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In the intervals between the Frankish invasions Authari had done something to consolidate the Lombard power in north Italy, by capturing the great lagoon-fortress of Commacchio, whose seizure cut the communication between Padua and Ravenna. At about the same time Faroald, duke of Spoleto, took Classis, the seaport of Ravenna, and completely destroyed the city, whose only surviving remnant, the solitary church of St. Apollinare in Classe, stands up in such forlorn grandeur in the Ravennese marshes. Authari is said to have pushed one plundering expedition through Benevento into Bruttium, to have ridden to the extreme south point of the Italian peninsula, and to have touched with his spear a seaswept pillar near Reggio, crying, ‘Here shall be the boundary of the kingdom of the Lombards.” A vain boast, if it was ever made, for Bruttium was not destined to fall at any time into Lombard hands. Authari married Theodelinda, the daughter of Garibald duke of Bavaria, a pious Christian and a Catholic, whose coming seems to have led the wild Lombards to Christianity, much as the influence of queen Bertha worked on the Jutes of Kent. She had not been long wedded to him when he died ; the Lombard witan, who had formed a high idea of her wisdom and virtue, consulted her as to the choice of a new king. She recommended to them Agilulf, duke of Turin, a cousin of Authari. To him she gave her hand, and he was at the same time raised on the shield at Milan as king of the Lombards (590). Agilulf was led by his wife's persuasion to be baptized, and ere long the greater part of the nation followed his example. The majority of the Lombards, like most of the other Teutonic races, adopted Arianism, and only conformed to orthodoxy in the seventh century. It was Agilulf and Theodelinda who built the famous Basilica of Monza, where the iron crown of Lombardy is even now preserved. In its sacristy are still shown many relics of the pious queen; most curious among them is a hen and chickens of gold of the most quaint and PERIOD I. N
archaic workmanship, a marvellous example of the earliest art
many a year; in the throes of the disastrous Persian war, Phocas and Heraclius were unable to send aid to Rome or Ravenna. The opportunity afforded to Agilulf of completing the conquest of Italy was such as never occurred again. But contented with his annual tribute, and perhaps tamed down by approaching old age, the Lombard king remained quiescent. Apparently he preferred to give his realm peace, and to occupy himself in keeping down his unruly dukes. In the course of his reign there were three or four dangerous rebellions of these chiefs, but Agilulf put them all down, apparently without much difficulty. There was also trouble on the north-eastern frontier from the Avars and Slavs, the same foes who were so grievously afflicting the Roman empire at this time. The Slavs made their way into Istria and Cilly, and became troublesome neighbours to Italy, though some of their nearest tribes were reduced to pay tribute by the dukes of Friuli. The Avars were more active and more dangerous; in spite of repeated treaties with Agilulf, their Chagan burst into north Italy in 610, slew Gisulf, duke of Friuli, in battle, ravaged all Venetia, and carried off many captives. Fortunately for the Lombards these invasions were not continued, as the Avars found better prey and less fighting to the south of the Danube. In spite of such troubles, the reign of Agilulf was a time of growth, expansion, and ripening civilisation for the Lombards. They had all, by the end of his reign, received Christianity, had settled down in their new home, and were beginning to build churches and palaces, instead of confining their attention to destroying them. Agilulf had found a modus wivendi with Gregory the Great and the Papacy, and taught his subjects to live in some sort of peace with their neighbours, instead of persisting in the unending war which had filled the first thirty years of Lombard dominion in Italy. . Agilulf was succeeded by his only son, Adaloald, a boy of fourteen, whom he had induced the Lombard witan to salute as his colleague, and raise on the shield some years before. The regency was held by queen Theodelinda, who was both pious and popular, till the young king came of age; but soon after he had attained his majority, Adaloald was stricken with madness, and the nation chose in his stead Arioald, duke of Turin, who appears to have been no kinsman of the royal house, but had married the young king's sister, Gundiberga (626). Little is known of this king's reign of twelve years; we hear neither of wars with the Franks, nor of conquests from the Roman; we only read that he was, unlike his predecessor, an Arian. When he died, however, he was succeeded by a ruler of far greater mark, ‘Duke Rothari of Brescia, of the race of Arod, a strong man, and one who walked in the paths of justice, though he was not an orthodox Christian, but followed the deceitful heresy of the Arians.” Rothari finally completed the conquest of northern Italy, by taking the two districts which had still remained in the hands of the Imperialists down to his day. He subdued the whole Ligurian coast from Nice to Luna, with the great city of Genoa its capital (641). He also took the city of conquest, Oderzo, the last mainland possession of the Romans of Rothari, in Venetia. After this time the lagoon islands 636-52. alone acknowledged the eastern Caesar as their suzerain, and their homage was formal rather than real. Rothari's conquests were not won without severe fighting. His greatest victory was won on the Scultenna, not far from Modena, over the exarch Plato, who had invaded Lombard territory, but was defeated with a loss of 8ooo men, and driven back into Ravenna. The new activity of the Romans, to which this battle bears witness, may be attributed to the fact that the Persian and Saracen wars of Heraclius were at last ended, and under his grandson, C9nstans II., the Eastern empire was beginning to recover some measure of strength (642). But Rothari is better remembered as the framer of the Lombard Code of Laws than as the conqueror of Liguria. In 643 he published the compilation of the traditional usages of the nation, which had hitherto never been committed to writing. It is noticeable that the code is promul- Laws of
gated, not on the king's personal authority, but, Rothari.
like the English laws of Ine, “Pro communi gentis nostrae utili. fate, pari consilio Aarique consensu cum primatis judicibus nostris cunctoque felicissimo exercitu nostro’—that is to say, by the king, with the counsel of his witan, and the assent of the armed folk-moot of the Lombard nation. The Edictum Aotharis is a very primitive body of legislation, such as might have been promulgated in the depths of the German forests, instead of in the heart of Italy. It is mainly composed of elaborate lists of weregelds, of laws against armed violence, of rules of inheritance, of statements concerning the obligation of the follower towards his lord, of provisions for judicial duels, per campionem. There is hardly any mention either of things ecclesiastical or of city life, merely a provision against breach of peace in a church, and some rules about magistri comacenses, or skilled Roman artisans. We have from the laws a picture of a people dwelling apart by families, or faras, each in its own farm-clearing, surrounded by woods or open pasture land. Some are ‘free Lombards, called even thus early ‘barones, others the “men” of a duke or of the king. Below them are aldii, who correspond to mediaeval villeins, the half-free occupiers of the land of the Lombard master. These, no doubt, are the remains of the old Roman populalation, coloni who had once cultivated the massa of a Roman curialis. The royal authority is found relegated to the local dukes in all military matters, while civil affairs are dealt with by the king's schulthais, or reeve (as the old English would have called him), or to the castaldus, who seems to have been the king's representative in the city, as opposed to the countryside. It is noticeable, as showing the extremely un-Roman character of the Lombard laws, that they are drawn up by a German official, the notary Ansoald, not by a Roman bishop or lawyer, as would certainly have been the case in Gaul or Spain. Their execrable Latin, which makes light of all