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The Great Empires of Prophecy, from Babylon to the Fall of Rome

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    CHAPTER XLIV. ROME DIVIDED—THE LOMBARDS

    Their Native Region—After the Battle of Netad

    THE Lombards fixed their name forever upon a part of the fallen empire of Western Rome. Lombardy, in the north of Italy, perpetuates the name of this nation, which at one time even spread its name over all Italy. Although the place where the Lombards permanently fixed their kingdom, and to which their name was given, was in Italy, that was not their first settlement within the Western Empire.GEP 662.1

    2. The Lombards, as well as the Ostrogoths, had been subjects of the empire of Attila, and obtained their freedom, settling in Noricum on the Danube, at the death of that savage warrior. They were of Vandal blood, and were the kindred of the Heruli and Burgundians. 1[Page 662] See Gibbon’s “Decline and Fall,” chap 10, par. 8.GEP 662.2

    3. “The name Lombard is the Italianized form of the national name of a Teutonic tribe, Longobardi, itself an Italian arrangement based on a supposed etymology of the Teutonic Langbard, Langobardi, the form used when they are first named by the Roman writers—Velleius and Tacitus. The etymology which made the name mean Longbeard is too obvious not have suggested itself to the Italians, and perhaps to themselves; it is accepted by their first native chronicler, Paul the Deacon, who wrote in the time of Charles the Great [Charlemagne].GEP 662.3

    4. “But the name has also been derived from the region where they are first heard of. On the left bank of the Elbe, ‘where Borde or Bord still signifies a fertile plain by the side of a river,’ a district near Magdeburg is still called the Lange Borde; and lower down the Elbe, on the same side, about Luneburg, Bardengan, with its Bardewik, is still found. It is here that Velleius, who accompanied Tiberius in his campaign in this part of Germany, and who first mentions the name, places them. As late as the age of their Italian settlement [A. D. 568], the Lombards are called Bardi in poetical epitaphs, though this may be for the convenience of meter.GEP 662.4

    5. “Their own legends bring the tribe as worshipers of Odin [Woden] from Scandinavia to the German shore of the Baltic, under the name of Winili, a name which was given to them in a loose way as late as the twelfth century. By the Roman and Greek writers of the first two centuries of our era they are spoken of as occupying, with more or less extension at different times, the region which is now Hanover and the Altmark of Prussia. To the Romans they appeared a remarkable tribe; ‘gens etiam Germana feritate ferocior’ [fierce, bold, and savage above all the tribes of the Germans], says Velleius, who had fought against them under Tiberius; and Tacitus describes them as a race which, though few in numbers, more than held their own among numerous powerful neighbors by their daring and love of war. In the quarrels of the tribes they appear to, have extended their borders; in Ptolemy’s account of Germany, in the second century, they fill a large space among the races of the northwest and north.” 2[Page 663] Encyclopedia Britannica, art. Lombards, pars. 2, 3.GEP 663.1

    6. “The Lombards. This corrupt appellation has been diffused in the thirteenth century by the merchants and bankers, the Italian posterity of these savage warriors; but the original name of Langobards is expressive only of the peculiar length and fashion of their beards. I am not disposed either to question or to justify their Scandinavian origin; nor to pursue the migrations of the Lombards through unknown regions and marvelous adventures. About the time of Augustus and Trajan, a ray of historic light breaks on the darkness of their antiquities, and they are discovered, for the first time, between the Elbe and the Oder.GEP 663.2

    7. “Fierce beyond the example of the Germans, they delighted to propagate the tremendous belief that their heads were formed like the heads of dogs, and that they drank the blood of their enemies whom they vanquished in battle. The smallness of their numbers was recruited by the adoption of their bravest slaves; and alone, amidst their powerful neighbors, they defended by arms their high-spirited independence. In the tempests of the north, which overwhelmed so many names and nations, this little bark of the Lombards still floated on the surface; they gradually descended toward the south and the Danube; and at the end of four hundred years, they again appear with their ancient valor and renown. Their manners were not less ferocious.” 3[Page 664] “Decline and Fall,” chap 13, par.2.GEP 663.3

    8. When Attila united under his dreadful sway the kingdoms of both Germany and Scythia, the nation of the Lombards was comprised in the number of his subjects. And when “the kings and nations of Germany and Scythia obeyed the warlike summons of Attila” to invade the Western Empire, A. D. 451-453, this war-loving nation, so “fierce beyond the example of the Germans,” was not left behind. The “ferocious” warriors of the Lombard nation were numbered with the forces with which Attila invaded Gaul and Italy; and that nation among the others regained its freedom at the death of Attila.GEP 664.1

    9. “Attila’s sudden death, either by hemorrhage, or the vengeance of his Burgundian bride, checked the progress of the Hunnish Empire. The Ostrogoths, the Gepidae, and the Langobards obtained their independence after a severe struggle, whilst the remains of the nomadic Huns were lost in the rich pastoral steppes of southern Russia.”—Weber. 4[Page 664] “Outlines of Universal History,” sec. clxxx. Dr. George Weber was professor and director of the High School of Heidelberg, Germany.GEP 664.2

