with snow and frost, is so much the more healthful to the bodies of men and fitted for the propagation of nations, just as, on the other hand, every southern region, the nearer it is to the heat of the sun, the more it abounds in diseases and is less fitted for the bringing up of the human race.

    Among his sources, Paul used the document called the Origo gentis Langobardorum, the Liber pontificalis, the lost history of Secundus of Trent, and the lost annals of Benevento; he made a free use of Bede, Gregory of Tours and Isidore of Seville.
    Cognate with this work is Paul’s Historia Romana, a continuation of the Breviarium of Eutropius. This was compiled between 766 and 771, at Benevento. The story runs that Paul advised Adelperga to read Eutropius. She did so, but complained that this Pagan writer said nothing about ecclesiastical affairs and stopped with the accession of the emperor Valens in 364; consequently Paul interwove extracts from the Scriptures, from the ecclesiastical historians and from other sources with Eutropius, and added six books, thus bringing the history down to 553. This work has value for its early historical presentation of the end of the Roman Empire in the West, although it was very popular during the Middle Ages. It has been edited by H Droysen and published in the Monumenta Germaniae Historica. Auctores antiquissimi, Band ii. (1879) as well as by A. Crivellucci, in Fonti per la storia d’ Italia, n. 51 (1914).

    Paul wrote at the request of Angilram, bishop of Metz (d. 791), a history of the bishops of Metz to 766, the first work of its kind north of the Alps. This Gesta episcoporum Mettensium is published in Band ii. of the Monumenta Germaniae historica Scriptores, and has been translated into German (Leipzig, 1880). He also wrote many letters, verses and epitaphs, including those of Duke/Prince Arichis II of Benevento and of many members of the Carolingian family. Some of the letters are published with the Historia Langobardorum in the Monumenta; the poems and epitaphs edited by Ernst Dümmler will be found in the Poetae latini aevi carolini, Band i. (Berlin, 188f). Fresh material having come to light, a new edition of the poems (Die Gedichte des Paulus Diaconus) has been edited by Karl Neff (Munich, 1908), who denies, however, the attribution to Paul of the most famous poem in the collection, the Ut queant laxis, a hymn to St. John from the initial syllables of the first verses of which Guido d’Arezzo took the names of the first notes of the musical scale. Paul also wrote an epitome, which has survived, of Sextus Pompeius Festus’ De significatu verborum. It was dedicated to Charlemagne.

    While in Francia, Paul was requested by Charlemagne to compile a collection of homilies. He executed this after his return to Monte Cassino, and it was largely used in the Frankish churches. A life of Pope Gregory the Great has also been attributed to him, and he is credited with a Latin translation of the Greek Life of Saint Mary the Egyptian.


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