The World of Paul the Deacon and the Lombards: Geopolitical Perspectives in an Early Medieval Account
By Valery Charachon
BA thesis, University of Oxford, 2017
Introduction: The Lombard settlement of Italy has reached us through Paul the Deacon, a monk and tutor of the 8th century, born in Friuli and a historian of his people. He has provided us with the only extant discursive history on the Lombards until the invasion of the Carolingians in 774 and has thus crucially marked our knowledge of the history of the region.
His narrative stands out as an extraordinary piece, copied several times in manuscripts in the Middle Ages, and has been explored by several modern authors. The world of the Lombards, through Paul’s narrative, can be seen to be deeply rooted in interactions with other powers of the period, be they cooperative or destructive. This history is divided into six books and is titled the Historia Langobardorum.
Written after the fall of the Kingdom of the Lombards to Charlemagne, it provides us with a narrative elaborated after the fall of the author’s home kingdom. Lombard autonomy in other regions of Italy survived, however, and provides the background of the context of Paul’s writing. This raises Paul’s work to light, as through a careful analysis of the books we may trace profound implications and arguments surrounding his perspective on his period.