Page 1062

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