The Invasion of Europe by the Barbarians
THE LOMBARD SETTLEMENTS IN ITALY
The first thing to be noticed about the Lombard conquest in Italy, which began in 568, is, of course, the fact that it was only partial. The Lombards never ruled the whole of Italy, like the Ostrogoths. They never held Rome or Naples; they never held Ravenna until just before the fall of their own kingdom. Italy, throughout the Lombard period, was divided between the Imperial and the Lombard powers. In the second place, the territories of the two powers were not compact and continuous; they were scattered through each other; the Imperial possessions were not confined to the south nor the Lombards to the north. The main outline of this distribution of the peninsula between the Empire and the invaders was decided almost immediately. Alboin entered Italy in 568 and died in 572; during these four years the Lombards occupied, roughly speaking, the north of Italy, including both inland Liguria and inland Venetia; in the centre they conquered Tuscany and a large territory along the Apennines which became known as the Duchy of Spoleto; in the south they won also a large territory which became the Duchy of Benevento. But in the north the sea-coast of Liguria remained imperial, and likewise the sea-coast of Venetia, including the island settlements, which were soon to grow into Venice. After the death of Alboin very little further extension of Lombard power was made until the reign of Agilulf at the beginning of the seventh century. His reign may be considered the second period of conquest; but his acquisitions were chiefly cities in the north, such as Padua and Mantua, which were within the lines of the Lombard realm, as marked out be Alboin. The third period of conquest comes forty years later, in the reign of Rothari, who won maritime Liguria. Some thirty or forty years later again---the date is not quite certain---a Duke of Benevento conquered Otranto and the heel of Italy. This is the general outline of the extension of Lombard territorial dominion. Imperial Italy consisted of: in the north-east, Venice and a district reaching from north of Ravenna to the south of Ancona; in the centre, the Ducatus or Duchy of Rome; in the south, the Duchy of Naples, the toe of the peninsula, and for a long time the heel. Ravenna continued to possess the importance which it had held under the later emperors and under the Ostrogoths; it was the seat of government of the exarch, the imperial governor who controlled imperial Italy, uniting military and civil powers. It is to be observed that the north-eastern territory, which may be called in a special sense the exarchate of Ravenna, is separated by the Apennines from the Duchy of Rome, and at this point the two Lombard duchies of Tuscany and Spoleto met. This circumstance marks a weak point in the Imperialists' position, but it was partly mitigated by the fact that they held the strong and important citadel of Perusia on this line, and it helped to link the two frontiers of their territory.
The failure of the Lombards to win the whole of Italy is in all probability to be attributed largely to the smallness of their numbers, to which I have already referred. But there is another very important consideration. The Lombards seem to have been born landlubbers, though they had once lived near the mouth of the Elbe. They never took to the sea; they never created even the most modest fleet. This put them at a hopeless disadvantage for attacking such towns as Rome and Ravenna. The Lombards could reduce a strong inland town like Ticinum by blockade. Alboin took Ticinum after a blockade of three years. Theoderic reduced Ravenna, when it was held by Odovacar, in three years, but he did it with the help of a fleet of cutters. If the Lombards had had the instinct and sense to make themselves even a small fleet, their successes might have been considerably greater. This defect explains the fact that they never made any conquest in the island of Sicily. I may observe here that since the fall of the Vandals, the sea-power of the Roman Empire held complete control over the western basin of the Mediterranean up to the beginning of the eighth century, when the Saracens began to dispute it.
THE LOMBARD POLITY
Having seen the limits of the Lombard conquest, we must now briefly examine their social and political system. In the first place, how did they deal with the Italian population, how did they deal with the proprietorship of the soil? These questions have been variously answered. I must emphasise the fact that the Lombards, though they were federates of the Emperor in Pannonia, nevertheless, when they invaded Italy, did so without any regard to the federal bond. They came as undisguised enemies; they made no pretence of forming settlements as federati. In this respect, they are strongly contrasted with the East German peoples: even the Vandals made a compact with the imperial government. We might then expect to find the rule and administration of the Lombards would be similarly out of relation to Roman institutions, and this indeed is what we find in Lombard legislation. The Edict or law code of King Rothari, which was drawn up in the middle of the seventh century, is like the Salian law---and in contrast with the Visigothic and Burgundian law---thoroughly Germanic from beginning to end. But the question is: Was there a dual system? While the Lombard conquerors lived by the law as laid down in Rothari's lawbook, did the Roman subjects live by their own Roman law, as they had lived under the Ostrogothic regime, and as the Gallo-Romans lived under the government of the Merovingians? There is no doubt that this was partly the case so far as personal law was concerned: the evidence is meagre, but there are one or two passages in the laws which can hardly be otherwise explained. In Rothari's law code there is hardly a reference to Roman subjects, hardly an indication of any difference of nationality, no provision for mixed suits. The inference is that mixed suits would come before a Lombard court and be judged by Lombard law. Troya and others hold the view that all the Roman population was reduced by the conquerors to the condition of serfs, or aldii. There were three classes in Lombard society: freemen; aldii, or half-free, who were bound to the soil, and correspond to the leti among the Franks; and thirdly slaves. The theory in question holds that all the Roman freemen were reduced to the condition of aldii and included in the second class. This view sounds very improbable. The solution which I believe to be the right one has been given by Professor Vinogradov in a book which he published a good many years ago at St. Petersburg, but of which the results are still little known in western Europe. I will summarise them.
