It fell into the power of Alboin in 569 and became the seat of a Lombard duchy; it was still one of the wealthiest cities of Aemilia in the Lombard period.
Be this as it may, the Lombards, their ranks swelled by the Gepidae, whom they had lately conquered, and by the wrecks of other barbarian tribes, passed southward under their king Alboin in 568.
Pavia offered stubborn resistance; but after a three year siege it was taken, and Alboin made it the capital of his new kingdom.
As his people pressed southward, they omitted to possess themselves of the coasts; and what was worse for the future of these conquerors, the original impetus of the invasion was checked by the untimely murder of Alboin in 573.
He was endeavouring to treat with Alboin and the Lombards, and desired to assure himself of Venetian support.
There was for the future one Venice and one Venetian people dwelling at Rialto, the city of compromise between the dangers from the mainland, exemplified by Attila and Alboin, and the perils from the sea, illustrated by Pippin's attack.
Alboin, the Lombard king, captured it in 568, and it was one of the chief residences of the Lombard, and later of the Frankish, monarchs; and though, like other cities of northern Italy, it suffered much during the Guelph and Ghibelline struggles, it rose to a foremost position both from the political and the artistic point of view under its various rulers of the Scaliger or Della Scala family.
The advance of these barbarians was for a time checked during the anarchy which followed the death of Alboin, and was subject to other suspensions.
An ancestor named Leupichis entered Italy in the train of Alboin and received lands at or near Forum Julii (Friuli).
While this siege was in progress Alboin was also engaged in other parts of Italy, and at its close he was probably master of Lombardy, Piedmont and Tuscany, as well as of the regions which afterwards went by the name of the duchies of Spoleto and Benevento.
In 572 or 573, however, he was assassinated by his chamberlain Peredeo at the instigation of Queen Rosamund, whom Alboin had grievously insulted by forcing her to drink wine out of her father's skull.
The authorities for the history of Alboin are Procopius, Paulus Diaconus and Agnellus (in his history of the church of Ravenna).
Hence came the invasion of Alboin (568), which wrested the greater part of Italy from the empire, and changed the destinies of the peninsula.2 1 Gibbon's statement that Narses was "the first and most powerful of the exarchs" is more correct in substance than in form.
The first few days of his reign - when he paid his uncle's debts, administered justice in person, and proclaimed universal religious toleration - gave bright promise, but in the face of the lawless aristocracy and defiant governors of provinces he effected few subsequent reforms. The most important event of his reign was the invasion of Italy by the Lombards, who, entering in 568, under Alboin, in a few years made themselves masters of nearly the entire country.
The resulting peace was sealed by the murder of Ildichis and Ustrogotthus, and the Langobardi seem to have continued inactive until the death of Audoin, perhaps in 565, and the accession of his son Alboin, who had won a great reputation in the wars with the Gepidae.
It was about this time that the Avars, under their first Chagun Baian, entered Europe, and with them Alboin is said to have made an alliance against the Gepidae under their new king Cunimund.
Alboin, who had slain Cunimund in the battle, now took Rosamund, daughter of the dead king, to be his wife.
In 568 Alboin and the Langobardi, in accordance with a compact made with Baian, which is recorded by Menander, abandoned their old homes to the Avars and passed southwards into Italy, were they were destined to found a new and mighty kingdom.
- In 568 Alboin, king of the Langobards, with the women and children of the tribe and all their possessions, with Saxon allies, with the subject tribe of the Gepidae and a mixed host of other barbarians, descended into Italy by the great plain at the head of the Adriatic. The war which had ended in the downfall of the Goths had exhausted Italy; it was followed by famine and pestilence; and the government at Constantinople made but faint efforts to retain the province which Belisarius and Narses had recovered for it.
Except in a few fortified places, such as Ticinum or Pavia, the Italians did not venture to encounter the new invaders; and, though Alboin was not without generosity, the Lombards, wherever resisted, justified the opinion of their ferocity by the savage cruelty of the invasion.
In 57 2, according to the Lombard chronicler, Alboin fell a victim to the revenge of his wife Rosamund, the daughter of the king of the Gepidae, whose skull Alboin had turned into a drinking cup, out of which he forced Rosamund to drink.
Ticinum (Pavia), the one place which had obstinately resisted Alboin, became the seat of their kings.
After the short and cruel reign of Cleph, the successor of Alboin, the Lombards (as we may begin for convenience sake to call them) tried for ten years the experiment of a national confederacy of their dukes (as, after the Latin writers, their chiefs are styled), without any king.
In 584 they chose Authari, the grandson of Alboin, and endowed the royal domain with a half of their possessions.
The kingdom of the Lombards lasted more than two hundred years, from Alboin (568) to the fall of Desiderius (774) - much longer than the preceding Teutonic kingdom of Theodoric and the Goths.
In alliance with the Avars, and Asiatic people who had invaded central Europe, Alboin defeated the Gepidae, a powerful nation on his eastern frontier, slew their king Cunimund, whose skull he fashioned into a drinking-cup, and whose daughter Rosamund he carried off and made his wife.
Three years later (in 568), on the alleged invitation of Narses, who was irritated by the treatment he had received from the emperor Justin II., Alboin invaded Italy, probably marching over the pass of the Predil.