First English edition of the Nuremberg chronicle: being the Liber chronicarum of Dr. Hartmann Schedel…

Justin (Justinus) the Younger received the government of the empire at Constantinople on the death of the emperor Valentinian. However, he was not like him in any respect, but a greedy, rapacious man, scornful of the gods and men, who stole from the senators. He was so miserly that he caused an iron casket to be made in which he hoarded the gold that he stole. He also (as it is said) fell in with the Pelagian heresy. And as he now turned away the ear of his heart from divine matters, he came under the righteous judgment of God, losing his reason, and becoming insane. He ordered Tiberius, a just and strict man, to govern his palace or estates. Sophia, his wife, ruled the empire until the time of Tibertus the Second; by reason of which misfortune the kingdom of Italy was removed from obedience to the Constantinopolitan rule. When Justinus had reigned 11 years, his insanity ended with his life.[Justin (Justinus) II was Roman emperor of the East from 565 to 578. He was the nephew and successor of Justinian I. As master of the palace, and as husband of Sophia, the niece of the late empress Theodora, he secured a peaceful election. The first few days of his reign – when he paid his uncle’s debts, administered justice in person, and proclaimed religious toleration – gave bright promise; but in the face of the lawless aristocracy and defiant governors of provinces, he effected few subsequent reforms. The most important event of his reign was the invasion of Italy by the Lombards, who, entering in 508, under Alboin, in a few years made themselves masters of nearly the entire country. Justin’s attention was distracted from Italy to the northern and eastern frontiers. After refusing to pay the Avars tribute, he fought several unsuccessful campaigns against them. In 572 his overtures to the Turks and protection of the Christian Armenians led to a war with Persia. After two disastrous campaigns, Justin bought a precarious peace by payment of an annual tribute. The temporary fits of insanity into which he fell warned him to name a colleague. Passing over his own relatives, on the advice of Sophia he raised the general Tiberius to Caesar in December 574, withdrawing into retirement for this remaining years.]

Tiberius Constantinus accepted the sovereignty of the Romans upon the death of Justin; and (as already stated), he governed the palace of Justin. Justin adopted him as his son and heir of the empire; and not unwisely so, for this man possessed the graces well becoming such a prince, such as mildness, righteousness, goodness, devotion to God, wisdom, firmness, and enduring strength. In particular, he showed good will and kindness toward the people, especially the poor. And when he had spent upon the poor much of the treasure hoarded by Justinian, Sophia the queen upbraided the emperor many times because he had thereby reduced the state treasury to poverty. In response he said, I trust in the Lord that our public treasury will not be broken by the giving of alms to the poor and the redemption of prisoners—that is a great treasure. Once while taking a walk in his palace, he saw the cross of the Lord engraved on a marble tablet in the floor. He ordered the same cross to be put into another and more worthy place, saying, It is not the wish of God that we should tread with our feet upon the cross with which we make the sign upon our foreheads and chests. And immediately the design of another cross was found, under which he discovered so much gold and silver as his magnanimity required. Of this he gave a large portion to the poor. And with the same generosity and kindness he also employed the treasures of Narses brought to him from Italy. nd as further evidence of his good fortune, the victorious army sent against the Persians brought home so much booty that it required twenty elephants to transport it—something which had never occurred before. He met with such good fortune because of his service to mankind, his devotion to our Savior, and his kindness to the Roman people, whom he protected with his arms. After he had ruled over the kingdom for seven years, he chose Maurice as his successor. He died in blessedness, and many mourned the death of such a pious prince.[Tiberius II (Anicus Thrax, Flavius Constantinus) was emperor of the East from 578 to 582. He was captain of the guards to Justinus II, who elevated him to Caesar 574. He was a native of Thrace, whence the addition of Thrax to his name. He assumed the name Constantinus after he became emperor. He was brought up at the court of Justinian, and employed by Justinus II, who succeeded Justinian in 565. Justinus, feeling unequal to the labor of administration, associated Tiberius with him, and it is said that the influence of his wife Sophia, who admired the handsome captain, contributed to the choice. The Longobards were now in Italy, but a war with Persia prevented Tiberius from directing all his attention to that quarter. Yet he maintained his authority in the exarchate of Ravenna, and in other parts of Italy, and he saved Pelagius II, the pope of Rome, and the citizens, from the Longobards by a timely supply of provisions, forwarded by a fleet. Justinian raised a large army, and in 576 defeated the Persians in Armenia. An immense booty, carried by 24 elephants, was brought to Constantinople. Justinian is said to have advanced into the very heart of the Persian empire, when one of the Persian generals gained some advantage over him and interfered with the conclusion of a treaty. He was recalled, and Mauricius, afterward the successor of Tiberius, was appointed in his stead. Justinian died in 578, and Tiberius became sole emperor. In 579 the Persian war began anew; but Mauricius in the following year inflicted a signal defeat. In Africa, which had long been disturbed by the natives, Genadius, the exarch of Ravenna, defeated Gasmul, king of the Mauritani. Mauricius enjoyed a triumph for his victories, and in 581, Tiberius, whose health was rapidly failing, raised him to the dignity of Caesar, having no sons of his own. Tiberius died in 582 and was succeeded by Mauricius. Tiberius was universally lamented. By an economical administration he decreased the taxes of his subjects, while his treasury was always full.]

