Luitprand or Liudprand

Luitprand Or Liudprand, king of Lombardy (A.D. 712-744), was born towards the close of the 7th century. In 702 his father, Ansprand, a powerful Lombard lord, and an adherent of king Luitbert, having been defeated by the usurper Aribert II, retired to the Bavarian court. He was joined there by Luitprand, but the other members of his family, having fallen into the hands of Aribert, were put to death. In 712 Luitprand and his father succeeded in overthrowing Aribert, and Ansprand dying shortly after, Luitprand succeeded to the throne. His first care was to restore peace to his kingdom, suffering from internal dissensions. He enacted a series of laws in the years 712, 717,720, 721, 723724, 2, which, with the Edict of Rotharis, form the principal basis of the Lombard law as it remained in force in Northern Italy until the 14th, and in the kingdom of Naples until the 16th century. Peace and prosperity once restored to his people, Luitprand eagerly sought for an opportunity for the aggrandizement of his dominions. He had his eye especially on Rome and the exarchate, and when the quarrel broke out between the pope and the emperor of Constantinople concerning image worship, Luitprand suddenly announced himself and his Lombards devout worshippers of images, and, under pretense of taking the pope's part, he seized the exarchate of Ravenna and several cities. But pope Gregory II, alarmed at the growing power of Lombardy, and tie prospect that hereafter the papacy might be depleendt on the rule of a people looked upon as vile barbarians, SEE LOMBARDS, preferred to seek aid in other quarters not only for himself, but also for the exarchate, whose days seemed about to be numbered. He therefore enjoined upon the duke of Venetia to aid the exarch in retaking the provinces seized by Luitprand. Gregory at the same time persuaded the inhabitants of the duchies of Spolcto and Benevento to throw off the Lombard yoke. Luitprand, however, matched the pope in cunning, for he no sooner learned the position of the pontiff than he turned to the side of the exarch, and, after having aided him in subduing his insurgent provinces, marched himself against Rome, with the intention of taking his revenge on the pope. The latter, however, succeeded in pacifying Luitprand, and the Lombard returned into his kingdom. In 736, being dangerously ill, he surrendered for a while his power to his nephew Hildebrand, whom the Lombards had elected his successor, but when he recovered his health he found himself obliged to divide his authority with Hildebrand. In 739 Luitprand overcame a league formed against him by pope Gregory III, and the dukes of Spoleto and Benevento and the exarch of Bavenna, and, to punish the incumbent of the apostolic see, he appeared before the gates of Rome. The pope, in his distress. called upon Charles Martel for assistance. Gregory's appeal is truly touching: "His tears are falling night and day for the destitute state of the Church. The Lombard king and his son are ravaging the last remains of the property of the Church, which no longer suffices for the daily service; they have invaded the territory of Rome, and seized all his farms. His only hope is in the timely succor of the Frankish king." Valuable presents accompanied this appeal-among them the mystic keys of the sepulcher of St. Peter, and filings of his chains, which no Christian could resist — also a proffer of the title of "Patrician and Consul of Rome" — yes, the deliverer of the Eternal City was to become even the patron of the Romish Church. Of course Martel answered favorably to such an invitation. Unfortunately, however, for the Romish cause, he died shortly after. But, even before Martel could have taken the field against Luitprand, the latter had been induced to withdraw his troops from Rome. A state of hostility, however, continued between the Lombards and the Romans until the death of Gregory III. The next pontiff (Zachary) finally succeeded, by a personal visit to Luitprand, in securing a treaty with the Lombards by which the latter restored to the Church all the possessions taken from it during the war. Luitprand thereafter seems to have been favorably inclined towards Zachary and the Church. He died in January 744. See Paul Diacre, Historia Longobardorum; Anastasius, Vitae Pontif.; Muratori, Annales Script. Ital.; Hoefer, Nouv. Biog. Gener. volume 32; Reichel, See of Rome in the Middle Ages, page 54 sq.; Milman, Hist. Lat. Christ. 2:374 sq. (J.H.W.)

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