Online Medieval Sources Bibliography

An Annotated Bibliography of Printed and Online Primary Sources for the Middle Ages

Source Details

Foulke, William Dudley, trans., History of the Langobards (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Department of History)

Text name(s): History of the Langobards; Historia Langobardorum

Number of pages of primary source text: 308

Author(s): 

Dates: 0 - 743

Archival Reference: 

Original Language(s): 

  • Latin

Translation: 

  • Translated into English.

Translation Comments: 

Geopolitical Region(s): 

  • Italy
  • Hungary
  • Balkans

County/Region: 'Scadinavia'; Rome; Pavia; Ravenna

Record Types: 

  • Chronicle Annals

Subject Headings: 

  • Early Germanic Peoples: Goths Franks, etc.
  • Diplomacy
  • Carolingians
  • Byzantium
  • Government
  • Papacy
  • War - Military History

Apparatus: 

  • Index
  • Appendix
  • Introduction

Comments: 

This text seeks to be a complete history of the Lombard people, from their mythical origins in the island of ‘Scadinavia’ (note: NOT Scandinavia), to their migration into the Pannonian basin, to their conquest of the majority of Italy, all the way forward towards the death of King Liutprand in 743. Despite being composed following Charlemagne’s seizure of the Lombard Kingdom in 774, the text pointedly does not reference the current holder of the title ‘King of the Lombards,’ and does not include any information on the establishment of Carolingian power in the region.

The text was composed by Paul the Deacon, a Lombard monk, deacon, and historian, who came from an aristocratic background. Paul takes a broadly positive view of the Lombard people and their rulers, describing their conquest of Italy as a natural and righteous event, justifying their continual disputes with the papacy, and generally taking their side in their conflicts with the Franks. The text primarily concerns itself with the lives of the Lombard kings, and the military campaigns which they were a part of.

This serves as one of incredibly few Lombard narrative sources that describe the relationship between the Lombards, Franks, and papacy, providing the perspective of a defeated people on the conflicts that would ultimately see the establishment of Frankish-papal dominancy over Northern Italy at the expense of the Lombards.

Introduction Summary: 

This 28-page introduction seeks almost exclusively to provide context on Paul the Deacon, the author of the text. Foulke goes into great detail regarding what was understood about Paul’s life in the early 20th century, such as his familial relationships, life, other works, and literary achievements.

Although this introduction is quite helpful for understanding Paul himself, it makes no effort to provide information which would help the reader understand the source as a whole, such as information regarding the general themes of the text, its manuscript tradition, its language, or any other information that does not directly relate to Paul the Deacon.

Cataloger: JK

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