The Lombards (Longobardi), so called in the language of the country because of their long beards, had their origin in Scandinavia, an island belonging to Germany. When they migrated from this island they had two dukes, namely, Aionus and Thatonus. Upon the death of these two, they elected one Agelmundus as king. He was slain by the Bulgarians living on the Danube, and Lamissius was put in his place. He undertook to avenge the death of his ancestor Agelmundus, and he defeated the Bulgarians with great slaughter. He reigned forty years. After him ruled the third king, called Lethus. He also reigned forty years, and he appointed his son Hildooch as his successor in the kingdom. After him reigned Godooth, the fifth king. After him came Claffus, the sixth one; and then Thatus, the seventh king. The name of the eighth king was Unachus, and after him his son Valtharith, the ninth. The tenth king of the Lombards was Audoin (Andoin), and by him these people were first led into Pannonia, after they had lived in the province of Rugilanda for forty-two years. Under this Audoin, and afterwards under his son Alboin, the eleventh king of Lombards, they lived for forty-two years, increasing in renown and might. The entry of this people into Italy occurred at the beginning of the episcopacy of Benedict. In the thirteenth year of the reign of Justin the Younger, these people came through Austria and the province of Foriiulius,[Modern-day Friaul. The Foriiulius (‘Forum of Julius’) was a fortified town and Roman colony in the country of the Carni, northeast of Aquileia, and which became a place of importance in the Middle Ages.] and settled on the river Plane[The ‘Plane’ River is probably the Plavis, now Piave, in Venetia, in the north of Italy.].

The Lombards (a later corruption of Langobardi or Longobardi), were a German tribe of the Suevic race. They dwelt originally on the left bank of the Elbe, near the river Saale; but they afterward crossed the Elbe to the East bank. After this they disappear from history for four centuries. Like most of the German tribes, they migrated southward, and in the second half of the 5th century we find them again on the north bank of the Danube, in Upper Hungary. Here they defeated and almost annihilated the Heruli. In the middle of the 6th century they crossed the Danube at the invitation of Justinian, and settled in Pannonia, where after a struggle of thirty years they annihilated the Gepidae.

For 13 years Narses had managed Italy with power and foresight; but in the meantime, his sponsor Justinian I, under whom the Byzantine Empire flourished, died. At the new court the empress Sophia, spouse of Justinian II, was the final authority, and with her complaints against the avarice of Narses found a ready ear. She prevailed upon her husband to recall the exarch, who was not in sympathy with her, and it is said she orally conveyed word to Narses, who was weak in body, that he should return to the distaff in the spinning room, and leave matters of war to men versed in military affairs. But Narses replied that he would spin a thread for her, which would require her lifetime to unravel. According to one version he promptly invited the Lombards, then in Pannonia, to leave their arid lands and migrate to the blessed plains of Italy, and this invitation was gladly accepted by Alboin and his people. In 568 Alboin, king of the Lombards, led his nation—men, women and children, with all their possessions – across the Julian Alps, and conquered the plains of northern Italy, which have ever since retained the name of Lombardy), and made Pavia his capital. Here he founded the celebrated Lombard kingdom, which existed for upwards of two centuries, until its overthrow by Charlemagne.

Paul the Deacon (Paulus Diaconus), a Lombard by birth, derives the name of Longobardi from the long beards they wore, but later critics reject this, inasmuch as Börde signifies in Low German a fertile plain on the banks of a river, and there is still a district in Magdeburg called the Lange Börde. Diaconus also states that the Lombards came originally from Scandinavia, where they were called Vinili, and that they did not receive the name Langobardi until they settled in Germany.