Fachbereich Geschichtswissenschaft

The Armament of Lombard Warriors in Italy. Multidisciplinary Approaches

My research at Tuebingen focussed on the Armament of Lombard Warriors in Italy and their fighting capablities. Indeed, the history of the Lombards could be written as a history of warfare, for during the course the kingdom’s 206-year existence, wars of varying intensity were constantly pursued, whether in their own defence or to expand their territory. Even the time prior to their invasion of Italy, particularly their advances from Pannonia, were marked by numerous military conflicts. Of particular interest here are the questions related to the background and the course of these conflicts, and to the weaponry that was utilised. In the following contribution, the weapons of Lombard warriors – or more specifically – the weapons used by warriors in Lombard Italy, will be examined. This differentiation is necessary because Lombard warriors often interacted with other powers, such as Byzantine forces stationed in Italy (until 751), and with foreign enemies like the Franks and Avars who, during certain times and circumstances, shifted positions to become Lombard allies. Thus, it can be assumed that the different types of Lombard weaponry depended on their interactions and contact with both enemies and allies. Additionally, the weapons of the Lombards had functions aside from their practical use in battles: They were of symbolic significance, demonstrating power and social differences. Certain types of weapons can be interpreted as signs of rank – which of course applies to the early Middle Ages on the whole. Three groups of source material are available for the study of Lombard weaponry and warfare: 1) references in written sources, 2) contemporary depictions of Lombard warriors, and 3) archaeological evidence, that is, weapons and pieces of armament found in graves, settlements, and also occasional finds – including those without a find context. It is only by considering all available source material that an overall picture of Lombard weaponry can be achieved.

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