- Germanic people who conquered much of Italy (q.v.), beginning in 568. They had previously served under Narses (q.v.) as mercenaries of Justinian I (q.v.) in the war against the Ostrogoths (q.v.). The Lombards moved into Italy in 568, led by their king Alboin (died 572). They rapidly conquered most of it, establishing the kingdom of Longobardia (q.v.). Maurice (q.v.) reassembled such Byzantine territory that remained into the Exarchate of Ravenna (q.v.). Constans II (q.v.) attacked the Lombards with some success in 663, but he failed in his siege of Benevento (q.v.). An eighth-century Lombard offensive ended with the fall of Ravenna in 751, leaving Byzantium (q.v.) without territory in northern and central Italy. Nevertheless, in 774 Charlemagne (q.v.) wrested northern Italy from the Lombards. The ninth and 10th centuries saw further Lombard decline, which helps to explain the rapid Norman (q.v.) expansion in southern Italy in the 11th century.
Historical Dictionary of Byzantium . John H. Rosser .
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