In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Lombards in Italy

  • Introduction
  • General Histories
  • Exhibition Catalogues
  • Specialized Studies: Political and Military Institutions
  • Social and Economic Issues
  • Women and Gender Issues
  • Religion and Culture
  • The Carolingian Conquest of Lombard Italy
  • The Lombards in the South
  • Legends

Medieval Studies Lombards in Italy
Richard Ring
  • LAST REVIEWED: 26 October 2015
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 October 2015
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396584-0191


The Lombards (sometimes Longobards or Langobards) first appear as a named group in the 1st century CE. By the 5th century they were located in Pannonia, south of the Danube, where they came into contact with the Gepids and the Byzantines. In 568 the Lombards, along with numerous other named groups, entered or invaded Italy perhaps as invited mercenaries. Over the course of the next century they established a kingdom with its capital at Pavia and settled large parts of northern and central Italy. The Lombards should be regarded more as a sociopolitical entity rather than as an ethnic group. Though never an homogenous group, the Lombards developed laws, customs, and historical memories that forged a Lombard identity by the end of the 7th century. The Lombard kingdom reached the height of its power under King Liutprand. The causes of the rapid collapse of the Lombard kingdom and its capture by the Franks led by Charlemagne (773–774) are still much debated. Lombards remained in power in Benevento and other areas of southern Italy through the early 11th century. Much of the scholarship on the Lombards, especially the archaeological work, is in Italian. The best access to this is through the International Medieval Bibliography and WorldCat.

Primary Sources

The primary sources for the history of the Lombards in Italy are not abundant. The most important (indeed almost the only) narrative source is the history of Paul the Deacon (Paul the Deacon 1974). The laws issued by various Lombard kings are also important (see Drew 1973 cited under Lombard Laws).

back to top

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.

How to Subscribe

Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.