Posted by: ken98 | October 6, 2011

Of Misunderstood Kings, Tight-Rope Walking Popes, and Empires Gone Small, Rome is a City-State Again

Day 755 – Ken here (Th)(10-6-2011)
(DEF III, v.5, Ch.49, pp.100-110)(pages read: 2140)

My Mind

What a Thought Looks LIke Coming to the Surface of my Mind Today

Kind of a slow day. Very slow for me, not feeling very good at all, I feel, in fact like I’m thinking through mud.

Anyways… continuing with chapter 49 – the Grab-Bag chapter – so far this seems to be a chapter on how Rome went from being imperial to medieval – today Gibbon takes up with the Iconoclasm controversy causing a rift in the Constantinople/Rome alliance, leaving Rome exposed to Lombard attacks. France eventually steps in, first as a protector of the papcy, then within a few years as a conqueror of the Lombards with direct political “patronage” over the Romagna and Papal lands.

The more I look at the Grab-bag character of this chapter, I see Gibbon piecing together various themes, higgledy-piggledy (to use the technical expression) explaining the History of the City of Rome – which will take him on a long voyage during the next 700 years nearly all the way through the Middle Ages and almost into the Early Modern Era.

The Story
Italy Rebels (728->)
  • When lands under imperial control were commanded by emperor Leo III to destroy images – Pope Gregory takes charge, leads revolt – withholds taxes, overturns statues, leads eccles revolt
  • Gregory calls Synod of 93 bishops – result=all those who denigrate images=excommunicated (tacitly incl emp)
  • All this THROWS Rome and the Papacy first into the arms of the Lombard dukes attacking imperial territory in Italy, then into the arms of the protecting Franks, esp Pepin and Charlemagne – perm detaches Italy from Roman sympathies

    Beginning of Medieval Rome – Republic of Rome
  • Romans known now by the Lombards (ex. Bishop Liutprand) for… “whatever is base, cowardly, perfidious, the extremes of avarice and luxury, every vice that can prostitute the dignity of human nature” – of course, Gibbon, not liking Papists and papal Rome quotes this
  • True beg of medieval Rome as opposed to Imperial Rome

    Lombards Attack Rome (730-752)
  • King Liutprand invades the Romagna province – already Rome is back to a small city-state
  • take Ravenna briefly. retaken by empire by the Venetians, but become permanent overlord of Rome (well for the next 30 years or so) – def not Constantinople who is in charge

    France and Rome (754->)
  • 1st expedition – King Pepin of the Franks (754) marches back into Italy with the Pope to punish the Lombards –
  • 2nd expedition – again the Franks come to the aid of the Pope against the Lombards
  • Finally, in 774, Franks conquer the Lombard Kingdom
  • Afterwards, King of Franks are Patricians of Rome


    Italy of the Lombards

    Italy of the Lombards - Liutprands Italy - Italy after the conquests of Liutprand. Lombard territory shown in green, Byzantine territory in orange - just looking at Rome and the Papal Territories (that narrow orange belt running up the center of Italy) you can see why the Pope would be a little nervous around the Lombards, esp if he didn't feel like he could count on the emperor anymore to do some of the heavy lifting for him politically - I guess that's how you get tough (and the Papacy did get tough in the next 4 centuries), growing up in a rough neighborhood


    Last Word…


    Liutprand – King of the Lombards


    Like Jordanes for the Goths (a couple of centuries earlier in the 550’s) we have a NATIVE HISTORIAN writing history in a classical tradition of history for the Lombards – that is Paul the Deacon (in the 750’s) – who like Liutprand a lot. Seeing Liutprand through Lombard eyes (Paul’s – he was a Lombard) is very different from seeing him through imperial eyes, or the Papacy’s long memory.

    This is all very interesting to me, because you get a very different view of the Lombards from Paul – a much more complicated relationship with the Popes, the Germans, and the Franks, and a positive spin on Lombard behaviors – usually Lombards are treated in history like barely-tamed animals (Gibbon is no exception).

    But Lombard hitory wasn’t nearly as cartoonish, black-and-white, evil-versus-good as Gibbon, and possibly some 19th century national/church histories would like to maintain. The Lombards in Paul’s hands, sound less like barbarians ruining a good thing (Italy) and more like a typical Germanic successor kingdom trying to make its way in a very very dangerous world inhabited by powerful and uncontrollable Constantinople Romans and tricky fellow Germans.

    Anyways… here it is – this from WIKI:

    Liutprand was the King of the Lombards from 712 to 744 and is chiefly remembered for his Donation of Sutri, in 728, and his long reign, which brought him into a series of conflicts, mostly successful, with most of Italy. He profited by Byzantine weakness to enlarge his domains in Emilia and the Romagna.

    Liutprand’s life began inauspiciously. His father was driven to exile among the Bavarians, his older brother Sigipert was blinded by Aripert II, king of the Lombards and his mother Theodarada and sister Aurona were mutilated (their noses and ears were cut off). Liutprand was spared only because his youth made him appear harmless. He was released from Aripert I’s custody and allowed to join his father (Paul the Deacon, VI.xxii).


    The reign of Liutprand, son of Ansprand, duke of Asti and briefly king of the Lombards, began the day before his father’s death when magnates called to Ansprand’s deathbed consented to make Liutprand his colleague. Liutprand’s reign endured for thirty-one years. Within the Lombard kingdom he was considered a lawgiver of irreproachable Catholicity.

