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

Alboin (Alboinus), the eleventh king of the Lombards, together with all his people, migrated from Pannonia into the fruitful and fertile plains of Italy, on the invitation of Narses. And with all the Lombards—men, women and children, and their cattle proceeded through Sirmium and Forum Iulius into Italy—an unbelievable host. They first took possession of entire Venetia, and thereafter passed through Insubria, took possession of the city of Milan by force, besieged Pavia (Papiam) for three years and finally took it also. Finally they proceeded against Verona, where they set up the capital for the entire kingdom. And there Alboin kept his wife, his treasure, and his court. Now as the people lived in happiness and good fortune, mixing their pleasures with feasts and drunkenness, the king at one such festal occasion drank out of a vessel made of the skull of his father-in-law, Cunimund (Gunimundi), whom he had slain in Pannonia. Indiscreetly he poured too much wine into himself, and becoming intoxicated, he passed the same vessel, filled with good wine, to his wife, the queen. She so took the matter to heart that in the same hour she determined to avenge the scorn and ridicule of her father’s skull, by taking the life of her husband. And thus she proceeded: Helmigis (Helmechildis), a noble knight and handsome youth at the royal court, was wooing a maiden in the women’s chamber. When queen Rosamunda (Rosimunda) learned of this, she so managed that the maiden submitted to the youth’s will. This the queen encouraged in the hope that the youth, through conceit and guile and without appreciation of the consequence; would later lend himself to a yet baser act. And so it turned out. For the youth was secretly introduced into the king’s bedchamber while the king was taking his noonday nap; and he killed the king, with the expectation (of which the queen had assured him) that he would become the successor. But they did not accomplish their purpose, and in fear they fled to Ravenna, where they killed one another with poison.

Alboin, king of the Lombards, and conqueror of Italy, succeeded his father Audoin about 565. The Lombards at that time occupied Noricum and Pannonia, and were engaged in constant warfare with the Gepidae. Alboin secured the alliance of the Avars, and with their help destroyed the Gepidae, slew their king Cunimund in battle, and married his daughter Rosamunda (also spelled Rosamund). On April 1, 568, Alboin had assembled his people with a great number of allies, among them 20,000 Saxons, to cross the Alps and form a new settlement in Italy. According to later authorities there appears to be no truth in the legend that Narses, the Byzantine general, invited the Lombards to attack Italy. This was, in effect, a migration rather than an invasion. The Roman defenses were overrun, Milan was occupied, and Pavia was invested. Lombard rule was established in Northern Italy.

But Alboin’s rule came to an early end through assassination. When at a drinking bout he forced his wife Rosamund, daughter of Cunimund (former king of the Gepidae) to drink from her father’s skull, (of which, according to Scythian custom, he had caused a drinking vessel to be made), she determined to avenge the insult. She conspired with Helmigis, sword-bearer of the king; and while the king slept they had him assassinated. However, Rosamund and Helmigis were compelled to flee to escape the wrath of the Lombards. They went to Ravenna and were received by Longinus. When Longinus sued for the hand of Rosamund, she gave poison to Helmigis. He soon felt its effects and with drawn sword he compelled her to drink the rest of the potion; and so they died.

Longinus, a Greek, first supreme ruler of Italy to be called exarch, introduced a new name for sovereignty into Italy.[Exarch was a title conferred on certain chief officers or governors such as the exarchs of Ravenna. Under the rule of Narses and his successors (who were exarches), Ravenna was the seat of Byzantine dominion in Italy.] He resided at Ravenna, exercising a protectorate Italy and those cities and provinces of Emperor Justin which adhered to Rome and Ravenna. From the first he held that no governor should be supreme but that every city, march or commune should be protected and governed by its own supreme officer called a duke. Thus he put Rome on the same footing as all other Italian cities, but honoring it alone with a governor whose successors, however, were called dukes. And so for many years afterwards Rome was in name a duchy. This form of government prevailed in Rome for one hundred and twenty-four years.

Leander, bishop of Toledo (Toletun) in Spain (Hispalensis), was a pious and highly learned man. By his preaching, teaching, example and intelligence, the entire Visigothic nation, through Recaredus its king, was converted from the Arian heresy. For he wrote much, not only to confirm our true Christian faith, but also to the destruction, scorn, and extirpation of the Arian errors which those whom the Vandals driven out by Belisarius introduced from Africa into Spain. During his lifetime and at its close this holy man performed many miracles; because of this he is reckoned with the saints. His day is commemorated on the 27th of February.[Leander, apostle of the Visigoths, at an early age entered a monastery at Seville, eventually becoming archbishop. Leovigild, his brother-in-law, then reigned over the Visigothic kingdom in Spain, openly professing Arianism. This caused embarrassment to Leander, who used every effort to confirm the Catholics in the orthodox faith. On an embassy to Constantinople he became a friend of Gregory the Great, at whose instance Gregory wrote his famous . Their mission concluded, Gregory returned to Italy, Leander to Spain where Leander succeeded in converting his nephew Hermenigild, eldest son of King Leovigild. The king, enraged, executed his son and began a furious persecution of the church, its officers and members. In a year the persecution abated, and Leovigild, finding himself about to die, recalled the bishop and commended his son Recared to the care of Leander. Leander died in 596.]

John (Iohannes) the Almsgiver (Elimona) and Alexandrine bishop, at this time kept the Eastern Churches in the faith as much as possible, by his reading, disputation, writing, admonitions, and teachings, although he had many adversaries. He also worked great miracles, gave many alms, and did other good works. This man’s praiseworthy and miraculous life is beautifully described by Leontius (Leoncius), bishop of Naples, of the island of Cyprus.[John the Almsgiver was a very wealthy native of Amathus in Cyprus, and a widower. Having buried all his children he employed his whole fortune in the relief of the poor. He later became the patriarch of Alexandria. When the Persians devastated the Holy Land and sacked Jerusalem, he entertained all who fled into Egypt, and cared for the wounded. He also sent to Jerusalem, for the use of the poor, a large sum of money, and a thousand sacks of corn, as many of puce, one thousand barrels of wine, and one thousand Egyptian workmen to assist in the rebuilding of the churches. Anticipating death, he sailed to his native island of Cyprus; and there he died in the home of his boyhood after having ruled the patriarchal see of Alexandria for ten years.]

In these rebellious and violent times, the very name of Italy would have been endangered had it not been for the holy man Paul (Paulus), patriarch of Aquileia, and if Felix, the bishop of Tervis, had not come to the rescue of Italy. For Paul, together with his clergy, fled from Aquileia to Venice. And so Felix saved the possessions of the churches, finding peace and security with King Alboin.