Heritage properties:

Scientific Area » Longobard History » The Origins

« Back


The historical tradition places the origins of this population, which took later the name of Longobards, in Scania (Hist. Lang.). They migrated from this land and settled in northern Germany, between Hamburg and Lüneburg, where their presence is already consolidated between the 1st and the 3rd century A.D.
The archaeological sources supply evidences of funerary rituals according to which the grave goods were deposited beside the dead, including weapons for warriors and mostly buckles for the female components of the group.

Military operations were organized under the leadership of a “royal” authority –referring to which Tacitus mentions these people. Cattlebreading, metallurgical production of high technical quality, pottery manifactures and agriculture were performed as well, the last one being obviously limited because of their lack of roots in a single territory. Such a condition affected even the dwelling manners and the social structure, still firmly based on tribal and warlike compounds.

From the ethnical identification point of view, the Longobards belong to a human group composed by various gentes (Turingians, Swabians, Saxons, either free or slaves from different origins and provenances).

The society division on the ground of different functions and hierarchies is evidenced in burials by the presence or absence of grave goods beside the dead, as well as by their richness and artefacts typology. In case of aristocratic tombs, the presence of gifts deriving from large scale trades and imports is elevant, e.g. Byzantine and coptic-made bronze vessels.
The identity shift accomplished by these Germanic populations has its counterpart in the widespread custom of changing name:


The Longobards take it after the legendary battle against the Vandals, whom they defeated thanks to god Odin’s aid. He changed their ancient name from Winnili to Longobards, i.e. “long bearded people”.
According to northern traditions, the identity of a compund of tribes is provided by a common myth of origins and by the faith in a royal genealogy where every deed appears as the counterpart of an epic event (defeat of enemies, migration).
In making his edict preceded by the kings’ succession list Origo gentis Langobardorum, Longobard king Rotary (643) is still part of this tradition made of sagas and shared beliefs, as well as part of the lineage proceeding from heroes and kings.

« Back