A Matter of Faith and Works: Byzantine Leaders and Christian Leadership in the Historia Langobardorum
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The late eighth-century Historia Langobardorum by Paul the Deacon is a narrative history of the Lombard people from their mythic origins up to the reign of King Liutprand in Italy in 744. As the only history of its kind, scholars are forced to rely on it for much of what they know about the Lombards and Italy from the sixth to eighth centuries. While historians have had much to say about what the Historia tells us about the Lombards and other groups, very little has been said about the presence and portrayal of Byzantine figures within the text. Furthermore, it is often assumed that Paul, who was a Lombard himself, was simply writing to glorify and preserve the memory of his people. My thesis reveals a deeper objective behind the text while providing an in-depth investigation of Byzantines within its pages. I argue that the Historia Langobardorum was written to promote an ideal of Christian leadership based upon orthodox faith and good works, in which the careers of Byzantine leaders, especially emperors, played a critical role. Among Byzantine authority figures, correct belief and righteousness are rewarded and heresy and wickedness are punished. These themes are tied to Lombard leaders as well, but Byzantines served an especially important role in their construction. Paul’s narrative was intentionally designed to encourage an understanding of Christian governance idealized during the Carolingian Renaissance.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- Justinian and Nares -- Justin II and Tiberius II -- Constans II, Lombard rulers, and the mantle of Christian kingship -- Conclusion.