Alboin or Alboïn (died 572 or 573) was king of the Lombards, and conqueror of Italy. He succeeded his father Audoin about 565. Cognates to these rather alien-looking names in Old English are Ælfwine (meaning 'Elf-friend') and Eadwine ('Wealth-friend'). The 7th-century Anglo-Saxon kings who bore these names were probably named after the Langobardic rulers, who had by their day assumed a near-mythical status.
The success of Alboin had spread so far, that it reached Rome. Rome sought out the help of Alboin to defeat the Goths. The Lombards were transported to Rome by way of sea, and much to the hope of the Romans, defeated the Goths. Alboin had defeated Totila, the king of the Goths, to destruction. The Lombards returned to their homeland bearing riches and gifts for their people.
Alboin, after all his military success, was convinced that he could set out for Italy and lead his people in a migration. The Saxons supplied Alboin and his army with 20,000 men to fight. Alboin then gave Pannonia to the Avars under the condition that if the Lombards were to return they would receive the land immediately. Alboin first entered Venetia, and declared that his nephew Gisulf would be the duke of the land conquered. Gisulf demanded that he would need the Lombard people of his choice, which Alboin agreed to.
Alboin first arrived at the river Piave. Alboin proceeded to capture the cities of Vicenza, Verona, and the remaining cities of Venetia. He had captured all the cities but Padua, Monselice, and Mantua. After conquering Venetia, Alboin moved his army to Liguria. He took all the cities of Liguria, except those situated on the shores. The city of Ticinum (Pavia), was the most difficult to take. The city lasted over three years before giving up after being besieged. In the end, Alboin had taken possession of everything as far as Tuscany, except Rome, Ravenna, and other fortified cities. Where the Lombards did meet with resistance, retribution was savage beyond anything Italy had experienced before. The bishops, who were virtually the leaders of the late antique Roman cities, fled, like the bishop of Milan, or compounded with the barbarians for gentler treatment of their people.
The courageous resistance of Ticinum provoked the fury of Alboin; he vowed to slaughter all of its inhabitants regardless of age or sex. But as he marched through the gates, his horse inexplicably fell and expired. Whether from compassion or piety, Alboin recanted his vow and spared the city of the massacre.
Rosamund met the King’s squire, Helmechis, who suggested using Peredeo, a strong man, to accomplish the assassination. Peredeo refused to help, and that night had relations with Rosemund, whom he mistook for his dressing maid, with whom he usually had intercourse. After learning of this evil he committed, he agreed to slay the king. The next day, Rosemund ordered a great silence in the palace and bound the sword to Alboin’s bed, because he was taking an afternoon nap. When Alboin awoke, he realized he would be murdered and reached for his sword, which he couldn’t grab because Rosemund had bound it tightly to the bed. After attempting to defend himself with a footstool, he was slain and was buried under a certain set of stairs in his palace, and the Lombard people were full of grief.
In these few years the Lombards had established themselves in the north of Italy (henceforth Lombardy). But they had little practice in governing large provinces. Lombard warlords (which Latin chroniclers called 'dukes') were established in all the strongholds and passes, and this arrangement became increasingly characteristic of the Lombard settlement. Their power extended tenuously across the Apennines into Liguria and Tuscany, and southwards to the outlying Lombard dukedoms of Spoleto and Benevento. The invaders failed to secure any maritime ports or any territory that was conveniently commanded from the sea, such as Ravenna. Local inhabitants fled into the marshes and lagoons, where Venice had its beginnings.
After his death and the short reign of his successor Cleph the Lombards remained for more than ten years without a king, ruled by the various dukes.
In Meg Cabot's Princess Diaries, the country of Genovia's first ruler was a princess named Rosamund, based on the princess Alboin raped. In the book, Mia writes that Rosamund's father was killed by a warlord, who made his skull into a cup and forced her to drink from it. She strangled him in his sleep with her braids and was given the principality of Genovia in honor of her brave deed.
Paul the Deacon, Historia Langobardum
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