At home with the Langobards – Duke Lupus

The Langobards’ Kingdom reached the apex of power and cohesion under Liutprand (712-744). He was a sovereign by the great personality, loved and feared by his people who admired his wisdom, war skills and courage. Liutprand, taking advantage of the serious contrasts that weakened Byzantine Italy, torn by the iconoclastic controversy, was able to extend the Langobard possessions to Emilia, to take Ravenna for a short time and go as far as the gates of Rome and restore royal control over the duchies.

It was with Liutprand that the Duchy of Spoleto lost its previous autonomy and independence. Last week we saw that in 729 Liutprand marched on Spoleto and subjugated dukes Trasimund II of Spoleto and Romuald II of Benevento, who swore allegiance to him. However, ten years later, due to Trasimund’s intolerance, Liutprand besieged Spoleto again and appointed dukes loyal to him, Ilderic first and then Agiprand.

When Liutprand died in January 744, his nephew Ildeprand succeeded him. But after only seven or eight months he was deposed by those very dukes who had sworn allegiance to him, fearing that he would pursue the same centralizing policy of his uncle; Ildeprand would then be replaced by Ratchis, duke of Friuli.

According to some scholars, Ratchis, although inclined to pursue a peaceful program under a less rigid conception of monarchical power, imposed on Spoleto a duke loyal to him: Lupus (745-751). But according to Sansi, Lupus wasn’t appointed by the king and the rapprochement between him and the duke took place later.

In February, 745, while signing an agreement in Sabina, the writing began with only the name of the gastald: temporibus viri magnifici Picconi gastaldi Civitatis Reatinae; this shows how the duchy might have been vacant. But in September of that same year, Lupus, the new duke elected, I believe, by the local optimates, not placed there by the king, was already holding it; why would otherwise Rachis include Spoleto in a law of 1 March 746, that threatened to confiscate and kill those who, without his knowledge, sent messengers to enemy or suspicious lands?

But Lupus was not a man to be suspected for a long time; and in that October, by donating the wood of St. Hyacinth to Farfa, he did so not only for the health of his soul, but also for the health of the king: pro mercede domini nostri Ratchis regis.

«How unusual, notes Carlo Troya, of a duke of Spoleto to call his king my lord, and make donations to make heaven favorable to him.»

It is easy to infer how Rachis, after clearing all doubt from his soul, had reached full harmony with Lupus, and had confirmed his rule of Spoleto. In fact, on April 18, 747, the kings’ messenger Insario arrives in the dukedom to settle disputes with Andrew, the duke’s messenger, and in June Lupus himself went to Pavia and, while staying in the royal palace, made a donation to please the king’s desire (Achille Sansi, Storia di Spoleto, ch. V).

Duke Lupus is remembered as a man dedicated to pious and religious works. Under his government, the ties between Spoleto and Farfa, already tightened by his predecessors, were further strengthened.

The particular position, not far from the Via Salaria, on the borders of the territory where the temporal rule of the Church of Rome was being established, and where the interests of the Lombard kings and dukes of Spoleto, of popes and the lay forces of the Roman region clashed, gave Farfa a peculiar political value (in the writings of that time it is indicated with the noble title of Almo Monastery).

Lupus was an important benefactor of Farfa; his donations included the woods of San Giacinto, the court of Vitiano, the estate of S. Cassiano, the farmhouses of Torri, Fiola, Asiniano and San Pancrazio; he also confirmed the donation of Classicella by his predecessor Trasimund.

But Lupus did not only give goods, he also recognized rights: to ensure the monks’s peace, thus requested by Abbot Falcuald, he issued a law prescribing local women where they could and where they could not pass (A. Sansi).

The only document relating to an institution other than Farfa is the deed of foundation of the monastery of San Giorgio in Rieti, which in 751 the Duke and Duchess Ermelinda destined to Frankish and Longobard women. However, the new religious centre is placed under the protection of the great Sabine monastery.

Such act is of particular importance as it allows to measure the level of evolution reached by the Roman-Longobard culture, common to the elites of Spoleto, Benevento and the Kingdom, in the area of Spoleto, particularly permeable to Roman influences.

Another remarkable element of the document is the desire to open the female monastery to nuns not only of local origin, but also of other provinces, Lombard and Frankish, a precious indication that the cultural developments that took place under the Lupus’ rule Spoleto exceeded the regional framework, and that the Duchy was already connected in some way to the dynamic space of the Regnum Francorum, in addition to having the now traditional relations with the Roman Duchy.

According to some scholars, this could indicate that under Lupus, in Spoleto, the panorama was already taking shape in which, a quarter century later, the fall of the Lombard Kingdom would have occurred under the combined effect of the Franks’ attack and the indifference of the Lombard dominant classes.

Happy Monday with the Langobards!


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