Taking their name from the Latin, Langobardi, the Lombards included a series of Germanic tribes that originated in northern Europe and moved south, invading Italy in 568 and establishing the kingdom of Italy from 568 until 774, when they were overwhelmed by the Franks.
Taking their name from the Latin, Langobardi, the Lombards included a series of Germanic tribes that originated in northern Europe and moved south, invading
The origins of the Lombards are described in the seventh century book
It is clear that from the time of the Roman emperor
Their main military achievements were that they were able to take advantage of the weakness of Byzantine Italy, invading in 568 under King
It was after this that Alboin recognized the weakness of the Romans, and he allied with the
In the first century
The use of
As to horses, certainly the royal bodyguards and retainers had their own horses, and when fighting the Franks the Lombards used horses more often in battles. In May, 2008, archaeologists working on a sixth century site at
Although chiefs wore some
Regarding the military organization of the Lombards, it is known that certain families owed their position in society to their being related to the bodyguards of the king; these bodyguards were well trained and fought as a cohesive unit in small engagements. By the eleventh century, the men in this unit were often dressed in chain
In larger battles the Lombards relied on numbers of less well-armed men drawn from villages, either as volunteers or as conscripts. In the periods of the barbarian invasions, these warriors were involved in regular fighting and could form themselves into effective fighting units with ease. As time progressed, however, and the Lombards came to control much of Italy, their military organization became more relaxed; this is what allowed them to be overwhelmed so easily by the Franks.
Before the sixth century, the Lombards formed themselves into large raiding parties and skirmished extensively with the rival Germanic tribes. However, for the invasion of Italy they had to form a much stronger military unit in order to be able to defeat their opponents. In battle, they relied heavily on mobility, and often a large proportion of the soldiers were cavalry–Lombard leaders tending to downplay the importance of archers. This battle strategy often involved the Lombards charging their opponents, with the aim of forming a wedge in the enemy lines.
As the Lombard kings changed from being invaders to being rulers who governed large areas in Italy, the tactics in battle changed, with more and more Lombards fighting on foot. By the eleventh century, the Lombards had started to adapt to new military tactics, and in battle they tended to revert to the Norman tactics of a shield wall for the infantry, with the cavalry, backed by archers, sent against their opponents.
There are a number of sources on the Lombards, the most well known being that by
Christie, Neil. The Lombards: The Ancient Longobards. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell, 1995. Halsall, Guy. Warfare and Society in the Barbarian West, 450-900. London: Taylor and Francis, 2003. Nicolle, David. Italian Medieval Armies, 1000-1300. New York: Osprey, 2002. Pohl, Walter, ed. Kingdoms of the Empire: The Integration of Barbarians in Late Antiquity. Leiden, Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1997. Barbarians 2: Lombards. Documentary. History Channel, 2007.
The Franks and the Holy Roman Empire
Armies of Christendom and the Age of Chivalry
Crusading Armies of the West