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Lombard League

Lombard League

Lombard League, an alliance formed in 1167 among the communes of Lombardy to resist Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I when he attempted to assert his imperial authority in Lombardy. Previously the communes had been divided, some favoring the emperor and others favoring the pope. However, after Frederick proclaimed his sovereignty in Italy at the Diet of Roncaglia (1158), twice invaded Italy (1158, 1166), and appointed German officials in all Lombard towns, even the imperial cities joined the coalition against him. The league was supported by Pope Alexander III, for whom its fortified city of Alessandria was named. In 1176 the league defeated Frederick at Legnano. After the peace of Constance (1183), which confirmed the freedom of the cities, the alliance tended to break again into rival factions. The league was revived in 1226 against Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, who in 1237 defeated it at Cortenuova. The Lombard communes then ranged themselves on opposing sides in the quarrels between the popes and the Hohenstaufen.

Italian league that resisted attempts by the Holy Roman emperors to curtail the liberties of the communes of Lombardy in northern Italy in the 12th–13th century. Founded in 1167, it was backed by Pope Alexander III, who saw it as an ally against Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa. After several military setbacks at the hands of the league, Frederick was forced to grant the Lombard cities communal liberties and jurisdiction under the Peace of Constance. The league again was renewed in 1226 and resisted Frederick II's attempt to reassert imperial power in northern Italy.

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The Lombard League was an alliance formed around 1167, which at its apex included most of the cities of northern Italy (although its membership changed in time), including, among others, Milan, Piacenza, Cremona, Mantua, Bergamo, Brescia, Bologna, Padua, Treviso, Vicenza, Venice, Verona, Lodi, and Parma, and even some lords, such as the Marquis Malaspina and Ezzelino da Romano. The League was formed to counter the Holy Roman Empire's Frederick I, who was attempting to assert Imperial influence over Italy. Frederick claimed direct Imperial control over Italy at the Diet of Roncaglia (1158). The League had the support of Pope Alexander III, who also wished to see Imperial power in Italy decline. At the Battle of Legnano on May 29, 1176, Frederick I was defeated and, by the Peace of Venice, agreed to a six-year truce from 1177 to 1183, until the Second Treaty of Constance, where the Italian cities agreed to remain loyal to the Empire but retained local jurisdiction over their territories.

The Lombard League was renewed several times and after 1226 regained its former prestige by countering the efforts of Frederick II to gain greater power in Italy. These efforts included the taking of Vicenza and the Battle of Cortenuova which established the reputation of the Emperor as a skillful strategist. He misjudged his strength, rejecting all Milanese peace overtures and insisting on unconditional surrender. It was a moment of grave historic importance when Frederick's hatred coloured his judgment and blocked all possibilities of a peaceful settlement. Milan and five other cities held out, and in October 1238 he had to unsuccessfully raise the siege of Brescia. Once again receiving papal support, the Lombard League effectively countered Frederick's efforts. During the 1249 siege of Parma, the Imperial camp was assaulted and taken, and in the ensuing Battle of Parma the Imperial side was routed. Frederick lost the Imperial treasure and with it any hope of maintaining the impetus of his struggle against the rebellious communes and against the pope. The League was dissolved in 1250 once Frederick died.

Sources

"Lombard League." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2008. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 6 Apr. 2008 .

G. Fasoli,"La Lega Lombarda --Antecedenti,formazione, struttura," Problema des 12.Jahrhunderts, Vortraege und Forchungegen, 12 ,1965-67)143-160.

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