In the first place Alboin took no general measures respecting the treatment of the conquered population: he died before he had completed the work of conquest. His successor Cleph contented himself apparently with the drastic measure of slaying or driving from Italy many powerful men among the Romans. After his death there was an interregnum of ten years, during which power was in the hands of the dukes; and they found it necessary to organise the conquest. What they did is thus described by Paul: Reliqui vero per hospites divisi ut tertiam partem suarum frugum Langobardis persolverent, tributarii efficiuntur. "The rest of the Roman population are distributed among the Lombard hospites, and have to pay them a tribute one-third of the produce of their lands." In other words, the institution of hospitalitas is revived in its older form; the proprietors yield a third of their produce, they have not to give up a third of their land. When he comes to the end of the interregnum, the historian Paul again deals with the condition of the subject population in a short sentence which has been much discussed and variously explained. Populi tamen adgravati per Langobardos hospites partiuntur. There can, I think, be no doubt that this expresses in an abridged form the same fact which was stated in the previous passage. "The subject peoples are distributed among the Lombard hospites"---i.e. among the Lombards whom they have to maintain as guests. The simple meaning is that when the royal power was revived at the end of the interregnum, the same thing was done as had been arranged before by the dukes in the several duchies. In other words, the plan of dealing with the Roman proprietors, adopted by the dukes, is organised anew, systematically, throughout the kingdom.
These general measures affected all the Roman land proprietors directly. They themselves, not their lands, were divided among the Lombards, to whom they had to give a certain part of the produce, which was regarded as a tributum. Thus they remained proprietors; but they were tributarii. They were not bound to the soil: this is proved by the position of the teriatores, descendants of these proprietors in the Terra di Lavoro in the eighth century. Hence the view that the Roman possessors passed into the class of Lombard aldii or serfs cannot be correct. They must have belonged to the class of Lombard freemen. It is possible that, as Vinogradov suggests, they formed a class of freemen known as homines pertinentes, mentioned in some of the Lombard laws and distinguished from the aldii. While the Roman proprietors were included in the free class, their coloni or serfs would naturally be included in the Lombard serf class, the aldii, and the Roman slaves would pass into the same class as the Lombard slaves.
To sum up: the main principle of the Lombard system was uniformity of government; the same territorial laws and administration applied to the conquered as to the conquerors, and these territorial laws and administrative institutions were Lombard, not Roman. The Roman population (while their personal relations were regulated by Roman law) passed according to their various social classes into the corresponding classes of the Lombard society. There was, however, one important difference. The free Roman proprietors had to pay a tribute of a third of their produce to those Lombards to whom they had been assigned, and as tributarii, they were dependent. You see then that the condition of the Romans under Lombard rule, though it was not so bad as some investigators have held, was very much harder than in those German kingdoms which were federate states, or had commenced as federate states, the Ostrogothic, the Visigothic, and the Burgundian.
Were there then no Lombard landed proprietors in the Lombard kingdom? Was all the land in the hands of the Italian natives? No. In cases where the proprietors had been slain or banished---and there were many such cases---the estates passed into the hands of the dukes or the king. These rulers made grants to their followers to reward their services and secure their loyalty. The principle on which these grants were made was in the interest of those who received rather than of those who granted. They were grants in perpetuity; no limits of time were imposed. Hence every estate granted by a duke tended to exhaust his capital. Moreover no conditions were attached to the grants, which conferred full proprietary rights. In the course of time the Lombard rulers came to recognise the defects of this system. Accordingly we find King Liutprand in the eighth century granting lands on long leases. We alse find him conceding the practical enjoyment of an estate without any leagal agreement or prescription. Such an estate could be resumed at any moment unless the occupier could prove that his actual tenure exceeded sixty years. From its very nature this mode of tenure left few traces of its existence---for its base and essence was the absence of legal documents.
In the next lecture I hope to deal with the character of the legislative administration of the Lombards.