    Relations with the Agilolfings of Bavaria

    At the opening of his reign, Liutprand’s chief ally among neighboring rulers was the Agilolfing Theodo I, the Frankish duke of Bavaria. Theodo I’s intervention on Ansprand’s behalf helped him gain the throne. Theodo had taken him in, when he and his father were temporarily expelled by Aripert II in 702, and the hospitality was later cemented with a marriage connection: Liutprand took to wife the Agilolfing Guntrud. The core of Theodo’s policy was resistance to the Merovingian mayors of the palaces in their encroachments north of the Alps, concerns that did not much occupy Liutprand, and maintaining strategic control of the eastern Alpine passes in what is now the Italian Alps, which did. In the spring of 712, Theodo’s son Theodebert, with Ansprand and Liutprand, attacked Lombard strongholds, and with the drowning of their fleeing rival Aripert, Ansprand’s faction were back in power at Pavia.

    Theodo died in 717 or 718; under his successor the Lombard ties with the Agilolfing weakened. Until distracted by Byzantine politics in 726, Liutprand’s chief warmaking energies were concentrated on taking Bavarian castles on the River Adige.

    Byzantine wars

    In his early reign, Liutprand did not attack the Exarchate of Ravenna or the Papacy. But in 726, the Emperor Leo III made his first of many edicts outlawing images or icons (see the iconoclastic controversy). The pope, Gregory II, ordered the people to resist and the Byzantine duke of Naples, Exhiliratus, was killed by a mob while trying to carry out the imperial command to destroy all the icons. Liutprand chose this time of division to strike the Byzantine possessions in Emilia. In 727, he crossed the Po and took Bologna, Osimo, Rimini and Ancona, along with the other cities of Emilia and the Pentapolis. He took Classis, the seaport of Ravenna, but could not take Ravenna itself from the exarch Paul. Paul was soon killed in a riot, however. Eventually, Ravenna would capitulate to Liutprand with barely a fight (737).

    The first Moorish raids on Corsica began around 713–719 from the Balearic Islands to the west. Acting as the protector of the Catholic Church and its faithful, Liutprand subjected the island to Lombard government (c. 725), though it was nominally under Byzantine authority. Corsica remained with the Lombard kingdom even after the Frankish conquest, by which time Lombard landholders and churches had established a significant presence on the island.

    Donation of Sutri

    Having just overwhelmed the Byzantine forces, though it was left to his heirs to make the final vestige of the Exarchate of Ravenna Lombard at last, Liutprand advanced towards Rome along the Via Cassia; he was met at the ancient city of Sutri by Pope Gregory II (728). There the two reached an agreement, by which Sutri and some hill towns in Latium (see Vetralla) were given to the Papacy, “as a gift to the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul” according to the Liber Pontificalis. They were the first extension of Papal territory beyond the confines of the Duchy of Rome. This was the beginning of the Papal States.

    In the meantime, Leo sent Eutychius, as Exarch of Ravenna, to take control of Italy. When Eutychius arrived at Naples, he made an agreement whereby Liutprand would attack the Pope if the Greeks aided him in subjugating the contumacious and independent southern Lombard duchies, the Duchy of Spoleto and the Duchy of Benevento. The dukes, Thrasimund II and Godescalc, surrendered — though control of the duchies from Pavia was not to endure for long — and the new exarch marched on Rome. At Rome, Liutprand camped on the far bank of the Tiber in the “Field of Nero” and arbitrated, returning to the exarch the city of Ravenna alone among the Byzantine territories and prevailing on the pope to restore his allegiance to the emperor (730).

    Frankish relations

    Following the death of Theodo, Liutprand turned from his former Agilolfing allies to bind himself to Charles Martel, duke of the Franks, whose son, Pepin the Short, he adopted and girded with arms at his coming of manhood. In 735–736, a serious illness encouraged Liutprand to raise his nephew Hildeprand to co-kingship. In 736–737, Liutprand crossed the Alps with an army to help Charles expel the Moors from Aix-en-Provence and Arles.

    In 738, a long peace was broken by the rebellious Lombard duke of Spoleto, Thrasimund II. When the revolt was suppressed, with nephews of Liutprand established at Beneventum and Spoleto, the dukes fled to Rome and the protection of Pope Gregory III. Liutprand immediately began the conquest of the Ducatus Romanus, the province around Rome. After capturing Orte and Bomarzo, he arrived at Rome and besieged it. The Pope sent an embassy to Charles Martel to beg for aid, promising favour then and in the future world: the cover letter survives. Gregory conferred on him the title of patrician. Gregory’s anti-Lombard rhetoric reached absurd heights considering Liutprand’s orthodoxy; the Lombard king only wanted his rebellious dukes to face justice. Charles ignored the pope’s excessive charges against his erstwhile ally and instead sent back his own embassy to mediate between the two Italian powers. Before any headway was made, however, both pope and Frank died.


    Soon after the death of Gregory III (741), Zachary was elected to the Apostolic See; Liutprand happily signed a twenty-year peace and restored the cities of the Duchy of Rome of which he had taken possession. Soon after, his reign ended in peace. Having passed more years on the throne and come closer to bringing the entire peninsula under one rule than any of his predecessors, the great Lombard died in 744 and was buried the church of San Pietro in Ciel d’Oro, in Pavia.


    The main source for the career of Liutprand is the Historia Langobardorum of Paul the Deacon, which idealises Liutprand. It was written after 787 and covers the story of the Lombards from 568 to the death of Liutprand in 744. Though written by a Lombard from a Lombard point of view, it contains much information about the Eastern Roman Empire, the Franks, and others.

    (from Liutprand, King of the Lombards in Wiki)

    Tremissus of Liutprand - Lombard currency

    Tremissus of Liutprand - Lombard currency

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