Posted on June 28, 2017
For about 1,000 years, Western Europe was (mostly) ruled by the Roman Empire, and lives were relatively peaceful and orderly. The Pax Romana (Roman peace) existed because Roman soldiers enforced law and order between the various peoples in the empire.
But then the Roman Empire fell. In 476 C.E., the last of the Roman emperors was overthrown by a Germanic man named Odoacer. He became the first “Barbarian” to rule in Rome - but apparently he ruled only parts of Italy, not the far-flung reaches of what had once been part of the Roman Empire.
Almost a century later, Alboin, King of the Lombards (a Germanic tribe), gathered together a large group of soldiers representing a varied group of peoples. Alboin led the soldiers across the Julian Alps (the mountain range in the northern part of Italy that is named for Roman emperor Julius Caesar) and found Italy almost undefended. Alboin swiftly took over several cities, including northern Italy’s largest city, Milan, before he began to run into vigorous defense.
When I read about the long-ago past, I am always reminded that back then humans inflicted on one another WAY more violence, even, than we do now. Live by the sword, die by the sword, people say, and Alboin definitely used force (“the sword”) to get and keep more power and land and even his wife. So of course he met his end by violence. On this date in 572 he was assassinated by his foster brother, who was working with his wife in an attempt to grab power for themselves. Although the two managed the regicide (which means killing of a king), they failed in their attempted coup, and they had to flee the country.
The Lombards remained rulers of the northern part of Italy, although they had to choose a new king. They remained rulers of large parts of Italy for two centuries, and today Lombardy is the name of one of the administrative regions of Italy.
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