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Scientific Area » Longobard History » Spring 568 d.c. / Conquiry of Italy

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In the Spring of 568 A.D. the Longobards left their territories in Pannonia, currently in Hungary, to conquer Italy under the leadership of king Alboin. The Longobards reached the italian peninsula over the mountain passes of the eastern Alps without encountering resistance.

As soon as they arrived, they occupied Cividale del Friuli, the roman Forum Iulii (whence the region derived its name: “Friuli”), a military outpost of the Veneto region since the V century. Here the Longobards established their first duchy, which Alboin assigned to Gisulf, his relative and esquire.
The Longobards continued their occupation along the roads built by the romans connecting Vicenza, Verona, Trento, Brescia, and Bergamo, which were assigned the title of ducal cities. Finally, the occupation achieved Piedmont and part of Emilia Romagna all the way to Reggio Emilia. Pavia opposed resistance until 571, when the Longobards settled in the central and southern regions of Italy.

The same year, they established the duchies of Spoleto and Benevento, which included a vast territory. The immigration phase left Italy divided into areas dominated by the Longobards and by the Byzantines - an inevitable source of conflict. in 584, the Byzantine empire responded to enemy expansion with the creation of the Ravenna exarchate; they preserved their connection to Rome open through the so-called “Byzantine corridor” separating the Duchy of Spoleto from the Tuscia. That division codified the physical separation of the Longobard kingdom in:

  • Langobardia Major (whence Lombardy derived its name), including all of the northern regions and territories except for Liguria, which was annexed under Rotari in 636;
  • Langobardia Minor that included the duchies of Spoleto and Benevento in central and southern Italy, excluding Rome, Capua, Naples and Sicily.
The Longobard territories managed to preserve political and administrative unity, notwithstanding frequent internal conflict.
Initially, Longobard warriors were organized in fare -i.e. aristocratic clans- subject to the authority of the dukes who would autonomously appoint a king, picked among the noblest warriors, when need arose for communal military campaigns.

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