    10. To show more clearly not only the position of the Lombards after the battle of the Netad, but also that of the principal nations which had been subject to Attila, the following facts are given: On the left bank of the Danube, where it flows south, Attila’s brother, Dengisich, with the remains of the Huns, “maintained his ground above fifteen years” in a kingdom that was “confined to the circle of his wagons.” In A. D. 455, these Huns crossed the river and made an attack upon the Ostrogoths, but were repulsed by a single division of the Ostrogoths under Walamir. About A. D. 468, Dengisich. with his “kingdom,” invaded the Eastern Empire, but lost his life, and his brother Irnac led the remnant of the Hunnish nation away into the Lesser Scythia, whence their fathers had come nearly a hundred years before. 5[Page 665] “Decline and Fall,” chap 35. par. 16; chap 39, par.2.GEP 664.3

    11. The Seyrri, whose king, Edecon, the father of Odoacer, “enjoyed the favor of Attila,” and whose part it was in their turn to guard the royal village, remained in alliance with Dengisich for about thirteen years, when in a second bloody battle with the Ostrogoths, about A. D. 465, Edecon was killed, and the Seyrri, were defeated and dispersed.. 6[Page 665] Id., chap 36, par. 29.GEP 665.1

    12. The wooden palace of Attila, on the Teyss, with the plains of what is now Upper Hungary, and “the old country of Dacia, from the Carpathian Hills [and after Dengisich left, even from the Danube] to the Euxine [Black Sea], became the seat of a new power which was erected by Ardaric, king of the Gepidae,” and was possessed by that nation about a hundred years. 7[Page 665] Id., chap 35, par. 16: chap 13, par.2.GEP 665.2

    13. North of the Gepidae, and extending into “the southern provinces of Poland,” was the country of the Heruli, who “fought almost naked,” and whose bravery was like madness.” 8[Page 665] Id., chap 43, par.2; 39, par 10,note.GEP 665.3

    14. On the west side of the Danube, as already shown, the Ostrogoths held “the Pannonian conquests from Vienna to Sirmium.” Sirmium was near the mouth of the Save.GEP 665.4

    15. On the Danube above Vienna, and as best we can make out, possessing, for a while at least, both banks of the river, were seated the Lombards, who regained their independence at the death of Attila, A. D. 453. Some time afterward, at the command of the daughter of the king of the Lombards, a brother of the king of the Heruli was assassinated while a royal guest at the Lombard palace, apparently as a suitor for the hand of the Lombard princess. This brought on a war, and the Heruli were successful in imposing upon the Lombards “a tribute, the price of blood.” We know not to a certainty how long the tribute was paid. We only know that the success of the Heruli made them insolent, and that their insolence was paid for by their ruin.GEP 665.5

    16. “The assassination of a royal guest was executed in the presence, and by the command, of the king’s daughter, who had been provoked by some words of insult, and disappointed by his diminutive stature; and a tribute, the price of blood, was imposed on the Lombards by his brother, the king of the Heruli. Adversity revived a sense of moderation and justice, and the insolence of conquest was chastised by the signal defeat and irreparable dispersion of the Heruli, who were seated in the southern provinces of Poland.” 9[Page 666] “Decline and Fall,” chap 42, par.2.GEP 666.1

    17. This expedition carried the main body of the Lombards beyond the Danube for a while, but the exploit only the more firmly established their power, which was afterward further displayed in the extirpation of the Gepidae. Later, A. D. 526-536, they took entire possession of Noricum and Pannonia, which they held till A. D. 566.GEP 666.2

    18. In A. D. 567 the Lombards, under their great king, Alboin, removed from Pannonia to Italy. And, “whatever might be the grounds of his security, Alboin neither expected nor encountered a Roman army in the field. He ascended the Julian Alps, and looked down with contempt and desire on the fruitful plains to which his victory [A. D. 568-570] communicated the perpetual appellation of LOMBARDY.... From the Trentine Hills to the gates of Ravenna and Rome, the inland regions of Italy became, without a battle or a siege, the lasting patrimony of the Lombards.... Delighted with the situation of a city which was endeared to his pride by the difficulty of the purchase, the prince of the Lombards disdained the ancient glories of Milan; and Pavia, during some ages, was respected as the capital of the kingdom of Italy.” 10[Page 666] chap 14, pars. 5-7, 14, 15.GEP 666.3

    19. So wide-spread in Italy was the Lombard rule, that Lombardy “was indeed, for a time the name for Italy itself.” From that time to this history of the Lombards is but the history of Italy; and Lombardy is still “the name of the finest province” of that country, which itself, might almost be called the key of history.GEP 666.4

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