Lombard duchies

The Lombard duchies were the main political organizations created by the Lombards in Italy.

After the invasion led by Alboin in 568-569 the conquered territory was divided in a primarily military manner and assigned to those who, among the nobles Lombards, had proved themselves in combat: the dukes, exactly. The charge was not new and was linked to the establishment of Fara, basic unit of social and military structure of the Lombards, but after the settlement in Italy took on new characteristics.

The first Duchy to be constituted, already in the aftermath of the conquest (569), was the one of Friuli, and entrusted by Alboin to Gisulf. Particular historic significance had the two duchies erected in central-southern Italy (the Langobardia Minor), Spoleto and Benevento, who often enjoyed broad autonomy within the Lombard Kingdom.

In the early years of the Lombard domination in Italy, the duchies were governed independently for a decade(Rule of the Dukes, 574-584), without a central king. Later on, in front of the inefficiency and dangerous military weakness of such fragmentation, the dukes came back to elect a king (Autari), but the relationship between central power and the duchies remained weak. Only with time, the centralization of royal power, at least in Langobardia Maior (north-central Italy), prevailed on the details of the duchies.

The duchy was for several Lombard nobles a "springboard" to the throne of Pavia (among many examples, several stand out among the greatest among the kings of the Lombards: Autari, Agilulf, Rothari, Grimoald, Rachis, Aistulf, Desiderius). Not always, however, the coup was successful, and the attempted usurpation ended with the death of the rebel Duke (Alahis, Rotarit).

The Lombard duchies, both in Langobardia Maior as in Langobardia Minor, were not abolished with the fall in the realm (774), but later became part of the Carolingian Empire. The only exception, the Duchy of Benevento soon be elevated to the rank of principality (but then also weakened by secessions), retained its autonomy and indeed played an important political role until the arrival of the Normans (11th century).


List of Lombard duchies

  • Duchy of Friuli
  • Duchy of Ceneda
  • Duchy of Treviso
  • Duchy of Vicenza
  • Duchy of Verona
  • Duchy of Trent
  • Duchy of Parma
  • Duchy of Reggio
  • Duchy of Piacenza
  • Duchy of Brescia
  • Duchy of Bergamo
  • Duchy of San Giulio
  • Duchy of Pavia
  • Duchy of Turin
  • Duchy of Asti
  • Duchy of Tuscany
  • Duchy of Spoleto
  • Duchy of Benevento, then the Principality of Salerno
  • Duchy of Aosta
  • Duchy of Milan
  • Duchy of Ivrea


  • Paul Deacon, Historia Langobardorum (Storia dei Longobardi, Lorenzo Valla/Mondadori, Milan 1992)


See also

This article incorporates information from the Italian Wikipedia.

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