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

At this time a golden tablet is said to have been found in the grave of a certain person. On it were written these words: Christ will be born of the Virgin Mary, and I believe in him. Under Constantine and Irene, O sun, you will see me again.

Desiderius, last of the Lombard kings, reigned 18 years after the death of Aistulf, the king; and he was at first king of the land of Etruria. When he heard of the passing of Aistulf, he collected a large army to attack the Lombard kingdom. In order to accomplish his purpose, he promised the pope and the Romans many great things against Ratchis (Rachesium), who had taken on the garb of a monk; and thereby he secured their acquiescence, and the kingdom itself by peaceable means. At this same time the power and virtue of the Lombards began to decline because of their love of pleasure. When Desiderius was relieved of his fears and concerns regarding his opponents, he departed from his promises to the pope and the Romans, and began to show ill will and oppression against them. Therefore Pope Zachary (Zacharias) called upon Charles (Carolum) the Great to warn Desiderius to desist from his unworthy proceedings against the pope. Through the emissaries of King Charles, Desiderius was requested to return to the pope what he had wrongfully taken from him. Armies were assembled by both sides; and when Desiderius came forth to engage him, Charles defeated him at two places, forcing him to flee; and he overran the country far and wide. Then Desiderius fled to Pavia, and sent his wife and children to Verona. And when the Spoletans, Reatians, and Lombards, all of whom lived in the vicinity, noted the calamity that had befallen Desiderius, they marched to Rome, submitting themselves and all their possessions to the Roman bishop. A number of other cities and communities did likewise. Charles left his uncle Bernhard to besiege Pavia, while he proceeded to Verona with a portion of the army. But Aldegisius, son of Desiderius, fled from there to the Constantinopolitan emperor. Charles took almost all the cities of Italy beyond the mountains, and then he came to Rome, from where he returned to Pavia. This he took through surrender, and he removed Desiderius to France, sending him to Lyons. And so ended the Lombard kingdom in the Year of Salvation 774, and in the fifth year of the pontificate of Pope Adrian, after having endured for nearly two hundred and thirty-two years under 22 kings from Alboin all the way up to Desiderius.[Desiderius: Aistulf did not surrender to the Roman Church all the towns included in Pepin’s donation. But after Aistulf’s death in 756 more favorable prospects opened, in consequence of certain disturbances among the Lombards. The duke Desiderius aspired to the kingdom; but Ratchis, brother of the deceased monarch, who had long lived as a monk at Monte Cassino, came forward as a rival. Desiderius implored the aid of the pope; and when he had promised to surrender to Peter certain towns, Stephen, the pope, called on Ratchis and the Lombards generally to offer no opposition to his claim. By these means Desiderius became firmly settled on the throne; but as he was afterwards exposed to the pope’s jealousy, he endeavored to secure himself by giving his daughters in marriage to Pepin’s sons and successors, Charles (the Great) and Carloman. But the alliance thus formed between the Lombard monarch and the Frankish sovereigns did not last very long. Charlemagne divorced the daughter of Desiderius (whom he had married) on the ground that she had remained childless; and he sent her back to her father. The enraged Lombard king sought revenge by endeavoring to induce the pope to anoint Carloman’s children kings of the Franks, but Pope Adrian refused his request; for this reason Desiderius invaded the papal territories, laid waste the country and menaced Rome. The pope, unable to make an effective resistance, placed himself under the protection of Charlemagne, who crossed the Alps at the head of a formidable army in 774; took Pavia, the Lombard capitol, after a siege of two months; made Desiderius a prisoner, and thus put an end to the Lombard kingdom, which had been the chief power in Italy for two centuries (571-774). Desiderius and his family were sent to France, where they died in obscurity, Desiderius himself ending his days in a cloister. Charlemagne, as conqueror, received the Iron Crown of Lombardy.]

Paul (Paulus), the Lombard historian, and a deacon of the Aquilaeian patriarchate, was beloved by his king, Desiderius, for his wisdom and intelligence. Charles (Carolus) took him to Gaul, and gave him his freedom, holding him in high esteem for a long time; but when Charles observed that Paul sought Desiderius, he sent him to the island of Diomedes. Paul fled from there, and at the request of the wife and daughter of Desiderius, he wrote the entire history from the Emperor Julius to the time of Justinian I. Afterwards he went to the monastery of Cassino, where he spent the rest of his days in devout service to God. He also wrote about many good Christian matters.

