The Lombards – One Of The Ravaging Germanic Tribes Of The Dark Ages

The Lombards (also known under the term Longobards stemming from the Latin ‘Longobardi’) were one of the most

powerful and ravaging migratory tribes in Europe in the time of the Roman Empire’s stagnation and, ultimately, decadence throughout late Antiquity. They reached their peak of expansionist power when they ruled over a kingdom consisting of most of present-day Italy from the late 6th century to the late 8th century.

Artist’s depiction of a Lombard (early 18th century). Image source: Wikimedia Commons

It is stated in the early medieval Latin chronicle ‘The History of the Lombards’ by the Benedictine monk Paul the Deacon that the Lombards’ origin can be traced back to a certain area in the south of the Scandinavian region and that they commenced migrating in search of new lands.

At some point in their exodus, they reached and temporarily settled in modern day northwestern Germany. Part of the Lombards remained in this region were they later formed part of the Suebi (a term designating a large group of Germanic tribes who lived in the ancient historical region of Germania in the time of Julius Caesar).

The rest of the Lombards left and travelled southward inland, settling initially in contemporary Austria and then ultimately in the Apennine peninsula. In their quest to northern modern Italy, they were followed by numerous other tribes, including the Thuringians, Bulgars, Saxons, Ostrogoths, Gepids, or Heruls.

Once there, they found the once dominating Rome depleted and underpopulated, primarily as of the cause of the war between the Goths (who ruled these lands prior to the arrival of the Lombards) and the Byzantines.

After seizing power over the local populace, the Lombards established a kingdom of their own in the north and centre of the peninsula. Subsequently, they were conquered by the Frankish Empire of Charlemagne.

Map depicting the migration route of the Lombards during the early Middle Ages. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

However, other Lombard noblemen continued to rule over some southern Italian provinces before being, in turn, conquered by the Normans in the 11th century. Their legacy lingers own to this day primarily when it comes to the name of Lombardy, one of the northernmost regions of Italy.

Lombard shield made of iron, copper alloy, and gold (dated 7th century). Artefact from Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Documentation sources and external links:

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7 Responses to The Lombards – One Of The Ravaging Germanic Tribes Of The Dark Ages

  1. Erich Krausser says:

    Can anyone recommend a detailed history of the Thüringians.

  2. Anna says:

    Has anyone found/made a useful website about either the dark ages or the middle ages?
    I would be glad to here back from you on here if you have!

    • Victor Rouă says:

      There are plenty of them on the world wide web if you search for one in particular using the above mentioned keywords. This website (i.e. The Dockyards) is another website on the Middle Ages. You were previously surfing on one back in 2019. 🙂

  3. Elisabet says:

    Thank you.
    It seems I am basically a Lombard. They’re by far my closest ancient relatives, and my other groups/tribes seem to have been involved with them as well.
    The legacy is ambiguous. Is it good, bad or both?
    I guess we all have do our best with what we got.



    • Victor Rouă says:

      Good evening from Romania and thank you very much for your readership and interest in The Dockyards! To answer your question, quite frankly, it’s okay, given that a lot of Italians also have strong genetic heritage with the Lombards (no need to mention Lombardy here, of course) and it is what it is, in my humble opinion. In a way, it can be said as it in the case of the Goths and their descendants that it is both good and bad (if this makes sense). And, last but not least, I do wholeheartedly agree with the last part, more specifically that we just have to do our best with what we’ve got. All the best and Merry Christmas!

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