traditional account is true, Alboin, King of the Lombards, engineered
one of Europe's first great real estate transactions.
With the decline
of the Huns following the death of Attila,
453, the Lombards had moved to ascendency in the area known as Pannonia,
centered around modern-day Hungary. Warfare with the Gepidae was constant,
and another tribe, the Avars, had begun migrating into the area from
Asia as well. After succeeding his father on the Lombard throne in
565, Alboin soon struck an alliance with the Avars and together they
crushed the Gepidae. Alboin killed Cunimund, the Gepidae king, and
took the king's daughter Rosamund as his wife.
Then in April
568 Alboin fulfilled his bargain with the Avars by launching his Lombard
followers on a mass migration southwestward into Northern Italy, leaving
Pannonia for the Avars.
forces of the Roman Empire that remained in Italy, based at Ravenna,
were no match for the overwhelming Lombard incursion. Residents of
the Italian countryside fled at the Lombards' approach. Some retreated
to the barrier islands along the shore of the Northern Adriatric Sea,
where they became part of the nascent
of the following year Milan, Pavia (which Alboin chose as his new
capital) and the other large cities of Northern Italy had fallen.
The Lombard kingdom in Italy had been firmly established.
was to last for more than 200 years, until falling to Charlemagne's
Frankish forces, 774. Alboin himself, however, soon fell to an
old grudge: he was murdered in 573, apparently at the instigation
of his wife Rosamund, who never accepted her husband's habit of drinking
from her father's skull.