was the King
of the Lombards
from 712 to 744 and is chiefly remembered
for his Donation of Sutri
, in 728,
and his long reign, which brought him into a series of conflicts,
mostly successful, with most of Italy. He profited by Byzantine
weakness to enlarge his domains in Emilia
and the Romagna
Liutprand's life began inauspiciously. His father was driven to
exile among the Bavarians, his older brother Sigipert was blinded
by Aripert II
, king of the Lombards and
his mother and sister were mutilated. Liutprand was spared only
because his youth made him appear harmless. He was released from
Aripert I's custody and allowed to join his father (Paul the
of Liutprand, son of Ansprand, duke of
Asti and briefly king of the Lombards, began the day
before his father's death when magnates called to Ansprand's
deathbed consented to make Liutprand his colleague.
Liutprand's reign endured for thirty-one years. Within the Lombard
kingdom he was considered a lawgiver of irreproachable
Relations with the Agilolfings of Bavaria
At the opening of his reign, Liutprand's chief ally among
neighboring rulars was the Agilolfing
, the Frankish duke of Bavaria.
Theodo I's intervention on Ansprand's behalf helped him gain the
throne. Theodo had taken him in, when he and his father were
temporarily expelled by Aripert II
702, and the hospitality was later cemented with a marriage
connection: Liutprand took to wife the Agilolfing Guntrud.
of Theodo's policy was resistance to the Merovingian mayors of the palaces in
their encroachments north of the Alps, concerns that did not much
occupy Liutprand, and maintaining strategic control of the eastern
Alpine passes in what is now the Italian Alps, which
did. In the spring of 712, Theodo’s son Theodebert, with Ansprand and
Liutprand, attacked Lombard strongholds, and with the drowning of
their fleeing rival Aripert, Ansprand's faction were back in power
Theodo died in 717 or 718; under his successor the Lombard ties
with the Agilolfing weakened. Until distracted by Byzantine
politics in 726, Liutprand's chief warmaking energies were
concentrated on taking Bavarian castles on the River Adige.
Italy after the conquests of
Lombard territory shown in green, Byzantine territory in
In his early reign, Liutporand did not attack the Exarchate of Ravenna
or the Papacy
. But in 726, the Emperor Leo III
made his first of many edicts
outlawing images or icons (see the iconoclastic controversy
Gregory II, ordered the people to resist
and the Byzantine duke of Naples,
Exhiliratus, was killed by a mob while trying to carry out the
imperial command to destroy all the icons.
Liutprand chose this time of division to
strike the Byzantine possessions in Emilia
In 727, he
crossed the Po and took Bologna, Osimo, Rimini and Ancona, along with
the other cities of Emilia and the
Pentapolis. He took Classis, the seaport of Ravenna, but could
not take Ravenna itself from the exarch Paul.
Paul was soon killed in a riot,
however. Eventually, Ravenna would capitulate to Liutprand with
barely a fight (737).
Moorish raids on Corsica began around 713–719 from the
Islands to the west.
Acting as the protector of the
Catholic Church and its faithful, Liutprand subjected the island to
Lombard government (c. 725), though it was nominally under
Byzantine authority. Corsica remained with the Lombard kingdom even
after the Frankish conquest, by which time Lombard landholders and
churches had established a significant presence on the
Donation of Sutri
just overwhelmed the Byzantine
forces, though it was left to his heirs to make the final vestige
of the Exarchate of Ravenna
Lombard at last, Liutprand advanced towards Rome along the
Via Cassia; he was met at the ancient
city of Sutri by Pope Gregory II (728). There the two reached
an agreement, by which Sutri and some hill towns in Latium (see Vetralla) were given to the Papacy,
"as a gift to the blessed Apostles
Peter and Paul" according to the Liber Pontificalis.
the first extension of Papal territory beyond the confines of the
Duchy of Rome
. This was the
beginning of the Papal
In the meantime, Leo sent Eutychius
Exarch of Ravenna
, to take control
of Italy. When Eutychius arrived at Naples, he made an agreement
whereby Liutprand would attack the Pope if the Greeks aided him in
subjugating the contumacious and independent southern Lombard
duchies, the Duchy of Spoleto
the Duchy of Benevento
dukes, Thrasimund II and
Godescalc, surrendered —
though control of the duchies from Pavia was not to endure for long
— and the new exarch marched on Rome.
Rome, Liutprand camped on the far bank of the Tiber in the "Field
of Nero" 
and arbitrated, returning to the
exarch the city of Ravenna alone among the Byzantine territories
and prevailing on the pope to restore his allegiance to the emperor
Following the death of Theodo, Liutprand turned from his former
Agilolfing allies to bind himself to Charles Martel
, duke of the Franks
, whose son, Pepin the Short
, he adopted and girded with
arms at his coming of manhood. In 735–736, a serious illness
encouraged Liutprand to raise his nephew Hildeprand
to co-kingship. In 736–737, Liutprand
crossed the Alps with an army to help Charles
expel the Moors from Aix-en-Provence and Arles.
In 738, a long peace was broken by the rebellious Lombard duke of
Spoleto, Thrasimund II. When the revolt was suppressed, with
nephews of Liutprand established at Beneventum and Spoleto, the
dukes fled to Rome and the protection of Pope Gregory III
. Liutprand immediately began the
conquest of the Ducatus Romanus
, the province around Rome.
capturing Orte and Bomarzo, he arrived at Rome and besieged it.
Pope sent an embassy to Charles Martel to beg for aid, promising
favour then and in the future world: the cover letter survives
. Gregory conferred on him the title of
anti-Lombard rhetoric reached absurd heights considering
Liutprand's orthodoxy; the Lombard king only wanted his rebellious
dukes to face justice. Charles ignored the pope's excessive charges
against his erstwhile ally and instead sent back his own embassy to
mediate between the two Italian powers. Before any headway was
made, however, both pope and Frank died.
Soon after the death of Gregory III (741), Zachary
was elected to the Apostolic See;
Liutprand happily signed a twenty-year peace and restored the
cities of the Duchy of Rome of which he had taken possession. Soon
after, his reign ended in peace. Having passed more years on the throne
and come closer to bringing the entire peninsula under one rule
than any of his predecessors, the great Lombard died in 744 and was
buried the church of San Pietro in Ciel d'Oro, in Pavia.
The main source for the career of Liutprand is the Historia gentis
of Paul the
, which idealises Liutprand. It was written after 787 and
covers the story of the Lombards from 568 to the death of Liutprand
in 744. Though written by a Lombard from a Lombard point of view,
it contains much information about the Eastern Roman Empire, the
Franks, and others.
- Riché, Pierre. The Carolingians : A Family who forged
Europe. M. I. Allen, translator. Philadelphia, 1993.
- Neil Christie, The Lombards. The Ancient
Longobards. Oxford/Cambridge: Blackwell, 1995.
- Paul the Deacon, History of the Lombards. Translated
by William Dudley Foulke. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania
Press, 2003. VI.xxii; xxxv; xxxviii; xliii etc.
- Cristina La Rocca (ed.), Italy in the Early Middle
Ages. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.
- Lexikon des Mittelalters