1062 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE MODERN WORLD.
ordered the skull of Cunimund, his father-in-law, to be brought out and filled to the brim.
He then had the horrid vessel refilled and
carried to the queen with orders that she too
should drink and rejoice with her father!
Obliged to comply with the abominable request, Rosamond resolved on vengeance. She
induced two chieftains to join her enterprise,
and while the king was sleeping heavily from
the effects of drink, she opened his chamber
door and admitted the assassins. Thus in the
year 573 the founder of the kingdom of the
Lombards met his fate on the spears of murderers.
For the moment the remnant of the Gepidae at Verona attempted to uphold their
queen; but the Lombard chiefs quickly rallied
from the shock, and Rosamond fled to Ravenna. Here she soon captivated the exarch
Longinus, and with him she conspired to destroy Helmichas, the lover who had accompanied her in her flight. While in his bath she
gave him a cup of poison, which he partly
drained; but, discovering the treachery, he
drew his dagger and compelled Rosamond to
drink the rest !
In the mean time the Lombard chiefs had
assembled at Pavia and chosen Clepho for
their king. Short, however, was his reign.
After a year and a half he was stabbed by a
servant, and his hereditary rights and the
regal office descended to his son Autharis.
During his minority of ten years no regular
regency was established, and Northern Italy
was distracted by the conflicting claims and
animosities' of thirty dukes, Roman and barbarian. In the year 584 Autharis attained his
majority and assumed the warrior's garb. He
vigorously asserted his kingly rights, and again
consolidated the Lombard party over the malcontent regions of Italy. It was well for the
barbarians that their sovereign was able and
warlike. Soon after the accession of Autharis,
Childebert, king of the Franks, passed the
Alps with a powerful army, which was presently broken up by the quarrels of the Alemannian and Frankish leaders. A second
expedition was met and defeated by the Lombard king, and a third, after a partial success,
yielded to famine and pestilence. The dominion of Autharis was indisputably established
from the Alps to the to the headlands of Calabria.
In the year 590 Autharis died and left no
heir. The Lombard chiefs laid upon his
widow, Theodolinda, the duty of choosing a
husband, who should be king. The queen's
preference fell upon Agilulf, duke of Turin,
who entered upon a reign of twenty-five
years. Great was the reputation gained by
Theodolinda among the Catholics; for she
converted her husband to the true faith from
the heresy of Arius. So marked was the
favor which she thus obtained with the orthodox hierarchy that Pope Gregory presented to
her the celebrated iron crown, afterwards
worn by the kings of the Lombards. This
famous royal bauble derived its name from
aniron band with which it was surrounded,
said to have been wrought from one of the
nails used in the cross of Christ.
For a period of two hundred years Italy
remained under the dominion of the Lombards. The petty exarchate of Ravenna also
maintained its existence under eighteen successive governors. Besides the immediate
territories ruled by the exarchs, the provinces
of Rome, Venice, and Naples were also subject to their authority. Pavia continued to
be the capital of the Lombard kingdom.
The Lombard monarchy was elective. The
right of the chiefs to choose their own sovereign, though many times waived in deference
to heredity and other conditions, was not resisted or denied. About eighty years after
the establishment of the kingdom, the laws of
the Lombards were reduced to a written code.
Nor does their legislation compare unfavorably
with that of any other barbarian state.
This epoch in history should not be passed
over without reference to the rapid growth of
the Papal Church in the dose of the sixth and
the beginning of the seventh century. Most
of all by Gregory the Great, whose pontificate
extended from 590 to 604, was the supremacy
of the apostolic see asserted and maintained.
Under the triple titles of Bishop of Rome,
Primate of Italy, and Apostle of the West he
gradually, by gentle insinuation or bold assertion, as best suited the circumstances, elevated
the episcopacy of Rome into a genuine papacy