Paul the Deacon (Paulus Diaconus, also known as Warnefridi or Casinensis) (c. 720–c. 800), the historian of the Lombards, belonged to a noble Lombard family and flourished in the 8th century. An ancestor named Leupichis entered Italy in the train of Alboin and received lands at or near Forum Iulii (Friuli). During an invasion the Avars swept off the five sons of this warrior in Illyria; but one, his namesake, returned to Italy and restored the ruined fortunes of his house. The grandson of the younger Leupichis was Warnefried, who by his wife Theolinda became the father of Paulus. Born between 720 and 725, Paulus received an excellent education, probably at the court of the Lombard king Ratchis in Pavia, and it is probable that he was secretary to the Lombard king Desiderius, the successor of Ratchis. It is certain that this king’s daughter, Adelperga, was his pupil. After Adelperga had married Arichis, duke of Benevento, Paulus at her request wrote his continuation of Eutropius. It is possible that he took refuge at Benevento when Pavia was taken by Charlemagne in 774, but is much more likely that his residence there was anterior to this even by several years. Soon he entered a monastery on Lake Como, and before 782 he had become a monk of the great Benedictine house of Monte Cassino, where he made the acquaintance of Charlemagne. About 776 his brother Arichis had been carried as a prisoner to France, and when five years later the Frankish king visited Rome, Paulus successfully wrote to him on behalf of the captive. His literary attainments attracted the notice of Charlemagne, and Paulus became a potent factor in the Carolingian renaissance. In 787 he returned to Italy, where he died between 794 and 800.

The chief work of Paulus is his Historia gentis Langobardorum. This incomplete history in six books was written after 787 and deals with the story of the Lombards from 568 to the death of King Liutprand in 747. The story is told from the point of view of a Lombard patriot and is especially valuable for the relations between the Franks and the Lombards. Paulus wrote at the request of Angilram, bishop of Metz (d. 791) a history of the bishops of Metz to 766, the first work of its kind north of the Alps.

Usuard (Isuardus), a monk, and a native of Gaul, is also said to have flourished at this time for his very great knowledge in every field of study. At the command of Charles (Caroli) the Great he compiled all the dealings, works and histories of the saints in a beautifully written book called a martyrology; and he found that more than three hundred festivals come together every day.[Usuard (Isuardus) wrote his martyrology after a request from Charles the Bald (Charles the Bald; 823 – 877), not Charles the Great. He appears to have died sometime around the year 875.]

Alcuin (Alcuinus), also a native of Gaul, was a preceptor and tutor of Charles (Caroli) the Great in the Greek and Latin tongues. He was highly learned, versed in all branches of philosophy, and a prince among teachers in the Holy Scriptures. For these reasons King Charles greatly respected him and held him in high esteem. He taught Charles some of the liberal arts. At the request of Boniface, archbishop of Mainz, he completely restored the prayers of the mass and other things pertaining to the divine service, which had been lost during the ravages of the Goths. And so, at his request, the said Charles transferred the university from Rome to Paris. And the university of Athens was also brought there. This Alcuin, by the grace of Charles, also presided over the Monastery of Saint Martin at Tours; for all the brethren there, having become addicted to sensual pleasures, had been ingloriously destroyed one night by an angel. As he was considered a highly learned theologian he also wrote books: On the Trinity, The Mirror of Little Boys (Little Things? Glosses?) with Questions,[The title of this work(s) is unknown to me. The Latin runs thus: cum qu(a)estionibus speculum parvulorum.] On Ecclesiastical Dogma, On the Reason of the Soul, and many other books pertaining to the Christian religion.[Alcuin, born in 725, the famous Anglo-Saxon monk, was one of the greatest scholars of his time, and the most trusted friend and counselor of Charlemagne. He took up his residence at Charlemagne’s court in 741, and died in 804. He was the emperor’s tutor during this period, and instigated many of that sovereign’s most useful acts. History furnishes few more striking spectacles than that of the great Western Emperor, surrounded by the princes and princesses of his family and the learned personages of his brilliant court, all sitting as pupils at the feet of their Anglo-Saxon preceptor Alcuin, in the “school of the palace” at Aix-la-Chapelle (Aachen). The course of study that these academicians pursued embraced the trivium and quadrivium, or “the seven liberal arts,” with special attention to grammar, psalmody, and the theory of music; and as Alcuin excelled in the exposition of the Scriptures, the mysteries of theology were not forgotten in his lectures. As early as 789, acting on Alcuin’s advice, the emperor addressed a circular letter to the bishops, ordering them to establish elementary schools in their cathedral cities, for the free instruction of the children of freemen and the laboring classes. Each monastery was required to maintain a school for the higher branches of learning.]