At the end of the sixth century, he Roman Empire, rocked by relentless waves of violent barbarians — Goths, Huns, Vandals — civilization on the Italian penisula teeters on the brink of collapse. As famine, war, plague leave death devastation in their wake, out of north bursts the last of the barbarian hordes. Fiercely pagan, famous for their cruelty, the Lombards strike the final blow to the Roman Empire.
In 488 the Lombards are a small but particularly savage group of warriors on the move, surviving by viciously raiding other tribes Originating in Scandinavia and migrating south, into Roman regions, they eventually inhabit what became modern day Austria and Hungary At the turn of the 6th century only the eastern half of the empire remains, ruled by the Byzantine emperor from Constantinople.
Alboin, king of the Lombards, was celebrated as a man fitted for wars, with noble bearing and courage. The emperor Justinian recruited Alboin and the Vandals to aid in the reconquest of Italy which was controlled by the Goths. The Roman military leaders disgusted by the uncontrolled Lombard warriors, relegated them to a new homeland along the banks of the Danube River. In 568, the Lombards, well familiar with Italy from earlier days as Roman mercenaries, invade Rome, inviting Saxons, Bulgars and other barbarian tribes to join.
Much of our information regarding the Lombards is found in the 8th century chronicler Paul the Deacon’s work, HISTORY OF THE LOMBARDS, translated by William Dudley Foulke, LL.D., edited with introduction by Edward Peters, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 1907
This History Channel documentary series, Barbarians 2, tells the fascinating stories of four of the most fabled groups of fighters in history, the Saxons, the Lombards, the Franks, the Vandals, tracing 1,000 years of conquest and adventure through inspired scholarship and some of the most extensive reenactments ever filmed.