- 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.
By this time the Langobards had established themselves in the north of Italy.
The Langobards, German in their faults and in their strength, but coarser, at least at first, than the Germans whom the Italians had known, the Goths of Theodoric and Totila, found themselves continually in the presence of a subject population very different from anything which the other Teutonic conquerors met with among the provincials - like them, exhausted, dispirited, unwarlike, but with the remains and memory of a great civilization round them, intelligent, subtle, sensitive, feeling themselves infinitely superior in experience and knowledge to the rough barbarians whom they could not fight, and capable of hatred such as only cultivated races can nourish.
It brought the Langobards face to face, not merely with the emperors at Constantinople, but with the first of the great statesmen popes, Gregory the Great (590-604).
The bride was the Christian Theodelinda, and she became to the Langobards what Bertha was to the Anglo-Saxons and Clotilda to the Franks.
Gregory interfered to prevent a national conspiracy against the Langobards, like that of St Brice's day in England against the Danes, or that later uprising against the French, the Sicilian Vespers.
But in two ways especially the energetic race which grew out of the fusion of Langobards and Italians between the 9th and the 12th centuries has left the memory of itself.