It is, however, a fact that the first appearance of the Bassarabs as rulers (knyaz, ban or voivod) is in the western part of Rumania (originally called Little Walachia), and also in the southern parts of Transylvania - the old dukedoms of Fogarash and Almash, which are situated on the right bank of the Olt (Aluta) and extend south to Severin and Craiova.
When the Lombard kingdom fell before the Franks under Charlemagne in 774, the archbishops of Milan were still further strengthened by the close alliance between Charles and the Church, which gave a sort of confirmation to their temporal authority, and also by Charles's policy of breaking up the great Lombard fiefs and dukedoms, for which he substituted the smaller counties.
Yet in this latter sense it would seem to have been assumed by Bruno of Saxony, archbishop of Cologne, and duke of Lorraine (953-965), when he divided his duchy into the dukedoms of Upper and Lower Lorraine.
To this national category belong, besides the great German dukedoms, the dukes of Normandy, and the Lombard dukes of Spoleto and Benevento, who traced their origin, not to an administrative office, but to the leadership of Teutonic war bands.
With the development of the feudal system the distinction between the official and the national dukedoms was more and more obliterated.
The principal seat of the settlement was the rich plain watered by the Po and its affluents, which was in future to receive its name from them; but their power extended across the Apennines into Liguria and Tuscany, and then southwards to the outlying dukedoms of Spoleto and Benevento.
The dukedoms in the neighbourhood of the seat of power were gradually absorbed, and their holders transformed into royal officers.
Pippin it was who administered justice in Austrasia, appointed officials and distributed dukedoms; and it was Pippin, the ~ilitary leader, who defended the frontiers threatened by Frisians, Alamanni and Bavarians.