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The Kingdom of the Lombards (Latin: Regnum Langobardorum; Italian: Regno dei Longobardi; Lombard: Regn di Lombard), also known as the Lombard Kingdom and later as the Kingdom of all Italy (Latin: Regnum totius Italiae), was an early medieval state established by the Lombards, a Germanic people, on the Italian Peninsula in the latter part of the 6th century. The king was traditionally elected by the very highest-ranking aristocrats, the dukes, as several attempts to establish a hereditary dynasty failed. The kingdom was subdivided into a varying number of duchies, ruled by semi-autonomous dukes, which were in turn subdivided into gastaldates at the municipal level. The capital of the kingdom and the center of its political life was Pavia in the modern northern Italian region of Lombardy.
Kingdom of the Lombards
|Common languages||Vulgar Latin|
|Religion||Christianity Germanic paganism (some initial elite)|
|Government||Feudal elective monarchy|
|Historical era||Middle Ages|
• Lombard migration
Part of a series on the
|History of Italy|
The Lombard invasion of Italy was opposed by the Byzantine Empire, which retained control of much of the peninsula until the mid-8th century. For most of the kingdom's history, the Byzantine-ruled Exarchate of Ravenna and Duchy of Rome separated the northern Lombard duchies, collectively known as Langobardia Maior, from the two large southern duchies of Spoleto and Benevento, which constituted Langobardia Minor. Because of this division, the southern duchies were considerably more autonomous than the smaller northern duchies.
Over time, the Lombards gradually adopted Roman titles, names, and traditions. By the time Paul the Deacon was writing in the late 8th century, the Lombardic language, dress and hairstyles had all disappeared. Initially the Lombards were Arian Christians or pagans, which put them at odds with the Roman population as well as the Byzantine Empire and the Pope. However, by the end of the 7th century, their conversion to Catholicism was all but complete. Nevertheless, their conflict with the Pope continued and was responsible for their gradual loss of power to the Franks, who conquered the kingdom in 774. Charlemagne, the king of the Franks, adopted the title "King of the Lombards", although he never managed to gain control of Benevento, the southernmost Lombard duchy. The Kingdom of the Lombards at the time of its demise was the last minor Germanic kingdom in Europe.
Some regions were never under Lombard domination, including Latium, Sardinia, Sicily, Calabria, Naples and southern Apulia. Any genetic heritage of the Lombards was rapidly diluted in the Italian population mostly because they rarely intermingled with the local population.
A reduced Regnum Italiae, a heritage of the Lombards, continued to exist for centuries as one of the constituent kingdoms of the Holy Roman Empire, roughly corresponding to the territory of the former Langobardia Maior. The so-called Iron Crown of Lombardy, one of the oldest surviving royal insignias of Christendom, may have originated in Lombard Italy as early as the 7th century and continued to be used to crown kings of Italy until Napoleon Bonaparte in the early 19th century.
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