The Lombards were Germanic in origin. They are thought to have originated in the Baltic region and moved into Germany about 100 BCE, progressively moving south until by 500 they were in Austria.
Most Lombard rulers could neither read nor write and were certainly less educated than their Roman counterparts. With little respect for antiquity, they destroyed much of the ancient Roman monuments in northern Italy.
The first mention of them in relation to Italian history was by the Roman court historian Velleius Paterculus around 10 CE who described them as "more fierce than the ordinary German savagery."
Invasion of Italy
In 560 a new leader was appointed - Alboin. He led the invasion of Italy and his first target was Forum Iulii (now Cividale del Friuli) in 569. From there the army moved west to Milan then Pavia then Tuscany over the next few years. In each area a Duchy was established and Lombard rulers put in place.
In 572 Alboin was murdered and what followed was a period of unsettlement and infighting. The Duchies vied with each other with no single leader overseeing the whole. However, in 591 the Duke of Turin, Agilulf, managed to consolidate the kingdom and annex further terretories. His successor Rothari conquered Liguria and other outposts of Roman terretory such as Veneto.
What followed was a succession of rulers and more dissent and fights with the Catholic Romans. There were also gains in the south with Lombard conquests.
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